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Remember these great golf balls of years past?

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When it comes to classic gear, few pieces of equipment stir up as much conversation as golf balls, especially in the modern era when talking about distance and short game control specifically. Just like clubs, they are carefully constructed and designed to fit certain swings and provide performance benefits for different types of golfers.

Some well-known brands have been around for over a half-century, and in the case of the Titleist Pro V1, has remained the staple by which all other modern golf balls have been judged. But this list isn’t about new, it’s about the forgotten.

Here are some of the forgotten greats of the past two decades.

Strata Tour Ace

Best known as the ball used by Jim Furyk to win the 2003 U.S. Open, the Strata Tour Ace was a four-piece urethane ball with a very soft cover that allowed for what Strata called “one hop and stop” spin around the greens.

One quirky way to quickly distinguish the Tour Ace from other balls in the Strata lineup was the use of card suites instead of numbers to identify balls that came in a sleeve—it also allowed you to really flush one (dad joke, I’ll see myself out).

Maxfli Revolution Solid

Introduced in the early 2000s to compete with the Pro V1, the Maxfli Revolution Solid was engineered to provide improved distance without sacrificing approach or around-the-green spin. It was a three-piece ball that featured an oversized core and urethane cover. What also made the Maxfli Revolution interesting is that its main endorser was none other than Jack Nicklaus.

TaylorMade InerGel

The golf ball made more famous for its packaging than its performance, the InerGel was the first TaylorMade golf ball to market. What really made it stand out was the plastic tube the balls came in to help prevent them from being exposed to moisture (hey, it was an angle).

TaylorMade R&D estimated that golf balls had the potential to lose as much as six yards in distance by being exposed to moisture and this was one way to prevent that from happening. Although it was never a big seller, the InerGel tubes lived on for a long time carrying tees and other things in a lot of golfers’ bags.

Callaway HX Tour 56 (Hogan Tour Deep?)

The HX Tour 56 was the softer brother to the original HX Tour (also referred to as the HX Black) and offered an extremely soft feel and higher spin around the greens. The Tour 56 was introduced the second year after Callaway bought Top-Flite, its manufacturing plant, and all its IP—why do I bring this up?

Here’s where it gets interesting. At the time of introduction, Hogan was still owned by Callaway Golf and they were producing both Hogan and Callaway branded clubs and balls. One of the key design features of the HX Tour 56 were six strategically placed deeper dimples around the ball to help with aerodynamic stabilization. You know what other ball has this feature? The Hogan Tour Deep, the only difference being the HX Tour 56 has the patented HX dimple pattern while the Hogan had the traditional round dimples.

Were they the same ball with different dimple patterns? I can’t 100 percent confirm, but considering how much R&D goes into a ball design, and that these arrived at almost the same time, I would put a few bucks on it.

Precept Lady

You could argue the Precept MC Lady was the ball that changed the way average golfers thought about compression. It was introduced late 1999 as strictly a value ($20 a dozen) ball designed for women with slower swing speeds, Precept really didn’t even market it. By late 2000 it set the golf world ablaze to the point of many shops having a hard time keeping them in stock—it was the number two selling ball at retail behind the $40/dozen Titleist Pro V1.

It was a two-piece ball that performed way above its price point and the softer compression kept spin down and created longer flying straighter drives that average golfers only dreamed of. Technically the Lady still exists today as the Laddie under the Bridgestone brand (Bridgestone owns Precept).

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Ryan Barath is part of the Digital Content Creation Team for GolfWRX. He hosts the "On Spec" Podcast on the GolfWRX Radio Network which focuses on discussing everything golf, including gear, technology, fitting, and course architecture. He is a club-fitter & master club builder with more than 17 years of experience working with golfers of all skill levels, including PGA Tour players. He is the former Build Shop Manager & Social Media Coordinator for Modern Golf. He now works independently from his home shop and is a member of advisory panels to a select number of golf equipment manufacturers. You can find Ryan on Twitter and Instagram where he's always willing to chat golf, and share his passion for club building, course architecture and wedge grinding.

