Golf Ball Engineer
of Golf Swing Instruction, Instant Golf®
and welcome to another golf product review. This time,
I take a closer look at the new Nike 20XI Golf Ball models
that were introduced last season and are garnering a lot of
attention from professional and recreational golfers alike.
getting started, let me be clear that I am not compensated by
the manufacturer to promote this product, nor am I endorsing
is an informational report based on personal impressions and
also strive to inform golfers about products and services that
may not be common
to their geographic region (compared to other brands).
more exposure to new golf balls, the latest equipment, and unique
instruction that can assist them in improving their games.
Nike 20XI series is a revolution of sorts in that it is the first
mainstream product to incorporate a thermoplastic polymer
core vs. a standard rubber core.
rubber core technology has been around for many decades and
involves the fairly antiquated practice of
compounding rubber ingredients and curing them in a mold (similar
to tire making).
worked with Dupont, the same company that makes Surlyn thermoplastic
cover material for Titleist, to develop the new core. The
result was a new resin that could be injection
molded just like a ball cover.
"RZN" core is lighter and helps make the ball
faster (2-3 mph) which translates into more distance (according
to Nike). British Open champ Stewart Cink states he has picked
up at least 10 yards on the driver.
what is even more amazing, the lighter core enabled the engineers
to move more weight to the outer ball layers. This resulted in
a higher ball MOI (moment of inertia). The MOI is a measurement
of the an object's resistance to angular acceleration, essentially
the resistance to twist about an axis.
golf terms, this means a higher MOI enables a ball to
resist spinning at impact. And since the formula for
distance off the driver is Lower Spin with Higher Launch
Angle, Nike is on to something
special with this new golf ball.
the 20XI series launches with lower initial spin and will be
less affected by cross winds or adverse side spin (slice,
also claims the ball has more spin remaining at the apex of the
ball flight for better spin control when hitting into the greens.
all have perimeter weighted drivers and irons in our bags, the
20XI is a perimeter weighted golf ball!
balls are available in 2 models, the 20XI-X and the 20XI-S (My
test ball sleeves are seen on the right).
20XI-S has a slightly higher trajectory and softer cover than
the 20XI-X version. The S version also has a slightly lower compression,
86 vs. 91 for the X.
20XI-S will ultimately replace the Nike One Tour ball
and the 20XI-X will replace the Nike One Tour D. Note: Tiger
is still using the Tour D in 2012!
following players are currently using one of the versions of
the 20XI (or are in the process of switching): Lucas Glover (won
at Quail Hollow in May), Stephen Ames, Stewart Cink, Richard
Finch, Tiger Woods, Matt Haines,
Lovemark, Pablo Martin, Francesco Molinari, Paul Casey, Oliver
Fisher, James Morrison and Carl Pettersson.
surprisingly, the Nike 20XI is priced right
in there with the other Tour Balls at around $45 bucks a dozen.
However, there are single sleeves available in on course pro
shops everywhere. I picked up a few sleeves at a local pro shop,
headed to the range, and then hit the course.
first (and lasting) impression was that the
most prominent feature of the 20XI-X and 20XI-S is the sound
at impact off the driver.
is a distinct loudness to the whack!
is no doubt due to the plastic core or the core
in combination with the mantle layers/cover. There is also a
sensation (note this is just a feeling) of the ball sticking
to the club face longer than other Tour Balls, and then it is
off the face like a gun shot.
there were other comments on the web with golfers commenting
on the distinct sound
at impact. You really have got to hear it to believe
test days were not particularly windy so the full effects of
the wind properties were not relevant. But this is a low spinning
ball off the tee by design so that will be a real feature
of this ball. I would expect little or no ballooning so it could
be a nice
ball for a lot of you reading this report.
chose to concentrate on the 20XI-S version for the majority of
testing. The driver and iron distance were great (no surprises)
and the ball spun beautifully into the greens.
unique sound did carry over to the
feeling "knock" when struck. The ball didn't feel heavier (they
all weigh the same), just the sound.
the putter, it felt reasonably good. But this is where
a noticeable difference vs. other balls was detected.
rate putting feel on 3 sound levels;
- a "snap" (harder
balls, poor feel)
- a "knock" (decent
feel and speed control)
- a "soft
feel, ala urethane covers)
20XI-S while not snappy sounding, hung between the "knock
and click" categories.
I have putted with softer feeling
balls which I prefer.
feel is perhaps the most subjective aspect of the ball characteristics.
Some golfers like the firn feel, some a more balata-like quality.
had received a lot of questions about the Nike 20XI golf balls
so wanted to create this report.
has done something great in eliminating "ancient" rubber
core technology from the design of their new premium product.
they will do
the same with some of their other balls in the near future. The
other manufacturers will also be following that lead I am sure
unless Nike's patents prevent them using the thermoplastic core
is a lot of real science in these balls, especially
in spin reduction for reducing slice/hook spin and for wind play.
If you currently play the Pro V1, Penta, or other Tour balls
(or even 3-Piece balls like the NXT Tour or Callaway HX Hot),
this new product is definitely worth a test drive.
also mention that Nike states that these balls offer "Tour-level
performance for 90+ mph swing speeds".
Although the ball's best qualities seem to emerge with
above average swing speeds, that should not deter golfers with
them a test as every golfer's launch conditions vary.
distance can also be achieved throughout the different clubs
(hybrids, irons, wedges) in the bag, and real scoring is achieved
on and around the green.
giving the 20XI (especially the 20XI-S) a good trial of 1-2 rounds,
noting all shots and feel
in addition to
on your locale, you may also be able to buy a sleeve at
your on course pro shop. That will give you a good trial of
this premium priced golf ball without having to "break the bank".
$12 is a great investment for such a unique product.
lower scores and more enjoyment in 2012,
Cotter is a US patent award winning golf ball
design engineer and fine player. His interaction with the
players in the game led to his discovery of The
a pro caliber golf swing. He is the author of “The
Key To A Repeating Golf Swing” which has taught
over 5000 golfers in 60+ countries and has a success rate
of >97%. Robert's passion is educating the golfing public
about golf ball performance and demonstrating how the right
ball will maximize distance, accuracy, and spin control
ranging from beginners to touring pros.