New Titleist NXT Tour

Written by: Tony Korologos | Tuesday, July 31st, 2007
Categories: Golf BallsGolf EquipmentReviews
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Titleist has released new versions of the NXT Tour golf ball, the NXT Extreme and NXT Tour. I’ve been playing both flavors for a while now. In this article I’ll be reviewing the new NXT Tour. My NXT Extreme review will be coming up in the next week or so.

Titleist NXT Tour Golf Ball

The NXT Tour golf ball is aimed at the average to high level golfer. The ball provides a combination of distance off the driver and control with the shorter clubs, and a price point ($40.00) which is more affordable.

Titleist NXT Tour Golf Ball

Technology

Titleist NXT Tour Golf BallMulti Layer Construction
Layer One – The Core

The solid yet soft inner core is made of Polybutadiene. Don’t worry, I had no idea what Polybutadiene was either until I researched for this article.

From WikiPedia: Polybutadiene is a synthetic rubber that has a high resistance to wear and is used especially in the manufacture of tires. It has also been used to coat or encapsulate electronic assemblies, offering extremely high electrical resistivity. It exhibits a recovery of 80% after stress is applied, a value only exceeded by elastin and resilin. Polybutadiene is a polymer formed from the polymerization of the monomer 1,3-butadiene.

Layer Two – The Outer Core

The outer core, at 1.58? in diameter, is also made of Polybutadiene. The extra layer helps provide distance and a softer feel at impact.

Layer Three – The Cover

The NXT Tour cover is made of Fusablend. Fusablend is a proprietary material Titleist uses which provides the player with a great combination of durability yet soft feel and spin around the greens. Durability AND spin are tough to employ in the same ball.

The Fusablend cover comes in the new “Pro White” color, which is very vibrant and easy to spot anywhere on the course.

Titleist NXT Tour Golf BallDimples

Titleist has long employed a 392 dimple aerodynamic design. Their research has concluded that the 392 dimple pattern provides more carry and distance.

Staggered Wave Parting Design

New for this year Titleist has introduced the “staggered wave parting design.” Titleist balls, including the ProV1 and ProV1x series have all had a visible seam. What they’re doing now is staggering the dimples where the seam is to gain that real estate on the ball. This has allowed more dimple coverage and even better results in carry, distance and spin.

AIM System

No longer do you need to draw an aiming line on your ball with Titleist’s new A.I.M. system. A.I.M. is short for alignment integrated marking. They call it a system but come on. It’s just a line, right? Perhaps not. The arrows and lines give you conscious and subconscious influence on aim and club path.

On The Course

I expected the NXT Tour ball to be a bit harder in feel than the ball I normally play, the ProV1 (regular flavor, not the ProV1x). I’ve had golfer’s elbow for several years and hard (a.k.a. “distance”) balls really kill my elbow, but soft ones don’t. I was pleasantly surprised to find that my “princess and the pea” golfer’s elbow didn’t hurt when hitting drivers with the NXT Tour.

I found the distance off the driver and long irons to be wonderful. I hit the NXT Tour as far as any other ball I’ve tried with my driver. I found I was able to work the ball to a nice fade or draw at will, or at least as much as my swing allows on any given day.

Titleist NXT Tour Golf Balls

The most profound difference between the NXT series (not just the Tour version mind you) and other balls I’ve played, was the distance I had with my irons. The first shot I hit an iron with was on my home course, #2 hole. My 170 club is my 7-iron. My 2nd shot on this 468 yard par 4 was right on 170 (yes you math majors, that was a 298 yard drive with the NXT Tour). I pulled my 7-iron and took dead aim at the middle flag. I put a perfect swing (for me at least) and the ball launched right at the flag. I was expecting it to land pin high and release a few feet long but no. The NXT Tour flew over the pin, over the green, over the hill behind the green. That 170 yard shot CARRIED at least 190. Woa.

I thought that was just a fluke but the rest of the round I discovered that it wasn’t. My iron play has ended up 10-20 yards longer with the new NXT’s. It almost became a joke when I was hitting my gap wedge 145 and my buddies thought I was a candidate for the new PGA Tour steroid testing…

Around the greens I found the NXT Tour to be quite good. Mind you I’m used to the precise spin you get with a ProV1. I’d say the NXT Tour is about 90% as “spinny” of a ball for me as the ProV1. I found that just about any shot I tried around the greens like flops, runners, two-hop-stoppers all performed well.

Durability

One area the NXT Tour outperforms the ProV1, ProV1x and many other balls is durability. Of course the cover is a little harder and that’s why. I can chew up balls with my great wedges but the NXT doesn’t get bet up by them. The only time I’ve had to take an NXT Tour out of play is when it had a cart path issue.

Conclusion

Ian McAllister is right. His wreched NXT golf ball has added fun to my game, and distance.

If you want a performance golf ball, but don’t want to spend the dough that companies are charging for their highest end balls, the NXT is the ball for you.

Click here for the Hooked On Golf Blog Titleist Photo Gallery.