19 Comments

19 Comments

  1. Joe

    Mar 20, 2020 at 10:48 am

    Dating myself, but I recall as a beginning golfer the Penfold Ace, the Acushnet Club Special,and the Spalding “Green Eyes” ( a green dot on either side of the number), which were always in plentiful supply in a large glass jar on the pro shop counter

  2. MikeB

    Mar 20, 2020 at 10:45 am

    NIKE DD & TW, although the DD was the better ball of the two. Callaway SR series 1,2 and 3. SR1 being the softest and SR3 being the firmest. Played the SR3 up to a year and a half ago when my hoarded supply ran out. Dicks kept selling them for $20/doz, had more dozens of them than toilet paper!

  3. ChrisJ

    Mar 20, 2020 at 9:55 am

    What about the Tour Edition that was played by Greg Norman that would spin off the planet?
    Also the Precept EV Extra Spin, and the Top Flite Z Balata

  4. DAVID J. CLEMENT

    Mar 20, 2020 at 9:54 am

    Going back a bit further – to the 1960’s and ’70’s – I was always glad to find a MaxFli “Blue Max” out on the course as a kid. Remember that the George Peppard movie was out then about WW1 German fighter aces?

  5. Steve Cantwell

    Mar 20, 2020 at 9:15 am

    Things I recall…the Precept Lady was a great cold weather ball. Balata balls had wonderful feel off the club face (putter included)….but “thinning” one would result in a big ol’ smile (cut). Balata balls could also become out of round after 36 holes of golf. Gosh, we here making comments are old!

    • Joe

      Mar 20, 2020 at 10:38 am

      Some of those balata balls were out of round tight out of the box

      • joro

        Mar 20, 2020 at 11:01 am

        The Black Maxfli was one that was a great ball if you got a good one, but some were so out of round they looked like stones.

  6. David Arbuckle

    Mar 20, 2020 at 8:47 am

    Nice story and can relate to those remembering even more balls. Did anyone ever appreciate the Dunlap ball with the different divots? It corrects in flight! I have arguably the largest collection of logo balls and have given away more than 15,000 balls to friends, charities and anyone who respects the game, and really enjoy the difference in the various balls. PS, am not a good enough golfer to get mad.

  7. Jeff

    Mar 19, 2020 at 3:35 pm

    This list could be a lot longer. Where are the Precept U-Tri Tour, Callaway Hex Red; Maxfli M3, Strata Tour, TM TP Red, Nike ONE Gold, Top Flite ZBalata?

  8. 15th Club

    Mar 19, 2020 at 2:50 pm

    You do a great job on these “Remember this old equipment” stories. They are always well done and entertaining.

    This is no exception.

    But I have to say that apart from some curiosities with branding and marketing, and some things that had nothing to do with Tour golf (like the Precept Lady) golf balls have always been to me the least interesting, least comprehensible things in the game.

  9. Acemandrake

    Mar 18, 2020 at 10:00 pm

    I’ll always remember being pleasantly surprised by the Wilson Staff ball in the 1990’s.

    They were great and I couldn’t understand why no one talked about them.

    • Rich Douglas

      Mar 19, 2020 at 2:12 am

      They had one version labeled “Balata,” but I’m pretty convinced it was artificial, not real, balata. Imagine a two-piece ball with a balata cover. Oh, my!

  10. juanny

    Mar 18, 2020 at 9:50 pm

    Tour Prestige was a great ball too despite getting shredded by the third hole.

    Loved the Stratas and the Wound Maxfli Rev.

    I found two dozen inergel’s in my garage a few weeks ago, sans plastic cases, and threw them on ebay and they sold for $25 which I thought was strange.

  11. Brandon

    Mar 18, 2020 at 6:10 pm

    What was the deal with those goofy ping balls that were 2 different colors and felt like rocks?

    • Swirley

      Mar 18, 2020 at 8:45 pm

      I had one that was Green and Neon Yellow. Needless to say, i hit one in the rough that landed neon yellow side down.

  12. Big Earl

    Mar 18, 2020 at 3:03 pm

    Cool article! Always fun to get nostalgic.
    Maxfli revolutions were my jam back in the early days. Also finding a DT wound 80 or 90 was really exciting!

    • Nihonsei

      Mar 20, 2020 at 8:47 am

      +1 for Revolutions and the side stamp predecessor to lining up for putts perfectly. Do I remember an arrow at least on one side of the Revolution print?

