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GOLF BALL REVIEW! – Taylormade TP3, TP5 & RocketBallz

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Introduction

(Written By: GolfSpy Matt) When my father-in-law, who doesn’t have cable, doesn’t read magazines, and rarely finds his way into a golf store, asks me about a product, I know it has a lot of buzz.  I knew that TaylorMade had turned up the hype machine to 17 when he recently asked me, “So, what do you know about those TaylorMade Rocketballz?”

For 2012, TaylorMade has released an entirely new golf ball line up.  The lineup includes

  • Penta TP5 – a 5 piece tour ball that replaces the original Penta
  • Penta TP3 – a 3 piece ball with a urethane cover
  • Rocketballz – the distance ball
In this review, I’ll tell you exactly what I know about those Rocketballz.  I’ll also break down the performance of each ball and let you know which ball will be the best fit for your game.

Feel

One of the things that really separated the original Penta from other tour balls was its feel: I have yet to find a ball that felt as soft.  Now I’ve found two: the new Penta TP3 and TP5.  The TP5 is definitely softer than the TP3, but, in my opinion, you have to be really focusing on feel to notice the difference.  I believe that if someone slipped a TP3 in my box of TP5’s while I was on the course, I probably wouldn’t know the difference.  That said, if you want the softest of the soft, the TP5 is for you.

The Rocketballz is…well…it’s a distance ball.  I probably have a harsher view of it simply because I was comparing it side by side with the two Pentas, but it is definitely a firm, click-y feel.

Durability

All three TaylorMade balls get very high marks for durability.  For all the testing (which includes a lot of shots, including plenty of wedges), I only used one sleeve of each ball.  Even after the testing, the balls used are pretty much unmarked, and I will definitely use them to play.

Data

For the Data section, I tested each ball on a launch monitor.  With each club, I hit until I had 10 “good” hits with each ball.  The 10 good shots were averaged and the results for each ball were compared.  Across the three balls, launch angle and ball speed were found to be quite consistent, so the focus of this section will be spin.  As ever, I don’t suggest that my findings are definitive, but simply a starting point for you to figure out which ball might be best for your game.

Driver Performance

As you would expect, the Rocketballz was the lowest spinning ball off of the driver.  For me, it spun about 300 RPMs less than the TP5.  Of the three balls, the TP3 was the highest spinning off the driver, but only by about 300 RPMs compared to the TP5.  One thing to note is that I am quite low-spin with my driver, so players who generate more spin might see more discrepancy between balls.

4I Performance

Much like the driver, the spin rankings with the 4I was Rocketballz, TP5, and TP3 (from lowest spin to highest).  The difference with the 4I was actually even smaller than the driver, with only about 400 RPMs separating the Rocketballz from the TP3.

7I Performance

The biggest surprise of the whole test was with the 7I: all three balls produced numbers that were virtually identical with regard to spin, launch angle, and ballspeed.  While I was surprised at first (and actually went back to confirm the results), it made sense to me after I thought about it: regardless of what ball I’ve ever played, I’ve never had a problem getting a 7I to stop on a green.  This testing seemed to show me that most balls tend to perform similarly in the middle of the set, but reveal distinct characteristics with the long and short clubs.

PW Performance

When I got to the pitching wedge, each ball started to reveal a unique character again.  As expected, the Rocketballz was the lowest spinning: roughly 1,500 RPMs less than either of the Pentas.  Between the TP3 and TP5 there was a small, though measurable difference: the TP3 had about 250 RPMs more backspin than the TP5.

60* Performance – Half Swing

With a half swing 60* wedge (a 60 yard shot), the Penta TP5 had the most spin.  The TP3 spun well, but about 650 RPMs less than the TP5.  The Rocketballz lagged considerably with 3000 RPMs less than the TP5 (roughly half the spin).

Value

The TaylorMade Rocketballz, Penta TP3, and Penta TP5 are price at $27, $35, and $46, respectively.  I’m a little surprised by the price of the Rocketballz: to my mind, it’s a basic distance ball that shouldn’t be more than $20.  The Penta TP5 is a first-tier tour ball and it’s priced as such.  While I wouldn’t say it’s a huge value, it’s priced appropriately.  The Penta TP3, in my opinion, is the best value of the group because you get more than you pay for.  As I said above, the TP3 is almost indistinguishable from the TP5, yet it costs $11 less.

