Ball tested: Nike RZN Red
Tested for golfers with average driving distance of: 126 to 300+ yards (carry + roll)
Specs: Construction – Three-piece; Cover – Ionomer; Core – Polymer resin; Dimples / Pattern – 314 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): $30 per dozen
Ball notes: Nike’s new (2014) foursome of golf balls includes the RZN Red, the firmest of the group and designed for maximum distance – with enough spin and feel to please discriminating mid-handicappers.
RZN Red is the companion to the White model, while Black and Platinum are “tour” category balls made for pros and highly skilled amateurs.
According to Nike, the RZN Red differs from the White in offering a little less spin and softness, but delivering additional carry distance off the tee. Both balls are engineered for golfers with driver clubhead speeds of less than 105 mph.
How did the Nike RZN Red stack up against its closest sibling? Our tests revealed some important differences.
On the clubface: While the Red is certainly firmer than the White, it’s softer than we expected. There’s a hint of “stick” against the clubface at impact, and less clickiness on chips and putts than with some balls in the “premium” category. All in all, a pretty pleasing feel for a ball geared toward distance.
Off the tee: Golfers who struggle to generate adequate driver height will appreciate the RZN Red. It launches higher than the White and shows good hang time, too. This flight pattern is less effective in the wind – an area where Nike’s RZN lineup really shines – yet the Red manages to maintain its line relatively well in a crossing breeze.
It’s not as straight as, say, the vaunted Bridgestone e6, but we wouldn’t quibble with the Red’s accuracy.
From the fairway / rough: Driving results were mirrored on approach shots. Regardless of club, shots with the RZN Red showed a steep takeoff and descent. While the White delivers a more penetrating trajectory and extra spin, the Red still stops pretty quickly on the green thanks to its abrupt landing angle.
It’s not really a ball for versatile shotmakers, who might struggle to keep punch shots down and to work the RZN Red from side to side. Most golfers in its target audience, however, aren’t seeking that kind of performance.
Around the green: Picking the Red over the White will cost you some greenside spin and limit the variety of shots you can play effectively. It does spin more than most balls in the “distance/value/recreational” grouping, though, when it’s hit crisply. Red performs its best on high, floating shots with sand and lob wedges.
Bottom line: Nike RZN Red, or White? If you prefer (or need help achieving) a higher ball flight and don’t mind sacrificing a little spin, go with the Red. If it’s a penetrating trajectory and greenside control you’re after, the White is for you.
Here’s another way to look at it: Match your ball to the conditions. For soft fairways, hilly holes and relatively light wind, the Red’s higher carry is the best bet. Firm turf, flat land and windy environs (a la a links-style course) may favor the RZN White.
Both balls are solid new offerings from one of golf’s biggest brands.
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