It’s a New Year, and there’s no better time to consider the equipment you’re going to use in the upcoming golf season. One of the most important, and frequently overlooked, pieces of equipment used is the golf ball. With so many different golf balls on the market to choose from, picking the right ball for your game can be a bewildering task. Nike has added a new ball to the mix for 2010, their new CRUSH ball. The fine folks at Nike Golf recently sent me a dozen of these new CRUSH balls to review, and I share the results with you here.
When choosing a ball, it helps to know your swing tendencies, your typical ball flight and your average club head speed. I tend to hit the ball on a medium trajectory (not high or low, and I use a 10.5 degree driver), I tend to draw the ball and am prone to an occasional hook or slice (both equally), and my average club head speed for the driver is between 85 and 90 mph. So I fit in the target market for the new CRUSH ball, which is a 2-piece ball optimized for swing speeds of 80-95mph. It is designed with a lower compression core to maximize ball velocity, increase distance and reduce sidespin for a straighter, longer flight. The dimple pattern is designed for increased carry distance and consistent ball flight. Read more about the CRUSH ball in Nike Golf ‘s press release or on the Nike Golf web site.
To test these claims for myself I headed over to my local course Stonecreek Golf Club, where GM Kevin Weber let me use the first tee and fairway for the test. If you’re ever in Phoenix, check out Stonecreek, a great course that has a fun and challenging layout.
For my review I put the CRUSH ball up against five other 2-piece balls in the same $20-$25 price category — the Callaway Diablo, the TaylorMade Burner, the Bridgestone E5, the Titleist DT Carry and the Srixon AD333. I hit a 3-ball sleeve of each of these, and in between each I hit a sleeve of the Nike CRUSH. I measured ball speed, carry and total distance, straightness of ball flight, trajectory and height of ball flight, consistency between drives and subjective characteristics like feel off the driver and even feel off the putter in a separate test. Thanks to my friend Jack Carter for lending me his launch monitor to measure distance and ball speed.
Keep in mind this test was done by an average recreational golfer and not the Iron Byron, so the results of my test are not totally scientific (although I did my best), but I feel they are very relevant from the standpoint that the balls in the test needed to perform under real conditions with a real, average player at the helm. My swing speeds were consistently between 85 and 90 mph, and my ball speeds were between 125 and 135 mph. Accuracy reflected ability, and although a majority of my drives found the fairway, several found the left and right rough respectively, which provided useful feedback in the results below. Here are the key results from my test:
Of the six balls tested, the CRUSH ball was the longest overall. Of the top ten longest drives, the four longest in the fairway were the CRUSH ball, followed by two of the Titleist DT Carry, another CRUSH, two Srixons and a Bridgestone. Of the median and shortest drives there was even dispersion of the different balls tested. Of drives that did not hit the fairway (both left and right) again the CRUSH had the two longest, followed by the Diablo, Srixon and TaylorMade. The CRUSH had the highest carry distance to ball speed ratio, followed by Titleist and Srixon respectively.
The results here are a bit subjective in that not all of my drives went straight, but the CRUSH ball curved less (straighter = farther) than the other balls when a shot went left or right. The ratio of balls to fairway was highest with the CRUSH. The next straightest ball was the Srixon, followed by the Titleist.
The highest ball flight of all the balls tested was in the Titleist DT Carry, followed by the Bridgestone, then the CRUSH. The CRUSH had a penetrating flight, not ballooning or too high, and it carried its flight farther than all of the balls. It had the longest carry in relation to ball speed than all other balls in the test.
The CRUSH had the most consistent numbers in the test between ball speed, carry distance and total distance. It had the least dispersion of all the balls tested and flew the straightest most consistently as stated above. The next most consistent was the Srixon followed by the Titleist.
Feel — Driver
Coming off the driver the CRUSH ball had the most solid feel, not hard like I’d expect from a distance ball, but not soft or squishy like a high-spin ball. It had a pleasing, weighty feel due to the lower compression core. The Titleist, Bridgestone and Srixon felt a bit harder coming off the driver than the CRUSH, and the hardest in my opinion were the TaylorMade and Callaway balls.
Feel — Putter
As important as distance off the driver is to me is the feel a ball has coming off the putter face. So in a separate subjective test, I rolled six approximately 6-foot putts on the putting green with each ball. I felt the CRUSH had the softest feel here, not as soft as you’d get from a higher spin ball with a softer cover, but pleasing coming off the putter face. The next most pleasing was the Bridgestone, followed by the Titleist.
In my test, the numbers didn’t lie — the CRUSH outperformed the other balls in carry and overall distance, straightness and consistency of ball flight, and I felt it had the best feel off the driver and putter face.
MY OPINION OF THE CRUSH BALL:
The extra distance I got with my drives was notable. Most impressive to me was the extra carry distance the CRUSH had. The fact that it flies straighter means it flies farther.
I was impressed by how the CRUSH curved less when I hit a less-than-straight shot. The last thing I need is my golf ball compounding the problem when I slice or hook a ball. The CRUSH seems to help in this area with its straighter, penetrating ball flight.
The CRUSH has a medium to high ball flight, and the ball did not balloon or fall out of the sky at the end of its flight. Most importantly the ball flight was consistent in height and trajectory from shot to shot.
The CRUSH produced consistent results in the areas of distance, straightness, trajectory, height of ball flight and shot dispersion. And aren’t we all looking for more consistency?
Feel — Driver
The lower compression core gives the CRUSH a pleasingly solid feeling coming off the driver. As the ball leaves the clubface it felt like the “weight” of the ball would help carry it farther and straighter through the air.
Feel — Putter
I wouldn’t expect a distance ball to compete with a soft cover, high-spin ball in this area, but the CRUSH has a soft feel as it leaves the putter face, more than I’d expect from a ball oriented to increasing distance.
Nike Golf has another winning ball on its hands with the CRUSH. In my test it lived up to its claims of flying farther and straighter while maintaining its feel on the greens. One of my New Year’s resolutions is now to put the new CRUSH ball in my bag for the 2010 season.
Editor’s note: The product reviewed above was supplied by the manufacturer to the reviewer/author free of charge for reviewing purposes only. The reviewer/author was not paid for this review, and the opinions expressed in the review are strictly those of the reviewer/author.