2013 Hot List: Golf Balls

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2013 Hot List: Golf Balls

April 29, 2013

LISTED A - ZOver $36

BRIDGESTONE__• B330 • B330-RX• B330-RXS • B330-S__$45 dozenTECH TALK: The dual-dimple design is intended to reduce drag during launch and enhance lift late in flight for more carry. The urethane covers on the B330 and B330-S are thinner for better feel. The mantle on the RX models is softer to control spin on drives.VERDICT: A great variety here, and we really like Bridgestone's commitment to ball-fitting.__PERFORMANCE:****½INNOVATION:
FEEL:****½DEMAND:***½__

CALLAWAY

HEX BLACK TOUR$46 dozenTECH TALK: The soft inner core and firm outer core have a wide compression difference to yield lower spin on tee shots and more spin on wedge shots. The dual mantle's firm outer layer is designed to enhance ball speed. The cover is slightly thicker than previous Callaway tour balls, for enhanced feel.VERDICT: A well-executed combination of technologies answering all questions good players have.__PERFORMANCE:****½INNOVATION:****½FEEL:
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NIKE

__• 20XI • 20XI X$46 dozen__TECH TALK: The injection-molded polymer resin in the inner core and mantle is twice the amount of the 2011 version. Its lighter weight compared to traditional rubber cores helps reduce the ball's spin on tee shots and maintain higher spin on short shots.VERDICT: Nike has made real strides here in what amounts to a complete rethinking of golf-ball technology.__PERFORMANCE:****½INNOVATION:
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SRIXON

__• Z-Star • Z-Star SL • Z-Star XV$45 dozen__TECH TALK: Srixon's tour balls are designed with very thin covers so the cores can be larger to produce more ball speed. The XV model features a firmer dual-core for less spin off the driver, and the SL model's lower compression is intended to produce a higher launch angle.VERDICT: We like the emphasis on a large core for its ball-speed benefits. Plus, the thin cover is surprisingly durable, too.__PERFORMANCE:****½INNOVATION:****½FEEL:
DEMAND:**½__

TAYLORMADE

__LETHAL$48 dozen__TECH TALK: TaylorMade set out to improve the flight of this five-layer ball to better match the higher launch angles of today's clubs. The core is designed to increase ball speed on tee shots. The three mantles work to optimize spin on long-, middle- and short-iron shots. And the cover aims to control spin and feel on the shortest shots and putts.VERDICT: Designing a ball for today's high-launch, low-spin world is smart.__PERFORMANCE:****½INNOVATION:****½FEEL:****½DEMAND:***½__

TITLEIST

__• PRO V1 • PROV1X$48 dozen__TECH TALK: Titleist used a new paint process for the cover to improve durability and aerodynamic consistency. The new Pro V1 has a softer-compression core, less spin and a shallower landing angle on tee shots; the dual-core Pro V1x has improved spin on long- and middle-iron shots.VERDICT: The enhancements are smartly calculated. We think the tweaks to the Pro V1 might be appreciated most by average golfers.__• PERFORMANCE:
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__• DEMAND:*****________

MAXFLI

__U/6$45 dozen__TECH TALK: The six layers comprise a low-compression core and four mantles. The mantles increase in density to reduce spin on tee shots, and the two inner mantles are intended to control sidespin.VERDICT: The concept of increasing firmness as you move away from the core's center is well-proven, but this is a fresh approach worth your attention.__PERFORMANCE:
INNOVATION:****½FEEL:***½DEMAND:*__

VOLVIK

__VISTA IV$48 dozen__TECH TALK: The dual core takes an alternative approach by wrapping a softer outer core around a firmer inner core. Volvik's design team says the purpose is to improve energy transfer from the firmer inner core.VERDICT: Although this ball is unlikely to appeal to golfers with fast swing speeds, its use on the LPGA Tour (16 players) says something about its level of performance.__PERFORMANCE:
INNOVATION:***½FEEL:***½DEMAND:*__

WILSON

__• FG TOUR • FG TOUR X$40 dozen__TECH TALK: The softer FG Tour (75 compression) is designed for more contact area on the clubface to engage more grooves. The firmer FG Tour X (95 compression) features a harder mantle layer to improve ball speed. Both balls have a softer cover and paint combination for better feel.VERDICT: Our testers liked the feel, particularly the softer FG Tour. And better yet, it's a good value for this category.__PERFORMANCE:
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$21—$36

BRIDGESTONE

__•e5 • e6 • e7$27 dozen__TECH TALK: All three models have new dimples that are 6 percent larger than last year's versions. By covering a greater surface area, this design reduces drag for faster elevation, increased carry and a shallower angle of descent.VERDICT: The two-piece urethane e5 is best for moderate swing speeds. The three-piece e7 is designed for distance. But it's the softer e6 that seemed to work for most of our panel.__• PERFORMANCE:
INNOVATION:****½FEEL:
DEMAND:****__

CALLAWAY

__• HEX CHROME • HEX CHROME+$36 dozen__TECH TALK: The three-piece Chrome has a low-compression core for increased driver ball speed, and the four-piece Chrome+ has a soft inner mantle and a firm outer mantle that activate the dual core for added speed. Each model has a thermoplastic urethane cover for spin around the greens.VERDICT: Both balls are tour worthy Chrome is for average swing speeds, and the Chrome+ is designed for faster speeds.__PERFORMANCE:****½INNOVATION:
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DEMAND:***__

CALLAWAY

__• HEX HOT • HEX HOT PRO$27 dozen__TECH TALK: The HEX Hot has a soft and thin Surlyn mantle that is designed to increase ball speed. The HEX Hot Pro has a soft but fast ionomer mantle that lowers spin. Both models have a durable trionomer cover and re-engineered hexagonal dimples to maintain a penetrating flight longer.VERDICT: The HEX Hot is designed for maximum ball speed, and the HEX Hot Pro offers more feel around the greens.__PERFORMANCE:
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DEMAND:***__

