Ball tested: Nike One Vapor Speed
Specs: Construction – Three-piece; Cover – Ionomer; Core – Resin; Dimples / Pattern – 336 dimples in seamless design
Some manufacturers do not reveal or emphasize the compression ratings of new golf balls. Some models are now designed and marketed to fit and appeal to a golfers preferences for price, distance, spin, feel and control.
Price as tested (new): $25 per dozen
Ball notes: Nike has never shied away from spending wads of cash on big-name endorsers, and the company’s R&D department is equally well-funded. That’s resulted in a steady stream of new golf ball offerings, including the One Vapor Speed.
This version is engineered for players who swing the driver in the 80 – 95 mph range and need (or crave) distance gains over greenside spin, but prize a softer feel than traditional “distance” balls provide. Nike accomplishes this with a resilient, low-compression core and “Power Transfer” mantle layer, plus a seamless, 336-dimple cover designed to maximize air time.
Sound and feel: Given its low compression, it’s no surprise the Vapor Speed sends a soft sensation up the shaft. Full swings, half shots, chips and putts – feel and sound are consistently muted throughout the bag.
Off the tee: Many golfers who play “tour” balls (Titleist ProV1, Bridgestone B-330) lack the swing speed needed to fully compress them against the clubface. Therefore, a player with a swing speed below 105 mph or so may actually lose distance by playing a tour ball. The slower your swing speed, the more you have to gain by using a lower compression ball – the Nike One Vapor Speed, for example.
In our test, clubhead speeds in the 90 – 95 mph range produced some lovely, high tee shots that stayed airborne longer than the tester was accustomed to. The Vapor Speed delivered impressive accuracy results as well.
From the fairway / rough: The Nike ball behaved well once again. Distance, height and stopping power were all good from mid-irons through wedges. Getting fairway woods and hybrids off the deck with sufficient carry was no problem, either.
Around the green: Surprisingly controllable, the Vapor Speed is a definite notch below a tour-level ball but more than adequate for most golfers’ skill sets. We saw some bounce and roll on chips and mid-range pitches, but the ball fared reasonably well when called upon for a spinning shot from a bunker. The soft feel enhances confidence.
Bottom line: Another very good option in the “premium” category, along with such models as the Titleist NXT Tour and NXT Tour S and Bridgestone e5 and e6. Nike’s investment in innovation is definitely paying off.
Value/Recreational/Distance – Designed for mid- to high-handicap golfers with swing speeds below 90 mph; typically feature two-piece construction and firm covers; promote greater distance over high spin rates. Examples: Pinnacle Gold, Slazenger RAW Distance
Premium – Designed for low- to mid-handicap golfers with swing speeds of 90-99 mph; typically feature multi-layer construction and medium-soft covers; happy medium between Value/Recreational and Tour categories for distance and spin qualities. Examples: Titleist NXT Tour, Callaway HEX Diablo
Tour/Advanced/Performance – Designed for low-handicap and professional golfers with swing speeds in excess of 100 mph; typically feature multi-layer construction and soft covers; promote greater spin rates and enhanced feel over distance. Examples: Titleist ProV1, Bridgestone Tour B330