The Srixon AD333 golf ball is one of those products that is a dominant market leader in its category. It has been the number one selling two piece golf ball in the UK since 2006 and in the USA it is known as the Q-Star.
Therefore whenever it is due an upgrade it is always interesting to see how much a manufacturer can improve the product without messing too much with the winning formula and the 8th generation 2017 AD333 is carefully treading this path.
Visually it is doing it very subtly as the box is the same royal blue colour with slightly different white and silver graphics. The 2017 side stamp is even more similar with the smaller arrows at each end now separate from the two blue lines, so you will have to look carefully to spot the new versions.
Look even more carefully and do some counting and you will find the 2017 ball now has 338 dimples, which is 14 more than the 2015 ball. The dimples come in five sizes and are arranged in a new pattern to make it more aerodynamic and reduce drag.
The 2017 AD333 is also a little softer at 75 compression, which is the lowest that is has been for this model and the idea is to make it a little softer feeling, as we found out when I talked to R&D head Jeff Brunski.
On and around the green it was difficult to tell the difference between the two models as the AD333 is a pretty soft sounding ball when you are putting and chipping with it.
Reducing the compression of the large Energetic Gradient Growth core will also reduce the spin a little, so the 2017 AD333 will launch a little higher and that is pretty much what I saw in my GC2 stats below. With the 7-iron it was launching just over 0.5° degree higher with around 300 rpm less spin, which is about 5% less.
With the driver the increase in launch was about the same, but the reduction is spin was around 100rpm or 3% less.
This didn't really increase the distance number for me, but the ball speed was less so that could have just been the nautral variation in the swing. If it is softer then at my 100mph driver swing speed it could be that the lower compression is affecting this, so at lower speeds you might see a gain.
It probably means that the AD333 will suit mid to low swing speed players more as the ball will compress and rebound more easily, whereas at higher speeds it will overdo this and lose energy. If the compression at impact is not too great then the lower spin and higher launch should give you an extra yard or two.
Whatever changes Srixon has done is therefore more fine tuning to tweak the feel, launch and flight, so you can see how having a dominant positon in the market means that any changes from one product to the next tend to be incremental so that they don't upset the apple cart.
The spin around the green was less than a premium tour ball, as you might expect from the low spin design, so the chips did not grip as much as a cast urethane ball.
The AD333 does feature the 3rd generation Srixon Spin Skin that features a urethane coating on the thin ionomer cover to try and create a little more friction to maximise the spin, so for the type of ball that it is, the control is not bad.
Available in dozen boxes with sleeves of three, the AD333 comes in a choice of white or yellow, which is good to see for those who need something good to see.
If you are not buying a premium ball for the spin control then your ball decision is probably going to be based on price and this is where the AD333 excels. As you go down the price points, the balls have to compromise on performance features, but the 2017 AD333 manages to combine a good value with a decent cover and a soft feel that will no doubt see its reign extend further.