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Gear & Equipment

The secret ingredient in Bridgestone's new golf ball

By E. Michael Johnson

At last fall's Presidents Cup, Brandt Snedeker and Matt Kuchar each put a prototype Bridgestone B330 ball in play. Details were scarce at the time, but now we know what the secret ingredient was: water.

Bridgestone Tour B330 ball.jpgThat's right, H2O. 

In each of the company's four new offerings (Tour B330, Tour B330S, Tour B330RX and Tour B330RXS--all $45 a dozen), water was added during formulation to enhance the gradation of the core. That is, it's softer near the center and as much as 30 percent firmer on the outer regions to reduce spin off the driver. 

The B330 and 330S are four-piece construction while the 330RX and RXS are three-piece. Each has a urethane cover and what the company calls a "Hydro Core." 

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Gear & Equipment

Cheaper Thrills: A new, low-cost golf ball

By E. Michael Johnson

From the Dec. 18 edition of Golf Digest Stix:

"Parity Situation": Hopkins says the USGA has given him an opening.

Greg Hopkins used to talk about getting into the ball business when he was the CEO of Cleveland Golf. Now that Hopkins is running his own company, it's really happening. The USGA's equipment rules have "created a parity situation we can take advantage of," he says. His new three-piece, Surlyn-covered Hopkins VL Pro ball ($20 a dozen) is as good as bigger brand names, he says, but sold "at factory-direct pricing."

Hopkins Golf's press release focuses on the price advantage, noting that your bad shots will be "lost in the same place as a four-dollar tour ball, but it will have cost you less than two bucks." Quite a bit less, if you buy in bulk. An order of eight dozen works out to about $15 a dozen.

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Last-minute holiday golf gift ideas

By Marty Hackel

From the Dec. 11 edition of Golf Digest Stix:


Holiday gifts can be tricky in my household. We don't give a lot of presents, so the ones we select need to be special. Here are some of the items I've come across lately -- with the help of my colleague, assistant editor Stephen Hennessey -- that you might want to consider. Most of what we've compiled is directly connected to golf, though a few are just things that I think most golfers would like. What they all share is a commitment to high quality. Here's to that!


G/Fore Gallivanter: Lightweight and stylish, they're perfect on and off the course ($225, more info).


House of Fleming belt and buckle: PGA Tour pros might play a bit better than you, but you can be their equal around the waist ($450, more info).


Ralph Lauren RLX Wool Hybrid jacket (left): Merino wool, Elastene sleeves and a coated Teflon body to keep you extra warm ($225, more info). J. McLaughlin Jonah Cashmere sweater (right): Indoors or out, it feels "like butter." I love the suede detailing on the half zipper ($378, more info).


Peter Millar Napoli Wool Reversible vest (left): Wear it like this for windproof water resistance or flip it for a tailored wool look. How cool is that? ($395, more info). Dunning Merino wool turtleneck (right): Ralph Dunning is from Canada, so he understands staying warm. This real turtleneck will not disappoint ($99, more info).


Citizen Eco-Drive World Time watch (top left): Solar-powered, it never needs a battery, covers 26 time zones and comes with a perpetual calendar ($575, more info). Rose & Fire puttercover (top right): This California company makes gifts in authentic camo and denim ($60, more info). Personalized balls (lower left): allows three lines and your choice of number on any dozen ($28 and up). Other brands are available at Customized ball markers (right): Upload any photo at and choose from combination packs ($25 and up).


Jan Craig headcover: Design your gift at These handsome accessories make a colorful statement ($30 to $57 each).


Tivoli Albergo clock radio: Connect it to any Bluetooth-enabled device and stream your playlists to a beautiful AM/FM radio with great sound ($300, more info).


Bushnell's Tour Z6 Wingman pack(left): The range finder has Pinseeker technology and 6x magnification and comes with a Folds of Honor towel ($400, more info). Play Nine (right): The card game, great for families, is based on golf's scoring principles ($15, more info).


SuperFlex for Golf kit: A lightweight and durable way to work out on the road or at home ($80, more info).

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Gear & Equipment

Bridgestone Golf, NFL enter licensing agreement

Bridgestone Golf.jpg

By John Strege

The NFL and golf have a history of partnerships, the latest involving Bridgestone Golf, which has announced it has become an official licensee of NFL logo golf balls and golf bags.

Bridgestone will offer its golf balls and bags with logos of each of the 32 NFL teams, for those who wish to combine their passions for golf and a particular professional football team.

The NFL's partnerships with golf go back at least to the late Payne Stewart, who had a contract to wear NFL team colors and logos.

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Gear & Equipment

Dixon Spirit: An eco-friendly golf ball for women

Dixon Golf is a relatively new entity in the golf ball market that has differentiated itself with eco-friendly balls, including the Fire, that was included on Golf Digest's 2012 golf ball Hot List.

Dixon Spirit.jpg

Dixon has just introduced a ball specifically for women, the Dixon Spirit, which it calls "the world's first 100 percent eco-friendly golf ball designed for her." The ball features a Crystal pink cover and the company's GreenCore, an environmentally-friendly core. The ball was designed for swing speeds under 100 miles per hour and for women with handicaps of 10 and higher. It will retail for $29.95 a dozen.

