Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Product Review - Volvik Vivid Golf Ball

Welcome to another product review. As always these are the thoughts of a mid-handicap golfer and are unbiased by any access to launch monitor data and are my opinions derived entirely from playing the ball.

There is also an accompanying video on the sister youtube channel to this blog, also imaginatively called Three Off The Tee (The Three Off The Tee Youtube Channel). Please go over to that to see some footage (and a rocking good tune as the soundtrack to the on course coverage. Check out their Facebook here (Forget The Whale - www.facebook.com/forgetthewhale) from three holes at Royal Ascot Golf Club shot in tropical heatwave conditions last Sunday (18th June). I played a par five (the second on the course), par three (the eighth) and a longish par four of 400 yards (the ninth).

You can check out the video review here (Volvik Vivid Ball Review - includes on course testing). As always I'd be immensely grateful if you can subscribe to the channel, thumbs up the video and if you've tried these balls leave a comment about how you found them.

The Volvik Vivid Golf Ball
Now I know these balls have been available in the US for a while now and that Bubba Watson has been using a Volvik on tour (the S4 aimed at higher swing speeds). However they are now only slowly becoming more and more available in driving ranges, club shops and high street retailers over here in England.

So what's the story with these Vivid golf balls. Well the Vivid is just one in a range of Volvik golf balls. They are a Korean based manufacturer and this is their foray into an already crammed golf ball market. There are seven colours in the Vivid range and Volvik are saying they are the world's first matte finished ball. They are a three piece ball and aimed at golfers with slower swing speeds in the 70-90mph category. They claim these balls will give more control in the short game and longer distances off the tee although if I'm being cynical that seems to be the same marketing blurb attached to any new ball released these days.

So what do I think? Well as you'll see in the video I tried the yellow and green incarnations and the first impression is that they live up the name and are certainly vivid even in the matte finish. What I did sense was that the dimples seemed less pronounced than other golf balls and in fact the green one seemed to resemble a table tennis ball at first glance. The yellow one in particular stood out very well and was easy to track in the air and even in the longer grass of the semi-rough. If you're a golfer with eyesight problems it may be that there is a ball in this range that will let you see it better in the air and on the ground. Whether that's a happy by-product of what Volvik are doing or was the intent I'm not sure but they certainly stand out

Of course looks aren't everything as we know with this game. How do they perform I hear you cry. Well to be honest my initial impressions weren't great having utilised the short game area and putting green before going out. