Ball tested: Nike Power Distance Soft
Tested for golfers with average driving distance of: 125 yards or less (carry + roll) / 126 to 195 yards (carry + roll) / 196 to 245 (carry + roll)
Specs: Construction – Two-piece; Cover – Ionomer; Core – Low compression; Dimples – 314
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): $15.99 per dozen
Ball notes: The companion to Nike’s Power Distance Long golf ball, the Power Distance Soft (PD Soft, for short) is designed for golfers with sub-100 mph swing speeds who prefer something with a little more elegant feel than a traditional “distance” model offers.
Like other manufacturers, Nike achieves softness in a two-piece ball by using a low-compression core and thin cover. It’s a tried-and-true combo that has yielded excellent results in Wilson’s Staff Fifty Elite, Srixon’s Soft Feel and a few other top performers.
How did the Nike PD Soft hold up to our tests? Read on.
On the clubface: Nike isn’t likely to be accused of false branding with the PD Soft, which lives up to its name. That said, there’s nothing to differentiate it from the other soft two-piece models out there, including those mentioned above. We noted a mild click on some shots throughout the bag, but nothing harsh or jarring. Indeed, some golfers may prefer the touch of firmness in this ball vs. similar low-compression offerings.
Off the tee: Soft is supposed to equal long – or at least longer – for golfers who need a little help off the tee. We did find the PD Soft easy to compress with a swing speed in the 85 mph range, though we’d describe overall distance as average for the category. We were more impressed with the Nike’s lofty launch angle, which helped out tester carry a couple of fairway crests that he sometimes struggles to reach.
From the fairway / rough: Nothing beats the sensation of a soft ball struck purely with an iron, and this one definitely sent a tingle or two up the arms. Launch characteristics were again very good, especially on hybrid shots. Short iron spin and control were neither exciting nor disappointing.
Around the green: Chalk it up to the mental tricks golf plays on the mind, but a soft ball always seems to perform well in the short game regardless of its spin rate. So it was with the Nike PD Soft. As long as you don’t try anything too advanced, it should meet your needs just fine. Chips were easily controlled while loftier lobs floated and landed delicately. And you can definitely spin this ball from compacted sand.
Bottom line: Nike’s Power Distance Soft certainly doesn’t reinvent the golf ball. Nor does it come up shy of its promise. Overall, it offers excellent value and performance that’s competitive within the value/recreational/distance category.
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