Golf Balls Galore

How to find the right golf ball for you.

The golf ball wall can be a pretty intimidating place if you’re not sure what to look for in the perfect ball. There are the varying prices, distances, densities and materials in the plethora of golf balls available, and it can be very difficult to find the right ball on the first try.

Luckily, it doesn’t have to be quite as daunting as it may seem. With golf balls coming in the right fit for any golfer, be it TOUR pro or newer joe, Bridgestone has all the tools needed to help you find the perfect golf ball. To get started, Elliot Mellow of Bridgestone Golf Marketing suggest getting a golf ball fitting. And it’s as easy as downloading the Bridgestone B-FIT app on your smartphone.

“We are different than our competitors because we don’t market that our TOUR balls are for everyone,” explains Mallow. The fact is that the ball Tiger Woods uses (TOUR B XS) likely isn’t a great fit for recreational players. The only way to know for sure is to go through the fitting process.”

For beginners, Bridgestone has recommended three different ball types that are perfect for maximizing both accuracy and distance off the tee: Extra Soft, e6 SOFT and e6 SPEED. While a TOUR ball, like the TOUR B XS that Tiger uses, is great for pros who are adept at spin control, but maybe not for the average player.

“It is important to help newer golfers maximize their distance and accuracy off the tee, as that sets up quality approach shots,” said Mallow. “It is critical that newer players not fall into the trap of trying to play the same balls they see TOUR pros using on TV, as the features that professionals use to their advantage, such as added spin, can actually have a negative effective on beginning golfers who aren’t as skilled in control spin rates.”

When researching and shopping for your next dozen of Bridgestones, it is also helpful to keep an eye out for some of the newer technological features available, which include:

  • Gradational Core: Added distance and forgiveness attributed to higher initial ball speed and lower side spin.
  • SlipRes: Added feel and control attributed to increased friction from the urethane cover.
  • Dual Dimple: Extra distance and enhanced aerodynamics for more efficient ball trajectory and less drag when the ball is in flight.
  • Seamless Cover: Consistent flight and performance thanks to a perfectly balanced dimple pattern.

With the ease and accuracy delivered from the revolutionary B-FIT app, to the variety of balls fit for any player and finally to the technological features that set Bridgestone golf balls apart from the others on the course, players from Average Joe to the TOUR Pro are able to easily find the perfect ball for the next round.

-Par Shooter

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Why Do Golf Balls Have Dimples?

Accidental discovery is why golf balls travel farther than any other ball.
 
Last fall, we asked you, our readers, to submit sport-related questions you wanted answered. Out of the many responses, we chose one from Alex Wheatley of Flushing, Michigan. Alex wanted to know why golf balls have dimples. The simple answer is that they keep a golf ball in the air longer. Because every golfer wants their golf ball to fly farther, dimples are critical design aspects. Let’s take a deeper look at dimples.
 
As the United States Golf Association (USGA) points out, the first golf balls were hard, wooden balls. As one can imagine, they did not go very far. In the 17th century, the “featherie” was created by stuffing a leather pouch with goose feathers and sewing it up. They flew better than wooden balls but were expensive to make and very fragile. The next golf ball revolution took place in 1848, when Robert Adams made golf balls out of gutta-percha, a rubbery sap from tropical trees. They were more solid and more resilient than featheries. They could fly longer, bounce higher and last longer. Toward the end of that century, Coburn Haskell created the first multilayer ball; it had a solid rubber core that was wrapped in rubber bands and covered with a layer of gutta-percha. Today’s golf balls have as few as one and as many as six layers; generally, the more layers, the more expensive and better performing the ball.
 
Aerodynamic Efficiency
 
Getting back to why golf balls have dimples, in the 19th century, golfers discovered that old, dented balls flew farther than new ones. Soon, they were deliberately hammering dents into their golf balls. What they likely didn’t understand, and what an aerodynamic engineer will appreciate, is that the dimples were creating turbulence in the airflow around the moving ball, which makes its wake (the air behind the ball) thinner and reduces drag, enabling the ball to travel farther. The dimples also increase spin.
 
When struck by a club, all golf balls have backspin. It’s what gets a well-struck iron shot to land and stop on the green, and too much of it off the driver reduces distance. Without dimples, golf balls would travel half as far.
 
