Pros: Two different premium golf balls designed for higher swing speeds, deliver distance, exceptional short game control and durability. The Tour Yellow option is one of the best yellow golf balls available today.

Cons: Overlapping swing speed recommendations can make off-the-shelf selection of the right golf ball a little more difficult.

Bottom Line: While not as flashy as other premium golf balls on the market, both the Z-Star and Z-Star XV simply go about their business generating long distance off the tee, excellent spin around the greens, and a soft but durable feel.

Overview

The premium golf ball market is dominated by a few main players, generally with either a rich history, large marketing budget or both. On the other hand, while Srixon golf balls are in the winning bags of well-known players like Graeme McDowell and Keegan Bradley, you’re not as likely to find one in the woods or abandoned at the edge of a water hazard. But what I’ve found is that most players who have Srixon in the bag, especially their tour-caliber ball, did so with a purpose and have very specific reasons why they are playing a Srixon golf ball.

With the new Z-Star and Z-Star XV, Srixon offers two tour-level premium golf balls designed for higher swing speed players looking for maximum distance and exceptional short game performance.

Z-Star

The three-piece, 90 compression Z-Star is designed for golfers with swing speeds of 88-108mph. The large gradient core is softer at the center and harder on the outside which produces lower spin and a soft feel on full shots. The company’s propriety urethane cover, which they call SpinSkin, increases friction by 20 percent over previous versions, which leads to more spin and control. The 344 Speed Dimple pattern is designed to maximize surface coverage to reduce drag and increase overall distance.

Learn more from SrixonBuy Now on Amazon

Z-Star XV

The four-piece, 105 compression Z-Star XV is designed for tour-level swing speeds greater than 105 mph. The dual-core decreases spin off the driver while creating high spin off full wedge shots. The Z-Star XV also utilizes the SpinSkin urethane cover and 344 dimple pattern.

Learn more from SrixonBuy Now on Amazon

The Z-Star and Z-Star XV are available now and carry a minimum advertised price of $44.99. Both are available in Pure White and Tour Yellow and come in standard play numbers (1-4).

Performance

Looking at the specifications of each ball, the performance characteristics are very similar. While the Z-Star is slightly softer, both the Z-Star and Z-Star XV offer a soft, responsive feel with tour-level distance and short game spin. As with all the golf balls in the premium market, there are subtle differences that should be considered for your individual game.

Srixon claims the Z-Star is built to generate slightly more spin on full shots than the Z-Star XV. The softer, thinner urethane cover of the Z-Star XV also should spin slightly more on short iron and wedge shots.

Like other reviews, I wanted to get a true sense of performance so I tested both balls in a variety of ways both with 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. Testing indoors was necessary because I wanted to hit many shots with each club so I needed to be able to retrieve the balls. I headed to Golfsmith Extreme in Smyrna, Ga., where they let me take over a private fitting bay for a few hours. My normal playing swing speed with a driver is around 107 mph, which is within the recommended range of either golf ball.

60-Degree Full Wedge Shots

WedgeReaction_Srixon

Based on Srixon’s claims, I expected the Z-Star XV to spin more on full wedge shots than the Z-Star or the other balls in Srixon’s 2014 lineup. I expected the launch angle, peak height and ball speed would be almost identical. With the wedge, I’m primarily interested in spin and controllability. When it comes to spin, the Z-Star XV generated the most of any ball in Srixon’s 2014 lineup. While they both created close to 11,000 rpm of spin, which is similar to other premium balls on the market, the Z-Star XV was more than 300rpm faster than the Z-Star. While the Z-Star launched slightly higher, the peak height and ball speed was identical. What surprised me most during the test was the performance of the Q-Star, which generated very similar spin to the Z-Star XV with a slightly higher launch and peak height.

The spin numbers of both balls is more than enough to hit the green, spin back and offer the kind of controllability you expect in a premium golf ball.

6 Iron Shots

WedgeReaction_Srixon2

The similarity between the two balls continued during the 6 iron testing. The Z-Star produced 202 rpm more spin, launched 0.2-degrees higher, but had the same peak height and ball speed. Both balls had the same descent angle, which will help drop balls onto the green and get them to stop. Because both balls are very similar, I needed to look at carry and total distance to help separate them. Unfortunately, those numbers were almost identical as well, but the Z-Star XV edged out the Z-Star with one more yard of carry distance and two more yards of overall distance.

With the longer irons, I like to put a golf ball in play that will give me a slightly higher launch and a healthy amount of spin without balooning up and getting out of control. Both the Z-Star and the Z-Star XV fit that criteria, but thanks to the extra spin generated on full wedge shots, the Z-Star XV still has the edge.

