One of the most memorable recent images of a golf ball was created in 2005 on the 16th hole at Augusta National. After hitting a remarkable chip from behind the green, Tiger Woods's Nike ball seemed to hang on the edge of the cup for an eternity as the game's best player watched. And then, as if pulled by an invisible string, it fell into the hole for an unbelievable birdie.
You don't have Tiger's short game skills, but you can play his golf ball, or any of Nike's other new releases for 2009.
One Tour, $45/dozen
According to Rock Ishii, Nike's product development director for golf balls, Trevor Immelman used a prototype of this ball to win the 2008 Masters. This four-piece ball replaces the Nike One Platinum, the ball of choice for pros like Anthony Kim, Justin Leonard and accomplished players who want to maximize spin and feel around the greens. "Compared with the One Platinum, it has a slightly firmer cover, which will give you a little less spin off the tee," Ishii said. That should help you hit straighter tee shots.
One Tour D, $45/dozen
This three-piece ball has a slightly firmer cover than the ball it replaces in Nike's line, the One Black, and is designed to maximize distance for players who have a swing speed above 90mph. "You can expect more speed and quick response off the tee and with longer clubs," Ishii says. The Urethane outer cover is seamless, which Nike says helps to improve aerodynamics.
One Vapor, $30/dozen
Designed for mortals who swing at less than 100mph, this three-piece ball has a core with progressive densities—softest in the middle, firmest around the perimeter—to increase ball velocity and boost feel. In fact, the low compression core makes Vapor quite playable for those with average swing speeds. A lively polymer mid-layer is used to boost initial velocity and, ultimately, distance. The soft ionomer cover adds to its consistent nature.