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The ball doesn't matter! (Formerly, the Ultimate Ball Test)


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#31 playa

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Posted 11 July 2015 - 09:59 AM

This thread reminds me of a funny story I once read about a group of young low caps hanging around the pro shop waiting to hit off, debating the merits of premium golf balls and how much they affect score etc. The assistant pro got sick of it and told them balls make no difference to score, and to prove his point went out and shot 4 under with a Rocket (old story).


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#32 Dalai_Lama

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Posted 11 July 2015 - 12:38 PM

 BrianL99, on 10 July 2015 - 09:05 PM, said:

 On The Screws, on 10 July 2015 - 09:01 PM, said:

My only problem with the test is the condition of the balls. Taking a brand new tour ball out and taking some road rashed, cart pathed, worn dimple, dingy yellow, can't find it in the rough POS isn't a fair test. They should be like new random balls, throwing out the chaff.

At the club I belong to, given the economic position of most members, the balls I find are usually as good or better than any ball I'd ever buy :)

I have to toss out 3 Pro V1's for every Mojo I find.   I won't use Pro V1's in the "lucky found ball" category, unless it's a little beat up.

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#33 NJpatbee

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Posted 11 July 2015 - 02:00 PM

 BrianL99, on 10 July 2015 - 08:20 PM, said:

 pitchinwedge, on 10 July 2015 - 03:51 PM, said:

How can you tell if the "found" balls are still any good?  How many rounds (or shots) does it take before a ball's compression/spin starts to change?  What about if it's come out of a lake?


I think the average golfer ... double digit or higher handicap, can score just as well playing 8 year old Top Flite as he would with a $4/ball Titleist Pro V1.

As an 18 HCP I would probably play better with the 8 year old Top-Flite.  Most of your analysis is concerning better players which is fine, but for the remaining 90% of the 30 million US golfers that are not in that category, playing the right ball can make an enormous difference.  I disagree that the less talented the golfer the less the ball matters since a true tour ball in my hands greatly increases the chances of my drives being in the rough or worse.  I also do not carry the ball long distances on my approach shots and a ball that stops on a dime usually leaves me short of the pin requiring an extra club, which for me is detriment.  I can play any conforming golf ball and have a good time, but if I am looking to score well I reach for a Softfli, Gamer Soft, or similar ball.

Have fun with your test and I look forward to seeing how the random ball affects a better player's score.

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#34 mulliganman30

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Posted 11 July 2015 - 06:18 PM

 trhode, on 09 July 2015 - 05:28 AM, said:

I can save you some time on this. Been tinkering with the Wilson Duo as well. I love the feeling of hitting a little marshmallow around the course. On longer irons and woods, I didn't see a big difference. The major difference was from 100yds and in. The Duo didn't have the spin I was used to from a premium ball. Carry yardages were the same, but the spin sucked. Sand shots were the same. No spin with the Duo. I played a couple of 9 hole rounds, hitting the same shot with a Wilson Duo and either a Pro V1x or Chrome Soft. No contest at all from 100yds and in. That's where a ball will perform the best anyway.  Just my $.02

Try the Wilson Elite 50.  Very good spin on approach shots for a non-urethane ball and cheap too....

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#35 Jamboy72

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Posted 11 July 2015 - 06:33 PM

I'll be interested to see the results, but I have to admit my bias - I do think the golf ball matters and I think it matters, to varying degrees, to a lot of different levels of player. Furthermore, even if a ball makes the difference of a stroke or two over 18 competitive holes, that doesn't sound like much to some - but to competitive amateurs and pros, that's huge.


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#36 BrianL99

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Posted 31 July 2015 - 06:02 AM

The results to date:

You can speculate on which column represents which golf balls.

Attached Thumbnails

  • Stats.jpg


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#37 pitchinwedge

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Posted 31 July 2015 - 12:19 PM

Set #2 has to be the junk balls.  Otherwise there'd be no drama.

