Ball Lab- Golf Ball Quality Awards
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Ball Lab- Golf Ball Quality Awards

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Ball Lab- Golf Ball Quality Awards

These are our first-ever Ball Lab awards, though we certainly plan to make this an annual event. The idea was to distill more than two years of Ball Lab efforts to highlight the highest-quality, most consistent golf balls on the market.

Please note these awards are based on total Ball Lab scores of current models. Only urethane models were considered and a minimum of two balls models were required to qualify for brand quality awards.

The Winners

Best Brand Quality

While we’re only considering urethane-covered options for the Ball Lab awards, it’s notable that seven of the current top 10 and eight of the current top 15 models in the Ball Lab database are made by Titleist. The company’s current urethane offerings set the standard with an average quality score of 89.6. Sure, Titleist offers more models than anyone else but with that comes greater opportunity for average quality to be derailed by a sub-par offering. However, every Titleist urethane ball we’ve tested to date has been above average and all but one of those models scored in the mid-80s or better. It’s a case of getting what you pay for. In 2021, Titleist is the most consistent golf ball brand.

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Best DTC Brand Quality

With so many good DTC options available for golfers right now, it’s not a total surprise that DICK’S Sporting Goods’ Maxfli Tour line still flies a bit under the radar. It shouldn’t. In addition to stellar performance in both of our robot tests, with an average score of 87.5, the latest generation of the Maxfli Tour series is among the most consistent in golf.

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Best Ball

The No. 1 ball at retail is also the most consistent ball in the Ball Lab database. The 2021 Pro V1 has an impressive current overall score of 97. Our sample was nearly perfect and the only ball we’ve tested to rate as Excellent for compression consistency.

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Best DTC Ball

With the 2021 version of the Tour X, Maxfli changed both the core formulation and basic construction of its four-piece ball, moving from dual-core to dual-mantle construction. The result is the most consistent ball in the database without a Titleist logo. With only a single bad ball in the sample and compression, diameter and weight consistency scores all solidly above average, the Tour X should be near the top of the list for bargain hunters.

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Best Soft Ball

Among the soft urethane balls on the market, the excellent Vice Pro Soft is a standout. While consistency often falls off as compression dips below 80, the 71-compression Pro Soft is notable for being the only soft (compression below 75) ball in the top 10. While the standard caveats around “soft” apply, for fans of soft the Vice Pro Soft should be at the top of the list.

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Best Value Ball

With the small caveat that it’s only sold in two-dozen packs, the Kirkland Performance+ V2, with a score of 84,  is a runaway winner for the best value golf ball. With a per-dozen under $13, Costco’s current three-piece offering is more consistent than many higher-priced balls. At a minimum, for golfers who want to play the same ball on every shot without fear of lost balls breaking the bank, the Performance+ V2 is a significantly better option than buying refurbished.

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Best Ball Above $40

Above the $40 price point is the near-exclusive domain of the mainstream manufacturer and many, including Titleist, have raised prices over the last season. It goes without saying that the Pro V1 isn’t the cheapest but if you believe quality and consistency are important, there’s still value to be found at the premium level.

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Best Ball $30 to $40

The $30 to $40 range is where the overwhelming majority of DTC balls live (though volume discounts can push prices below $30). While there are numerous good options in this space, the current generation of Maxfli Tour stands out as the most consistent of the group and arguably the best balls without a Titleist logo on them.

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Best Ball $20 to $30

Admittedly, unless you’re buying in bulk, the $20 to $30 price range is a bit of a dead zone for urethane-covered balls. Still, it’s a bracket that the Cut DC fills admirably. It’s not the cheapest ball on the market but it strikes what many will see as a sensible blend of cost and quality.

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      Jason

      2 years ago

      I used to play Kirkland, but turns out my swing produces excess spin. Add that to the already super spinny ball that the Kirland is, and it was a distance nightmare. Quality ball though overall.
      I use the Maxfli now and love them. Quality, durable, great price (made better when on sale), feel great, good spin profile, and as we see, great build quality. Looking forward tonusing them for the next few years as I work on my swing.

      Reply

      Kenny

      3 years ago

      I love playing the ProV’s and TP5’s, but you can only do this so much when you lose multiple balls a round!

