I was supposed to log my 2nd round of testing “The Ball,” but the cold temperatures and SNOW prevented that endeavor from happening. So I’ll do a little preview post with a quick photo of a new golf ball called… The Ball. I’ll be putting The Ball through more playing tests and posting a review in the next weeks. Stay tuned.
The Ball – click to zoom
Here are a couple of paragraphs regarding The Ball from their PR company:
Boston-based startup INeedtheBall.com is aiming to put a spin on tradition in both construction and looks with its first high performance product: The Ball. With a unique 3-piece design and tungsten core, The Ball is constructed to give you maximum distance off the tee, while still having great feel and control around the greens. During flight tests, The Ball offered superior distance off the driver and increased spin off the wedge compared to other leading brands.
The Ball conforms with USGA rules and won’t break the bank, as it retails for $34.99 per dozen (about $10 less than the other premium competitors). Complete with a distinctive appearance and sleek black packaging, golfers can try The Ball‘s cutting-edge golf technology and compare it against the leading brands with a risk-free, 30 day trial.
Srixon has two new versions of the Z-Star out on the market for 2013. The first is the Z-Star, which I reviewed last week. The 2nd is the Z-Star XV, a model built for players with higher swing speeds. I’d tried a previous model Z-Star XV but it was too hard for my slower swing speed. I gave the 2013 model a shot, pun intended, and could certainly tell a difference. I could play the ball given optimal conditions. Let’s take a look at the 2013 Z-Star XV.
Srixon Z-Star XV
Z-Star XV Overview
The Z-Star XV is a “tour” level golf ball. This means the performance is best for professional golfers or amateur golfers who demand high spin in the short game and short irons.
The Srixon Z-Star XV is a four layer ball: two cores, a mid layer and the cover. The XV is high compression ball designed for players with a higher than average swing speeds.
Inside the center of the ball, the dual core produces the power of the ball via Srixon’s “Neo Energetic Gradient Growth” technology. Yeah, that’s what I was going to say. The technology varies the core density, producing high ball velocity and high launch angle. In other words, distance.
The mid-layer of the ball serves to reduce excess spin off the driver. If the spin is too high, the ball will lose distance as well as accuracy. More simply, straight and long.
The 344 dimple outer cover is a soft and very thin cover which helps produce great amounts of spin in shorter clubs. Srixon’s “spin skin” technology helps increase friction between club and ball by 20%, thus helping the player impart more spin in the short game. In other words, control.
The XV comes in two colors: pure white and tour yellow. I tested the pure white model.
On The Course
My first experience with the XV model from a couple of years ago was that the ball was too hard for my game and swing speed. I didn’t’ find that I was benefitting from the higher compression and thus not getting the distance.
With the new XV I sense some differences in feel and playability for me. In optimal conditions I’m able to play the ball with great results in driver distance. One particular case came on the difficult 468 yard par-4 2nd hole at my home course. Typically my drives end up just inside the 200 yard marker, or roughly 275 yards from the tee. On a nice warm summer day when I was swinging well, I found myself considerably closer to the green at 165 yards. That’s a 30 yard gain. Note however, that those conditions are optimal. By optimal I mean that the temperature was warm, my back was loose and I was swinging very well. I did find that as I got tired (thus my swing speed decreased), the temps dropped or my back tightened up, I didn’t benefit from the ball’s high compression. That makes sense because my top swing speed is probably right around 105. In those optimal conditions when I was fully benefitting I was swinging 105+ and in the not-so optimal conditions I was sub 105 and probably even sub 100.
Having just reviewed the Z-Star, I have a good reference point to compare the XV with. I did find for me that I got a touch more spin with the Z-Star versus the XV. And that makes sense, since the XV does rank a bit lower on spin than the regular flavor. That being said, the regular Z-Star has a great amount of spin on short game shots. The XV has plenty.
On the durability end of things, both balls in the Z-Star series are extremely durable. The only visible damage I’ve seen on either model in the 100+ holes I’ve played with them was from a cart path.
The Srixon Z-Star XV is a great golf ball no doubt. If your swing speed is up high enough, I strongly recommend it. You’ll see massive distance and yet have brilliant short game control. If your swing speed isn’t above 105, go with the regular Z-Star.
