The trend in golf balls isn't figuring out how to make them go further but rather make them feel softer. TaylorMade engineers focused on feel -- and spin -- as they revamped their Tour Preferred and Project (a) golf balls for 2016.
With the Tour Preferred line, TaylorMade wanted to come up with two balls that showed more differentiation between the Tour Preferred and Tour Preferred X balls.
The new Tour Preferred is a four-piece ball with an 80-compression rating, the company's lowest compression ever in a Tour-style ball, featuring an updated SpeedMantle layer that is 65 percent softer and more flexible than the previous generation. The new mantle layer didn't come with compromise on the original model's performance characteristics, in fact affording slightly higher launch conditions and more spin on long-iron shots. The Tour Preferred still has a cast-urethane cover to combine softness and durability.
The 2016 Tour Preferred X is a five-piece ball with an 87-compression rating, boasting a thicker SoftTech cast-urethane cover compared to the original X for more spin around the greens. The ball continues to launch with low spin off the tee and promotes a lower ball flight with irons.
The Tour Preferred is designed for players who want a higher-launching ball with more spin, particularly with mid- and long irons. The Tour Preferred X is a firmer ball that promotes a lower trajectory, particularly with approach shots.
The Project (a) ball, built for amateurs who need better spin and performance, especially with their short-game shots, has a lower compression rating in 2016 -- down to 70 from 88 -- by dropping the compression on the company's React core from a 60 rating to a 40 rating. The SoftTech cover remains from the original model to promote softer feel, especially around the green.
The TaylorMade Golf Tour Preferred and Tour Preferred X golf balls will be available Nov. 6 and retail for $48 per dozen. The Project (a) will also hit stores on Nov. 6 and go for $35 per dozen.