More than 13,000 dots cover Nike’s longest balls to date.
The bloodline of Nike’s new RZN golf balls—available at nike.com this coming Friday and retail outlets from the 29th—can be traced back to 2011’s launch of the 20X1, the first ball to feature the RZN core.
It had taken Nike, working in conjunction with DuPont, which had introduced the cut-resistant Surlyn cover in the mid-1960s, four years to get the polymer resin just right. Injection-molded as opposed to compression-molded, the new core was lighter than previous Nike cores, which enabled Senior Director of Ball Innovation Rock Ishii to add a little weight to the outer layers. That raised the 20X1’s Moment of Inertia (MoI), effectively making it a perimeter-weighted golf ball.
Two years later, the RZN was released featuring the Speedlock Core, the surface of which resembled a waffle iron with hundreds of identical raised squares that Nike maintained, “interconnect with the compression layer surrounding it.” This interconnection formed a tighter bond between core and mantle, helping reduce the loss of energy caused by slipping that occurred between the smooth core and outer layer (who knew golf ball cores “slipped”?).
Tiger Woods, who had played the Nike Tour Accuracy, then the Nike One Tour D for five years, began playing the RZN Black at the end of 2014 and immediately found a little extra ball speed. Rory McIlroy had it in the bag/pocket, on the tee/in the air long before that, winning the final two major championships of 2014 with it.
As with the 2013 line, there will be four versions of the new RZN ball: Tour Platinum, Tour Black, Speed Red, and Speed White. And, as the name suggests, the Tour Platinum and Tour Black are the four-piece premium balls that will be favored by Nike staff players, while the Speed Red and Speed white are three-piece balls aimed at the average golfer.
Just as the 2013 RZN offered a significant improvement over the 20X1, so the 2016 model—specifically the Tour Platinum and Tour Black— offers new technology aimed at helping the golfer generate more ball speed, carry the ball further, stop it more quickly on the green, and give better response on short-game shots.
First, the grooves between the raised squares on the core’s surface are deeper than before, and each square is scored with an X, which, Ishii says, gives the core 27% more contact surface with the next layer. This new Speedlock X Core improves energy transfer, which, Ishii insists, results in more speed and, consequently, more distance.
Next, each of the 344 dimples on the urethane cover is covered in about three-dozen micro-dimples and there are 13,558 in all on the surface of the two premium balls. According to Ishii, this innovation cuts drag and therefore increases carry distance. And because the new core is 10% larger than the previous core, Nike again needed to add a little weight to the outer layers, further increasing the ball’s MoI. That makes it harder to hit offline and helps it perform better in the wind.
Lastly, to give the Tour Platinum and Tour Black a softer feel, Nike decreased each ball’s compression by five percent.
The Platinum has a softer feel than the Black and spins more. Expect eight out of ten Nike players to start using it, if they haven’t already. The Black will be the choice of golfers who prefer a slightly firmer feel, not unlike Titleist players taking the Pro V1x over the Pro V1.
As for the Surlyn-covered Red and White, each has a 314-dimple pattern, but the Red will fly a little further while the White feels a little softer.
Platinum, Black – $48/dozen
Red, White – $30/dozen