I recently reviewed the 6-layer golf ball from Forté Golf, an Australian based company. That’s the first of two golf ball models from Forté Golf. Today’s review is the Tour-Performance S model. This is a ball with a different construction than their 6-layer, but still focuses on “tour” performance. What does that mean? We hear “tour” all the time when referring to golf equipment, especially golf balls. Tour typically means high short game spin and a soft urethane type of cover for control in the short game. Let’s take a look at the Tour-Performance S.
Tour-Performance S Overview
The Tour-Performance S is a 3-layer ball, often referred to as 3-piece construction. The layers are the core, mantle, and cover. Each layer has specific properties and materials designed specifically for performance characteristics throughout the various shots. Golf ball construction is tough. Lower spin rates are great for longer distance and accuracy with the long clubs. But higher spin rate is desired for shorter shots. That high spin provides bite and control.
The core primarily gives the ball its compression, and feel off the driver. The core of the Tour Performance S is soft and produces a low spin rate with the driver. The mantle blends the core with the cast urethane cover. The urethane cover provides the ball’s feel and control in short game shots, even putting.
On The Course
Driving with the TPS is excellent. I love the softer core. I’m able to hit this ball as far most brand name tour quality balls. Just yesterday I was in a tournament in high winds and was still able to hit some long drives which held their line nicely. I even got to put my name on the long drive sign, but that didn’t last long I’m sure.
The soft core and urethane cover make for great feeling shots with the irons. Longer irons compress well and my accuracy with them is great. Shorter irons and especially wedges stop on a dime and leave 7 cents change. In my last round I nearly holed out two shots from roughly 100 yards. Quite sure one lipped out. Nice to have a 10 inch birdie putt now and then.
Short game shots, chipping and pitching around the green are huge beneficiaries of the urethane cover. I feel like I have total control and stopping power with my wedges.
Putting the S is terrific as well. It rolls true and is very easy to control distance.
One problem “tour” balls have is durability. It’s contradictory to have a soft cover and high durability. That said the TPS is very durable. I’ve played one ball for 2-3 rounds and it barely shows any wear.
The ultimate golf ball has low spin with the driver and high spin on shorter shots. The S performs highly on both ends of the spectrum and easily competes with tour caliber balls from the big name brands.
I may be fooling myself, but I like to think I hit certain clubs fairly accurate and consistent yardages. When I have an exact yardage to my target it helps me confidently pick the right club and put a solid swing on it. That’s one reason I typically prefer laser rangefinders over GPS devices on the golf course. I can shoot anything and get a number. Top lip of the bunker guarding the front of the green is 127 and the pin is 135. Perfect. I know just what to hit.
Laser rangefinders are not typically inexpensive. The Bushnell Pro X2 laser I recently reviewed is $500! That’s a lot of dough for golfers on a budget or who only play a few times a month or even a few times a year. Luckily the more affordable laser rangefinder space has an excellent player in it, TecTecTec. TecTecTec makes several “affordable” lasers which start in price from $149 and max out at $249.00. Many of the features found in the more expensive laser units come standard in TecTecTec lasers. Today’s review is the VRPRO500S.
The VRPRO500S is not the least expensive offering from TecTecTec. It’s the next level up, and can be found on Amazon for only $179.99. This model comes in a very small and convenient size. See the photo below.
- “Flagseeker Advanced Pinsensor Technology” – (LOL, not pinseeker) technology locks onto the pin (see critiques)
- Slope – not legal for tournament play but can be turned off
- Yards or Meters
- Measures up to 540 yards (good for you long hitters)
- Very nice zippered case with elastic quick release
- Compact size
- 6X monocular magnification
- 2 year warranty
On The Course
The VRPRO500S performed fairly well on the course for me. Keep in mind I’m used to gaming lasers that are 2-3X the cost. I found that in most situations I was able to get an accurate yardage quickly. The numbers on the display are clear and easy to read. The visual through the 6x monocular multi-layer coated lens is clear and bright.
I don’t typically use slope when getting yardages with lasers because my rounds are almost always legit handicap or tournament rounds. But for fun I used the slope a few times to get the hang of it. The slop can be turned on or off via the “mode” button on the top. The slope is quite cool. The actual yardage is shown as normal, but under it is shown the yardage compensated for change in elevation. For instance on one par-3 at my home course the yardage was 145 downhill. With the slope turned on the unit told me the yardage would play like a shot of 137 yards. The top of the display also shows the number of degrees in the slope, which is interesting.
There are also other modes and settings one can use the mode button for. One is a kind of “scan” mode where you can hold the button down and the numbers will automatically update as you move it around.
Naturally the main mode I used is “Flagseeker” mode. LOL, doesn’t sound anything like Pinseeker.
One weakness this laser has over the expensive higher end brands is a situation I’ve ran into a few times. The Flagseeker mode has a hard time locking in on the pin when there are trees close behind the pin. More often than not the unit gives me the yardage to the trees, not the pin. Bigger target. In events like that all is not lost though. I’ll just shoot the ground at the bottom of the pin, or shoot the false front, or better yet shoot players if they’re still putting.