      Reply

      Jacques

      3 years ago

      MYGOLFSPY is easily my fav for honest evaluations and stirring the pot with good intentions. Regarding the KIRKLAND ball, my preferred way of acquiring the two boxes of balls is to check out, order my $1.50 hot dog, my $400 cart of impulse items, including three wedges for $150, wait in line for 30 minutes, and hope to leave the parking lot undented and undaunted.

      Next time, I order from the website.

      Reply

      Tony

      3 years ago

      Order from the website? Add $5 per box for shipping.

      Reply

      Mike

      3 years ago

      So you buy three wedges every time you go to Costco? The basement must look like a showroom. I would hope that in the future you would have a little more willpower so as not to waste money on hot dogs, impulse purchases and more wedges than a golf galaxy store.

      Reply

      Mike

      3 years ago

      Those Cut Blue just went on sale at Golf Town for CDN$17+ a dozen >> USD$14. Needless to say I snapped up a couple of boxes. Never tried them but worst case I’ll use them when I play the “ball eater” of my 2 courses.

      Reply

      Mike

      3 years ago

      I think some people are missing the point here. This article was meant to show the top balls in terms of quality as tested by MGS. It has nothing to do which ball is the right one for you, that’s something you do on your own. For me it was informative, because I’m sort of caught up between a few different balls. Knowing the quality results of these balls may play a part in terms of which one I’d play.

      Reply

      Mark

      3 years ago

      I enjoy the reviews and buyer´s guides. The ball lab is a great idea. All this input has helped me to make decisions and/or to be more confident with my equipment.
      But unfortunately (again) this is an award for the US market. It is nearly impossible to buy Maxfli or Kirkland in Europe. And some DTC brands are way more expensive outside of the US. Buying a Pro V1 one is cheaper for me than a Snell, incl. taxes, shipping etc.
      How about a global award? Best accessibility worldwide, best quality for the overall price (incl. shipping, taxes, etc)?

      Reply

      Stephen

      3 years ago

      Firstly thank you for this work, I know it is the product of a lot of effort and I respect the work you are doing to be data driven. I find this stuff so fascinating but it creates so many questions. I will try and restrain myself :-)

      Firstly just to confirm my understanding from reading this series of articles:
      – The aim of this work is to identify the balls that have the least deviation from a standard. This is to support the pursuit of a reduction in variables around our game; i.e. remove the question of was it my swing or was that the ball
      – The value element or number out of 100 is proximity to perfection, e.g. yes you might pay more for a PRO V1 but actually that is borne out of the fact that if you could non-destructively test the balls you would have by more balls to get a dozen “perfect” balls
      – The reason that this only covers Urethane balls is that they are the most performant from a spin perspective and to help reduce the sample size that needs to be contended with

      My key question is I am not sure I understand how the rationale about the need for the cover to be Urethane due to it’s high spin properties matches with this supporting the reduction in the question of was it me or the ball. I suppose my confusion is summarised as:
      – Spin management, specifically consistent production of spin, is the hardest part of the game and from what I have seen has an extremely high correlation to handicap
      – As the cover has a substantial correlation to spin production how are you testing the quality/properties of the urethane cover’s which due to their nature is hard to manufacture
      – As spin variance is a direct correlation with ball flight deviation is there anything that shows a pro V1 actually provides more consistent accuracy than lets say a Srixon AD333 even with its potential quality issues

      Reply

      rick

      3 years ago

      yes. Everyone plays better with a urethane covered ball. Lots of my beginning friends think they can get by with cheap surlyn, and wonder why their pitches keep rolling off the green. Even a cheap Kirkland stops way closer to the hole. Maybe 50+ handicapers wouldn’t notice, everyone else, yes.

      Reply

      Mike

      3 years ago

      Even a 14 index like me can see the difference with a urethane cover. If you’re OK with shots (esp pitches & chips) running out a ton, well, I guess that’s fine. I also feel the difference on putts. I recently tried some Tour Softs, had a lot of trouble w/ distance control.

      Reply

      Al

      3 years ago

      The DTC market is going to be changing rapidly. With Taylormade buying the ball mfg that was making many of the DTC balls, they have to make a decision will they still make those balls or eat the capacity and not make those balls any longer. Where will Cut, Vice, Snell and they others source their balls from. I know from previous experience that there is capacity out there but will the companies look for it and buy those or will Taylormade keep making those golf balls and at what price.