Data Summary

Overall, none of the numbers were particularly surprising: the Rocketballz will be the longest for most people (due to lower spin), but it lags in short game spin.  The TP5 and TP3 are remarkably similar.  TaylorMade indicates as much with the graphics on the back of each box: essentially they claim that they are identical except for more spin in the irons with the TP3.

On the Course

The first TaylorMade ball that I took out to play is the Penta TP5.  So far, I don’t think there’s a single thing I don’t like about this ball.  It’s at least as long as the “old” Penta, while retaining all the short game spin and soft feel.

I’ve also had a chance to play a round with the Penta TP3, and, in all honesty, I’d have a hard time telling the difference between it and the TP5.  I’d like to say that I could, but I’m not a machine: any performance differences I saw were more likely attributable to me than the ball.

I have yet to take the Rocketballz on the course, but, in all honesty, it’s not really the type of ball that I would use during a “serious” round of golf.  If I can’t rely on a ball to check with a half wedge shot, I won’t play it.  Also, given that I don’t spin my driver (or any other clubs) very much, there’s not a distance boost for me.

Player Profile

The Rocketballz is likely the best fit for the weekend golfer.  It’s going to be long, and it’s not terribly expensive.  It doesn’t give great spin around the green, but there are plenty of golfers who don’t/can’t use spin around the greens anyway.

The Penta TP3 and TP5 are both going to be a great fit for better or more avid players.  It will really come down to a preference for feel and how much a player wants/needs a little more greenside spin and a little less driver spin.

Final Thoughts

I think that TaylorMade did a great job with this 2012 ball line up.  When you factor in the Burner ball (not reviewed here), they’ve covered every price point and every player.  While all the balls will fit someone, there’s little question in my mind that the Penta TP3 is the star of the show.  At $35, it raises the bar for what a golfer can expect from a ball that doesn’t cost more than your green fees.

 

{ 46 comments… read them below or add one }

wdgolf March 20, 2012 at 10:12 am

Great review Matt! Would love to see the following list go through the same process:
Titleist ProV1, ProV1x
Callaway Hex Black, Hex Chrome
Maxfli U/3, U/4, U/4x

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P-Gunna March 20, 2012 at 10:21 am

Sounds like TaylorMade brought back the TP/Red in the form of the TP3. Hats off TM!

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NAK March 20, 2012 at 10:31 am

Great review, it’s good to see how my thoughts and findings compared, and justified my findings

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blstrong March 20, 2012 at 11:59 am

Very nice review. You guys certainly maintain a high standard. I usually play the original Penta TP and love it for distance, feel and control. Which of the new balls would you say most closely matches the original for performance? Maybe you did say and I just missed it.

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Golfspy Matt March 20, 2012 at 2:08 pm

If you like the Penta, I think the TP5 is going to be the closest, but the TP3 does a very close impersonation. I don’t think you can go wrong either way.

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Ryan March 20, 2012 at 1:18 pm

I absolutely loved the PENTA TP5 when I took the samples out on the course. Around the green and putting the ball felt great. Couldnt really tell with the driver. Great Review!

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Jordan March 20, 2012 at 4:59 pm

I agree with your assessment, great review! It seems to me that the TP5 is a bit more durable than the previous penta. The only time I can tell the difference between the TP3 and TP5 is with the flatstick, and even then it’s minor. All in all TM has done a great job, I can’t imagine playing a different ball.

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Lou Cherniss March 20, 2012 at 6:04 pm

Nice job as usual. Any chance you could do the same with the Callaway line-up? Also, I’ve been using the Nike distance ball as I’m just about to turn 68 and my short game isn’t good enough at the moment to justify losing disrance off the tee. I would however like to see how the Pro-V and Callaway Black stack up against each other distance spin-wise. I normally generate enough spin to stop a Callaway black from sixty yards or so. The same shot with the Nike disrance will hop forward about six feet.

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GolfSpy T March 22, 2012 at 9:48 am

Lou – This review was a test run of sorts to see how a ball review of this nature would be received. So far the response has been positive, and the staff here is very happy with how well it turned out.

So to answer your question…balls are on the way from Callaway. We’ll be contacting the other major players in the ball market soon. Short-term we’re going to stick with comparisons of balls within a given manufacturer’s lineup. We’ll see how it plays out, but the natural extension of that will likely be multi-brand comparisons down the road.

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MikeG March 20, 2012 at 8:46 pm

I had heard that the TP3 had more full iron spin, and the TP5 more “half wedge” spin. Your testing confirmed this. At least i know that wasn’t BS from the Tmag guy…..!

