As the calendar on the wall says, it is the end of the 2011 season so it is time to wrap up the year with a series of equipment reviews starting with golf balls.
In 2011 I primarily played 4 different balls, Titleist Pro V1, Callaway i(S) and Callaway i(Z), and Taylormade Pentas. The Pro V1s, as always, are outstanding golf balls and still the name to beat. The 2011 Pro V1s are soft, more durable than I remember and have that satisfying feel when you hit a good shot with them. They bite well but were not the highest spin of the balls I played this year. All in all they are still awesome and anyone who finds them under their tree will not need to take them back.
The second and third balls I used were the Callaway i(S) and the Callaway i(Z) balls. This is a first for me, because in the past I have not been a fan of Callaway balls but the i(S) changed that for me. In the past Callaway balls felt for want of a better term crispy. They felt pretty hard and I just never warmed up to them, but the i(S) is a ball that really does compare well to the Pro V1. Soft but with zip. The Callaway i(S) is as soft as a Pro V1 but it really launches off the driver. It also spins for days, I have backed this ball up more this year than any ball I have ever played. I was so impressed with the i(S) that I bought a box of the i(Z) balls and wow, even their distance ball felt buttery. The i(Z) is not as soft as the i(S) but has some impressive distance. The i(Z) rockets of the driver and mid-irons but it is still soft enough to stick and stop on the green. Both balls have a urethane cover with the unique Callaway hex dimple design. I found both balls to have very predictable and consistent flight characteristics. They both play well in windy conditions and hold their line well without ballooning in head winds. The i(Z) is definitely a warm weather ball though, as it has become colder it is much crisper than in the heat of summer. The i(Z) will be in the bag again next year and probably another dozen i(Z)s in mid-summer.
The last ball I played this year was the Taylormade Penta TP and this too is a great pro ball. It was medium soft with a very fast feel off the driver and long irons with pretty good feel around the greens. They spin about as well as the Pro V1 and were almost as long as the i(Z) but they didn’t seem to fly as far on off-center hits. Maybe it is the 5 piece construction, but I didn’t feel that the Penta was as forgiving as the other high-end pro balls.
So that is the first round-up of the season, happy holidays!