At $179 the VRPRO500S is a great value in golf laser rangefinders. It’s difficult to find many with slope in that price range, if there are any others at all.
Last spring I was training hard for my summer Scotland trip. Having done two previous trips to Scotland for a week plus of 36 holes per day, I knew I needed to be in good walking shape. My home course is quite hilly and provided a great challenge to get in walking shape.
I overdid it.
A few weeks before Scotland, after pushing myself quite hard, I started to have pain in the arches and heels of my feet. Eventually the pain was so bad I could hardly walk. The training, combined with testing out new shoes which had very poor arch support resulted in plantar fasciitis. Plantar fasciitis is the inflammation of a thick band of tissue that runs across the bottom of the foot and connects the heel bone to the toes. If prolonged and untreated the condition can worsen and turn into other problems in the foot and other areas like the back.
In mornings and after prolonged times sitting writing incredible blog posts at the computer, the first few steps were quite painful. It was very painful getting to the finish of my swing. The right foot would nearly buckle since the arch and heel were so inflamed.
To prevent the issue from worsening and to help it heal, I had to stop the problem: walking a lot on shoes with crappy arch support. I bought a set of inserts for my shoes at a running store which “ran” about $40. The arches were very different. The bottom was very hard. The arch was very high compared to what I was used to. It took some getting used to. Since last summer, any pair of shoes I wore, street or golf, I’ve used those supports. Those inserts helped me start to heal a bit before Scotland, and helped me survive the walking I did there, a total of 125 MILES. Despite walking 125 miles, the inflammation subsided and I did not make the injury worse.
After a year of dealing with with this situation, I know much more about arch support and shoe design. And about a year later I can gladly say that since adding the inserts to my shoes the problem has completely gone away.
Early this season I was approached by Aline to test out shoe inserts designed for golf. I eagerly accepted and shortly after put the Aline inserts into action. I first wore them in my street shoes, to work and around town, just to get used to them. I’ve grown so accustomed to the comfort and feel of the Alines in my regular shoes that I feel like I can’t wear any shoes without them.
For the past few weeks I’ve now graduated to putting those old running inserts in the garage and using the Alines 100% of the time for my street shoes and golf shoes. They provide great support in the perfect places, and they’re not as hard and uncomfortable as the running store inserts. My feet aren’t as fatigued and achy as now and of course, there are no issues with the arches or heels in my feet.
I’ve just realized something else as well. This could be related to the fact that we are in the high heat of summer, but my back does not ache after golf rounds. While reading up on Aline’s inserts I happened across some information that says the inserts will help with spine alignment and help prevent back pain. Whether it’s the heat or the inserts, or both, I’m thrilled about it.
ALINE patented technology optimizes a golfer’s performance by properly aligning the back, hips, knees and ankle. This helps reduce lower body fatigue and improves swing mechanics, resulting in maximization of ground force reaction for more distance and accuracy. Proven by 10 Professional wins, Olympic Gold Medals, over 100 X Games medals and doctors across the country, ALINEs are designed for performance in sports and life. ALINE makes similar equipment for Skiing, Snowboarding, Hiking, Cycling, Gym Workouts, Running, Walking and General Fitness activities. ALINE…what’s inside counts.
At this point I’m not going to take my Aline’s out of any of my shoes. In fact, I need to get more units so I’m not constantly moving the one pair I have from street to street to golf to street. I’m walking more with less fatigue and feeling no pain in my feet or back. If the inserts could help with my chipping…. one can dream.
Dean Snell has likely been involved in your golf equipment for many years. You just didn’t know it. Dean is one of the designers of many of the world’s top golf balls like the Titleist ProV1, TaylorMade TP Red & Black, TaylorMade Penta, and many others. Dean is now making his own tour-caliber and amateur-focused golf balls under the Snell Golf brand. Today I’m reviewing the MTB, or “My Tour Ball.”
About the Snell Golf MTB
“Tour” is the word most commonly used for golf balls which have performance characteristics in line with what a PGA Tour professional would require. Those characteristics would include high spin and a soft cover, which aren’t necessarily characteristics which would benefit a high handicap golfer. Why? Pros can control their spin. High handicappers generally can’t. So the high ‘cappers will have serious distance loss due to side-spin, and will have very bad accuracy as the ball will be hooking or slicing more. Further, most higher handicap players come up short, and a ball that has high spin and stops quickly or even backs up on a green, isn’t good in that situation.
For the lower handicap players and pros though, the MTB is a very affordable and high performance alternative to the $50-$60 per dozen tour offerings from the big name brands. Let’s take a look at the construction of the ball.
The MTB is a 3-piece or 3-layer golf ball. Each layer produces performance properties and when combined gives the ball it’s overall performance.
The first layer of the MTB if we go inside-out, is the core. Just like the earth’s core, the core on the MTB is the center. Most of the mass of the golf ball resides in the core and the ball’s general feel and “compression” comes from this layer. Softer cores result in lower spin, and therefore less side-spin. Soft cores can mean more accurate drives because of the reduced spin. But there’s a fine line with soft cores because as the core gets softer the distance is lessened. Snell’s MTB combines a soft core with technology which still helps produce the max ball speed allowed by golf’s governing bodies, and thus the most optimized combination of low driver spin and distance.
