Wilson Staff Model Golf Balls: A MyGolfSpy “Just So” Story
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Wilson Staff Model Golf Balls: A MyGolfSpy “Just So” Story

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Wilson Staff Model Golf Balls: A MyGolfSpy “Just So” Story

The new Wilson Staff Model golf balls are a bit of a phenomenon.

We’re not talking about performance. Rather, it’s your interest in Wilson Staff products and specifically the new Staff Model golf balls. Soon after their release in January, you told us you wanted to know more.

Rest assured: A Ball Lab quality teardown is in the works. Also, know the Wilson Staff Model golf balls will be part of our next MyGolfSpy ball test. But it’s fascinating to note your interest far outpaces Wilson’s relative golf ball market share. We’re not sure what that means but it must mean something.

Wilson Staff Model golf balls.

Today, let’s take a deep dive into how Wilson Staff Model golf balls came to be. If you’re a Rudyard Kipling fan, consider this a MyGolfSpy “Just So” story. But instead of Kipling telling his four-year-old daughter how the elephant got his trunk, we’ll share with you how the Staff Model got its dimples.

Among other things.

(Hey, analogies are a perfectly acceptable literary device. Even this one.)

What Are the Wilson Staff Model Golf Balls All About?

Wilson Staff Model golf balls hit the shelves in the spring of 2020 during the COVID lockdown. There was just one Staff Model model and it was a surprise performer in the 2021 MyGolfSpy Ball Test with the second-fastest ball speed of any ball tested. It finished 1/100th mph behind the category-leading Titleist Pro V1x Left Dash.

Several new balls leapfrogged the Staff Model in last year’s testing. But 2024 is a new year, and if you’re looking for a direct upgrade to the original Staff Model ball, you’ll find it in the Staff Model X.

Wilson Staff Model golf balls.

“We tweaked it a little bit,” Frank Simonutti, Wilson’s Global Director of Golf Ball Innovation, tells MyGolfSpy. “It’s about the same firmness as the original Staff Model ball.”

Here’s where you need to start paying attention. The new Staff Model X, as we just told you, is the replacement for the old Staff Model ball. The new Staff Model ball is a completely new ball that’s not replacing anything.

Read that again. There will be a quiz later.

“We found during testing that some of our Tour players don’t want the absolute maximum amount of spin,” explains Simonutti. “These players were actually backing up the old ball too much for their particular game.”

Wilson Staff Model golf balls.

If you want to keep it simple, the Staff Model X is the firmer and spinnier of the two. It’s in the same ball category as the Pro V1x and Left Dash. The new Staff Model is less firm and less spinny, and is slightly firmer than the Pro V1.

Just So: How Did The Staff Model Get Softer?

“What we did was recreate the Staff Model for lower spin off short irons, actually across all irons,” says Simonutti. “I’d say by about five percent. It’s also lower spin off the driver, which some players prefer.”

Don’t take that to mean the Staff Model is a low-spinning marshmallow. Wilson lists the Staff Model compression at 94 (Staff Model X is listed at 104) and it still spins like a Tour ball should.

Wilson Staff Model golf balls

“One of our Tour players was testing three new versions of our balls because he felt the original Staff Model ball spun too much for him,” says Simonutti. “We brought out the other options and one of which became the new Staff Model ball.”

Making a Tour-level ball a little softer isn’t that big of a trick. It’s done primarily by changing the chemistry in the core.

“Unless you go out of your way to make it otherwise, all golf ball cores are softer on the inside than they are on the outside,” Simonutti explains. “It’s a peroxide cure with an exothermic reaction. The heat gets into the core from the outside. That’s the part that crosslinks first.

“There are things you can do to increase the difference between the firmness on the outside and the softness on the inside. If you’re going to make the core softer at the center, you’re going to reduce spin rate.”

Wilson Staff Model golf balls.

The overall core on the Staff Model ball is a bit less firm (you can’t call a 94 compression ball “soft”) than that of the Staff Model X. That extra firmness makes the Staff Model X ball the faster and spinnier of the two.

How Golf Balls Get Their Ball Speed

Firmness and ball speed go hand in hand. Generally speaking, the firmer the golf ball, the more ball speed it will deliver. You can go overboard.

“I’ve made test balls that I know are way too hard,” says Simonutti. “I make them just to see how fast I can make a ball off the driver while still falling within USGA initial velocity limits. The problem is they might as well be rocks.”

Believe it or not, urethane covers also play a role in ball speed. Just not a very good one.

