If every golf club has a sweet spot, so does every golf ball, at least in terms of price. Most serious players want the best distance and feel they can get, but they might not want to shell out for the highest end models — sure, we love them when we can get our hands on them, but a steady daily diet might put a dent in the budget better spent on … whatever. That’s where these four mid-priced balls come in. They do everything the top end orbs do in terms of performance, and sometimes surpass them. Let’s branch out into the larger golf ball world and take a spin.
TITLEIST TOUR SOFT GOLF BALLS
Big news early in 2018: Acushnet, Titleist’s parent company, decided to replace its popular NXT line of golf balls with a Tour Soft line that the company says features largest core ever and a new spherically-tiled 342 “cuboctahedron” dimple design, optimized for the new Tour Soft construction that delivers a penetrating trajectory and consistent flight.
“We knew based on breakthroughs being made in R&D that there was an opportunity to deliver a brand new high performance golf ball that would lead the category in terms of soft compression feel,” said Michael Mahoney, vice president of Titleist Golf Ball Marketing, and we’re right there with him — in round after round, the Tour Soft is every bit the equal of its, ahem, big and more popular brother in terms of distance and “controllability.” Off the tee it’s a beast, with the irons it’s beautifully responsive, and around the greens it floats and lands like a dream.
BRIDGESTONE e6 SOFT
Compared to what, you ask? How about the flagship, high-end ball from the bestselling brand in the world, the one that starts with a “T?” Yep, at least according to Golf Tips’ casual and admittedly non-scientific testing over a couple rounds, both versions of the new e6 took me at least eight to 10 yards further down the fairway. And the “soft” version of the ball was the most explosive of all.
Bridgestone’s claim that the e6 is “31 percent” more accurate than the competition isn’t far off the mark. Same with their “nine yards longer” assertion, which certainly came into play for us.
So, how did Bridgestone come up with this new pair of e6s, which feature new “Delta Dimple” technology to cut down air resistance? According to a press release they were “Developed using data gathered from more than two million in-person and online ball fitting sessions” — an outgrowth of their industry-leading “proprietary Ball Fitting system” introduced back in 2007. But between the two versions, the Soft seems best for middle-handicappers who want that extra yardage couples with workability around the green. That’s still in play today.
We’ve been following this company since their upstart days half a decade ago, and have been impressed with every iteration we could get our hands on. Their most advanced ball release yet, the ELIXR upholds OnCore’s commitment to innovation and technology while diversifying the company’s portfolio of golf balls to meet the needs of all player performance levels.
Bringing together a one-of-a-kind mix of advanced materials, the ELIXR’s tri-phase constructed technology features original chemistry blends with added advanced material elements to deliver a unique combination of distance, spin, control and feel off the face of the club.
“We entered into the market five years ago by literally making history with our hollow-metal core golf balls,” said OnCore Golf Co-Founder Bret Blakely. “However, we’ve never stopped innovating and exploring approaches to golf ball design and construction that would benefit golfers of all skill levels. By creating a top tier product and jumping into the professional golf scene head first with the ELIXR, we are staying true to our vision of being innovators – from core to cover.”
With an 85-compression rating and a 318-dimple pattern, the three-piece ELIXR combines a polybutadiene rubber core’s for exceptional ball speed with increased perimeter weighting for enhanced accuracy and control and a cast urethane cover to deliver a soft and pure feel off the club face for greenside handling and durability. It all adds up to Tour-level performance without the big-league outlay.
Golf ball have always been shiny little suckers, right? At least since the 1930s or so. That high gloss, that smooth touch — that’s the way it’s gotta be, or so say traditionalists. Same with the whole white thing. Colored golf balls? Hmm.
Sure, we’re starting to see some yellow golf balls out there, even on Tour. But the good folks at Volvik got tired of seeing that part of the golf universe in decidedly monochrome tones. Why not splash it up? They asked. Why not create a rainbow of golf balls that also happen to perform really well? And, with their new Vivid Matte, why not leave the high gloss in the bag and come up with an orb that doesn’t reflect the sun on those bright days, but instead stands out against any tint of sky?
The Vivid’s unique finish almost approaches translucent as it sits on the tee, while its highly resilient power core provides a brand of soft yet stout “kick” that’s perfect for slower swing speeds of 70 to 90 mph. Its dimple pattern is engineered to minimize sidespin, while the cover also grabs the ball at impact, resulting in mid—high backspin, mid-high trajectory and shorter run-outs on the green from middle distances. Yes, putting a bright orange, blue or red ball in play takes a leap of imagination, and a willingness to suffer the slings and arrows of your buddies’ snide comments. But once you’ve left them in the dust by eight or 10 yards a few trimes, they’ll come around. They just might color up, too.