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Choosing your "rocket ball"


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#1 zakkozuchowski

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Posted 10 January 2012 - 01:17 PM

Choosing your "rocket ball"
By Zak Kozuchowski
GolfWRX Staff Writer


TMPentaTP5Cutaway-S.jpg TMRocketballzBallCutaway-S.jpg
TMPentaTP3Cutaway-S.jpg TMPenta-TP3Ball-Stamp3-4-S.jpg

The longest golf ball in TaylorMade's 2012 lineup is not the new Penta TP5. It's not the new Penta TP3, or the Rocketballz ball, either. According to Dean Snell, Senior Director of Research and Development for golf balls at TaylorMade, the longest ball in TaylorMade's 2012 lineup is all of them.

That's why Snell, who has been designing golf balls for more than 22 years, said the least important part of fitting a golf ball is testing it with a driver.

"There isn't a TaylorMade golf ball that doesn't come up to the USGA threshold of velocity," Snell said. "Off the driver, they're all pretty much going to go the same distance Nobody is going to be able to give you a ball that goes 20 yards further [off the driver] any more."

For that reason, Snell said golfers should choose a golf ball that is best for them from 150 yards and in. That sounds simple enough, but it raises another question. What makes one golf ball better than another from that distance? Luckily, there's a pretty easy way to find out.

Snell said that golfers should spend less time testing the latest golf clubs, and more time testing golf balls. He wants you to test golf balls the same way many tour players do by playing nine holes with different types of balls, and spending extra time hitting shots around the greens with them.

"Notice how the balls feel, how they release, how they putt, how they come out of the sand," Snell said. "At the end, the results should sing to you."

But before you start testing golf balls, there are a few things you should know about golf ball design. Understanding the advantages of different types of golf ball constructions can save you shots off your game, and money off your golf ball purchases. And for the better player, it can help justify paying a premium price for your next dozen.

The No. 1 thing Snell wants you to know is that a player's ball speed is not the most important aspect of fitting a golf ball. It's the launch angle and spin rate of a golf ball that golfers should monitor the most closely. That's because at tour swing speeds, a 1 percent increase in ball speed equates to only about 2.5 yards of extra distance. But a change in launch angle, say from 9 degrees with 2500 rpm of spin to 12 degrees with the same amount of spin can add as much as 15 to 20 yards of distance. Golfers would be hard pressed, however, to find a new golf ball that can cause such a drastic change in their launch conditions off of the driver. But where they can find radical improvements with different golf balls is with their shorter clubs.

TaylorMade's most expensive ball, the Penta TP5, will cost $45 per dozen when it is released in March. Its five-piece construction is similar to the original Penta TP, with the exception of a softer core compression and softer first mantle (the layer closest to the core), which will cause the ball to spin less on full shots than the original Penta.

TMPenta-TP5Ball-PkgFamilyWhite-M.jpg

Snell said that because of its softer construction, the TP5 performs better for high-spin players from 150 yards and in. It will also reduce spin for those players on shots with drivers and three woods. But the favorite part of the ball for many TaylorMade Staff players is its softer feel, which according to Snell actually has little to do with the way a golf ball reacts with the club.

"In our research, feel is actually a product of sound," Snell said. "It's a subjective measurement, but the softer the sound, the more control tour players feel like they have off the face."

TaylorMade's Penta TP3 is a three-piece ball that features all the benefits of the TP5, yet will cost about $10 less per dozen. Its cover is made of the same ultra-thin cast thermoset urethane material, and has the same compression as the TP5, but it is designed to spin more on full shots. Without getting into the technical details of golf ball design, Snell offered an easy solution on which Penta better players should have in the bag.

"If the current Penta hits the green and stays, or it spins back a little with your shorter irons, play the TP5," Snell said. "But if it bounces forward, you probably want to try the TP3. And I promise golfers won't be able to tell a difference in how the balls feel. If they can, I need to hire them as a product tester, because our tour pros can't even tell the difference."

TMPenta-TP3Ball-PkgLidWhite-M.jpg

For players that struggle with shots "knuckling," or "falling out of the sky," trajectories which mean the golf ball does not have enough spin, Snell recommends that they try the Rocketballz ball, a three piece ball that will cost $26 per dozen.

"People don't believe me when I say this, but the Rocketballz balls and balls like it are actually softer than tour balls," Snell said. "If you don't believe me, try bouncing them on a wedge."

