I recently learned a new lesson: don’t judge a golf ball by its cover. Typically I can tell if I will like a golf ball by simply feeling the cover. I can feel if the cover is soft and tacky, and if I can dig a fingernail into it a bit I know I’ll usually like it. When the Vision ProSoft golf balls came in for review they almost went to the giveaway pile because the cover didn’t feel soft. Almost.
The covers on the ProSoft are not as tacky or soft feeling to the hand, but then again you don’t hit golf balls with your hands. I’m glad I gave these a shot, so to speak. This is definitely a ball worth taking a closer look at.
Vision Golf Balls are originally from Australia. They’re fairly new to North America. They make all sorts of highly visible balls in a few different colors, thus the “vision” name.
Typical “tour” balls, the higher-end balls with more spin, have urethane covers. The cover on this ball is what Vision calls “durathane.” As in durable. I have a ball which has gone 45 holes and it looks like new, so yes these are very durable.
The core or center of the ball uses similar technology found in golf clubs, perimeter weighting. Moving the weight more toward the outside of the ball and away from the center reduces driver spin and increases distance.
The dimple pattern of the ball provides aerodynamic qualities to the flight, carry, dispersion, and helps with distance.
I’ve felt no drop in performance after switching from a large brand’s best “tour” ball to the Vision ProSoft. I’ve gained a ball that lasts longer as the durability of the ProSoft is remarkable.
I love the feel of this ball off of about every club in the bag, putter included. The ball compresses well on the driver, providing some great feedback. You know when it is launched. Chipping and pitching the ProSoft around the greens is nice as well.
This ball is as long as any I’ve played. Last Sunday I had a record 400 yard drive on the par-4 10th hole at Valley View with the ProSoft… Pin high in one. Yes, the ground was hard and the shot was slightly downhill, but still. 400 is 400 no matter how you slice it. No I’m not that long. No I don’t hit them 400 every time. My average is 289.
One last and cool thing: The logo and numbers on this ball are large in size and unique color/style. This ball is very easy to identify, even from a distance. “Mine’s the long one in the middle of the fairway, Bob.”
Can Vision Compete?
This ball is more durable than any tour quality ball I can think of, and the performance is not compromised as is usual with more durable golf balls. Performance-wise this ball can compete with or beat any performance ball from Titleist, Bridgestone, Srixon, Callaway or TaylorMade.
Whether the company can compete for shelf space in an already flooded golf ball market is unknown. I hope they can. At $39.99 a dozen their price point might be a little too high for regular golfers to be willing to take that chance.
I’ve started the first sentence of this review then deleted it several times, trying to find a witty way saying I have a new gamer 56 degree (sand) wedge. I don’t want to sound like every hack golf writer/blogger who has a new gamer every week. You know the ones: “this is the best (insert golf club here) I’ve ever hit!” Then next week they write a review about another one and say the same thing. My previous 56 degree wedge has been in my bag since 2006. Yes TWO THOUSAND AND SIX. That’s nine years for those of you counting at home. What’s even more remarkable is the number of wedges which have had the opportunity to dethrone it. I’ll be doing a WITG piece on those who didn’t make the cut soon: “what’s in the garage?”
So what is the new wedge which has been able to take a position in my bag that at least a dozen others have not been able to achieve? It is the new Mizuno MP-T5 5610. The 56 in 5610 is the number of degrees. The 10 in 5610 represents the degrees of bounce on the sole of the club.
Mizuno Golf MP-T5 5610 Wedge – click to zoom
The MP-T5 wedges are “grain flow forged.” Forging is the most popular process for higher end clubs, and clubs which have more feel to them. The other process is casting, which in my opinion produces clubs which have no feel, or basically feel the same on every shot. The metal used in the forging of this wedge is 1025 E pure select mild carbon steel. This is a soft steel, if there is such a thing. The softness gives the player control and feel.
The grooves in the MP-T5 are “quad cut,” milled out of the face with a CNC milling machine. This produces a lot of surface area on the face, giving the wedge more biting power and therefore more control via more spin.
Mizuno provides all sorts of options when they custom build the wedge for their players (at no extra charge I might add). There are 25 loft/bounce options for every possible swing style and condition.
Mizuno offers a True Temper Dynamic Gold “Wedge” flex shaft as its stock option and that’s the shaft in my test unit. There are roughly 15 other custom shaft options available.
This wedge combines a white satin finish with some great artwork and a very classy shape. The white satin to me is more of a matte-silver finish, which I really like. No distracting glare from the sun.
Mizuno MP-T5 Wedge
I don’t have the Black Ion Steel unit so I cant speak much about it, other than it looks fantastic.
I would never switch out a sand wedge which has been in my bag for NINE years to one which doesn’t have great feel. I adjusted to the wonderful feel of this wedge much quicker than I thought I would. I can tell exactly where I’ve made contact on the club face via the club’s “feedback” sound and feel.
