Best Ball

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Our readers were fit using the Nike IFS (Intelligent Fitting System) launch
monitor. Nike fitters use this technology (in conjunction with club fitting) to
conduct ball fittings in 70-plus locations across the country. Go to nikegolf.com and click “360 custom fitting” for location information.

How Nike’s Ball Fitting System Works
1 The player hits five to 10 balls using his own driver and a “Nike 360” control ball. The company’s proprietary IFS launch monitor records ball speed, launch angle and backspin rate. The “Nike 360” ball is used exclusively for Nike club and ball fittings. It is not sold at retail.

2 The fitter examines the player’s specs (ball speed, launch angle and backspin) to determine the general type of ball to play.

3 The player answers a series of questions about his game, personal preferences, etc. This allows the Nike fitter to pinpoint an exact model for the player’s needs.

Rick Stevens
Current ball: Multilayer urethane cover
Age: 50 Handicap: 1
Height: 5’11” Weight: 180 lbs.
Occupation: Construction co. president
Residence: Suwanee, GA New ball: Nike One Tour D

Rock Ishii, Nike Golf
Product Development
Director, Golf Balls:
“Rick
has a relatively high ball
speed (150 to 160 mph) for an
amateur, and his spin rate off
the tee hovers around 3,000
rpm. This is about optimal
for his launch angle and ball
speed (see Zone 1). He also
has a hard, steep swing with his irons. Rick says that his
steep swing also affects his wedge game, giving him too
much spin on short approaches.”

Rock’s recommendation: “The One Tour D should
complement Rick’s game by giving him max distance and
reducing wedge spin. He’ll still have plenty of stopping
ability without the fear of coming up short or rolling off the
green. The 3-piece construction and harder cover give a
nice firm feel on chips and putts, which Rick prefers.”

Stephen Loflin
Current ball: Multilayer urethane cover
Age: 38 Handicap: 12
Height: 5’8″ Weight: 155 lbs.
Occupation: Bartender
Residence: Duluth, GA New ball: Nike One Vapor

Rock Ishii: “Stephen’s flight
characteristics off the tee
[medium-high flight, 140 to
145 mph ball speed, 12-degree
launch angle and a slight draw]
suggest that he could play
any of our Nike One balls. He
rarely shapes shots. He is more
concerned with feel around
the green rather than added distance. That’s because he
hits so many wedges into greens. He thinks he already
has plenty of spin with his wedge, which might become
too much with the four-piece Nike One Tour.”

Rock’s recommendation: “The softer-compression
Vapor would be my suggestion. It doesn’t have a
urethane cover (like the One Tour and One Tour D). But
its low compression and soft cover should ensure that
Stephen has soft feel on chips, putts and longer iron
shots. Vapor could provide a little more distance, too.”

Stewart Cink
Age: 36 Height: 6’4″
Weight: 205 lbs.
Residence: Duluth, GA
Hero Stuff: 5 career PGA Tour victories
Current ball: Nike One Black
New ball: Nike One Tour D

Stewart Cink: “I really liked the Nike
One Black ball [I played last season].
It gave me a lot of distance, even
more than I had a couple years ago,
and I liked its flight characteristics. It’s so
stable because it’s a lower-spin ball. At
times, though, I needed a little extra spin
to stop it, and it occasionally flew farther
than I expected. I’m trying to get a little
wider with my swing, and the shallower
swing path gives me less backspin,
especially with irons. Toward the end
of last season I experimented with the
One Platinum [a four-piece ball]. I got
extra spin with the Platinum, so I could
be more aggressive with my irons since
I didn’t have to worry about the ball
getting away from me distance-wise.
Now I get the best of both balls with
the Nike One Tour D.”

Rock Ishii: “We’ve fit Stewart for seven
years, so I have a good sense of what
he’s looking for. I have years of data
to work from, too. His preferences for
a low-ball flight, soft feel and great
distance off the tee remain the same.
But his new swing creates less spin
on approach shots. Today, we fit him
to a prototype One Tour D ball. It’s the
same construction and technology as the market version, with a
slightly softer cover for his precise requirements. The softer cover
mimics our 4-piece ball (e.g., softer feel and increased spin around
the green) without sacrificing the enhanced distance or lower ball
flight of the 3-piece design.”

Tout Fit
Fitting PGA Tour
pros such as Stewart
Cink requires a lot
of time (on the range
and course), patience
and a trained eye
to decipher the
subtle performance
differences among
balls. Read on for the
step-by-step process.

On the range:
1. Stewart began the
session by hitting his
9-iron three times with
a “Nike 360” control
ball. He then hit Nike’s
One Tour and One Tour
D balls. The Trackman
launch monitor
recorded data.
2. The fitter [in this case,
Rock Ishii] examined
the “numbers” and
compared them to
previous fitting sessions.
3. Steps #1 and #2
were repeated using
a 6-iron, 3-iron, driver
and, finally, three-quarter
swings with
Cink’s 60-degree wedge.
4. Rock and Stewart
selected balls for
further testing.

On the course:
5. Stewart hit two to
three drives each with
the Nike One Black ball,
One Tour, prototype One
Tour D and One Tour D.
6. Stewart hit these
balls to the green from
160 yards and 60 yards.
7. Stewart hit 20 to 30
chips from 10 yards off
the putting green, then
repeated the process
from five yards off.
8. Stewart stroked
putts on the green.
9. Rock and Stewart
concluded that the
prototype One Tour
D performed best.
However, they also
felt that further
testing is required.