Which Ball is Best?

 

Golf Balls: May 8, 2014

Now that the golf season has officially begun, you may be wondering what new technology has come out that is affordable to use and demo. Here are a few brief reviews of golf balls. I based these reviews on my own experience and knowledge as a PGA Professional; if you are intrigued, give them a try and let me know which ones you like best. The categories I used to rate each ball are price, feel, distance, durability, swing speed, and spin. So, here we go:

PG distance

Pinnacle Golf Distance – Retail Price ~ $20.00/15 golf balls

My Rating: 5/10

Great golf balls for beginners! Priced at just over a dollar per ball, you could lose an entire box of these during a round and not break the bank. Pinnacle golf balls are your standard 1 piece, long distance, hard feel, high compression golf balls. Because of their large core, almost your entire swing speed is transferred to ball velocity, making them fly long and straight, but you are going to be sacrificing spin and feel around the green. My recommendation is play these golf balls only if you are a beginner.

Bridgestone balls

Bridgestone e-series (e5, e6, e7) – Retail Price ~ $30.00/dozen

My Rating: 7/10

These golf balls are your standard middle tier balls. Designed for the mid-high handicap golfers, the e-series sports golf balls that have soft covers with large cores to promote distance and feel. Don’t expect a lot of spin, but you can rest assured that if you stay away from cart paths and trees, the e-series golf balls will last you quite a while. My recommendation is play these golf balls if you hit the ball 190-240 yards off the tee and you are looking for a softer ball with decent feel.

nxt tour

Titleist NXT Tour S – Retail Price ~ $35.00/dozen

My Rating: 6/10

Titleist makes great products. The NXT Tour and Tour S golf balls were designed for the mid handicap players. They have a 2 piece core and softer cover to allow for greater control and spin around the greens. Their medium-high compression means they are longer off the tee as well. They don’t scuff as quickly as some of the top tier golf balls. These golf balls are great, but for less money you could find close to the same ball (keep reading). My recommendation is play this golf ball only if you are a Titleist faithful and your driver swing speed is in the high 80’s-90’s mph.

srixon Qstar

Srixon Q-Star – Retail ~ $28.00/dozen

My Rating: 8/10

Srixon makes some of the most underrated products out there. These golf balls are the equivalent to the Titleist NXT Tour golf balls (not the Tour S). They are a 2 piece, medium spin, soft cover ball that will give you decent feel around the green and A LOT of distance off the tee. They are designed for players with a swing speed of 70-90 mph. These are probably the most durable ball that I have ever tried. I hit full swing wedges into the green with these golf balls and got very little scuffing. My recommendation is play these golf balls over the Titleist NXT Tour, they are a better value, but if you are looking for softer feel and more spin you may want to spend the extra 75 cents per ball and go with the NXT Tour S.

callaway hex black

Callaway HEX Black – Retail Price ~ $48.00/dozen

My Rating: 5/10

I’m not sure what it is about these golf balls, but all I can tell you is I didn’t like them! Let me explain my low rating (and it could just be me, but if you are a Callaway supporter, I apologize for my harshness): The HEX Black is designed, marketed and priced as a top tier golf ball with a low compression multi-piece core, but it felt more like single piece firm cover ball to me. The strange part is the cover scuffs when you hit wedge shots into the green, but the spin out put was minimal. This golf ball is for an advanced player, but my recommendation would be to play this ball only if you are a Callaway faithful and you can afford the high price tag for a mediocre product.

titleist pro v

Titleist Pro V1 and Pro V1X – Retail Price ~ $48.00/dozen

My Rating: 9/10

This is a great ball! The Pro V1 and Pro V1X have been at the top of all golf digest and golf week lists for quite some time. The multi-piece core and soft cover means decent distance, high spin, and soft feel. They are the epitome of a top tier golf ball. The Pro V1 is the softer of the 2 with a slightly lower compression and a softer cover for more spin. The Pro V1X provides advanced players with a longer, straighter ball flight without sacrificing much spin or feel around the green. My recommendation is to play this ball only if you are a low handicap golfer, too often I see mid and high handicap golfers spending almost $50 a box on golf balls that don’t work well for their swing. You need to be producing a ball flight of 260+ yards off the tee for this ball to be worth your money.

