Titleist Tour Distance SF Will End Your Golf-Pond Ball Lottery Days
By Jeffrey A. Rendall, TravelGolf.com Staff Writer
Up until recently, when it came to golf balls--I'd play just about anything I could find. My bag, as is probably true with most recreational golfers--is full of the surlyn covered fruit harvested from many a bush or pond. Somebody else's loss was my gain.
I've often thought the truly most valuable piece of equipment in my golf accessory collection is the ball retriever--or, as I like to call it, the 'ball grabber' (sorry, ladies, don't mean to be crude!). Its efficient use has led to a consistent ball supply over the years.
Any number of ball-finding scenarios would work to refill the ball pocket after a couple of particularly rough holes, but one in particular was my favorite. It involved finding a par three with a shallow pond lying just before the green--and the flagstick cut 10 paces from the front. I'd only have to hit on, grab the retriever and make my way to the putting surface. I'd forget about putting the ball right away--there's plenty of white gold in the pond to be mined before actually playing. I've been known to pull out a couple dozen balls in a few minutes if the water's clear enough--and there isn't somebody giving me threatening gestures from the tee box.
By the way--is there really anything worse than golf ponds with dye in them?
When I'd finished with the harvest, I'd play the lottery to see if there was anything worth using. All the big names are usually there--TopFlite, MaxFli, Wilson Staff, Pinnacle, and sometimes if I'm really lucky--a Titleist or two. Not only is it the number one ball in golf, it's actually been my favorite for years. I've favored Titleist when given the choice--mainly because I've thought it gives better performance than the others--primarily off the tee.
If I was good enough to appear on one of those Titleist commercials, I'd say "I've been playing Titleist as long as I can remember." But I doubt that my name carries with it the kind of notoriety that some of Titleist's folks have--Duval, Love, Garcia, Webb--to name a few. Who knows, maybe you'll see 'Rendall' included in that group someday too!
Probably not. At any rate, I can offer Titleist something the others can't. I'll probably never win any golf trophies in my life, and I doubt you'll ever see my face on a bag tag--but there's something about me that Titleist wants. And needs. I'm the average golfer--the one who Titleist must impress the most. The average golfer buys the magazines and reads about the guys who play the products. Then we go out and buy the balls--with the idea that maybe we too can play like pros.
With this goal in mind, I tried one of Titleist's newest offerings--the Tour Distance SF. I sought to discover whether it's actually worth buying balls based on performance, as opposed to actively taking part in the golf-pond ball lottery.
The Tour Distance SF is a wound ball, with a liquid center core. Titleist and other ball manufacturers have done exhaustive research on materials and construction--so there are any number of compositions out there to choose from. Generally, wound balls give greater feel and 'workability' for better players, while multi-piece or layered balls give greater distance and durability for more average levels, as well as good players.
The Tour Distance SF, though a wound ball, is designed to provide all the feel that the species is known for while offering the distance of a multi-piece ball. It also is slated to improve accuracy. It's a ball for all players.
I tested the ball in three categories--tee distance and accuracy, 'feel,' and putting.
For tee distance, I'd say the ball gives better than average to excellent performance. I like to think my tee game (on a good day) is comparable to low handicappers--I'll average somewhere around 260. I may get a couple drives in the 280 range, and a couple in the 240 range. Take the average, and 260's where I'm at.
The ball had a nice jump off the driver, flew about 240, and rolled well. In other words, total distance was very good, but without a tape measure and a consistent robotic swing, it's difficult to tell whether it had a decided advantage over other balls.
Accuracy was much better than average. The TD SF is designed to reduce side-spin off the driver face, and as much as I could gather, it worked. It helped to even out the extremes--my 'bad' drives didn't end up as crooked as they would with an average ball. Every little bit counts, and I definitely believe the TD SF kept me out of the trees. In that sense, it improved my score because I was able to reduce penalty strokes.
Feel was excellent. Nothing's quite like the feeling of a ball struck right on the sweet spot that lands softly on the green and stops. This is an area where I believe I can speak intelligently on the distinctions between balls. Because I've played so many different kinds, I'd definitely say the TD SF was in the top percentiles of golf ball touch. Some balls feel like you're hitting a rock. Others feel so spongy that you hardly know you've hit it. The TD SF is a nice combination of feel off the clubface--not so hard that your hands sting, and not so soft that you feel like you're hitting a Kleenex wad.
Finally, putting. This is an area where I see huge differences in balls. Quite simply put--the more expensive balls have a softer feel off the blade, and just seem to roll truer than the bargain basement spheres. Next time you're on a practice green, try them out--what a difference it makes. The Tour Distance SF passes the test here also. An incredibly soft feel with a true roll. What more can you ask for?
Travelgolf.com photographer Keith Paton also tested the Tour Distance SF and adds: "The TD SF gives you needed power for the long game, along with great feel for around the greens. A golf ball for the golfer looking to shoot a low round but not give up distance and control."
I'm hardly going to ditch my ball retriever in the lake, however--I just might be more selective on playing the balls I fish out. One thing's for sure--the Titleist Tour Distance SF will be at the top of my list for 'keepers.'
Titleist Tour Distance SF
Available at Fine Pro Shops and Golf Retail Stores
Check out all of Titleist's outstanding products at http://www.titleist.com/htm/main/homediv.asp