Choices Abound
 
Today’s golfers have a wide selection of golf balls at their disposal. All are designed for optimal aerodynamic efficiency, durability and consistency. Generally, the less-expensive options tend to be distance balls, but they have little stopping power on the green. Premium balls, because of their multilayer design, can deliver distance and stopping power. Even newer golfers can benefit from playing a better ball. And remember, for optimal performance, clean the ball at each tee box, and replace it as soon as you notice a nick or cut. For additional assistance, please see one of our Dunham’s Sports golf enthusiasts.
 
We wish to thank the USGA for the golf ball historical primer. Visit USGA.com for other interesting golf-related information.
 
-Par Shooter
 
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A Better Game Awaits

New Equipment From Leading Manufacturers Can Help You Improve Your Score.
 
For golfers, there’s nothing like the prospect of spring. After hours in the gym and the indoor range, studying golf magazines and watching instructional videos, we’re ready to take the game to the course. To help you improve both your score and your enjoyment, consider the following equipment from some of the leading golf brands.
 
Callaway
 
The big news from Callaway for 2017 is the introduction of two Great Big Bertha (GBB) drivers: GBB Epic and GBB Sub Zero. Both feature the company’s Jailbreak Technology, which includes two titanium rods behind the club face to ensure the face, crown and sole work more efficiently.
 
“With either club, golfers will see more ball speed across a larger area of the face, resulting in increased average distance,” explained Callaway’s Jason Finley.
 
For golfers who like to work the ball (or are looking to overcome an issue), Finley suggests the Epic driver. Thanks to its perimeter-weighted technology, it can be customized to deliver 21 yards of shot shape.
 
“If, instead, you’re looking to control the ball’s trajectory, the Epic Sub Zero is the way to go because it features two weights in the sole,” Finley added.
 
Consider pairing up either driver with Callaway’s new Chrome Soft X ball. It’s slightly firmer than the company’s Chrome Soft and is designed to deliver more spin from the mid- to short-irons.
 
“Players will note that Chrome Soft X will deliver a more piercing, more workable ball flight,” Finley said.
 
Cobra
 
Golfers are always looking for feedback: how far and how well did I hit that drive? That’s why I’m anxious to get my hands on the new Cobra F7 drivers; they include Arccos sensors in the grip that, when paired with the company’s app, provide a wealth of analytical data.
 
“It’s the future of golf,” said Cobra’s Brian Dameron.
 
That’s not the only innovation found in the F7 drivers. As Dameron explained, the faces are thinner, so the ball launches faster.
 
“We’ve expanded the sweet zone, so golfers will see more forgiveness for off-center hits and a lot more speed,” he added.
 
The King F7 has the larger profile of the two drivers and is available in lofts ranging from 9 to 12 degrees. Better players will likely migrate to the King F7+. It features a smaller profile and lofts that range from 8 to 11 degrees.
 
TaylorMade
 
Visit any golf course and you’ll see most golfers playing TaylorMade clubs. In 2017, expect these golfers and others to add one of the company’s new golf balls – TP5 and TP5x – to their bag.
 
“Both balls feature five-layer technology, versus three or four layers from competitors. We believe that five layers means more performance with zero compromises. That’s why we call them the most complete Tour Balls,” said TaylorMade’s Tim Ulrich.
 
Ulrich explained the five layers in these balls deliver the perfect combination of distance for all shots without sacrificing spin and control around the green.
 
The TP5 has a softer compression core – 83 – and, as with other ball manufacturers, the x model has a higher compression core of 90. This means the TP5x will launch higher and spin less, making it slightly longer than the TP5.
 
“We believe these are among the longest in the competitive set with the driver and, especially, with irons,” Ulrich added.
 
Be sure to also check out TaylorMade’s Project (a) ball. We’ve liked its performance and soft feel with every club in the bag, including the driver and putter. Ulrich described Project (a) as delivering, “Tour performance for amateurs, with tour-like spin around the green.”
 
Titleist
 
Last fall, I was one of 80,000 golfers around the world who were asked to test Titleist Pro V1 or Pro V1x prototypes. What my fellow testers and I discovered is that both balls are better than the previous versions.
 
