Ball tested: Slazenger RAW Distance Feel
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 – Surlyn; Core – Low compression.; Dimples – 402
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): $29.99 for a package of 24
Ball notes: The Slazenger brand was immortalized in the James Bond classic Goldfinger, when Sean Connery’s “007” catches the villain cheating on the 18th hole of a tight match. Slazenger may not draw a large golf audience these days but – like Mr. Bond – it’s still alive and kicking after all these years.
Dick’s Sporting Goods makes and sells Slazenger golf balls through its nationwide chain and subsidiary Golf Galaxy. If you think the listed retail price is impressive, consider that Slazengers often sell for half that cost.
The RAW Distance Feel is part of a four-ball lineup and promises soft-yet-long performance, high launching shots and good spin within 100 yards of the flag. Let’s find out if this Slazenger delivers.
On the clubface: The RAW Distance Feel is impressively soft for a two-piece ball. In fact, we’d compare it favorably to several models in the “premium” category. It doesn’t match ultra-softies like the Wilson Staff DUO, but golfers accustomed to harder distance balls may find a happy medium with this Slazenger.
Off the tee: The one criterion any distance ball must meet, of course, is providing exceptional length off the tee. We’ll give the Slazenger RAW Distance Feel a solid “A” in this department. We were smitten with the high launch angle produced by the driver, plus the low-spin flight and rolling finish. These days, though, it’s not enough to be long – a distance ball must be straight, too. Slazenger’s got a winning formula here as the RAW Distance Feel displayed stable carry with minimal sideways deviation on decent swings.
From the fairway / rough: This ball really helped in adding loft to longer shots, and proved a standout with short irons and wedges. Frankly, we weren’t prepared to see the kind of spin the RAW Distance Feel generated. Again, we’d liken its performance to that of premium offerings for both feel and stopping power.
Around the green: The Slazenger proved pretty good here, too. Any action at all is a bonus with a value ball, so we were thrilled by the overall controllability of the RAW Distance Feel. It won’t challenge the “tour” models for spin, but it’s top-notch within its own category.
Bottom line: We must say, our reaction to the Slazenger RAW Distance Feel golf ball’s tee-to-green qualities was similar to Auric Goldfinger’s response to being caught cheating: outright surprise. (Except ours was the pleasant kind.) The price and general lack of “buzz” around the brand fooled us, but the ball easily outpaced our expectations. Value-conscious golfers, or anyone currently playing a premium model, should check this one out.
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