Zurich Classic of New Orleans

TPC Louisiana

The Loop

New Nike ball has core story

February 16, 2011

More than 10 years ago, Nike's multilayer, urethane-covered Tour Accuracy signaled a shift in tour-level golf balls. Now the company is hoping it has found another golf-ball technology that can meet with similar success.

Nike's new 20XI line boasts a four-piece construction featuring a resin core, which is lighter than a rubber counterpart. According to Rock Ishii, Nike's product development director for golf balls, that material allows for heavier outer layers. The result, he said, is better perimeter weighting and a higher moment of inertia, which, just like a golf club, enhances forgiveness. In the case of a ball, it can assist in windy conditions due to reduced driver spin.

Nike produced a video of its tour players (including Tiger Woods and Stewart Cink) talking about the new ball and its benefits during testing sessions. Yes, it smacks a little of a commercial, but there are some nuggets of insight that make it worth a look.

It's not often moment of inertia properties are mentioned in golf balls, but according to Ishii, six points in golf ball moment of inertia equates to one yard of carry into the wind. The resin core material (developed in conjunction with DuPont and more than four years in the making) also is designed to promote a faster initial velocity. Ishii says the design produces a "steeper spin slope," meaning more short-iron spin with less driver spin. The ball also has the benefit of being green-friendly through use of some renewable raw materials.

Ishii says the offering has tighter production tolerances for more consistency. Current tour balls, he said, are made from a mixture of materials susceptible to changes in atmospheric conditions, meaning manufacturers have to be cognizant of humidity and temperature in the plant. Using resin reduces the number of steps and is less affected by such conditions.

The 20XI comes in two versions -- S and X -- and the X ball has a slightly firmer cover and higher compression. Both feature a 360-dimple, urethane cover design and retail for $46 a dozen.

-- E. Michael Johnson

Follow me on Twitter at @EMichaelGW