The Kirkland Signature Ball is coming back.
Well, a Kirkland Signature Ball is coming back, but don’t get too excited.
My headline is misleading. It might even qualify as a little bit of a bait and switch, which should help prepare you for the arrival of the new and apparently - what’s the opposite of improved? – Costco Kirkland Signature Golf Ball.
Sorry to be the bearer of bad news.
They’re Almost Here
A couple of weeks ago, an alert reader brought it to our attention that SM Global (listed on the USGA list as the manufacturer of the K-Sig – it’s actually the importer) received a sizeable shipment (20 containers, each weighing 40,000 lbs) of golf balls from Korea in July.
Further confirming impending availability, a source inside Costco tells us that K-Sigs have arrived at distribution centers and appear to be headed to new store openings in Michigan, Nebraska, California, and New York. From there it’s likely only a matter of time before they reach other Costco locations.
And of course, we shouldn’t overlook the fact that there’s an entirely new and different Kirkland Signature ball on the USGA’s conforming ball list.
It’s Not the Same Ball. It’s Not Even Close
We also shouldn’t overlook the fact that the coming soon version bears an alarming dissimilarity to the original.
Two significant differences leap out at us.
The first is that the new K-Sig is a 3-piece ball, 338 dimple ball. The original was a 4-piece, 360 dimple model.
As you might be aware, Costco is currently engaged with Acushnet in what could prove to be an ugly legal battle over patent infringement and false advertising allegations, and it’s at least possible the changes to construction and dimple pattern are related to that expanding mess.
It could also validate much of what we heard about the original ball being born from some sort of overrun situation. That said, in and of itself, a reduction in layers and dimples might not be that big of a deal.
But wait, unfortunately, there’s more.
From a performance standpoint, the bigger concern is the spin rating.
Bad News from the USGA List
The letters (in this case both Ms) refer to spin performance off a driver and short iron respectively. Those these values are self-reported by the manufacturers, there is consistency within categories, and it's perhaps telling that the new ball deviates from the standard.
Two M’s aren’t particularly good news.
To an extent, an M-M rating often suggests a ball that is average to the point of being below average. It doesn’t offer low spin (distance) off the driver, nor does it offer high spin (stopping power) around the green.
To put all of this into perspective, you need to look at where the leading tour balls fall on the USGA’s rating scale.
- TaylorMade’s TP5 series, depending on which of the numerous versions we’re talking about, are either L-M or L-H. The Snell MyTourBall is also designated L-H.
- The majority of ProV1 models are M-H, as is Srixon’s Z-Star series, and the Wilson FG Tour. Most relevant to the conversation, the original K-Sig was also rated M-H.
- Bridgestone’s B330 series balls are predominantly L-M, as are the Callaway Chrome Soft, Bubba Watson’s Volvik S4, and the last of the Nike RZN series.
There it is, basically every legitimate tour ball on the market today and not a single M-M in the mix.
Though it occasionally pops up in a 3-piece ball, as it does with the new K-Sig, the never-in-a-tour ball M-M designation is most commonly found in 2-piece balls, and even then, the staggering majority of M-M balls, I’d wager, are balls most of you have never heard of let alone played.
It’s a list that includes the likes of the Komperdell Velocity Super White Spin 80, a Disney Mickey Mouse ball, three Coca-Cola balls, and something called the Pearly Gates Master Bunny Edition.
Among the balls you might know with an M-M designation are a couple of Mizuno JPX balls that haven’t made it to the US, a few TaylorMade Burner models, and the Wilson Duo Urethane.
That last one is inarguably the most compelling (and the best) M-M ball on the market right now.
Kudos to Wilson; the DUO Urethane is a ball that plenty of golfers love. Like most any other quality golf ball, it works well for the right golfer, but no disrespect, I’d stop short of calling it a tour ball – and I suspect most of you would too.
You don’t find many higher speed golfers playing it (you see few, if any, on the PGA Tour), and from a performance standpoint, I doubt many of us would mistake it for a Pro V1, Pro V1x, or any of the other tour balls listed above.
So with all of that in mind, if the ball that hits shelves is what’s just hit the USGA list, it’s fair to say that this new K-Sig is quite literally not in the same category as the original K-Sig.
For bargain hungry consumers, the Wilson DUO Urethane is your absolute best-case comparison for the new K-Sig, and that’s an entirely different demographic of golfer – at least it should be. And even then, the potential upside here is entirely dependent on whether or not the new ball offers the soft feel that powers the DUO franchise.
It’s just as likely that the new Costco Kirkland Signature could prove to be another in the list of no name, non-tour balls with a less than exciting M-M rating.
While that’s perfectly fine for a Mickey Mouse ball, with the price holding at 2/$30, the next Costco Kirkland Signature Golf Ball is shaping up to be a hell of a lot less exciting and impactful than the original.
Editor's Note: This story was updated to clarify that spin values listed by the USGA are self-reported by the manufacturer.