James Bond fans know that the golf ball of choice in the famous match against the best of the Bond villains, Goldfinger, was a Dunlop 65. In fact, it was Goldfinger’s professed passion for playing only Dunlop 65 Number Ones that enabled the super spy to engineer his rival’s defeat in that match.
For many years Dunlop golf balls were produced by a Japanese company behind the scenes – Sumitomo Rubber Industries (SRI). After the Dunlop 65 ran its course, SRI went on to manufacture high profile Slazenger and Maxfli balls for Dunlop. No company holds more patents for golf ball construction than SRI. And the amount of time that Srixon commits to R&D is up there with the leaders in the industry.
Sumitomo Rubber Makes its Own Name
About ten years ago Sumitomo Rubber emerged from the shadows and introduced its own line of golf balls under a little company we may know as Srixon. Srixon competes in all markets from premium Tour-level golf balls to balls for the recreational player, as well as a full line of other equipment like clubs and hats.
The company has assembled an eclectic stable of endorsers that include such players as Keegan Bradley, Graeme McDowell, Vijay Singh, Fuzzy Zoeller, and Laura Davies. While they may not be the biggest names in golf, it is a solid roster. A similar sentiment can be said for the Srixon golf balls – solid performers in a world dominated by the Titleists and Callaways of the world.
Srixon was one of the first to toss its hat into the low compression, “soft feel” end of the market, so they’ve had a lot of practice over the years. The new 2017 versions of the Srixon Soft Feel and the Srixon Soft Feel Lady that make their way to the North American marketplace at the end of July will be the 10th generation of the balls.
What’s New in Generation 10?
The seemingly unattainable quest for ball manufactures is to improve distance off the tee (that requires low spin rates), enhance greenside performance (that requires high spin rates), and to wrap that elusive solution into a ball that delivers superior feel. How the heck do you do that?
Srixon starts with a low compression core that it calls an Energetic Gradient Growth core. Lower compression golf balls are designed to complement golfers with swings slower than 100 miles per hour, which is just about every golfer. But the company isn’t on all-out drive for the lowest compression possible. Srixon engineers believe the new balls to be at the optimum range for players with swings from 70 miles per hour and up.
Srixon has engineered its new Soft Feel balls with a compression of 60, which comes in a full 12 compression points lower than Generation 9, while the compression of the Soft Feel Lady has been kept at 58. In fact, aside from a thinner cover, there isn’t much to distinguish the “Lady” in the line.
Speaking of that cover, here is where the battle to unleash additional greenside spin takes place. The new two-piece Soft Feels are dressed in an ionomer cover that’s 11 percent softer and five percent thinner than its predecessors. That cover then gets pressed into a 324 Speed dimple pattern to generate optimal ball speed off the clubface.
Are the New Soft Feel Golf Balls for You?
With these new generation Soft Feels, Srixon is saying there’s no race to the bottom of the compression rating for golf balls. While other brands plunge below 50 compression Srixon will hold on around 60, which the company believes is the sweet spot for the everyday golfer.
And while that everyday golfer craves distance, it’s often the case that increased spin is the most desirable pursuit. Srixon counts on its long experience in cover design to slay that white whale with increased launch angles and added revolutions per minute coming into the green.
New 2017 Srixon Soft Feel golf balls are available in the following models: