Golf Digest Hot List Testing (Balls) - My Experience as a Tester

OrlandoVolOrlandoVol Members Posts: 111 ✭✭
edited Feb 9, 2015 in Golf Balls #1
I saw a Facebook post by Golf Digest back in late December, looking for testers for the Hot List Ball Issue coming out this summer. The only requirements were to have a sub-5 index and to be available in Orlando for 3 days -- so I decided to apply. They picked me and 9 other testers to participate in the 3-day on-course ball testing at the Marriott Golf Academy. We did the testing in late January.



A little bit of Hot List swag:



136E9697-DA0C-498C-A1FA-F3D1D27B8469_zpsh7gkogyt.jpg



Each of the 54 balls we tested came in bags of 3, numbered and blacked out. The logos and all markings were truly obscured, so that there was no way to tell what we were hitting:



E44EE98A-2CEF-4215-83B1-F38458583C9F_zpsayudjuqf.jpg



We hit 2 different balls (6 total) at a time, for a 2 hole stretch -- 18 holes each day. Over those 2 holes we hit all 6 balls from 150 (9-iron), 70 (half SW), chipped around the greens, and putted on the greens:



2554958B-91D2-4D11-813A-EC321F7C3A18_zpstbetqmit.jpg



We gave each ball a score 1-5 based on the way they felt to us, and how we liked the trajectory, spin, etc...





Full iron shot Testing. My editor was Luke, and he was a great guy -- very knowledgable, and good at extracting the info he needed as we played each ball:



992D2079-8100-4300-BDF6-6B44ED678183_zpsughzr9xj.jpg

2F5A87DC-6FDB-408F-8944-C4DED91D5B8A_zpsg2cuwkmb.jpg

18B7DC81-AF92-49F9-A1CF-C312E7420CE2_zpsugrgjtjt.jpg



Wrapping up day one, conversing with the Golf Digest Editors:



1910B340-2E85-407E-90BA-87CBB9811A8B_zpsmzbc1cir.jpg



Some additional shots I took:



Chipping around the green:



6C8629ED-0C2E-447A-BC0F-43AB6131BF20_zpsjzbtqr3j.jpg



B61FAA06-B6FC-4122-A1DF-13ACACD6CA16_zpslvw8f4vl.jpg



Iron shots, Day 2:



5E97B7ED-A8E6-491F-9937-6030E7F6CD87_zpspaqmhclx.jpg



Finding out what some of the "numbers" we liked actually were when it was all said and done -- we all had our faves:



8B872D63-2D5A-4D55-AE0A-89A9956B9E84_zpsntomuooe.jpg





After it was all said and done I learned a few things:



1. The methodology and testing was very well thought out and executed. I have a new-found respect for Golf Digest, and the way in which these things are done. I am anxiously awaiting the issue's release in June!



2. There are a LOT of golf balls that feel VERY similar. Being a ProV1x player, it was an eye opener to realize this. I am now much more likely to try different balls than I was before going through this experience.



3. Hitting 108 full irons, 108 half wedges, 108 chips and 108 putts a day for 3 days in a row is GREAT for your golf game. image/biggrin.png' class='bbc_emoticon' alt=':D' /> I've been playing some of the best golf of my life since the testing.



I had a fantastic time getting to have breakfast each day with the Golf Digest editors and my fellow testers, had a memorable experience and made some new friends in the process.





Feel free to ask any questions, and I'll do my best to answer them...
Titleist 915D2 10.5
Titleist 915Fd 15
Titleist 712U 3i
Titleist 716 AP2
Vokey SM6 50, 54, 58
Scotty Cameron Newport Select 2.6
«1

Comments

  • PZeroPZero Members Posts: 11,530 ✭✭✭✭✭✭✭
    Very cool. Thanks for sharing.



    Why don't they include this behind the scenes stuff in the issue?
    R11s 9° Whiteboad 63S
    Titleist 913F 15°
    TM R9 19°
    Titleist 712 AP2 4-GW
    Vokey TVD 56°, SM5 60°
    Studio Select Newport
  • OrlandoVolOrlandoVol Members Posts: 111 ✭✭
    PZero wrote:


    Why don't they include this behind the scenes stuff in the issue?