  13. Gunter Eisenberg

    Mar 18, 2020 at 12:58 pm

    As I remember correctly, the Maxfli Revolution solid wasn’t as revered as the original wound version. Most of the technology that you see in Callaway’s current tour level balls are derived from Strata and Ben Hogan when Callway bought Top Flite in 2003 and their patents.

  14. BillyG

    Mar 18, 2020 at 12:57 pm

    Lady. Yeah!

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What GolfWRXers are saying about Cleveland’s CBX2 wedges

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@clevelandgolfeu

In our forums, our members have been discussing Cleveland’s CBX2 wedges. WRXer ‘hammergolf’ wants to hear from single-digit players who are currently playing the wedges, and our members have been sharing their thoughts on the clubs with plenty of praise for the wedges in our forums.

Here are a few posts from the thread, but make sure to check out the entire discussion and have your say at the link below.

  • cfmgolf: “I am definitely a believer. Tried it on a whim at a PGA SuperStore in FL last fall and was stunned by the consistency of it. Changed from a RTX3 to the CBX2 in my 52* gap within a couple of weeks. Now that we are back in OH for the summer, I changed out 3 wedges (Ping Glide 3.0, and 2 of the RTX 4’s) for an entire bag of the CBX2’s. I am trying the full face in my 56* and found it to be very good also. Biggest benefit for me has been the consistency of the CBX line. Shots out of the rough that can be high on the club don’t really lose much – i.e. more forgiving. I go between a 6-8HCP, and short game is my strong point. Very happy with them so far.”
  • JCRay33: “6 handicap here and bought a couple CBX’s (54 and 58) from 2nd swing a couple months ago and absolutely love them! Way more forgiving than typical blade wedges (had vokeys before) and great feel as well. It’s easy for ego to get in the way and not want to get these, but once you realize, all that matters is performance the choice is a no-brainer and results speak for themselves really.”
  • mortimer: “CBX2 50. Excellent gap wedge for full, 3/4 shots and chipping. Forgiving, consistent and more than acceptable spin numbers. Also offset is fine to my eye. Having said all that I would not game a 58/60 degrees one if you like to manipulate the face for different shots around the green as I do. Intrigued though with the new full-face but have not seen one in person yet.”
  • Simp: “I have a set of 58, 54 & 50 raw CBX2’s allegedly tour issue, and I love them. The 58 has a grind that is lovely. I’m a 0 FYI.”
  • nicelife: “I have Srixon irons and Mizuno T20 wedges. I found the CBX2 50 was the perfect transition club between sets. LOVE the Srixon/Cleveland V-Sole. Visually the face has more grooves than I would normally like to look at, but its performance more than makes up for it. I really like the satin finish. So much so I’m thinking about refinishing my irons. Go for it you won’t be sorry.”

Entire Thread: “Cleveland’s CBX2 wedges”

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What GolfWRXers are saying about the best non-mainstream brands for golf apparel and accessories

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@linksstrathaven

In our forums, our members have been discussing non-mainstream brands offering the best apparel and accessories. WRXer ‘CousinDonuts’ kicked off the thread with a great selection, and our members have been mentioning their favorites in our forums – with a wide variety of different brand’s receiving a mention.

Here are a few posts from the thread, but make sure to check out the entire discussion and have your say at the link below.

  • Mike T: “Apparel: J Lindeberg – Euro Style cut and fit. Shoes: Lamda – Handmade in Portugal.”
  • aem604: “Reigning Champ-Good active but also golf ready.”
  • Righty to Lefty: “Fenix Xcell based out of Thailand and have great gear with an Asian twist. I absolutely love all the vivid colors and options, especially from their previous collections. They also have a U.S. based collection that may suit others. Cross Sportswear based out of Sweden and have so really nice gear and a rarity which is waterproof trousers that look exactly like slacks. Antigua polos are nice quality and have some good designs. Druh has really good gear…pricey but still nice stuff. Retailer: Function 18 has quite a bit of your higher-end apparel all in one place. I start there and then go to each website individually to see what else they have available.”
  • kmay_: “Check out Pioneer Golf Co, Canadian headcover brand. Make some awesome covers and valuables pouches, starting to release some branded apparel. Prices are super fair, and if you’re in the US, they’ll be a steal.”
  • ScottWS33: “Bluegrass Fairway for headcovers, valuables pouches and scorecard holders.”
  • BobsBugsBeGone: “Best Exotic Belts: Jacob Hill Leather by Piedmont.”

