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Golf Ball Review – Nike 2013 Line Up

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Introduction

(Written By: Golfspy Matt) Despite the fact that last year’s review of Nike’s golf ball line up (found HERE) failed to get me a job in Nike’s marketing department (I can’t believe it either), I’m giving away more brilliance for free this year:

Nike 2013 Golf Balls: ALL RZN, ALL THE TIME

If you don’t see that tattooed on Rory’s face for Masters Weekend, I’ll be shocked.

Marketing aside, in 2013, Nike has doubled down on RZN: not only is it at the core of their tour-level ball, it is also being used in the new ONE RZN, their new mid-level ball.  As with the original 20XI, Nike claims that the RZN core allows them to make a ball that offers low spin with the driver, high spin with the wedges, and great ball speed.  Does this new 20XI improve on the original?  Will a mid-level RZN ball be a game changer?  Read on to find out.

Balls Tested

Feel

For anyone that tried the original version of the 20XI, the biggest question is probably, “Does the new version feel better?”  Let me answer that with an enthusiastic, “YES!”  I often described the original 20XI as hollow feeling; others used “hard,” “brittle,” and a couple other words I can’t write here.  The new 20XI feels nothing like that: it is solid, maybe a touch firm, but generally quite pleasing.

When comparing the 20XI to the 20XI-X, the X is slightly firmer, as you would expect.  The surprise, in terms of feel, is the ONE RZN.  Off of a wedge or on a short putt, the ONE RZN is virtually indistinguishable from the 20XI.  On longer putts, it becomes clear that the ONE RZN is actually a little bit softer than the 20XI: the sound is a little bit deeper from the ONE where the 20XI is slightly higher pitched.

Durability

The entire Nike line up held up really well throughout testing.  Despite using a new wedge with clean, sharp grooves, these balls emerged from the test without any major scarring.

I was able to put a couple small marks on a 20XI that I played in California, but that was only after numerous hard wedge shots (and maybe a run in with a tree…maybe).

Data

Driver Performance

Whatever gripes people may have had with the original 20XI, high driver spin was not one of them.  In fact, for low-spin players like me, it was hard to keep that ball in the air.

The new 20XI does retain most of the ultra-low-spin characteristics of the original.  In my testing, I found that the new 20XI-X is almost identical to the old version in terms of driver spin.  The new 20XI spins slightly more than the original 20XI-S, a difference that I saw both on the launch monitor and on the course.

The ONE RZN balls are every bit as low-spin as their tour-caliber brothers.  As you would expect, the ONE RZN X spins a couple hundred RPMs less than the ONE RZN, a gap similar to the one between the 20XI and 20XI-X

Irons Performance

While we often find that the performance of different golf balls is nearly identical with the irons, Nike is a definite exception to the rule.  While their differences still aren’t as big as they are with the wedges, they can be noticeable, especially to a high-spin player.

As you would expect, the 20XI and ONE RZN both spin more than their X counterparts, to the tune of about 10% (about 300 and 600 RPMs with a 4I and 7I, respectively).  Overall, the 20XI was the highest spinning, followed by the 20XI-X and ONE RZN, with the ONE RZN X spinning the least.

PW Performance

In a change from past models, the mid-level ONE RZN was quite competitive with the tour-level 20XI on pitching wedge spin.  The 20XI out-spun the ONE RZN by about 400 RPMs, which is only about 6%.  The big gap was between the standard models and the X’s.  There was a difference of almost 1,000 RPMs between the 20XI and the 20XI and a similar gap between the ONE RZN and the ONE RZN X.

In comparing the new 20XI to the old model, there is now greater differentiation between the standard and X models.  The new 20XI spins slightly more than the old 20XI-S, and the new 20XI-X spins slightly less than the old 20XI-X.

Clear as mud, right?

60* Performance – Half Swing

The half-wedge shot is the one area where the performance of the ONE RZN drops off considerably from that of the 20XI.  On a 50 yard pitch shot, the 20XI spun over 1,000 RPMs more than the ONE RZN.  There was a similar gap between the 20XI-X and the ONE RZN X.

