Srixon’s new Z-Star and Z-Star XV balls feature an inside distance story fueled by power and an outside spin story so detailed it reaches the supramolecular level.
The point? To make balls for better players, you need complex constructions.
That construction includes the three-piece Z-Star and the four-piece, dual-core XV. Both balls feature core designs that start soft but get decidedly firmer toward the perimeter to give higher swing speed players more potential for longer driving distance. It’s what the company is calling the “FastLayer” core. Enhancing the distance component of both balls is a new firmer, highly repulsive mantle layer to create more ball speed potential and high launch with low spin on the longest shots.
The Z-Star and Z-Star XV measure at a higher compression than some of the competitive balls in the tour-ball marketplace, with the Z-Star at a 90 compression and the Z-Star XV at 102. Srixon engineers make the argument that the best players with above average swing speeds need a firmer core for the best performance.
“The exceptional ball speed and distance of both Z-Star offerings are driven by the new FastLayer Core technology, producing both outstanding ball speed and launch conditions tuned for the high swing-speed, better player,” said Jeff Brunski, vice president of research and development.
Core technologies, however, are the basics of golf ball design. It’s what Srixon is doing with its urethane cover that involves something outside of the ordinary, including what's known as a "super molecule." First, its ultra-thin urethane cover design (just 0.5 millimeters thick) means the Z-Star balls use less of the naturally slow urethane material in the ball’s design. Second, while a thicker urethane cover might more easily get into the grooves of short irons and wedges for more spin, the Z-Star balls’ thin covers get an extra coating designed to create more friction for more spin.
This treatment, the company’s “SpinSkin,” is now in its fourth generation, but it’s been updated with use of a new superpolymer. Known as SeRM or “Slide-Ring Material,” this enhancement changes the molecular structure of the coating to create stronger and more flexible molecular bonds that give at impact taking on what Srixon calls “unprecedented levels of shearing force.” Srixon engineers says this material allows the thin cover to penetrate the grooves for better grab and spin control on approach shots and shorter shots around the green.
The revolutionary slide-ring material compound was discovered and perfected at the University of Tokyo in the 1990s and has been the subject of dozens of academic papers over the years. It’s been used in coating materials for automobiles, cell phones and mobile computers, sound absorption in speakers, fishing rod design and even in anti-seismic materials to mitigate damage to buildings in earthquakes.
Kozho Ito, whose laboratory at the University of Tokyo has done the groundbreaking work on slide-ring materials, wrote in 2009, “These peculiar mechanical behaviors of the slide-ring materials are similar to those of biomaterials such as mammalian skin, vessel, and tissues.”
The science of SeRM can be dizzying. It has been described as “a polymer with moving crosslinking points.” “Crosslinking” is how polymers can be made to perform stronger, but by making the crosslinking moveable like on a pulley, those crosslinking sections are less likely to break under stress, thus making the construction less stable and less effective than its original formulation. That’s not happening with the slide-ring material coating being used on the Srixon balls, Brunski said.
“SeRM is an extremely flexible material,” Brunski said. “Never before has Srixon combined so many technologies in one golf ball, to produce more friction for more spin around the green.”
The new Z-Star balls will be at retail Feb. 1 ($40 per dozen in both white and yellow).