Ball tested: Nike Power Distance Long
Specs: Cover – Ionomer; Construction – Two-piece; Core – Polybutadiene; Dimples – 432
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: $16 per dozen
Ball notes: Nike’s entry in the value category is, indeed, a terrific value at just $16 per dozen. You won’t find many name-brand balls at that price point. The company touts the Power Distance Long’s high-velocity, Polybutadiene core and the durability of its ionomer cover.
The PD Long is designed to produce a lower, more penetrating ball flight and added roll to optimize distance.
Sound and feel: Nike has come a long way in this department. Where even its tour category offerings once felt hard and heavy, the PD Long is relatively soft on contact. We’re not comparing it to the Titleist ProV1 or anything, just saying it’s a marked improvement over past Nike balls, and competitive with others in the distance category.
Off the tee: The PD Long delivers as promised. In fact, it goes against the conventional wisdom, which holds that a high launch (with low spin) generates optimum driving distance. Tee shots with the PD Long fly with a lower trajectory than other balls and hit the ground hot. While this is negated somewhat if the fairways are soggy, under normal or firm conditions this ball really cooks.
From the fairway / rough: Like most distance balls, the Nike PD Long isn’t built for workability or stopping power. Indeed, the low trajectory combined with low spin can make it difficult to hold firmer greens. We must note, however, that anyone accustomed to playing distance balls will notice little if any difference between this ball and other models.
Around the green: Again, if high-spin controllability is your priority, you’re in the wrong category. The Nike PD Long has typical greenside performance qualities, though it does feel a bit softer than some. It pays to factor in plenty of roll on your chips, pitches and bunker shots.
Bottom line: Power. Distance. Long. That pretty much sums up this Nike model, which ranks at or near the top of the category for combined carry and roll off the driver. Add the small price tag and the PD Long merits strong consideration if you’re looking for value.
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