On the Course
If you’re looking for computerized Iron Byron testing results with a TrackMan and exact spin rates, launch angles… check another site. My reviews are all hands-on, on the course. I can’t help wondering when that Iron Byron guy will finally find the right club for his perfect swing anyway. I don’t hit it perfect every time, and neither does anyone else, except Iron Byron.
Technical stuff and looks aside, the on-the-course performance is the most important factor. The first shot I hit, and no I didn’t bother hitting the range first, was a thrill. I was 96 yards from a front pin on the 10th hole at my home course Bonneville. The green is elevated (the right green for those of you who know the course) and anything short is in long rough. Oddly, this particular green has no fringe.
My shot hit right next to the pin, dead on line. It bounced a few feet past and spun back to about two feet. I made the ticklish birdie putt. I have hit many similar triumphant shots with the MP-T5 wedge. I find my accuracy around 100-110 is quite good.
Check out the milling on the face…
The real game changer for me (and “game changer” is a phrase that I really don’t like using) is in chipping. I’ve been using my 60 degree wedge for chipping around the greens, but thought I would try this 56 instead. The contact I’m getting is so much better. I think the added bounce is making a big difference as my 60 is very low bounce. The chipping has been much improved. Not great, but much improved. I’ll still use the lob for flops.
Finally, in the sand I’ve had some great results. My previous 56 was very good out of the sand and I wasn’t sure I’d ever find another wedge as good. The jury is still out as I haven’t hit enough green-side bunkers to really know, but so far so good.
The $129.99 retail Mizuno MP-T5 5610 is a fantastic sand wedge. Whether I’m hitting full shots from 100-110, sand shots, or chipping around the green, it performs as good or better than any other 56 I’ve tried. And I’ve tried more than a few. Just look in my garage.
Man do I have a lot of golf balls to review! I may do another “HOG Golf Ball Week” soon to cover them all. The latest in the large and growing golf ball review queue is the TaylorMade Project (a).
TaylorMade Project (a) Golf Ball
I’ve been hearing about these TaylorMade Project (a) golf balls. The (a) is for amateur, which is the target player for this ball. Just how they do that I have yet to discover, but my guesses would first be a lower compression and more spin around the greens.
I’ll be putting these into play soon and doing a full compliment of test rounds before my review. Stay tuned.
Regarding the photo above: I swear I almost have as much fun capturing cool images of golf equipment as I do playing it…
After this past weekend’s round I felt it was time to post my review of the PowerBilt N7 “Air Force One” DFX Tour driver. Yes, the name is more cheesy than a pound of Velveeta with cheese on top, but I don’t care.
I’ve been gaming this driver for a couple of months now and I’m thrilled with what this driver has brought to my game: distance, accuracy and confidence.
The “N7” in the name of this driver represents the gas nitrogen. You see, the head of this driver is “charged” with it. So if the Terminator T1000 is coming at me, I can crack open my driver head and cover him with nitrogen. According to PowerBilt, the nitrogen charge reinforces the club face without adding weight to the club. This allows for maximum trampoline effect and the thinnest legal club face, but still has great strength. The nitrogen is also not susceptible to temperature changes so regardless of conditions it remains consistent. The result is increased ball speed, which I can’t believe I’m verifying, but I am. It sounds like such a gimmick I know. But once again, I’m about results so if the lampshade on the head thing helps my score, I’ll do it.
The nitrogen isn’t the only notable feature in the “AFO.” The body is forged titanium with the popular cup-face design. Cup-face design is very popular among many drivers. The cup-face shaped front is welded onto the body. The head is aerodynamically designed to reduce drag and allow more club-head speed.
Deep Face in the Air Force One
Speaking of the face, the AFO features a “deep” face as seen above. This means the height of the face is where much of the square footage is, rather than the width. If you hit a lot of shots thin or high on the face, this may be a better choice.
The AFO DFX is available in four lofts: 8.5°, 9.5°, 10.5°, 12.5°. All come standard with a 45.5″ shaft and a 58° lie.
There are roughly 25 shaft options available. The shaft in my 10.5 degree test unit is a Fujikura Pro 63.
On The Course
What REALLY counts is how this thing performs on the golf course. I don’t have an Iron Byron (robotic golf swing machine), nor do I have a Trackman to capture exact launch angles and spin rates. My reviews are more tactile and personal in nature than those gear-heads who are trying to get one less revolution per minute in sidespin and refuse to play driver-x because its launch angle is .000003 degrees the wrong direction. I wonder when Iron Byron will finally find the perfect club for his perfect swing anyway? Lots of places seem to test for him and not the average hack like me who hits the center of the club face a couple of times per round, if I’m lucky.
10.5 degrees of nitrogen charged titanium POWER!
