Golf pros are testing a new
type of golf ball from Nike that flies off their drivers at speeds up to 4 mph
faster than the best balls previously available.
The new materials technology used in the core of the ball also allows controlled spin rates off the tee resulting in longer and straighter drives. Spin control is also better for short iron shots.
"About every ten years there is a major advance in golf ball technology," says James de Garavilla, the global technical lead on the new technology. About ten years ago, solid rubber cores replaced wound rubber thread as the dominant golf ball core technology.
Nike says the new technology, which is based on a new type of highly neutralized ionomer resin, represents the next game changer.
"This collaboration between DuPont scientists and Nike golf ball engineers has resulted in the next revolution of golf ball development," says Rock Ishii, product development director at Nike Golf.
De Garavilla said that the new DuPont HPF resin is based on an advanced ionomer technology in which acid terpolymer resins are fully neutralized together with high levels of organic acids creating metal salts in a reactive process.
The new highly cross linked resin allows more precise layering through injection molding. "Layering the material can precisely control the balance between resiliency and compression not common with thermoset materials," says de Garavilla. "Greater material consistency and homogeneity results in greater ball control."
Golf balls are typically made with two to five layers of different materials. Other types of less neutralized ionomers-marketed as Surlyn ionomers-are used as covers, mantles, and intermediate layers. The new Nike golf ball represents the first use of the advanced ionomer technology - marketed as DuPont HPF - in a golf ball core.
In addition to advanced performance, the resin technology also offers the potential for improved sustainability in golf as up to 40 percent of the core material's weight is from renewably sourced content.
The new technology will be offered in two different balls: the 20XI-S, which offers tour-level spin, and the 20XI-X, which offers tour-level distance.
The new golf balls will be sold in retail stores in April 2011.
Jon Kemp, a global marketing manager at DuPont, said the new ionomer technology may also be used in flexible films for the medical and industrial markets.