Golfing Magazine Online -
Golf Balls 2006
Tom Landers
By Tom Landers
Published on 10/11/2006

Today’s Golf Ball Can Do It All

Modern golf balls have reached an almost outrageous level of quality, providing a combination of feel, distance, durability and spin.

It was not long ago when golfers had to choose between golf balls that were hard, durable and long, or those that felt soft and spun a great deal but didn’t go very far and lost their shape rather easily. Those days are over, because today’s golf ball can do it all.

When it comes to getting the best golf ball for your game, the most expensive model or the type your favorite Tour player uses aren’t always the best for your game. In fact, most multi-layered, urethane covered, high performance models won’t provide significant benefits for anyone who swings the driver less than 110 miles an hour. These performance models are built with cores, mantles and cover materials that require a significant amount of compression in order to create the desired high velocity.

The hottest trend in golf balls is a three-piece design that incorporates a slightly firmer Surlyn cover and softer core. This allows many average golfers to activate the distance and spin benefits of today’s highly reactive cores. These “recreational” models provide an excellent combination of distance, durability and solid short game performance. An added bonus: They are moderately priced.

To help golfers attain the performance capabilities of today’s golf balls, designers have formulated new covers and mantles that enable even moderate swingers to activate the fast, powerful cores featured in most brands. The shape of the cover also has taken center stage, with far-out dimple patterns (Callaway’s HEX pattern and the flat-bottomed dimples on recent Wilson Staff models) and performance-enhancing manufacturing methods (Bridgestone’s Seamless Cover Technology).

The development of new materials allows a high coefficient of restitution (COR) to be achieved with a low-compression (softer feeling) golf ball, as engineers search for the ideal ball--one that’s soft, fast and long.

Success isn’t determined merely by velocity. Golf ball manufacturers reached the magical maximum initial velocity limit allowed by the USGA years ago. Of course, those balls featured extreme compression ratings and most were two-piece designs.
Today, golf ball designers can deliver the same distance in a 60- or 70-compression golf ball, which is also much softer feeling than its predecessors. Rather than chasing velocity, modern engineers are on a quest for variable spin rates that optimize distance, accuracy and trajectory depending on the requirements of the shot. The best ball is one that spins less with the driver and more with the short irons, while providing the kind of feel or feedback the player desires.

So, experiment with different brands and models. And when you find one that performs and feels right, tee it up and let‘er fly.

Ben Hogan Tour Deep | 866-834-6532 | $54 per dozen

Unique Features: The Tour Deep golf ball has its own unique dimple design.  Six extra-deep dimples act as stabilizers, holding the core of the ball directly in the center.  No other ball can boast such a stable ball flight.  This also adds to the Tour Deep’s distance.  Alongside the Next Generation mantle, the soft, high-velocity core makes the Tour Deep a long-ball hitter’s dream.  None of this sacrifices spin, though, as the Tour Deep is also one of the softest balls out there.

Testers Comments:“Came off well with driver ….Checked nicely on pitch shots. “

Bridgestone Tour B330 | 800-359-6319 | $54 per dozen

Unique Features: The Tour B330 features Bridgestone’s 330 Seamless Cover Technology dimple pattern, which is designed to reduce drag during elevation.  Bridgestone’s innovative Speed Elasticity Core is designed to create more speed at impact by allowing more deformation and less spin off the driver. The three-piece design of the B330 provides ample spin on iron and wedge shots, making it a solid performer in all facets of the game.

Testers Comments:“The ball really goes  ….Soft Feel with putter  …. Nice high trajectory.”

Callaway HX Tour | 800-588-9836 | $50 per dozen

Unique Features: The Callaway HX Tour is becoming one of the most popular balls in professional golf.  Played by the queen of the ladies’ game, Annika Sorenstam, and 2005 U.S. Open winner Michael Campbell, the HX Tour is a thin-covered, high energy ball that gives golfers amazing stopping power around the flag.  The Sub-Hex dimple design promotes a consistent ball flight while also contributing to a very durable and resilient cover.

Testers Comments:“Longest ball I have tried  ..… Really good around greens, nice and soft.”

