Are Nitro Golf Balls Illegal? — Legality and Ball Compression Ratings

are nitro golf balls illegal and what makes a golf ball legal or illegal

Every golfer wants to find the straightest, longest ball they can play to hit fairway after fairway off of the tee. However, can a golf ball fly too straight and go too far?

Nitro makes golf balls that claim they have explosive distance and straight ball flight. But, are Nitro golf balls illegal according to the rules of golf?

The Tell Me More Golf team is going to look at Nitro Golf balls to find out if they are legal according to the USGA and R&A. And, if not, can you still play them at your local course?

are nitro golf balls illegal and what makes a golf ball legal or illegal

The Legality of Nitro Golf Balls

are nitro golf balls illegal according to the usga conforming bal list

According to the current USGA Conforming Ball List and the R&A Conforming Ball List, no golf balls produced by Nitro are legal. This means that you cannot play Nitro Golf Balls legally in official golf tournaments at almost any level.

Can you play them in a casual round?

Well; that’s up to you and your playing partners. Many golfers might feel that playing non-conforming golf balls is cheating, others may not. It’s important to remember that just because a golf ball is non-conforming, that does not mean that it performs better than a conforming ball.

Manufacturers submit equipment for testing constantly and what is illegal today might be legal tomorrow and vice versa. It doesn’t hurt to do a little research if you have an upcoming tournament and are worried about the golf equipment in your bag.


The USGA and the R&A determine the criteria and the testing methods on golf equipment to determine if it is legal or illegal.

In recent years, as golf equipment technology has improved quickly and dramatically, they have taken steps to protect the integrity of the game by limiting the performance of both golf balls and golf clubs.

There are six criteria that a golf ball must meet in order for it to be legal according to the rules of golf.

  1. General -The ball must not be substantially different from the traditional and customary form and make. The material and construction of the ball must not be contrary to the purpose and intent of the Rules.
  2. Weight – The weight of the ball must not be greater than 1.620 ounces avoirdupois (45.93 g).
  3. Size – The diameter of the ball must not be less than 1.680 inches (42.67 mm).
  4. Spherical Symmetry – The ball must not be designed, manufactured or intentionally modified to have properties which differ from those of a spherically symmetrical ball.
  5. Initial Velocity – The initial velocity of the ball must not exceed the limit specified under the conditions set forth in the Initial Velocity Standard for golf balls on file with The R&A and USGA.
  6. Overall Distance Standard – The combined carry and roll of the ball, when tested on apparatus approved by The R&A and USGA, must not exceed the distance specified under the conditions set forth in the Overall Distance Standard for golf balls on file with the R&A and USGA.

A golf ball must meet each of the criteria above to conform to the rules of golf and legal to play in a tournament.

Both the USGA and the R&A are trying to maintain the integrity of the game of golf, as many purists feel that golf technology has overpowered many of the great golf courses where we play the game.


Are Nitro Ultimate Distance Golf Balls Illegal?

The Nitro Ultimate Distance golf ball is illegal according to both the current USGA Conforming Ball List and the R&A Conforming Ball List.

Even with this ruling, Nitro’s own website proclaims that the following golf balls “conform” to USGA rules:

  • Vision
  • Crossfire
  • Eclipse
  • Glycerin
  • Maximum Distance
  • Whiteout

Nitro produces an array of golf balls designed for players of all skill levels, from high-handicappers to single-digit players.

They also have golf balls that come in many colors and patterns for golfers who like a little flair in their game.

When in doubt about the validity of the legality of a piece of golf equipment, please refer to the official USGA Conforming Club and Ball Lists and or the R&A Golf Equipment Search. These official sites will have the most updated information on conforming equipment.

Nitro Golf Balls Compression

According to the Nitro Golf Website, here are the compression ratings for their golf balls:

  • Vision – 30
  • Pulsar – 90
  • Tour Distance – 90
  • Crossfire – 85
  • Eclipse – 70
  • Glycerin – 70
  • Nitro LD +20 – 100
  • Maximum Distance – 85
  • White Out – 70

Golfers who like a soft feel will love the Vision, with a compression rating of 30.

Some models feature DuPont Lithium Surlyn covers and titanium cores. They have one-piece, and multi-piece construction, depending on the model.