In comparing the old and new 20XI, I found the same thing with the pitch shot that I did with the full sand wedge: an increased difference between the 20XI and the 20XI-X.  Whereas the original 20XI-S and 20XI-X were separated by only about 600 RPM’s, the new 20XI and the 20XI-X are closer to 1,000 RPMs apart.  The new 20XI spins slightly more than the old 20XI-S and the new 20XI-X spins slightly less than the old 20XI-X.

Value

The 20XI balls will retail for $45.99 and the ONE RZN will sell for $29.99.  The performance of these balls meets or exceeds the other balls in their price range, so the Value is good.

Player Profile

We found that the biggest difference between the ONE RZN balls and the 20XI balls is short game spin.  For better players who can make use of the short game spin, the 20XI balls will be an excellent fit.  For the higher handicap player, the ONE RZN should be able to do everything they need.  In both lines, the X version spins noticeably less and will be a good fit for high-spin players.

Final Thoughts

Despite the fact that this review caused me to wear out my “Shift” key (lots of capital letters), I’m a big fan of what Nike has done with their 2013 golf ball line up.  I think the sound and feel improvements to the 20XI line will put it in the conversation with the best tour-level balls in golf.  That and the slight bump in driver spin definitely make it an early leader for the ball that I will play in 2013.

I also applaud Nike for having real, measurable differences between their standard and “X” golf balls: with many brands the difference is extremely minimal, but that’s not the case here.  Nike has produced four very distinct balls that should fit many different players and budgets.

{ 26 comments… read them below or add one }

hckymeyer February 12, 2013 at 9:28 am

Is that a typo in the Wedge graphs that the RZN-X spins more than the RZN?

How would you say the RZN compares to the Duo? Any plans to do an ultimate ball shootout similar to the driver or fairway tests?

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AltF4Maniac February 12, 2013 at 9:30 am

As usual thanks for the awesome write up. I will have to try the RZN-X this year.

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Matthew February 12, 2013 at 9:31 am

Too late. I’ve already played the DUO. I’m good for another year. :-)

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GolfSpy Matt February 12, 2013 at 9:33 am

Good catch, I will pass that along to X for editing.

The Duo is a really unique ball because of the feel – I always equate it to hitting a tennis ball with a bat. The RZN is much more “normal” feeling. In terms of performance, the RZN spins less off the driver, more off the wedges.

I don’t foresee a ball shootout on the horizon, but plans could change.

Best,

Matt

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Scott Messner February 12, 2013 at 10:28 am

The Nike ONE RZN X looks like a good option for bogey golfers.

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manbearpig February 12, 2013 at 11:19 am

I’ve always found the regular ZStar to be the softest tour ball. If possible, can you compare the 20XI to it in terms of feel?

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Golfspy Matt February 12, 2013 at 1:07 pm

Sorry, I’ve never played the z star.

-Matt

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Mr_Theoo February 12, 2013 at 12:04 pm

Picked up the trial pack from Golf Galaxy 35 bucks for a sleeve of each. Gonna test them all out to see which gives me the best play. Gonna try to stick to one ball this season

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Dan Walker February 12, 2013 at 12:06 pm

Great write up Matt. Ill have to try out the new. 20XI.

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Jack February 12, 2013 at 1:33 pm

nice write-up. I’ve been playing/testing the 2013 20xi-X for a couple of weeks now and I’m really pleased with the results. I’m anxious to give the One RZN-x a try too. I generate a bit too much spin off the driver for me so the X is a good fit. I also like the feel during putting and the added Red numbers is a very nice aesthetic.

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Drew February 12, 2013 at 2:07 pm

Wow, I cant recall ever seeing a review where they post spin numbers between different clubs. You guys are truly takng things to a new level!

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Tont February 12, 2013 at 7:55 pm

So, the hole on the new Nike driver is the golf ball storage ;)

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Harry February 12, 2013 at 8:35 pm

How do the One RZN and RZN-X compare to the Vapor Black?

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sparnar February 13, 2013 at 12:24 am

Nice review, Tim.

Will definitely try out the ONE RZN X this year. Should be more freely available in SA than the Bridgestone E6′s I play currently.

