Buyer’s Guide – Direct To Consumer Golf Balls

Buyer’s Guide – Direct To Consumer Golf Balls

Post image for Buyer’s Guide – Direct To Consumer Golf Balls

Can Smaller Brands Compete?

Lately we’ve been inundated with a rash of direct to consumer golf balls. Each claims to be something extraordinary. They’re  “Tour Level’ or “Really straight”, and each ball pushes some sort of outstanding value.

Each one has some sort of distinct hook; subscription services, charitable donations, eco-frienly packaging (or lack thereof), or a metal core. No doubt some of these value-added features will be of interest to some of you, but at the end of the day it should be about performance and value.

What we really want to know is: Are any among this new wave of direct to consumer golf balls worth putting in your bag?

Using one of the best-selling balls in all of golf as our control sample, we put six of these upstart balls to the test. Our field includes:

ball-align

The Balls

Here’s what you need to know about the balls in this test (click tabs for full info).

FEATURES---BALLS-5

Ball Designer

  • 3UP: Original design with help of manufacturer.
  • Lightning: Original design with help of manufacturer.
  • Monsta: Original design.
  • Nicklaus: Designed, tested and perfected under the active involvement of the legendary Jack Nicklaus.
  • OnCore: Original design.
  • Snell: Dean Snell – Inventor or co-inventor of the Titleist Pro V1, TaylorMade TP, Penta,  Project (a), and Tour Preferred.

Manufacturer/Origin

  • 3UP: “The 2nd largest ball manufacturer in the world behind”
  • Lightning: Taiwan
  • Monsta: Asia.
  • Nicklaus: Bridgestone
  • OnCore: Suppliers are based in both US and Taiwan
  • Snell: Korea

3UP:

  • Tacky cover offers more greenside spin
  • Progressive core helps cover a wider range of swing speeds for compression
  • $3 of every dozen goes directly to golf related charities

Lightning:

  • Long off the tee because of the 3 layer construction
  • Urethane cover gives a very soft feel around the greens to get the ultimate spin
  • Subscription service. No packaging is eco-friendly and provides lower costs to consumers

Monsta:

  • Superb spin off lofted clubs
  • Cover has tacky feel, like the older balata covers but much more durable
  • Our progressive core provides consistent ball flight

Nicklaus:

  • Optimizes feel and distance for players who play from the back tees
  • High Speed Gradient Core for longer distance
  • Tour-caliber Urethane Cover for optimal control

OnCore:

  • Highest initial velocity of any ball
  • Truer line on the putting green
  • High backspin around the greens

Snell:

  • Very soft, fast low compression core to help keep the driver spin low and ball speed high for longer driver shots
  • Mantle layer works with the core to control spin and launch on long and mid irons
  • The soft, cast urethane cover works with the mantle layer to create excellent short game spin, control, feel and durability

Each ball was subjected to Launch Monitor testing as well as on course play by our testers. Our testers were also asked to hit multiple chips and pitches with high lofted clubs to verify durability using the same ball in each instance.

Driver Performance

TEST-DATA---Driver

6 Iron Performance

TEST-DATA---6-iron

Wedge Performance

TEST-DATA---wedges

 

ball-scuffs

MyGolfSpy Recommended

Best-Overall-3

Good: Snell’s My Tour Ball is long off the tee, solid with irons and offers outstanding spin off the wedge. It’s also among the best feeling ball we’ve ever encountered. Trajectory is consistent, and durability is excellent.

Bad: It’s too bad we can’t walk into our local store and purchase it.

Notes: It’s the ball that anyone who hits it says, WOW! We seriously had trouble keeping our testers from sneaking off with our limited samples. One tester described the Snell as “A better Pro V1” and we can’t help but agree.  It’s as if Dean Snell took the very best of his past work and rolled it all into a single ball.

The My Tour Ball is a phenomenal all-around performer from tee to green. Take that performance and combine it with the lowest price of any ball in this tests we can’t think of any reason why you shouldn’t try Snell’s My Tour Ball.

The clear best of breed within this field. 

Best-value-2

Good: Long off the tee, good iron performance and outstanding wedge spin always make for a great combination. The Nicklaus Black also displayed good durability and great feel around the greens. Our testers also noted how good a driving ball it is given its low launch and low spin characteristics.

Bad: Mid-iron distance lagged a bit, and the large logo may not be for everyone.

Notes: The ball designed for “those who play from the blacks”, was a collective early favorite with our testers and it never disappointed.  The Nicklaus Black checks all the boxes for those looking for a Pro V1X or Bridgestone B330 alternative. It ties for the cheapest shipped dozen balls in our test at $32 (with $1 going to both Nicklaus Children’s Health Care Foundation and St. Jude’s), but becomes an amazing value when you factor in the occasional 3 dz/$75 promotion and their $27 monthly subscription prices.

The best low spin driving ball tested.