Driver Shots

WedgeReaction_Srixon3

I’m continuing to lower the spin off my driver with swing adjustments, but every bit helps. Based on the data I’ve seen so far, I would expect the Z-Star to launch slightly higher, hit a higher peak height, but also spin more. With that in mind, the Z-Star XV would be better suited to my game.

Looking at the results, that is almost exactly what happened. The Z-Star XV generated 2 mph more ball speed, over 300 rpm less spin, and hit a peak height of 1 yard lower than the Z-Star. Interestingly, the Z-Star actually launched slightly lower, albeit only 0.2-degrees, but still lower. Once again however, the Q-Star performed really well, generating less spin and a higher launch than the Z-STar XV.

The Z-Star XV was also the longest golf ball in the lineup, flying 2 yards longer than the Q-Star and 3 yards longer than the Z-Star. With the longest distance as well as lower spin and peak height, the Z-Star XV continued to suit my game the best. I anticipate many golfers with swing speeds greater than 100 mph will also find the Z-Star XV is the best performing premium ball in Srixon’s 2014 lineup.

On-Course Testing

Unlike my previous reviews, I tested these golf balls during on-course rounds before I was able to get on a launch monitor and analyze the data. This allowed me to simply watch how the balls performed. I started the round with the Z-Star and alternated every few holes to ensure each ball had a variety of on-course situations to deal with.

Having never put a Srixon tour ball in play, I was really excited to see how they performed. From the first tee through the first hole, I was impressed. The launch and spin off the driver looked like what I expect from a tour ball; it didn’t balloon up and it had a nice stable flight. Trajectory off the mid irons appeared to be slightly lower than other balls I’ve played, which would eventually be confirmed during launch monitor testing. But we’re really talking about subtle differences.

From 100 yards and in, I really liked the spin I was seeing off both balls. The Z-Star XV appeared to spin slightly more than the Z-Star, but I was able to hit and hold greens with the irons and even longer clubs such as the hybrid. The Tour Yellow really popped off the fairways and greens. I dropped some nice putts with both balls and was generally happy with the performance. Interestingly, the Q-Star, which I will review in the future, also performed really well on the course. The launch monitor data would eventually suggest that I play the Z-Star XV, but it is hard to argue against the performance of the sub-$30 Q-Star.

WedgeReaction_Srixon4

Half Wedge Shots

Testing during my rounds allowed me to hit some half wedge shots, but I wanted to hit more in a row from half wedge distance to really get a feel for the performance. Both the Z-Star and Z-Star XV allowed me to hit low spinning wedge shots that hit, checked and stopped dead. If I’m being picky, the XV did appear to grip the greens with a bit more power, but both had a lot of spin. There really isn’t a shot you can’t hit with these balls. High soft shots, low spinners, and controlled-spin running shots are all possible with either ball.

Around the Green

For shots around the green, I didn’t expect to see any difference in performance as both balls have the same proprietary SpinSkin urethane cover. Within 40 yards, the cover makes all the difference. These are tour balls and around the greens is where the money is made. Both balls allowed me to hit any shot I wanted from bump-and-runs to my favorite, the quick-spinning chip that hit and stop dead. Bunker shots performed equally well and I was able to hit chunk and run bunker shots as well as more aggressive spinners. Personally, I didn’t notice any difference in feel between the two as both balls had a nice soft responsive feel.

Putting

With the putter in hand, the Z-Star felt slightly softer off the putter face. But both felt very similar. Both balls have a nice, consistent and true roll. I didn’t feel like the balls were too hot or needed any real adjustment to roll nice putts. While I wouldn’t call either of these balls the softest in the premium market, neither felt hard or clicky. They both simply performed as expected.

Looks and Feel

Both the Z-Star and Z-Star XV felt really nice on all shots, especially shots around the green. The feel produced wasn’t necessarily spongy or buttery, but it was soft enough that solid strikes gave me that pure, almost indescribable feeling we all strive for. The cover of the Z-Star XV feels very soft and slightly softer than the Z-Star. These are not the softest feeling tour balls, I still believe the Titleist Pro V1 is the softest premium ball on the market, but they are also not the hardest balls on the market either. Like so much about Srixon, they simply just perform. We all know that feel is subjective, so I would suggest testing a sleeve out for yourself.

As I’ve mentioned in other reviews, the Titleist Pro V1 is the gold standard when it comes to the look of a golf ball. While the Z-Star and Z-Star XV won’t be dethroning the king anytime soon, I’m really drawn to these balls. Maybe it is because they aren’t as common so when I see one, it looks really unique. The logo and alignment marks on the side have a modern quality and the italicized name in the alignment mark gives the ball a sense of movement and power.

