2014 Buyer’s Guide Balls

The best balls for 2014

THE CHRONIC SLICE: KILL IT! By Brady Riggs, PGA

Slicing the ball is never fun, especially when you don't truly know why it's happening. You've probably heard that slices are caused by swinging the clubhead outside to inside the target line, right? But did you know that a slice actually can come from any type of swing path? Trust me, I've seen 'em all. The key isn't so much the path, as much as it is the angle of the clubface relative to the path the clubhead is traveling on.

For instance, you'll hit a big, sweeping, left-to-right slice if you swing outside to inside the target line with a clubface that's considerably open to that outside-in path. (If the clubhead is a little open relative to the path, you'll fade it.) Both a slice and a fade can be accomplished with a clubface that's closed relative to the target line, but open relative to the path the club is traveling on.

Make sense? Since this is the case, the best way to fix a slice isn't to shut the clubface at address and hope for the best. Instead, practice swinging the club more from inside to outside the target line, with a clubface that's slightly closed to the path. And here's another secret. Hitting a draw is perfectly doable with a clubface that's slightly open relative to the target line. How so? Simple. As long as the clubface angle is closed relative to the path the clubhead is traveling on, the ball will have draw-spin. This means, even though the clubface is slightly open relative to the target line, it's still going to create a draw ballflight. So don't fuss over trying to close the clubface and hit the ball with a face that's slammed shut. Start by correcting your path first, then dial in the right amount of release in the hands and wrists. This, folks, is how you fix a slice forever.

No matter what shot you hit, the single piece of equipment involved in every shot is the golf ball. It's what you're trying to move from tee to green, making it the most important piece of equipment you play with. Today, there are tons of golf balls to choose from, ranging from Tour-caliber to distance ball, with a wide spectrum of golf balls somewhere in between. Our advice is to get fitted if you can, but if you can't, do some trial and error. In case you didn't know, many retailers sell balls by the sleeves (not just by the dozen). Sure, it will cost a little more, but trying a variety of golf balls will invariably help you see (and feel) which performs best for you. Read on–we have some of the best balls you can buy in this roundup. We love every single one. Tour-Ready Bridgestone B330 & B330-S

Key Features: Four-piece construction that, yes, incorporates water into the core formulation, which somehow (it's way over our heads, too) makes this ball's core softer and the outer regions firmer. That means big distance, folks. Wow Factor: These balls are more apt for golfers with faster swing speeds (over 105 mph). The B330 is for the player who already generates enough spin and wants more distance, and the B330S is for those who want a higher-spinning Tour-level ball. Either way, we like 'em both and, frankly, the B330 is as low-spinning with a driver as any Tour-level ball we've tried this year. Specs: Four-piece construction, with a Urethane cover. bridgestonegolf.com | $45/doz. Callaway Golf Speed Regime(1, 2 & 3)

Key Features: Enhanced HEX aerodynamics, dual-core construction, a Urethane cover, a soft feel and a categorization that's as simple as 1, 2, 3. Wow Factor: No, really, it's as easy as 1, 2, 3. Speed Regime 1 is for slower swing speeds below 90; Speed Regime 2 is for the 90-105 mph sect; and Speed Regime 3 is for fast swings over 105 mph. But how do they perform? Better than any Tour-level Callaway ball that we've ever tried. And they feel really, really soft. Each category has its own set of aerodynamics for that particular swing speed range. Specs: Five-piece construction, with a Urethane cover (different aerodynamics based on each model). callawaygolf.com | $48/doz. Nike RZN Black & Platinum

Key Features: Designed to be 10% softer than 2013's 20IX balls, the new RZN Black and Platinum retain four-piece construction for more distance with a driver and touch with the shorter clubs. The Black is a lower- spinning ball, and the Platinum is a moderate spinner. Both have a new Speedlock core design, which means the core is bonded to the compression layer via a waffle-like design. This, according to Nike, promotes enhanced performance as far as distance and control. Wow Factor: Nike staff players say this ball feels softer, not just with the driver and irons, but on the greens, too. That's a good thing, since a softer feel tends to help you accelerate the putter more through the golf ball. Or, so we say. Specs: Four-piece construction, with a Urethane cover. nikegolf.com | $46/doz. Srixon Z-Star & Z-Star XV

Key Features: A soft Urethane cover for added control and a multilayer construction for spin when you want it and distance when you need it? Sign us up! The Z-Star is a great for swing speeds between 90 and 105 mph, and the Z-Star XV is more suited for fast swing speeds over 100 mph. Both balls are stellar performers in our book, and we really appreciate how durable they are, too. They just keep going and going and going.... Wow Factor: The SpinSkin coating increases friction between the ball and clubhead, helping to increase spin on shorter shots. Comes in white and Tour Yellow, which happens to be our favorite. Specs: The Z-Star is a three-piece golf ball with a Urethane cover. The Z-Star XV is similar, only with a dual core. srixon.com | $45/doz. Titleist Pro V1 & Pro V1x

