Srixon Z-STAR XV 1

    Ball tested: Srixon Z-STAR XV

    Category*: Tour/Advanced/Performance

    Feel: Soft

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

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

    Compression: High

    Price as tested (new): $44.99 per dozen

    Ball notes: Srixon claims the cover on its Z-STAR XV is “the thinnest and softest” among all “tour” balls today. But if you think this pill is designed for maximum spin or to help average golfers boost their driving distances, you’re mistaken.

    Inside that cover beats the heart of a low-spin distance ball. The Z-STAR XV features a dual core designed to optimize yardage for golfers who can already move it pretty well – as in 105 mph driver speeds and up.

    That sets the 100-compression XV version apart from its mates, the original Z-STAR and the lower-compression Z-STAR SL. It also explains why the likes of 2010 U.S. Open champion Graeme McDowell and four-time major winner Vijay Singh play it on tour.

    Srixon Z-STAR XV 2

    This 2013 Golf Digest Hot List gold medalist is also stocked in high-visibility yellow. As you’ll see clearly below, the Srixon Z-STAR XV passed our test with flying colors.

    On the clubface: To make up for the firmer core, Srixon wrapped the XV model in the aforementioned ultra-thin urethane cover. That eliminated any sting that might have resulted from the added compression – this is a great feeling ball that stacks up well with competitors in the “tour” category. And the closer you get to the hole, the better the XV feels.

    Off the tee: This as an undeniably long ball, with one caveat: You need serious clubhead speed to generate max distance. If you’ve got it, expect to see a slightly lower but no less penetrating flight than the standard Z-STAR delivers. The XV boasts similar accuracy and a decent amount of workability to boot.

    From the fairway / rough: While the XV may spin less than its sibling, it would take a highly skilled golfer to notice much difference. Flight is stable and strong, stopping power ample, feel top-notch – and that goes double with a wedge in hand.

    Around the green: We admit to being pleasantly surprised by the XV’s greenside performance. For a firm-core ball, it’s easy to control on all manner of shots. The soft cover really earns its keep in this area.

    Bottom line: Firmer than the regular Z-STAR? Sure, a little. Less backspin? If you say so. Fact is, we found far more similarities than differences in these two balls. Nonetheless, the XV does launch a bit lower and roll a bit more, so it’s geared toward high-speed players who like to keep the ball down. If you fit the profile, the XV just may be the Z-STAR for you.

    *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