Pros: Both the NXT Tour and NXT Tour S provide tour-level short game performance with low driver spin. New softer compression cores makes these balls even softer than previous models.
Cons: High-optic yellow is only available in the NXT Tour S and not in the NXT Tour.
Bottom Line: The NXT Tour and NXT Tour S are noticeably softer than their previous models without sacrificing distance or spin around the greens. The NXT Tour manages to generate the same spin on wedge shots and less spin off the driver than the more expensive Pro V1. The high-optic yellow color available in the NXT Tour S is an interesting alternative to traditional white balls, and its extremely easy to see in a variety of conditions. If you want to play a tour-level ball without paying tour ball prices, the NXT Tour and NXT Tour S should be at the top of your list of balls to test.
The NXT Tour and NXT Tour S, while popular, have been left standing in the very long and wide shadow of their more popular brothers, the Pro V1 and Pro V1X. But like most younger siblings, these balls are eager to step out of the shadow and prove they have what it takes to make it into the bags of golfers of any skill level. Over the past two years, 40,000 golfers from around the world participated in Titleist’s white-box testing and validation program and their findings directly impacted the development of the 2014 NXT Tour and NXT Tour S, as well as the Velocity and DT SoLo, which we will review in the future.
The 2014 NXT Tour and NXT Tour S have both been updated with reengineered softer compression cores and covers, making these balls even softer than previous models while maintaining distance and exceptional short game performance. The thin, Fusablend cover aides in the soft feel, but it also provides a much more durable NXT Tour and NXT Tour S than previous models. As Titleist claims, both balls are exceeded in performance only by the Pro V1 and Pro V1x. As you’ll see in this review, I agree.
The NXT Tour is available only in the traditional white color. The NXT Tour S is available in both white and high-optic yellow, which many golfers will find appealing, even those who have not traditionally played a yellow ball. The NXT Tour and NXT Tour S are available now and carry a minimum advertised price of $33.39.
After reading about the enhancements to this year’s models, I was eager to test the new balls out to see if they really do perform similarly to the higher-priced Pro V1 and Pro V1X. I was also curious to see the differences in the two balls. Looking at the chart provided by Titleist that compares the two models, only two points separate the two balls: feel and driver distance. According to Titleist, the NXT Tour is the longer ball while the NXT Tour S has a softer feel.
To get a true sense of performance, I tested both balls on a launch monitor and on the course. To get the data, I hit both balls on a launch monitor with a 60-degree wedge, 6 iron and a driver. My methodology and testing location stayed the same as in the Pro V1 and Pro V1X review. My swing speed with a driver is around 105 mph and I tried to maintain a normal swing throughout testing. Following Titleist’s fitting process, we’ll start near the green and work back.
60-degree Wedge Shots
I’ll admit, going into the test with the wedge I was expecting to see spin rates that could be considered close to a tour-ball level, but still about 500-to-1000 rpm less than the Pro V1 and Pro V1x. I started with the NXT Tour and after the second shot came in north of 11,000 rpm, I started to get excited. The rest of the testing continued to produce excellent spin numbers with both balls. The NXT Tour and NXT Tour S performed almost identically with full shots from the 60-degree wedge. Ball speed, launch angle and peak height were virtually the same. Even the spin numbers were within about 100 rpm of each other, and on the course they generate some serious stopping power.
Where it gets really interesting is when we compare the performance to the Pro V1 and Pro V1x. The NXT Tour actually generated more spin with the wedge than the Pro V1 and only 255 rpm lower, on average, than the Pro V1x. Both balls launched higher and reached a peak height 4 yards higher than the Pro V1X. For me, I’d rather see my wedges fly a little lower, which makes it easier to control them in the wind. That said, having to control the top end of the flight with a wedge is doable and could be a good trade-off for some golfers looking for green-grabbing spin from a non-tour ball.
The variances between the two balls continued to be very slim during 6 iron testing. The NXT Tour S generated slightly more ball speed, a lower launch and more spin. But all the numbers were so similar to each other that I can hardly consider them different. Even comparing them to the Pro V1 and Pro V1x proved to be an exercise in evaluating half degree differences in launch to find a difference. As we’ll see with the driver, the NXT Tour and NXT Tour S both generated less ball speed than the Pro V1 and Pro V1x, but even the loss in ball speed wasn’t dramatic.
At this point in testing, I started to really believe that making a decision about which ball fit my game better would come down to feel alone.
The driver is the other area of the game where these two balls could start to differentiate themselves from each other and from the rest of the 2014 Titleist lineup. My expectation going into the test is that both balls would generate less spin off the driver, which for me is a very good thing. I already generate a little too much spin off the driver, so I need a ball that generates less spin.
The NXT Tour and NXT Tour S generated similar amounts of spin off the driver and both balls delivered less spin than the Pro V1X. The NXT Tour actually recorded spin rates almost 400 rpm lower than the Pro V1. While both balls reached the same peak height and the same descent angle, the NXT Tour S actually launched almost a half degree lower than the NXT Tour. Interestingly, the descent angle of both the NXT Tour and NXT Tour S was 3 degrees lower than the Pro V1 and Pro V1x, which resulted in slightly more rollout, but very similar overall distance. As claimed, the NXT Tour generated about 4 yards more distance than the NXT Tour S, and turned out to be the longest of all the balls in the 2014 lineup.
Launch monitor data confirmed and backed up most of Titleist’s claims about the expected performance of both golf balls. Just as I did with the Pro V1 and Pro V1x testing, I completed the on-course testing during the same week at River Strand Golf & Country Club.