Wilson Staff Model golf balls.

“The urethane cover is the slowest part of a golf ball,” explains Simonutti. “It doesn’t matter if it’s a three-, four- or five-layer ball. So if you’re going to make the fastest ball, it makes sense to minimize the amount of the slowest portion.”

That’s one benefit of cast urethane versus injection molded urethane. Depending on the process, you can make a cast urethane cover considerably thinner. Generally speaking, injection urethane covers are around 40/1000ths of an inch thick. Cast urethane covers can get as thin as 25/1000ths.

“The only thing that helps with speed is the fact that there’s less urethane,” says Simonutti. “It has less of a negative impact on speed because there’s less of it on the ball.”

How Dimples Make a Ball Go Higher or Lower

We often joke at the office about how, whenever any OEM tests its products against the competition, it never seems to lose. Wilson says in testing with its Tour players and advisory staff, the new Staff Model X was faster than the ball that player was currently using, in every case.

But there’s always an asterisk.

“In our testing and in our conditions, we find it to be the longest,” says Simonutti. “But different golfers have different launch conditions. What’s longest for one player isn’t necessarily longest for another.”

And when you talk launch conditions, you’re talking dimple patterns.

“When you have a higher-spinning, faster ball, it’s going to tend to fly higher than a two-piece ball,” says Simonutti. “You’re going to need a dimple pattern that provides a lower trajectory.”

Without getting into lift, drag, air streams and other aerodynamic science, dimples can be summed up thusly:

Balls with deeper dimples fly lower. Balls with shallow dimples fly higher. That’s why you’ll find firm, fast Tour-level balls with, relatively speaking, deeper dimple patterns to create what we like to call a “penetrating” ball flight. Softer, two-piece balls spin less and tend to fly lower. Those balls have a shallower dimple pattern to keep them up in the air longer to maximize potential distance.

How Do Golf Balls Get Their Compression?

In many ways, golf ball compression is like iron shaft flex in that there’s no industry standard. Compression machines measure differently and different companies use different methodologies. For example, the new Wilson Staff Model X golf ball compression is listed at 104 on Wilson’s website. In our 2023 Ball Test, we measured the old Staff Model ball at 99.

“The differential between what you guys read and what we read on our machine is the same differential we see between what you read and what we read on other balls,” Simonutti says. “But the problem is compression is not an industry standard.”

Specifically, Wilson and other primarily American ball manufacturers use a 200-pound load to test for compression. Japanese companies use a 100-kilogram load, which is 220.46 pounds.

“Whenever I read a Bridgestone or a Dunlop Sumitomo (Srixon) patent, their compression is always defined as deformation under a 100-kilogram load.”

Wilson uses its Tour players and advisory staff to test for “perceived” firmness, which is a totally subjective metric.

“We do get interesting things from them that don’t really make a lot of sense sometimes,” he says. “But the last thing you want to do is argue with a Tour player. You’re never going to convince them that their game or perception of a product isn’t what they think it is.”

Hmm, maybe Tour pros aren’t all that different from the rest of us, after all.

Wilson Staff Model Golf Balls: Just So …

When it comes to golfers and their golf balls, there are three types of relationships. First, there’s what we call the “Ride or Die” golfers. You can tell who they are in the comment sections of blogs because they refer to their ball as “my Pro V1” or “my Snells.” They’ll give up a kidney before they switch balls.

Then there is the “Soft Parade.” These folks like soft feel as an attribute. That could mean a mid- to upper-80s compression for something with Tour-level performance or it could be a low-priced, two-piece ionomer ball with compression in the 40s.

Lastly, there’s the “Ball Jumper.” They’ll jump from ball to ball, sometimes because of price, sometimes in hopes of finding a little magic. Sometimes there’s no reason other than it’s what they find.

As a dedicated “Ball Jumper,” I’ve gamed the Staff Model X for several rounds this year (For the record, I jump between Bridgestone, Srixon, Titleist and Wilson). For my game, it performs as advertised.

MyGolfSpy’s next ball test will provide real data, and we’ll know if improvements to the Staff Model X put it back on the ball speed medal stand. Anecdotally, we can say the Wilson Staff Model balls don’t leave anything on the table compared to Tour-level balls from Titleist, Callaway, TaylorMade, Srixon or Bridgestone. Depending on your game, you might even pick up a little something.

Wilson Staff Model golf balls.

