While last year was big for drivers, 2014 is shaping up as the year of the golf ball. New orbs, reworked spheres, even innovative ways of marketing and selling the dimpled pellets have recently been introduced, meaning that in the new year, the good times are going to roll—and carry.
A few months ago, Jack Nicklaus introduced Golden Bear balls (made by Bridgestone), with black, blue, and white logos to indicate which tees each should be played from (black-back; blue-middle; white-forward). Callaway Golf is making a similar match-play statement with its three new Speed Regime balls. The SR1 is for swing speeds 90 mph and lower; SR2 is for speeds between 90 and 105mph; and SR3 is for 105mph and above. The construction and aerodynamics of each ball are designed to make the most of those speed limits, with the company saying that regardless of which ball is chosen, they all “flat-out fly farther.”
Colors also help differentiate a new quartet of balls from Nike, each with proprietary Speedlock RZN Core technology: The surface of the inner core—which looks like a waffle iron—is more tightly bonded to the inner layers to harness more energy and produce longer distance and more stability. The four balls are the RZN Platinum (Tour control, moderate spin), RZN Black (Tour distance, less spin), RZN Red (distance performance, longer carry), and RZN White (distance performance, softer feel, for swing speeds 95-100 mph).
Hopkins Golf, started by the former head of Cleveland Golf, is pushing boundaries both with its products and how they’re sold. The new VL Pro ball is, in the company’s own words, “a 3-piece golf ball along the lines of the Titleist NXT Tour, Taylor Made RocketBallz and Callaway HEX Chrome. It has an aerodynamic dimple design, USGA approval, is white, round, and performs as good or better than these other balls. What it doesn’t have is expensive packaging or a retail mark-up so a dozen is about ten bucks cheaper. And, as always, we’ll ship it to you free.”
Happy new sphere, everyone!