Since I don’t normally play with a yellow golf ball, I was eager to try the NXT Tour S in high-optic yellow. The first shot was a hybrid off the tee and I couldn’t have hit the shot any better. I’m one of those golfers who struggle to see white balls on the course in almost any condition, and the first thing I noticed with the yellow NXT Tour S was that I could see it much further downrange and I could pick it up in the fairway better as well. Even standing over putts, the ball seemed almost bigger to me, which pumped up my confidence.
Off the tee, I could see that both the NXT Tour and NXT Tour S had a similar launch and flight. It was windy in Florida while I was testing and the NXT Tour balls, and they cut through the wind with a piercing ball flight that felt very controlled. While I didn’t think it looked much lower than the Pro V1 or Pro V1X, the rollout and overall yardage gains matched the launch monitor data. I didn’t find either ball to be more or less difficult to control, and I could work the balls any way I wanted.
Approach shots seemed to stick to the green and end up very close to their pitch mark. I wasn’t able to back any shot up until I was within pitching wedge distance, but I was able to fire at pins with even long irons with the confidence both balls would grip the green and keep me close.
After seeing the launch monitor data, I had the confidence to give some low, spinning wedge shots a try with the NXT Tour and NXT Tour S. I actually smiled after the first one hit and checked perfectly. Had I not seen the launch monitor data prior to playing, I likely wouldn’t have been as aggressive, but I’m glad I did. I felt very confident that I could play these balls just as I would play a tour ball. I didn’t have to back off or adjust my yardages with longer irons to accommodate more rollout.
Half Wedge Shots
Even though I had a chance to hit a variety of half wedge shots while on the course, I wanted to give these guys a more thorough test. During the half wedge testing, I noticed that both balls performed extremely well and very similar to one another. They had a tendency to get a little bit higher than the Pro V1 and Pro V1X, but not in a bad way. In fact, I could use that to my advantage and play softer, higher shots into the green as well. The low, spinning wedge shots I like to play seemed to jump off the face, hit the green, bounce once and stop dead.
Around the Green
Just like the other balls in the lineup, within 40 yards the performance of the two balls were very similar to each other. Just like the testing of the Pro V1 and Pro V1X, I hit a variety of different chip shots as I would on the course. I hit bump-and-run shots with a 9 iron from off the green, which reacted with a skip and a rollout. With a more lofted 60-degree wedge, I was able to hit a variety of shots from quick-spinning low chips that hit once, checked up and stopped, to open face shots with spin and some more lofted, softer shots.
Spin out of the bunker, again just like the Pro V1 and Pro V1x, was very nice. I didn’t feel like I got the exact amount of spin as I would out of the tour balls, but I was able to throw many shots all the way to the hole and get them to check up.
Both balls felt great around the green and the NXT Tour S definitely felt softer, which I liked.
I’m very impressed with both balls on the putting surface. They rolled straight and true and came off the putter face with gusto. It is the feel of the NXT Tour S that really excites me. Shots struck pure felt almost as good to me as a Pro V1. Not exactly like a Pro V1, but really close.
Whether it was an optical illusion or not I don’t know, but looking down and striking a flush putt with the yellow NXT Tour S felt spongy and almost heavy. It was heavy in a good way, which gave me the courage to send the putter through the ball and drop putts off the back of the cup.
For me, the feel of the NXT Tour S was much softer and therefore better, but both balls felt great on the green.
Looks and Feel
If you read the review of the Pro V1 and Pro V1X, you know I’m in love with the Titleist script. When I opened the package of NXT Tour balls and held one for the first time I was slightly disappointed. I do not expect these balls to have the same classic look and feel as a Pro V1, but my instant impression was that they felt much harder, more slippery and that even the script had a slightly thicker and less crisp appearance. It was the first time I was reminded that these balls are not quite tour-level. Like so much in this review, we’re talking about minute but important differences.
Contrasting my initial impression of the NXT Tour, when I picked up the NXT Tour S in high optic yellow, I was much happier. I’m not a yellow ball player, but the pearlized shimmer of the yellow caught my eye. The Titleist script was crisper and matched the Pro V1 and Pro V1X, and I was left with the overall impression that the NXT Tour S was going to be the better ball.
Even though feel is very subjective with golf balls, I felt the NXT Tour S had a noticeably softer feel with every club from driver to putter. It’s not as soft as a Pro V1, but the feel and even the sound off well struck shots was extremely close. I would suggest hitting a variety of shots with both balls so you can be the judge.
All my testing, both on the launch monitor and on the course, was completed using only three of each type of ball and both of these balls held up extremely well. Both the NXT Tour and NXT Tour S have the same cover, so they displayed similar wear at the end of testing. These are extremely durable golf balls, especially given how much spin they can generate. Yes you can scuff them up, but looking at the six balls I tested with everything from hard, spinning wedge shots to drivers, there are very few scratches and marks.
The high optic yellow of the NXT Tour S actually hides scratches a little better than the white version of both balls. I will likely put all six balls back in the bag and feel very comfortable pulling any of them out to start a round.
The 2014 NXT Tour and NXT Tour S golf balls are designed to give golfers low spin off the driver but high, shot-making spin on approach shots. Quite simply, these balls deliver in a big way. The spin generated by both balls is outstanding for their category and remarkable how close they come to matching the Pro V1 and Pro V1X, all at a price point around $30.
For any golfer looking to get the performance of a tour ball without paying tour ball prices, the NXT Tour and NXT Tour S should be at the top of the list of balls to try.
NXT Tour S