      Reply

      John

      3 years ago

      Why no runners up? Seems like you normally have not just the winners but runners up. It would be interesting to see who the runner up would be in the DTC space.

      Reply

      mackdaddy9

      3 years ago

      Thanks

      Reply

      Greg

      3 years ago

      That is good analysis but we are hungry for the data.
      Not sure what the compression and spin rates are on the Maxfli so will not go there until I have seen more data.
      Quality is fine but if the ball only goes 100 yds and don’t stop on the green it is a waste of money and I know I WOULD NEVER LOOSE ONE.
      So the real value is in yards gained off the tee and around the greens.
      Playing off a Hcp of 3 one bad ball in a box is one to many ,who wants to go for a walk after the first hole.. It is the worst feeling so learnt a long time ago you cant pay enough for a box of good balls.
      Especially if you paid $20 to play in a competition.
      So std deviation from the dynamic swing of the robot is what we need for quality .As well as the static standard deviation tests you do.
      The pros are my bench mark for they dont seem to use to many of the balls you recommend for quality. as like I say one bad shot and they are going for a walk.
      Thank you and your team for the disciplined approach and the good work you do.. The best ball just got better and your discovery into this forced the issue I am sure. of that . It is a huge market and you have got us better quality no doubt about that

      Reply

      J R

      3 years ago

      Been playing Slazenger for 40 + years.

      Reply

      Vince

      3 years ago

      J R,

      You’re probably the sole reason they’re still in business…as a Slazenger stockholder, I thank you.

      Reply

      Lou

      3 years ago

      I do not buy golf balls based on how they are ranked after being weighed, measured, cut, etc. I buy based on what performs well for my game. Why someone would buy a ball off the ranking from a chart just makes no sense at all. Performance is all that really counts. If it works the best for your game then who gives a damn where it’s ranked?

      Reply

      Chris Nickel

      3 years ago

      Lou – I don’t think that anyone is suggesting that golfers play a ball that that doesn’t perform optimally. The point is that Ball Lab quantifies how effective a manufacturer is at hitting important specifications that drive performance over and over.

      If performance is all that counts, wouldn’t you want as identical performance as possible from ball to ball and dozen to dozen?

      Reply

      TR1PTIK

      3 years ago

      Chris, meet Wall *clears throat* I mean Lou. Bash your head all you want, he’s pretty set on what he “knows”…

      John

      3 years ago

      Chris,
      Well said, I believe I made the same point in my reply to Lou’s statement before reading yours. Another example would be wedges, some people think there’s no difference between the 10 or 12 wedge companies out there, and hitting a 56 degree wedge from 90 yards out will have the same result, and that’s just not true. Some people still believe that you’re paying for the name, and the quality of the product isn’t very different from say, the proven higher priced wedge VS the middle of the pack wedge that is priced 40% less, and that’s just not real.
      A great example is Bridgestone, they’re a huge rubber company that makes great quality tires under their brand, they also own and make BF Goodrich tires which also are great quality with great performance, but with most high performance or luxury vehicles like Lexus, you don’t see them sold with BF Goodrich tires, they come off the line with a higher quality Bridgestone tire that performs best for that vehicle, and again, you get what you pay for, and 90% of the time, when you pay more, you get a better quality product.

      John

      3 years ago

      Lou.,

      Your comment makes no sense. Obviously the ball type that is the most consistent in size, weight, compression, core concentricity, spin, and distance regardless of what club it’s being measured with regardless of whether you have ball 1, 206, 5,003 or the ball that just became 1 million off the production line, if the tolerances are that tight, your golf game will be consistent regardless of your handicap.
      If you choose simply based on price, and that ball type proves to be as inconsistent as the multiple generations of Kirkland Signature for example, then you get what you pay for, and playing the best round of golf possible doesn’t really matter to you.

      Reply

      Firebird

      3 years ago

      Next ball test I would love to see Seed Golf Balls included. I play these and as far as I am concerned they are as good as a Pro V1 at 60% of the price. Would be great to actually see what the lab thinks.

      Reply

      John

      3 years ago

      Seed golf balls? Who makes them? Also, I’m sure it’s your game and your expectations that lead you to say “they’re as good as Pro V1 for 60% less”
      If they’re truly that good, why would any company sell them for 60% less than Pro V1?

