Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Serious Equipment: Part 2

Recently I blogged a touch about my ball fitting.  With the help of a Tracman and a fitting professional I take all the numbers and info from my golf swing and see which ball is going to squeeze the most performance out of my swing. Now, I know some of you are saying "it's not the arrow it's the indian", so I'll reply GET OFF MY BLOG YOU RACIST FUCK! No seriously though... if you think equipment has no bearing on your game, you need to stop thinking that way because you're really not doing your game any favors. Sure, having the latest neutron stick for a driver isn't going to let you hit it as far as Tiger Woods, but it's sure as hell going to be easier to hit than that old persimmon driver  with the 1/2 inch deep face that's been in your closet for 20 years. Or that old Maxfli that's been at the bottom of the lake for 3 weeks in the mud. In fact, the ball is the one piece of equipment you use on every shot and it's so powerful even Jack Nicklaus himself said the USGA should have limits on ball technology. Playing "found balls" might be good for a beginner's wallet, but if you're breaking 100 you need to get a good hold on your balls. You're throwing strokes and enjoyment out the window.

With that, I've been sampling about 10 balls from the fitting and it was narrowed down to two contenders: Bridgestone's B330 Tour and Callaway's SR3.

My swing speed is upwards of 108mph - even after my back injury - so these balls are built perfectly for me and my game. Yours may not be as power driven as mine but rest assured these manufacturers build a ball to suit your game that is very similar to these. 

Talking numbers:

Swing Speed

The first thing looked at was obviously swing speed.  In order to get the most from your ball, you HAVE TO compress it. There is no room for error on this. Compressing the ball is what transfers energy, it's what creates grip on the club for backspin, and it's what gives you that wonderful solid feeling when you hit it.  My speed, as I said, averages out around 108mph. Not tour quality, but faster than your average hacker. Still that puts me in "premium tour ball" range. Once that is done, it's time for the hard truth: is the ball helping?

Ball Speed

Ball speed is the next thing to look at after getting the right compression.  Obviously the higher the ball speed, the farther the ball goes. In a perfect world, this number will be 1.5 times the swing speed. This indicates that there was an efficient transfer of energy to the ball, it compressed, and most likely said "ouch" .  Both balls scored right on the mark.

Spin Rate

Spin rate is what will generate the height and distance in your ball (on long clubs) and stopping power (on shorter clubs). Ideally you want to be under 3000 RPM for the driver. The lower you get the better, some say, but I was happy settling into about 2700 with both of these balls. That means there's enough spin to get a sufficiently high tee shot, but not so much that it loses roll when it hits the ground. With both of these balls, I gained 15 yards of distance with the driver over my previous ball (ProV1) due to lower spin, but I lost about 72RPM in the wedges. This is not a big deal becaus eit' a match on a fire, and because I spun the PV1 too much anyway. For you, the loss of stopping power may be a deal breaker so don't just go for the most distance.  Overall average was 9100RPM with the callaway slightly edging out the Bridgestone.


In my opinion, the last but definitely not the least important number.  Deviation is how far left or right the ball curved. Now, obviously this will be affected by the quality of swing as well. This number should coincide with he spin rate off the long clubs. The lower the spin rate, the lower the deviation - obviously since its' not spinning as much it's not going to slice or hook as badly. The B330 halved the Callaway in this stat - making it a tough choice when it came right down to it.

So now that I've bored you to death with technicalities, let's get to the meat and potatoes and something that you can do without any fancy equipment: FEEL

Feel is something that can't be taught, measured, or bottled. You're the only one who can say what is good and bad.  Feel is the reason I play Taylormade and my buddy plays Nike.  Feel is what builds confidence and keeps you coming back for more. Feel is also why I chose the Callaway ball. While both balls produced similar distance and Bridgestone was quite a bit more accurate, I couldn't get over how "clicky" the Bridgestone ball felt to me. I would hit the ball flush and it just seemed harder than the Callaway. It was a little unnerving, and I don't like that. Part of the reason I played the ProV1 is because when I hit it on the screws it felt like a marshmallow.  I don't like the feeling of the ball pressing back against my club. To me, a solidly struck shot should feel like this photo:

Winner:  Callaway SR3.  

What's your ball? Have you thought about what you really want in a ball?  With many varieties, pricepoints, and manufacturers there's sure to be a ball that fits you to a tee.  OH yes... I went there. 

Without fail, I'm going to buy the SR3 for this season and use it exclusively.  I'm getting the stopping power I need with increased distance and I'm no longer the short knocker when I play with my scratch buddies.  I haven't noticed a problem with the ball going left or right so until that happens exclusively it's going to be my go-to rock.