We visited the high-tech lab where Nike is testing and creating its next generation of golf balls.
Next year, the company is going to release a new line of balls with the RZN brand name. It flew us, and others, to its headquarters in Oregon to talk about its golf equipment.
Right now, Titleist with its ProV1 line, is the biggest ball company in golf. Nike hopes that its new branding for RZN will eat into some of Titleist’s sales.
Nike say the key differentiator for its RZN line is that the core is made of resin, which is a lighter material than rubber. A golf ball has a small core, then other stuff around the core, and then the outer coating. By making the core lighter, Nike can make the stuff around the core heavier, which it says promotes stability and distance.
The RZN ball will come in Black, Platinum, Red, and White for different swings and skills. We got to hit the balls and they seemed pretty good. We’ll do more testing next year when it’s a bit warmer to get a truer sense of the ball’s performance.
For what it’s worth, Nike pro Rory McIlroy says he’s a half club longer with the new ball. Nike pro Paul Casey said he fell in love with the new ball the first time he hit it, and he’s pretty finicky about equipment.
Yes, these guys are paid to use Nike stuff, but they don’t have to switch to the new gear immediately. For instance, Tiger Woods is still using a golf ball that’s 4-5 years old. Nike says it’s going to try to get him to switch to the new stuff. The golf ball is the only piece of equipment a player uses on every hole, so it has to be pretty exact to meet the standards of a pro.
As part of the trip to Nike we got an inside look at the R&D facility Nike uses to work on its next-generation of golf balls.
Nike says resin is lighter than the rubber that is used in rivals' golf balls. It allows Nike to add a heavier substance around the resin, which it says adds distance and stability.
Nike has just about every company's golf ball in the lab. Here's it compares its colour balls to others'.
This what the inside of the golf ball looks like. You can also see slivers of the outer part of the ball.
This is the automated golf ball machine, which measures the weight, size, and compression of a golf ball to make sure its conforming to USGA standards.
This machine is awesome. It fires golf balls through a narrow set of frames ~70 feet to the other side of the building, then it comes back automatically on a little ramp.
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