Ball tested: Srixon Soft 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 – Ionomer; Core – Energetic Gradient Growth; Dimples – 324 “speed” dimples
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): $19.99 per dozen
Ball notes: It’s a cold, hard fact: Unless you can generate 110 mph or more of driver clubhead speed, you’re not going to hit the ball gargantuan distances or craft sharp-spinning wedges like the pros.
That does not mean you’re relegated to playing a cold, hard golf ball.
Modern technology has blurred the once clear dividing line between “tour” balls (soft) and “distance” balls (hard), meaning amateurs in search of a few extra yards need not sacrifice feel to get them. Srixon, makers of the highly regarded Q-STAR and Z-STAR models for better amateurs and pros, proves it with its Soft Feel golf ball.
Featuring an overall compression of 71, the Srixon Soft Feel is a two-piece ball designed to mimic multi-layer models. The company recommends it for golfers with swing speeds below 100 mph, but those in the 70 – 80 range are more likely to enjoy its full benefits – improved distance, higher launch, minimal sidespin.
The Srixon Soft Feel is available in Pure White and Tour Yellow. The company offers a ladies model as well.
On the clubface: What’s in a name? Truth in advertising, where the Srixon Soft Feel is concerned. It matches up well with the company’s higher-end offerings, compressing with a comfortable “smush” off the driver and providing a pleasing “thump” when putted.
Off the tee: Slower swingers are likely to enjoy a yardage boost with the Soft Feel, provided they’re currently playing a higher-compression ball that doesn’t match their specs. We found the Soft Feel about average vs. competitors in its category – not bad at all, but not exceptional. We were impressed with the ball’s high launch and carry as well as its accuracy.
From the fairway / rough: Golfers who struggle to hit shots with adequate height will like the Soft Feel. Hybrid and mid-iron shots jumped higher than anticipated and the ball, despite its low-spin qualities, carried nice and long. Backspin was lacking with the short irons, but that was neither a surprise nor a drawback – this is a distance ball, not a premium or tour model. In this category, we’ll trade spin for higher trajectory any day.
Around the green: The ball came up a little short of our expectations for greenside control, but that’s probably because our expectations were based on its cushy feel. The only noteworthy spin came on well-struck shots from tight lies or compacted bunkers, while most chips and pitches ran out a bit. Again, that’s not really an issue with a distance ball. Odds are, the Soft Feel will meet or exceed most golfers’ short game standards.
Bottom line: The soft distance ball may be one of the great recent advances in golf technology, and Srixon’s Soft Feel ranks with the category’s best. It’s not the cheapest of the bunch, however, so it might be wise to try a single sleeve before committing to a full dozen.
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