No discussion of the look of a Srixon golf ball would be complete without talking about the Tour Yellow. Srixon hit a home run when it introduced its yellow golf ball years ago. I love the pearlized yellow, which to me is slightly tighter than the pearlized yellow of the Titleist NXT Tour. While I have not always been a yellow golf ball fan, it is safe to say that any time I put a Srixon in play, it will be the Tour Yellow version.

Durability

Z-Star
DSC_0039

It is accurate to say that under the right circumstances we can all scuff, scrape and chew up any premium golf ball on the market. The soft urethane covers are designed to allow clubs, especially wedges with clean grooves, to grab a hold of the cover and fire up some serious spin. Some of the premium balls on the market hold up well and some do not hold up as well.

I used three of each type of golf ball during testing and both the Srixon Z-Star and Z-Star XV held up really well during testing. After a battery of drivers, 6-irons, wedges, and putters, both balls came away with only minor scuffs and marks. The softer and thinner cover of the Z-Star XV was only slightly less durable than the Z-Star. I didn’t put any gashes on the balls and each could be cleaned up and put back into the bag.

Bottom Line

The Srixon Z-Star and Z-Star XV appear comfortable hanging just in the shadows and quietly delivering tour-level performance for golfers with higher swing speeds. They aren’t flashy and won’t dominate your TV screens with too many ads during final round coverage. But both balls offer golfers long distance off the tee and excellent short game control around the greens, while still being durable enough to get through an entire round.

If you’re looking for a new tour-caliber ball, both options should be on the list to test. For golfers with swing speeds under 105 mph, the Z-Star is the place to start. For golfers with driver swing speeds greater than 105 mph, the Z-Star XV is worth putting in play to see how it works for your game.

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When he is not obsessing about his golf game, Kane heads up an innovation lab responsible for driving innovative digital product development for Fortune 500 companies. He is also the co-founder of RoundShout and creator of Ranger GPS, the free iOS GPS app for the driving range.

On a quest to become a scratch golfer, Kane writes about his progress (for better or worse) at kanecochran.com and contributes golf technology-focused articles on GolfWRX.com.

35 COMMENTS

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  1. ???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????20????????????????????????20??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????2????????????????????

  2. mi comentario es el siguiente, tengo algunos meses jugando con srixon z star White, yo he encontrado una negativa, creo que la tecnología es novedosa pero yo encuentro un punto negativo, el core o capa externa se marca muy rápidamente y da la impresión de rescabrajarse , se parte comforme se va golpeando, la verdad para mi es muy incomodo jugar con una pelota marcada y agrietada, que lastima compre muchas cajas y pues ni modo tendre que jugarlas, al fin el golf me divierte y la función debe continuar. saludos.

  3. hi Kane,

    nice article and seems very expert like approach into the problem. however, and I think you are accomplished golfer, in your testing did you average the same swing speed etc. same shot making… as I have noticed that this varies for pros to the extent that the Robot can test it more accurately.

  4. I’ve been loyal to z stars for a few years now, excellent balls but this review confirms how hard it is to tell the difference between them. These or the Wilson FG tours are by far the best value premium balls in the UK.

    But like others have said, sad that the fluorescent / translucent yellow has gone. Now they were pretty.

  5. Very insightful regarding Srixon Balls. I love the way they play and I was very happy with them until a cleveland R & D Manager or VP said that you can compress them . I know I hit my driver under 105 but PROV1 and PROV1X says anyone can hit those and it shows that even an 80 mph swing can compress the ball. They need to make a new ball fast. There Srixon Tour Yellow ZSTAR was great but their 2nd generation although had a lot of distance, I didn’t like the yellow as much as the 1st year. Thank you for taking time to show the effectiveness of the balls and how the Q Star works well for higher swing speeds also. For the time being I will still keep trying balls but with my driver swing speed at 95MPH I should be able to play what is best for me and The Srixon XV is not good for me according to you and the EXECs at Cleveland. I will wait until they make another SL ball. So back to the drawing board.

  6. Nice review, but in my experience with these new balls, they pale in comparison to the old version. I can’t speak to the z-star, but the XV Tour Yellow is the best ball I have ever played since the famed TP Red. Durability, low spin off driver, predicatable greenside control,r all categories are better with the old version. Add to that the much much better colour, case closed. I have 14 dozen of the old kind stocked and I am so happy I did.

  7. I’m curious to see the Q-Star review. That’s the ball I have played for a while now, and it has probably the best combo of price/performance that I have found yet.

    • How would you rate the durability of the Q-Star compared to Z-Stars? Im a big fan of the Z-Stars but if the Q-Stars durability is similair, I wouldn’t mind using Q-stars to save some money.

      • I found the Q-Stars to be more durable during testing than the Z-Stars thanks to the firmer cover. If I cleaned the three test balls off, I could put them back in the sleeve and it would be hard to tell they had been played.