    I'm not sure... It has been a while since they did a ball issue, I believe... I can't remember how much of the methodology was discussed in that issue.
    Titleist 915D2 10.5
    Titleist 915Fd 15
    Titleist 712U 3i
    Titleist 716 AP2
    Vokey SM6 50, 54, 58
    Scotty Cameron Newport Select 2.6
  • Gauchograd99Gauchograd99 Members Posts: 1,870 ✭✭✭✭✭✭
    They really should expand and explain the methodology behind the rating of the balls. I wasn't aware of how they were doing the testing itself. The one thing that I think they are missing in the test is the driver/fairway wood/long iron play for each ball. Granted, the "scoring" shots are very important, but what good is it if the ball is amazing around the green and rubbish over 175 yards?



    Gotta ask: When they are capturing the data and you hit just a garbage shot (you hosel/thin/chunk/duck hook/"power fade"/etc.), do they toss the data or retest that data point? Trying to determine how they handle out of trend data for 3 points.



    Aside: Not sure if you remember the numbers and the ball it pertains to, but looking at your pictures I would say 3 looks like a Callaway ball, 17 looks like a Bridgestone (B330-s?), and the whole thing just sounds like a blast to me!
    Razr-FIT Ext. 8.5deg, Black Tie (S)
    XHotPro 13.5deg, stock stiff
    TM Stage2Pro 18.5deg (set low), stiff. (Currently NOT in bag)
    Cleveland TA1 1 iron (Currently NOT in bag)
    Callaway Apex MB Steelfiber i110cw 3-PW
    Mizuno MP-T4 (50/6)
    Callaway Mack Daddy Forged 54/10
    Callaway Mack Daddy Forged 58/8
    Odyssey MXM #6 "Versa," 35in.
    http://www.gamegolf....er/gauchograd99

    Member of the OGA (Outlaw Golf Association) # 6.022*10^23
  • buckIbuckI Members Posts: 464 ✭✭✭✭
    Can you share which of the balls you particular liked?
    Ping G400 10.5* - Ping Tour 65
    Ping G 3 Wood 14.5* - Tour stiff
    Ping i15 20/23 - UST Axivcore stiff
    Ping I25 5-pw - CFS S Cushin +1/4
    Ping Glide 52/56/60 SS
    Ping Redwood Anser - Starshot Finish
  • OrlandoVolOrlandoVol Members Posts: 111 ✭✭
    edited Feb 10, 2015 #6
    ** Edited **
    Post edited by Unknown User on
    Titleist 915D2 10.5
    Titleist 915Fd 15
    Titleist 712U 3i
    Titleist 716 AP2
    Vokey SM6 50, 54, 58
    Scotty Cameron Newport Select 2.6
  • Agent JimAgent Jim Members Posts: 2,804
    Very neat. They couldn''t hide Callaway and Bridgestone dimple pattern, thats for sure!
    TM SLDR 460 set to 10.5° 70g Aldila VS Proto 44"
    TM RBZ Stage 2 Tour 14.5° & 19°
    Maltby KE4 Tour 22° Hybrid
    PING G25 4-UW CFS
    Maltby M-Series+ 54° and sometimes 58°
    Odyssey White Ice #7 37" counter balanced and a SpryEvo TeCu insert
    WS FG Tour(2014) or ProV1x
  • shortgame85shortgame85 Members Posts: 750 ✭✭✭✭✭
    I appreciate your honesty and willingness to share your experience, especially regarding which balls you liked.
    G25 10.5
    X2 Hot 3 Wood
    X2 Hot 5 Wood
    G25 20 and 23 degree hybrids
    G25 5 - GW
    Titleist Vokey Spin Mill 56.14
    SC Futura X 33 "
  • OrlandoVolOrlandoVol Members Posts: 111 ✭✭
    True, the only ones I really could tell (brand) were the Callaway's -- but their range of balls perform differently. I tried not to look at the balls too carefully, so that I wouldn't prejudge them.
    Titleist 915D2 10.5
    Titleist 915Fd 15
    Titleist 712U 3i
    Titleist 716 AP2
    Vokey SM6 50, 54, 58
    Scotty Cameron Newport Select 2.6
  • OrlandoVolOrlandoVol Members Posts: 111 ✭✭


    I appreciate your honesty and willingness to share your experience, especially regarding which balls you liked.




    Admittedly, I haven't kept up with the ball market much -- I stock up when Titleist does their buy 3, get 1 free deal -- and never really shop around.