Improved Callaway HX Tour 56 Review

Written by: Tony Korologos | Saturday, May 19th, 2007
Categories: Golf BallsGolf EquipmentReviews
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Callaway Golf HX Tour 56 Golf BallI was given a new box of Callaway HX Tour 56’s (the ball Phil Mickelson plays) to try a few weeks ago by Guy, a good friend and the pro at my home course. My buddy told me these were hands down the best golf ball he’d ever played. Of course he’s biased toward Callaway but I processed what he said and promised him I’d play these “new and improved” HX Tour 56 golf balls.

Technology

The core of the HX Tour 56 is made out of a proprietary “fast and soft” rubber called Polybutadiene. The core is “large” in comparison to other golf ball cores due to the ball having a thin cover.

There’s a “boundary layer” between the core and outer layer which is a little more firm. This layer helps your drives stay straighter yet helping the ball have less spin.

The outer layer is made of a soft urethane material. The soft urethane provides low driver spin for straighter shots but still provides spin for controlling approach and short game shots.

The HX in the name stands for HEX which is the shape of some of the dimples on the ball. I say some because some dimples are six sided and some are eight sided (hexagons and pentagons). There are also “sub hex” dimples which are deeper. The hexagon and pentagon shaped dimples are what make the HX series of golf balls fly with less drag, more consistency and supposedly better flight in the wind.

On the course

I’ve been a fan of the HX series going clear back to before the HX Tour. Remember the old HX Red and HX Blues? I loved the HX Red back in the day.

The first thing I need in a golf ball is for it to be soft enough that it doesn’t flare up my golfer’s elbow. If I play hard golf balls, that condition can reappear after only a couple of shots. I like the soft feel of the new and improved HX Tour 56 and fortunately it does not flare up my golfer’s elbow.

Off the driver the ball flight of the HX Tour 56 is very different for me than other balls I’ve tried. I get much more carry and less roll with the 56. The ball flies out low and about 2/3 of the way it seems to climb up. I wouldn’t quite call it ballooning but that’s the only other word I can think of to describe the flight. The golf ball goes out, climbs up and then drops down with little roll. I find the distance to be great and equal to just about any other premium ball I’ve played but I expect it to be shorter since it’s all carry and little roll.

Approach and short game

For me it seems there’s a little less spin on wedge shots than the older 56, which is just fine. I find that when I hit short irons to the green I can get major spin back if I really clip one and the greens are soft. I don’t usually want that much spin though and the usual spin for the 56 is more of a hit and stop type. I find that my wedges and short irons are within 2-3 feet of the ball mark. When you figure that out you just start pin hunting because you know the ball will be close to where it hit.

When hitting shots around the green I find there’s a little less spin than a Titleist ProV1 so I get a little less check and a little more roll. This is not necessarily bad. I just need to make sure I remember that when executing the shot.

Putting with the 56 is nice. The ball has a very nice feel when stroking it. I find I can judge distance and putt speed very well with it. The speed is consistent as well, which doesn’t happen with some other balls I’ve tried.

Callaway HX Tour 56 Golf BallDurability

The biggest difference I’ve noticed in the “improved” version of the HX Tour 56 is the durability. The older HX Tour balls (the black or the 56’s) were not very durable at all. Three or four 100 yard wedge shots and I’d have a ball missing 1/3 of it’s cover material. Those hex dimples couldn’t do their magic if they weren’t there! The newer 56 seems to have solved much of that issue so I can get more play out of the ball before having to replace it. The image here is of an HX Tour 56 after I played 36 holes with it.

Conclusion

The Callaway HX Tour 56 is definitely “improved” and is one of the best premium golf balls out there. My ball flight is higher with the 56 than other premium balls which can be an advantage when trying to hit shots which need more carry. The spin amount and control you have in the short game is more than adequate. Best of all, the durability now makes it sensible to pay the bucks they want for these balls. I had a hard time legitimating that expense before.

You can pick up the Callaway HX Tour 56 golf balls at Edwin Watts Golf.

Click here to visit the Hooked On Golf Blog Callaway photo gallery.


TaylorMade TP Red Golf Ball Review

Written by: Tony Korologos | Sunday, May 28th, 2006
Categories: Golf BallsGolf EquipmentReviews
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The 7th and final day of my “7 straight days of golf equipment reviews” 🙂

The TaylorMade TP Red golf ball is one of two new offerings, the Black being the other. The Red is considered the higher spin and/or softer of the two balls.

I’ve been playing the TaylorMade TP Black and Red golf balls for a while now (being a top golf blog has it’s preveleges…hehe). My friends and even the local TM sales reps envy me. Sometimes I show the TM reps their new gear before they get their hands on it.

Technology

This multi layer ball has a large core made of a rubber based neodymium compound. I’m very familiar with neodymium because in my other world (the audio industry), some microphones employ neodymium magnets in their circuitry. Neodymium magnets are much more powerful than standard magnets. What this has to do with golf ball cores is beyond me but it apparently lends itself to a high COR, low compression, low driver spin and high ball speed.

The cover is an ultra thin proprietary urethane which provides tons of spin and feel. TM calls this cover “ultra thin yet very durable.” In another description they say “superior durability.” We’ll discuss that later in the review.

