Golf balls and ping pong balls, also known as table tennis balls, are about the same size, so it seems like you could use them interchangeably.

However, golf balls and ping pong balls have some noticeable differences that make each perfect for their sport.

Golf Ball vs Ping Pong Ball

Size and Weight

A golf ball must have a diameter of at least 1.68 inches. Ping pong balls have a diameter of 1.57 inches.

Although there is only a small difference in the diameter of golf and ping pong balls, there’s a noticeable difference in weight.

A ping pall ball weighs about 2.7 grams or 0.095 ounces, while a golf ball weighs about 45.93 grams or around 1.62 ounces.

ping pong ball with red paddle

Shape

Both ping pong and golf balls are round, but they do actually have slightly different shapes.

Ping pong balls are perfectly round with a smooth surface. Golf balls, on the other hand, have a dimpled surface.

When you hold a golf ball, you can feel many small, circular indentations covering the ball’s surface.

The dimples in a golf ball help to reduce resistance, which helps the ball sail more smoothly and for a longer distance through the air.

golf ball on fairway

Materials

Golf balls have a pressurized rubber core surrounded by one or more rubber layers.

These layers aid in giving the ball spin, which helps it fly farther when it’s hit. This also gives golfers more control and makes aiming more accurate over long distance.

The core and layers of the ball are covered with either urethane or Surlyn. Urethane is a thin synthetic compound that gives golf balls durability.

Surlyn is a plastic resin that’s also known for its durability.

Which type of cover goes on the ball depends on the brand, and golfers often prefer one type over the other.

Golf balls covered in Surlyn tend to fly farther, but they have less spin which can lead to less control or less accurate aim.

golf ball and driver

Urethane is a bit more expensive, which means the final golf ball is more expensive, but because they offer more control, golf balls with urethane covers are often preferred in short game situations.

Ping pong balls are traditionally made of celluloid, which is a type of polymer. Inside, ping pong balls are hollow and are filled with air.

Many people mistakenly believe that ping pong balls are filled with a flammable gas. In actuality, it’s the celluloid that’s so flammable.

Because of this flammability and the dangers in shipping and storing celluloid, the use of celluloid has declined, and many modern ping pong balls are made of more stable poly-plastic materials.

These new materials are slightly rougher and a bit stiffer, but they offer almost the exact same type of play as a celluloid ball.

ping pong balls in box

Bounce

Both ping pong balls and golf balls have a fair amount of bounce. However, although they’re much harder, golf balls tend to have more bounce.

They will bounce higher when dropped from a height, and they also bounce more rapidly.

This is due to the golf ball’s rubber core, and this level of bounce is necessary for how the game of golf is played.

When the ball is struck with a golf club, the weight, rubber, and level of bounce help to propel the ball forward, letting it soar for many hundreds of feet.

Ping pong balls, on the other hand, only need to be bouncy enough to bounce off of the table tennis paddle when they are struck.

Ping pong balls often strike the table and bounce between shots, so if they were too bouncy, players would lose control of them frequently and the balls would be much more likely to bounce too far or high for proper play.

The first ping pong balls were originally made of rubber, much like a golf ball, but they were considered to be too bouncy.

Next, balls were made of cork, which proved to have too little bounce.

The celluloid material, hollow body, and smooth shape of a ping pong ball offer the perfect amount of bounce.

men playing ping pong

Drag

Ping pong and golf balls each experience different amounts of drag, and this, along with how much and how high they bounce, is one of the main reasons that each ball is perfect for its particular game.

Because they’re so light and so perfectly smooth, ping pong balls experience a large amount of drag.

They don’t cut through the air well and won’t travel as directly as a golf ball. This works well for playing ping pong, however, because it gives players enough control and time to perform shots.

Ping pong is also usually played indoors, where the ping pong balls will not be subjected to wind, so the balls don’t need to have reduced drag.

Golf balls, on the other hand, need to be aerodynamic, with reduced drag, to travel great distances and stay on course even if there’s wind.

The ball’s weight and dimpled cover both help to reduce drag.

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