As a rule, Nike golf ball introductions do not generate lots of industry buzz. But the one heralding the spring release of the 20XI-X and 20XI-S appears to be different in that regard. That is largely because the new ball employs a proprietary core technology Nike Golf developed over a period of four years with a team of material and science experts at DuPont, which has caused palpable enthusiasm among Nike Golf officials.
“I have never been more excited about a new golf ball innovation,” says Rock Ishii, product director of golf balls for the Oregon equipment company.
What has got Ishii and his colleagues so excited is a new core material they call “resin.” It is a highly neutralized polymer that Nike officials say accomplishes three critical things: greater distance off the tee, straighter ball flight and increased control around the greens.
“For many years, golf ball development has primarily been focused on the number of layers with a solid core,” Ishii says. “We believed that there wasn’t really anywhere else to go as far as technology advancement in these areas, and we felt that the next window of opportunity was in the exploration of various materials for the core.”
According to Ishii, the core technology in the 20XI ball delivers an average ball speed increase of 2-3 miles-per-hour, with each 1 mph increase equaling two to three extra yards of carry distance. The ball is also designed to provide higher levels of MOI (Moment of Inertia) for straighter ball flight. That is because higher MOI assists in reducing driver spin as it also helps to maintain spin beyond the apex for better carry and control. Then, there is the way the new Nike Golf ball produces more spin off wedge shots and other short irons as it also produces less off the drive.
Several Nike Golf athletes have been using 20XI prototypes in competition, among them Stewart Cink, Lucas Glover, Anthony Kim, Justin Leonard, Carl Pettersson and Francesco Molinari.
“Rock and his team have nailed this,” says Cink. “They’ve been able to increase the gap between driver spin and wedge/iron spin. With this ball, I have 2 mph more speed off the driver, and I am hitting it five to 15 yards further (even though it spins more around the greens).”
The 20XI comes in two versions – 20XI-X, for what the company calls tour-level distance, and 20XI-S, for tour-level spin. Both balls will be available in North America April 29th, and globally November 1.