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Mw March 22, 2012 at 4:17 am

This website is getting a big taylor made commercial page. always taylor mader here taylor made there. they make the best stuff blablabla

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P-Gunna March 23, 2012 at 7:10 am

I think you are reading the wrong website, if you think that’s the case

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Joe Mama March 22, 2012 at 1:42 pm

Nice review.

How about reviewing the Srixon Tour (and Tour X), Trispeed and AD333?

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Golfspy Matt March 22, 2012 at 2:36 pm

We’re working with virtually every OEM to get balls in for testing. Srixion is definitely on the list of companies that we’ve contacted.

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Rod_CCCGOLFUSA March 22, 2012 at 4:17 pm

TP3 sounds like it might give the NXT Tour and the Bridgestone E5 some competition. $35 could be an issue.

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GolfSpy T March 22, 2012 at 6:05 pm

Rod – TaylorMade doesn’t view the TP3 as competition for the NXT or Bridgestone E-series. The TP3 is designed to compete directly with the Titelist ProV1. Essentially, TaylorMade believes they have created a better ball, at a more consumer-friendly price point.

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Golfspy Matt March 23, 2012 at 5:41 am

While I don’t have the data to prove it yet, I can say anecdotally that the TP3 bears as much resemblance to the NXT Tour and the e5 as a diamond does to a lump of coal. Neither of those balls is anywhere near as soft as the TP3, and, in my experience, neither offers the short game spin.

As T said, the TP3 is aimed at the ProV1. The TP3 has a urethane cover which neither of the balls you mentioned do.

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betzh.boo March 23, 2012 at 11:36 pm

I am very interested in trying out both the TP3 and TP5. Awesome job on the review! Thanks for the info!

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Hollywood March 24, 2012 at 10:29 am

This is an awesome review. Can’t wait to see more like it.

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Kevin March 27, 2012 at 5:53 pm

sorry, probably dumb question, but are you guys saying the TP5 spins less with the driver and more around the greens than the TP3? would think less driver spin equates to less spin around the greens. like the q-star or some similar equivalent. thx.

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Golfspy Matt March 29, 2012 at 5:28 am

Yes, that’s exactly what I found.

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Golfspy Matt March 29, 2012 at 5:30 am

Quick follow up on the Rocketballz:

My father in law played the Rocketballz today in some brutal wind and absolutely loved the ball. It was much longer than he normally hits it, and much straighter. As I said, for the weekend golfer, the low spin off the driver is a big plus. His short game is all about bump and run anyway, so he didn’t mind the loss of short game spin.

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valerie ciccone March 31, 2012 at 5:42 am

I love Taylormade golf balls.I have tried to find the correct website to let Taylor know I had a Hole-in-one recently using the XD-LDP,after reading your review I am going to try the Penta L3.Perhaps you know how I would contact them.

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GolfSpy T March 31, 2012 at 3:55 pm

Valerie – TaylorMade’s social media team is very responsive. I’d ask @taylormadegolf on Twitter.

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Chuck April 2, 2012 at 1:44 pm

If I want to use a golf ball that spins as little as possible off the driver but yet is a great ball for a chip shot that is launched high and sticks or rolls one or two feet. I am a player who has straight accuracy with almost all my shots, although I slice a lot with only my driver. I do not care about distance if one ball flies 20 yards less, I am more consumed by accuracy. What golf ball do you think is best? Also, I don’t care if the ball you recommend is taylormade or not. It could be any golf ball ever used, I just want to find the right one.

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Kyle April 4, 2012 at 5:40 pm

I loved this article. After reading it I was very interested in trying out the TP3 and/or TP5. I’ve been playing ProV1′s for the last few years since my game has improved (I needed a softer ball that I could control on the greens). I went to buy some TP3′s but they only had the TP5′s, so I went with those ($45/dozen). I AM LOVING THESE! To me the most noticeable thing is the durability. WOW!! ProV1′s, after a full shot with my 60* or SW and there would be a large gash in the ball. I’ve played over a full round with one TP5 and the only noticeable wear is the logo is wearing. The control is great without the wear and tear on the ball. I don’t get quite as much spin on the green but still enough to control the ball. Distance with my driver is great and consistent as is with my mid to long irons. I expect I will be playing with these for a while.