At $49.99 per dozen, Wilson Staff Model golf balls are priced in the same neighborhood as other premium balls. That’s important because we golfers equate price with quality, even if we won’t admit it. But Wilson does recognize a deal just might compel “Ball Jumpers” to give Staff Models a try. The company is running a very aggressive Buy 2, Get 1 Free promotion with free personalization that drops the effective price to $33.33 per dozen.

This article was written in partnership with Wilson.

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John Barba

John Barba

John Barba

John is an aging, yet avid golfer, writer, 6-point-something handicapper living back home in New England after a 22-year exile in Minnesota. He loves telling stories, writing about golf and golf travel, and enjoys classic golf equipment. “The only thing a golfer needs is more daylight.” - BenHogan

John Barba

John Barba

John Barba

John Barba

John Barba

John Barba





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      HikingMike

      1 month ago

      “But it’s fascinating to note your interest far outpaces Wilson’s relative golf ball market share. We’re not sure what that means but it must mean something.”

      That’s because we have a soft spot for them. I don’t know why, for me. I’ve started with Wilson Triads this year and like them – first time playing Wilson balls in many years. When I run out, I might have to get some Staff Model or Staff Model X. I see they have a buy 2 get 1 deal even with custom text or custom logo. I think I might have to put the Cast Away Wilson volleyball face on there, haha. Then I can yell “WILSOONNNNNN” after it if it heads into a lake or the woods. And someone that finds it may have a chuckle.

      Reply

      Scott W

      1 month ago

      I’m now a senior player at a 16 hci. Last year I committed to going with a full bag of Wilson clubs (D9s) and have played either the Duo, Triad or Staff Model balls for years, because I have memories of when Wilson was a common name on the tour as a boy. I am a brand-loyal kind of guy and have been promoting Wilson, because they give us Veterans a discount (sign up) over even their sale prices. I gave one of my Wilson Staff Model balls to a friend, a teaching pro, who says he tied his all-time low with the ball I gave him to try. He plays at a 2 hci.
      Even though I hit painfully short off the T compared to my younger years, I “score” best with the Staff Model. I think part of it is I trust the ball to do what I am requiring of it and it delivers. I’m sure a lot of golf is mental, at least for us mere mortals, I encourage everyone to give Wilson a try.

      Thank you for doing more articles about Wilson. They are very high quality and sell at very fair, competitive prices.
      Unabashedly a Wilson Fan-geezer!

      Reply

      Gary

      1 month ago

      I am a golf ball “junkie”. I love trying different golf balls and find it difficult to “pick one”. Plus I’m curious. Loved the older Staff . Bought the 3/2 the other day. I am a long time golfer so the Wilson brand resonates with me as quality and skilled players.

      Reply

      Terry Smith

      1 month ago

      Really interesting article. I played the Staff Model ball last year and it really suited me. When I heard that Wilson were introducing two Staff Model balls I contacted them to find out which of the new balls I should use, they replied “the Staff Model is the same” It looks from your article that I need to go to the X ball. Glad I didn’t buy a dozen non X balls based on their reply to me

      Reply

      Flsw19

      1 month ago

      Have played the last generation of Wilson Staff in rotation with Vice ProPlus – The 3 for 2 was an incentive to try. Like the ball and will try the new ball when my supply runs down.

      Reply

      JWB

      1 month ago

      If you want to keep it simple, the Staff Model X is the firmer and spinnier of the two. It’s in the same ball category as the Pro V1x and Left Dash. The new Staff Model is less firm and less spinny, in the same category as the Pro V1x.

      Is there a typo somewhere in here?

      Reply

      John Barba

      1 month ago

      Everybody needs an editor – good catch! Fixed it…

      Reply

      Mark R

      1 month ago

      I jumped on the “buy two dozen & get on free” deal on the new Staff X balls and got my company’s name on the balls (aka company marketing expense).

      I’m an aging 8 handicap index and like a firmer ball for extra distance off the tee. The WIlson Staff X doesn’t disappoint.

      ProV1x @ $4.58/ball or Wilson Staff X @ $2.75/ball. In a blind test, how many golfers can tell the difference? Maybe MGS testing will show the Staff X goes longer than the V1x?

      Reply

      Jason S

      1 month ago

      I remember playing the Wilson Staff balls in the early/mid 2000’s and really enjoying it. Granted, that’s when they were more reasonably priced compared to the ProV1 and other more expensive balls. I hope these new versions catch on as I do believe they make a good product. Ball Lab will tell us more.

      Reply

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