Golfers have a stated preference for balls which jump off the tee but sit and obey around the green. While premium, tour level balls still provide the best combination of those performance attributes, ball companies realize there’s a viable market ripe with value-conscious consumers whose games don’t demand the absolute zenith of ball technology.
Now on its 11th generation, Srixon’s Soft Feel (MAP $19.99/doz) is touted as longer, straighter and softer than previous versions – and better in every facet when compared to similar offerings from Titleist and Callaway to boot.
Improved tee ball distance is the result of Srixon’s E.G.G. (Energetic Gradient Growth) core. The gradient element is such that the core becomes progressively firmer toward the periphery yet remains sufficiently soft in the middle. It’s a bit like adding a layer without actually adding a layer. Lower compression cores translate to lower driver spin, which for many players leads to increased carry distance.
The new 338 Speed Dimple Pattern is more aerodynamic, which promotes straighter ball flight, particularly in windy conditions. Again, Srixon’s testing indicates the increased accuracy of the Soft Feel doesn’t come at the expense of distance.
Historically, 2-piece balls have offered two primary benefits. One is price, and the other is reasonable distance off the tee. The primary opportunity cost was a distinct lack of spin around the greens and a sensation at impact which was anything but soft. Srixon’s new Ionomer cover is thinner (0.063”), softer (hardness rating of 57) and offers a bit more bite on chips and pitches.
No doubt, every OEM seems to find a way to either create or massage information in such a way as to allow its products to “win” and some percentage of consumers will only focus on what the numbers don’t say, rather than what they do.
That said, Srixon contracted with independent testing facility, Golf Laboratories, and based on information gathered in robot testing, the Soft Feel ball is longer, straighter and produces more greenside spin than both the Titleist Tour Soft ($34.99/doz) and Callaway’s Supersoft ($21.99/doz.) That said, while some will delve deep into the weeds arguing winners and losers based on any number of included (or excluded) data points – it’s safe to suggest the Soft Feel is certainly a comparable ball and at a lower price, it could be argued presents a better value.
Specifically, Golf Laboratories testing showed Soft Feel to produce nearly a yard more total distance off the driver. The findings were based on an 84 MPH swing speed with a Callaway Rogue 10.5 R-Flex driver.
In iron testing, the Soft Feel proved to be both several yards longer and more accurate than the Tour Soft and nearly as long, but more accurate than the Supersoft. The salient selling point for Srixon being that improved accuracy and increased consistency should invariably lead to better performance. Testing for this portion utilized the TaylorMade M4 7-iron with a steel, R-Flex shaft, swung at 75 MPH.
Regarding greenside spin, the Soft Feel spun marginally more than Callaway’s Supersoft and nearly 14% more spin than the Titleist Tour Soft. This data was based on 36 MPH of clubhead speed and the wedge used was a Titleist SM6, 56°
The Srixon Soft Feel series is currently available in two models – Soft Feel and Soft Feel Lady with two colorways per model. The Soft Feel comes in Soft White and Tour Yellow while the Soft Feel Lady is available in Tour White or Passion Pink.
There’s certainly a market for a ball with as much performance as many amateurs need sans the premium price tag and given how competitive the premium ball market is, it seems OEMs are shifting away from the everyone should play a tour ball marketing approach to one differentiated more by player needs.
As always, tell us what you think.
Pricing and Availability
The Srixon Soft Feel golf ball is available now. Retail price is $19.99 per dozen.