The combination of the two should produce more energy transfer between the clubface and the golf ball, allowing for extra distance.

Low compression Nitro balls like the Vision will have a soft feel that some golfers will like.

FAQ Section

What company makes Nitro golf balls?

The Nitro Golf Corporation, based out of Stuart, Florida, makes Nitro golf balls.

Why is the Nitro golf ball Illegal?

Neither the USGA nor the R&A give any reasons when golf equipment fails their testing. For golf balls, there are six different criteria that a ball must pass in order to conform to the rules of golf.

Illegal golf balls can be too small or too heavy. They can also have dimple patterns, or dimple designs that give the ball unfair aerodynamic characteristics, allowing it to fly too straight.

Golf balls can also have cores made of materials that are too “hot”, meaning that the golf ball has too much initial velocity, or exceeds the overall distance standard in testing.

It really doesn’t matter why current Nitro Golf balls are illegal. They are not on the conforming balls list and are illegal.

When and if new Nitro models pass the criteria established by the USGA and the R&A, those models will appear on the conforming ball list and be legal to play.

Are Nitro balls illegal?

Yes, all 9 current models of Nitro golf balls listed on their website are illegal according to both the current USGA Conforming Ball List and the R&A Conforming Ball List. The USGA and the R&A do not comment publicly on why equipment fails their testing criteria.

Our testers believe Nitro golf balls are illegal because of the titanium core, which is harder than the rubbers used in other manufacturers’ golf balls. This harder core could inflate initial velocity and total distance allowed numbers.

Until Nitro produces golf balls that pass the criteria set forth by the governing bodies of the game, they will remain non-conforming, and therefore, illegal to play in tournaments.

What golf ball is illegal?

The best way to determine if a golf ball is illegal is to go to the USGA Conforming Club and Ball Lists and or the R&A Golf Equipment Search and type in the make and model of the ball and see if it’s on the conforming list. If it is not on the list, it is a non-conforming piece of equipment, and is illegal to use in tournament play.

Other notable illegal golf balls include:

  • Polara Self Correcting Golf Balls
  • Bandit Maximum Distance Golf Balls
  • MG Golf Balls Senior
  • Foo King Long
  • Volvik Magma
  • Bandit Golf Balls – Non Conforming
  • Polara HD
  • Kaede Fly Distance

Why Play an Illegal Golf Ball?

If it’s not legal to play an illegal golf ball, then why would players choose to play with them?

#1. Golf is a Game

Golf is just a game and should be enjoyable to play. Beginners, high handicappers, and average golfers with slow swing speeds are going to look for golf balls that promise to fly straighter and fly a super long distance.

If the ball doesn’t meet USGA standards, and their playing partners don’t care, so what? They might be out to have fun on the golf course.

#2. Cost

Premium golf balls made by Titleist, Callaway, TaylorMade, Bridgestone and other manufacturers can be expensive. If you’re a golfer who struggles, you might lose a lot of golf balls and losing sleeve after sleeve of ProV1’s can add up quickly.

Conclusion: Research by

black tell me more golf compressed logo with mottled background information for golfers

Today, all models of Nitro golf balls are illegal according to the conforming equipment databases of both the USGA and the R&A. However, manufacturers like Nitro are constantly submitting new models of golf balls for testing and they can meet the criteria and be legal.

You cannot play an illegal golf ball in any tournament with USGA or R&A rules in play. Local rules may allow illegal golf balls for smaller, club-type events.

Just because illegal golf balls promise explosive distance and self-correcting ball flight does not mean that those golf balls actually perform as promised.

If you’re a beginner golfer who wants to save a few dollars and hope to get some game improvement from illegal golf balls, feel free.

However, if you’re playing with friends, or fellow competitors in any type of match, or for money, let them know that you’re playing an illegal ball. They can decide if it’s fair or not.


Patrick Corley Tell Me More Golf Instructor and Coach
Patrick Corley
From a golf scholarship to a Southern California University, to a private golf coaching career and an instructor position at a nonprofit organization, I’m here to help you get better at golf! With my 50+ years of golf experience; I bring you Tell Me More Golf. A golf coaching website that helps your game with instructional golfing content that’s ultimately geared toward making you a better golfer and having more fun!
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