      Reply

      Mike Fugatt

      3 years ago

      I was an avid ProV1x user, that is until I tried Titleist AVX. Great feel, consistent flight and increased distance.

      Reply

      John K.

      3 years ago

      Agreed. Noticed lower flight and more roll out too!

      Reply

      RC

      3 years ago

      Include me in that group – AVX works for me…

      Reply

      John

      3 years ago

      I agree with all three of you, and there’s a reason for that, the AVX is made specifically for players who would have a higher ball flight with both Pro V1 & Pro V1x, that’s why AVX was created for the player who wants to play a premium cast urethane cover ball, but with their swing, and launch angle, the V1 flies too high, and the V1x is slightly higher, and that’s why the AVX has a different dimple depth and shape, so the higher launch players can play a ball that performs as well as a V1 & V1x with lower flight.

      Gerald Lindell

      3 years ago

      I’ve found the cheapest Mizuno RB 566 ball is pretty good for the price.

      Reply

      Hacker20

      3 years ago

      Stop trying to help raise the price on my Maxflis! :)

      Reply

      James

      3 years ago

      I play 3 times per week using ProV1, ProV1x, TP5, TP5x, Snell, OnCore, Maxfli Tour, Tour X, Vice Pro Plus, etc.
      I ended up using ProV1, Maxfli Tour, and Tour X. I wish I can have Maxfli Tour Bright Green like Vice.

      Reply

      Jay

      3 years ago

      I have to disagree about cut I use Bridgestone e12 contact and taking soft response hands down the most consistent for me in my opinion. Even though they have a surlyn cover I can create just as much spin and stopping power as any of these balls and the TaylorMade tour response is the only urethane cover ball besides chrome soft that I use. Good review but I’ve used cut and I don’t like them but it’s a matter of personal opinion so this review isn’t wrong per say but to me it is

      Reply

      Chris Nickel

      3 years ago

      Jay, it’s not a review. It’s simply findings based on quantitative analysis through our Ball Lab. So, it’s not a matter of personal preference or specific performance attributes. Just measured data.

      Reply

      JWB68

      3 years ago

      You lost me at….Even though they have a surlyn cover I can create just as much spin and stopping power as any of these balls….

      Reply

      Mike

      3 years ago

      Perhaps he meant to say urethene balls spin too much for him. I played w/ a good golfer who used e6’s for that reason.

      To each his own.

      Shayne

      3 years ago

      Any chance we can get a Pro-V1 Yellow test? I recall a previous article that showed a performance difference between Srixon white vs. yellow.

      Reply

      John

      3 years ago

      Shayne,
      Maybe MGS will run that test for you and others, I’m not sure what differences you saw between Srixon White VS Yellow, but I can guarantee you in a blind study, you’ll never find a difference when you compare V1 White VS V1 Yellow, and the same goes for V1x White VS V1x Yellow, and AVX White VS AVX Yellow.

      Reply

      Gordon Chow

      3 years ago

      I ordered 6 dozen of the previous version z stars so. I just wanted to know how they preformed.

      Reply

      Mark T.

      3 years ago

      They are preformed during the manufacturing process into a round, cylindrical shape.. But this is pretty common for all balls, even the Z-Stars. The real question is how do they PERFORM?

      Reply

      Bill

      2 years ago

      I’d guess they performed horribly after being preformed into a cylindrical shape.

      Andy Locke

      3 years ago

      Here is a question I haven’t seen addressed: how temperatures affect the ball. I know a ball feels harder, and the cool/damp autumn/winter air affects distance, but being in the UK (retired US citizen), I change balls seasonally. I have a slower swing speed (age related +/- 80 mph) and play a softer ball in the late autumn, winter, and earlier spring. I do this as my preference is a soft feel on impact. Summer ball is either a Callaway Chrome Soft or Titleist Tour Speed, autumn/early spring ball is Titleist Tour Soft, and on those really cold winter days, Callaway Supersoft (yes…we play year round). Any thoughts?

      Reply

      Robert T. Brickell

      3 years ago

      Just what I and my golf buddies do. Titleist Tour Speed and Callaway Supersoft, depending on the weather!