“The new Pro V1 is significantly longer than its predecessor, thanks to innovation in core technology. Golfers will experience more ball speed and less spin, resulting in a distance advance. Historically many players have chosen Pro V1x for its longer distance characteristics; that really has changed with the 2017 models. Pro V1 is now every bit as long as Pro V1x and both models continue to deliver exceptional greenside control, so golfers should focus their decision based on flight, feel and spin,” said Michael Mahoney, Titleist vice president of golf ball marketing.
 
If you’re looking for a ball that flies lower and feels softer, go with the Pro V1. If you’re looking for a ball that launches higher, feel slightly firmer and spins more with the mid-irons, give the Pro V1x a try.
 
Both Pro V1 and Pro V1x also feature new dimple patterns which produce even more consistent flight, particularly into the wind.
 
“We believe it’s worth investing in either Pro V1 or Pro V1x because they deliver a total performance to every golfer. The ball performs on every shot,” Mahoney added.
 
Conclusion
 
Golf has been described as a pastime that takes a lifetime to master. That’s why it’s important to take advantage of advancements in technology, be it in clubs or golf balls. Outfit yourself with equipment from these manufacturers to help ensure more pleasant, more rewarding rounds this year.
 
-Par Shooter
 
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Horses for Courses

Pair Your equipment to the Course for Optimal Performance
 
For serious golfers living in the Midwest, winters and early spring are simply too long. We pass the time reading golf magazines, practicing indoors and watching The Golf Channel. If you are getting the itch to head somewhere warm to put into practice what you’ve learned and worked on, consider the Carolinas.
 
Pinehurst, with its nine courses, is on many golfers’ bucket list. You can find top-ranked North Carolina golf courses with breathtaking mountain views or with the Atlantic Ocean as the backdrop.
 
In South Carolina, Hilton Head and Kiawah Island are frequent PGA Tour stops and for variety, it’s hard to beat Myrtle Beach. If that’s your destination, consider two terrific courses in the area. We played and enjoyed them immensely. Both are in North Carolina, just minutes from North Myrtle Beach. If you’re going to be in the area, be sure to check them out.
 
Thistle Golf Club and TaylorMade Drivers
 
The first course was the Thistle Golf Club. Situated in Sunset Beach, it features three very challenging 9-hole layouts with plenty of water, natural areas and sand bunkers. Its five sets of tees enabled each member in our foursome to play at his or her level. In addition to pristine conditions, we were duly impressed with the service, the friendliness of the staff and the 12-minute tee times. It felt like we had the course to ourselves for the most part.
 
Accuracy is extremely important at Thistle, so I recommend the new TaylorMade R15 or AeroBurner drivers. The R15 continues TaylorMade’s approach of reducing ball spin off the driver by increasing loft and moving the center of gravity toward the front of the club.
 
“To maximize driver distance, the golf ball must be launched at a higher angle and with very little backspin. A number of PGA Tour players are playing 12-degree drivers and they are among the longest on tour,” explained TaylorMade’s Jeff Nielander.
 
The R15 features even more adjustability than last year’s SLDR model, with two sliding mechanisms that can be adjusted to offset hooks, slices, maximize distance or consistency.
 
“We’ve also made the speed pocket longer and placed it a little closer to the clubface,” Nielander added. The speed pocket increases the clubface’s trampoline effect for greater distance.
 
For those who don’t need – or want – the R15’s adjustability, TaylorMade offers the AeroBurner driver. According to Nielander, it’s the company’s most aerodynamic driver ever made, resulting in increased club speed, which means more distance.
 
Crow Creek Golf and Nike Vapor Speed Driver
 
We also played and recommend Crow Creek Golf in Calabash, NC. It stretches to 7100 yards from the tips, though even good players will find the next sets of tees challenging enough. For average golfers, I recommend the white tees (just under 6100 yards). Like Thistle, there is plenty of trouble to be found at Crow Creek, though our group felt that there were fewer bunkers and more generous landing areas – if you choose your tee box wisely.
 
To give you a better chance at being on in two on some of the par 5s, I recommend the new Nike Vapor Speed driver.
 
“This is the line of drivers played by the number one golfer in the world, Rory McIlroy,” said Nike’s Chris Coffman.
 
