Hi, my name’s Dave and I play a colored golf ball.
(by Dave Wolfe) That’s right, I said it. I prefer to play golf with a non-white golf ball. No, I don’t know why. Maybe it’s the increased visibility or maybe the color just improves my mood. All I know is that I just really like playing colored balls. Right now it’s the yellow Wilson Staff Duo, but I have also dabbled with the Yellow Callaway Hex Chrome and Srixon’s yellow Z-Star. I know that some of you white-ball-purists are already tuning out, but you get to like what you like. For me, it’s color.
For the past few years it seems like the golf ball makers have figured out that there are quite a few of us who like the non-white on the course. They have also realized that while we want color, we also still demand a ball that performs.
As much as I like colored balls, I am not going to play one if it ultimately hurts my score.
Head to the shop and look at the ball selection. You will find colored offerings, mainly yellow, from Wilson Staff, Titleist, Srixon, Bridgestone, and Callaway. Those are some big names in the ball industry. Many of us remember when Srixon introduced the yellow Z Star, promoting it by somehow getting some of the PGA guys to play it for a tournament or two. I loved seeing those yellow balls being played on TV. Their tour play didn’t last, but it did seem to help keep the colored balls on the shelf, even if there are only one or two colors to pick from.
Look at those colors!
As a lover of colored golf balls, my attention is usually drawn to new ones that I see in the shop. That’s how I first became aware of the Volvik brand. The bright colors caught my eye. However, at the time, I didn’t know anything about Volvik, and as a result, I didn’t buy any. I found the bright colors appealing, but without some more information, I was not going to risk my golf money on them.
As fate would have it, a bit later I ran into one of the Volvik reps at a local golf expo. It became immediately apparent during that conversation was that the colored Volvik ball was not just a cosmetic novelty, but rather a high-quality ball that came in different colors.
What made me think the Volvik ball was high quality?
Data is king is the golf industry. If you make performance claims, you had better be able to back them up. If Volvik says that their balls outperform others in the market, they had better have some numbers that support that claim.
Here are some of the Iron Byron test numbers that Volvik’s uses as the basis for its performance claims:
Volvik Vista iV
What Do Those Numbers Mean?
There were two things that I looked at in their testing. First, what balls did they test against, and second, what were the conditions of the test? I think that the choice of competitors seems appropriate for each of the balls. The Volvik Crystal was pitted against the quality, but second-tier balls from the other companies while the Volvik Vista iV challenged the big name tour balls.
The “compared to what” part of the test seems solid. The testing parameters seem appropriate as well. All of you “ask the robot” guys will appreciate the Iron Byron part of the test, although many on the other side of the robot argument don’t think that Mr. Byron gives real world golfer type swings. Driver and 8-iron swings are fine for comparison, although I would like to see wedge scoring as well. My only real question comes from matching driver swing-speed with the 8-iron. Odds are that the person who swings a driver at 95 mph is also not swinging the 8-iron at that speed.
These concerns aside, lets look at the results. Iron Byron testing shows that the Volvik Crystal and the Volvik Vista iV ranked first or second in every category. Spectacular colors, supported by performance.
Tell me more about Volvik Golf Balls
You can see why this colored ball intrigued me. I needed to know more about Volvik and theirCrystal and Vista iV lines so I posed these five questions to John Claffey, Volvik’s National Director of Sales and Marketing.
What is the common golfer’s perception of the colored golf ball?
“In the past I believe there has been two misconceptions that exist with color golf balls. One is that they are not high performance. The other is that color golf balls are only for women or seniors. We have recently come to market with our current line up to shatter these misconceptions. Golfers are more open to color than ever before and it’s following a global pattern. I truly believe that with the Baby Boomers coming to a point where visibility in the air and knowing where you are on the golf course trumps following a traditionalist mindset that colored golf ball sales will climb as high as 25% in the US market. It helps that the youth has embraced color in golf and that it’s considered cool again, but the reality of it is that color golf balls can make the game more fun to play, speed up the game and bring a little personality back to a segment of the game that has been geared towards a low-end, price point market for far too long.”
Where did this perception come from?
“The perception or misconceptions of colored golf balls came from years and years of color golf balls being made without the core golfer in mind. No one was focusing on a tour quality color golf ball and trying to get tour players using different colors other than a few instances. The way to change a perception in golf is always to do it through tour play. If they do it out there, it’s OK for other golfers to try it. It happens all the time in our sport. We saw an open niche in the golf market being the highest quality and performing color golf balls and also noticed an uptick in colored golf ball sales and ad dollars. But still people were holding onto the traditionalist mindset that they had to play a white golf ball. Just years and years of conditioning at work there. It’s still a hurdle, but we’ve seen a major sea change in a very short amount of time to people wanting to bring color to their game.”
Why is the Volvik colored ball different?
“We are very proud of the performance of our golf balls, regardless of color. We spend a lot more money on the manufacturing process and we feel we utilize different materials no one else has thought to use. We combine a solid inner core encased in a softer casing that provides the optimal spin separation and optimizes the balance of both distance and control. Optimal spin generated by the more solid inner core creates longer distance off the driver and long irons the spin increases closer to the green due to the firm outer core, producing higher spin for total control and the ability to stop on a dime on the green.