NIKE

__• ONE RZN • ONE RZN X$30 dozen__TECH TALK: The polymer resin core is designed to be more resilient yet lighter than typical rubber centers. The heavier outer layer is designed to help the ball maintain low spin off the driver and consistent spin on iron shots.VERDICT: This is an intriguing materials story. The RZN's cover is softer, but even the X's firmer distance cover feels good.__PERFORMANCE:
INNOVATION:****½FEEL:****½DEMAND:***__

SRIXON

__Q-STAR$25 dozen__TECH TALK: Changes to this two-piece, large-core design include a new 344-dimple pattern designed to reduce drag for less dispersion on tee shots and a new coating on the cover to enhance friction and improve short-game spin.VERDICT: Srixon's goal of producing a ball that average players hit straighter is nice, but it was the feel around the greens that impressed our testers the most.__PERFORMANCE:
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• FEEL:
DEMAND:***__

TAYLORMADE

__ROCKETBALLZ URETHANE$30 dozen__TECH TALK: This three-piece design features a cast urethane cover over a thin mantle layer to improve ball speed and to control spin on wedge shots. TaylorMade increased the size of the core and lowered the compression to improve feel and spin on tee shots.VERDICT: A three-piece urethane-covered golf ball at this price is impressive, but so is all the work done here to improve feel.__PERFORMANCE:
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DEMAND:***__

TITLEIST

__• NXT TOUR • NXT TOUR S$32 dozen__TECH TALK: The NXT line features two constructions. The softer-feeling two-piece NXT Tour S is designed for less spin off the tee and long-iron shots. The dual-core NXT Tour has a larger outer core than last year's version to improve ball speed.VERDICT: Both balls seem to smartly address full-swing shots, with maybe a slight nod in feel and short-shot spin to the NXT Tour S.__PERFORMANCE:
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DEMAND:***__

TITLEIST

__VELOCITY$27 dozen__TECH TALK: This two-piece design features the most energetic core in the Titleist line. But the quest for speed goes beyond that thanks to an ionomer-blend cover designed for high initial velocity and a dimple pattern geared toward optimizing distance through a higher flight.VERDICT: If distance is what drives your ball decision-making process, the ball-speed work here from Titleist's engineers is undeniable.__PERFORMANCE:
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• DEMAND:*****__

RIFE

__E MOTION$30 dozen__TECH TALK: The resilient core is surrounded by a thin, soft mantle layer. The mantle is designed to work with the soft ionomer-blend cover to improve spin and feel on shorter shots. The 392-dimple pattern is arranged to produce more stability during flight.VERDICT: This three-piece offering might not break new technological ground, but it provides an option for players interested in low spin.__PERFORMANCE:
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FEEL:***½DEMAND:*__

$20 and under

TAYLORMADE

__SUPERDEEP$20 dozen__TECH TALK: By using a highly elastic rubber, engineers were able to lower the core compression of this two-piece ball from 62 to 35 without a negative impact on speed. The softer core yields lower driver spin for greater distance, and the dimple pattern on the ionomer cover is designed to minimize distance loss on low-spin shots.VERDICT: This soft-feeling distance ball is made for a wide range of swing speeds.__• PERFORMANCE:
INNOVATION:****½• FEEL:
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TITLEIST

__DT SOLO$20 dozen__TECH TALK: A 392-dimple cover pattern on this two-piece ball includes five dimple sizes to lower ball flight for more roll. A blend of two Surlyn ionomers produces more greenside control. Engineers redesigned the soft core to maintain speed.VERDICT: This soft-compression ball is better for swings of 90 miles per hour or less.__PERFORMANCE:
INNOVATION:****½FEEL:****½• DEMAND:*****__

TOP-FLITE

__GAMER$20 dozen__TECH TALK: A DuPont mantle layer in this three-piece ball is designed to increase ball speed, and the thin DuPont Surlyn cover is designed to generate greenside spin. The dimple-in-dimple technology used on this ball helps reduce drag and maintain spin.VERDICT: This is a distance ball that offers a surprising amount of greenside feel. Also, a three-piece ball costing $20? That's brilliant.__PERFORMANCE:****½• INNOVATION:
FEEL:****½DEMAND:***__

CALLAWAY

__HEX DIABLO$20 dozen__TECH TALK: This new Diablo features a redesigned aerodynamic cover that is intended to improve lift and carry at slower swing speeds. The two-piece ball has a large, low-compression core that increases initial velocity, and a thin, ionomer-blend cover that has hexangular dimples to help reduce drag and encourage a more penetrating flight.VERDICT: A core that's soft and fast isn't an easy achievement.__PERFORMANCE:
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MAXFLI

__U/2$20 dozen__TECH TALK: This two-piece ball has a low-compression core that reduces driver spin and a urethane cover for more spin around the greens. A seamless 422-dimple pattern is designed to stabilize ball flight for a more consistent trajectory.VERDICT: For a two-piece model, our testing shows that this ball has a surprising amount of spin around the greens, something we attribute to the urethane cover.__PERFORMANCE:
INNOVATION:****½FEEL:***½DEMAND:**__

WILSON

__DUO$20 dozen__TECH TALK: By increasing the amount of rubber used in the large core, engineers were able to lower the compression to 37 and simultaneously increase ball speed. This decreases driver spin and improves feel and performance around the green. A seamless cover with a 302-dimple pattern enhances lift.VERDICT: Average golfers will appreciate how soft this ball feels and will benefit from its penetrating flight off the tee.__PERFORMANCE:
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