Nike Golf Unveils New Ball Franchise

The new Nike Golf 20XI golf ball family
The new Nike Golf 20XI golf ball family

It’s a golf ball kind of day.  First Titleist hit the Canadian retail shelves today with their new ProV1 model (see our Facebook page at facebook.com/flagstick for a special giveaway) and now Nike Golf officially unveils their newest golf ball franchise, the 20XI (pronounced: twenty-X-I) premium  balls.

The team at Nike Golf is has been quite excited as they prepared to introduce these new golf balls, which were four years in development.  They are the result of a collaboration between  Nike Golf’s golf ball engineers and a team of material and science experts at DuPont.

The focus of the two new ball designs is a core story.  Instead of a  conventional rubber core they have made use of what they call a  “radical new resin material.”   The company says that the Resin is a, “highly neutralized polymer that’s faster, lighter and engineered to produce longer distance and more controlled shots.”

“I have never been more excited about a new golf ball innovation than I am now,” said Rock Ishii, Nike Golf’s Product Development Director for golf balls.  “For many years, golf ball development has primarily been focused on the number of layers with a solid rubber core.”

“We believe that there wasn’t really any where else to go as far as technology advancement in these areas, and felt that the next window of opportunity was in the exploration of various materials for the core,” he added.

The new designs, due to the use of the resin core technology are supposed to perform better in three areas of the game, with more distance off the tee, straighter ball flight and more control around the greens.

An interesting point they are trying to make about the golf balls is that that the use of a lighter core results in a higher moment of inertia, supposedly reducing driver spin but helping to maintain spin rates beyond the flight apex.

To date, the company says the following Nike athletes have made the switch to the new Nike 20XI: Stephen Ames, Stewart Cink, Richard Finch, Lucas Glover, Matt Haines, Anthony Kim, Kevin Kisner, Justin Leonard, Jamie Lovemark, Pablo Martin, Francesco Molinari, James Morrison and Carl Pettersson.

The focus of the 20XI golf ball design is the lighter-weight resin core.
The focus of the 20XI golf ball design is the lighter-weight resin core.

The Nike 20XI franchise will launch two versions of the ball, the 20XI-X (tour-level distance) and 20XI-S (tour-level spin).  While both balls deliver faster speed, higher MOI and steeper spin slope, the 20XI-X is optimized to reduce excess driver spin to maximize distance.  The 20XI-S incorporates a softer cover for enhanced greenside spin and control.

“Rock and his team have nailed this,” said Nike athlete Stewart 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’m hitting it 10 yards farther.  Nike has developed a ball that goes faster and has found materials that spin more with the wedges and less with the driver. So it’s longest off the tee and spinniest around the greens. What’s not to like?”

As a final point Nike Golf claims the new technology reduces the number of manufacturing steps resulting in what they claim is a marked increase in production consistency over a rubber core.

Both 20XI balls will be available April 29, 2011 in North America with Canadian MSRP set at $49.99 a dozen.

We look forward to testing these golf balls and providing some feedback on their performance.


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