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    Ball tested: Pinnacle Gold

    Category*: Value/Recreational/Distance

    Specs: Construction – Two-piece; Cover – Ionomer; Core – High velocity, low compression; Dimples / Pattern – 332 in “spherical icosahedral” design

    Compression: High

    Price as tested (new): $20 for pack of 15; $30 for pack of 24

    Ball notes: In the 1980s and ’90s, golfers looking for distance and durability gravitated toward two ball brands: Top-Flite and Pinnacle. The dawn of the new century brought technological advancements that knocked the proverbial cover off these old standbys, rendering them all but obsolete.

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    Yet somehow, both survived. Top-Flite now makes a variety of balls, including the highly regarded Gamer, while Pinnacle has tweaked its offerings to add a touch of feel. The company’s flagship ball, the Pinnacle Gold, is also popular among golfers who like (or need) a splash of color. Its “High Optix” yellow version promises better visibility against varying light and background conditions.

    Sound and feel: Let’s be honest here – nobody shopping for great feel lands on Pinnacle. However, with softer balls from competitors now delivering comparable distance, the company had little choice but to upgrade in this department. No doubt, the new Pinnacle Gold provides a much softer sensation than its predecessors. If that sounds like a back-handed compliment, it isn’t. Any feel at all in an old-fashioned distance ball is a bonus.

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    Off the tee: When it comes to length, Pinnacle’s still got it. The Gold flies high and hits the ground hot. If you get too much distance-killing backspin from tour or premium balls, this model may be the answer. We noted minimal sidespin too, with a decided absence of big slices or hooks.

    From the fairway / rough: Not bad. Not bad at all. You won’t be backing up wedge shots 20 feet with the Pinnacle Gold, but strike the irons well and they’ll stop with reasonable promptness. You’ll also enjoy a distance advantage on longer shots, especially when you’re hoping for some extra roll.

    Around the green: Much better than the Pinnacles of old, though still not on par with the Gamer or higher-end balls, the Gold exceeded our (admittedly low) expectations in this category. Hit it solidly and you will get a bit of spin. And the harsh, rock-hard feeling is long gone.

    Bottom line: The Pinnacle Gold is a distance ball and proud of it. As well it should be. The new model is longer than ever, flies true and lives up to the brand’s promise. And we commend the company for softening the ball’s overall feel while adding a modicum of short game control. As for value, check out those retail prices. They’re hard to beat.

    *Category key

    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