Price: £37.99 (for a dozen)
With so many different makes and model of ball on the market, deciding which will suit our game is becoming so confusing.
As your handicap comes down, the choice becomes even crucial but certainly, you're no longer grateful for rummaging among the pro’s lake ball dispenser beside the counter.
While some distance balls might give you an extra 10 yards off the tee, from an approach shot, they can equally ‘airmail the green’ into the mire. What we really need is a ball that flies long but has spin control too.
Most pros and single-figure handicaps prefer the Titleist Pro V1 and V1x, which have reigned supreme alongside Callaway's HX Tour. But look out! Maxfli’s BlackMAX could soon be muscling its way into the frontline.
Currently they’re rarer than rocking horse poo, so I formed a secretive huddle in the queue at the first tee as I handed a ball each to Stoke Rochford 8-handicappers Kev Bond and Mick Andrews, told them not to lose it and to report back with their comments.
According to Maxfli, the BlackMAX, it's "a multi-layer ball whose parts include a large Neodymium rubber core, a firm, thin ionomer mantle (the solid bit under the outer skin) and an ultra-thin urethane cover."
BlackMAX's mantle serves a dual function, says Maxfli. Off the driver, it works with the core to help minimise backspin. Off the irons, especially the short irons, the soft cover compresses between the mantle and the clubface for a little extra control.
Consequently it’s claimed the ball grab the green and stops quickly. The 372-dimple design also has a part to play, with almost invisible dimple edge angles, engineered to create height and low spin-rate off the driver. The result: longer carry, more roll.
Mick, who came in a couple over his handicap reckoned the test ball flew beautifully off the driver and improved his ball striking. Kev, one under his handicap, agreed and also recalled one approach shot, which stopped abruptly despite being fired in a little too low for comfort.
I was particularly impressed by the feel off off the putter face. None had that ‘dead’ feedback so sometime get with balls designed more for distance than control.
So, is the BlackMAX the ‘have your cake and eat it’ ball us category one and two golfers have been waiting for? For me, it certainly goes the distance off the tee and delivers control around the green. I managed to spank it round in one under my six handicap. And none of us lost a ball!
Golfmagic editor, Bob Warters also had the chance to test the ball for the first time over nine holes of the Brabazon course at The Belfry yesterday (Thursday) in the company 2004 of European Tour champions Simon Kahn (Welsh Open) and David Lynn (Dutch Open).
Unlike fellow Maxfli player Justin Rose, who already has the ball in play on the US PGA Tour, Simon and David have yet to use it competitively, having only just started their seasons.
However, both agreed that the ball will be challenging its rivals the Callaway HX Tour and updated Titleist Pro VI and Pro V1x – all of which fall into a similar price category.
My own view is that the combination of high launch angle and lack of spin with the driver, help the BlackMAX bounce and roll on impact. It was also easy to control from mid and short irons once I’d adjusted to the high flight characteristics.
Perhaps more to the point for us long-pocketed Yorkshiremen, I also played at least three bunker shots with no tell tale marks on the cover. So it’s pretty durable, too.
Off the putter face it was ‘lively’ at first but the spongy and bumpy greens at The Belfry were demanding a more solid than usual strike.
While the traditional Titleist and Callaway balls favoured by the leading pros and many club golfers, who believe these brands give them an advantage, will continue to be a preferred choice - the BlackMAX is a name that trips off the tongue and could soon be a serious challenger. Much, however, will depend on its success in the hands of a growing number of professionals, reluctant to stray from the familiarity of tried and tested products.
Overall our jury gives it a resounding ‘thumbs up’ – but it will need a Tour event winner to convince the doubters.
|Golfmagic rating: 8.5/10|