This winter has been killing me with regards to getting to product reviews. The courses are closed, buried in as much as couple of feet of snow. The high temperature for about the last month has been below freezing. Spring can’t come soon enough.
Last month I received an amazing promotional box from Bridgestone Golf. I knew no matter what was inside I’d dig it. As it turns out inside was a sample of each of their new B330 golf ball series, the B330, B330-S, B330RX, and B330RX-S. I would have posted these pics earlier, but there was an “embargo” on. That meant I had to wait for a certain date.
During the waiting the box became buried in a bunch of other products which came in for review. I finally got the chance to open it up today and take some pictures.
I do plan to review all of these balls after the snow melts. I’ll need to get my hands on more than one sleeve of each model though. I could lose a sleeve on the first hole of my home course, before I even get off the tee box.
This is the second review of three TaylorMade golf ball models I’m in the process of reviewing. The first was the Project (a) ball, a ball designed more for amateurs with slower swing speeds. This review features the TaylorMade Tour Preferred golf ball. The “TP” is a “tour” level ball, meaning their highest performance and most expensive. This is one which many TaylorMade PGA Tour players use, and for good reason. Let’s take a look.
TaylorMade Tour Preferred Golf Ball
The Tour Preferred ball is a four layer ball. Each layer features materials and engineering which give the ball specific performance characteristics. For instance, the core may provide the primary distance of the ball while the outer layer or cover provides much of the ball’s feel and spin. Most tour balls, the Tour Preferred included, have a urethane cover which provides the softest and best spin in the sort game.
Together these layers and their engineering produce the following performance characteristics in the TaylorMade TP ball:
- Low driver spin
- Medium-high mid- to long-iron spin
- High short iron and wedge spin
- High spin inside of 100 yards
These characteristics are slightly different than the Tour Preferred X ball, which I will be reviewing soon. The difference between the two is that numbers two and three above are swapped. The X ball has medium mid- to long-iron spin and medium-high short iron and wedge spin.
Low driver spin means more accuracy off the tee and longer distance. High spin inside 100 yards means short game control.
On The Course
I don’t do TrackMan or FlightScope testing on my golf balls and clubs, just real world golf on real golf courses. If you need to know the exact spin rate off a 9-iron at X miles-per-hour swing speed with x-launch angle, there are other sites full of that information. Google it.
Off the tee the TP feels very solid and I can hit it as far as just about any other ball I’ve tested. I can feel the ball compress and I’m able to work the ball as needed, though my swing lately seems to only want to go straight or draw. Don’t ask me to hit a fade right now. I’ve hit a few massive drives (for me), and even some massive 3-woods with this ball.
Iron feel of the TP is excellent. The ball is soft enough for me to feel it on the face and tell if I’m clipping it just right, compressing it. Those pure shots produce pure results and birdie opportunities.
Inside 100 yards (admittedly my weakest link) I have plenty of spin. Sometimes I can actually clip the ball to crisply when pitching or chipping and it will check too much. That’s not the ball’s fault. It the fault of my skill level, short game distance control.
Lastly, the fee of the putter is great. The cover feels soft and I have total distance control with the flat stick.
Not Just For Tour Players
Over many years one of the main reasons amateurs were not well off hitting “tour” balls is because of the compression of the ball and maxiumum distance. High swing speeds were needed to get full compression out of them. That does not seem to be the case with the TP ball. I have a driver swing speed of about 100MPH, and 105 if I’m really killing it. With the right driver head, shaft, and this ball, I can hit them quite far. I don’t feel like I’m losing distance with the TP due to not having a high enough swing speed.
The other component to “tour” balls is the high spin. The engineering of this ball gives the player, amateur or pro, the high spin where it is needed in the shorter irons and short game. So once again, an amateur could benefit from playing this ball.
Whether you are an amateur or a pro, the TaylorMade Tour Preferred golf ball is a high performance option.
TaylorMade Project (a) golf ball review.
TaylorMade Project (a) Golf Ball
Soft golf balls are the rage right now. That’s great for me as they don’t aggravate my tennis/golfer’s elbow and my driver swing speed is around 100mph. The problem with many of the softer balls which have been produced over the last few years is that they don’t have good spin characteristics in the short game end of things. That’s where balls like the TaylorMade Project (a) are filling the gap. The (a) in the name stands for “amateur.” The ball is designed for amateur swing speeds but has a cover design and materials which produce “tour” level spin and feel in the short game.