Key Features: Is there a ball that has influenced the game more than the Pro V1? Probably not. Both balls are the same as last year, with a retooled formula for a softer feel and more distance. The three-piece Pro V1 is the ideal combo for players who want distance off the tee and added stopping power on the greens. The four-piece Pro V1x promotes less spin off the tee than the Pro V1 and has a slightly firmer feel (both are still soft). Wow Factor: The Pro V1 is still the #1 ball in the universe. Okay, maybe not the universe, but certainly in the professional ranks. It does what a Tour player needs it to–spins less off the tee, but spins like crazy around the green. Specs: The Pro V1 has a three-piece construction and the Pro V1x has a four-piece construction; both have Urethane covers. titleist.com | $45/doz.

Taylormade Tour Preferred

Key Features: Designed with input from TaylorMade's huge Tour staff, the new Tour Preferred (and Tour Preferred X) balls have five layers (like the Lethal does) that allow better players to achieve low-spin drives and high-spin wedge shots. (The X spins a little less.) Wow Factor: The new React Core is formulated for serious distance. Oh, and this ball has four covers over that core, each designed to maximum or minimize spin, depending on what club you're using. Trust is, there's some serious innovation in there. Specs: Five-piece construction, with a Urethane cover. taylormadegolf.com | $36/doz. Volvik Vista iS

Key Features: What colored ball is tearing up the professional ranks? This one! The Vista iS from Volvik features a four-piece multilayer design for, you guessed it, outstanding performance off the tee (lower spin) while allowing for more control on short shots (higher spin). Wow Factor: The iS feels a lot softer than last year's Vista iV, and we love the orange color! Shots off the tee flew high and far, and we were blown away by the Zirconium cover, which produced plenty of stopping power on shorter shots. It's only a matter of time until we see it on the PGA Tour. Specs: Four-piece construction, with a Zirconium HZ-III cover. volvik.com | $45/doz. High-Performance Bridgestone B330RX & B330RXS

Key Features: Both the B330RX and B330RXS have Hydro Core tech, only in a more friendly design for golfers who maybe aren't blessed with 105+ mph swing speeds. Wow Factor: Bridgestone has made it simple to decide which Tour-level ball you need. Want Tour distance with added spin? Go with the B330RX. If spin is even more important, try the B330RXS. Simple, right? As for performance, the B330RXS spins so much, you'll feel like a Tour player from inside 100 yards (even though you don't swing as fast as a Tour player). Specs: Three-piece construction, with a Urethane cover. bridgestonegolf.com | $45/doz. Dixon Earth

Key Features: The world's first eco-friendly golf ball made of recyclable material, the Earth is also a solid distance ball with exceptional durability. Wow Factor: It's not made of recycled stuff–it's made so it can be recycled. Got that? And in case you haven't seen the commercial starring Don Cheadle on the website, you should. It's great. As for performance? The Dixon Earth is a great all-purpose golf ball. Simply put. Specs: Made of 100% recyclable material. It can be traded in for a discounted price on another one. Cool! dixongolf.com | $40/doz. Nike RZN Red & White

Key Features: Both the Red and White have three-piece construction, with a lightweight Speedlock core for more distance, control and a better ballflight. The Red promotes more distance while the White features a bit more feel. Wow Factor: It's not a Tour-level ball, in our opinion, but it sure comes close. And at under $30 a dozen, it's a ball that most amateurs should consider. For real. They're the best-feeling, good-value Nike balls ever made. Specs: Three-piece construction. nikegolf.com | $29/doz. OnCore MA 1.0

Key Features: You can't see it, but this ball has a hollow metal core, which pushes weight toward the perimeter of the ball for a high MOI and less sidespin. Cool! Wow Factor: Awesome technology! And, by the way, in case you were wondering, it's USGA-conforming. Is hollow core the future of golf? It certainly is for OnCore, and we think they have a bright future ahead. This ball is the real deal, and we appreciate the efforts these folks took in getting a revolutionary ball like this into play. Specs: Hollow metal core, with a polymer midlayer and an ionomer cover. oncoregolf.com | $42.95/doz. Rife V Motion & E Motion

Key Features: The E-Motion is a three-piece ball with a Surlyn cover and the V-Motion is a three-piece ball with a Urethane Cover. The E-Motion is the everyday, durable choice for most recreational players and the V-Motion is more Tour-like, with fewer dimples (318) for a more flat, penetrating launch. Wow Factor: The company is known for its putters, but trust us, these balls are spot on and quite good. What surprised us the most? How long both balls were. Big hitters will like the V-Motion's low-launch characteristics. Specs: The E-Motion is a three-piece construction, with a Surlyn cover; the V-Motion is a four-piece construction, with a Urethane cover. rifeputters.com | $18-$32/doz. Taylormade Project (a)