      Reply

      Steve

      3 years ago

      Andy what I learned from listing to a ball industry rep on a golf podcast is you can still play the same ball during the winter just do not store your balls in the car or garage and keep a ball in your pocket to switch out on the tee box so always have a warm one for each hole.

      Reply

      Andy Locke

      3 years ago

      Thanks for the tip. Today I got out for 9 and temp was around 40 and I continued to play the Tour Speed and it wasn’t bad. As you said, I always keep a spare ball in one pocket, so I guess I could switch between them between holes.

      rvjimzhr

      3 years ago

      Andy I’d like to send you a private message but searching the membership for your displayed name gets me nowhere. Would you mind sending me a private message. Thanks! Jim

      Reply

      Ian

      3 years ago

      Wouldn’t call Dick’s Sporting Goods DTC they are a big box store, but hey its your awards.

      Reply

      Jeff

      3 years ago

      Was thinking the same thing. DTC (direct to consumer) typically means BYPASSING traditional retail channels…and thus cutting out the middle man. I’d consider Dicks Sporting Goods/Golf Galaxy to be the classic middle-man.

      Reply

      Chris Nickel

      3 years ago

      Disagree. Once upon a time, DTC brands strictly sold balls exclusively through a website to consumers. That was the only way to purchase said balls. But now even those brands are available at Target, Wal-Mart, Amazon and other E-commerce retailers. So what once was DTC really isn’t DTC any longer.

      Really, we should probably come up with a new moniker for these brands, but DTC is what most will recognize and for its part, Maxfli isn’t liley going to be at your local course or locations other than Dicks/Golf Galaxy.

      Reply

      David P

      3 years ago

      Based on what has been said, I guess Kirkland would also be a DTC brand also. Interesting.

      Reply

      Brian

      3 years ago

      Maxfli is not DTC. Dicks house brand and sold in big box retail. Opposite of Direct-to-Consumer

      Reply

      David P

      3 years ago

      I agree. Maxfli is not a DTC product.

      Reply

      Tony J

      3 years ago

      Totally agree! While Snell and Vice may be found in stores, their primary distribution channel is Direct To Consumer. Try buying Maxfli direct from them – nope not happening. It was a disservice to Snell, Vice and other real DTC companies to have Maxfli in that category.

      Reply

      John

      3 years ago

      You guys know that Maxfli is owned by Dick’s right? Dick’s bought the name/brand sometime around 8 or 10 years ago and they pay a company to make the balls. The only difference between Dick’s & Snell is Dick’s (obviously) sells the Maxfli balls at their retail stores, and Snell sells and ships from his warehouse.
      My apologies if you knew all of that already, I’m not trying to insult your intelligence, I just got the feeling you might not realize what I just mentioned.

      Swanny

      3 years ago

      This is a great recap of the Ball Lab results – but just to be clear, this is strictly based on the Ball Labs, and not on Ye Olde Ball Test 2021, correct? I think that might be why some are confused about Snell not making an appearance – I don’t believe the latest Snell releases have been put through Ball Lab testing. I just bought 5 dozen MTB Black – and they’re fantastic. I’m sure the Maxfli are in the same discussion, for sure, but based on the Ball Test, and price after bulk buy, Snell was a more confident decision for me.
      K.

      Reply

      John

      3 years ago

      Enjoy your Snell balls now, they may be your last for a while, and possibly forever with Taylormade purchasing Nassau. Some people here seem to think Nassau will just continue to take orders from Snell, Dicks, and many other brands who sell balls, but don’t make them.
      If I had to bet one way or another, I’d say Dean Snell is probably searching for a new factory, probably one in China to make his products, and even that won’t be happening soon with the supply chain issues golf ball manufacturers and many other industries who either buy raw materials to manufacture plastic goods, or like Snell who pays a company to do all of that for him. All Snell does is request the core colors, and sets the specifications for compression, size. weight, color, artwork for the printing, and the golf ball factory flips the switch and makes the balls for Snell, Vice, Maxfli, and countless others.
      Right now, the big three REAL golf ball companies, Acushnet Company, Callaway Golf, and TaylorMade are already having a difficult time finding the raw materials to make golf balls, that’s why there’s been a shortage since the beginning of 2021, and it’s not getting better until March or April of 2022 at the EARLIEST, and the raw material giants, the plastic giants like Dow, and Dupont to name a couple are deciding which industries will get the limited supply of plastic and Surlyn.
      Just think about how many different things are made from plastics, then think about the volume, like the auto industry, and the medical industry with the BILLIONS of syringes used for the Covid-19 vaccine alone, I’m not going to make this any longer, I’ll just finish with, the world is changing quickly, and drastically and at least 50% of the golf ball companies you know of today beneath the big three won’t be around longer than 2022 at the latest, and even less in 2023. The people who own the golf ball factories will change their product lines and begin making something new that is in higher demand that the golf ball companies 11 thru 20 and beyond…………..just watch as it all unfolds..

