The Tour Preferred (l) and tour Preferred X golf balls take over as TaylorMade's flagship models.
The 2014 PGA Merchandise Show, held Jan. 22-24 in Orlando, showcased thousands of new products great and small from hundreds of vendors. After walking the 10 miles of aisles in the Orange County Convention Center for two days, I've come up with a list of 10 products that caught my eye, and I'm rolling them out over a 10-day period. Here is the sixth one:
A lot of us in the golf industry got our first look at the new Tour Preferred and Tour Preferred X golf balls from TaylorMade at the PGA Merchandise Show last week.
So, you ask, are they any good?
Well, TaylorMade replied with an emphatic yes last weekend, when Sergio Garcia won the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters and Jessica Korda won the Pure Silk Bahamas Classic with Tour Preferred X balls. That gave TaylorMade wins in two of the three big events played around the globe last week.
I'd say that's not a bad debut, except that Garcia also used a Tour Preferred X to win the Thailand Golf Championship in December. But you get the point.
''Golf ball innovation doesn't just happen overnight. Rather, it is a series of ongoing conversation with our Tour players,'' said Dean Snell, TaylorMade's vice president of golf ball R&D. ''These conversations have led to the introduction of breakthrough technologies including low drag aerodynamics for ultimate wind resistance, a five-layer construction for superior control throughout the club set and now our softest and most durable cover.''
These two new spheres take over as the flagship balls in the TaylorMade line, and the company calls them tour-caliber balls that provide complete tee-to-green performance. As a result, they say, they expect most of their staff players to join Garcia and Korda in switching to them over the next few months.
One new technology in the new balls is what TaylorMade calls Soft Tech, the company's softest and most durable cover to date. Made of a cast urethane, the new cover provides an even softer feel around the greens than previous TaylorMade offerings. The Soft Tech cover also lasts longer and will provide higher resistance to shearing, while the 322-dimple pattern is designed to minimize distance loss on low-spin shots and maintain a penetrating ball flight into the wind.
Inside both models is a REACT Core for greater ball speed on all shots, along with a Spin Mantle designed to deliver precise and consistent spin rates on shots throughout the bag. What separates the two models from each other is their spin characteristics.
The Tour Preferred is designed for players looking for more spin in their mid- to long-iron shots. This additional spin also will promote a higher trajectory on approach shots. The Tour Preferred X generates less spin and a more boring trajectory.
Both the Tour Preferred and Tour Preferred X will be available at retail on March 1 with a suggested retail price of $45.99 per dozen.