The Project (a) is a 3-piece ball, meaning it has three separate layers. Each layer gives the ball certain performance characteristics.
Most “tour” or high quality golf balls feature a thin cover made from a material called urethane. Urethane is found in the covers of nearly every great golf ball, but not often found on the covers of amateur balls. The Project (a) ball does feature a soft urethane cover. This is what gives this ball far more spin from 30 yards an in than most mid-level amateur golf balls.
The next layer is the mantle layer. This layer also contributes to the ball’s short game spin.
The innermost layer, called the core, is the powerhouse of the ball. The core gives the ball its distance and feel on full shots, and especially off the driver.
My unscientific and rough measurement of the ball’s compression via a very cool golf ball compression measuring tool called the Hexcaliber, shows the ball to be just above a 90.
TaylorMade Project (a) Golf Ball Compression Measurement
In the “old” days tour swing speeds matched up with balls having 100 compression or higher. Amateur golf swing speeds were between 85-100, and women’s balls around 80 compression. These days there are many balls in the 80 range, and even some down at 50 or less.
Hands-On – On The Course
I’ve quite enjoyed my testing rounds with this ball. The elbow feels great. Harder golf balls beat up my golfer’s elbow, which is why I can’t play them. No issues with this softer ball.
The compression level of this ball works well with my very amateur swing speed. I have plenty of distance. Plenty. Like I mentioned, I top out at around 100mph but can get it up to maybe 105 if I’m swinging hard.
The feel the ball has on iron shots is great. I can feel the ball compress and I can sense the control I have when working the ball either direction or trying to control my “traj” (trajectory).
As advertised this ball is great from not only 30 yards and in, but I’d say from 100 yards and in. Short game is my achilles heel but I’ve had success chipping and pitching with this ball and getting that little bit of bite around the greens.
I’ve found the TaylorMade Project (a) golf balls on Amazon for under $32 per dozen, which is close to half the price of some “tour” balls. And for the amateur this ball may be better than those more expensive balls due to the slightly lower compression. The cover is the same.
If you’re a regular golfing Joe with an average swing speed who needs an affordable high performing golf ball, the Project (a) could be the ticket. These could also be good balls for some of the better lady golfers.
Father’s Day is coming up by the way. A box of TaylorMade Project (a) golf balls would make a great Father’s Day golf gift.
Today I began my testing of the new TaylorMade Tour Preferred golf ball having completed my testing of the Project (a) ball. The TP is a “tour” level ball, meaning their highest performance and most expensive. Today’s round was the first of several I’ll be doing with this ball, like I do when I test any golf ball. No one-hit reviews here.
TaylorMade Tour Preferred Golf Ball
Stay tuned for my review on the TaylorMade Tour Preferred ball soon.
This weekend I did some short game and putting practice. I chose to use some golf balls sent in by Sightball, which have six crosshairs on them as seen below.
If you can’t aim with this ball, take up another sport…
The balls themselves are not “tour” level golf balls. They are not ProV1’s or anything like that. I wouldn’t play these in a regular round of golf, but that’s not the point. These are best suited for practice and improving setup.
Using the six aiming markings on the ball one can gather some great setup and swing path information quickly and easily. Recently I did some testing of my putting stroke via the 3Bays GSA Putt app, and noticed that my putter face was open 1 to 2 degrees at impact most of the time. The Sightball confirms that as seen below. Without the marking lines I couldn’t see the alignment issues as clearly.
By looking at the Sightball and the alignment of my putter face and center mark, I can easily tell if my putter is square
Post-impact the ball can give some great feedback as well. The golfer can gain great feedback as to the roll of the ball when aided by Sighball’s markings.
I have no problem with the balls or the product itself. They serve their purpose well. That said, the branding, packaging and Sightball website should be blown up and redone. It needs a total facelift.
At $14.95 for a half dozen, one might consider marking shag balls with his own alignment markings. Those markings will not be as accurate, durable, and sharp as the ones Sightball comes with. I can certainly see an instant alignment benefit by using an alignment ball like Sightball. If you have alignment issues, especially with the putter, these would be very beneficial to improving your setup.