2011 Buyer’s Guide Balls

There's a golf ball for every type of player
This year, golf balls fall within a wide price range, from the highly affordable Top-Flite D2+ series ($16/dozen) to the premium Dixon Fire balls ($75/dozen). Or $1.33 per ball versus $6.25 per ball.

Of course, the price of a ball often corresponds to its quality and performance, although these days, many so-called "midrange" balls perform so well, you might confuse them for premium offerings. (And if you're a mid-handicapper, they might be just what you need.)

To find the ball that's right for you, buy a few sleeves and give them a spin. Only then will you know which one is right for your game.

Bridgestone e Series

Key Feature: Three models each have a new dual-dimple design–each dimple has a depression inside of it–helping add more zip to launch and landing. What We Like: Now offered in yellow and orange (plus white), these fly nice and high–and feel great. Who It's For: Distance seekers. The e5 has great greenside spin, the e6 produces accurate shots, and the e7 is the big-distance offering. Specs: e5 is a two-piece with a urethane cover; e6 and e7 are multilayers with surlyn covers. All have dual-dimple design. bridgestonegolf.com | $38/dozen Bridgestone B330-S

Key Feature: New RD10 resin material in its dual-mantle construction will fuel 105+ mph swing speeds with more distance and better wind piercing. What We Like: It's as soft and lively as any ball on the market. The four-piece construction that makes it one of the game's most sophisticated ball constructions. Who It's For: Better players who swing greater than 105 mph and crave Tour-quality spin on their approach shots. Specs: Four-piece ball with urethane cover and 330 seamless dimple design. bridgestonegolf.com | $56/dozen Callaway HX Diablo

Key Feature: Its proprietary, resilient core and ultralow compression complement the thin ionomer cover that helps keep driver spin low to maximize accurate distance. What We Like: It's long and soft–and everyone likes that combination. Its HEX Aerodynamic design, which reduces drag. It felt like balls just flew forever. Who It's For: Golfers who want to hit it longer, but don't want to buy premium balls. People who don't mind losing a little greenside spin. Specs: Two-piece ball with a thin ionomer cover and HEX Aerodynamics. callawaygolf.com | $20/dozen Callaway HX Diablo Tour

Key Feature: Its core is firmer at the outer edges and softer in the center, helping tee shots fly longer with less spin, and approach shots have more spin for better stopping power. What We Like: It's long and soft–and everyone likes that combination. Hard not to like a ball that performs like a premium offering but costs little. Who It's For: Golfers seeking a Tour-style ball for under $20. What's that? A ball that booms off the tee, but spins around the greens. Specs: Three-piece ball with Power Reaction Core, boundary layer and ionomer cover with HEX Aerodynamics. callawaygolf.com | $20/dozen Callaway i(s)

Key Feature: In the company's softest Tour ball ever, its Dual Core construction helps generate short-game spin while keeping driver spin low. What We Like: Refined HEX Aerodynamics create a strong and consistent flight. Phil Mickelson and Ernie Els put it in play. Now, more durable than ever. Who It's For: Golfers who want a soft, premium ball that achieves more greenside control. Folks who want to spin their wedges like Phil. Specs: The four-piece ball has a thermoset urethane cover, HEX Aerodynamics and 332 "geometries." That's Callaway lingo for "dimples." callawaygolf.com | $43/dozen Callaway i(z)

Key Feature: Its Dual Core construction aims to deliver even faster ball speeds. Thus, it travels far with a penetrating flight. What We Like: Its soft urethane cover translates to great feel and control. Stuart Appleby, Trevor Immelman and the big-hitting Alvaro Quiros put it in play. Both the i(z) and i(s) are now more durable than ever. Who It's For: Golfers wanting a premium ball that's long, accurate and consistent. Specs: Four-piece ball with thermoset urethane cover and HEX Aerodynamics. Like the i(s), it has 332 "geometries." callawaygolf.com | $43/dozen

Dixon Earth

Key Feature: The world's first eco-friendly golf ball made of recyclable material, the Earth also is a venerable distance ball with exceptional durability. All full shots feel soft and fly with a long and high trajectory. What We Like: It's cool that they're recyclable, but it's the slick graphics and solid playability that we like most. Who It's For: Eco-concerned golfers who appreciate recyclable stuff. Specs: Made of 100 percent recyclable material, and can be traded in for new ones at a discounted price. dixongolf.com | $40/dozen Dixon Fire

Key Feature: A recyclable cast urethane core, "energy-intensifying mantle" and "high-intensity green core with ignite technology." What We Like: Maybe we were just having a good day, but these things may be the longest balls we've ever hit. These quality balls fly a mile and spin like crazy around the greens. Who It's For: Golfers who swing faster than 90 mph, although players who swing really hard may find that they spin too much off the tee. Also for golfers who don't mind paying $6/ball. Specs: This multilayer eco-friendly ball has 318 dimples and an Elastodynamic urethane cover. dixongolf.com | $75/dozen Nike 20XI

Key Feature: Proprietary technology includes resin, a neutralized polymer in the core that's faster and lighter, for longer distance, straighter flight and more controlled shots. What We Like: This ball took four years to develop with DuPont. Designers have increased wedge and short-iron spin where you want more, and decrease driver spin where you don't. Who It's For: The 20XI-X is for golfers wanting Tour-level distance, the 20XI-S for those seeking Tour-level spin. Specs: Four-piece ball with resin core and soft cover with 360 dimples. nikegolf.com | $55/dozen Polara Ultimate Straight XS

