The 2016 version of the TaylorMade Project (a) ball is, like most new golf balls these days, a softer version of the initial 2014 model.
The compression is down 18 points to 70 which is a meaningful drop and, as I found out when I met with Director of Golf Ball R&D Eric Loper, the idea is to increase feel and spin on short approach shots.
As Eric and I discussed, softer compression balls suit players with driver swing speeds of around 90mph and below. The Project (a) has a 3-piece construction that helps with distance, but the revised formulation of the REACT Core is what drops the compression by a third.
Many balls marketed as soft are sometimes developed to hit a price point and this can mean different materials are used. However the Project (a) seems more focussed more on performance than cost as the reasonably high RRP reflects.
This means that you get the same Soft Tech cast urethane cover that is on the TaylorMade Tour Preferred ball to give you plenty of feel on and around the green.
Comparing the Project (a) and the Tour Preferred on chips and putts, there was very little between them for sound and feel and this means that you are getting a great quality ball in the Project (a).
Even from the tee and the fairway there was hardly any difference in performance on SkyTrak.
However in play testing with a short iron or wedge in hand, the higher spin from the design of the Project (a) was evident to give those who need it for a little more control on full shots into the green without creating too much spin on chips.
The quality look continues with the side stamp always aligned on the reasonably wide seam of the ball, which I like for alignment, but which maybe doesn't look as clean as the Tour Preferred.
The Project (a) comes in double digit numbers of 00, 11, 22, and 33 to reflect the three layers and continues TaylorMade's anti-quad numbering policy that started with the five piece Penta ball.
Overall the TaylorMade Project (a) is very playable and an ideal all round ball for mid-single figure handicappers and upwards. It's not much cheaper than the Tour Preferred, which feels great, but the Project (a) feels softer, so if you prefer that then it would make a good choice.
I like the fact that you get the benefits of the soft core within a 3-piece construction when approaching the greens, but that it plays more like a premium tour ball when putting.
So make it a Project to give it a go.