Srixon Z-STAR Golf Balls for 2023 – Key Takeaways
- Updated Z-STAR, Z-STAR XV, Z-STAR Diamond
- Z-STAR XV is now single core, three-layer; previously dual-core, four layers
- Updated DIVIDE for Z-STAR and Z-STAR XV
- $47.99/dozen; available Feb. 15
- DIVIDE available April 14
The new Srixon Z-STAR golf balls differ, for the most part, by just a few tweaks, adjustments and enhancements from the 2021 models. There’s nothing revolutionary here. According to Srixon, they’re going to be better. Not sure by how much, but better is better, right?
If you like the Srixon Z-STAR line, you’ll like these a little better. If you didn’t, well, you probably will dislike these a little bit less, I guess.
You will find a major change in the 2023 Z-STAR XV, some noticeable tweaks to the Z-STAR Diamond (probably to make Brooks happy) and some minor improvements to the Z-STAR. And the changes on one hand are barely skin-deep.
On the other hand, the upgrades cut deep to the core.
That, friends, is what’s known in literary circles as foreshadowing. Or it’s an allusion. I can never remember.
Srixon Z -STAR Golf Balls: What’s New for 2023?
Since the USGA hasn’t ordered a rollback, we can assume any Tour-level golf ball released in 2023 touts “longer” as one of its key new attributes. Well, to Srixon’s credit, it’s not saying that. Not exactly, anyway.
Specifically, Srixon is giving the new Z-STAR family an updated Spin Skin+ coating to enhance—surprise!—spin. That’s the “skin-deep” part if you’re keeping track. And each member of the family is getting its own unique updated, improved, reformulated and model-specific FastLayer DG Core.
And that’s at the core of the single biggest change for 2023. Srixon’s Z-STAR XV, the high compression, lowest spinning member of the Z-STAR firm, has traditionally been a dual-core, four-layer ball. But, as of the day after Valentine’s Day, it’ll be a three-layer ball.
If you do the math, that’s one less layer.
“We developed an additive which dramatically increases the variance from a soft inner to a firm outer core,” says Srixon Product Manager Amelia DeLazzer. “That effectively makes a three-piece core perform like a four-piece.”
Every golf ball manufacturer manipulates its cores, to varying degrees, to be soft on the inside and gradually firmer as you get to the outside. It’s not quite as drastic as a Tootsie Pop but you get the idea. The soft inside mitigates spin when hit by a driver. The transition to firm promotes ball speed and the firmness-to-softness ratio between the mid-layer and cover gives you iron and wedge spin.
Essentially, you’re getting a spinnier Z-STAR XV. Ironically, that’s what the Z-STAR Diamond was supposed to be.
Srixon Z-STAR Diamond: The “Tweener”
Srixon released the Z-STAR Diamond this time last year as part of the big Brooks Koepka signing and it was the ball designed with Brooks in mind.
Until it wasn’t.
Just prior to the U.S. Open, and just before he joined LIV, Koepka famously dumped his Z-STAR Diamond (and ZX driver) and went back to a 2017 version of the Pro V1x. At the time, Srixon told us, “the characteristics are not a perfect fit,” and that they’d be working to get Koepka into the new prototypes. Apparently, that did the trick as Koepka was gaming the new Diamond not long afterward on the LIV Tour.
To get there meant building more spin into the Z-STAR Diamond. Srixon lists the Diamond as having the same 102 compression as the XV (our Ball Lab measured the Diamond at 95 and the XV at 96) but it has a slightly thicker cover along with its reformulated, model-specific FastLayer DG Core.
The result? It’s still a “tweener,” even with the higher-spinning XV. Srixon says its testing shows the Diamond is nearly two yards shorter than the XV (at 112-mph swing speed) but with higher driver, iron and greenside spin than the XV. In fact, Srixon’s wedge testing shows the Z-STAR Diamond within 100 rpm of Srixon’s highest-spinning ball, the standard Z-STAR.
Speaking of which …
Srixon Z-STAR: The Spin Doctor
The standard Z-STAR is the softest member of the family with Srixon rating it at a compression of 92. In Ball Lab, we measured the 2019 version at 88 which still qualifies as firm. And it is the spinmeister of the family, with nearly 200 to 400 more greenside rpm than mid-compression competitors like the Pro V1 and Bridgestone Tour B XS. Srixon also says it’s up to a yard and a half longer off the tee. (But you knew they’d say that.)
Z-STAR gets that spin and distance from its own uniquely reformulated FastLayer DG Core and its same-thickness-as-Z-STAR Diamond cover. In Srixon’s case, cover thickness is a misnomer as its urethane covers are among the thinnest in the business.
But the Z-STAR, and the rest of the family, get additional spin from Srixon’s unique Spin Skin+ coating. Note the +, which often denotes “additional,” but it this case denotes “new.”
“The new Spin Skin+ has an updated urethane compound to provide more friction at contact for added greenside spin,” says DeLazzer. “It also adds more durability to this generation of Z-STARs.”
Additionally, the entire lineup features Srixon’s signature 338 Speed Dimple Pattern for strong performance in the wind. Srixon’s ball people have told us repeatedly they usually see Srixon Tour pros at or near the top of the leaderboard when conditions are windy.
Srixon recommends the Z-STAR for 90+ mph swing speeds while the lower spinning 102-compression Z-STAR XV is recommended for 105+ swingers. Because of its higher spin, the Z-STAR Diamond is also recommended for 90+ swing speeds.
The Z-STAR Divide
Srixon continues to be all-in on its dual-colored Z-STAR Divide golf balls. Both the new Z-STAR and Z-STAR XV will be available in the white/yellow combination. The dual colors may not be your cup of tea but we can tell you it makes the ball easier to follow in flight if you happen to be 62 years old and didn’t listen to your mother when you were a kid.
Sitting too close to the TV will do that to you.
We see golfers using them for chipping and putting practice as the dueling colors give you a clear indication of spin and alignment. As for on-course performance, there’s no difference from the standard Z-STARs that we’ve noticed.
Srixon is sticking with white/yellow for the Z-STAR Divides for the foreseeable future, although there’s always a chance another color combo might show up. If you want the full-color, Inna-Gadda-Da-Vida experience, there’s always the Q-STAR Tour Divides.
Srixon Z-STAR Golf Balls: Price, Availability and Final Word
Srixon and Bridgestone continue to duke it out for fourth place in golf ball market share. Titleist is still the undisputed king while Callaway has second place all to itself. TaylorMade, with recent acquisitions and a new emphasis on ball development, isn’t coming back to the pack any time soon. Srixon, it seems, is ready to finally overtake Bridgestone for the fourth spot.
“We’re working to get Srixon golf balls into more golfers’ hands to try,” says DeLazzer. “The Z-STAR and Soft Feel lines are our top sellers but the Q-STAR Tour family is growing with the recent Divide colors.”
No one usually cares who finished fourth in the American League East or fifth in the Daytona 500. But in the golf ball business, it’s often the so-called “also-rans” that come up with the most interesting ideas to differentiate themselves. And ball companies backed by rubber giants have the engineering juice to make the race worth watching.
The new Z-STAR lineup will retail for $47.99 per dozen in the U.S. In this ever-changing world in which we live, that’s a full $7 per dozen less than the new Pro V1s.
The Z-STARS hit retail on Feb. 15. The Z-STAR Divide models will be out on April 14.
For more information, visit the Srixon website.