Entire Thread: “Best non-mainstream brands”

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Coming out of the haze: What to expect from the OEMs in the second half of 2020

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As we slowly come out of the lockdown haze, it’s going to be interesting to see which OEMs are primed to come out swinging. From where I sit, there are a few companies that either kept the foot on the pedal or found new ways to interact with the masses. I have been tracking the major companies for different reasons, and I am optimistic on most fronts. Now, it needs to be said that everyone has been keeping the respective momentum going in their own ways—this has been a challenge for everyone, so this analysis is simply a commentary on what may come in the second half of the year.

Many good folks were either furloughed or laid off during this lockdown—that’s where we all lost. It needs to be acknowledged that we are talking about golf here, but the underlying reality of this is still devastating. I so look forward to getting into the trenches with these folks again either back where they were or at new companies.

TaylorMade became educators…and kicked off live golf again

Big giant club company or big giant marketing machine…it doesn’t matter what you label them as. TaylorMade Golf, in my opinion, turned the heartbreak of stalling one of the biggest first quarters in company history into an opportunity to start talking…and teaching. With the help of the tour team and TM athletes, TaylorMade focused hard on talking to us all during the lockdown. With multiple initiatives through social media, the Driving Relief event, and the tour staff engaging way more than usual. I believe TM created a runway to start moving quickly once stores and pro shops open up again.

Let’s face it, with the social media presence, the most robust tour staff maybe ever, and the driver everyone seems to have reserved for the top big stick of 2020, what’s not to be confident about? On the flip side, a company that big could have really taken it on the chin hard, but how they handled the lockdown—from my chair—was fun to watch and will ultimately ensure a quick restart. There is something to be said about having guys like Trottie, Adrian, and Hause in the fold informing and keeping things fun.

Rumor has it new irons are dropping in the fall/winter, which could spell two awesome bookends to a bittersweet 2020.

PXG leaned in

Why online sales for all OEMs spiked is no mystery. Boredom, desire, and a credit card are keys to any great online buying experience, but PXG made certain that if you were not a buyer previously, you may be now.

The price tag has always been a key topic with Bob Parsons’ Scottsdale-based company. It’s no secret that the clubs aren’t cheap, but during this lockdown, they did multiple strategic initiatives to not only crank up direct-to-consumer buying but also expand the PXG conversation into different areas, namely fashion.

Price cuts across the board started early and, rumor has it, enabled PXG to achieve sales numbers unlike any other period in the company’s short history. Yes, cutting prices helps unit sales, but in the case of PXG, it brought in the club customer that ordinarily shied away from PXG for financial reasons and ultimately made them buyers. That’s where PXG seems to shine, once they finally get you in, they are very effective at keeping you in the family. Mercedes-Benz AMG is like that: once you have had a taste of the Kool-Aid, it’s hard to go back to Hawaiian Punch.

In addition to the aggressive price-cutting, PXG fashion, spearheaded by President Renee Parsons, launched a new collection that is designed and manufactured by PXG. Fashion in times like these is always a risk from a financial standpoint, but this launch has been on the calendar since the BOY and the current lockdown did not disrupt that. It speaks to the confidence that Bob and Renee have in what they are doing. Now, is it a guarantee that PXG garments will fly off the shelves? No. but that’s not the point, it’s the fact that this current climate didn’t scare them into pivoting or holding off.

Point to this pick is PXG looks healthy coming out of this and it was possible to believe that perhaps this would have taken a toll on the custom fit brand. There is even a commercial produced during lockdown to attract even more club builders to the fold. Not normal behavior in times like these, but is anything that PXG does normal? No, and that’s what makes them fun to talk about.

The company also released its Essential Facemask with 50 percent of proceeds going to Team Rubicon.

Ping was quiet…but don’t be fooled

Yes, they did some rare social media engagements with Kenton Oates and the tour staff, which were fantastic. But the real magic here was the quiet way in which Ping slipped into 2020 and the mystery they have in hand and what’s to come next.

