The new golf season is off and running so it is time again to take a look at some new golf balls and some older favorites.
I am not someone who buys a lot of golf balls throughout the year, I tend to find a couple of favorites and stick with them throughout the season. Last year the two balls I played more than any others were the Callaway Hex Black Tour and the Titleist Pro-V1x. I also won some golf balls in my golf league so there were some Titleist DT SoLo and Titleist Velocity balls in there too, and I will rate those as well.
This year I have changed it up a bit and added Taylormade Penta TP5 and the new Taylormade Lethal balls. I picked up the Pentas last fall when they went on sale for $30, and I played them through the winter and early spring. I really like the 2012 Penta. The ball is soft but has great distance and great stopping power around the greens. I like the way the ball compresses, there is a very satisfying gush to the ball when it is warm outside. I used the Penta last week to shoot my low score for the last three years at my weekly 9 hole Wednesday night league, +2 29 on a par 27. The St. Stanislaus course has a rating of 56.0 and a slope rating of 140. Yah it was a good evening’s round.
After the round and with the glow of a good round with the Penta, I figured heck, try the new Lethal the 2013 replacement for the Penta. It features the same 5 piece construction but with some new flight characteristics. Taylormade advertises the Lethal as a low spin ball off the driver and long irons and a lower flight high spin ball around the green. Keep in mind I have only played a couple of test rounds with the ball, but on first blush it does seem to fly slightly lower than the Penta from last year and it does have improved carry over the Penta but it is not dramatic. It flies more like the Callaway Hex Black, very penetrating but with a feel that it hangs in the air longer than the Penta. Now in no way is this objective, I just played a couple of rounds so far, but I did play the Penta and the Lethal side by side for 9 holes. While I like the longer hang time and they definitely held the wind, I was not too happy about how heavy the ball feels on the club face. I have always felt that Taylormade balls had a slightly denser and heavier feel to them and the Lethal continues to hold to that tradition. The Penta feels a bit lighter on the driver (Taylormade R9) than the Lethal. The second round I played the Lethal side-by-side with the Callaway Hex Black and that was when I noticed just how heavy it felt on the club face. The Hex Black has an almost there one second gone the next feel with the driver, you can feel it flex but it seems to pop off the face. Now this is one of those things that is a personally preference, so your feel may vary. The Hex Black seems to spin more on short irons backing up more than the Taylormade on the same shot but I will need to card a few more rounds in different conditions before I pronounce anything definitive.
OK, change of subject and a shocking one too. I have been rating expensive pro golf balls and playing them for about the last 3 seasons. So imagine my surprise when I won a dozen Titleist DT SoLo balls for being closest to the pin. I nearly gave them away because heck I play “good” golf balls. Well I am glad I didn’t because I had the best round of my life with that ball. I shot straight par at St. Stanislaus 27 with no bogies and no birdies, with three witnesses, always have witnesses. This is a great ball, soft and fast with some great stick and stop on the greens. I still like to put one in play from time to time and I still recommend that ball or the Titleist Velocity to my friends just starting out in golf. You cannot go wrong with either ball.