New crop of golf balls blossoms in year without ProV1 launch

Callaway golf balls
Courtesy of Callaway Golf
The new Callaway Chrome Soft ball (l) features a proprietary Dual SoftFast Core, while the color pattern on the TruVis version provides unprecedented visual feedback.
By John Holmes
PGA.com

Series: Golf Buzz

Published: Wednesday, January 27, 2016 | 9:21 p.m.
 
 
In the world of golf balls, everything revolves around the launch of new models of the Titleist ProV1 and ProV1x. They come out as regular as clockwork every two years, and dominate the high-end ball market. 
 
This year, however, is not one of those years, and that gives us a great chance to explore some of more intriguing models that are fresh to market. Several of these, in fact, are Titleist products – the company has brand-new editions of its Pinnacle balls as well as its Velocity, DuoSoft and NXT models.
 
As its name implies, the Velocity ball delivers fast initial ball speed on full-swing shots for explosive distance. Its larger LSX core provides much of this power, while its spherically tiled 328 tetrahedral dimple design delivers a more penetrating trajectory with a shallower angle of descent for even more roll. It retails for $35 per dozen.
 
The Titleist NXT Tour remains a high-performance ball that delivers low spin on long shots with solid ball-stopping control on shorter shots. This multi-component sphere features a large dual core with a soft center, a soft Fusablend cover and a spherically tiled 302 octahedral dimple design.
 
The "S" in the NXT Tour S ball's name stands for soft. This model delivers the same performance characteristics as the standard NXT Tour, but with a significantly softer feel thanks in large part to its reformulated soft-compression core. It also features a Fusablend cover and a spherically tiled, 302 octahedral dimple design, and comes in white and high optic yellow.
 
While the NXT Tour S is soft, the new iteration of the DT TruSoft offers Titleist's softest compression feel while also delivering impressive distance and good short-game playability. The ball boasts a new soft core and ionomic cover formulation that delivers very low spin, and results in what the company says is its best combination of very soft compression feel and consistent performance.
 
Finally, Titleist's Pinnacle brand is out with two new models, the Rush and the Soft. As you might guess, the Rush advances the brand's well-known pursuit of distance. It's got a proprietary high-energy core that produces fast ball speed, along with an advanced 332 icosahedral dimple design for a consistent ball flight and a soft ionomer cover for improved feel. It comes in both white and optic yellow.
 
The Pinnacle Soft is also a distance demon, but offers a softer feel thanks to its high-energy, extremely low-compression core – it's Pinnacle's lowest compression core ever. The core combines with an incredibly soft ionomer cover to produce the softest-feeling Pinnacle ever made, and it too has a 332 icosahedral dimple design. It comes in white, white with a pink play number and side stamp, and optic pink. 
 
Here is a round-up of some of the other more prominent golf balls for 2016, listed alphabetically:
 
BRIDGESTONE: Bridgestone is out with updated versions of its top-of-the-line Tour B330 andTour B330S (the "S" is the higher-spin model) balls, both of which are created for players with tour pro-level swing speeds – 105 mph and above – as well as its B330RX and RXS, which are for the rest of us.
 
The B330 and B330S balls feature a new Tour Core that is 6 percent larger than its predecessors. The core is softest closer to the center and gradually firmer as it gets closer to the cover, resulting in faster ball speeds and reduced spin off the driver. This type of core, as opposed to a two- or three-layer core, improves the balls' energy transfer for more power, the company says.
 
The new models both have a SlipRes cover that creates higher friction for more spin out of the rough and less spin off the driver for increased distance. Amazingly, Bridgestone says the cover is self-repairing for longer playability. And its dual dimple cover pattern features smaller inner dimples that reduce drag at launch for faster elevation and larger outer dimples that promote a shallow angle of descent for increased rollout on landing. 
 
The B330RX and RXS – the "S" here is for Spin as well – meanwhile, have a softer Amatour Core designed to maximize compression for longer distance. It is, the company says, 28 percent softer than the average tour ball core which, like the B330 and B330S, is softer toward the center and firmer toward the outside to help generate faster ball speed and reduced spin off the driver. These balls also have the SlipRes Cover and Seamless Cover Technology for improved performance.
 
CALLAWAY: Callway continues its aggressive push in the ball market with its new Chrome Soft and Superhot 55 balls. Phil Mickelson is among the pro players who have been using prototypes of Chrome Soft model on tour.
 
