Earlier this week I traveled to Miami for the official release of Nike Golf’s new revolutionary 20XI golf ball that will become available at retail on April 29th. I headed to the Doral Golf Resort on Sunday afternoon, arriving late Sunday night. The event was Monday evening, so I had Monday morning and early afternoon to myself to tour the Blue Monster, as it was my first time at Doral and I wanted to check out the course in person. I did just that, and after heading back to my room to freshen up, I headed to the 10th tee of Doral’s Red Course for the event.
The event consisted of an on-course demo and a short presentation and Q&A session back at the hotel (I shot video of the entire demo and presentation/Q&A session, there are links to the video segments at the bottom of the post, along with a photo gallery). Soon after I got to the 10th tee, Francesco Molinari and Anthony Kim arrived to hit some of the new 20XIs. Nike Golf’s Mike Pai kicked off the demo, and after a few words from Nike Golf’s head of golf ball creation Rock Ishii and PGA Tour Field Representative Steve Stach, it was time for Francesco and AK to hit some balls.
Francesco was the first to hit the 20XI for us (he plays the 20XI-X model), and Nike had a Trackman unit set up to monitor various statistics for his shots (you can see these in the video). Francesco has already switched to the 20XI-X in competition because of the increase in distance (in spite of a higher launch angle) and the spin he gets around the green with the new ball. He mentioned one of the characteristics he is particularly impressed with is its ability to maintain spin after the apex of the shot, which helps keep his ball online especially in the wind (there was a pretty good breeze as he and AK were hitting their drives). Francesco hit several drives and the Trackman stats don’t lie, this ball is longer, spins less off the driver and holds its line in the wind.
Then it was Anthony’s turn, and he proceeded to bomb several drives far out into the 10th fairway with the 20XI-S, his distances getting progressively longer with each shot. Anthony mentioned he went with the 20XI-S ball because he had trouble keeping the ball in the air long enough with the 20XI-X — Rock pointed out this was because his driver spin was already low, so the 20XI-S fit his swing better. AK is able to get more distance with the 20XI-S because it stays in the air longer (more spin after the apex of the shot), helping him to get his distance off the tee back after his recent thumb injury.
After hitting drivers for a bit, AK and Francesco switched to hitting wedges to the nearby 18th green. As I mentioned above there was a pretty good breeze at the time, so this setup had AK and Francesco hitting their wedges in a pretty good left-to-right breeze. Francesco again mentioned one of the most valuable new features of the 20XI — its ability to hold its line in the wind. From the 10th tee we wandered over to the 18th green, where AK and Francesco hit some shorter wedge shots for us, including some high flop shots, showing us the great spin they get with the 20XI around the green. AK pointed out that the 20XI makes shots with the new grooves easier, because they can get more spin without having to swing as hard. We were also able to see the covers after a few of their shots, and there were no visible scuff marks on the balls from their wedges.
Then we headed inside for a short presentation where Rock showed us the groundbreaking material combination in the 20XI and explained how the spin slope (lower with driver, higher with wedges) and Moment of Inertia (MOI) are both higher with this game-changing new ball. Then Steve Stach, AK and Francesco talked about how the golf ball is the one piece of equipment players are most hesitant to change because it’s the one piece of equipment that is constant in every shot in a tournament round and it is difficult to test it with the wide variety of shots they play. It speaks volumes about the technology in this new ball that so many of the Nike athletes have already switched to the 20XI, and that AK and Francesco switched to it very shortly after they tested it live on the course (AK in Shanghai and Francesco in Maui).
Then Rock, Steve, AK and Francesco took questions from the audience on a variety of aspects of the 20XI, and in particular there were some really good technical questions from (new friends of NG Nation) Gary Esayian of GolfBallSelector.com and Carlo Alavarez of GolfWRX.com. We also got a glimpse of what might be coming from Nike’s golf ball engineers, with their alluding to the use of the 20XI materials being used in other Nike golf balls in the future, and other variations of material combinations and specifications in future ball designs.
It was really fun to get a glimpse “behind the curtain” of Nike’s golf ball design department, and the thinking and testing that goes into a new ball design like the 20XI. I personally cannot wait to get my hands on the new 20XI ball to test it out for myself.
Features of the new 20XI ball include:
• Lighter, low-density resin (RZN) core results in faster ball speed and increased distance
• Lighter core and heavier outer layers moves weight to the outside of the ball (perimeter weighting) to increase MOI for longer and straighter ball flight
• Steeper spin slope – less spin (203 rpm less on avg.) off the driver and more spin (99 rpm more on avg.) around the green
• Maintains spin after apex of shot, adding distance and minimizing travel offline
• Soft, durable cover enhances spin with minimal scuffing — 20XI-S has softer cover than 20XI-X (20XI-X cover is 3pts firmer than 20XI-S cover)
Check out the videos of the entire demo, presentation and Q&A session:
Editor’s note: Expenses for travel to and accommodations at this event for the author of this post were paid for by Nike Golf. The author was not paid for this post, and the opinions expressed in the post are strictly those of the author.