As we saw in our first ball test, off-center cores can be the difference between the middle of the fairway and the wrong side of the white stakes. So, yeah, an off-center core can absolutely affect your flight path. Consistency varies by manufacturer and, while some are historically better than others, nobody is perfect.
Dimples provide the lift and drag characteristics of the ball. Dimples control the initial launch (though most everything launches about the same), the height of the flight, how far down range a ball reaches that peak height, and how the ball falls from the air.
In a word, dimples are responsible for the trajectory of the ball and, plus or minus some differences due to the spin characteristics, identical dimple patterns (which many brands rely on) will produce an identical trajectory.
The dimples themselves don’t have any significant impact on spin.
A ball doesn’t have to be expensive to be good. It’s certainly true that bigger brands have significantly more R&D horsepower and that allows them to spend on things like aerodynamic research and new dimple pattern development. That certainly can have some impact on performance but the reality is that distance is maxed out so brands are mostly playing with different spin curves to create more robust fitting options.
The quality component is largely a factory metric. Data collected in our Ball Lab suggests Titleist is the best of the big brands (and the best overall) while Foremost, which makes balls for Maxfli, OnCore, Vice, Wilson and others, tends to be the best of the independently owned facilities.
The deciding factor about whether to retire a golf ball is cover damage. Small paint blemishes are no big deal but if the cover is cut or scuffed to the point where there’s an obvious texture, it’s probably best to put it in the shag bag.
Balls found in the woods should be fine so long as they’re in good condition. The rule of thumb on water balls is that unless you saw it go in, you probably shouldn’t take it out. Golf balls are hygroscopic (they absorb water over time) so if they’ve been submerged for a while, they’re likely not the same as when they went in.
As was the case with Left Dash, the reception for the limited run of Left Dot was likely more positive than Titleist expected. It’s unlikely the company anticipated the kind of demand that would drive golfers to pay more than $100 a dozen on eBay.
With that in mind, my hunch is that Titleist will eventually bring Left Dot to retail but it probably won’t happen this year.
Today’s reality is that, industry-wide, ball factories are running at 100-percent capacity (and then some). For Titleist to do a full product launch of Left Dot, it would have to scale down production of one of the staples in the Titleist lineup (Pro V1, Pro V1x, AVX). That doesn’t make good business sense.
Incidentally, I’d wager other ball manufacturers have seen what happened with Left Dot and would probably like to do a limited run of their own Tour-only offerings. Everyone is in the same boat so it’s unlikely anyone will do that until demand for the mainstream stuff eases a bit.
Over the course of our golf ball performance test, it became abundantly clear that some models were significantly more consistent than others.
After months of conversations with R&D teams across the industry, spending hours on the phone with Harvey Glantz (the man who holds the patent on our compression gauge which is used in ball factories around the world) and investing more than $20,000 on equipment, Ball Lab became a reality.
We just received our second round of orders for 2022 product. We should have them measured in a week or so and then it won’t be long before we place orders for the final dozens. We’re working on the new Chrome Soft lineup, the 2022 AVX, the latest Tour B line as well as Z-Star Diamond and the Wilson Tritad.
Once we’ve made a dent in that, we’ll start looking at some of the new DTC stuff in the market.
As always, keep the questions coming! Clubs, course management, golf balls … you name it, we’ll answer.
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