Greetings from 35,931 feet and on a flight path far north of the original intended path from NYC to home, Salt Lake City, UT. Seriously choppy ride due to a big storm area we passed over and/or through. I’d hoped to get writing my final Golf Ball Week 2011 post an hour ago but it was so bumpy the passengers weren’t allowed out of their seats. Now that we’ve passed the chop, I’m ready to chop into my final, delayed Golf Ball Week post. I’m sure many HOG readers have been losing sleep for the four days since I interrupted this series to take part in a long weekend in the Big Apple with friends and family, but it is time to return to the regularly scheduled Golf Blogram.
Best “Tour” Golf Ball of 2011
I’ve played every great ball imaginable this past season and it was hard to pick the winner between the two finalists for best tour golf ball, the TaylorMade Penta and the Srixon Z-Star. It was a dead heat for me on performance and distance and I had to go to a “sudden victory” playoff (thanks to Dana White and the UFC for that one) to break the tie.
Srixon Z-Star Golf Ball - click for more
Based on the fact that I found the Z-Star to be considerably more durable than the Penta, the Z-Star was my pick for #1 Tour level ball this year. I have a Z-Star yellow floating around my bag that I played somewhere around 10 rounds with, and counting. Despite all that play with square grooved wedges and a couple of cart paths, the ball is still totally playable and shows very little wear.
I’ve reviewed both color options of this golf ball. You can click the hyperlinks for my Srixon Z-Star white review and my Srixon Z-Star yellow review.
Golf Ball Week 2011 Concludes
It has been a fun week or so covering EIGHT different golf balls, including some which employ crazy technologies like hollow metal cores and radar tracking systems. Sure there are many, many other great golf balls out there which I didn’t cover. If you feel the need, comment in your favorite golf ball below and let me and the HOG readers know why.
TaylorMade Penta TP Golf Ball – click to zoom
Golf Ball Week 2011 is heating up. Today and tomorrow I’m covering my picks for the two best “tour” golf balls and two best “amateur” golf balls. This post today is a review of one of my two best 2011 picks for tour performance golf balls, the TaylorMade Penta TP.
Earlier this year I spent some time in the local TaylorMade Performance Lab (review coming soon). The tech handed me a box of Pentas at the conclusion of the lab, and raved about the performance of the ball. I thought, “yeah, and if he sold Yugos, they would be the best car in the world.” But after I threw the first Penta onto the tee and played a round with it, I was a believer.
I think I’m the world’s only Greek Golf Web Geek. So naturally I knew that the ball would be a five layer ball since it is called a Penta, which in Greek means “five.” Most high performance balls have three layers and some four, but five? Cool. What do they do?
I could go into great detail covering what each layer is made out of, citing odd proprietary polymers and materials, but mostly that stuff is gibberish. Let’s just mention quickly what each of the five layers does.
TaylorMade Penta TP Golf Ball – 5 Layers
Layer 1 – Cover: Soft feel on putting and short wedges. This layer is made of Urethane, a typical cover material for high performance golf balls.
Layer 2 – Outer Mantle: Spin on short irons and wedges.
Layer 3 – Middle Mantle: Control for mid iron shots. Prevents ballooning. Promotes distance.
Layer 4 – Inner Mantle: Helps launch long irons high with low spin.
Layer 5 – Core: The inner most layer is primarily what provides distance, carry and low spin when driving the ball.
On The Course
Okay so the ball has a lot of layers. But who cares if it has 498 layers if they don’t produce great performance? How does the thing work on the course, when I HAVE to get up and down from 41 yards to tie my opponent and save myself a $2.00 bet? That’s the biggie.
I’ll start with driver performance. This ball feels fantastic off the driver and goes LONG. When talking to a TaylorMade buddy of mine, he told me that this ball and all its layers can compress properly for any swing speed, from the senior amateur to PGA Tour. Not really sure about that, as I haven’t seen anything regarding that in TM’s ads or web site. But it sounds good.
I’m able to work the driver very well naturally, as the ball does have spin, unlike distance balls which are meant to reduce spin.
Hitting iron shots with the Penta TP is also fantastic. I can feel the ball compress on the club face and have a great sense of control. Any shot I’m capable of executing can be performed well with this ball, from carving shots to controlling trajectory. When the ball hits the green, it stops quickly.
Short game is perhaps the best part of this ball’s performance curve. Chipping and pitching shots with some nice check spin is a joy. I’m just a lowly amateur, but it is fun to hit those quick two hop and stop shots which stop on a dime and leave seven cents change.
Putting is solid with the Penta TP. The ball rolls true, and I have a great feel for distance control.
My only critique with this ball is its durability. With some crisp wedge shots and short to mid irons, I can shave the cover pretty quickly. It isn’t uncommon for me, a guy with a pretty slow swing speed, to need to replace the ball before 18 holes is done. I DO realize though, that part of that soft feel and great short game performance is as a result of having such a soft cover.
The TaylorMade Penta TP is one of my top two tour performance golf ball picks for 2011. This is a fantastic ball.
Last week I managed to hit some shots with the new TaylorMade R11 irons. The irons are very forgiving and easy to hit, no doubt. I wasn’t very warmed up but I still hit them quite well. The back of the club head is sort of a cavity with muscle back which has an air gap between the cavity and the weight. You can see the gap in the 1st image below.
New TaylorMade r11 Irons - click for more TaylorMade R11 iron images
The R11 irons are certainly NOT blades or “tour only” clubs. The top line is fairly thick as is the sole, and the club head is fairly large. They’re obviously meant to be a more forgiving design.
New TaylorMade r11 Irons - click for more
I have a few more images of the TaylorMade R11 irons in the Hooked On Golf Blog TaylorMade Image Gallery.
I’ve updated this post out of respect for my relationship with TaylorMade. To see images of the R11 irons and read my first impressions, tune in Monday the 1st of August.
New TaylorMade r11 Irons - click for more TaylorMade images
I have a bunch of pictures, data, video and numbers to crunch following my first visit to the local TaylorMade Performance Lab here at South Mountain Golf Club today. The session was amazing and my host Mike Lewis was very good at is cool gig.
The wildest part of the session was dawning the reflector suit with 26 sensors, which then feeds data to the system and show you every possible number and 3D rendering of your swing.
The 26 sensors on my body and club translate to the 3D image of me on the screen in the background. VERY COOL. Click for more images.
The system did in fact confirm that I have a granny move at the top, but my impact positions and sides pin numbers are some of many great specs which show I can hit the ball straight.
It will certainly take a bit to crunch everything into an official review, but I wanted to give a shout out to Mike and the local TMPL for hosting me. It was an awesome experience.