2013 Srixon Z-Star review
Has it really been 3.5 years since I last reviewed the Srixon Z-Star? Looking at my previous posts that seems to be the case. I last reviewed the Srixon Z-Star golf ball on January 8, 2010.
2013 Srixon Z-Star Golf Balls
The 2013 Z-Star has some improvements over previous models as well as retaining some of the excellent qualities of previous models. Lets take a look at the 2013 Srixon Z-Star.
The Z-Star is a “tour” level golf ball. “Tour” typically means a higher spin golf ball with a soft urethane cover, the kind preferred by PGA Tour players such as Keegan Bradley.
The Z-Star is a 3-layer ball: outer cover, mid-layer and inner core.
The soft outer cover employs the new Srixon “Spin Skin” technology. This technology gives the ball 20% more grip on the clubface on short game shots and thus a great amount of control. The cover has 344 dimples.
The mid-layer helps to control spin on longer shots. More spin on short shots is preferred but not on longer shots. There’s quite a balance between the two. Excess spin on longer shots kills distance and reduces accuracy.
The core or inner-most layer is where the ball gets its power from. The large core employs Srixon’s “energetic gradient growth” technology. In other words, the density of the core varies from center out. That variation, when tuned properly, results in more distance off the driver.
On The Course
Enough about all the technical mumbo-jumbo. All golf companies have their high technology engineering speak. It makes great marketing. But what’s the performance of the ball on the course? Here are my findings.
The distance achieved with the Z-Star is excellent. The fact that the ball flies so well with very little sidespin, even in windy conditions, makes it go quite far. The minimal sidespin makes the ball very accurate off the driver.
Mid-distance shots like mid-irons are great with the Z-Star. I’ve stuck many greens with what my friends and I call “tour sauce.” Tour sauce happens when you back up shots as they hit the green, or zip-check short game shots. The control and spin this ball has with irons is as good as any ball I’ve played.
Short game shots are a joy with the Z-Star. I’m able to get that two-bounce and stop kind of spin from pitches and chips. Full wedges and short irons can result in some very large amounts of backspin. So much that depending on green conditions, I may need to aim 10 feet past the pin and suck it back. It is quite fun to suck shots back, when you are in fact past the pin. It isn’t cool when you underclub and suck one back off the front of the green into a bunker though. 🙂
In windy conditions the ball performs brilliantly. I tested the Z-Star side-by-side with another golf ball in windy conditions this past weekend. On each drive my playing partners and I could easily see that the Z-Star flew straighter and was affected by the wind less than the other ball. I’d could hit both balls without telling my buddies which was which, and they were able to tell me which one was the Z-Star based on its flight. In those conditions the Z-Star was also an average of 5-10 yards longer.
The Spin Skin technology is quite remarkable. Most high spin and soft cover balls are not very durable. After 18 holes, 36 holes and more, I can’t see a scratch on the Z-Star even though I play with square grooved wedges. In fact, starting up my last round I dug in the bag for a new Z-Star and grabbed two. One ball was new and the other had been played for 27 holes. I could not tell them apart.
The 2013 Z-Star is a fantastic golf ball. The ball features great feel and distance on long shots and unmatched control in the short game. The durability is better than just about any tour level ball I’ve ever tested.
2010 Srixon Z-Star Review
Tour of the Cleveland/Srixon headquarters in California
Srixon Q-Star Review
3UP 3F12 Golf Balls – click to zoom.
I had a hell of a round going yesterday. Made eagle on the par-5 first hole with a solid 4-iron to about eight feet. Made the putt. Five pars and then a solid 6-iron to about 10 feet on the par-3 6th from 185 yards, birdie. After par on #7 I was three under. Then I completely gagged, going bogey-triple bogey on the last two holes of the front nine. I bounced back great on the back nine with birdies on #10 and #12. I ended up shooting even par on the back and a +1 73 for the round, despite having a triple bogey and a few bogeys.
The great shots I hit during yesterday’s round wouldn’t have been possible with a low quality golf ball. That uphill 4-iron on the first hole from 195 or that great 6-iron which hit pin-high from 185 and stuck right there would not have been possible with a “distance” or non “tour” spin ball. Was I playing a Titleist ProV1? Perhaps a Srixon Z-Star or Bridgestone B330? Nope. I was playing a ball you may have never heard of, until now.
