Published: 25 April 2022
We test the best 'club golfer' balls to find the right model for your game.
Tour-level golf balls aimed at average club golfers never used to be a thing. But in 2014 Callaway broke the mould with the Chrome Soft – a ball designed to work for club golfers, yet with a urethane cover – which until then was almost exclusively found on tour-level balls.
Unwittingly, the company sparked a trend for ball manufacturers to optimise their best tour ball tech for ordinary golfers who still want the feel and short game spin of a ‘tour’ ball, but who don’t possess tour swing speeds.
Since then, TaylorMade, Titleist and Wilson have all piled into the market with their own tour-level urethane balls, optimised for club golfers (Srixon at the time had the lesser-known AD333 Tour). They had no choice, as the Chrome Soft rapidly became the club golfer’s soft-feeling ball of choice (a phenomenon which led Callaway to gain a 20% share of the US ball market, a figure completely unthinkable just a decade before).
For 2022 Callaway, TaylorMade, Srixon and Wilson have all launched new urethane balls aimed specifically at club golfers, and we’ve put them all (plus the existing Titleist Tour Speed and Bridgestone Tour B RX/RXS) to the test to find out which is worth a place in your bag. You can find out how we conducted the test, here.
RRP £37.99 per dozen | VIEW OFFERS: TOUR B RX / TOUR B RXS
Construction Three-piece with urethane cover | Compression N/A | Models White, Optic Yellow | Cost per ball £3.17
The Tour B RX is designed for players who swing the driver at less than 105mph (the average is 92-93mph) and want to add an extra distance dimension to their game. The RXS is for the same speed player, but with a focus on producing additional spin to increase shot shaping capacity, stop shots quicker or help flight stronger lofted irons more easily.
The RX is played by LPGA star Lexi Thompson, where the RXS is the ball of choice for Fred Couples. Bridgestone say a new Smart cover reacts to the force of impact, so tee shots rebound quicker to optimise speed, velocity and distance, while approach and short game shots stay on the clubface for longer to add extra spin and control.
Bridgestone are nowhere near as experimental as some brands when it comes to colour, alignment tech and finishes on their balls, so you’ll only find a white and simple optic yellow option.
Today’s Golfer test verdict: Bridgestone Tour B RX & Tour B RXS
Top marks to Bridgestone for being the first brand to target balls at specific swing speeds. It’s impressive too, giving sub-105mph players (with a driver) the opportunity to choose whether they want to put more emphasis on distance or spin with their ball. We love the thinking; it shows real dedication to club golfers who foot the bill for tour player endorsements.
Our data has both Bridgestones down as very solid options, with just a small margin between them and our very top performers (two yards with a 7-iron, five with the driver), which, of course, could be reversed on another day.
We struggled to really feel the difference between the two, but after looking at our numbers we’d happily come down on the side of the RXS for its 500rpm extra wedge spin, while giving up almost nothing in terms of distance.
Golf balls test data: Bridgestone Tour B RX & Tour B RXS
RELATED: Best Tour Golf Balls
RRP £50 per dozen | VIEW OFFER
Construction Three-piece with urethane cover | Compression 75 | Models White, Yellow, Triple Track, Truvis Red, Truvis Yellow | Cost per ball £3.13 (bought on Callaway’s four-dozen-for-three season-long offer)
The Chrome Soft has switched from a four-piece to a three-piece construction for 2022, thanks to the benefits a
new SoftFast core bring to the party. The standard Chrome Soft (there’s also X and X LS) will make up 75% of sales, so it’s aimed at a big audience.
Callaway like to think the model is a great alternative to the Pro V1. Expect a 0.5mph ball speed gain with 130rpm less backspin with the driver, plus 330rpm less 7-iron spin, compared to the 2019 Chrome Soft, which Callaway say equates to a five-yard carry gain across the board.
They’ve allowed for all alignment needs. The Triple Track, which uses two blue lines and one red lines, is based on Vernier Hyper Acuity (used to land aircraft on aircraft carriers) which improves our brain’s ability to process differences in alignment. We think a Triple Track ball looks great sat in front of an Odyssey Triple Track putter.
The Truvis launched in 2016 and its popularity caught Callaway by surprise with them needing to scale up the machines required to print the hexagonal pattern onto the ball’s cover. The football-like pattern makes the ball look bigger, which many find confidence-inspiring.
Today’s Golfer test verdict: Callaway Chrome Soft
We’ve been big fans of the Chrome Soft ever since it was first revealed in 2014. How Callaway design a ball from a strokes gained angle rather than optimising it just for drivers (which make up a maximum of 12 shots per round)
was genuinely clever thinking.
The Chrome Soft was our second longest driver ball and tied second-longest for 7-iron distance (for total distance), which is an excellent result. But it was also second only to the Wilson Triad in terms of wedge spin from 100 yards, so this is a top drawer, across-the-board performer.
If you’re concerned by the Chrome Soft’s price hike this year (up from £39.99 to £50 a dozen), Callaway are running a four-for-three offer all year which brings each ball down from £3.33 (2019 version) to £3.13 (2022 version).