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Juno February 13, 2013 at 6:54 pm

so THAT’S what the cavity in the back of the covert driver is for

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joe February 13, 2013 at 8:13 pm

i use penta tp5 and now the lethal how would the nike 20xi compare to those .?? thanks

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Pablo Heitmeyer February 14, 2013 at 9:31 am

i bought a box of the new nike one rzn and hit them over the weekend at longbow in mesa. good driver distance, and good spin off irons, nice feel around green. i usually use a bridgestone e5 and these compared nicely. wish they came in yellow – helps me differentiate my ball and find it off the fairway easier!

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John Ineson February 15, 2013 at 10:51 am

Nice review! Makes me want to try ‘em.

Do you have problems with “their,” “there,” and “they’re,” or am I missing something in the second sentence of the IRONS PERFORMANCE section? Hey, maybe there’s your answer to why Nike didn’t hire you to write copy!

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GolfSpy Matt February 15, 2013 at 11:02 am

I’m not seeing the mistake. Hey, maybe that’s the reason I didn’t hire you to be my editor!

-Matt

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andrew February 25, 2013 at 7:12 pm

yup, thats correct usage….

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Golfer Joe April 10, 2013 at 2:22 pm

You are…the reason people perceiver golfers as ASSHOLES. Go back into your hole, or country club or wherever people like you like to hang out.

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tony calabro April 17, 2013 at 2:32 pm

My club was having a renovation sale so I bought some 20XI s tour and 20XI x tour. When I got them home and bounced them on the floor they sounded very hard compared to Bridgestone and Titleist, they also did not bounce as high. Is this inherent with this ball or could I have gotten some rejects? WIll hit them for the first time tomorrow.

Thanks

Tony C

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Patrick April 26, 2013 at 12:39 am

After been given a sleeve of 20xi’s, I tried them, it was to say the least very different, being a 15 handicapper and used to playing with Z-Star’s and Pro v’s.
My 15 handicap I chalk up to short game, as I have none, but as a ball striker I probably rate my self closer to a 5/6 capper
My first drive was horrible, it felt like I had just hit a brick. My average drive is usually about 250/260 yards, I barely got past the 200 yard marker. Usually I would have had a solid 9 iron in. Instead I was reaching for the five iron and dreading hitting “the brick”.
I decided to give it a rip, wow, damn, amazed and confused. Probably one of the best long irons I have ever hit. Very confused at this point as I have just hit the worst and best shots.
Considering changing my ball back to the trusty Pro V on the 2nd hole I decided to keep the 20xi in play.
I finished the round with the 20xi and have played another 6 rounds with the 20xi.

My conclusion is:

Driver:
It is much harder then any other ball.
If u struggle with a driver, this is not the ball for u, as miss-hits are compounded.
When u hit the sweet spot, its like a “bat outa hell” its goes and goes.

Irons/Wedges:
Its better then any other ball, seriously, to all the “die hard Prov Fanatics”….try it!!!!

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Matt McCollum June 12, 2013 at 8:46 am

I am a die hard Pro v1x user and rarely use any other ball so when a friend handed me a One RZNx I was skeptical to say the least. Well I hit the ball just to say I tried another brand out and was shocked by the way it felt, sounded and the distance I achieved with this ball. Perhaps I hit a tail wind with my drive but this ball was just as long and perhaps a little longer than the Pro V1x.. I lost the balll on my next water hole because I did not club down when this ball can clearly move so I over shot and feed the snapping turtles. Going to buy a box this weekend for an outing and have my fellow tema-mates try one out and see how they like it. Thank you for this great write up and especialy for including data you recorded.

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Marc joaquin September 4, 2013 at 2:57 pm

While walking across the practice putting green at Bethpage . One of the assistant pros playing in a assistant pro tournament walks over and arbitrarily hands us a box of Nike one rzn x. We thanked him and proceed to play our round. What a great surprise! The ball is everything I have been looking for. As a vanity 8.5 I,ve tried all of the usual suspects, and kept going back to the Pro v. Not anymore this ball has it all. Please lose the attitude and give it a try,it is an all around winner. Better than an nxt, better than the Bridgestone b-330s I have been playing. You can’t beat the price either. Kudos Nike keep’em coming.

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Cobra nut September 4, 2013 at 7:35 pm

Love the One rzn x won a longest drive contest with this ball 302 in the fairway then two holes later I hit one 316 to the front of the green on a par 4. Great ball and great results and co trary to what was said about miss hits this was never the case for me or my son.

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