Golf balls are a pretty divided topic in relation to items to improve your game. Some say they could go shoot a normal score with a water logged Top-Flite, while others swear by a ProV1 and wouldn’t sniff one of those lousy proletariat rocks. I Need The Ball is a group of guys who set out to make a better performing, more durable ball at a decent price point. They’ve succeeded admirably, even beyond the hype that preceded my purchase. The Ball, as it were, has a whole litany of good things going for it. It’s a 3 piece urethane ball (like the ProV1/B-330/Lethal), it’s got a great and understated look and most importantly it performs as well if not better than all the competitors. I got my balls about 5 business days after ordering, I paid $35 plus $5 shipping…bringing the total to about $5-10 less than the elite balls it competes with.
Tee Performance: I took this with me to Highlander Golf Course in East Wenatchee, WA. It’s perched on a cliffside, it was very windy (gusts up to 40mph) and the course was soft which eliminated some of the rollout gains on drives. It was pretty much perfect for a test, and this thing passed with flying colors. The tungsten core and middle layer help reduce driver spin and it shows. I hit low penetrating ball flights that cut into head winds. I only had one shot balloon on me and it was into a 30 mph headwind from a 3 Wood. For reference, I swing about 100 mph and carry about 250 yards on a solid drive. I was consistently getting 230-250 yards of carry into the wind and managed to fly one to 270…off the toe with a tailwind. Simply put, this ball will alleviate most of the problems that tour balls give you off the tee. A
Iron/Wedge Performance: This was a two-parter as I took it out for 36 holes over two local par 3 courses and then for 18 at Highlander. At first I wasn’t terribly impressed. It gave me a weird sound/feel, heavy being the best way to describe it, that eventually grew on me but it does take some getting used to. It felt like the ball wasn’t quite compressing much, but it was flying pretty far and checking up very well. It’s definitely firmer than a ProV1 or B-330, but I feel like it is softer and deader than a ProV1x. I’m not a great wedge player, but I can “hop and stop” this ball from 50-80 yards with a wedge and even on bladed shots, I was able to check the ball within two feet of my pitch mark. At Highlander, in the wind, I could really start to see it pull away from most. I think if you’re a 5 handicap or less, a ProV1 might be a better option for control with irons, but this matches most other tour caliber balls. B+
Putter Performance: I LOVE this ball for putting. I spent two hours on a nice resort practice green putting 6 balls. 2 INTB’s and 1 of each of the following; Taylormade Lethal, ProV1, HX-Tour, Srixon Z-Star. The Ball was head and shoulders above the rest for consistency and feel. I play a non-insert, non milled blade putter, so I’d Imagine an insert or heavy type putter might mitigate some of these qualities, but I could feel them and they were fantastic. The alignment aid is simple and understated, but effective. The cover is very soft, which provides a nice feedback sound and a it seems to get rolling quicker than the others (although, admittedly this may be in my head). A+
Durability: The Ball is durable. That’s about it. I used two balls for 18 holes at a local Par 3 Course and only hit iron in that time. I came away a bit disappointed from it because they did have some serious scuffing, but seeing as I was hitting off tees with SW grooves it really wasn’t that bad in retrospect. On Monday, I took those same two balls along with a new Lethal, ProV1 and HX-Tour along with me to the Golf Park at Suncadia. As with the other Par 3, these were 3 holes ranging from 75-95 yards and I hit nothing but wedge for 6 loops. The math goes something like this; each of “the Balls” had seen approximately 60 hard wedge shots, while the other 3 had seen at best 40. The side-by-side picture below should help demonstrate how they wore. The Lethal pictured took 20 less hard shots and at least 40-50 less lobs/chips/etc. and came out looking about the same. Having said that, I could blade a 2-piece about 100 times without even nicking the cover, so I do have to take it into account. B+
Bottom Line: These balls are pretty great. It’s a ball that you can easily play tee to green as a high handicapper and feel confident that it’s not going to let you down in one area. Playing a 2-piece surlyn ball, I drove much straighter and gained a few extra yards, but I’d always have to land the ball on the front and watch as my 8-iron landed at 130 yards and rolled 30 more to the back of the green. Conversely, with a Titleist or Callaway 3-Piece, I’d have to smoke a perfect drive to keep it in play, just to reap the benefits of the spin. Ultimately it’s your swing that will determine your score, but there is no sense in trying to change your game up to fit a cheaper ball or tour ball. I Need the Ball may not win in any individual category, but it will give a mid-high handicapper (like myself…15.0) a chance to be their best on the course that day. As some semblance of proof of this concept, my handicap has ballooned from 13.1 to 15.0 since March 1st because of inconsistent play. Today I played two balls (both were strictly I Need the Balls) and managed to shoot 78 and 80 respectively, which are my two best scores of the year. If you want to pick a ball and stick with it, or if you are looking for one that might help cover up a couple blemishes in your game, there is none better on the market. Grade: A