The Rest of the Field

The 3up 3F12, Lightning SmackDaddy and Monsta balls all performed admirably and certainly compete with today’s tour balls, but a few attributes such as price, distance and durability put them solidly in the 2nd tier.

honorableMention

Good: Offers the feel of an old balata. Compares favorably to most of today’s tour balls from tee to green. Charitable donations with every purchase.

Bad: Like balata balls, the 3F12 feels a bit heavy off the driver and irons, and is almost sluggish coming off the putter. Average distance when compared to our control sample and the top balls in this test. Cover durability leaves a lot to be desired .

Notes: At under $40/dozen the 3UP 3F12 still passes our “competes for cheaper vs big name balls” test and a $3 charitable donation with each purchase still makes the 3F12 a worth considering.

Good: Solid all-around performance. Slightly softer feel than a lot of balls. Good feel of all clubs including the putter. The SmackDaddy may appeal to lower ball hitters as it should launch higher than most. Above-average durability.

Bad: Higher launching, which may not appeal to everyone.

Notes: We were please with the Lightning Hl3 SmackDaddy’s performance overall, but those numbers don’t quite reach that of our top choices. The per dozen price point is decent and with long term subscription pricing of $35.10/dz there’s even more value.

Good: Solid overall performance, but really shines in the wedge spin and control department. Outstanding feel off the putter.

Bad: The Monsta lags behind in the distance category.

Notes: $32.99 per dozen (plus shipping) is reasonable, though not exceptional, given Monsta’s performance.

Good: Decent feel.

Bad: Distance is disappointing. It sounds odd (loud), and it absolutely jumps off the putter. Price point matches that of high-end tour balls.

Notes: Distance is underwhelming, and it sounds terribleYou can spend considerably less, for a significantly better ball.

Golf Forum – Golf Blog (MyGolfSpy.com)

Nike Wants to Make Your (Golf) Balls Stickier

Nike Wants to Make Your (Golf) Balls Stickier

Post image for Nike Wants to Make Your (Golf) Balls Stickier

Written By: Tony Covey

What does a glass of water, a microwave, an internet connected computer and a golf ball have in common?

If you somehow came up with “They’re all part of a Nike patent application for an adjustable tackiness golf ball“, congratulations, you nailed it.

Also, you should probably get yourself checked out, because that kind of association…that kind of thinking…it’s not normal. Of course, it’s that occasional bit of way outside the box weirdness that never fails to remind me why I genuinely appreciate Nike’s presence in the golf industry (even if they, from time to time, frustrate the hell out of me).

fig11-large

RZN 3.0

In case you haven’t broken the habit of ignoring Nike’s RZN core golf balls (and it’s hard to blame you, the first couple of generations were worthy of your indifference), you should probably know that Generation 3, which includes the Premium/Tour-Level RZN Black, RZN Platinum balls is excellent. It’s Nike’s best work since the Tour D, and I’d venture to say that RZN is finally better.

Largely lost in the talk about the new RZN balls and their Speedlock Cores is what Nike calls Spin-Optimized coating. Others have compared it Srixon’s Spinskin, but all your really need to know is that Nike put coating on the cover of the golf ball designed to increase tackiness, and increase spin on those shots where the ball has a tendency to slide up the face.

What if that was only the beginning?

What if you could somehow adjust your golfball’s level of tackiness, and effectively adjust short game spin precisely to your desired level?

Wouldn’t that be something?

fig1-2

US20140135145 – Golf Ball with Adjustable Tackiness

If I’m reading it right, that’s exactly what this Nike Patent for a “Golf Ball with Adjustable Tackiness” is all about.

“A golf ball is provided that includes a coating. The coating is designed to allow a golfer to modify or increase the tackiness of the coating. The coating changes tackiness when exposed to a soaking material. A method of determining a desirable length of soak is also disclosed.”

Maybe that means soaking the golf ball in a glass of water for a period of time. According to the patent application, the golfer could determine the precise period of soaking time with the aid of some sort of golf ball soaking software that could be installed locally, or available via the internet…hence the computer part of all this.

The potential apparently also exists to zap your golf ball in the microwave. Again…the precise period of time likely determined with the help of Nike’s Sticky Balls App (sorry…couldn’t resist. I’m a child).

fig7-8-9

What About the USGA?

We haven’t done any testing to determine if spin-optimized coatings actually increase spin, but I can tell you that the new RZN balls spin better than the old ones. Whether that’s a matter of the sticky stuff getting the job done, or other, more mundane improvements to the ball, I can’t really say.

What makes this Adjustable Tackiness stuff so interesting to me is that, to the best of my knowledge, this isn’t the sort of thing the USGA is currently prepared to take on.

Great…we might as well start looking forward to the 2017 sticky dimple rule.

