Ball tested: Wilson Staff Fifty Elite
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 – Rubber; Dimples – 302
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): $12.99 per dozen
Ball notes: The “Fifty” in this ball’s title signifies its compression. If that seems low, it is. The Wilson Staff Fifty Elite is designed to help golfers with driver swing speeds of less than 95 mph, who can’t squeeze maximum distance out of golf balls with compressions of 90 or higher.
Once a top brand (if not the top brand) in golf, Wilson has found a niche in today’s crowded market with its super-soft balls. Besides the Fifty Elite, the company’s DUO and C:25 models offer similar qualities at different price points.
The Fifty Elite is offered in traditional white as well as yellow and orange.
On the clubface: This ball really sticks. In fact, for pure buttery feel, we’d rank it just behind the DUO – one of the softest balls available. As with the DUO, golfers who never experienced the wound balata balls of old (as in pre-2000) might be taken aback by the Fifty Elite’s rubbery texture. Those who pine for balata will love it.
Off the tee: We have yet to test a low-compression ball that can’t boost driving distance for seniors and others with slower swings. The Fifty Elite fits the profile – it shows surprising jump off the driver swung at 80 – 85 mph and carries beautifully. Nor is it plagued by added sidespin, flying quite straight unless subjected to a particularly awful swipe.
From the fairway / rough: Like the DUO, Wilson’s Fifty Elite goes above and beyond expectations for a “value” golf ball in this category. Usually, you’ve got to shell out an extra $10 to $15 to get this kind of stopping power. ’Nuff said.
Around the green: Its spin doesn’t quite match its softness, but the Fifty Elite offers good greenside control nonetheless. Besides, any spin at all is a bonus at $12.99 a box. We appreciate the sweet sensation of putting this ball, too, but it did seem to require a little more aggressiveness in the stroke to reach the hole. In fact, that’s a fairly common observation with low-compression models.
Bottom line: If you’re itching to try a low-compression ball, you can’t go wrong with any of Wilson’s products. The Fifty Elite offers similar feel and performance to the DUO at a considerably lower price, making it a great place to start your search. You may just end it there, too.
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