As Coffman explained, Vapor Speed is designed to deliver optimal distance and low spin by combining FlyBeam technology with a NextCor face and spreading the weight across the head and toe. It further features the company’s FlexLoft 2 for 15 different launch options.
 
“Vapor Speed delivers consistent distance, even on off-center hits. It’s ideal for anyone who wants to hit it farther. In other words, pretty much every golfer,” Coffman added.
 
Callaway Chrome Soft Ball
 
Whether you play Thistle, Crow Creek or your favorite course, there is a new ball I recommend to players of all levels: Callaway’s new Chrome Soft. As the name implies, it’s soft (65 compression), enabling you attack fast, undulating greens and greens that require accurate approaches.
 
“This ball is going to change the category; it’s a paradigm shift for the industry,” explained Callaway’s Steve Conley. “It used to be that you had a soft ball that didn’t go far or a hard ball that would not spin on the green. Chrome Soft eliminates that compromise.”
 
Callaway believes most players will see increased distance with the driver and irons. Plus, the may get their ball do what we see pros do every weekend on TV:
 
“The low compression will allow average players to compress the ball like the pros. They’ll see the ball land and stick … maybe even back up,” Conley added.
 
Just as a good meal is truly complemented by an excellent wine, pairing your clubs with a ball that is ideally suited to your game and skill level will greatly enhance your golfing pleasure.
 
Nick Lico has dual passions: writing and golf. An avid player for 30 years, he has spent the last six years teaching golf at various after-school programs in Metro Detroit.
 
-Par Shooter
 
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Improve Your Score

With Golf Balls Specifically Engineered for Your
 
It’s common knowledge that, on average, a woman’s golf swing is slower than a man’s. Smart players (and manufacturers) recognize this and in recent years have replaced lower-lofted irons with hybrids. Frequently, however, that additional assistance is mitigated by playing a ball whose optimal performance is achieved by those with faster swing speeds.
 
The good news is that you don’t have to play the same ball as your male partner, because a number of golf ball manufacturers are offering balls designed specifically for you and your swing speed.
 
“Probably one of our most popular golf balls for women is our PD (Power Distance) Women. It features a soft ionomer cover with a modified 314-dimple pattern for longer carry. Its low-compression core delivers both longer distance and softer feel around the greens,” said Nike’s Chris Sullivan. These golf balls are available in both white and pink.
 
For the mid-handicap women players I like the Nike RZN Red and the RZN White. Both are designed for moderate to slower swing speeds. If you’re looking for more distance, try the RZN Red. Those who want a ball with more feel, resulting in more spin around the green, will find the RZN White better suited to their liking.
 
“The RZN Red and White golf balls feature a three-piece construction. The RZN core is 10 percent lighter than the conventional rubber core, allowing for heavier outer layers for optimal distance and stability,” Sullivan said.
 
Lower-handicap players are advised to consider the RZN Black and the RZN Platinum; the former delivers more distance while the latter delivers more feel. These four-piece golf balls are specifically designed for players with higher swing speeds.
 
“It’s important that all golfers – not just women – play a ball that is matched to their swing speed,” Sullivan added. “If they don’t swing fast enough to compress a higher-compression ball, they don’t get the desired trampoline effect, which maximizes distance and performance. On the other hand, if they’re playing a ball with not enough compression, the ball will almost feel like a marshmallow on the clubface.”
 
Be sure to check out the Ball Recommender on the Nike site. Simply by answering a few questions you’ll have a better idea of which ball is right for you. Of course, you may also consult with one of our knowledgeable sales professionals; they’re always eager and willing to help.
 
With the right ball in your bag, you’ll soon find yourself shooting better scores and beating your playing partners.
 
Nick Lico has dual passions: writing and golf. An avid player for 30 years, he has spent the last five years teaching golf at various after-school programs in Metro Detroit.
 
-Par Shooter
 
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Advancements In Golf Technology = Better Scores

Twenty years ago, Davis Love III led the PGA Tour with an average driving distance of nearly 284 yards. Through February 9 of this year, Bubba Watson led the Tour with an average drive of 322 yards – an improvement of nearly 40 yards! To many, that speaks to significant improvements in technology. The same technology that is enabling pros to hit a driver well over 300 yards and a 7 iron 200 yards is making it easier and more enjoyable for the average person to enjoy a round of golf.
 
