Pros: Everything you expect from a tour-level ball, except the price. Low spin off the driver and ample spin around the greens.
Cons: Lack of presence at green grass accounts and major outlets means you can’t just pick up a sleeve to try at your local course.
Who’s it for? All golfers, especially those looking for a more affordable tour ball. They’re available exclusively through SnellGolf.com and sell for $31.99 per dozen.
What the Snell is going on here? Actually, it’s quite simple. Dean Snell, founder of Snell Golf, is on a mission to provide golfers with access to tour-quality equipment at a fraction of the price.
First, a little bit of background on Mr. Snell. After graduating with a degree in plastics engineering, Snell went to work for Titleist where he had his hand in models such as the Professional, HP2 series and Pro V1. He then took a job at TaylorMade as VP of Research and Development, creating models such as the TP, Penta, Lethal and Tour Preferred balls. Needless to say, he has his name on many, many patents. Then last year, Snell decided to use his 25 years of experience in the ball business to found his own company.
Suffice it to say, Snell knows ball design like Eminem knows rap music. It doesn’t take more than several minutes of conversation to realize Snell’s passion for the game is exceeded only by his experience and desire to make a difference for the amateur golfer. His endeavor is “something more than a hobby, but something less than a career,” he told me.
Let’s get down to brass tacks. Ball compression is overrated. Swing speed plays a role in ball fitting, but not nearly as much as people want to believe. The crux of the matter is that every ball can be long off the tee as a result of lower compression cores. Low compression leads to low spin and (generally) greater distance. But that’s not unique. You can get that in an affordable 2-piece construction or in a tour ball with several more layers.
So what are you paying for in a “tour level” ball, exactly? It’s those extra layers.
Premium golf balls have at least three layers, each with specific performance attributes: A core that regulates driver ball speed and spin, a mantle layer that is key to iron performance and a cover that drives spin and feel around the greens.
Snell’s “My Tour Ball,” which I’ve tested extensively over the last several weeks, is a 3-piece ball with a low-compression core, a mantle designed to optimize iron performance and a cast urethane cover for optimal green-side control.
Off the tee, the My Tour Ball is fast. Cheetah fast. Given the combination of a low compression/low spin core and exceptional ball speeds, the My Tour Ball is mostly likely as long, if not longer, than what’s currently in your bag.
Compared to my current gamers (Bridgestone B330S and B330) the My Tour Ball consistently had 1-2 more MPH of ball speed and 50-150 fewer RPM of backspin. At a swing speed of 110 MPH, that translated into a couple extra yards on well struck shots. As for feel, it was firm and dense without being clicky.
A few extra yards is nice, but the performance off the tee isn’t ultimately the reason you should try this ball. As Snell told me, “If someone says they’re getting 12 more yards off the tee, I’m skeptical.” The salient point here is the amount of leverage the industry continues to place on using distance to sell product. Not only is it misleading, but strictly using driver numbers and a couple swings to fit for a ball is incomplete and “inconsistent with what we know about ball design and how to score well,” Snell told me.
Off the Irons
Now that we’re off the tee and down the fairway, let’s grab a 7 iron and see how we do.
In designing the mantle of the My Tour Ball, Snell refers to the “artistry” involved and specifically the interplay between the mantle and cover thickness. The balance has a direct impact on trajectory. You’ll often hear better players speak of “hitting windows” with their irons. Being able to hit specific shots with irons is critical to hitting greens and putting golfers in a position to make putts. The My Tour Ball was delightfully true and predictable. I could hit every shot I needed to and the ball held its line: high, low, draw, fade. This ball is capable of doing whatever you want it to.
If you play in windy conditions, expect the MTB to hold its line and bore like a carpenter bee. For me, it took a two-club wind and turned it into a 1.5 club wind.
In testing, there was no discernable difference between my B330, B330S and the My Tour Ball on iron shots from the tee or fairway. If there was 1-2 yards of difference, it was due to user error and nothing more. From both light and deep rough, the higher spinning B330S was a couple yards shorter, and the B330 was spot on with the MTB. More than anything, it indicates that the My Tour Ball and is on par with the best premium balls on the market.
From 100 Yards and In
When you fork over $45+/dozen for a tour ball, this is where you really find out if it was worth it. With the My Tour Ball, you can put the extra money back in your wallet and buy the first round instead. Long story short, the My Tour Ball was more impressive than I anticipated.
Given the emphasis placed on this part of the game for players who would likely try the My Tour Ball against their gamer, this was both the most exhaustive and compelling part of the test for me. I went through my normal practice routine hitting every conceivable chip, pitch, lob, bump-run and bunker shot. From there, I continued to test the ball on the course and even put it into play under tournament conditions.
With every shot, the My Tour Ball felt softer and had slightly more bite than the B330. Keep in mind, I’ve played both the B330 and B330S with great success for the past three seasons and until I tried the My Tour Ball, there was absolutely no impetus for me to change. However, after testing, there’s no reason I shouldn’t.
Two shots in particular cemented the MTB as my “go-to” ball moving forward:
The 30-40 yard pitch/hop/stop: This shot is a litmus test for my short game. If I can get a ball to behave appropriately from this distance, it’s a harbinger for the rest of my green-side chips and pitches. The thinner and softer cast urethane cover gave this shot more bite on the second hop than my B330 and in this regard, performed much like the current version of the Pro V1x for me.
90 yards — A full 60-degree: The greatest concern I have with full wedge shots is controlling the amount of spin I put on the ball. Too much and you risk ripping the ball off the green, and too little makes and it hard to predict how the ball will react when it hits the ground. The MTB sits comfortably in the goldilocks zone: not too much, not too little… just right.
Odds and Ends
- Snell Golf offers a Trial Pack ($26.99) with two sleeves of both the My Tour Ball and its Get Sum ball. When Callaway introduced the Rule 35 ball, they offered a 5-ball trial pack. This was because research showed the average golfer lost 4.5 balls per round. If you really want to see if a ball is better for you, a 2-ball trial sleeve might not make it through the front 9, let alone several rounds.
- Some users report durability issues with the Snell logo. In testing over several weeks, multiple rounds and testing sessions, the My Tour Ball didn’t fair any better or worse than comparable tour level balls.
If you currently play a premium ball, you owe it to your game and checkbook to give the “My Tour Ball” a run. The golf ball is the only piece of equipment used on every shot, and if you can get everything you need at a fraction of the cost, I’m not sure there’s a downside.
Why wouldn’t you drive a BMW on a Honda budget?