Maxfli BlackMax | 800-456-8633 | $50 per dozen

Unique Features: Maxfli’s BlackMAX golf ball is engineered to be long, responsive and controllable. The ball features a new core formulation that’s designed to provide an extremely high COR. This ball is designed for both very fast swingers and those with more moderate swing speeds. An active ionomer mantle, combined with a new thin Urethane Response Cover, work with the core to provide low spin & high launch off the driver.

Testers Comments:“Great on short shots and around green  ..… Soft Feeling   .... Average distance for me.”

Srixon Z-URS | 888-477-4966 | $59 per dozen

Unique Features: The Srixon Z-URS sports the thinnest urethane-elastomer cover in the world.  The lower overall compression in the Z-URS provides a soft responsive feel, without sacrificing the explosive distance and short game playability golfers have come to expect from a multi-layer performance ball. Also, a newly developed 330-dimple pattern provides a high trajectory with a strong, penetrating ball flight.

Testers Cotsmmen:“Nice driver distance   .…. Felt softer than my ball but went far .…. Very consistent, I would play this ball.”

Titleist ProV1 | 800-225-8500 | $58 per dozen

Unique Features:The most successful golf ball in history has undergone a few changes, including an improved core formulation that provides outstanding feel and a redesigned ionomer casing layer that provides lower driver spin for longer distance. The only other change is a high coverage icosahedral dimple design for optimized aerodynamics and a more penetrating trajectory. In short, the New Pro V1 is designed for golfers with a wide range of launch conditions that are seeking Tour-level performance.

Testers Comments:“Great Distance and Feel  ..… My favorite ball that I tried  ..…. Awesome around greens.”

Wilson Staff Tx4 | 773-714-6400 | $30 per dozen

Unique Features: The Tx4 is the tour-caliber ball that low-handicap players will love.  Utilizing four-layer technology, the Tx4 is superb in all areas of performance.  The Nano Tech Core combines lively distance and soft feel, while the Fusion Mantle increases the rate of spin on iron shots.  The urethance elastomer cover is scuff-resistant and features maximum controllability.  Like the Dx2, the 312-dimple design results in a high, steady ball flight.

Testers Comments:“Good Ball but it scuffed a little  …..Solid distance and trajectory on all shots   ….. Nice Ball”

Nike One Platinum | (800) 922-6453 | $40

Unique Features: This four piece ball has 3 covers. The outside injection-molded urethane cover with 408 dimples is designed to have soft feel while the middle cover is designed to improve middle-iron launch conditions and the inner cover is designed to reduce driver spin. Just ask Tiger if this works!

Testers Comments:“Was able to work this well  ….. Stopped as expected on greens   ..… Great Driver Distance.”

Callaway Big Bertha | 800-588-9836 | $25 per dozen

Unique Features: Those golfers in search of a soft golf ball can look no farther.  The Callaway Big Bertha’s two-piece construction is part of what makes it the softest ball Callaway makes.  The ultra-low compression core helps create perfect feel while also stopping the ball on a dime.  As one can expect from the Big Bertha name, though, this ball can really fly.  The core promotes a faster ball speed and more distance, while also reducing driver spin.  This mitigates slice, resulting in straighter, longer shots.

Testers Comments:“Nice high trajectory with this ball   ..…Ran out a little on pitch shots.”

Dunlop LoCo Dart | 800-235-5516 | $20 / dozen

Unique Features: The original LoCo model was one of the first and most popular low compression recreational golf balls. The new Dart is the first LoCo model to feature a multi-layer construction. Dunlop claims this new improvement makes for a more penetrating ball flight with greatly improved short-game performance. This three-piece, low-compression recreational model golf ball provides everything the more expensive performance balls provide for the average golfer at a fraction of the cost. Other LoCo models available include, LoCo Pro, LoCo Pro HT, Super LoCo models, as well as the LoCo Senorita model for women.

Testers Comments:“This ball surprised me, it was softer than I expected and spun nicely  ..…Popped off the driver.”

Maxfli Noodle Longest | 800-888-2582 | $20 per dozen

Unique Features: The Noodle Longest lives up to its name.  The low-compression core is the basis for the high ball speed and low spin rate that golfers will love as they hit their drives longer and longer.  The firm Surlyn cover fuses with the energy created by the ball’s core, increasing distance even more.  All this is done without any loss of the feel or control that is synonymous with the Noodle name.