    I was blown away that there were 54 balls to test, as I could probably only name a dozen balls (specific models) off the top of my head.
    Titleist 915D2 10.5
    Titleist 915Fd 15
    Titleist 712U 3i
    Titleist 716 AP2
    Vokey SM6 50, 54, 58
    Scotty Cameron Newport Select 2.6
  • GC70GC70 What's Next? ClubWRX Posts: 7,576 ✭✭✭✭✭✭✭
    Wow, nice job. Sounds like a blast!
    Cobra F9 8* Atmos Blue 6S
    XR Steelhead 15* Atmos Red 7S
    818 H1 Atmos Blue 8S
    Apex CF19 4-AW C-Taper Lite
    SM7's RAW 50F - 54S - 58M
    Nike 006 Paul Casey Proto (Oven)
    Nike 006 Rory Proto (Oven)
    Pro V1x / CSX

    WITB Link
  • iKOH423iKOH423 Members Posts: 105 ✭✭✭
    PZero wrote:


    Very cool. Thanks for sharing.



    Why don't they include this behind the scenes stuff in the issue?




    I agree, I would be interested in seeing the behind the scenes stuff. It would be interesting to read and understand their methodology that goes into the testing and such.
    Driver: Callaway Epic Sub Zero 10.5 Deg.
    Fairway Wood: Callaway Epic Sub Zero 15 Deg
    Hybrid: Callaway Epic 3 19 Deg.
    Irons: Callaway Apex CF16 4-AW
    Wedges: Callaway Mack Daddy Forged Wedges 56/60
    Putter: Scotty Cameron 18' Select Newport 2
  • Night trainNight train Members Posts: 2,854 ✭✭✭✭✭✭✭
    Tanks for sharing. It's nice to know that they truly go out of their way to perform tests that are unbiased.
  • VTDanielHaVTDanielHa Members Posts: 84
    Must have been a great experience! And its good to know that their ball test seems pretty unbiased and thorough. I wonder if the Hot List club testing is done in a similar fashion because from the year-in year-out results, it sure doesn't seem like it...
  • bobgeorgebobgeorge Members Posts: 408 ✭✭✭✭
    OrlandoVol wrote:
    Of the ones I remembered by number:

    Nike RZN White (yellow ball)

    Kick X Tour Z -- (Seriously! It was amazing)

    New ProV1x

    Taylormade Aeroburner Pro

    Titleist NXT Tour



    Amazingly, a ball that I really liked was the Top Flite Gamer... I knew it was that ball because of the "double dimple" pattern.




    What version of TF Gamer was it?
    [font=arial,helvetica,sans-serif]Ping G400 w/Accra FX-250 M3 shaft[/font]
    [font=arial,helvetica,sans-serif]Taylormade AeroBurner Mini Driver 14 degree
    Ping G30 5, and 7 Wood
    Titeist VG3 Type-D 5-PW irons w/Nippon Zelos 7 shafts
    Cleveland RTX-3 CB 48, 54, 58 (all 2 dot)
    Evnroll ER7 & Cleveland [/font][font=Tahoma, Calibri, Verdana, Geneva, sans-serif]TFI 2135 Satin Elevado [/font]Putters
  • gprubesgprubes twit: @shaeggy Members Posts: 816 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Very cool. Going on these types of trips and getting in as much golf as possible is a cool thing. Thanks for sharing your experience with us.
    • Taylormade M3 440 9° - Fuji Motore Tour Spec VC 6.2 S
    • Ping G400 14.5° - Alta CB 75 S
    • Taylormade P790 4-PW - KBS C-Taper 120 S
    • Honma TW737 18° - Vizard Type-Z 70 S 
    • Vanilla Wedge 50°, 55°, & 60° - KBS 610 Wedge S
    • Odyssey O-Works Black 1 Wide S w/Tour SNSR Contour Pro 140cc
  • j_kingj_king Members Posts: 902 ✭✭
    Did they do any testing on trackman to get spin numbers? I always look forward to that spin chart they have come out with the past couple of years.
    Callaway Epic SZ 9°
    Callaway 2014 BB 3 Wood
    Adams TI Peanut 20°
    Adams TI MB2 4-GW
    Taylormade ATV 58°
    Revolving door of Byron Morgan putters
  • NessismNessism To measure is to know... Members Posts: 18,734 ✭✭✭✭✭✭✭
    edited Feb 10, 2015 #18
    I'm looking forward to reading the results. In my experience all the various tour balls are virtually identical in terms of performance, but not feel. I think exercises like mentioned will come down to personal preference regarding feel, or maybe which balls were struck best by pure happenstance.
    Ping G400 Max driver w/Aldila Rogue 125 Silver 60S
    Cobra (Lexi blue) F7 5 wood w/Aldila Rogue Black 70S
    Cobra (Lexi blue) F7 Hybrid w/Aldila Kuro Kage 80S
    Ping G410 irons w/Recoil 95S
    Ping Glide 50/55/60 wedges w/Recoil 110S
    Ping Anser/Arna putter - the "real deal!"
  • CactusGolfCactusGolf ClubWRX Posts: 1,808 ✭✭✭✭✭✭
    Thanks for posting.



