Srixon Z-STAR 1

    Ball tested: Srixon Z-STAR

    Category*: Tour/Advanced/Performance

    Feel: Soft

    Tested for golfers with average driving distance of: 246 to 300+ yards (carry + roll)

    Specs: Construction – Three-piece; Cover – Urethane; Core – Energetic Gradient Growth; Dimples – 344 “speed” dimples

    Compression: High

    Price as tested (new): $44.99 per dozen

    Ball notes: Its name may not roll off the tongue, but Srixon’s golf balls are jumping off the faces of more and more golfers’ clubs.

    The Japanese company has made a big splash with its “premium” category Q-STAR model, and its “tour” flagship Z-STAR is gaining traction among top pros and amateurs. With three versions available, including the firmer Z-STAR XV (played by Graeme McDowell) and softer Z-STAR SL, Srixon aims to offer high-performance balls to fit a variety of players.

    Srixon Z-STAR 2

    The original Z-STAR is a 90-compression ball recommended for golfers who swing the driver between 80 – 105 mph, though in truth it’s probably best suited to those on the scale’s upper end. Along with its siblings, the Z-STAR earned gold from Golf Digest in the 2013 Hot List equipment issue.

    PGA Tour stalwarts Keegan Bradley and Jerry Kelly make their livings with the Z-STAR, which also comes in a bright yellow covering. Inbee Park, winner of three LPGA majors (and counting) to begin 2013, trusts her incredible game to the Z-STAR, too.

    A couple quick items before marching into our review. STAR is an acronym for Spin, Acceleration, Responsiveness, Trajectory. And the name Srixon is a rather creative mix of letters and themes. SRI stands for Sumimoto Rubber Industries, the brand’s parent company; X signifies the unlimited and dreams for the future; ON simply means going onwards.

    On that note, we forge ahead.

    On the clubface: With the Z-STAR, Srixon may just have found the sweet spot between soft and extra-soft. You can feel the ball compress against the clubface, yet it doesn’t seem “squishy” or weak. Chips and putts send a feedback-laden sensation into the arms and hands, with a mildly muted sound that’s music to our ears.

    Srixon Z-STAR 3

    Off the tee: We immediately noticed that the Z-STAR launches higher than many other tour balls. Concerned that it might prove vulnerable to wind gusts, our fears were allayed by the ball’s true, target-tracking flight. The engineers obviously nailed the low-spin thing with this one. In case you’re wondering, the Z-STAR is very long for a tour ball, with minimal sidespin to rob it of distance and accuracy.

    From the fairway / rough: Penetrating off the tee, penetrating into the greens. Again, the Z-STAR displayed a rather high trajectory with piercing control – a pretty mean feat. As for spin, it was spot on. Players who generate exceptional amounts of spin might find it a little difficult to tame after landing, but that’s why Srixon created the Z-STAR XV.

    Around the green: The Z-STAR’s winning streak continued in this all-important department. No reasonable shot proved beyond its capabilities, and it really impressed on hop-and-check pitches. It’s also a joy to putt, giving off a sweet “thump” and rolling true to line.

    Bottom line: What’s not to like about the Srixon Z-STAR? Nothing we could find. If you’re a low-handicapper with plenty of clubhead speed, we’re confident this ball will perform to your liking. You might even come to love it – funny name and all.

    *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