You probably tense up just a bit since you don't want to lose brand new premium balls.  This leads to fewer fairways and GIR, which accounts for the higher scores. :busted_cop:

Another possibility is the balls from Set #2 spin more for you, resulting in straighter shots and more fairways, GIR, etc.

Edited by pitchinwedge, 31 July 2015 - 12:19 PM.

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917 F2 13.5* - Rogue Max 70
816 H2 19.0* - D+ Plus 90
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#38 2bGood

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Posted 31 July 2015 - 01:08 PM

Lots of great balls, but I big fan of staying with the same ball for as long as you can. Same shot with different balls might result in wedge shot going 10% further or shorter and this is a big deal around the green.

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#39 BrianL99

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Posted 31 July 2015 - 04:51 PM

I would suggest that anyone who's interested in this thread, re-read my original post again.

One "Set" is played with new Srixon Z-Star balls.  (I buy 20 dozen new balls every Spring, I'm not worried about losing them).

The other "Set" is played with "found balls".   Unless they're obviously 5 years old and beyond reasonable use, I use them.  If a "found ball" is a Pro V1 or other tour line ball, I won't use it unless it's beat up with skid marks.   So far, that "Junk Set" has included TopFlites, TaylorMade Burners, Pinnacle, DT Solo, and a couple of other mongrels.   I do find a lot of Pro V1's, but I've only played one of them, because it had major road rash from a cart path encounter.

Rounds are alternated between Set #1 & Set #2.  I threw out one score because it was an anomaly ... a 95 on a particularly aggravating day.

It's not a scientific test, but for practical purposes for the average golfer, I think it has merit.

Edited by BrianL99, 01 August 2015 - 06:41 AM.


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#40 HackerD

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Posted 01 August 2015 - 05:58 AM

Just the latest chapter in the long history of self-experimentation.
https://en.wikipedia...experimentation

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#41 BrianL99

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Posted 02 August 2015 - 12:02 PM

The Ultimate Ball Test is over.  The results are so overwhelming and obvious, there's no reason to continue.

The data is attached and below.

So does the ball matter?  Not a whit, at the level of golf I play.  Does it matter for a Scratch player or a professional?  Just speculation, but it probably matters on the Pro Tour and likely in national caliber Amateur tournaments, but I don't think anyone at a lower level than that, has sufficient consistency that the ball will substantively effect his score.

Set #1 is using new Srixon Z-Star golf balls.

Set #2 is using random, found balls, provided they're still serviceable and not a near new, pro line golf ball.

The results:

Attached Thumbnails

  •  General Stats.jpg
  •  Rounds Test.jpg
  •  Shots to the Green.jpg
  •  Putting.jpg
  •  UP & Downs.jpg
  •   More Putting_1.jpg

Edited by BrianL99, 02 August 2015 - 12:03 PM.


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#42 Jamboy72

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Posted 02 August 2015 - 12:16 PM

I think it's an interesting conversation, but not much more - As you go from +HC players to scratch to low single digit and so on, you introduce more variables into what causes differences in scores - I would think for any golfer who wants to improve, you want to limit the number of variables and whether or not dropping a single stroke is a big deal to that particular player, is certainly a topic of conversation - However, if you play several strokes better with random balls, than a ball you've selected for your game - that says more about the player than it does the ball.

But to say something like "the ball doesn't matter" is hyperbolic and untrue - maybe a more accurate statement is "The further your HC is from scratch, the less consistency you have in your game...

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#43 just plain bill

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Posted 02 August 2015 - 03:09 PM

looks like an interesting experiment that shows the 'found' balls actually performed better, lol...
what i like is the fact a lot of rounds were played to get a lot of numbers...
i'm still messing around w/ pinn gold and chrome soft, playing a lot to see what works best...i'm still a dang mess...
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#44 HackerD

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Posted 02 August 2015 - 05:21 PM

Need to put statistical confidence intervals around these results to judge them.
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#45 Sef

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Posted 02 August 2015 - 05:21 PM

Course conditions seem to make the most difference for me. At a couple of the courses I play they have bent grass greens that are watered and so soft that I hit a 3 wood in from from 290 and got less than 6 feet of roll out but left a crater of a pitch mark. Here I can play any random rock and it sticks to the green.

