Ball tested: Nike RZN Platinum
Tested for golfers with average driving distance of: 196 to 300+ yards (carry + roll)
Specs: Construction – Four-piece; Cover – Urethane; Core – Polymer resin; Dimples / Pattern – 360 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): $46 per dozen
Ball notes: The “tour” category of balls has become the Noah’s ark of golf: There’s two of every kind.
It’s now customary for golf ball makers to offer not just one tour ball to meet the masses’ demands, but two that vary in spin rate and flight characteristics. For Titleist, it’s the ProV1 and ProV1x. Bridgestone has the Tour B330 and B330-S. Nike has joined the parade with its RZN Black and Platinum models.
While both Nike balls are geared toward golfers with high swing speeds (in excess of 105 mph with the driver), the Black is engineered for those who naturally produce lots of spin with their irons and wedges and, thus, prefer a ball that spins less. The Platinum is made to spin a bit more.
Both balls feature Nike’s ever-evolving RZN (resin) core and a urethane cover. Nike released two more balls in the RZN lineup, called White and Red. They’re for amateurs who lack the swing speed and/or budget for the Black and Platinum versions.
We were highly impressed with the performance of the RZN Black. Let’s see how its shiny sibling held up.
On the clubface: As expected, the RZN Platinum is a shade softer than the Black model. Both represent a step in the right direction following Nike’s 20XI golf balls – softer, but with enough firmness to inspire confidence in hard swingers. Platinum is silky smooth on the greens as well.
Off the tee: We must admit, Platinum surprised us here. Given its higher spin rate, we expected it to fly higher than the Black, land a little shorter and perhaps cost us a bit of accuracy. Didn’t happen. Length was quite similar to the Black, with no visible signs of ballooning or an overly steep descent.
What really got us, though, was how the RZN Platinum handled itself in the wind. The typical high-spin ball has trouble penetrating a headwind and can spin sharply sideways. The Platinum, however, showed similar stability to the RZN Black. We’d call wind performance a strength of both balls.
From the fairway / rough: More good stuff. While any ball in this category will deliver good stopping power, RZN Platinum proved exceptional. It’s also highly versatile when shotmaking requirements call for a draw, fade or other specialty shot. We found it particularly effective from moderate rough, spinning well enough to take some heat out of flier lies.
Around the green: Zip-a-dee-doo-dah, indeed. Skilled short-gamers will have a blast hitting check-up shots with the RZN Platinum, which responds like a well-trained pooch when clipped off a tight lie. It’s equally impressive when pitching from rough or playing from a bunker. Let’s put it this way: If you’re playing Platinum and hit a greenside shot that doesn’t behave, you probably didn’t strike it very well.
Bottom line: Where the Nike RZN Black impressed us with its overall performance, the Platinum flat-out surprised us. The wedge and short game spin were in line with our expectations – it was the ball’s controlled trajectory, distance and stability that caught us off guard. Any golfer with enough swing speed to adequately compress the RZN Platinum should give it a whack. That goes double if greenside mastery is your goal.
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