After doing this site for about a year now, I’ve made lots of great contacts and learned about so many good boutique golf manufacturers, and 3UP Golf is one of these awesome new companies. The 3F12 is their flagship ball, and I was lucky enough to pick up a dozen to give a spin. The balls come to you in a very cool drawstring pouch and with some sort of little nick knack included. The price is a bit higher than I’d like at $39.95, but it’s cheaper than a dozen Pro-V1, but just about on par with the high end offerings from Callaway, Nike or Srixon. When I broke open the bag, my initial impression is that these balls are soft…real soft. They feel sticky, which is great for spin, but normally I like a nice middle ground…somewhere between a rock and a marshmallow (that’s what us in the business call “a joke”). They also sounded “softer” when I dropped them on the floor. I know this is totally subjective, but one of the things that drives me to a high end ball is that when it’s cold and I tee up a Top-Flite or Slazenger, it sounds and feels like I’m hitting a billiard ball, so a soft feel is always a bonus.
Tee Performance: This is the weakest area of performance for this ball. These balls are spin factories. The short iron and wedge spin is probably 5-10% higher than other tour balls, but that comes with a higher driver spin rate. It wasn’t appalling or particularly bad, but the 3F12 can definitely get a bit squirrelly off the tee. I had a few shots balloon in the moderate wind I was playing in and my fades and draws were just a bit easier to turn into slices and hooks. My distance, however, was better than the Pro-V1 and Srixon Z-Star XV I put it up against, and it had a nice penetrating ball flight when the wind was calm. B
Iron/Wedge Performance: I used the term spin factory above, because I can’t really think of a better one. These things just flat out spin more than any other ball I’ve played, overtaking the Innovex V-Motion in that department. As a mid-handicapper, I normally get enough short iron and wedge spin to keep my ball within a 5 or so feet of the pitch mark, with the occasional backward roll on hard swings or soft greens. With the 3UP golf ball, I found myself on more than one occasion, pulling the string on these a good 5-15 feet behind the pitch mark. The remarkable part was the greens at Port Ludlow were on the firm side and when I was pulling them back and it was on generally flat areas of green. Crisp half-wedges looked and felt like I was on TOUR with the hop-and-stop action I can get. Chipping was actually more difficult than normal because it was hard to trust that the ball would check like I knew it could. But as the round went along, it was readily apparent that these will make your life much easier from 150 yards and in. A
Putter Performance: I’m still not sure how I feel about putting with the 3F12, the soft feel is both it’s strength and weakness. I liked the consistency the soft feel offered me from inside 10′. The greens I was playing were around a 9-10 on the stimpmeter and having a soft feel gave superior feedback on short putts. Long putts, though, were a mixed bag. Having to smack one of these 50 feet uphill is not going to do you any favors. It’s sort of the price you pay for having all that spin and feel with irons, and I’m reticent to knock it too much for long putts, because frankly you can take much tighter aim at pins and for the day, my radius to the hole was tighter than normal. Overall, it’s a quality putting ball; middle of the pack for long putts, but up near the top of the heap for shorter rolls. B
Durability: This is a very durable ball. I beat the hell out of one for 16 holes before depositing it directly into a pond. Every hole, I would check it, expecting to see a split or deep scuff, but even after 13 holes there was minor marking. On that 13th hole, it was a thin sand wedge that finally took a bite out of the cover. I played it those 3 extra holes to see if there was a big drop-off in performance, twas’ but a flesh wound! It did lose a little bit of it’s bite on the greens, but that’s to be expected when you sheer off a layer of urethane. This, so far is the most durable urethane ball I’ve hit. It’s comparable to surlyn in terms of toughness and it should get you through as many holes as it takes you to lose it. A
Bottom Line: A really good ball from a really good company. I’m not sure this ball is going to find a permanent home in my bag anytime soon, but only because it’s best left to single digit or less handicappers. The benefits of this ball are found from inside 150 yards, as it allows you a chance to really attack pins and stick yourself close. In order to get that spin, you need to be in the fairway, and this ball requires a level of consistency that I just don’t have. At $40 a pop, they’re a bit on the high side for price, but $3 of every dozen gets donated to a golf related charity (I told you they were a really good company). All told, if you’re a quality ball striker, you need to try a dozen of these, right now. Grade: B+