Three years after unveiling their 20XI ball, featuring a RZN core, Nike have redesigned the core once more. Unveiled in time for the 2014 season, the new foursome features Nike's latest Speedlock RZN core, engineered for more distance, better feel and a more consistent ball flight.
Four models are available at two different prices, the RZN Platinum and RZN Black are the more premium balls with an RRP of £40/dozen, whilst the RZN Red and RZN White are more distance-focused and will be released with an RRP of £30/dozen.
“We knew we hadn’t pulled 100-percent of the energy that we could out of the existing RZN core,” says Rock Ishii, Senior Director, Nike Golf Product Development.
“Working in partnership with DuPont we were able to develop a softer and faster RZN material and created the interlocking core design to reduce energy loss at impact. That means more distance, especially with fairway woods, irons and wedges, and softer feel and sound around the greens.”
So what is it about the new core design that makes it so innovative and effective?
It centres around the interlocking geometry. Much like the surface of a waffle iron or a car tyre, the Speedlock RZN core eliminates any slipping between a traditional core's smooth surface and the outer layer of a ball.
If the core of a golf ball slips or slides at impact, then energy is lost. By harnessing that energy with the Speedlock design, Nike believe they have produced a range of balls that will offer faster ball speeds, longer distance and more stability.
In order to create for the future, Nike's R&D team looked to the past. 1900, to be specific.
They examined the first rubber core golf balls ever made in golf. The original Haskell ball that was created in the early 1900s featured a rubber core made of elastic threads, looking like a ball of rubber bands. This design immediately saw results, as Haskell's ball proved to be faster than older designs.
“Tightly-wrapped material pulls more energy through the layers, and converts that energy into additional ball speed,” Ishii says. “One additional mile-per-hour produces an average of five yards in additional distance.”
No one likes improved equipment, specifically the ball, more than Tour players and Nike's professionals took to the new design immediately. Rory McIlroy and Paul Casey were among the first to put the ball in play.
“I want something that sounds fast off the club head, and something that sounds soft around the green,” Casey says. “This new ball with Speedlock Technology does that.”
McIlroy says he has gained about half of club of distance in his long game, but also explained how the new design has help his short game.
“I’m finding that especially around the greens there is a big difference,” he said. “The ball feels and sounds a lot softer. And even from inside 50 yards, it felt like the ball was getting a little more grip, a little more spin. My iron shots were great, and wedge shots were great, too.”
So which ball is right for you? Here's a closer look at the features and benefits of each model.
Both the RZN Platinum and RZN Black models are four-piece balls targeted at better players and Nike's Tour players. The RZN Black is designed to spin slightly less than the Platinum ball which offers more of a mid-spin performance.
Tiger Woods hasn't switched ball in more than four years and is said to be testing the RZN Platinum ball that is currently being played by McIlroy and Casey.
The RZN Red and RZN White models are both three-piece balls designed to offer more distance. Set to retail at the same price, the RZN Red will carry a little longer, whereas the RZN White has a softer feel and is designed for players with swing speed between 95 and 100 mph.