The practical application of this patent would be a product that doesn’t so much seek to skirt the USGA’s rules on golf ball performance, it feels much more like a clever…dare I say, Innovative (you’re welcome, Nike) solution to the problems created by the groove rule.

You know…assuming any of this becomes reality.

fig-10fig12

Have Your Say?

What do you think of Nike’s idea for an adjustable tackiness golf ball? Is this something you’d consider putting into play?

Golf Forum – Golf Blog (MyGolfSpy.com)

Callaway Wants You to Join Their Speed Regime (2014 Golf Balls)

Callaway Wants You to Join Their Speed Regime (2014 Golf Balls)

speed regime

Technically, the ranges (the regimes) are tied to ball speed, but for the most part you can use ball speed to extrapolate swing speed, and the reality is that while most golfers don’t know how much ball speed they produce with the driver, most have a pretty good idea how fast they swing the club.

Within each Speed Regime the ball is optimized for drag (the force that occurs as the ball leaves the club face – drag occurs in the initial stages of ball flight) and lift (what keeps the ball in the air as it descends). Understanding the basics of lift and drag are essential to understanding the differences in the 3 different Speed Regime golf balls.

“This is the first time we’ve had tour balls with zero compromise “ – Greg Sabella, Director – Golf Ball Marketing, Callaway Golf

Speed Regime 1

Speed Regime 1
  • 4-Piece Construction
  • Softest cover in the Speed Regime series
  • Optimized for swing speeds of 90MPH and below (135MPH and under ball speed), SR 1 will offer the best fit for senior golfers, women, and anybody else who doesn’t break the 90 MPH barrier.
  • Muli-layer, dual core construction with DURASPIN (Callaway’s new soft cover material) Urethane cover.
  • The aerodynamics of the Speed Regime 1 are optimized to maximize lift at lower swing speeds. Basically, SR 1 is designed to keep the ball in the air longer.
  • Unlike other balls designed for lower swing speed players (Titleist Velocity, for example), Callaway says slower swing speed players no longer have to sacrifice feel for distance.

Speed Regime 2

Speed Regime 2
  • 5-Piece Construction
  • Soft cover
  • Optimized for swing speeds of 90-105MPH (ball speeds from 135-155 or so), SR 2 will benefit a sizeable number of amateurs as well as LPGA players.
  • Well-balanced golf ball offering reduced drag for stable, penetrating ball flight and additional lift as ball begins its descent.

Speed Regime 3

Speed Regime 3
  • 5-Piece Construction
  • Soft cover, excellent short game spin.
  • Optimized for swing speeds of 105MPH and above (160 MPH+ ball speed), SR 3 is the ball most of Callaway’s PGA Tour staff is expected to play.
  • Aerodynamics are designed to reduce drag and produce a lower, more boring trajectory, and ultimately more distance for the higher swing speed player.

Speed Regime Comparison

speed-regime-compare

Beyond the specs, Callaway is saying that the new balls are softer than their previous tour offerings (they’re not as clicky). The Speed Regime 3, while the firmest of the 3, reportedly has a very similar feel to last season’s HEX Chrome +.

The combination of a soft cover and soft outer core, which is common to all 3 balls in the Speed Regime lineup, offers outstanding control and high spin around the green…at least so says Callaway.

The 1 Million Pound Gorilla

Our own surveys results suggest that while consumers believe Callaway makes a good ball, more than 60% of you told us that Titleist makes a superior ball. Getting over that hump is tough for Callaway…it’s tough for everybody not making the Pro V1.

If you’re going to take a shot with a new ball, you do it during an off year for Titleist (there won’t be a new Pro V1 in 2014), which is why Callaway, TaylorMade, Nike, and presumably Bridgestone will all be rolling out new versions of their flagship balls in 2014.

I can promise you this; everybody (Callaway included) believes they make a better ball.

The question is this:  In a market (the golf ball) where there is a clear leader (Titleist OWNs the ball category and PWNS the competition), and no clear 2nd; can anybody else in the industry make enough noise with the golf ball to convince some of that 60+% that somebody other than Titleist is making the best ball in golf, or that somebody else is even making a ball worth trying.

Can they make you believe their ball is better?

That’s a tough sell, and a tour ball for a sub-90 swing speed guy, that’s an even tougher sell, but here’s the thing, the golf ball matters. The right ball can absolutely lower your scores. Even if you can’t tell the difference, there is a difference.

You’ll never see it if you keep blindly pulling that same box of balls off the shelf year after year. Finding the right ball for YOU takes some experimentation. It takes trial and error.

Are you willing to invest the time and effort (and money), or will you continue to perpetuation the mythology of the #1 ball in golf?

Are you willing to try Callaway’s new Speed Regime?

Pricing and Availability

Retail price for all 3 balls in the Speed Regime lineup is $47.99/dozen.  Speed Regime is expected to hit store shelves in January.

Golf Forum – Golf Blog (MyGolfSpy.com)