The four-piece Chrome Soft ball introduces a proprietary Dual SoftFast Core, which leads to fast ball speeds off the driver for exceptional distance. The core also lets golfers compress the ball on irons shots for long, straight flight, the company says. The ball also includes a mantle layer and a Tour Urethane Cover for even more control throughout the bag, especially with the scoring clubs.
 
Perhaps the most intriguing ball out new this year is the TruVis version of the Chrome Soft. It's the same ball as the Chrome Soft, but with a TrueVis cover – a distinctive red and white pattern that makes it look like a tiny soccer ball. It's not a gimmick, though – the pattern helps you identify the ball's spin and roll far better than you can with a one-color cover. This kind of visual feedback is invaluable, and this ball has the potential to become a true breakout hit.
 
The Superhot 55, meanwhile, has a low 55 compression and is designed for long and straight shots. Its HEX Aerodynamics promote low drag and optimal lift for a strong ball flight, while its soft mantle layer and cover system work to lower spin for reduced hooks and slices.
 
NIKE GOLF. The big golf ball news out of Nike Golf comes from its RZN Tour ball, which Nike staff player Rory McIlroy says provides him the best combination of distance and feel that he's ever played. 
 
Made with RZN 4.0, the newest iteration of Nike's RZN material, the blue center core is not only softer but also 10 percent bigger than the previous generation. That, Nike says, gives the ball what amounts to a bigger engine, unlocking faster ball speeds. The core uses Speedlock X technology, with deeper grooves and a X-shaped surface pattern, to allow better energy transfer through the ball and provide more distance and faster ball speeds. 
 
The ball's Flight Suit cover features 344 dimples and 13,558 micro dimples strategically placed to improve lift and drag properties, especially at the end of the ball's flight. It will be available in two versions: Black for lower-spin distance and Platinum for mid-spin control.
 
The company is also rolling out two new RZN Speed golf balls, the Red (for longer carry) and the White (for softer feel). Both three-piece models boast the same Speedlock X Core technology as the RZN Tour ball to help maximize energy transfer, while a softer RZN formulation provides a softer feel without sacrificing distance.
 
ONCORE. Oncore is a small company that came out with a big idea few years ago – a ball with a hollow metal core. This week it's showing off a new two-piece model called the Avant, which features a soft core and promises long distance.
 
The Avant – a product of the Oncore R&D team led by former TaylorMade Vice President of Research and Development John Calabria – uses a unique polymer blend for its core composition. That results in, the company says, a high coefficient of restitution that delivers exceptional velocity and distance. If you're counting, its compression value is 65. 
 
VOLVIK. Volvik is well known in Asia and in recent years has been making a push on various tours with its brightly colored golf balls. In fact, the company bills itself as "the #1 Color Golf Ball on Tour," with more than 75 professionals using its balls worldwide.
 
New this year is the latest iteration of Volvik's Crystal model, a premium three-piece ball that is the company's most famous product. This new model features a 322-dimple pattern, which the company says helps it fly higher and farther, along with a Power Core for distance and a softer Surlyn Crystalline cover that helps generate optimal spin rates. Notably, the company says the 80-compression Crystal is best for players with swing speeds under 95 mph. It comes in orange, green, yellow, pink and ruby colors.
 
Also new this year is the Vivid, which the company calls the world's first matte-finish golf ball. It is essentially the same construction as the Crystal, but eschews that model's Crystalline translucent cover for a unique matte finish – in several neon colors – that helps it stand out on the ground and in the air. 
 
The Vivid is a three-piece, 80-compression ball is softer than the original Crystal ball but still capable of generating Crystal-level distance. And like the Crystal, it is designed for people with 95 mph or slower swing speeds. It comes in green, orange, red and pink.
 
WILSON STAFF. One of the great names in American sports equipment, Wilson Golf has been marching back toward prominence in recent years. This year, it adds to its Duo line of balls with the Duo Urethane, a 55-compression model that joins the 29-compression Duo and the 35-compression Duo Spin.
 
Wilson bills the new three-piece model as the world's softest urethane ball, and says it is designed for feel players who still want to maximize their distance. It features a soft, thin-cast urethane cover that the company says is the most premium matetrial available, and provides exceptional spin and control in approach shots. It also features a new 362 seamless dimple pattern for optimized distance, along with a DuPont HPF inner mantle layer to encourage more velocity when struck.