Another course has rock hard Bermuda greens, a tour ball will stick but a pinnacle will bounce over.

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#46 EddieforShort

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Posted 02 August 2015 - 10:00 PM

If you convince yourself of anything it's true to you.


The golf ball doesn't make a huge difference physically, but mentally it's a whole different story. If you have confidence standing over a shot, you're going to hit a better shot than if you're not sure about it.  Think of how you feel standing over a shot when you're in between clubs vs how you feel when you have a number that you can hit in your sleep(for me, it's 105 for a nice easy 54 degree wedge shot). The game is so mental, so for anyone that believes that the golf ball has an affect on the way you play(like I do), it truly does make a difference.  I feel more comfortable standing over a ball that I know will stop on the green where it lands, rather than having to guess if it's going to release 5-10 feet past the ball mark.  If you're comfortable standing over any golf ball, good on you.  You can just buy 1000 assorted golf balls on ebay and never have to worry about golf balls again.  I will continue to play my Wilson 50 Elites and Pro V1s because I have consistently played my best rounds with those balls.

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#47 spacecowboy

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Posted 02 August 2015 - 10:15 PM

Although not the intent of your experiment, I believe the obvious conclusion is that Z Stars are not the right ball for you.
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#48 dlygrisse

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Posted 02 August 2015 - 10:46 PM

In reality I probably hit less expensive balls as good or better than a urethane ball but I know I chip and pitch better with a proV. some of it may be mental but I have more confidence and I feel I can be more aggressive and I have confidence the ball will check up with the prov.
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#49 golf slacker

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Posted 02 August 2015 - 10:58 PM

My stepdad and I played today at a course with faster greens than any other this year, mainly due to the lack of rain for a few weeks. He left his chrome softs and home and only had his WS duo's with him. He hit at least 6 or 7 shots within a few yards of the stick. Each one rolled at least 10-40 feet passed, some through the green all together. If he would've been hitting the chrome softs he would've likely saved at least 3 or 4 strokes. Balls aren't the most important aspect but they do make a difference. If not why do you buy 10 dozen boxes every year?  Play with the ones you find.

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#50 Gauchograd99

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Posted 03 August 2015 - 01:36 AM

The data is really interesting, and yes it isn't a monster amount of data to get a statistical confidence of 95% let alone 99%, but still interesting and good luck ever getting to those confidence levels. The course changes daily, the person changes daily, the weather changes daily... there isn't much you can do to counter these effects. That said, I am not really surprised at the increase in fairways hit with the "found" balls. Less spin => less sidespin => less hook/slice => more fairways hit.

Shots into the green is an interesting one for you. Your major miss is short, and going to a ball that spins a bit less and theoretically will fly farther led to more greens hit (theoretically). Again, more missed straight vs left/right with the "found" ball which would point to less spin being helpful for you. As for the better scrambling result, I would have to ask one question to help qualify the data: Do you normally leave the ball too short on chip/pitch/bunker shots? Is that what changed with the "found" balls (i.e. more run-out led to closer shots)?

I am of the mindset that I fit the ball to the course provided the spin, or lack thereof, doesn't cause any serious side effects. Soft/slow conditions and a pro level ball? Waste of the ball. Hard/fast conditions and a rock? Not the wisest idea, but then again if you can spin pretty much anything out there and launch the ball pretty high get after it. If someone wants to spend on a tour ball for every round, get after it and enjoy. I'll stick to playing whatever ball I think will best fit the course (Chrome+/SR2/B330/Srixon XV level spin or ChromeSoft/PROBismuth level spin)... or whatever I feel like playing that day. Doesn't really make a difference to me.

