Here's a trivia question for you. Who was the first player to win a PGA Tournament with a colored golf ball? Better yet, how about the first Major Tournament won with one? (Yes, it actually happened.) The answer is Wayne Levi, who broke the color barrier way back in 1982 at the Hawaiian Open. Jerry Pate won the PGA Championship that same year, also sporting an orange orb.
It's a wonder it didn't catch on, right? Professional use of colored golf balls quickly withered after the mid-1980s, as more and more players opted for higher-performance golf balls that were made with predominately white covers. Near 30 years later, color has resurfaced, albeit this time in a new variety of golf balls that cater to virtually every type of player. Now, you can find colored distance balls, multilayer balls, even the same multilayer urethane-covered type golf balls that today's best players in the world compete with (and yes, some are still experimenting with colored balls off and on the professional Tours). Maybe the question ought to be, who will be the next player to win on Tour with a colored golf ball? We'll have to see. Until then, have a look at some of our favorite colored golf balls in 2011.
Srixon Z-Star Tour Yellow The Srixon Z-Star and the newer Z-Star XV golf balls feature Tour-level performance in urethane-covered, multilayer, colored golf balls. According to the folks at Srixon, the Z-Star and Z-Star XV's Tour Yellow color was carefully selected to be not only highly visible, but also more pleasing to the eye. In terms of performance, the three-piece Z-Star is the softer of the two golf balls, formed with a lower compression for enhanced spin and shotmaking capabilities. Golfers with swing speeds in the 80-105 mph range will likely gravitate to this ball. For faster swing speeds, the Z-Star XV has both four-piece construction and a firmer core, resulting in less spin off the tee for a longer, more penetrating ballflight. $44/dozen
Srixon Trispeed Tour For golfers looking for spin, distance and durability in a ball without a urethane cover (which are typically more affordable), the Trispeed Tour is a three-piece golf ball with a resilient ionomer cover and a soft core.
It's the ideal ball for mid- to low-handicappers who value price and durability as key factors in their selection of a high-performance golf ball. It comes in the same Tour Yellow hue as the Z-Star golf balls. $29/dozen
Bridgestone e6 For golfers looking for a soft, multilayer golf ball that's also long and durable, the e6 golf ball is a handsome choice. There are two colors, Optic Yellow and Orange, both promising enhanced visibility. Also new with the e6 is Bridgestone's Dual Dimple tech, which helps the ball fly longer and land on a shallower angle for more roll once it hits the ground. $27/dozen
How do four-piece golf balls work? "There are multiple types of four-piece golf balls. The main versions are dual-core designs and dual-midlayer designs. Srixon uses a dual-core design in the Z-Star XV. The core of a golf ball is where there's a real challenge for designers. Firmer cores provide more ball speed, but also provide high driver spin. Softer cores provide low driver spin, but with a lower ball speed. By making a dual-core design, it's possible to make the inner core soft (for low driver spin) and the outer core firm (for high ball speed), both at the same time. This type of configuration is ideal for stronger players who want to hit longer, more penetrating drives, but who also want to retain enough workability to hit shorter finesse shots made possible by a firm ionomer midlayer and a soft urethane cover." –John Rae, vice president of R&D for Cleveland/Srixon
How do dimples work? "The dimples on a golf ball are what most affect the golf ball in terms of aerodynamics, once in flight. They're what keep the ball in the air, and the way air passes over dimples will impact the flight trajectory and distance a golf ball travels. Dual Dimple Technology is a proprietary new dimple innovation from Bridgestone Golf. Similar to the way an aircraft uses different parts of the wing at different angles during takeoff and landing, the engineers at Bridgestone have designed a golf ball to take advantage of different areas of its cover, optimizing aerodynamics at launch and during descent. The Dual Dimple Technology features a deeper inside-dimple specifically geared to help increase thrust power at launch, and an exterior dimple to help promote a shallower landing angle for more rollout. The result is longer distance throughout the line while still maintaining the ability to help specific ballflight tendencies for which the e-Series were created." –Brandon Sowell, director of marketing for Bridgestone Golf