TMRocketballzBall-L.jpg

The reason the Rocketballz ball is softer than the Penta line of balls is because of its ionomer cover. But ionomer, like surlyn, another popular material for covers in less expensive golf balls, must be made thicker, and is not as good at creating spin around the green as urethane covers. These less expensive balls also lack the firmer outside mantle that makes balls feel louder and "clickier," yet adds short-game spin.

"Better players get more performance with urethane as you get closer to the green," Snell said. "That's what you pay for."

For that reason, the Rocketballz ball will pitch a little higher and with a little less spin than the TP5 and TP3. But what the Rocketballz ball lacks in greenside spin, it makes up for with full shots. The Rocketballz ball will launch higher and with more spin than the Penta balls, which means average golfers will be able to hit the Rocketballz ball further than the TP5 and TP3 a huge advantage for those that struggle from tee to green.

What's next?


Snell said it's hard for him to predict what's next for golf ball technology, but admits it won't easy to improve on the design of the this latest version of golf balls.

"Tour players like Jason Day, Sean O'Hair and Sergio Garcia they tell me, 'This is the ball that I love,'" Snell said. "We've got the top of the pyramid covered."

With the success of Penta's five layers, five shots campaign, Snell is often asked "You get to have 14 clubs, so why not 14 layers?" It's something Snell said could happen in the future. But what he really hopes he sees in the industry is better golf ball education and fitting.

"Right now we put players into categories when we're designing golf balls," Snell said. "As the categories get tighter, we can create more product, but I don't think that's the answer. It creates more confusion, because there's no explanation for all the golf balls on the wall. In the future, I hope we can take all the feedback and help from the multilayer designs to design product for a stronger database of people. It would be nice to say, this is the tour ball for you."


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#2 Buckhornio

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Posted 10 January 2012 - 01:23 PM

14 layers?  Posted Image

#3 JLew27

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Posted 10 January 2012 - 02:30 PM

I will give them a try but couldn't beat out the B330's last time.

#4 M910

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Posted 10 January 2012 - 02:45 PM

View PostJLew27, on 10 January 2012 - 02:30 PM, said:

I will give them a try but couldn't beat out the B330's last time.

I agree...If it can beat out my B330-RX or E6 I'll be shocked.

#5 henricogolfer

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    My ball went where?

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Posted 10 January 2012 - 02:48 PM

I have a TP5 the local rep tossed to my buddy after it got scuffed. (another story entirely) I have not had a chance to hit it yet, but I am with the B330 guys, we'll see.


#6 zakkozuchowski

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Posted 10 January 2012 - 02:57 PM

View Posthenricogolfer, on 10 January 2012 - 02:48 PM, said:

I have a TP5 the local rep tossed to my buddy after it got scuffed. (another story entirely) I have not had a chance to hit it yet, but I am with the B330 guys, we'll see.

Where do you play your golf, Henrico? I spent a lot of time in the area.

#7 henricogolfer

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    My ball went where?

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Posted 10 January 2012 - 03:00 PM

Richmond Country Club, I was playing with a pro from Dogwood Trace.

#8 Jamboy72

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Posted 10 January 2012 - 03:08 PM

Interested to give these a run...but I am pretty dialed in with my B330-S situation...also, I hope they did something about that horrendous seam in the last edition!

#9 zakkozuchowski

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Posted 10 January 2012 - 03:13 PM

View Posthenricogolfer, on 10 January 2012 - 03:00 PM, said:

Richmond Country Club, I was playing with a pro from Dogwood Trace.

No. 16, 17 and 18 are a nightmare!

#10 henricogolfer

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Posted 10 January 2012 - 03:35 PM

View Postzakkozuchowski, on 10 January 2012 - 03:13 PM, said:

View Posthenricogolfer, on 10 January 2012 - 03:00 PM, said:

Richmond Country Club, I was playing with a pro from Dogwood Trace.

No. 16, 17 and 18 are a nightmare!


Amen, I played a pro am two years ago where we started on 16. Our pro lost three balls on the first hole, it did not bode well for us.


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#11 eric_b

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Posted 10 January 2012 - 03:51 PM

Interesting how Taylormade is going the start with the short shots version of ball fitting....like Titleist.  Makes sense I guess.....most balls go the same approximate distance off the tee.

Just my opinion....

#12 Sean2

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Posted 10 January 2012 - 04:03 PM

I'll give these a try.
Hey...be nice.

#13 Mizzy23

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Posted 10 January 2012 - 04:17 PM

What's so special about the B330? JMHO, but the pro v1's are the ball to beat.

#14 SORMY

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Posted 10 January 2012 - 04:24 PM

Great Review and Article Zak.

