2010 golf balls: New grooves mean softer is in

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Because the PGA Tour and other professional tours will switch to smaller grooves this year, some golf ball manufacturers have introduced softer balls to enhance iron and wedge play with the new grooves.

The concept here is to preserve distance off the tee while adding workability and control around the greens. To do this, companies are exploring the extremes of design, exemplified by TaylorMade’s five-piece Penta ball.

In choosing the right ball, amateurs must balance their needs for distance and control. The longest two-piece balls tend to be the ones that are most difficult to control around the greens.

Nike Crush

The skinny: Nike is straightforward about this new ball, talking about distance, distance, distance. This is the company’s new muscle ball. Features DMC coating that is intended to reduce spin on drives.

Cost: $30 per dozen MSRP

Available: Immediate

TaylorMade Penta TP

The skinny: This ball is made with five-piece construction (core, three mantle layers and cover). From 100 yards and in, the ball has more spin and consistency than the LDP Red, which it is replacing. The LDP Black remains in the TaylorMade ball lineup.

Cost: $45.99 per dozen

Available: Immediate

Wilson FG Tour

The skinny: Wilson’s softest, highest-spinning tour-inspired ball, the new FG Tour is a three-piece ball with a cast urethane cover. Wilson offers an array of low-compression balls, and this one is designed for tournament players who want spin and distance.

Cost: $49.99 per dozen MSRP

Available: Immediate

Callaway Tour i(s)

The skinny: This is the softest Callaway tour-caliber ball ever made. Featuring Callaway’s HEX dimple pattern and double-core construction, it is all about spin and control, along with tour distance. The ball is designed for irons and wedges with the new smaller grooves.

Cost: $42.99 per dozen

Available: Jan. 15

Bridgestone e6 2010

The skinny: This is the new version of Bridgestone’s popular anti-sidespin ball, designed to reduce slice and hook spin. The e6 is Bridgestone’s softest multilayer ball, and the compression has been lowered slightly to make it even softer.

Cost: $38 per dozen MSRP

Available: Immediate

Titleist NXT and NXT Tour

The skinny: The new NXT Tour is a multilayer ball, while the NXT uses solid construction. The NXT Tour has a larger, faster core and softer, more durable cover that is made from a material called Fusablend. The ball features a pattern of 332 dimples in seven sizes. The NXT is a high-speed, low-spin ball that replaces the NXT Extreme. Titleist says the new NXT is longer and straighter than its predecessor.

Cost: $29.99 per dozen (NXT Tour); $25.99 per dozen (NXT)

Available: Feb. 1

Golfweek.com readers: We value your input and welcome your comments, but please be respectful in this forum.