Golf balls test data: Callaway Chrome Soft
RELATED: Best Golf Balls for High Handicappers
RRP £34.99 per dozen | VIEW OFFER
Construction Three-piece with urethane cover | Compression 72 | Models Pure White, Tour Yellow, Divide | Cost per ball £2.92
The club golfer’s performance ball. Srixon tour pros demand an advantage over the competition off the tee while
also having enough approach and greenside spin to attack the toughest pins. But that sort of thinking leads to tour balls coming with higher compressions and a firmer feel. The Q-Star Tour (aimed at 75+mph swing speeds) breaks that mould.
It is designed using the same premium materials as the Z-Star balls, but comes with a softer feel that club golfers really appreciate. Srixon say the Q-Star Tour’s urethane Spin Skin cover is particularly good at biting in the grooves of a wedge for added stopping power.
As well as the standard white model, Srixon produce a Tour Yellow model. Research says yellow is the most visible colour in the spectrum. Tests show that at 275 yards, Srixon’s Tour Yellow ball was spotted over 60% of the time, compared with 21% for a white ball.
There’s also the revolutionary Divide. With all the same material technology as the standard Q-Star Tour, the Divide’s cover is split into two colours. The idea lets users see if putts are running true, helps alignment consistency and gives a visual representation of how the ball spins within the short game.
Today’s Golfer test verdict: Srixon Q-Star Tour
Tour balls have come with the choice of standard or firmer models for years, so decent players can choose between a firmer feel and extra ball speed or softer feel and additional spin. That choice hasn’t filtered through to urethane club golfer balls yet, so we usually get one option when it comes to urethane balls optimised for our swing speeds.
But our data shows that choice might well represent the future, because the Q-Star Tour was our fastest and longest driver ball and second longest (carry) when hit with a 7-iron, which is just what lots of reasonable club golfers look for from a ball. But, when it comes to wedge spin from 100 yards (not greenside where Srixon reckon the Q-Star Tour performs exceptionally well), the Q-Star Tour was our lowest spinning model.
If power and distance are key, the Q-Star Tour has to be on your shortlist. Interestingly, if you play the Titleist Pro V1 because of the perceived extra greenside control, at a very average 89mph driver speed, you’re putting 15 yards of distance on the line (combining driver and -7-iron distance) simply for feel.
Golf balls test data: Srixon Q-Star Tour
RELATED: Which Srixon ball is right for you?
RRP £39.99 per dozen | VIEW OFFER
Construction Three-piece with urethane cover | Compression 70 | Models White, Yellow, Stripe | Cost per ball £3.33
The Tour Response is designed for all club golfers, but it’s likely to be adopted most enthusiastically by those who say “I don’t swing fast enough for a tour ball”, “I’m not good enough to play a tour ball”, or “tour balls are just too expensive”.
The urethane cover is made from the same material as TaylorMade’s TP5 and has the same Tour Flight dimples. They reduce drag from launch to peak height and keep air moving into the dimples during descent to keep shots in the air for longer. TaylorMade say urethane covers are far better than ionomer, as the cover interacts with grooves to give additional control.
Alongside the standard white model is a high-vis yellow option, but it’s the new Stripe that grabs the attention. It has a 360° stripe running around the ball’s perimeter. It highlights where you’re aiming, helps visualise the path of putts and shows whether the ball’s rolling end over end.
Today’s Golfer test verdict: TaylorMade Tour Response
Gear editor Simon Daddow has been a fan of the Tour Response since the 2020 original and it is the ball of choice for both him and TG digital editor Rob Jerram.
We love how it feels like a ball designed specifically for us. Our data has it down as a cracking across-the-board performer. It was fast with a driver and iron (second in both categories), which translates to being our longest 7-iron and third longest driver ball, so there’s no giving up distance to get wedge spin (which came in just 6% less than a Pro V1 at average swing speeds).
The big decision now is whether or not to try the new Stripe model. We were sceptical about the chunky alignment stripe, but on-course testing highlighted just what the idea brings to the party. As well as aligning the ball on the green (and seeing its roll), we loved setting it up squarely at the flag on par 3s or the centre cut of the fairway from the tee. Some golfers will love the extra confidence the stripe fosters; for those that don’t the standard Tour Response is a proven performer.
Golf balls test data: TaylorMade Tour Response
RELATED: Best Golf Balls
RRP £38 per dozen | VIEW OFFER
Construction Three-piece with thermoplastic urethane cover | Compression n/a | Models White, Yellow | Cost per ball £3.17
After watching others move into the space, Titleist entered the arena with the Tour Speed in 2021. Titleist insist it delivers category-leading speed, distance and precise short-game control.
Unlike the competition, the Tour Speed has a thermoplastic urethane cover, which isn’t the same as the Pro V1. Expect a penetrating ball flight in the long game, along with a soft feel across the bag.
Apart from coming up with new alignment side-stamps, Titleist have shied away from getting involved in
the ‘visual technology ball space’ that Callaway, TaylorMade and Srixon are now exploiting. The Tour Speed Yellow gives greater on-course visibility. Order direct through the brand’s website and you can customise the number and add your name.