Off Season Fix

So, it’s the off season. You probably haven’t played as much golf in the last few months as you would have liked and the season is fast approaching. One of the best ways to motivate yourself to practice again is to upgrade your equipment. Everyone loves a new putter or the hottest driver at the golf shop, but there are other ways to upgrade without breaking the bank. Re-gripping is my favorite! Grips cost anywhere from $4-$12 each and the equipment you need is cheap and easy to find. If you are inexperienced the re-gripping process takes about 10-15 minutes per club. Here’s how I prepare for the start of golf season:

You will need a few tools: Hook Knife or Utility Blade, Grip Tape (2″ x 9″), New Grips (check what size grips you need before you order your new ones), Grip Tape Activator or Solvent (Optional C-Clamp and Rubber Shaft Vice Grip). Also make sure you have a bucket or trash can nearby to catch the solvent that drips out of the end of the grip.

Work bench with regripping equipment

You can purchase grip tape or activator solution at any major golf retailer or online (I got mine at GolfTech Warehouse).

Step 1: Remove Old Grip

Begin by using your hook knife or utility blade to slice open the old grip.

Cut open Grip 1

Peel the old grip back to expose the golf club shaft and existing grip tape.

Cut open Grip 2

Remove old grip and use utility knife or putty knife to scrape away old grip tape.

Cut open Grip 3

Step 2: Apply New Grip Tape

Begin this step by removing one side of your double-sided adhesive grip tape and wrapping it around the butt-end of the shaft. Make sure you leave about 1/4″ of tape hanging off the end of the shaft. Use a hard flat surface like a pencil to remove as many air bubbles as possible. Remove the second side of the grip tape so that tape becomes sticky then fold the extra 1/4″ of grip tape over the butt-end of the shaft to seal the hole.

Applying grip tape 1    Applying grip tape 3    Applying grip tape 4

Steps 3 and 4: Installing and Aligning New Grips

Apply a generous amount of activator fluid or solvent to the grip tape and the inside of the grip.

New Grip 1     New Grip 2

Quickly slide the new grip over the grip tape. This must be done quickly!!! If you wait too long to slide the new grip on, it will stick to the adhesive tape before the grip is correctly aligned.

New Grip 3

Immediately after the new grip is installed, align the logo on the grip with the leading edge of the golf club. Most grips have a small notch or white line near the center of the logo that indicates the top of the grip.

Aligning new grip 1

Once the grip is aligned correctly, gently tap the butt-end of the club on the ground and wipe off excess solvent from the grip and shaft of the golf club. Allow to dry for 24 hours.

Aligning new grip 2

Belly Putters: A Thing of the Past?

In November of 2012, the USGA and R&A announced in a press release that they propose changes to the Rules of Golf that will prohibit players from anchoring a club to their body while making a putting stroke. Although this change has been in the rear-view mirror for quite some time, it’s not as drastic as you may think. We all thought the new rule change, which will take effect in January of 2016, would ban the use of belly and long putters. Instead, the USGA and R&A have decided that the new rule change will have no effect on the current equipment rules, it will only effect the putting stroke itself. This regulation is being implemented to maintain the fundamental characteristics of the putting stroke.

Proposed Changes to Rule 14-1
The proposed change would relabel current Rule 14-1 as Rule 14-1a, and establish Rule 14-1b as described below:
14-1b Anchoring the Club
In making a stroke, the player must not anchor the club, either “directly” or by use of an “anchor point.”

Note 1:  The club is anchored “directly” when the player intentionally holds the club or a gripping hand in contact with any part of his body, except that the player may hold the club or a gripping hand against a hand or forearm.

Note 2:  An “anchor point” exists when the player intentionally holds a forearm in contact with any part of his body to establish a gripping hand as a stable point around which the other hand may swing the club.”

If you want more information on the new rule changes, you can visit the USGA or the R&A websites.

In short, anchoring the club was a technique created as a last resort, and was not meant as a preferred method of putting. Until recently (the last 30 years) the putting stroke was free swinging and the USGA and R&A have shown that they intend to keep it that way. What does this mean for you and me? All it means is, don’t get rid of your putter or throw out your current stroke until 2016. And when the rule change does go into effect in 3 years, you have a few options. You can get a new putter or figure out how to use your belly/long putter without anchoring it.

If you have a belly/long putter, what will you do when the Rules of Golf change in 2016?