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malki May 6, 2012 at 3:47 pm

I played my 1st round with the new penta tp5 and had to shout out loud to anyone that wants to hear me on how impressed I am with the new ball. I’ve nevr been big on technical jargon but after my round today I’ve read up more on this 1 ball than any equipment I own. The biggest and probably the most important quality of the new tp5 is the ability to keep my tee shots with my driver straight and low, as I usually struggle to keep my ball low into head winds. The other big difference I noticed compared to the older penta tp, was how quick I managed to stop the ball with mid irons and half powered wedge shots without feeling that Ihad to try and clip the ball as clean as possible (in my case leading to unwanted thin 200yd wedge shots lol) after my round I noticed how relatively unscathed my ball was considering how many shots stopped quick and checked up quickly as well. All in all by a country mile, its going to take something seriously special for any manufacturer to make a golf ball that will not only compete with the penta tp5 but find its way into my bag.

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ceh May 8, 2012 at 10:06 am

How do Rocketballz & Titleist Velocity compare?

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malki May 8, 2012 at 4:30 pm

I’ve wasn’t aware never mind trying titleist velocity golf ball, but I have played on a few occassions the taylormade rocketballz. At first I wasn’t to sure about it as I couldn’t make my mind up if it was a distance ball or an intermediate ball with little hope of controlling it around the greens. Eventually I decided that it is am great feeling distance ball that didn’t feel like I was hitting a white rock all day. As I play on a course with very little run, even in summer, you would think I’d be happy with it. What puts me off this ball is once I get within 8iron range and closer, the ball still feels good but has a strange tendancytake unusually high bounces as if it was a kids bouncy ball hiting off a road, maybe on a different kind off course it would react differently

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ty May 28, 2012 at 4:54 pm

so if i dont want to slice as much get the tp5? and does the tp5 have less durability since it is softer?

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mygolfspy May 29, 2012 at 7:26 am

All 3 balls had similar durability Ty.

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Miguel June 26, 2012 at 3:01 pm

I can concur with Matt. the Tp 3 is similar to the tp5. in tiny portions. I have a dozen tp3 and tp5. what I found is that 100mph swings and up will play well with these balls. 112 mph is my speed. 270yds. driver. the tp5 is little longer, 3-5 yards longer than to3. then to conclude in durability. I soon my wedges alot. everytime I play with tp5 on my wedge approach shots I scuff paint off them I need a new ball every other hole. they scuff off like the pro v1. but I’m happy to say that tp3 ball spins and checks and scuffs about 9 holes into my round. in final. I will play tp3 ball with similar traits as the tp5. but 15 dollars cheaper and durable. hope this helped.

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CT July 12, 2012 at 10:49 am

To reiterate — this review was a job very well done. I am glad I came across this website, very thorough and informative. I lucked out yesterday at my home course (Bethpage State Park, Long Island, Green Course) and found a TON of mint top-end balls (Pro V1, Pro V1X, Callaway IX, Taylormade Penta TP5); needless to say it was a tremendous day because of that alone. Got in about a dozen holes after work and after playing with the TP5 the entire round, I was blown away with its durability, consistency and FEEL most of all. Hoping to come across a few more of these for free but not banking on that but will probably be buying some mint recycled TP5s or 3s in the very near future.

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Bill July 17, 2012 at 10:34 am

The Bridgestone e5 has a urethane cover.

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Robert Greene July 18, 2012 at 6:18 pm

I just recently found the tp5′s at my local walmart for 34.97… i bought 2 dozen…. these balls are great..

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Phil July 26, 2012 at 8:18 am

Great review guys, I’ve been playing the original penta since it first hit the market, loved it but I must say 45.00 a dozen wore down my wallet over time, the tp3 is a much needed breath of fresh air at 35.00dz. It puts us back 10yrs or so when u could get a dozen pv1′s for that. Aanyway I’ve found the tp3 to be a rocketship this ball flies for me on a med traj with nice roll out with the driver, med to long irons similar results relative to the iron, and short irons fly high and finish no more than two feet from the pitch mark! For me that much better than finding your ball mark 10inches from the hole only to find your ball 6ft or more from the cup because it spins like crazy…….”drop and stop” is no more when it come to balls from titleist. Pitching, chiping, I found on low pitches it takes one bounce check on the second then stop with spin near my target. High shots like a lob over a bunker and such it performs 8 out of 10 for me, this is a shot that I think the prov out shines this ball but not by leaps and bounds certainly not 12.00 dollars worth, at this point this will be my gamer no need for me to even try the tp5