      Reply

      Rick

      3 years ago

      I don’t believe Taylormade is amongst the big 3, I guess they will be once their balls are made in the factory they just bought. They bought the cores based on their specs just like Snell, Vice, etc, and put the covers on in the US. Bridgestone make their own balls.

      Dave

      3 years ago

      John, you may very well be right. We’ll know for sure in about 18 months. But that’s why I play all found balls (in good shape, not in water). I found at least 40-50 ProVs, TP5s, & Chrome Softs this past season. I gave most of them to buddies. Thankfully I don’t lose many so can share the wealth.,

      Fozcycle

      3 years ago

      Awesome review……it’s good to know what balls stand out as the best.

      Reply

      Tom Nash

      3 years ago

      What happened to Snell? It seems every other week a new DTC brand is the BEST.

      Reply

      leezer99

      3 years ago

      Inconsistent testing leads to inconsistent results.

      Reply

      Jorge Beltran

      3 years ago

      What is DTC mean?

      Reply

      David

      3 years ago

      Direct To Comsumer

      Reply

      David P

      3 years ago

      Typing error. should be Consumer

      Donald

      3 years ago

      Direct To Consumer

      Reply

      Stevegp

      3 years ago

      DTC = Direct To Consumer

      Reply

      Tom54

      3 years ago

      Direct to Consumer – in this case, Dick’s Sporting Goods has the Maxfli brand

      Reply

      Rich

      3 years ago

      Direct To Consumer

      Reply

      Chris

      3 years ago

      Direct to Consumer

      Reply

      Randy

      3 years ago

      Direct to Consumer

      Reply

      Craig

      3 years ago

      Direct to consumer

      Reply

      Wilson

      3 years ago

      Direct to consumer

      Reply

      Jesse P

      3 years ago

      Direct to consumer

      Reply

      John A

      3 years ago

      Direct to consumer

      Ryan F

      3 years ago

      I think a review or at least a short write up of the Maxfli Tour X is in order. I’d be very curious now to see/read what has changed that the 2019 Tour X ball is the second worst score ever recorded, but the new 2021 version has the highest score of anything without a Titleist logo on it. Or at least give us a 5 min explanation during the next NPG episode!

      Reply

      Chase C

      3 years ago

      http://mygolfspy.com/maxfli-tour-and-tour-x-golf-balls/
      Here is the link to the release article for the ball at least. Not sure if you have read this.

      Reply

      James R.

      3 years ago

      Surprising to not see Snell up there on the DTC. Not sure Maxfli/Dicks is a real DTC? Not surprised by Titleist though.

      Reply

      Hwt

      3 years ago

      How did cut beat Snell?

      Reply

      bart

      3 years ago

      Do these rankings take performance into account or is it primarily how consistent the ball is based on your cutting up 36 balls in the lab?

      Some of these have me scratching my head.

      Reply

      Christopher S

      3 years ago

      These are based strictly off the build consistency scores. No performance characteristics taken in. Simply which balls offer the same performance from one to the next with the littlest deviation.

      Reply

      wts

      3 years ago

      excellent point.

      Reply

      Gmoney

      3 years ago

      Have been using the cut ball and using their under $20 balls and I like them. Being a senior I don’t hit good enough to use the better balls mainly looking for distance but with as much bite as I can get. Cut been working for me with their low compression balls and the price is right.

      Reply

      Michael J Dul.

      3 years ago

      Unfortunately for those of us who are not part on the inside of current lingo you made the classic mistake of repeatedly using an acronym (DTC) but have never defined what it means in this ball review and best of list.

      Reply

      Jason

      2 years ago

      Direct To Consumer. Used a ton in most all of their articles these days. Especially as the DTC ball and club environment continues to expand.

      Reply

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