Not so in past years. There were distance balls, which went a long way but had rock-hard covers and were impossible to control. Or, tiring of that, you had more expensive balata balls, which had a soft cover and spun a lot with the short irons, but which were always cut and just didnt go very far. Pick your poison, Ace!
Companies exhibiting at the PGA Merchandise Show this week have demonstrated that you can have it both ways. These golf balls possess the distance, but also possess a delicate feel. And thats just for the amateur ' the 99.9 percent of the golfers who play the game.
The following is a sample of the wares of among the golf-ball exhibitors:
CALLAWAY ' A relative newcomer to the ball-manufacturing business, Callaway comes to battle with the HEX Aerodynamics. This is the main feature of Callaways HX Tour and refers to the indentions on the balls surface. Callaway claims to have replaced the traditional dimples with the HEX pattern.
The revolutionary surfaces, featuring 38 facets of each HEX pattern, combines to deliver a ball that travels the maximum distance with great consistency. The HEX offers low-speed lift and less high-speed drag. Translation: the ball flies better than your fathers old rock.
Callaway offers a very wide variety of golf balls. At the top of the line is the HX Tour ' its Callaways most technologically advanced. It has a very thin cover and very large core, which gives the better player all that he could ask for in a ball.
Callaway Red is meant for more distance, Callaway Blue more spin. They are both three-piece balls, meaning they have a large core, a firm boundary layer and a soft cover. Big Bertha Red and Blue are two-piece balls ' the core and the cover, Red for more distance, Blue for more spin. And the Warbird golf ball is a two-piece which comes advertised as hard-working with above-average distance.
TOP-FLITE ' The brand just purchased by Callaway, but still very much a ball manufacturer with a widely recognized name. Top-Flite has two top brand names ' the Strata and the Infinity.
The Strata was first introduced in 1996 and consists of four balls: the Strata Tour Premier offers high spin, remarkable distance and soft feel. The Strata Tour Soft has a different spin for woods, which spins at a low rate - and the irons, which produces a high spin.
The Strata Tour Ace, the top of the line at a suggested retail price of $54, has a four-piece design for staggering length with a cover that allows the one hop and stop on the greens. And the Strata Tour Straight has a coating that is designed to reduce sidespin that the amateurs predictably impart.
The Infinity ball has three different offerings ' Awesome Distance, which is, as its name suggests, the distance ball; Absolutely Straight, with the specialized cover which reduced hooks and slices; and Ideal Spin, combining high spin around the green with maximum distance off the tee and maximum distance.
SRIXON ' It may surprise you that this company has been making golf balls for more than 70 years. But only lately has the Srixon brand became widely known in the U.S.
The UR-X is Srixons new offering for 2004. Its big selling point is its extremely thin cover (0.03-inches thin) combined with the largest core on the PGA Tour. The UR-X is composed of 96 percent rubber, the material that gives the ball its distance and velocity.
The Hi-Brid Tour features a large inner core which is very firm and gradually becomes softer the closer to the cover, giving a high launch angle and low spin ' which translates to greater distance. The Pro UR has a solid rubber boundary layer which feels softer and is more resilient than the traditional plastic boundary layers. This leads to longer distance for golfers of all abilities.
The AD 333 is a two-piece ball that has high initial velocity, and greater roll. At the same time, the AD 333 has a soft feel, spin and control for excellent playability. And the Soft Feel ball utilizes the soft-feel touch combined with exceptional distance. This is the ball for the majority of higher-handicap players with low swing speeds.
SLAZENGER ' This company features five golf balls, all at a more economical price point than its higher-priced cousins.
The Raw Distance Condition is touted as golfs first all-weather ball built to overcome rain, cold, wind and dense air conditions. The Raw Distance Black is the longest raw distance ever. Project Money is a low-compression ball for players with a low-to-medium swing speed (primarily high-handicap players.)
The Raw Distance Fusion is a distance ball with a soft feel ' it has a Softane cover. And the Raw Distance Tour is Slazengers high-end offering. It is the perfect blend of distance and tour feel.
Our target is not the ultimate club champion, says Trent Bowles, the Slazenger product manager. This ball is more likely used by the consumer looking for enhanced performance through a brand they are proud to play.
Of course, there are many more. Titleist, for example, didnt come to the Show, but they have several different balls. But when it comes to golf balls, you can get one which has greater spin, you can get one which flies a great distance, or you can get one which, supposedly, has a combination. They have different names for their many different covers and different cores. They have a variety of different dimple patterns. But heres the basic theme this year ' all the balls are good. You just have to choose the brand ' and make ' the best suits your game.