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Kurt46 August 28, 2012 at 7:06 pm

kurt46

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Joined: 8/2012, Post: 1

Handicap Index: 20

I know different styles change outcomes but i find this interesting because I have been using the penta 5 now for 2 or 3 months and find they scuff a lot less then titleist when using my wedges, admittedly im not a huge spinner of the ball but with my wedges I stop the pentas on one bounce and similar with the pro v1. I did a test and played one of each when I started using penta 5 instead of pro v1 and after 9 holes the pro v1 looked like a train had run over it, well maybe not that bad but it had 4 or 5 bad scuff marks and after 18 the penta only had one not so bad scuff mark. So for me paying $15 dollars less and of the same quality makes for sense to me. I also tried callaway hex and could not get the same spin .

Just a question for the more knowledgable golfers out there i have a friend who is of scratch and he told me that you can find the seam which is only usually on a better ball, to which i found on the penta 5 and when driving make sure im not using the seam to aim my drive as this will create more hook or slice, if you do hook or slice. So i have been hitting across the seam and driving straighter than ever (this might just be a coincidence or in my head), and with putting with the seam it will roll further, so when putting downslope put across the seam as the ball will pull up earlier?

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Shinbone October 31, 2012 at 8:52 am

It is late in the season and the most of golf courses are closing after the mass destruction from Sandy. However, I had chance to head out to one of local course and tried TP, TP3, and TP5. As per your review shows, TP and TP5 had great similarity in both the flight, spin, and feel. However, I would disagree with durability part of your review. It might be my playing style or over paved wedges that I have, TP actually lasted me more holes (5 holes) than TP5 (3 holes). Shots made with each balls were very similar in hit-frequency and type of clubs used.

I am a regular PRO V1 user but I found TP5 to be more in comparison to V1 than V1X. Instead, I rather would like to compare V1X to TP3.

Can you guys do the “ultimate golf ball” comparison in near future to bring us late fall/early winter amusement? Srixon, Callaway, Bridgestone, Titleist, and TM comparison would be most appareciate (I know those big companies “suggest” reviewers from comparing to other brands but I think mygolfspy is brave enough to go for one!)

Thanks again for your great review.

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Steven Blew November 3, 2012 at 9:17 am

I have 103-106mph swing speed and I found the tp3 a little hard to control off the tee. I think that has more to do with outside in swing than the ball. I will say that greenside control was comparable to all the other premium balls.

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mark February 26, 2013 at 12:15 pm

i have played pro v1s for the past 5 years at least, i play off 9 h,cap i recently bought 3 dozen TP3 golf balls and think they are amazing, they match the pro v1 in every shot if not better and feel very confident with every strike go out and buy them

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Dave March 14, 2013 at 3:24 pm

You’ve probably all seen this, but Golfsmith has the TP5 for $30 and the TP3 for $22 right now. Great deals.

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Jim R April 19, 2013 at 12:33 pm

I just got myself a dozen of the TP5s for 29 bucks at golf Galaxy and can’t wait to try them after I read these reviews. I like these comments because It took me 20 minutes to pick out balls. Did not want to spend $50 on balls that mark up after a few holes. Almost got the e-6 which I am fine with but always looking for an edge.

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Bill July 7, 2013 at 8:28 am

Bought a couple dozen TP5′s early in the year based on this review. MyGolfSpy has been a great resource for many of my purchases, the best out there I’d say. The TP5 was probably the first disappointment. I found it spun too much off the tee and didn’t hold it’s line very well in the wind and flew too high for me (I already hit a high ball). Ballooning was an issue so I put them aside. The Lethal hasn’t impressed me either. I like Callaway’s latest line much more as well as the Wilson FG Tour X. I won’t pay 50/doz for Pro Vx’s although if money wasn’t an object, that’s probably what I’d play.

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Shalin October 14, 2013 at 12:47 am

Who cares about the spin around the greens if you get the ball on the green everytime. All three balls put identical! The Rocketballz is excellent.

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Joe November 9, 2013 at 5:45 am

Good review . I do however disagree with the spin around the greens. I have been generating more back spin on 50 yd and in shots than with either the pro v1 or callaway hex black

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Dick July 9, 2014 at 7:01 am

Just played a round with the new “Rocketballz Stage2 ball. I shoot in low 80′s and this ball felt great. Very easy to hit straight off the tee with great distance. I am a low ball hitter, and I had no problems in and around the greens with too much roll out. Great feel, long and durable.

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