Soft can be a fine thing.
There’s the soft sell, the soft landing, and the old soft shoe. Charmin is soft, as are kittens, and everyone loves kittens.
And who could ever forget, “But soft, what light through yonder window breaks?”
Romeo, you’ll recall, was hiding in the bushes – but was he there stalking Juliet, or was he looking for his tee shot? The Bard was not clear on that.
Soft has developed a bad rap over the past year – thanks to a certain website’s golf ball test – but soft isn’t going out yonder window in the golf ball world any time soon. Exhibit A is Wilson Staff’s newest update to its popular DUO line, the 2020 DUO Soft+.
The Soft Parade
Wilson claims the high ground in the low compression movement, going all the way back to 1997 and the Staff Titanium. The DUO line is soft, ranging from the urethane-covered DUO Professional, which Wilson lists at a 60 compression (in our ball test, we rated it at nearly 90, but we tested for total compression, not core compression), to the ionomer-covered, 3-piece DUO Soft Spin, with a Wilson-rated compression of 40.
The flagship of the line is the DUO Soft, which Wilson touts as the world’s softest golf ball. Today’s update, the DUO Soft+, is still touted as the world’s softest golf ball, but it’s not quite as soft as it used to be. That’s been done to enhance ball speed.
“We know if you make the cover harder, it goes faster. And if you make the core harder, it goes faster,” says Frank Simonutti, Wilson’s Global Director of Golf Ball Innovation. “What we’ve done is add an additive to the core mix to really jump-start the core, and we’ve made the cover just a bit harder.”
The new core, of course, has a new name: the VelocitiCOR™. The combined firmer core and harder cover increase DUO Soft+ compression to 35, compared to the old DUO Soft’s marshmallow-like compression of 29. It’s highly doubtful, at those low numbers, that any of us could tell the difference.
The real benefit? Simonutti says the new, slightly firmer ball increases velocity off the clubface by 1.5 to 2 miles per hour at the cost of six compression points.
The DUO Soft+, like its predecessors, is most definitely not a Tour ball. It’s a 2-piece ionomer ball priced to move at $20/dozen. If you demand substantial greenside spin, this isn’t the ball for you. Since its inception in 2011, DUO has developed quite a following among budget-minded, higher handicap golfers who find the soft feel habit-forming.
The DUO line is also designed for silly-low spin, especially off the driver. The idea is if it spins less, the target golfer won’t slice it quite as badly and maybe, just maybe, will find more fairways. Or at least stay out of the woods.
“Should everybody be playing a Tour ball? I don’t know,” says Simonutti, who’s been designing golf balls for three decades. “It’s 30-odd percent higher spin than any lower spin 2-piece ball. If you’re in the rough, you’re not rolling anywhere. If you land in the fairway, you’ll get an extra 10- to 12-yards of roll.”
When it comes to approach shots with scoring clubs, a low-spinning ball off the driver is going to be a low-spinning ball off an iron. But if you consider the target golfer, he or she may not have the swing speed to hit an effective hop ‘n stop anyway.
“And it doesn’t matter how much spin you have if you’re hitting your second shot from deep rough,” adds Simonutti.
While lower compression balls don’t offer as much carry as firmer balls, Simonutti insists that’s only part of the distance formula – you can’t discount low-spin and straight flight giving you some roll.
“I don’t know about you, but when I play golf, I don’t hit the ball and then go pick it up and bring it back 18 yards to where it actually landed,” he says. “I don’t know of anybody who does that. The game’s much more fun if you’re in the fairway.”
Less Filling/Tastes Great
The DUO Soft+ is what it is – a low-priced, low-spinning, ultra-soft ball with a dedicated following. Hitting a ball that soft is actually addictive and, despite being a card-carrying Bridgestone Tour B/Srixon Z-STAR player, my lowest scoring round ever came with the previous generation DUO Soft – it was one of those days when everything worked.
So yeah, while firm = faster and soft = slower, our ball test showed as swing speeds slowed, the difference between the two shrunk. At 85 MPH, the difference in ball speed between the fastest to the slowest was roughly 1 MPH with 7-iron and approximately 2 MPH with the driver. Ignoring launch and spin for a second (I know you can’t, but that’s irrespective of compression), that’s a tee-to-green potential difference of about 6 yards.
The balls tested, of course, are Tour-level balls, not 2-piece ionomer balls like the DUO Soft+, but similar ratios should apply. So, the question for you – if you’re a target golfer – is a nice, soft feel worth a handful of yards of the tee to you? A second question, of course, is would lower driver spin to keep the ball either in the fairway or out of the woods be something you’d benefit from?
For its part, Wilson will be putting its claims out there for you to test. This coming year, you’ll be able to test DUO Soft+ head to head with a 7-iron against Pro V1 at events around the country. Wilson’s own testing with mid-to- low-handicap players showed nearly 75% found DUO Soft+ faster off the 7-iron. Spin, as Wilson freely admits, won’t be anywhere close to comparable.
Those are bold claims, and it’s also Wilson’s testing. And it’s something MyGolfSpy will most definitely check out as Wilson will be holding the same challenge next week at Demo Day during the PGA Merchandise Show.
Price & Availability
The new Wilson DUO Soft+ will be available in standard white and will hit stores and Wilson’s website on January 27th. They’ll retail for $19.99/dozen.
Wilson is also relaunching its DUO Optix line. First introduced in 2017, the Optix line is your basic DUO ball, but in more colors than an acid trip. The new line has trimmed the color selection from six down to four: matte red, matte yellow, matte orange, and matte green. To make the colors pop a little better than the previous version, Wilson has made the cover slightly thicker (and thus the core slightly smaller). The cover material is semi-translucent, so the extra thickness holds the color better, according to Simonutti.
DUO Optix will also be on sale starting January 27th, and will also be $19.99/dozen.