The mantle is the next layer. The mantle layer still has influence on the overall ball speed and compression. The mantle’s true performance benefits are in iron shots and short game shots. The mantle helps to increase spin as the shots get shorter, which is optimum. Low spin on long shots and higher spin on short shots.
The cover of the ball is perhaps the most crucial in terms of giving a golf ball the “tour” label. Tour balls typically have a “urethane” cover while cheaper balls may have covers made from other rubber/plastic materials like ionomer. Urethane gives a golf ball very soft feel in the short game and putting, and high spin on short shots, chips, and pitches. When you see tour pros “yank the cable” and spin a ball back to the crowd’s joy, that’s almost guaranteed a urethane cover ball. Pros and low-handicap golfers want the spin and control of urethane and the MTB has it.
On The Course
I admit I’m a bit late to the party with my review. I actually received a box of MTB’s to try close to two years ago. At that time I was playing a different ball and didn’t want to change. A couple of years later I got some more and finally decided to play them again this season as my game was in such bad shape I needed a gear and mental overhaul.
From the tee the MTB is comparable to a tour ball such as the ProV1. This is bit more spin off the driver than balls I’ve tended toward in the past like the Bridgestone B330, and thus can be less accurate for me if my swing gets a little wild. I also find that extra spin results in a little shorter overall distance off the driver for me. These are the reasons I’d previously not opted to have the MTB as my “gamer” ball in the past. There have been a few occasions where all launch factors have been perfect and I’ve hit massively long drives with the MTB. Accidents happen. Blind squirrel syndrome. That said the ball is plenty long still and it does offer me the chance to “work the ball” (curve it) if I need to. Balls with less driver spin are harder to work.
Approach and in is where the MTB has made a big difference in my game. I’ve found my distance control has been much improved, though I must admit I also changed to different irons at the same time as my ball switch. Trust me on this. The irons are not an issue. I really love the feel of the ball off my irons and I’ve been gaining more and more confidence with each round. I’ve had some bad distance issues this season and when I made the iron and ball switch, those issues vanished.
I’m sticking approach shots now, even backing some up. Most recently I recall some very nice mid-to-long irons stopping on a dime, like a 6-iron I hit last weekend from about 185 yards. The ball mark was in the shadow of the ball. Mark first, then fix. Don’t accidentally move the ball when fixing the mark!
Short game shots are where the MTB really shines. My chipping and pitching (which I’ve whined about for a long time online) has been 1000x better. I’m actually saving par often now because I have better feel and control around the greens. I’m finally able to get the ball close enough to the hole to make a par-saving putt. In the case of par-5 holes, I’m chipping it close and making a 2-3 footer for birdie now. Huge difference on the scorecard.
I’m enjoying the feel of putting with the MTB as well. The urethane cover feels nice and soft and I have solid distance control. When I miss a putt (not often!), I know my next one is going to be very close. I like to “seam up” the MTB with it’s alignment arrows, which are also along the ball’s seam. That helps my alignment.
Last week I played 41 holes with the MTB. 13 holes were a net match and then an 18 hole round a couple of days later. Yes I trusted my net match outcome to the MTB and glad I did. I won the match. My total in relation to par over those 41 holes last week: +1.
Tour balls are typically not durable. It’s hard to make a all with a soft urethane cover which resists scuffs, but the MTB does a fine job of it. I expect a tour ball like this to last a round or two before I retire it to the practice ball bag, but the MTB’s are lasting longer than that.
Let’s do a little test. Which of the balls below has been in play for 36+ holes?
It’s a trick question. Both balls have been played over 36 holes.
At $31.99 via the Snell Golf website, these tour-level balls are roughly half the cost of some of the big name brand balls and offer comparable or even better performance. Call it a two-fer.
Line and speed are the two crucial factors in making putts. It doesn’t matter what grip you have, what putter you use, or what your apparel scripting is. If you can’t get the putt rolling on the proper line and speed you’re destined to bad putting.
PuttOut Putting Trainer
The PuttOut “Pressure Putt Trainer” is designed to train the golfer get get the putt rolling on the correct line and speed. The unique curved design returns good putts the distance they would have traveled past the hole. The side contours reject offline putts and force the golfer to a bit of a “walk of shame” to get the balls, as those shots are not returned.
An interesting feature of the PuttOut is the little retractable “micro target.” In the photo above you can see the HOG golf ball is sitting in it. Putts on the exact line and speed will stop inside the target. Once the golfer gets used to strokes at such a tight precision and speed, putting into the much larger and easier to hit golf hole seems much easier. The micro target back plate is hinged so the golfer can flatten it out and turn the device into strictly a returning device.
The unit folds into a compact and easy to carry shape. The unit would fit easily in a golf bag or even luggage when traveling.
I keep mine in the hallway between the kitchen, my office, and the bathroom. It’s quite a trafficked spot. It’s fun to grab my putter and stroke a few to clear my my mind and improve my stroke, a few times per day.
If you need help with your line and speed and “pressure putting,” the $29 PuttOut could be a good option. Not sure the unit will help with non-pressure putting though. 😉