Testers Comments:“Not a lot of feel, but great distance ..…Stopped OK on greens.”

Maxfli RedMax | 800-888-2582 | $24

Unique Features: This two-piece ball has a large, low-compression core and firm Surlyn cover that work in conjunction to deliver an unparalleled combination of red-hot distance and soft feel. The Surlyn cover combined with the ultra-large core is fast off the club face for long-carrying distance off the tee for all levels of swing speed. The core’s low-compression properties also give RedMAX a remarkably soft feel while the thin Surlyn 293 copolymer cover works with the core to boost ball-COR for red hot distance.

Testers Comments:“Great Trajectory and Distance  ..… Preformed more like a Tour ball  ..… Nice Spin into greens.”

Nike Ignite | 800-806-6453 | $35 per dozen

Unique Features:  The new Nike Ignite will light a fire under your golf game.  This three-piece ball sports a truly seamless dimple design for the most aerodynamic experience a golf ball can have.  This adds distance and consistency to your ball flight from tee to green.  The hot, responsive core is another reason the Ignite gets such awesome distance, yet the soft Surlyn cover provides fantastic feel and control that is rarely seen in a ball with so much distance.

Testers Comments:“Really flew far on tee balls  ..… Good stopping on the greens  .….Overall a really nice ball.

Precept XP3 | 800-358-6319 | $30 per dozen

Unique Features: Don’t let the bright colors fool you.  The Precept XP3 is a serious golf ball.  Featuring a new X-Polymer core for increased distance and the patented Wicked Control Surlyn cover, the XP3 is long off the tee and soft around the greens.  The two-piece ball comes with Seamless Cover Technology, ensuring the smoothest and truest ball flight every time.  And for those who have trouble following the ball, the XP3 comes in optic yellow and orange in addition to the traditional white.

Testers Comments:“Long off Tee   ..… It was a little firm around greens for me  …..Consistent ball flight.

Srixon AD 333 | 888-477-4966 | $25 per dozen

Unique Features: The Srixon Ad 333 may not be easy to say, but it really is easy to hit.  The Energetic Gradient Growth core reduces spin, giving the ball a penetrating flight that results in lots of carry and roll off the tee.  The new Rabalon cover is extremely thin, allowing a rapid energy transfer from the core to the clubface.  The 333 dimples stabilize ball flight and increase the AD 333’s ability to cut through the wind.

Testers Comments:“Nice feel both off tee and around greens  ..... I was surprised by fell around greens, it was more like a tour ball.”

Titleist NXT Tour | 800-225-8500 | $36 per dozen

Unique Features: The new Titleist NXT Family of golf balls has been enhanced to provide even longer distance while maintaining a soft feel and optimum greenside spin to provide golfers of all levels with the game improvement options best suited to their needs.  Titleist’s advanced solid core and Fusablend cover technologies provide more speed and lower spin at a softer compression. The reformulated cover also increases ball speed and reduces driver spin.

Testers Comments:“Good distance and stopped on greens, I will be playing this ball…..A lot of feel and great around greens.”

Topflite XL Extreme Tour | 866-834-6532 | $23 per dozen

Unique Features: If you like to swing for the fences, say hello to the XL Extreme Tour from Topflite.  This ball caters to those with higher swing speeds.  The seamless cover reduces drag and increases flight time, while the symmetrical dimple pattern produces a consistent flight.  Thanks to its amazing Rocket Core Technology, the XL Extreme Tour is like the Energizer Bunny off the tee: it keeps going and going…

Testers Comments:“Hit it far on tee balls, not as responsive on greens…Chips and pitches ran out a lot.. Lots of tee ball distance.”

Wilson ProStaff 360 Max Distance | 773-714-6400 | $16 (sold in 15-packs)

Unique Features: The Wilson ProStaff 360 Max Distance is the long-awaited answer to recreational players’ pleas for an affordable ball with exceptional performance.  Featuring the new Flash Metal cover, the Prostaff 360 Max Distance is easy to see as you bomb it down the fairway again and again.  A low compression core keeps your iron shots on the green.  Combined with Wilson’s unique 360-dimple design, this ball lives up to its Max Distance name.

Testers Comments:“A little firm feeling especially on short shots… Nice Distance and height to shots.”