    I'm not surprised about the RZN White being on your favorites list at all. Has a really solid, muted sound at impact (could be my Covert 2.0 driver as well).
    Taylormade 2017 M1 10.5* Project X HZRDUS Yellow 65
    Taylormade M2 15* Matrix Black Tie 6M4
    Taylormade M2 18* Matrix Black Tie 6M4
    Taylormade PSi 4-PW KBS Tour
    Callaway MD3 50*/54*/58*
    Nike Method Origin B2-01
    Callaway Chrome Soft
    WITB Link
  • OrlandoVolOrlandoVol Members Posts: 111 ✭✭
    j_king wrote:


    Did they do any testing on trackman to get spin numbers? I always look forward to that spin chart they have come out with the past couple of years.




    We did not use trackman. I have no idea if that will be part of the analysis, perhaps combined with the feedback from the real world on-course testing?
    Titleist 915D2 10.5
    Titleist 915Fd 15
    Titleist 712U 3i
    Titleist 716 AP2
    Vokey SM6 50, 54, 58
    Scotty Cameron Newport Select 2.6
  • OrlandoVolOrlandoVol Members Posts: 111 ✭✭
    edited Feb 10, 2015 #21
    ** Edited **
    Post edited by Unknown User on
    Titleist 915D2 10.5
    Titleist 915Fd 15
    Titleist 712U 3i
    Titleist 716 AP2
    Vokey SM6 50, 54, 58
    Scotty Cameron Newport Select 2.6
  • OrlandoVolOrlandoVol Members Posts: 111 ✭✭
    CactusGolf wrote:


    Thanks for posting.



    I'm not surprised about the RZN White being on your favorites list at all. Has a really solid, muted sound at impact (could be my Covert 2.0 driver as well).




    I prefer a more muted sound, especially off the putter.



    As mentioned earlier, the ratings that each of us gave the balls were based on each of our personal preference -- strictly based on the way they felt, sounded and looked to our eye (trajectory)...
    Titleist 915D2 10.5
    Titleist 915Fd 15
    Titleist 712U 3i
    Titleist 716 AP2
    Vokey SM6 50, 54, 58
    Scotty Cameron Newport Select 2.6
  • Beastmode BrokerBeastmode Broker Canadian AF Members Posts: 6,329 ✭✭✭✭✭✭✭
    sounds like a hoot, thanks for sharing the process with us
    Taylormade M1 440 9.5 | Kuro Kage DC 60 X
    Taylormade M2 15 | RIP Alpha B 70 X
    Callaway XHP 20 | RIP Alpha 85 X
    Titleist 714 AP2 4-PW | TI DGX100 ssx1
    Callaway MD3 RAW 52S / 56W | DGS300
    Titleist Vokey SM6 RAW 58K | DGS400
    Taylormade Milled Collection Mullen 35"
  • pierso2pierso2 Shooters Shoot Members Posts: 2,605 ✭✭
    OrlandoVol wrote:


    Of the ones I remembered by number:

    Nike RZN White (yellow ball)

    Kick X Tour Z -- (Seriously! It was amazing)

    New ProV1x

    Taylormade Aeroburner Pro

    Titleist NXT Tour



    Amazingly, a ball that I really liked was the Top Flite Gamer... I knew it was that ball because of the "double dimple" pattern.




    Are you sure it was a Top Flite and not a Bridgestone? The dimple pattern can be confused.
    Option 1
    Ping G400 LST 8.5 Tour-X
    Callaway Big Bertha 816 Alpha 16 AD-DI 8x black
    Nike VR Pro 3 hybrid project x 6.0
    Adams XTD Forged 4-PW Fujikura MCI 120S
    Adams MB2 GW
    Callaway Mac Daddy Forged 60
    Toulon Garage Atlanta Black Pearl
    Ping 4 Series Tour Edition White/ Bridgestone 2014 Tour Bag