The red has 322 dimples. TM’s dimple design is especially effective on the back half of the ball flight, adding lift for more carry and distance. I can attest to that. I saw the ball fly a little farther than I expected.

On the course

Off the driver the Red is very long. My unscientific tests tell me it’s much longer than a standard “premium” spin/control ball. I had a period of a couple of weeks where I was knocking the Red into areas on the course I don’t normally see, about 330 yards from the tee.

When you are bombing a ball this far, you’re going to be hitting a ton of wedges into greens. I found the Red to be exceptionally responsive to my wedges and short game. I could easily hit a more controlled and less “wristy” shot and have the ball land on the green and stop instantly.

If I pounded down on the ball harder and got a little more wrist action with the wedges I could get what I like to call “Phil super spin.” I had one shot where I got too carried away with the spin on my lob wedge. The ball hit the center of the green pin high and spun back about 25 feet off the green. The next hole I carried the ball over the entire green and spun it through the longer grass back onto the green!

Green side I loved the feel of the Red. I could close down a wedge and get some over spin for a longer runner. I could put the ball back in my stance and chop it for one of those 2-3 bounces and check shots.

Off the irons the softer compression of the Red felt nice as well. You can work the ball easily and control your distance. There’s no better feeling than feeling the ball compress on the club face for that extra thousandth of a second with a 3 or 4 iron.

Critic’s corner

“Superior durability” and “very durable” are words used to describe the Red on TM’s web site. I’m going to have to disagree here. While this is an amazing ball it is anything but durable.

The day I was bombing those 300+ yard drives I was hitting many sand and lob wedges into greens. Even a 3/4 swing with my lob wedge would result in extreme shearing or shavings on the urethane cover. After 3 or 4 sand/lob wedges the ball looked like it had hit about 10 cart paths. Even the decoration (logos and text) on the ball shaved right off.

This article I wrote a while back covers a little experiment I did on ball performance when the cover is damaged. Given what that article finds, I doubt the damage to the surface of the TM balls has much of an effect on the overall performance.

Conclusion

Though it’s not the most durable ball out there, TM TP Red is a great golf ball. It’s long, workable and great on touch shots around the green. You’ll be able to pull of many great shots thanks to this ball.


Callaway HX Tour 56 Review

Written by: Tony Korologos | Thursday, June 23rd, 2005
Categories: Golf BallsGolf EquipmentReviews
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hxtour56I played a round with the new Callaway HX Tour 56 this week. The HX Tour 56 is an “extension” of their HX Tour ball. The HX Tour 56 is softer and has a little more spin than the HX Tour.

The technology

Callaway has been making hex dimple patterned golf balls for quite a while. The hex pattern contributes to a more stable golf flight, especially in the wind.

The “56” also has 6 deeper dimples which are quite noticeable (see pic). Callaway calls this the “sub hex” design and says it provides even more consistent ball flight than the Tour. Callaway utilizes their “Concentric Core Technology” to more consistently center the core and create and more uniform cover thickness.

On the course

I played the 56 in a tournament during extremely windy conditions. I found the flight of the ball to be excellent, especially in heavy wind. I was able to hit high shots that rode the tail wind well, while shots dead into the wind did not “balloon” at all. Low punch and distance control shots were spot on.

Off the driver the ball is fairly long. My playing partner is a very long hitter who plays ProV1X balls. When both of us hit comparable drives, the 56 was almost as long as the V1X, perhaps 5-10 yards shorter. The 56 is plenty long.

Short game shots didn’t spin a ton like I thought they would. Full wedges would hit and stop, rather than backing up a few feet. Chips and pitches would check nicely and roll. It was easy to get the feel for distance control around the greens.

Off the putter the 56 feels much better and softer than the Tour. I did smash two putts way long which resulted in 3 putts. Chalk those two up to player error.

I believe this ball made me some money in the tourney. I was able to fire a 73 and birdie an extremely difficult par 4 by knocking a 9 iron to two feet dead into the wind. The ball flight on that shot was like a laser and the line of the shot was not affected by the head wind.

Conclusion

The new HX Tour 56 is an excellent ball which makes up for what was lacking in the HX Tour. The few yards lost between the two balls is negligible and worth the extra control you’ll have in your short game.

One of the biggest gripes I have about the HX Tour is the lack of durability. A few full wedges or short iron shots and I have to take it out of play. The cover shears very easily. I noticed the same shearing on the 56, but to a lesser degree. The 56 is improved in the durability category, but I’d still not rate it “durable.” You can see the wear from one round of 18 in the pic at top of the review.

Rumor Mill

A rumor around my Hogan and Callaway pals is that Phil Mickelson was actually playing the Hogan “Tour Deep” ball during the testing period of the 56. Those balls simply had the Callaway logo stamped on them.

If you were to take a look at the Hogan Tour Deep, you’d notice the same 6 deeper dimples but no hex pattern. Since Callaway owns Hogan, you can bet these two balls are stamped, er…a “made” from the same basic molding process with one getting hex dimples and the other not.


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