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Nike 20XI / 20XI-X Balls
Review by GolfWRX writer: PhilsRHman
I received a dozen 20XI-S and 20XI-X balls with the understanding I would post my thoughts here. Thanks to GolfWRX and Nike for the chance to hit these balls and for getting product into the hands of the site’s users to weigh in.
Click here to read the discussion in the forums
About me: I’ve been hovering in the upper single digits for the past two years, but have played quite a bit this season and have dipped down to a 4.8 this summer. I’ve always looked for a performance ball at a bargain. Last year that meant the Wilson Staff FG Tour and this year it’s meant the Srixon ZStar-X. If I had my choice of any ball, it would be a Pro V-1x. I’m a very high launch, high spin player, which was proven to be true on two recent Trackman sessions at HotStix in Rye Brook, NY. My driver swing speed at my last session was 114-118 and my big issue is that my angle of attack is around 3-4*, which puts an awful lot of spin on the ball.
I’ll admit at the start, I really didn’t think I’d be able to tell the difference between one premium ball and another, but I guess the fact I’m playing a lot, and playing pretty well, combined with the fact I’ve played almost entirely with the Z Star-X this summer, and I could see very obvious differences.
I’ve noticed a lot of the other guys broke down the ball by segments, so I’ll do the same. However, I’ll rank them in order of noticeable difference.
1. Iron spin: Unfortunately, both the S and X proved to have uncontrollable spin on full shots to the greens for me. With a Pro V or Z Star, a long iron would hit and release 6-10 feet. A 7-9 iron would hit and stop and a wedge would back up 3-6 feet. Very predictable. However, over the past few rounds, I’ve been unable to control the spin on either the S or the X. At first I thought it was just the S, but today proved that the X is as tough to gauge. A long iron (5-6 iron) would hit and stop, maybe even back up 3 feet. A 7-9 iron would back up 10-12 feet, and a wedge would suck back off the green. I saw examples of a 8 iron with a X sucking back 15-20 feet off the front, as well as a 51* wedge that hit on the back of green and zipped back to the front edge (about 45 feet) although that was an S. To me, this is where the review begins and ends for me. Keep in mind, these aren’t on Augusta type greens, they’re on putting surfaces slowed down to avoid losing the greens in the Northeast heat. While the spin once the ball lands was an issue, I didn’t see much evidence of this ball ballooning into the wind, however my draw often turned from a 5-yard draw to missing the green to the left. In the past, this would be the case when I’d deloft the club at impact, which wouldn’t be the ball’s fault, but here I’d be missing pin high, which tells me it’s excess spin.
2. Green side spin: As you’d imagine, I saw some great hop and stop results with both the 20XI S and X, more so with the S. This is definitely a plus for these two balls, because the spin around the greens is consistent and if you practice enough with them I’m sure you can really dial in your chips and hop-hop-stop shots. I particularly noticed that the X performed especially well out of bunkers. Personally, I would prefer the X’s green side spin, because it’s not quite as aggressive and I found that the S had the habit of really sticking on the first hop, but again, that’s personal preference and I prefer to play a low bump-run whenever possible when just off the edge.
3. Driver: Here is probably my favorite part of the 20XI X. I loved driving this ball, it was very easy to work, but I never found myself losing it in either direction. I normally fight a big hook or a block right, depending on the day. The Z Star X must have quite a low driver spin because I can’t work it as comfortably as the 20XI X, so when I really have to work it, I go overboard and lose it. The 20XI X allowed me to hit subtle draws and fades. I think it’s that comfort that allowed me to also bomb away. I found the 20XI X to be consistently longer than the Z Star X, which seems counter-intuitive but proved out over numerous rounds. I put the 20XI X into some positions that I haven’t seen all season at my home course. With all that said about the 20XI X, I really don’t have any good conclusions about the 20XI S in terms of driver, but I do know that I lost several of them into the woods, so I’d say that the extra spin meant I hit them extra wild. I wouldn’t take that as gospel, however, as I sit here writing, I just never got a clearly defined sense of the S off the tee. It was OK, nothing really stood out.
4. Durability: Here’s a real asset of this ball. Sure, a well struck 100 yard shot with a non-conforming wedge will scuff, just like any premium ball. But the cover doesn’t fish gill the way some do and I would give this ball an A for endurance. Nothing longer than a PW marked up the ball, and never grated it on anything but a full wedge.
5. Feel: I know that people put so much stock in how a ball feels off the putter and off irons. I honestly never think about it, until reading a few other reviews and thinking, hmm, yeah, I guess I did notice that. Well, in terms of the S, I did find it to be soft, but not mushy (I thought the previous generation Callaway balls were very mushy). On the D, I also found it to be soft, but maybe a little more solid, if that makes sense. I guess I’d say they are both very comparable to the Z Star X since I didn’t notice much difference between any of the three. I did notice, however, that while switching between the three balls during today’s round (the final test round of about four weeks of playing them all), I couldn’t get the speed of the greens at all. I thought I just putted like a butthead, but then read another review of someone who couldn’t find green speed with the 20XI balls, so maybe I’ve got an excuse. However, yesterday I made 3 birdies in 9 holes with the X, so I can’t really blame the ball. One thing I will say, is that I dug a Pro V1x out of my bag for something yesterday and the feel was MUCH different. The Pro V had a much “deeper” feel at impact if that makes sense. Not firm or soft, just more substantial. I can’t really put it into words, just sort of the same way a really pure iron shot just feels great.
Conclusion: For me, the 20XI X does a lot of things very well, specifically its performance off the driver and its durability. But it’s very hard for me to keep a ball in play when I’m consistently frustrated with a good iron shot that ends up way short. It’s something I could adjust to I’m sure, and maybe if I was playing firmer conditions I’d welcome that extra iron spin. I also know that won’t be an issue for other players, and I think there are enough advantages to heartily suggest giving these balls a try. As for the S, I honestly don’t think it’s the right ball for my game, but in the right hands I think it’ll be a good fit.
With the arrival of the new groove regulations it is no surprise that companies like Nike have invested heavily in new ball technologies. The new 20X1(pronounced twenty-x-i) is the result of the combined efforts of Nike’s golf ball engineers and scientists at Dupont (makers of Kevlar and Teflon) to produce a ball that goes further with more control. Essentially they have made a high MOI ball with a more active core and a softer cover. There are two versions: a more distance orientated 20XI-X and the higher spinning 20XI-S.
The Nike balls also have a resin core than is supposed to produce a faster ball speed and a steeper spin slope that sees less spin off the driver and more off the wedge. Moment Of Inertia was the buzz word in the driver world a little while ago but this sees Nike join Callaway’s Tour i(s) and Tour i(z) by creating a ball with perimeter weighting. Not only is this supposed to produce straighter ball flight but it also means that more of the spin is preserved throughout the ball’s flight. This means it can leave the club face with less spin for more distance but also (and somewhat counter-intuitively) land was more spin than a previous generation golf ball.
All this would amount to pretty much the holy grail of golf balls – a longer, straighter golf ball that is easier to control and stop dead when you need it. So long as putting is unaffected this sounds like it could be phenomenal.
Availability is yet to be announced and as always, more information will be found at www.nike.com.