I'm a sucker for golf alignment aids, I mean I've played with a solid line on my golf ball since I was probably 12. That usually means sharpie markers in my bag and usually ink on my fingers for the first few holes. So when I first saw an ad for the new TaylorMade Tour Response with a large thick green/yellow stripe right down the middle, I was pretty intrigued. I have not previously played a TaylorMade ball or one of the several alignment balls Callaway does, something about the thick greenish yellow stripe is appealing to the eye. So about two weeks ago I swung by my local Walmart and picked up a dozen to try them out and possibly pass along what I like and didn't like about playing them.
This is the product info from TaylorMade:
Easier alignment with a larger center alignment section
Better visibility with a unique multi-color stand out design
100% Urethane cover played by Tour Players that is stronger and softer than ionomer
Interacts with the club grooves to optimize spin and control, specifically around the greens
Upgraded HFM Speedmantle™ and New Tour Flight Dimple Pattern are designed to optimize aerodynamics, lift, and ball speed
Low 40 Compression core and soft urethane cover result in a total ball compression of 70
3 Layer Performance
I don't want to spend too much time on the specs as those could be found in various locations and to be honest the spin rates and softness of the ball isn't what made me click buy. Its that big thick green stripe down the center of the ball and will it help me make more putts....
First, When I'm trying a new golf ball I take the advice I've always heard and test it from the hole back, meaning the most important features are on the green, around the green, from the fairway, then last off the tee. With that in mind I've played three rounds with the ball currently and have a some initial feedback.
The first round I played was in a charity golf tournament for my university's Civil Engineering Scholarship program. I was excited to try the ball putting, especially getting to see a few putts ran at the hole in front of me in the scramble format. I was disappointed when I realized the greens on the back nine had been aeriated and it wouldn't do me much good watching it bounce up and down on its way to the hole. Luckily, it was only the back nine and after we made the turn I got the ball rolling (literally) with a big eagle putt the first 'real' roll I made with it from about 30'. I'll have to say that had us off to a great start with the testing. It was a pretty solid putting day for me, of course its always easier seeing a roll or two in front of you but initially the ball is soft off the putter face, seems to roll true, and gives instant feedback if you miss hit the putt, watching the flashing colors of the ball instead of the nice end over end line you would get when struck pure.
For the second round, I played a practice round at my home course in Crossville. I was riding solo so I decided to play a "worst ball" scramble where I hit two shots and played the worst of the two. I did make a couple caveats as I didn't want to spend all day in the tee box or putting green having to hole twice or hit two balls in play every tee shot. Off the tee if one ball was OB or in a hazard I just selected the other ball to play, but if both were in bounds I had to play the worst of the two. On the greens, or around the greens once a shot was holed that was my score, that just prevented me from missing a bunch of 2' putts and also made that second putt/chip really count instead of being less important if I missed the first shot. This also gave me the opportunity to hit a gamer and directly compare to the TM Tour Response. My usual gamers are the Bridgestone TourBX and Titleist ProV1.
Here were some observations I made and notes from the round.
Putting with the Stripe again seemed to give better feedback and helped with alignment, instead of the single small sharpie line. Putting twice from the same location gave immediate feedback on if the Stripe ball was firmer than what I usually play. I noticed little to no difference in distance control, it felt easy to adjust to the TM Stripe and the alignment aid helped my putts start off straighter.
Chipping around the greens felt similar to my gamers. I did have one or two shots where the Stripe ball didn't seem to have as much spin as a TourBX or ProV1 but 90% of the time they would be side by side on chip shots.
Approach shots again were similar distance when struck properly. I didn't gain or lose yards swapping to the Stripe ball and when I did land on the green with both they had similar roll out distances. That tells me the spin rates are very similar, hitting two shots from the same lie onto the same putting surface.
Off the Tee I noticed little difference in carry and total distance. On two separate holes I hit what I would consider bombs with both my Gamer and the Stripe. One hole the Stripe was 10 yards longer than the gamer and the on the other hole the gamer edged out the Stripe by 5 yards. Making it a push as to if it made any difference.
Just a side note... and this is a super minor deal but when I played this round it was rather wet and several shots plugged into the fringe or fairway. The green/yellow stripe was nearly the same color as the grass which made finding those little white areas rather difficult.
The third round was again in a charity golf tournament for a local Christian school. My previous round led me to believe that little to no difference with the driver meant I'd mostly use the Stripe ball to putt, chip and hit approach shots with. Again I really like putting with the ball, approach shots into greens seemed to be the correct distance and spin the proper amount when hitting the green. There was one or two half to 3/4 wedge shots that didn't spin exactly how I thought they should and rolled out several feet longer than I anticipated but that does sometimes happen with my gamer balls too, I will certainly keep an eye on it as I work my way through the remainder of the dozen balls.
I think I will try next to hit some shots on my Skytrak and see if there is any difference in spin rates from ball to ball. It might be dicey as I do know the Skytrak does sometimes get finicky with balls with a lot of graphics. I guess we'll soon find out.