Spheres of Influence: Find the right ball to help you fire lower scores
Bridgestone e5, $27
IT'S FOR: Players who want more length, a higher flight and reliable short-game performance.
SKINNY: The large core -- softer on the inside; firmer on the outside -- contributes to a higher trajectory and max distance. The 2-piece ball has "dual dimples" that reduce drag, promote a higher launch and a shallower landing angle for more roll. A soft urethane cover should help short-game control.
Bridgestone e6, $27
IT'S FOR: Aspiring players who seek lower-spinning, straight shots.
SKINNY: The mantle layer in this 3-piece ball helps reduce spin and, thus, hooks or slices. The soft core and Surlyn cover [softer than in last year's e6] sweeten feel on scoring shots. Proprietary "dual dimples" increase lift and limit air friction for longer overall distance. The e6 comes in white, yellow, orange or pink.
Bridgestone e7, $27
IT'S FOR: All skill levels who put a premium on distance throughout the bag.
SKINNY: This multilayer model is engineered to maximize distance with the driver through the wedge. A core that's "built for speed" and a firm Surlyn cover create faster rebound. The mantle layer decreases spin to further enhance distance, particularly with the driver. The "dual dimples" contribute to higher launch angles.
Bridgestone's 2013 Lineup
TOUR B330, $45/dozen: Tour performance and length for driver swing speeds greater than 105 mph.
TOUR B330-S, $45: Tour performance with more spin for swing speeds greater than 105 mph.
TOUR B330-RX, $45: Max distance, and Tour-like control, for driver swing speeds below 105 mph.
TOUR B330-RXS, $45: Slightly more spin than RX and Tour performance for swing speeds below 105 mph.
NEW E5, $27
NEW E6, $27
NEW E7, $27
XFIXX, $20: For recreational players who want less sidespin and a value price.
Callaway HEX Chrome+, $36
IT'S FOR: Players who seek a combination of Tour performance with maximum length.
SKINNY: The 4-piece model generates fast ball speeds for players with mid to high swing speeds. The dual mantle increases speed [and minimizes spin], while a urethane cover provides Tour-like handling around greens. An updated dimple pattern with "HEX" aerodynamics reduces drag for a boring, stable flight in windy conditions.
Callaway HEX Hot Pro, $27
IT'S FOR: Players who desire a lot of distance plus added short-game spin and control.
SKINNY: A 3-piece ball that replaces the HX Diablo Tour. The soft Surlyn [ionomer] cover contributes to enhanced control around the greens. The mantle layer helps to increase ball speeds and reduce backspin. The dimple pattern creates higher lift for longer carry distance. Think Tour-like ball at a lower price and you've got the idea.
Callaway HEX Hot Pro, $27
IT'S FOR: Players who want maximum, straight distance.
SKINNY: It delivers faster ball speeds, more length and less spin than HEX Hot Pro. The 3-piece construction includes a mantle layer and cover that minimize spin. Hexagonal-shaped dimples create more surface coverage to improve lift at lower swing speeds and to boost in-flight stability. The HEX Hot comes in white or yellow.
Callaway's 2013 Lineup
HEX BLACK TOUR, $46/dozen: 5-piece ball delivers maximum spin on scoring shots.
HEX CHROME, $36: 3-piece ball with Tour-like short-game spin for swing speeds below 95 mph.
NEW HEX CHROME+, $36
NEW HEX HOT PRO, $27
NEW HEX HOT, $27
HEX DIABLO, $20: Low-compression, 2-piece ball generates soft feel and maximum distance.
HEX SOLAIRE, $20: Designed to optimize performance for women.
HEX WARBIRD, $17: Maximum distance and a soft feel at a value price.
Nike 20XI, $46
IT'S FOR: Better players who benefit from a high-spin ball.
SKINNY: Top-of-the-line Tour model. It spins more than the 20XI X. The larger, softer resin [RZN] core contributes to a softer feel and a lower-pitched sound than last year's 20XI-S [while maintaining ball speeds off the driver]. A resin mantle [replaces urethane] reduces spin on iron shots by 300 to 400 rpm.
Nike 20XI X, $46
IT'S FOR: Better players who need a lower-spinning ball than the 20XI.
SKINNY: A slightly harder cover than in the 20XI delivers a firmer feel and less spin on scoring shots. The light resin [RZN] core and heavier outer layers create "perimeter weighting" for inflight stability. The core, and distribution of mass, combine for faster ball speeds [up to 3 mph more] than the old 20XI X.
Nike ONE RZN, $30
IT'S FOR: Aspiring players who seek a soft feel and added long-game distance but won't pay for a Tour ball.
SKINNY: The 3-piece ball features the same large RZN core that's in the 20XI, with minor alterations. The ball's rubber mantle reduces spin so players should hit straighter shots on a more consistent basis. The One RZN launches higher than 20XI with lower spin.
Nike ONE RZN X $30
IT'S FOR: All skill levels who want balanced performance with a slightly firmer feel.
SKINNY: The new larger, soft RZN core is tweaked a bit from the 20XI X. This 3-piece ball has a rubber mantle layer [20XI X has a resin mantle] and a Surlyn cover. A wide variety of players looking for max distance and a more penetrating trajectory would do well to check out the ONE RZN X.
Nike's 2013 Lineup
NEW 20XI, $46/dozen
NEW 20XI X, $46
NEW ONE RZN, $30
NEW ONE RZN X, $30
VAPOR BLACK, $25: 3-piece ball for players with 85-100 mph swing speeds.
POWER DISTANCE LONG, $16: 2-piece distance ball for faster swing speeds.
