A few months ago, I published my manifesto on why I was going to start playing colored golf balls. Since then, I’ve played several rounds with two high-performing yellow golf balls: the NIke RZN Tour Black and the Srixon Z-Star XV. It’s time to share how I think they perform, and which ball I’ve decided to play.
But first, a quick primer on each ball. The Nike RZN Tour Black features Nike’s “RZN” urethane cover and is intended to achieve maximum distance and low spin off the tee, but decent control around the greens. The Srixon Z-Star XV (the “STAR” stands for “Spin, Trajectory, Acceleration, and Responsiveness”) uses the company’s “speed dimple” technology that is supposed to generate more distance and a truer ball flight. It also has Srixon’s “spinskin” cover, which is meant to provide good control around the green.* Both balls retail for around $45 a dozen and are designed for players like me who have higher swing speeds and want a ball that is long off the tee, soft around the greens, but that doesn’t produce excessive spin.
I analyzed the golf balls using four criteria: (1) distance and accuracy off the tee, (2) control on approach shots, (3) control around the green (i.e. chips, pitches, etc…), and (4) feel. Keep in mind that my review is not based on scientific measurements or anything technological. It is based purely on my observations of the performance and feel of each ball. So please, don’t take this review as giving an objective conclusion that one ball is better than the other. It’s just one golfer’s opinion.
Distance and accuracy off the tee: I could see no real difference between how the two balls performed off the tee. I mashed some drives with both balls, and both balls produced great trajectories when I made solid contact. I also hit some stinkers with both balls, but any difference between the two balls on those shots was due to user error.
Approach shots: Again, both balls performed great. I am a high-ball hitter, and both balls produced the high ball flight that I like, yet didn’t create excessive spin on short iron and wedge shots. I think the Srixon ball landed on the green just a hair softer on long iron shots, so I’ll give it the edge in that regard. But overall, both balls were fantastic.
Around the green: This is where I started to see a difference between the Nike and Srixon balls. The Nike ball really impressed me with pitches and chips around the green. I like to play what I call “two-hop-stop” pitch shots, where I take the ball in a little low and have the ball make a couple of hard bounces before checking up. I was able to consistently play this shot with the Nike ball. On top of that, the Nike ball also worked well on higher, softer shots around the green where I could get it to just land soft and plop. I really felt like I had the ball at my command. The Srixon ball was very good around the greens, as well, but I never felt like I had quite the same control of my shots like I did with the Nike ball.
Feel: By feel, I’m referring simply to how the ball feels when it contacts a club face, separate from how it actually performs. The Nike ball felt great. It was solid and responsive on the club face. The Srixon ball felt too soft for my liking. On every shot from driver to putter, it felt like there was a sheet of paper towel between the ball and club face. Those golfers who like a softer feeling ball would be better off with the Srixon. But I like solid, making the Nike a better choice for me.
Conclusion: The Nike and Srixon balls are both great, I was happy playing both. But I’ve chosen to stick with the Nike ball. It’s got the distance, it felt great, and it really exceeded my expectations for performance around the greens.
*Srixon also makes its Z-Star (sans the XV) in yellow. It’s also a tour quality ball that feels softer and produces more spin than the XV.
**Note to product makers and retailers: If you have a product you’d like me to review, please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’ll be happy to provide a thorough–and honest–review of the product.