There hasn’t been really any new Ping product in a good while, and I anticipate a big winter for the Solheim crew. Sometimes, silence is golden and from what I can gather, what Ping has coming in irons and woods will be yet again a launch that gets people talking.

Ping from a business standpoint is a company that gets one percent better every year. Never any dramatic shifts in strategy or product. It’s always good, it’s always high-performance, and it’s always in the “best of” category across the board.

Watch out for them over the next six to nine months…a storm is brewing. A good one.

Cobra introduced the “Rickie iron”

Cobra Rev 33 Irons

Compared to 2019 and the runaway success that was the F9 driver, Cobra Golf seemed to cruise along in the first quarter of 2020. The SpeedZone metal wood line was an improvement tech-wise from the F9 but seemed to get lost in the driver launch shuffle with an earlier release—and frankly everyone in the industry took a back seat to TaylorMade’s SIM.

It’s not placing one stick over the other actually, I have been very vocal about my affections for both, it’s just some years, the story around a club can generate excitement, and if the club is exceptional, boom. Cobra was that cool kid in 2019.

What Cobra decided to do in the downtime is slowly tease and taunt with a “Rickie Fowler” iron. Players blades aren’t typically the driving element of any business model, but what Cobra did was introduce to a beautiful yet completely authentic forging that will not only get the gear heads going nuts but also entice the better players to start looking at Cobra as a serious better players iron company. No small feat.

Point is, Cobra has generated buzz. It helped that Rickie’s performance at Seminole was just short of a precision clinic. Beyond the Rev 33, its rumored Cobra has a new players CB coming and some MIM wedges.

It should be an exciting last half for the Cobra crew.

The Titleist train chugged on

I mean, what else is there to say about Titleist? They are as American as apple pie, have a stranglehold on multiple tour and retail categories, and one of the best front offices in golf. The company is a well-oiled machine.

So what do I expect from them in the last half? Well pretty much what I would expect on any other year, solid player-driven equipment. A metal wood launch is coming, the SM8 was a huge hit in stores and on tour, and the ball portion is the biggest 800-pound gorilla in golf.

It was also nice to see a little more social media interaction beyond the traditional. Aaron Dill has been very active on the social media front and a good portion of the tour staff, namely Poulter, JT, and Homa were proactive in engagement. Might seem trivial to some, but specifically, Titleist and Ping are not super active in the organic interaction game, so it was nice to see both companies dive into the fold.

Cleveland/Srixon should have a lot to look forward to

Let’s be honest here, 2019 was a quiet year overall for Srixon. Shane Lowry won The Open, but in the golf mainstream it was a leap year for them in regards to any launches. The anticipation from me personally of what is to come is quite strong. I adore the irons. I have yet to meet one I didn’t love, and fitters across the country will speak to that in sales. The Srixon iron line has become a popular yet-sort-of-cult-classic among fitters and gearheads and rightly so. They are phenomenal.

The recently teased picture of the new driver on the USGA site more or less teased us of what is to come for the overall line. New Cleveland wedges are coming shortly and the golf ball has always been a solid component to the Huntington Beach company.

As much as anyone in the market, I believe Srixon could finish the year with some serious momentum going into 2021. The irons and ball have always been firestarters. My only wish for them, selfishly, is a more aggressive tour strategy in regards to landing one of the perennial top 10. It seems like a dumb thought, but I have always felt Cleveland/Srixon was always a serious hitter that at times seems to get lost in the conversation. Having a big gun on staff or a couple of them will remedy that quickly.

Callaway has an eye on big things for the golf ball

Callaway, a company that seems to do it all well, was actually a bit quiet since the lockdown started. After a solid release of the Mavrik line and some momentum in the golf ball area, I’m sure this lockdown probably felt like a kick to the shin.

However, this company is shifting in a good way. The idea that they were a golf club company that happened to make golf balls is slowly turning into a company with multiple major components that stand alone. TaylorMade is on a similar shift, and honestly it’s very interesting to watch. Do I think that anyone will ever catch Titleist in the ball category? No, I don’t. All of these mentioned golf balls are ridiculously good, but 75 years of trust and loyalty are hard to compete with. But that’s not the point, Callaway is a monster company that takes the golf ball conversation very seriously, and I believe this will serve them very well coming out of this craziness and help the momentum going into 2021.

 

 

 

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