Nike 20XI Golf Ball Experience

What is the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Nike Golf? Maybe it’s shoes or apparel or maybe it’s Tiger woods. Maybe you think of square drivers or due to all the buzz going on about the method putter it’s possible that’s the first thing that comes to your mind when you think of Nike Golf. If I were a better women I would wager to say that you probably don’t think about golf balls. Nike Golf continues to make a name for themselves in the world of golf and this trend has now moved to the golf ball.

Rock Ishii, Anthony Kim & Francesco Molinari

This past week I was fortunate enough to attend an event hosted by Nike Golf at the WGC Cadillac Championship at Doral in Miami Florida. Here I was able to meet the masterminds behind the new Nike 20XI golf ball. Not only did I get to learn what makes this ball so unique but I also got the chance to witness first hand exactly what numbers this ball can produce. Part of the presentation was an outdoor live demonstration from two of the worlds best golfers; Nike Athletes and PGA Tour stars Anthony Kim and Francesco Molinari. Both of these superstars now play the new Nike 20XI ball and they were excited to show us why they have made the switch.

After four years of research and testing the Nike 20XI golf ball is here and it’s about to make waves in the golf industry. Say goodbye to the days of a rubber core. Nike engineers, together with experts from DuPont, have replaced the traditional rubber core of a golf ball with a new resin material. According to Nike this new material will allow for more distance and more controlled shots. Since seeing is believing Nike had A.K. and Francesco Molinari out on the course equipped with the new 20XI, a driver, a wedge and a Trackman to demonstrate just how well this new ball works.

Along with the players, they also had the engineers who helped create this ball including Rock Ishii who is Nike Golf’s Product Development Director for golf balls. Rock explained why the golf ball worked and then A.K. and Molinari showed us. Bombed drive after bombed drive we could see the kind of numbers these guys were getting on the Trackman. This new golf ball technology has so many great benefits for a golfer. From Nike Golf:

Faster Ball Speed Equals More Distance
· Advancement in proprietary resin core chemistry delivers faster ball speed.
· Internal tests with Nike Golf tour athletes have shown an average of 2-3 mph increase in ball speed.
· Every 1 mph increase equates to 2-3 yards carry distance.

Highest Levels of MOI Provides Longer, Straighter Ball Flight
· Lighter core and heavier outer layers result in perimeter weighting.
· High MOI assists in reducing driver spin and maintains spin beyond apex to maintain carry and control.
· After apex, the higher MOI assists in maintaining spin an average of 100-200 RPM.
· 20XI has the highest levels of MOI in a golf ball to date.

Steeper Spin Slope Equals More Distance Off the Tee; More Control Around the Green
· Less spin off the driver, more off the wedge.
· Overall design and MOI assist in reducing driver spin at impact on average of 100 – 200 RPM over prior Nike ball technology.
· Softer cover materials allow for greater short iron spin and control.

After the outdoor demonstration we went indoors to have some more one-on-one time with the players to hear from them why they like this new ball. One thing resonated with me the most was that both guys said of all the equipment that they use changing their golf ball is the hardest. They can change a driver far easier then they can their golf ball. It’s the one piece of equipment that they use for every single shot. It’s almost as if they build a relationship with their ball. They know how it will perform from club to club and it has a certain feel that they have become accustomed to. I always knew how important the golf ball was to the golf game but it wasn’t until then that it was truly put into perspective for me.

The Nike 20XI will be released in two versions, the 20XI-X which is for tour-level distance and the 20XI-S for tour-level spin. Both balls will have the resin core creating faster speed, higher MOI, and the steepest spin slope to date. The main difference between the two balls is in the cover. The 20XI-S will have a softer cover for greater greenside spin and control. Starting April 29, 2011 both versions of the 20XI ball will be available within North America.

When listening to Nike engineers as well as the tour players you can hear the passion and see the excitement they all share about this new golf ball. Could the days of the rubber core be history? I guess time will tell but based on the numbers and results they are seeing I would say there is a very strong possibility that this new resin core is the way of the golf ball future. I look forward to posing the question a year from now, what comes to mind when you think of Nike Golf? I have a feeling golf ball might be on the list.

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Morgan Babbitt
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