Most other companies feature a soft inner core with a harder outer layer. Our secret is we do the opposite, a solid inner core combined with a soft outer layer. The dual core optimizes distance by transferring the power from the more solid inner core to the softer outer layer instead of transferring inertia from a soft inner core to a solid outer layer like the competition.
The outer layer also reduces excess driver spin, increasing the moment of inertia and centrifugal force, leading to more distance and more roll. The outer core of the golf ball that contributes a great source of power, Bismuth, is compressed in a high temperature heating treatment. Unlike normal metal, Bismuth expands 3-3.5% in volume, leading to greater energy transfer. Zirconium is the base material for ceramic and improves durability of a golf ball cover without sacrificing spin control. This is all our own technology, most of the dimple patents and everything else do. We’ve been making golf balls for 30 years, so we feel we are leading the way with this soft outer cover and solid inner core technology and not just following the leader so to speak.”
Will we see more colored balls on tour?
“By getting 4 different colors on play on the professional tours this year, we have the most different colors in play by a golf ball manufacturer in the history of golf. Regardless of color, Volvik has been as high as the #3 most played golf ball on the LPGA Tour this season and our stats have been very impressive. In the last 13 LPGA Tour events, players using Volvik colored golf balls have earned one Victory, 11 Top 10 finishes (including eight Top 5′s) and 23 total Top 25 finishes.
We also have 20 players using us on the Symetra Tour, where we are the official golf ball. We still need to penetrate more of the men’s professional tours, which we have started doing through the Web.com Tour this year. Three-time All-American from UCLA Erik Flores, our first male professional to sign a deal in the US, hit a 349-yard drive with an orange Vista iV ball the other week for the longest drive of the BMW Charity Pro Am on the Web.com Tour. So we are definitely breaking down barriers. We have several players on PGA, Web.com and Champions currently testing the ball. Our plan is to continue what we are doing with the LPGA and to expand on the Web.com and Champions and to evaluate we are with the PGA TOUR.”
How does a smaller company like Volvik plan on competing with the giants in the market like Titleist, Callaway, Wilson Staff, and the others?
“The golf ball market is a tough and competitive arena. For us, it’s our performance that is leading the way. There are a lot of good golf balls out there, but because we make ours so much differently, we feel we have a good technology story to compete with. You add color to that mix and you have a company doing things much differently than the competition.
We know we have a golf ball that will stand up to the other great balls on the market and we feel we have all the earmarks to be the next new big brand in golf: we have the tour story, we have the #1 claim, we have the performance, we have the right golf ball for every skill level and we have the fashion and increased visibility golfers are looking for today. We also have the brightest colors in golf, which helps us stand out on the tour telecasts, so we have a nice buzz going and the word only spreads more when new golfers try our product and see what performance benefits we bring to their game.
We are doing very well with the better golfer. Some of them are better players in the region who are playing our Pink Vista iV for the mere reason that they like bombing a Pink golf ball past their buddies. We’re currently the only 4-piece tour ball being offered in Orange, Green and Pink. We also specialize in high performance, color, low compression, 3-piece golf balls for slower swing speeds, and no one else is catering to this specific market like we are. People have told me that people in the colored golf ball market don’t care about performance and that they only care about price.”
Did you play them Dave?
I have had a chance to take both balls out on the course for some “testing”. I put testing in quotes because I am not an Iron Byron, and I don’t have a spare Flightscope lying around. Think of my testing parameters more like your buddy’s when you see him playing a ball and you ask him how he likes it.
The short report is that I enjoyed playing both balls. The colors really jump out at you on the course. The pink is crazy bright, allowing you to easily track ball flight from start to finish. You can find them rapidly, and I could see the simple change to playing colored balls speeding up pace of play. I prefer the putter feel of the Vista iV over the Crystal, but both performed similar for me in other areas.
Here’s an example of my play:
On two different occasions, one with the Crystal and one with the Vista iV, I found myself putting for eagle. I missed both putts because I had that “this is for eagle” thought before putting, but that’s not important. You see, those two eagle putts brings my total eagle putt count to three. One in my previous four years of playing, and then two in the past six weeks, both with Volvik balls. It’s not controlled, scientific experimentation, but I know that these balls have game in them. Buddy-trials have elicited similar results. Most guys start skeptical, and then flat-out refuse to give me the ball back after they play it.
Volvik Shot of the Day
Have you tried Volvik Balls?
I am curious if any of you have tried the Volvik balls and what your experiences are with them. If you haven’t tried them, you should. They are bright, long, and spin well. Price-wise, these come in at the same price-point as the balls they compete against.
You can get a dozen Volvik Crystals for $32.99, with the Volvik Vista iV retailing for $47.99. If you’re unsure about buying a whole box, see if your shop will sell you a sleeve. Check out the variety packs as well so you can try out the colors. I am a fan of the orange and the pink, but the green and yellow also jump off of the turf. Give them a shot and let me know what you think.