Its line of golf balls -- Earth, Wind and Fire -- is made from recyclable materials. Moreover, in keeping with its eco-friendly business model, it offers a $6 credit in exchance for a dozen old balls for recycling purposes.

The company also forbids disposable water bottles in its Tempe, Ariz., headquarters, sends out invoices only via email and not on paper, and has solar panels that power its building, which has a roof-top garden.

-- John Strege

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Gear & Equipment

Golf balls: A cold-weather solution?

The summer behind us, cooler weather is ahead of us, raising an old familiar question: How does cold weather affect the performance of the golf ball?


Frank Thomas, former USGA technical director, has the answer in his book, "Dear Frank: Answers to 100 of Your Golf Equipment Questions." Generally, he wrote, for every 10 degrees drop in temperature you will lose from 2 to 2 1/2 yards.

"So, at 40 degrees, the ball will travel about 10 to 12 1/2 yards less than at 90 degrees," Thomas wrote.

The next question, then, can a golf ball be manufactured to counter the effects of cold? One company says it can.

ColdFusion Golf, located in Cary, N.C., has what it calls "the cold weather golf ball solution," a ball designed specifically to function better than others in cold weather, defined by the company as "below 60 degrees."

"I was out playing with a friend three years ago and the ball was sitting in the cart, it was maybe mid-40s, near Pinehurst," Curtis Colvin, the developer of the ColdFusion ball said. "So I pull the ball out of the cart, hit it and I was short. I thought, 'what the heck? Maybe it was me.' I hit another and I was short again."

Colvin contemplated solutions: "A ladies' ball? A low-compression ball?" he said. Instead, after his research showed him that no one else was doing so, he decided to manufacturer his own cold-weather ball.

He worked with a company in Taiwan with expertise in manufacturing custom golf balls, he said. Through trial and error, he decided on a 70-compression ball with a larger core.

"It's a lousy two-piece ball when it's warm," he said. "But freeze it and it comes alive. It was meant to be something easy for golfers not to have to think about. It does work."

The ColdFusion balls sell for $24 a dozen.

-- John Strege

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Gear & Equipment

Prazza: Tough to lose these golf balls

A golf ball that goes missing is an irritant, no doubt, but do we want to do away with it without improving our swings as a hedge against losing it in the first place? One company is betting that enough people will.


Prazza is a Netherlands-based company that has developed the Prazza ball with microchips and a Prazza Golf Ball Finder that allows the user to home in on a ball that has gone into hiding. The Golf Ball Finder is about the size of a smart phone and uses active radio-frequency identification to locate the Prazza ball from up to 110 yards away. The company claims it has the ability to locate the lost pellet in U.S. Open rough or in water up to eight inches deep.

The company's sales pitch is that "most golfers lose four balls per round," and that a five-minute search for each of them adds 20 minutes to a round. We can't vouch for the four lost balls a round, but when Callaway Golf first entered the golf ball business with its Rule 35 ball, it offered a five-pack based on research that said the average golfer uses 4.5 balls per round.

The big question is how well the Prazza balls perform. "Prazza golf balls are high-performance distance golf balls with excellent spin control," the company website says.

The Prazza Golf Ball Finder can be purchased here for $299.95 and includes two Prazza balls. A sleeve of three balls can be purchased separately for $39.95.

-- John Strege

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Gear & Equipment

Polara: The most defiant ball in golf

Twenty years ago, the renowned cartoonist Johnny Hart (B.C., Wizard of Id) penned a B.C. strip in which a cavewoman known as the Cute Broad is playing golf with the caveman Peter.

"Let me get this straight," the Cute Broad says. "The less I hit the ball the better I'm doing."

"That's right," Peter replies.

"Then why do it at all?" the Cute Broad asks.

This comic strip came to mind in the wake of the stories this week about the re-emergence of the Polara golf ball, designed via its asymmetrical dimple pattern to self-correct when it is oriented properly. By placing the ball with its side-stamp arrow pointing toward the target, the ball won't hook or slice nearly to the degree that other balls would.

Of course the ball does not conform to USGA rules, which stipulate that "the ball must not be designed, manufactured or intentionally modified to have properties which differ from those of a spherically symmetrical ball." The symmetry rule was added in 1981 in direct response to the original Polara, which was introduced in 1977 and eventually ruled by the USGA to be illegal for tournament play. The company sued the USGA, which eventually agreed to pay a settlement of $1.4 million.

Aero-X Golf, the company that now owns the rights to the Polara, has re-introduced the ball with newer technology and without regard for the rules. "Polara golf balls are designed for recreational golfers that want to take advantage of technology improvements designed to help golfers enjoy the game more," a news release states.

So what does the USGA have to say about it?

"You know the easiest way to get the ball in the middle of the fairway?" Dick Rugge, senior technical director of the USGA, told the New York Times. "Walk down there and place it with your hand. Who are you kidding?"

The Cute Broad couldn't have said it better herself.

-- John Strege

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