Golf balls. We all use them and there are plenty of options available from a wide range of companies at a variety of prices. But how do you know what the right category and model for your game and specific needs is?
It is well established the game’s top players stick to one golf ball model and it takes significant time to switch to another, and it is a lesson worth learning from. The world’s best want consistency in their game and using the same golf ball round after round takes one variable out of a game full of them.
Here, we take a look at balls from all the big names in the market broken down by price point, with the aim of helping you pick the best ball to let you play your best golf for the rest of 2020.
We suggest trying more than one, then if possible, picking and sticking and following the example set by the best players in the world.
$59+ PER DOZEN
BRIDGESTONE TOUR B
The latest iteration of Bridgestone’s premium ball is broken down into four models designed for four specific players. Three of the four Tour B models are used on Tour by Tiger Woods, Bryson DeChambeau, Lexi Thompson and Fred Couples among others.
Split into two categories of players, swing speeds over 105 mph – Tour B XS and Tour B X – and under 105 mph – Tour B RXS and Tour B RX – the S in the model name denotes a softer feel and maximum spin around the greens, while the X produces maximum ball speed for distance.
To improve upon the popular predecessor of the same name, Bridgestone incorporated some of its proven technologies, as well as the addition of the new ‘REACTIV cover technology’ that removes the need for golfers to significantly sacrifice spin or distance in favour of the other.
Among the existing technologies, ‘Seamless Cover technology’ ensures consistency, a ‘Gradational Compression core’ produces higher initial ball speeds and less side spin and ‘Dual Dimple technology’ enhances the Tour B’s aerodynamics.
The new REACTIV cover is a “smart Urethane” that reacts differently depending on the force at impact. At higher speeds the ball is more resilient and adds speed, whereas on approach shots, the ball slows allowing for more spin to be imparted.
CALLAWAY CHROME SOFT & CHROME SOFT X
Not satisfied despite the Chrome Soft and Chrome Soft X golf balls achieving popularity with Tour players and average golfers alike, Callaway set about completely reinventing its Tour offerings for 2020.
Benefiting from a large investment into its ball manufacturing plant in Chicopee, Massachusetts, the new models are engineered for more speed and distance, while maintaining spin and feel synonymous with the Chrome Soft name.
The softer option of the two models, and offering a straighter flight with the most forgiveness, the 2020 Chrome Soft features a ‘Dual SoftFast’ core with a 34 percent larger inner core and thinner, graphene-infused outer core combining to achieve higher ball speeds and spin around the green, while a new mantle system promotes more speed and a thinner cover with a more aerodynamic dimple design delivering a more consistent high launch, low spin flight with the long clubs and maintaining spin and control for approach shots.
The firmer, lower launching and more workable X model similarly incorporates a larger core, thinner cover and enhanced aerodynamics compared to the previous model, as well as a dual mantle system that utilises a new ionomer blends to offer faster ball speed through the soft inner mantle and greater spin and control around the greens courtesy of the firmer outer mantle.
CALLAWAY ERC SOFT
Named for innovative Callaway founder Ely Reeves Callaway, the ERC Soft ball marks a significant achievement for Callaway: a distance ball with soft feel and greenside performance.
The first ball to include Callaway’s ‘Triple Track Technology’ that improves alignment compared to a standard side stamp and is now an option on the company’s Chrome Soft and Odyssey putters, the ERC Soft is Callaway’s longest ball.
Like the Chrome Soft balls, the ERC Soft utilises a Graphene-infused Dual SoftFast Core for distance and low spin, while the multi-material ‘Hybrid cover’ is the hero technology that delivers the ball’s unique performance combination.
Engineered for ball speed resulting in distance throughout the bag, the cover also works to increase spin around the greens and offers an especially soft feel.
MIZUNO RB TOUR & RB TOUR X
Marking the first time Mizuno released the same ball in Japan, Europe, Australia and the US, the RB Tour and RB Tour X feature a dimple that is the result of 12 years of wind tunnel testing conducted at the company’s test facility.
The Cone (C) dimple is designed for improved wind performance, adding a larger number of trigger points keeping fast flowing air closer to the cover for longer allowing for greater workability and a longer more penetrating flight.
Adding the new dimple technology to the existing soft feel and feedback of Mizuno’s previous golf balls, the four-piece RB Tour models cater to golfers of varying needs.