3UP is a new kid on the golf ball block. They’re elbowing their way into a market ruled by billion dollar companies. The company was founded by Rob Zimmerman, a 2 handicap. Zimmerman survived a mild heart attack in 2012 and decided to take on a new path with his new lease on life, making golf balls. Fast forward a year and lowly TK here is playing a very fine golf ball. Let’s take a look at the 3UP 3F12.
3UP 3F12 Golf Ball Overview
The 3UP 3F12 golf ball was built with a little bit of old school balata spin and new school distance. For those who don’t remember the balata days, balata golf balls were very soft and had extremely high spin rates, much higher than what we see these days. That high spin was great on short irons and short game, but made driving the ball straight extremely difficult. The covers on balata balls were so soft that a bladed iron could literally cut through. The ball would be cut open, egg shaped and completely unplayable.
The 3UP golf ball’s technology produces balata-like spin, about 5% more spin on shorter irons than regular golf balls.
The distance of the golf ball is comparable to any big name golf ball on the market. I’ve hit some cracking drives with the 3UP, like the drive on #18 yesterday. #18 was a 470 yard par-4. I was 145 from the pin for my 2nd shot. You do the math. The 3UP ball produces low side spin off of driver shots, which makes it more accurate and long.
So what makes the ball produce such great spin on the short irons, yet great distance off the driver? The ball is a 3-piece (in other words 3-layer) ball.
The outer layer is a cast urethane, the same material most high end “tour” balls has. This layer is where the “feel” in the short game and putting comes from. 318 dimples are aerodynamically designed to give the ball the proper amount of lift and carry.
The middle layer is called the “mantle” layer. The mantle layer is made from an ionomer plastic. This layer helps to reduce driver spin, yet doesn’t compromise shorter iron spin.
The center layer is, you guessed it, the core. Just like the earth’s layers! The core is the primary layer for distance.
On The Course
I couldn’t wait to tell some 3UP stories from on the course, which I did in the intro. I have many more, like the 7-iron I backed up on the 4th hole at River Oaks, with a tail wind. Not possible with other golf balls!
I gave some 3UPs to a friend Kevin, a mid-teen handicap on the rise. He loved the feel and was gushing to me about how he hadn’t been able to get that kind of spin from other big name golf balls. I watched him produce several shots, even from the rough, which bit and held greens he normally wouldn’t have been able to hold. Sold.
3UP after 45 holes – click to zoom
I’m very impressed with the durability of this ball. Typically high spin balls are not durable. In the photo to the right, check out my 3UP ball after 45 holes. There are just a couple of scratches from some square grooved wedges, but the ball is nearly like new.
This is really awesome. 3UP will donate $3 to charity from every dozen balls sold. That’s fantastic. Don’t worry about losing a golf ball! You just donated to charity!
While I love this golf ball, I think it will be a tough go to break into a market which has some very big names with multi-million dollar advertising and PR budgets. Maybe this small article will help a bit. I do think that at a retail of $39, a ball someone isn’t familiar with might be a tough sell. I think pricing under $30, even $24.99 would be a better price point.
I like this. A dozen 3UP golf balls does not come in a cardboard box, with four cardboard boxes inside. Instead, the balls come in a nice bag/pouch with a tie string. When you’re done with the balls, you have a great golf accessory bag to put tees and ball markers in!
Hats off to Rob and 3UP. The ball is everything they say it is. The spin in the short game is stellar and the ball is plenty long.
HOG 3UP photos
I have to admire the tenacity of some golf entrepreneurs. Even though there are billion dollar companies out there making golf balls, Rob Zimmerman and 3UP Golf decided they’d join the fray. I have a dozen 3UP 3f12 golf balls to try. They’re a three piece ball meant to perform and feel like a balata but also produce modern distance. I’d like that.
As an extra cool bonus, $3 of each dozen sold is earmarked to a golf related charity. Cool. Buy high performance golf balls and support a great cause. And rather than a typical cardboard box, these balls come in a nice bag which would be great for carrying golf tees and other stuff around in.
In hand the balls look sharp and have what looks to be a dimple pattern close to the 330-332 dimple designs. The balls feel very tacky so I can tell they’ll produce a ton of spin around the greens.
I’ll put them in play as soon as I can and start working up my review.