#15 JLew27

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Posted 10 January 2012 - 04:44 PM

View PostMizzy23, on 10 January 2012 - 04:17 PM, said:

What's so special about the B330? JMHO, but the pro v1's are the ball to beat.

To each his own but the B330 is a very good ball that performs well. Have been using them for the past year or so.


#16 AndrewO

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Posted 10 January 2012 - 07:10 PM

View PostMizzy23, on 10 January 2012 - 04:17 PM, said:

What's so special about the B330? JMHO, but the pro v1's are the ball to beat.

That's the great thing about having so many options...we can all find a ball (regardless of manufacturer) that fits our game.  For me, the ProV1 and, to a somewhat lesser extent, the ProV1x balloon way too much into the wind and don't seem as stable in crosswinds for me as compared to the current Penta or Bridgestone B330 series.  Again, that's just for MY game.

#17 ksavy17

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Posted 10 January 2012 - 07:14 PM

these should do well, hit the rocketballz ball today and I think you wont find a better feeling ball under $30
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#18 RocketBallz Fiend

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Posted 10 January 2012 - 07:47 PM

Excited to try the RBZ ball, hate to drop a lot on tour balls. Anybody else think they should offer Rocketballz ball in LIME GREEN like the logo color? I know all my blind buddys would buy it



#19 radiman

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Posted 10 January 2012 - 08:31 PM

So just to get this straight, the tp3 will cost $35? For a tour caliber ball, that seems like a steal.
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#20 timbo08

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Posted 10 January 2012 - 11:03 PM

Based on what Snell said the TP3 sounds right up my alley after how the Penta performed for me in the past.  At $35 a dozen, that's definitely a steal for a premium ball, can't wait to pick up a dozen and take 'em for a test drive this spring.


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#21 SoCalTitleist

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Posted 10 January 2012 - 11:16 PM

Kind of funny TMAGs own R&D director  says nothing is going to magiclly give you 20yrds extra distance.

#22 burgosity

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Posted 11 January 2012 - 12:33 AM

View PostSoCalTitleist, on 10 January 2012 - 11:16 PM, said:

Kind of funny TMAGs own R&D director  says nothing is going to magiclly give you 20yrds extra distance.

LOL Posted Image  I caught that too.  But I'm still going to compare the the RBZ 3wd to my SQ2 and G20 3wds. Guess I'll give the new Penta a go at the same time.

Edited by burgosity, 11 January 2012 - 12:34 AM.


#23 mizunostaffer

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Posted 11 January 2012 - 01:12 AM

good to hear the fans of the bridgestone balls, for me the b330s is like the old professional, i dnt ever want to change from it, im that happy with it

these balls sounds good however so Il try them out
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#24 MCoz

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Posted 11 January 2012 - 01:44 AM

View Postburgosity, on 11 January 2012 - 12:33 AM, said:

View PostSoCalTitleist, on 10 January 2012 - 11:16 PM, said:

Kind of funny TMAGs own R&D director  says nothing is going to magiclly give you 20yrds extra distance.

LOL Posted Image  I caught that too.  But I'm still going to compare the the RBZ 3wd to my SQ2 and G20 3wds. Guess I'll give the new Penta a go at the same time.
You guys need to reread----

He said no one is going to give you a BALL that will get those 20 yds. He said nothing about clubs.

Oh and by the way:
I hope my playing competition stay with the 3wds they are currently playing. Because that RBZ 3wd will give me an advantage!

#25 pbass6811

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Posted 11 January 2012 - 02:09 AM

I'll probably give them all a try at least once. I really like the current Penta, so the new TP3 is gonna get my attention first...right after I get through all the ProV1's I got for my bday, the ProV1x's I got for Xmas, & the Penta TP practice balls that my local Golfsmith sells for $20/dozen!


#26 playmuch

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Posted 11 January 2012 - 04:12 AM

When will the yellow ones come out ?

#27 Golfwolf

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Posted 11 January 2012 - 04:17 AM

Very interesting, I think I will give the Penta TP3 a try later this year.
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#28 78blades

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Posted 11 January 2012 - 04:30 AM

I liked the Penta, I didn't like the price. During the good weather I'll play whatever tour ball I can get for the least amount of money. For tourney's & big money games I'll break down and buy a box of 330 RX's.

#29 sdrem

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Posted 11 January 2012 - 11:30 AM

There is another post on the board that the Penta TP3 is really the old TP Black rebadged. (Supposedly confirmed by someone working for Taylormade.)
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#30 Rojo Johnson

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Posted 11 January 2012 - 12:25 PM

How can it be the to black rebadged when he said it has a new core? Well he said the tp5 has a new core but he said the tp3 has the same compression


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