The simple story behind the new TaylorMade Tour Response and Soft Response golf balls is that they’re made for you. The made for you thing comes from the fact that when TaylorMade asked golfers what features they want in a golf ball, the #1 answer was, “I want a golf ball that’s designed for me.”
Allowing for the reality that nobody can design one, or even two golf balls that are ideal for everyone, the likely context here is that amateur/recreational golfers want balls designed for the realities of their games (and want to pay less for them).
A healthy portion of this particular group is made up of what the industry likes to refer to as moderate swing speed golfers. Moderate, as we’ve covered before, is code for slow-ish. Guys, they’re just being nice.
I’m not trying to mock anyone, because all this moderate stuff serves as both a reality check and an opportunity. A soft golf ball is slower than a firm golf ball, but as speed declines, the distance consequences of low compression all but disappear in the wash that is our own variability.
Tour Response Tech
With Tour Response, TaylorMade’s is using what it calls a speed-increasing ultra-soft ZnO Flex Core. As we’ve touched on before, all soft materials aren’t created equal. There are faster soft materials and slower soft materials. Similar to the stories built around new versions of Titleist’s AVX and Callaway’s Chrome Soft, the TaylorMade-supplied info suggests a faster soft ball.
As was the case with those other balls, TaylorMade is surrounding its soft core with a firmer casing layer. TaylorMade calls it Speedmantle because god forbid you don’t brand every layer of the ball. It’s likely the combination of ZnO Flex Core and the Speedmantle that account for any speed gains.
Guys, I probably shouldn’t tell you this, but that firmer mantle is a necessity. A low compression core without a significantly firmer outer layer is how you make a really slow golf ball.
The bigger story here – and in fact, the point of differentiation for TaylorMade – is that, like Project a (and TP5), the TaylorMade Tour Response features a cast urethane cover. TaylorMade says golfers want a ball designed for me, but what we hear most often is that golfers want more greenside spin, and you’re not going to get that from the ionomer covers used in cheaper golf balls.
Let me lay this out as simply as I can. Urethane is better. Period. Hard stop.
Ionomer is cheaper and offers no performance advantage. Sorry. It is what it is.
The decision between the two is simply a matter of where you fall on the price vs. performance curve.
Affordable (by Market Standards)
Priced at $35, TaylorMade believes golfers will find value in Tour Response. When you consider that nearly every other mainstream OEM prices its urethane balls above $45, and the Ionomer-covered Titleist Tour Soft and Callaway ERC Soft are priced similarly to Tour Response, one could easily argue that TaylorMade presents the value proposition in this particular conversation.
Tour Response is offered in white and yellow. Retail availability begins on 2/28/2020.
TaylorMade Soft Response
For those of you for whom price considerations outweigh performance considerations, TaylorMade is offering the Soft Response golf ball. Billed as providing Effortless Compression & Dominant Distance, Soft Response boasts an ultra-low 35 compression core.
As a quick aside – you’re not going to find any real comparative value in manufacturer-provided compression numbers. Some give you ball compression, others give you core compression (typically used for bragging rights), and everyone measures with different equipment anyway. That’s not much of any real value to be learned.
For Average Swing Speeds
TaylorMade designed Soft Response for average swing speed golfers who struggle to get the ball airborne. For those golfers, the benefit offered by Soft Response can be found in the dimple design. TaylorMade’s Extended Flight Dimple Pattern features shallow u-shaped dimples, which promotes lower spin and help keeps the ball airborne.
Again – consider what this might mean for your iron game.
The TaylorMade Soft Response golf ball will be available in white, yellow, and matte red. I recommend avoiding matte finishes. They look cool (especially the red), but they’re inherently less consistent when moisture is introduced, but then again, Soft Response isn’t really a performance-first ball choice anyway.
TaylorMade Soft Response is available beginning 2/28/20. The retail price is $25.
While faster soft balls are all the rage right now, it’s important to remember our key fitting considerations. In some cases, the lower spin properties of soft balls can make up for the speed penalty; however, they often bring with them lower spin, which can be problematic in the iron game.
For high speed, high spin players, lower spinning soft balls can work really well because the distance gained from spin reduction can more than offset the speed penalty. Those same high spin players typically don’t have issues generating enough iron spin.
For more information on Tour Response and Soft Response golf balls, visit TaylorMadeGolf.com.