All that said, not a bad set of data as a starting point.

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#51 just plain bill

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Posted 03 August 2015 - 02:50 AM

...and I would call a 3-shot difference significant!

What a game of torture...
drivers: Ping K15 10.5,  Nike Sasquatch 16*
hyb: Ping G20: 31*, 27*, 17*
irons:    Ping Karsten  8, 9, pw (ks 401 shafts sr flex)
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putter:   Odyssey Versa Jailbird
ball:   Pinn Soft
bag:   Ping cart
chess:   it's your turn  -  just plain bill

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#52 s1mZ

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Posted 03 August 2015 - 04:24 AM

View PostJamboy72, on 02 August 2015 - 12:16 PM, said:

I think it's an interesting conversation, but not much more - As you go from +HC players to scratch to low single digit and so on, you introduce more variables into what causes differences in scores - I would think for any golfer who wants to improve, you want to limit the number of variables and whether or not dropping a single stroke is a big deal to that particular player, is certainly a topic of conversation - However, if you play several strokes better with random balls, than a ball you've selected for your game - that says more about the player than it does the ball.

But to say something like "the ball doesn't matter" is hyperbolic and untrue - maybe a more accurate statement is "The further your HC is from scratch, the less consistency you have in your game...

Yep, like your avatar sir..this is the truth!

I'm a 16hc and am a serious ball ho. I play the Prov1 / x, chrome soft, Project a and most recently WS FG Tour. I am going to finish my current stash, and I will focus on a single ball for rest of season. I am playing really well but I believe switching to one ball will improve my scores by 3/4 shots. IMO.

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#53 bigsting

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Posted 03 August 2015 - 05:15 AM

This is a crazy test.  Short game spin differs massively between a 2 piece ionomer ball and a multilayer urethane ball.  Especially on hard fast greens.  And it's not just feel, it's fact.

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#54 BrianL99

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Posted 03 August 2015 - 05:52 AM

View PostBrianL99, on 08 July 2015 - 09:44 PM, said:


I'm sure a bunch of "ball snobs" will dispute my results, with a plethora of reasons why the test wasn't fair or doesn't apply to "their game".



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#55 Michael C.

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Posted 03 August 2015 - 06:59 AM

View PostBrianL99, on 03 August 2015 - 05:52 AM, said:

View PostBrianL99, on 08 July 2015 - 09:44 PM, said:


I'm sure a bunch of "ball snobs" will dispute my results, with a plethora of reasons why the test wasn't fair or doesn't apply to "their game".


Kudos to you putting this together. It looks like quite a project. I will confess, I'm kind of a ball snob. Now, we've got that out of the way.

In a nutshell, I agree with your summation. Two things that stand out to me. The first one is the short game/scrambling. Unless a person is a player of a certain skill level and/or practices short game constantly, it's hard to predict how much spin you're going to get from a premium ball. You're a good player and can play for the extra roll on the "found balls" as it is more predictable. I think people should take note of that. Scrambling with a predictable result is key.

The other note is putting. On the surface the averages were very close in summary but, if you look at the 3 putts, they were significantly higher with the "found balls". Does this mean premium balls are better to putt with? I don't think so. The Srixon you use is always the same. Same cover. Same compression. You probably do the majority of you putting practice with this ball. The "found balls" all have different properties. Your sense of touch and feel is more tuned to your regular ball. It is my theory that if you putted exclusively with a ball having the same make up you would develop a feel for that ball and putt as well with it, whether it be a premium ball or a 2 piece surlyn cover ball.

The fairways and greens thing is a no brainer. A ball that spins more is harder to hit straight.

The real question is this. Now that you have the numbers, what ball are you going to play? LOL!

Nice job, Brian. Again, kudos on the research. It was fun looking over the numbers.

Edited by Michael C., 03 August 2015 - 07:04 AM.