The softer compression RB Tour produces less spin with driver, while the firmer RB Tour X will spin slightly more and benefit players with an upward angle of attack who are looking for even more ball-flight control.
SRIXON Z-STAR & Z-STAR XV
Charged with the task of improving upon the already popular and Tour-winning Z-Star and Z-Star XV, Srixon added a new ‘FastLayer Core’ and ‘Spin Skin technology with Slide-Ring Material’ (SeRM) to increase distance and maximise spin.
The new core progressively graduates from a soft centre becoming firmer towards the cover to enhance ball speed without sacrificing soft feel off the clubface.
A urethane compound coating the cover of every Z-Star series ball, the Spin Skin with SeRM digs further into the grooves of irons and wedges without breaking its molecular bonds to increase spin and maintain durability and is the only premium ball with the technology.
Made with a three-piece construction, the Z-Star ball is the softer of the two models despite a slightly higher compression than its predecessor and firmer mantle layer to increase ball speed and lower spin. In contrast, the four-piece Z-Star XV features a softer cover than the previous model adding more spin and control to its greater distance characteristics – both models benefitting from ‘338 Speed Dimple Pattern’ that boasts improved aerodynamics for reduced drag.
TAYLORMADE TP5 & TP5X
Among the various constructions of golf balls using differing pieces, TaylorMade stands out with its five-layered TP5 and TP5x models ... The concept that more layers allow for improved characteristics in more areas of the game.
The company’s ‘Speed-Layer System’ comprises four increasingly stiff layers incorporating ‘HFM’, an extremely fast material the company describes as “essentially a tightly wound spring that when compressed generates more rebound energy for more ball speed.”
Using more layers means the TP5 and TP5x are able to have inner cores with extremely soft compression for soft feel and increased carry distances, while the ‘Dual-Spin Cover’ combines a firmer inner cover and softer outer cover that is pushed further into the grooves for more spin.
The two models are both now available in a high visibility ‘pix’ version developed with, and used on Tour by, Rickie Fowler.
AVX was first introduced by Titleist in 2018 following a consumer testing period to sit alongside the company’s industry-leading Pro V1 and Pro V1x golf balls as the lowest flying and spinning premium ball with the softest feel.
The 2020 version has been reengineered after feedback from AVX users to further improve on the characteristics that make it their ball of choice and help produce lower scores.
The low compression core has been enlarged and reformulated, delivering softer feel and works together with a high flex casing layer to produce more ball speed and less spin with the long game. Also raising ball speeds, a thinner cover specially designed and formulated for AVX increases spin and control around the greens. And a unique ‘Catenary Aerodynamic Dimple Design’ lowers trajectory.
Offered in both white and high-optic yellow, the AVX is aimed at golfers craving distance and soft feel in a premium golf ball.
TITLEIST PRO V1 & PRO V1X
Already the number one golf ball on Tours around the world, Titleist set about adding more speed and distance in the latest Pro V1 and Pro V1x, both available in high-optic yellow for the first time.
Designed to maintain the feel and performance characteristics throughout the bag of the previous iteration, the new models feature a new cover, casing layer and cores.
Seventeen percent thinner than its predecessor, the cast urethane elastomer cover system was the result of technology advancements by the company that delivers ball speed without sacrificing “Drop-and-Stop” control and soft feel. A thicker and faster ionomeric casing layer similarly creates more speed while also lowering long game spin. And new ‘2.0 ZG Process Cores’ are stiffer in the outermost portions, yet soft in the centre to produce the same distance enhancing combination.
The Pro V1 will suit most players with optimal flight and spin, whereas the Pro V1x offers a higher flight and more iron spin and a firmer feel.
VOLVIK TOUR S3 & S4
Unlike Volvik’s colourful array of other models, the new Tour S3 and S4 are offered only in white to identify them as “the company’s most serious technology ball” for elite players.
Designed for players with swing speeds over 95 mph, the three-piece S3 and four-piece S4 feature Volvik’s bismuth rubber core construction. Bismuth is a heavy metal incorporated in the outer area of the core to increase resiliency and energy transfer for more distance, the material also moving weight towards the outer edges of the ball to raise moment of inertia (MOI) to better maintain spin properties, both low with driver and high around the green.
Featuring a lower compression, the S3 produces a mid-launch and mid-spin, while the S4 launches higher with lower spin with driver and features a dual core, which uses a softer outer core that has energy transferred to it from the solid inner core for distance.