Key Feature: An asymmetrical dimple pattern that produces preferred spin that functions as a gyroscope. These golf balls are self-correcting. What We Like: Polara says that these nonconforming balls will eliminate your hook and slice by up to 75 percent, and they're right! When we tried them we didn't miss a fairway. Who It's For: Just the thing for golfers who want to keep it in the short stuff more often. The XS is a three-piece ball with a softer cover, meaning it'll stop faster on the greens. It stopped on a dime. Specs: Features an ionomer cover, 386 dimples and a polybutadiene core. polaragolf.com | $40/dozen Srixon Trispeed Tour

Key Feature: This three-piece distance ball has a soft midlayer that works with a large, resilient core to produce a low-spinning, high-launch angle. (Comes in yellow, too.) What We Like: It produces plenty of distance, and, because of the spin reduction that makes the ball fly straighter, you'll hit more fairways. Who It's For: Mid- to low-handicappers with swing speeds under 100 mph. Golfers who like to make a bold statement on the course. Specs: Three-piece distance ball with Energetic Gradient Growth core, and soft ionomer cover, bearing 324 dimples. srixon.com | $30/dozen Srixon Z-Star

Key Feature: Its proprietary urethane cover is supersoft, so you get added spin control without sacrificing distance. What We Like: It pierces through the wind–thanks to its core and aerodynamic dimple design–so more shots go where you aim them. Easy to stop on approach shots, but doesn't spin much off the tee. That equals big drives. Who It's For: Players who want Tour-level performance from their golf ball. Specs: Three-piece ball with new urethane cover, bearing 324 dimples, available in pure white and Tour yellow. srixon.com | $45/dozen Srixon Z-Star XV

Key Feature: The dual Energetic Gradient Growth core provides distance, while maintaining low spin to optimize driver performance. What We Like: It feels soft at impact, yet has plenty of energy. And it's really durable. Hard to believe, but it went farther than the Z-Star. Who It's For: Golfers wanting a premium distance ball. Folks who aren't afraid to put a yellow ball in play. Specs: Four-piece ball with thin and soft urethane cover, bearing 324 dimples, and dual Energetic Gradient Growth core, available in pure white and Tour yellow. srixon.com | $45/dozen Taylormade Burner

Key Feature: Its REACT core is high-energy and low-compression, while the Iothane 58D cover is soft, resilient, durable and shear-resistant. What We Like: It's designed to maximize distance and feel, through a high launch and long carry. That equals one thing: big drives. We were surprised at how soft it felt for a two-piece. Who It's For: Distance seekers who like to hit it high but don't want to spend a fortune for a dozen new balls. Not a ton of spin, but they make up for it with a higher trajectory. Specs: Two-piece ball with Iothane 58D cover bearing 342 LDP dimple pattern, and REACT core. taylormadegolf.com | $20/dozen Taylormade Penta

Key Feature: Five layers of performance! Spin, feel, control, launch and distance each gets its own layer, in that order. What We Like: A ball that does it all. They feel soft around the greens, and firmer off the tee. That also means more spin when you need it and less when you don't. They're among the longest Tour-level golf balls we've ever tried, and they spin like the devil on short shots. Who It's For: Tour players, and well, everybody else who wants five layers. Specs: Multilayer construction with a taylormadegolf.com | $42/dozen Titleist Pro V1

Key Feature: The all-new version delivers increased spin control and a more consistent flight–thanks to a new ZG process core technology, responsive ionomeric casing layer, urethane elastomer cover and dimple design. What We Like: It's still long, durable and soft, and still the standard by which all other premium balls are measured. Who It's For: Any player wanting outstanding feel, distance and durability. Specs: Three-piece ball with urethane elastomer cover, bearing a spherically tiled 352-tetrahedral-dimple design. titleist.com | $58/dozen Titleist Pro V1x

Key Feature: Provides longer distance and more consistent flight, along with its Drop-and-Stop greenside control. What We Like: There's a lot of shot performance consistency, and it feels nice and soft. Who It's For: Anyone, but best for better players who prefer low ball spin off the driver and long irons. "Pro Vs" ain't cheap though, so keep in mind each ball costs about $5. Specs: Four-piece ball with urethane elastomer cover, casing and high-velocity dual core, as well as spherically tiled 328-tetrahedral-dimple design. That's four fewer dimples than the last iteration. titleist.com | $58/dozen Topflite D2+ Feel

Key Feature: A high-speed polybutadiene core allows for softer ball compressions and generates a balance of feel and ball speed for distance and control. What We Like: Its "Dimple in Dimple Aerodynamic" pattern was one of Time Magazine's 2007 Inventions of the Year, as it reduces drag and improves lift. Who It's For: Players of all swing speeds on a major budget. Golf balls don't get much cheaper than this. topflite.com | $16/dozen   Wilson FG Tour

Key Feature: A three-piece urethane-covered golf ball with Traction Control Technology that helps the ball better grip the clubface for maximum spin. What We Like: They feel soft, but not mushy. Also, the added spin is a big help, considering the new groove rules. Who It's For: Better players. However, we suspect all golfers will find a liking for a ball that deserves a lot more credit than it gets. It's a solid performer. Specs: Multilayer construction with a Traction Control Technology urethane cover material. wilsonstaff.com | $35/dozen Zero Friction ZF Distance

Key Feature: Made for sheer distance with a soft feel, the ZF Distance is a two-piece design that's also made of 100 percent renewable resources. What We Like: Zero Friction packs three Zero Friction tees in every sleeve. We also like how far they fly, not to mention the consumer-friendly price. They're very durable, too. Who It's For: Value-minded golfers looking for a golf ball that flies high and far without the rock-like feel. zerofriction.com | $19/doz.  

2 thoughts on “2011 Buyer’s Guide Balls

Leave a Reply