  8. The original neon yellow is the only ball for winter in Texas…
    Its the only ball my old eyes can follow against grey skies and dormant bermuda.
    Not a fan of the new mustard but come winter u will find me buying the z star…although your review has tempted me sufficiently to try the q star

  9. How about, for all ball comparisons, including a standard in every test. I suggest the Titleist Pro V1. This way numbers across brands and multiple comparisons will mean something that can be compared easily.

    • Thanks for the suggestion. We’ve started to do more direct comparisons between manufacturers with the recent Gear Trials series and are planning to do more in the future. For these reviews we’ve focused on the differences between versions of a specific ball (or lineup) like the Pro V1 vs Pro V1x or Z-Star vs. Z-Star XV. But you can actually take a look at the numbers from the earlier Pro V1 review, which was tested using the same clubs and launch monitor – http://www.golfwrx.com/206069/review-titleist-pro-v1-and-titleist-pro-v1x-golf-balls/

      • Hi, did you actually do this test between different manufacturers, I cannot find it? My choices of balls are pretty personal and depend on course conditions : my usual is the Srixon Ad333 tour, I sometimes game the Pro V1 (never the x, fells like a rock, same as the Z-star), and in very fast conditions the Wilson DX2! I’m just wondering what the real difference between the AD333 and the Pro V1 is with the driver and the 6 iron. Great reviews btw

  10. These are awesome reviews Kane. Thanks. Was the data collected on the same launch monitor? Also, because you’re only human, some of the differences could be related to strike but it seems that your data is very comparable from ball test to ball test. Could I compare data from all your different tests as a starting place for my quest for the right ball for me. Lastly, have to say I’m really surprised to see how well the Q star performs. Very interesting. Well done, cheers.

    • Thank you, Rich! The data for all the ball reviews this year was collected using the same clubs (with clean grooves) and the same launch monitor. While the data has been collected over a few months, I’ve tried to be as consistent as I can be with my swing during each session. But you’re right, I’m only human! You should be able to look at the numbers in each of the reviews and compare them side by side as a starting point for your quest. If nothing else, it should help you be able to rank them in the order you’d like to test them for your own game. Good luck and let me know which ball you go with.

      • Thanks Kane. That’s great. Again, the reviews are great and really give me a good starting point. I also struggle to keep driver spin down but don’t struggle with short iron spin so I think the SR2/3 might be the best place to start. I have to say I do agree with you when it comes to the way a ball looks. There is nothing better than the finish and printing on a Pro V1. It’s a class ball. I like the feel and the look but it can spin just a bit too much for my game at my home course. If I’m playing a tough, hard and fast golf course though, they are my number one pick. Thanks again, keep the reviews coming. They’re my favourite equipment reviews on Golfwrx. Cheers

  11. I personally love srixon golf balls but i do sample some other mfrs premium kool aid from time to time i always go back to the exceptional z’s and when it gets cold or cash is tight the equally impressive q star you can not go wrong they are worth a try

  12. I love The Z balls. The last 2 iterations I was extremely loyal to due to their near indestructibility. They always performed nearly as well for me as the Prov series or tour Cally balls (driver SS right around 100mph-driver 250ish, 8i 160, SW 110). But while I can tear up the other balls easily, I’ve had Zs last me double digit rounds no problem. Unfortunately the 13/14 balls (the ones reviewed here) are not as durable as the previous versions. Still above average, but not nearly as good (probably bc of the Spin Skin-which imo barely adds any spin). Add that with the new Tour Yellow being more mustardy than the previous awesome fluorescent and I’m no longer so loyal. Wish I could find a huge supply of the 11/12 TYs.

  13. I have a very average SS at 92mph with the driver and recently tested all four Srixon offerings, ultimately switching to the new XV as it really reduced the side-spin off the driver and held its line on putts better than the Z or Q star. I went into this little test believing the XV would be far too hard-feeling for my personal taste since Bridgestone’s E6 is what I’ve used the past 2 years, but the XV compressed well on irons and felt great on wedges and off the putter. I mention this because the ball is marketed toward tour level swings, but it goes to show that the average guy can see benefits, too.

  14. I love these reviews that you do. I am always excited to find a Srixon in the woods and play a few holes with it. I always liked their AD 333 ball, but I don’t think they make it anymore. Anyway, thanks for the review and keep the reviews coming.

      • I also love your reviews! I play the regular Z-star and I effn love them! Has good chip back spin when you want it and the back spin on approach shots makes my buddies say WOW!

        Keep them reviews coming and im going to start following your quest to single digit as well. Been playing for 10 months and my goal is to bbein thw singles by the end of the year.

        • Thanks, Mike! Sounds like you’re really working hard and making great progress toward your goal. If you’re able to go from not playing to single digits in a little more than a year, that is quite an achievement. Best of luck and let me know when you hit your goal!

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