TOUR B330 & B330-S | $45/doz. bridgestonegolf.com
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 B330-S 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.
TOUR B330-RX & B330-RXS | $45/doz. bridgestonegolf.com
Key Features: Both the B330-RX and B330-RXS 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 B330-RX. If spin is even more important, try the B330-RXS. Simple, right? As for performance, the B330-RXS 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.
e-Series | $29/doz. bridgestonegolf.com
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. All have the new WEB Dimple Tech for increased distance. (It's like a dimple in a dimple!) 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.
Speed Regime | (1, 2 & 3) | $48/doz. callaway.com
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).
Chrome Soft | $37/doz. callaway.com
Key Features: A supersoft feeling that comes from a low compression rating (65) and a Urethane cover, this ball is all kindsa soft and all kindsa long. According to Callaway, the Chrome Soft is considerably softer than most Tour-level balls, but thanks to SoftFast Core tech, it doesn't mean giving up distance off the tee. Wow Factor: We expected a ball this soft to feel mushy and to spin too much with the driver—but it doesn't. It's long! Even though it has a Urethane cover, it won't spin around the greens quite as much as a ball with a firmer midlayer, but it still spins more than most. Specs: Three-piece construction, with a Urethane cover, in White and Yellow.
Kick X Golf
Torque Balanced (Signature E Series) | $295 kickxgolf.com
Key Features: The company has dubbed the TourZ the longest premium ball in golf, and one swing will have you in agreement. They're really long! The three-piece construction has a metal-infused core for a high COR and a proprietary cover that's plenty soft for added control. Wow Factor: The premium ball category is a tough category to crack, but from the looks of it, the Kick X TourZ is onto something. We dig the Z-Aline marking, too, for better putting alignment. Why don't all ball companies do that? Specs: Three-piece construction with a proprietary cover.
Black/Blue/White | $28-$32/doz. nicklaus.com
Key Features: In case you need a reminder of what tees you should play, check your golf ball! The three multilayer golf balls (Black, Blue and White) all signify different types of player profiles and are designed to help different types of players. White is more of a distance ball, Black is a Tour-level ball, and Blue is a mix of the two. Wow Factor: Specs don't really matter. What's amazing is the price (all $32 and under) and the spirit of giving associated with the optional donations you can make to benefit St. Jude Hospitals. Jack Nicklaus once again proves he's not only the best golfer ever—he's also the classiest. Specs: Three multilayer balls with proprietary cover designs.
RZN Black & Platinum | $46/doz. nikegolf.com
Key Features: The RZN Black and Platinum feature 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 the 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.
RZN Red & White | $30/doz. nikegolf.com
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 $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, with an Ionomer cover.
Z-Star & Z-Star XV | $45/doz. srixon.com
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 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. Wow Factor: The enhanced, second-gen 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.
Q-STAR | $25/doz. srixon.com
Key Features: Designed as a ball for the average golfer, the Q-STAR has a SpinSkin coating for more control on short shots. That said, it's still a distance ball for golfers with average swing speeds who want to eke out as much distance as they can off the tee. Wow Factor: Supersoft feel. The SpinSkin seemed to really help the ball spin more with short shots. Not quite like a Urethane ball, but, frankly, most amateurs don't generate enough speed to take advantage of a Urethane cover anyway, making the Q-STAR an excellent choice for the best in distance and control—from a ball that's nicely priced and extremely durable. Hard to believe it's a two-piece! It comes in Tour Yellow, too. Specs: Two-piece construction, with a SpinSkin Ionomer cover.
AeroBurner | $20-$27/doz. taylormadegolf.com
Key Features: Two models are available for two types of players. The AeroBurner Soft is a two-piece model (TaylorMade's softest ever two-piece, by the way) for distance and a decent amount of spin. The AeroBurner Pro is a multilayer design with an Iothane cover for big distance and Tour-level stopping power on the greens. Both have an LDP cover design for better control in the wind. Wow Factor: The softest two-piece model is really, really soft and feels amazing. As for the AeroBurner Pro, we love that, too—it's a high-performance ball at a price we really like. Specs: AeroBurner Soft is a two-piece design and AeroBurner Pro is a three-piece design, both with Iothane covers.
Project (a) | $32/doz. taylormadegolf.com
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.
Tour Preferred | $46/doz. taylormadegolf.com
Key Features: Designed with input from TaylorMade's huge Tour staff, the 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 React Core is formulated for serious distance. Oh, and this ball has four covers over that core, each designed to maximize or minimize spin, depending on what club you're using. Trust us, there's some serious innovation in there. Specs: Five-piece construction, with a Urethane cover.
Pro V1 & Pro V1x | $45/doz. titleist.com
Key Features: Is it possible for these two balls to get any better? Guess so! Both the Pro V1 and Pro V1x have refined their DNA for even better spin around the green and longer shots off the tee. 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.
NXT Tour & NXT Tour S | $39/doz. titleist.com
Key Features: Titleist set out to make the NXT Tour and NXT Tour S as close to being Tour-level balls as they 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.
DT SoLo | $19/doz. titleist.com
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.Velocity | $27/doz. titleist.com
Key Features: A two-piece distance ball by Titleist? We were skeptical at first, too, but were pleased to learn that it's actually pretty darn playable. It's long off the tee, but it's long from everywhere else, too. Why? The LSZ core produces a fast initial velocity, and the 328-tetrahedral dimple pattern reduces the ball's descent angle for maximum carry and roll. Wow Factor: Going long with a Titleist has never been easier. It's not the best ball for finesse around the green, but that's not what it's for anyway. This is a durable distance ball for folks who want to reach more par-5s in two shots. Specs: Two-piece construction, with an NAZ2 cover.
Duo Spin | $27/doz. wilsonstaff.com
Key Features: A ridiculous 35 compression rating for what Wilson claims is the softest multilayer ball in the world! How soft? Well, any softer, and we'd sandwich it between chocolate and graham crackers. Wow Factor: It's soft and spins exceptionally well around the greens. Better yet, it's a great distance enhancer for those of us who aren't blessed with Tour-level swing speeds. It's long through the whole bag with every club.
FG Tour | $45/doz. wilsonstaff.com
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.
Vista iS | $45/doz. volvik.com
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 the 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.
White Color S3 | $45/doz. volvik.com
Key Features: Volvik's White Color 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.