These are exciting times for ball technology. The top brands keep finding new, innovative ways to enhance feel, improve spin and boost power. Here’s the skinny on two dozen new models, ranging from premium Tour to value options. Our advice? Test two or three models, hitting a full range of shots — putts, chips, half wedges, full irons and driver swings. You’ll soon know which ball is right for you.
Bridgestone Tour B330 and Tour B330SPRICE: $44/dozen IT’S FOR: 105+ mph swingers who want max short-game control. KEY TECHNOLOGIES: Increasing the core size by 6 percent compared with last year’s models boosts distance, as does exaggerating the gradient of the core. (The center is up to 7 percent softer, while the firmer outer region is unchanged.) Paired with a new cover, the center reduces driver spin by 3 percent, while the outer area makes the ball faster. The softest urethane cover yet has a tacky coating to increase friction for more spin on scoring shots. FINAL WORD: The B330S feels slightly softer and spins more around the green than the B330.
Bridgestone Tour B330RX and Tour B330RXSPRICE: $39/dozen IT’S FOR: 105 mph (or less) swingers who want total short-game control. KEY TECHNOLOGIES: The new core in the RX family is 28 percent softer than the Tour B330, so its target audience can compress it. Plus, the center of the core is 20 percent softer than in previous RXs, while the firmer area along the outer edges is harder. Company testing shows players get more ball speed and launch shots higher, with 3 percent less driver spin than before. Combining Bridgestone’s softest urethane cover ever with a tacky coating adds short-game spin. FINAL WORD: Like the B330s, the RXS spins more than the RX does around the green.
Callaway Chrome SoftPRICE: $40/dozen IT’S FOR: Those looking for ultimate greenside control with soft feel. KEY TECHNOLOGIES: This four-piece ball features a new dual-core construction with a soft inner and firmer outer layer, which helps generate more ball speed off the long clubs than last year’s three-piece Chrome Soft. The new model has a similar compression, but it produces more spin on mid- and short-iron shots. The same soft urethane cover provides ample spin and feel on greenside shots, while a HEX dimple pattern helps stabilize flight. The visible truvis pattern (above) is a new option as well. FINAL WORD: Low driver spin, soft feel and Tour-quality short-game performance, plus a cool new look.
Callaway Superhot 55PRICE: $28/dozen IT’S FOR: Players looking for a power-packed distance ball. KEY TECHNOLOGIES: The three-piece construction utilizes a low, 55-compression core with a soft mantle layer and Surlyn cover. This combo decreases spin on full shots and limits hooks and slices, all while heightening feel around the greens. FINAL WORD: A distance ball that feels soft and provides adequate spin on scoring shots for players who aren’t desperate for Tour-level short-game performance.
Nike RZN Tour Platinum and RZN Tour BlackPRICE: $48/dozen IT’S FOR: Better players who prioritize the short game. KEY TECHNOLOGIES: Both four-piece models have a new RZN core — 10 percent larger than in last year’s RZN Black and RZN Platinum — to generate faster ball speeds. A new iteration of the RZN core material contributes to a softer feel. The urethane cover has 344 dimples plus 13,558 “micro dimples” to reduce drag, producing a longer, more consistent flight. FINAL WORD: The most advanced Nike models to date, the Tour Black targets players who prefer to limit spin on full shots, while the Tour Platinum is for guys who want a bit more.
Nike RZN Speed Red and RZN Speed White