Why Play in the Now?
Golf balls evolve each and every year with new covers, new cores, new coatings, more spin, less spin, longer, softer, etc. Over the many years of golf, the ball has probably been the biggest difference maker. From an old "feathery" to the newest Nike RZN ball there is a huge difference. While Nike has used some humor to promote its new line of RZN balls with the "Play in the Now" campaign, it is aimed at the advances of the RZN core. The new materials and waffle like core exterior are said to be their best golf ball to date. Why "Play in the Now?"
I've been a fan of some of Nike's golf balls over the years. The old One Black and Tour D were some of my favorite golf balls and based on Tour play, they were a big hit there too. I think that the new RZN Black is a better replacement. The RZN Platinum is also a worthy replacement to the One Platinum and Tour ball. I don't have those older balls around anymore, but based on memory I'm really happy with the new ones. I think they feel just as good and perform even better.
The first version of the RZN core dates back a couple of years. While the performance was excellent, the feel was not. Last year Nike make great feel improvements, but kept the odd 20XI name, which I think kind of confused customers. This year they retooled the whole line and went with some familiar names and improved feel and performance across the board.
My second round of the trip I started with the RZN Red; this is a new ball of sorts in name, but really a replacement to the RZN X of last year. It is very similar in performance to last years model as far as I can remember. It is a firmer distance ball. The price is lower because it doesn't have a urethane cover. The RZN White is also new, but again replaces the RZN from 2013. This one was different to me. It felt much softer and I really like how this one played tee to green.
Below are some charts for comparison. I used a ProV1x as the comparison ball, since that would be my typical gamer if I were going to play Titleist. As you can see there are things that one ball does better than the others and another that works well in a different area. Much of what they are designed to do came through in my testing both on and off the course.
It hit 6-irons shots to see how it reacted on approach shots. The one factor that can not account for is feel. Of all the balls in the test the Nike Red felt the firmest, then RZN Black, ProV1x, RZN Platinum and the softest was the RZN White. So this doesn't impact the performance numbers, but it does affect your confidence and mental perception of the ball. For example, if I was going to play the lower priced option, I would pick the White over the Red simply because of the better feel.
The last chart really was the shocker for me. I hadn't done a multi-ball test like this where I put premium urethane covers against the more economical ionomer covers. The spin difference was astounding. I hit 10 extra balls with each of the RZN Red and White to see if it was my swing or something I was doing, but I couldn't get anywhere near the spin off full and partial wedge shots. The cover really makes a big performance difference when it comes to green side spin. Back in the day when the grooves were super sharp, I had too much spin with premium balls and went to an economical ball for a while and actually had better spin control, but now the grooves don't shred covers and cause excessive backspin so there is a real premium still on the spin that the tour-level balls offer.
For more information:
+Familiar Nike golf ball names
+Much better feel
+2 tour ball options
+2 performance priced options
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