    Option 2
    Taylormade 2016 M1 10.5 Whiteboard Flowerband 7x
    16 Taylormade M1 5 wood AD-TP 7s
    Ping Anser 20 stock stiff
    Taylormade 2016 M2 Tour XP105 stiff
    Cleveland RTX 2.0 52 deg raw
    Titleist Vokey Prototype 58 T Grind
    Carbon Ringo Raw Whisky

    http://www.gamegolf.com/player/pierso2
  • OrlandoVolOrlandoVol Members Posts: 111 ✭✭
    edited Feb 10, 2015 #25
    ** Edited **
    Post edited by Unknown User on
    Titleist 915D2 10.5
    Titleist 915Fd 15
    Titleist 712U 3i
    Titleist 716 AP2
    Vokey SM6 50, 54, 58
    Scotty Cameron Newport Select 2.6
  • OrlandoVolOrlandoVol Members Posts: 111 ✭✭
    edited Feb 10, 2015 #26
    Oh, one more thing that I thought was awesome:



    Each of the 10 testers hit 3 each of 54 balls = 10 x 162 = 1,620 balls!



    I inquired about where they were going to end up. They were all shipped to an organization called "Bogeys for the Brave" -- which sets up driving ranges in the Middle East for our troops to hit into potential mine fields.



    Thought that was pretty cool!
    Titleist 915D2 10.5
    Titleist 915Fd 15
    Titleist 712U 3i
    Titleist 716 AP2
    Vokey SM6 50, 54, 58
    Scotty Cameron Newport Select 2.6
  • Vintage1976Vintage1976 I think something was lost in transition Members Posts: 2,683 ✭✭
    OrlandoVol wrote:


    Oh, one more thing that I thought was awesome:



    Each of the 10 testers hit 3 each of 54 balls = 10 x 162 = 1,620 balls!



    I inquired about where they were going to end up. They were all shipped to an organization called "Bogeys for the Brave" -- which sets up driving ranges in the Middle East for our troops to hit into potential mine fields.



    Thought that was pretty cool!




    Very cool!
    909D3 9.5*  //  VSProto65
    906F4 13.5*  //  AttasT2-7
    913F 16*  //  NV2KXVBlue70
    i20 20*  //  PXBlack5.5  
    RSi2 4-P  //  KBSTour105  
    FGTourTC 50/56*  //   DGSpinner
    SlotLine SS385

    It's a lovely day for a game
  • BillyZ2BillyZ2 Members Posts: 5,248 ✭✭✭✭✭✭✭
    OrlandoVol wrote:


    Of the ones I remembered by number:

    Nike RZN White (yellow ball)

    Kick X Tour Z -- (Seriously! It was amazing)

    New ProV1x

    Taylormade Aeroburner Pro

    Titleist NXT Tour



    Amazingly, a ball that I really liked was the Top Flite Gamer... I knew it was that ball because of the "double dimple" pattern.
    LOL, I play the Gamer and Gamer Tour, and I sense many golfers dislike them because they are Top Flites and they are inexpensive. To me, they are as good as anything. The Gamer has a unique dimple pattern which gives it away by appearance, but I believe that people who tested like you have tested the balls would often times pick the Gamer as one of their favorites. It's human nature to want to pick the expensive balls, the balls that the pros play, so we can have some association with famous/important people to make us feel likewise. Not saying the ProV's, etal, are not great balls, but I feel it's more of a mental issue rather then a performance issue for many golfers.
  • OrlandoVolOrlandoVol Members Posts: 111 ✭✭
    edited Feb 10, 2015 #29
    ** Edited **
    Post edited by Unknown User on
    Titleist 915D2 10.5
    Titleist 915Fd 15
    Titleist 712U 3i
    Titleist 716 AP2
    Vokey SM6 50, 54, 58
    Scotty Cameron Newport Select 2.6
  • tngolf22tngolf22 Robert Members Posts: 397
    Hey thanks for sharing all this. I did my own test a few years ago at a buddy's farm where I determined the Titleist Pro-V1 was the best in terms of overall distance (for me). A year ago I discovered the Callaway Supersoft and used it all winter. Then last year I discovered the MG Tour C4 ball ($21.00/dozen urethane cover!) and used it all of last summer through fall. This winter I went back to the Supersoft. I need to go and do another test with the MG balls and see how they perform against the Titleist. Maybe I should look at the Gamer as well.



    Will Golf Digest do the testing again this December? I would love a chance to participate!
  • ChazbChazb Members Posts: 919 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Very nice job and I coukd see the OP was very enthusiastic on his testing.Well done.

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