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Playing softball - golf balls claiming to regain that 'lost' spin
January, 2010

As we’ve seen with some intricate wedge offerings, the main challenge for golf scientists is how to compensate for the reduction in spin and control implied by the R&A/USGA’s roll-back in groove technology. In addition to club technology, attention in this regard is also shifting to the golf ball itself, as demonstrated by the latest offerings from TaylorMade, Callaway and Wilson.

The most elaborate new ball on the market is undoubtedly the TaylorMade PentaTP (Guide price: £42.99, doz) the first ever 5-piece construction consisting of core, three different mantle layers and a urethane cover. In a neat technical story, each of the five layers is apparently configured to provide optimum performance for each of the five main areas of play.

TaylorMade Penta

For example, the low-compression core and soft inner mantle are designed for the high-launch/low-spin conditions most conducive to the maximum distance required from the driver and long irons, respectively. The same concept is tempered progressively through the next two layers for steadily greater spin and control before the soft cover engages for maximum control and the promise to compensate significantly (though presumably not in full) for the ‘lost’ spin implied by clubs with 2010-grooves.

In keeping with the main marketing message that all golfers can benefit from the new ball because of the way the different layers accommodate different swingspeeds, there will, refreshingly, be only one version of PentaTP. No Reds, Blacks, x’s or other potentially confusing compression options.

An early thumbs-up from Sergio Garcia (who always chooses his ball entirely according to greenside control) is clearly a coup for TaylorMade, though next season’s short-game stats will be the true test.

Callaway Tour iS

Callaway’s new Tour iS ball (Guide price: £39.99, doz) also has the retention of spin as its number one priority, albeit within a more familiar 3-layer construction.

Described by company insiders as "a true short-game weapon", the Tour iS has a soft urethane cover and a mantle layer around what is now second-generation Dual Core technology along with revamped Hex aerodynamics claimed to deliver "dramatic short-game spin performance without sacrificing distance".

As part of pair of new flagship balls, the Tour iS will launched in January alongside the Tour iZ which is geared more specifically to promoting higher ball speed, low driver spin and more distance.

Wilson Dx3 Soft

Still with the soft theme, Wilson have a head start with extreme low-compression technology, with the 50 compression Dx2 Soft redefining our perception of 2-piece distance balls over the last three years. But the company has now evolved this concept into Traction Technology within an extended range that includes the multi-layer Dx3 (Guide price: £17.99, doz) and the urethane-covered, tour-quality FG Tour.

"Traction Control is about combining a new softer, cover blend with a low compression construction to increase the surface area of contact between the ball and clubface at impact," explains Doug Wright. "We estimate this engages some 13% more groove area on the clubface, leading to a corresponding improvement in spin and control."

Srixon AD333

Meanwhile, the more distance-oriented, 2-piece constructions have not been ignored, with the best-selling Srixon AD333 returning in an impressive 2010 upgrade with a larger core and a shallower angle of descent for more distance; along with the new Nike Crush (Guide price: £22, doz) which, as the name suggests, promises "explosive distance" for all swingspeeds.

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