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#56 bluedot

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Posted 03 August 2015 - 07:55 AM

View Postjust plain bill, on 11 July 2015 - 09:51 AM, said:

op...just do it...i will be interested in the results, as scientific/unscientific as they may be...
when an experiment is conducted, it is usually to prove a hypothesis...what's important is to not let bias enter the equation...hard to do, so results get published and others try to get similar results, which proves/disproves the original hypothesis...
we're all human, full of everything humans can be full of...go and have fun!

The results to this, whatever they may be, are decidedly NOT scientific.  Nor do I think that one could design an experiment to test the hypothesis that WOULD be scientific, for one simple reason.  In "scientific" experiments, all but one variable is controlled, and then that variable is tested and analyzed.  No matter how good of a golfer the OP is, I think we can agree that the number of variables in two rounds of golf is off the charts, and that there is no way to eliminate them.

So suppose that on consecutive days, a player shoots the exact same score using two very different golf balls.  Does this in any way prove that the ball didn't matter?  Of course not; we only know what he shot, not what he MIGHT have shot on either day using the other ball!  Add to that wind direction and speed, firmness of the course, speed of the greens, and on and on and on.  When a putt rolls in for birdie, or doesn't, we only know what happened; not what MIGHT have happened.

Here's one example:  In the South at this point, we've had an extended period of little rain and lots of heat.  Courses with bent grass greens are mowing irregularly, and rolling the greens sparingly.  The result is that there are days with the greens are slow, bumpy, and grainy, but there are other days when the ball rolls pretty well.  Likewise, the day after a strong evening thunderstorm, the course plays much longer than it does when a week or so has gone by with no rain.

There is an answer for this; machine testing of golf balls, which the manufacturers and the USGA do extensively.  Those tests show that balls ARE different, especially from 100 yds. and in.  Do those differences matter to golfers?  Depends on the golfer and the day, of course.  But there isn't an "experiment" that can be constructed that can prove that one way or the other.

So I'll do what I've always done, and play the same ball round after round after round.  That gets rid of at least SOME of the variables in golf, and that's a good thing.

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#57 NJpatbee

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Posted 03 August 2015 - 08:28 AM

View Postspacecowboy, on 02 August 2015 - 10:15 PM, said:

Although not the intent of your experiment, I believe the obvious conclusion is that Z Stars are not the right ball for you.

I agree!

Nice job keeping the stats and creating the graphs.

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#58 ice_eph29

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Posted 03 August 2015 - 11:07 AM

Thanks for the info and definitely a fun story to follow.
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#59 hankmoody

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Posted 03 August 2015 - 11:16 AM

Great test--thanks for doing it.

I am going to willfully ignore the conclusions of your testing, and continue to play with nice, new premium balls.  I like them, and they make me feel better.  :dntknw:
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#60 TCMuc

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Posted 03 August 2015 - 11:45 AM

A very interesting project! Hats of for the effort! :good:

While I agree with the others who claimed the results were hardly scientific I can't see how you would draw the conclusion "the ball doesn't matter" from the data..?

There's a difference of on average 2.9 shots per round (even 3.4 on the first five rounds) which would mean an improvement of about 4% relatively to a par 72 course.
Or between 12/14 strokes difference for the four rounds of a tournament, which could even mean the difference between a missed cut and a top 10 finish.

There seem to be two plausible explanations for this result (assuming that there's no random factor that leads to the difference). a) (like Gouchograd99 suggested) you're better off playing  a lower spinning ball or b) since your mind was made up from the beginning you subconsciously manipulated the test, e.g. by trying just a bit harder with set #2 since you wanted the found balls to come up as winners.



Anyways, great work, and maybe this test is just what everybody who's trying to decide what ball to play should do: take any tour ball and any low spin/distance ball and compare your results over a couple of rounds.
Then go out and buy any model of the type you found works best for you, making your final choice based on brand preference and feel.

Edited by TCMuc, 03 August 2015 - 11:46 AM.

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Srixon H45 Kuro Kage Black Hybrid regular
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Cleveland RTX 54*/58*
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