Today’s Golfer test verdict: Titleist Tour Speed
It’s really important not to see the Tour Speed as a cheaper Pro V1, as the pair don’t have urethane covers (unlike a lot of the competition). If it’s a softer feeling Pro V1 you’re after (the Pro V1 has a compression around 90, and the AVX and Tour Speed is 15-20 points softer) then you really should be looking at the AVX, but remember this ball gives a lower, more penetrating ball flight, which is not optimal for lots of club golfers.
Titleist say the Tour Speed is for golfers who put an emphasis on speed and distance, yet it wasn’t our fastest or longest with a driver (20 yards back from our longest) or 7-iron (five yards back from our longest). As nice as the Tour Speed felt with a wedge, there’s no covering up how our data supports exactly what Titleist say, which is that you can expect high wedge spin from the Pro V1 but just mid-spin from the Tour Speed. For us that meant 625rpm less stopping power than a Pro V1 and 16% less than our top spinning model, the Wilson Triad. For us at least, that means the Tour Speed was a tad disappointing.
Golf balls test data: Titleist Tour Speed
RELATED: Best Winter Golf Balls
RRP £39 per dozen | VIEW OFFER
Construction Three-piece with urethane cover | Compression 85 | Models White, Raw (Triad R) | Cost per ball £3.25
This is the ball for golfers seeking to break 80, so the ideal mid-handicap model. Wilson have designed the Triad to hit more fairways (3) and greens (5), as well as to sink more putts (5).
It achieves its goal by relocating some of the ball’s mass (the core), away from the centre to the outer edges, which improves MOI and accuracy. Wilson say the Triad will work particularly well for golfers who don’t list more distance as their first priority when choosing a new ball.
There are two models – the standard Triad, or the Triad R, which is an unpainted (Raw) model, to ensure there is no risk of paint pooling in any dimples and affecting the aerodynamics.
Today’s Golfer test verdict: Wilson Staff Triad
Who doesn’t want a ball to help them break 80? This is one of the best equipment stories of the year!
Wilson’s legendary golf ball engineer Frank Simonutti says the Triad is a ball best suited to golfers content with how far they hit shots, and our data fully supports that. Triad wasn’t longest or fastest with the driver or 7-iron at our Gear Ed’s very average swing speed, but it excelled in wedge spin and control.
It was our highest spinning wedge ball, with 6.7% more than our second-placed ball and 7.8% more than a Pro V1. Simon’s game is based around hitting accurate, consistent wedge approaches from 125 yards and in (as he lacks speed and distance off the tee). It allowed him to do just that.
We love the Triad’s feedback and feel and reckon a good majority of club golfers will agree with our sentiment, as the model is right up there alongside the very best short game balls we’ve tried. Club golfers interested in playing the Triad will need to make a decision whether to use the painted or Raw (unpainted) model, the latter eliminating the potential of an inconsistent paint finish.
Golf balls test data: Wilson Staff Triad
We created an indoor test lab within the fitting studio at ElitePro Golf at the James Braid-designed Peterborough Milton GC.
The studio was decked out with a Foresight GC Quad launch monitor, and because all the balls are designed to perform
at club golfer speeds, we used Today’s Golfer Equipment Editor Simon Daddow (who has a smooth, consistent 89mph driver swing speed) to hit shots.
The former club designer, who plays off a 10 handicap, tested each ‘club golfer’ ball against the industry-leading Titleist Pro V1, the No.1 ball on Tour.
Simon is a former golf club designer and plays off a 10 handicap. He used his own Ping G400 SFT driver, Callaway Rogue X 7-iron and 52° Ping iWedge.
Massive thank you to @eliteprogolf @PmgcGolf for use of their brilliant fitting studio this morning.
✅Urethane cover club golfer golf ball test complete.
✅Driver ✅7-Iron ✅Wedge
Brilliant venue if you're looking for a first class fitting service any time soon.👍🏌️♀️⛳️ pic.twitter.com/ZCDq6JqwoA
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Simon Daddow is the Equipment Editor at todaysgolfer.co.uk
Simon has worked in the golf industry for 30 years. Starting out as trainee professional at Downes Crediton GC where he learned the art of golf club making, before going onto work for Clubhaus Plc and Tony Charles Ltd as a golf club maker, and running Product Development at Benross Golf.
Joining EMAP Active (now Bauer Media) in 2006 as Equipment Editor Simon has worked for Today’s Golfer and Golf World magazines and the Today’s Golfer website.
Simon is 46 years old, he’s played golf for 40 years and plays to a handicap of 10. A lack of club speed means he’s short off the tee, but very handy from 125 yards and in.
He uses a Ping G400 SFT driver, PXG 0341 X Gen4 3-Wood, PXG 0341 X Gen4 7-wood, PXG 0317 X Gen2 hybrid, Callaway Rogue X irons (6 – PW), Cleveland CBX2 wedges (52°, 58°), Bettinardi Inovai 6.0 putter and a TaylorMade Tour Response golf ball.
You can contact Simon here.
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