The feedback this club gives is great. In golf “feedback” is the feel and sound of the club. I really like the pinging sound and on that rare occasion the sweet spot is hit, the sound is even better. You know when you nutted it. I can tell through the feel of the club when I hit one thin, on the toe, on the heel or high on the face. Most of my mis-hits on this club are toe shots. The technology helps me keep plenty of distance on those toe shots, with a slight draw.
I almost always draw this club, or hit it straight. I seldom hit it right or fade it. I haven’t tried too many times to carve a fade out of it. I haven’t wanted to mess with something which works. I’m sure eventually I will try to work the ball more, but since I know the straight ball or slight fade is pretty consistent I see no need to change anything.
Right now I’m seeing some very sizeable distance gains. I’m just about to the point of humiliating a regular golf opponent who just last year was out-driving me. Now I’m “Wal-Marting” him. He’s pretty demoralized. I have several glory stories with this driver already. I’ve driven a OVER the reachable par-4 14th at one of my home courses, River Oaks. The extra length has really made par-5’s more reachable for me. In my last round I made birdie on ALL four of the par-5’s, and just missed an eagle putt on the last one. Stats for my last round were pretty awesome. I had a couple of drives in the 330 range on two par-5’s, and a couple in the 280 range uphill. Average was 303. Even better than that was my fairway percentage, 12/16 for 86%. It’s not like that every round, but even when I’m off the numbers are still pretty good.
AFO at address…
My only critique is a bit of a jab at the cheesy name, “Air Force One.” I often refer to my driver as “Snakes on a Plane,” another terrible airplane move like Air Force One was.
I get so sick of golf marketing and their “more distance” claims. Most are bogus. If they were right, we’d all need to play 10,000 yard courses and our drives would be going 500 yards. That said, I’ve picked up quite a bit of distance with this club. Is it the nitrogen? Is it the cup face? Hell, I don’t know. For all I know it is the shaft. Since I most often draw this club, the ball is probably rolling farther. Whatever the reason, I’m killing the Air Force One and hitting a very good fairway percentage.
Until I find a driver that outperforms this one my gamer driver is Snakes on a Plane… oh sorry… Air Force One.
For more images, check out the Hooked On Golf Blog PowerBilt photo gallery.
I usually reserve golf press releases for the Hooked On Golf Blog sister site HogWire.biz. I get so many press releases submitted it is quite stunning. I decided to build the HOGWire site just as a golf newswire. That said, I have a special place in my golf heart for Ben Hogan irons. As many of you probably already know, I’m still gaming a set of 2002 Ben Hogan Apex Edge Pro’s. I’ve had those in the bag for two club championships, 2nd in the city amateur, and countless $2.00 nassau victories.
This PR below is “special” enough to warrant a mention here. I’m excited to see the Ben Hogan name back in the game, so to speak. I have a now 10+ year golf business relationship with Terry Koehler, President and CEO of Ben Hogan golf. Terry is a pioneer in golf club design. I’ve reviewed his Eidolon wedges and SCOR wedges in years past. I’ve had at least two of Terry’s club designs in my gamer bag ever since 2006. No other club or club designer can claim that honor.
With that all said, I’m excited to hear this news about the new Ben Hogan Golf irons and wedges. I’m hoping, as such a loyalist of the brand, and one who has had such a great relationship with Terry, to be one of the first to review these. I’m working on that.
These clubs employ a concept I’ve lobbied for a few years now, putting the loft numbers on the clubs rather than an arbitrary number like “8.” Golf companies have juiced up clubs so much, an 8-iron is no longer an 8-iron.
The last great reason I’m anxious to get my hands on these Hogans? The model number of the wedges: TK-15. As in “Tony Korologos – 15.” Yes, I’m sure that’s why they came up with that naming convention.
Ben Hogan Golf Press Release Below
Ben Hogan Golf Equipment Company is pleased to announce that we are now taking orders for the new Ft. Worth 15 irons and TK 15 wedges – allowing golfers to once again become a “Hogan Player.”
“Everybody is well aware of the stories of how committed Mr. Hogan was to producing high quality golf equipment,” said Terry Koehler, President/CEO of Ben Hogan Golf Equipment Company. “We continue this commitment today. We also understand that while golfers are extremely excited about new products, buying a set of premium irons and wedges is a large purchase, so we want to assure them that we will stand behind our products to provide them with the best experience possible.”
“We encourage every consumer to go through our revolutionary HoganFit™ online analysis and fitting system,” said Koehler. Unlike anything in the industry, the HoganFit™ online analysis and fitting system provides golfers with their own unique loft matrix, aligning precision gapping throughout the set.
“The HoganFit™ system was created to give golfers a way to determine their own unique and perfect loft matrix that will optimize their precision and distance control,” added Koehler. “With 44 loft options available, only Ben Hogan Golf Equipment Company will provide the most accurately custom-matched set of irons in golf. It’s the only way to bring precision back to iron and wedge play.”