Hot Drivers
 
Peruse popular golf publications and you will quickly notice that every manufacturer promises a “hot” driver. How they achieve the results, which enable even amateurs to hit drives straight and long, differs by manufacturer.
 
Dunham’s shoppers may have noticed a similar design approach from other manufacturers to clubs other than the driver. The idea is to remove weight where it’s not needed and to enable the clubface to deflect at the moment of impact, creating said trampoline effect. TaylorMade has used this approach with its RocketBallz fairway and hybrids and is employing a different strategy with its latest drivers.
 
“In our driver and fairway woods, we’ve moved the center of gravity lower and forward. Golfers are realizing more ideal launch angles and lower spin conditions,” said Tom Kroll, TaylorMade golf.
 
Here’s a practical example of what lower spin conditions mean: a good friend and golf pro put the TaylorMade SLDR driver in his bag last fall and immediately gained 30 yards! This year, TaylorMade has introduced the JetSpeed driver.
 
“Compared to the SLDR, the JetSpeed is going to launch the ball higher and with more spin. The SLDR also has a sliding weight that can be adjusted to control the draw or fade bias,” Kroll added.
 
Get on the Green
 
Hitting a great drive is a great feeling. However, to truly score, you must hit the green with your approach. Today’s technology can help you here, as well.
 
“Owning the second shot is what Adams Golf is known for. Our heritage has been about fairway woods, hybrids and irons. We have the equipment to enable less-experienced golfers to get on the green with the second shot, to own that shot,” Wood explained.
 
Technological advancements have also found their way into irons.
 
“Five years ago we introduced our Cut Thru-Slot design, which enhances ball speed and ball flight. This design creates a very thin face that flexes when it connects with the ball. The result is a trampoline-like effect that really launches the ball. Even if you mishit the club, you’re still going to get good results,” said Jeff Wood of Adams Golf.
 
“If you’re playing irons that don’t have a speed pocket, you’re playing with old technology. The speed pocket gives golfers speed where they need it most, since the majority of amateurs contact the ball below the center of the clubface. This technology increases launch angle and distance,” Kroll said.
 
Have a Ball
 
Manufacturers have also spent a great deal of their R&D improving the ball we play. Many companies are promoting choosing a ball based on your individual swing speed, desired ball flight and the amount of feel you want around the green.
 
“TaylorMade is launching three balls this year,” Kroll said. “Our new Tour Preferred and Tour Preferred X are ideal for the better player. They feature a new Soft Tech cover for improved greenside spin and control.”
 
If you’re a scratch player, consider the Tour Preferred X model. An intriguing option for golfers of all levels is TaylorMade’s third new ball for 2014: the Project (a).
 
“Project (a) is designed for amateur golfers, though we saw a lot of single-digit golfers play this ball at Pebble Beach in February,” Kroll added. The company claims greater distance with all clubs, as well as significant and consistent spin with all irons. At under $32.00, I plan on checking it out.
 
For 2014, Nike is expanding its RZN line of golf balls.
 
“We’re launching RZN Black, Platinum, White, and Red this year, each explicitly designed for specific golfers,” said Chris Coffman of Nike.
 
The first two are designed for golfers of moderate to higher swing speeds. Those who want maximum distance should choose the RZN Black, while those who want more feel will prefer the RZN Platinum. Golfers with moderate to slower swing speeds will find the RZN Red and the RZN White more suited to their game. The RZN Red delivers more distance, while the RZN White delivers more feel.
 
There’s a lot to be said for technology. It has made our cars safer, phones smaller and the game of golf more enjoyable. With the right equipment and advice from our knowledgeable staff, next time someone asks you about your golf game, you can happily reply, “It’s par for the course.”
 
Nick Lico has dual passions: writing and golf. An avid player for 30 years, he has spent the last five years teaching golf at various after-school programs in Metro Detroit.
 
-Par Shooter
 
*To receive exclusive Dunham’s coupons and information on new products, events and sales, enroll in our e-mail or text message programs (or both). Sign Up Now