POWER DISTANCE SOFT, $16: 2-piece distance ball for players with moderate swing speeds.
POWER DISTANCE WOMEN, $16: 2-piece ball provides higher launch and more carry.
Srixon Q-Star, $25
IT'S FOR: Average players with swing speeds greater than 80 mph who seek a straighter ball flight.
SKINNY: This redesigned ball offers well-rounded performance for golfers looking for more distance and a straighter flight. The "Spin Skin" cover is engineered to generate added greenside spin and control without increasing backspin off the driver. Comes in white or yellow.
Srixon'S 2013 Lineup
Z-STAR*, $30/dozen: Premium Tour ball with a softer feel and added spin. White or yellow.
Z-STAR XV*, $30: 4-piece Tour ball with slightly lower spin for swing speeds greater than 100 mph. White or yellow.
Z-STAR SL*, $30: Tour ball with a soft feel for swing speeds below 95 mph. White or yellow.
NEW Q-STAR, $25: New Z-Star models are expected this fall; $45/dozen.
SOFT FEEL, $20: High launch off the driver and soft feel for moderate swing speeds.
SOFT FEEL LADY, $20: Enhanced distance and soft feel for swing speeds below 70 mph.
JR STAR, $17: Eight balls, 8 tees and a ball marker. The ball is 10 percent lighter than the standard Z-Star.
TaylorMade Lethal, $46
IT'S FOR: Players who want premium Tour performance and a penetrating ball flight.
SKINNY: It's a 5-piece ball for a range of swing types. An improved dimple design helps prevent ballooning and promote straighter shots in windy conditions. It provides plenty of spin control and has a more boring trajectory than any other TaylorMade Tour model.
TaylorMade RBZ Urethane, $30
IT'S FOR: Aspiring players who seek more spin on short shots without sacrificing length with long clubs.
SKINNY: A soft core and firm mantle promote faster ball speeds and less spin off the long clubs. The 3-piece ball has a soft urethane cover for more spin and feel on short shots. The RBZ Urethane performs similarly to last year's Penta TP3, with a distance boost.
TaylorMade SuperDeep, $20
IT'S FOR: Players who want maximum distance from each club in the bag.
SKINNY: A "fast" core and cover are built to max out speed and distance. The ball's low-drag dimple pattern enhances carry distance while improving performance on slight mis-hits with the driver. It's the company's softest-feeling 2-piece ball thanks, in part, to the soft core. Comes in white or yellow.
TaylorMade's 2013 Lineup
NEW LETHAL, $46/dozen
NEW ROCKETBALLZ URETHANE, $30
NEW SUPERDEEP, $20 BURNER, $15: Maximum distance and durability at a value price. White or yellow.
Titleist Pro V1, $48
IT'S FOR: Players who want longer distance and a softer feel than in the Pro V1 , plus max short-game spin.
SKINNY: New core technology creates the softest-feeling Pro V1 yet. It spins less off the driver and long irons than Pro V1  and flies on a lower trajectory with a shallower descent angle. A new urethane cover formulation and paint system add durability. The dimple design is the same as the Pro V1 .
Titleist Pro V1x, $48
IT'S FOR: Players who want a lower ball flight and more length than they get with the Pro V1× , as well as less driver spin and a slightly firmer feel than the Pro V1.
SKINNY: A new, more consistent dual core keeps driver spin low while increasing spin off the irons. The ball flies slightly higher than the new Pro V1. An improved cover and paint system [same as the Pro V1] improves durability and cover "whiteness."
Titleist 2013 Lineup
NEW PRO V1, $48/dozen
NEW PRO V1X, $48
NXT TOUR, $32: 3-piece ball for aspirational, competitive golfers who seek Tour-like short-game control, added length and a stable ball flight.
NXT TOUR S, $32: 2-piece model with a softer feel, lower launch and shallower descent angle than NXT Tour.
VELOCITY, $27: Delivers maximum ball speeds, and distance, through the bag.
DT SOLO, $20: High-launching ball touted as the softest-feeling Titleist DT ever. White or yellow.
Volvik Vista iV, $48
IT'S FOR: Those who want Tour performance with lower spin.
SKINNY: The core is softer toward the outside and firmer toward the inside to create lots of spin separation between drives [low spin] and iron shots [high spin]. The 4-piece ball has a soft, ceramicbased cover for feel and durability on shots around the green. Comes in pink, orange, green or yellow.
Volvik's 2013 Lineup
NEW VISTA IV, $48/dozen
PROBISMUTH, $33: 3-piece Tour-type model for faster swingers.
CRYSTAL, $33: 3-piece ball with soft feel and low compression to maximize distance for moderate swing speeds.
LADY 350, $32: 3-piece ball with a low compression and light weight to optimize performance for slower swing speeds.
Wilson Staff Duo Yellow, $20
IT'S FOR: Those who want length and a soft feel at an "entry-level" price point.
SKINNY: This 2-piece ball has a low compression core  to deliver feel and maximum distance. The ball is designed to generate low spin off the driver, while progressively higher spin rates off the shorter clubs make it a playable option in the scoring zone. Comes in white or yellow.
Wilson's 2013 Lineup
STAFF FG TOUR, $40/dozen: 3-piece ball with a soft feel and thin urethane cover. White or yellow.
STAFF FG TOUR X, $40: 3-piece ball offers lower driver spin than the FG Tour for faster swingers.
STAFF C:25, $22: 3-piece ball provides a soft feel and low spin off the driver for maximum distance.
NEW STAFF DUO, $20: Yellow color is new for 2013.
STAFF FIFTY ELITE, $13: 2-piece distance ball built to be long and soft. White, yellow or orange.