Key Features: According to TaylorMade, average golfers spin the ball about half as much as Tour players do with their wedges. This ball is designed to close that spin gap, helping to create spin where we need it and also reduce spin where we don't (off the tee). Wow Factor: A high-performance ball for weekend warriors like us. What's not to like about that? We get the type of distance we're used to, only now with a ton of greenside spin. Nice. Specs: Three-piece construction, with a Urethane cover. taylormadegolf.com | $32/doz. Titleist NXT & NXT Tour

Key Features: Titleist set out to make the NXT and NXT Tour as close to being a Tour-level ball as it could–without a Urethane cover and higher price tag. If you ask us, they succeeded! The NXT Tour combines big distance off the tee and more spin than we expected around the green. The NXT Tour S performed similarly, only had a softer feel. Wow Factor: The NXT Tour ball isn't new, but this iteration is outstanding. We wouldn't be surprised to see a Tour player put it in play. It's that good. Also comes in yellow. Specs: Both balls have three-piece construction, with a Fusablend cover. titleist.com | $39/doz. Volvik White Color

Key Features: Volvik's new ball combines the feel and added spin of a Urethane cover with the distance of a Bismuth metal dual-core design. In simple English, that means it's a top ball for superior distance off the tee and added control around the greens. Wow Factor: Putting the ironic name and big distance aside, this ball is seriously workable from the fairway and around the greens. No joke, we hit shots that required added spin, and the White Color performed exceptionally well. It's not a low-launching ball off the tee, which is okay with us, considering how far it goes and how responsive it is with short shots. Specs: Three-piece construction, with a Urethane cover. volvik.com | $45/doz. Wilson Staff FG Tour

Key Features: A four-piece construction designed for Tour-level use, the FG Tour has a soft feel to go with big distance off the tee and stopping power around the green. So confident that you'll like it, Wilson offers a money-back guarantee. Okay, Wilson, you have our attention now. (Actually, we already tried them, and we won't be sending them back.) Wow Factor: Did we mention the guarantee? You won't need it. It's our favorite Wilson ball and does more than hold its own in a tough category of golf balls that all have really good performance. We were especially pleased with how long this ball was off the tee. Specs: Four-piece construction, with a Urethane cover. wilsonstaff.com | $45/doz. All-Around Bridgestone eSeries

Key Features: Each of the three balls (e5, e6 and e7) caters to a specific type of player. The two-piece e5 is a distance ball at heart, but has a high-spinning Urethane cover for short shots. The three-piece e6 is a soft, multilayer ball with a durable Surlyn cover, and the e7 is a distance ball with a spinny cover. Wow Factor: Great prices. Our favorite is the e5, which spins like crazy on short shots. No, really, it does. The e6 is a solid performer for golfers who want distance and control in a non-premium ball. Specs: The e5 is a two-piece, with a Urethane cover; the e6 and e7 are both three-piece, with Surlyn covers. bridgestonegolf.com | $26/doz. Callaway Golf X2 Hot & X2 Hot+

Key Features: Improved HEX aerodynamics for more distance and less slice and hook-spin. The X2 Hot+ is a similar ball, only with a bit more stopping power when hitting your short irons. Wow Factor: Hitting the ball far is fun. Callaway gets that, probably more this year than they did since way back during the early iterations of the Big Bertha driver. These balls are long and feel soft, which for us is exactly the kind of ball we like to use for a casual round of golf this Friday. (Shh, don't tell the boss.) Specs: Three-piece construction, with a Trionomer cover. callawaygolf.com | $27/doz. Chromax Metallic

Key Features: The high-visibility metallic finish is crazy! The cover, which is translucent, shows off a reflective inner layer that encompasses the soft-compression core. Wow Factor: They look great in the golf shop, but wait until you see them in the sunshine. They look like they're actually glowing, thanks to the bright reflective inner layer. They're distance balls, so don't expect a lot of versatility, but for hitting big drives with a lot of style, you can't go wrong here. Quick Tip: Wear sunglasses; they're insanely bright. Specs: Two-piece construction, with an inner metallic coating. chromaxgolf.com | $20/doz. Titleist DT Solo

Key Features: The DT Solo is back! Reworked for more distance and a very soft feel, the DT Solo is like the Velocity (we think, at least), but with a noticeably softer feel. The two-piece design has a 376-tetrahedral dimple design for a consistent launch and flight. Wow Factor: We think if you're going to get a DT Solo, get the yellow. It has a nice glow to it! It's also so soft, you'll forget you're using a distance ball. For moderate swing speeds looking for distance, you'll want the Velocity. But for average to slower swing speeds, the DT Solo is the right Titleist ball for you. Specs: Two-piece construction, with a Surlyn ionomer cover. titleist.com | $19.doz. Titleist Velocity

One thought on “2014 Buyer’s Guide Balls

  1. Interesting that the Callaway Supersoft was not mentioned or reviewed. This ball is getting quite the hype on the golf forums. Especially at the $20 price point. It’s worth a look

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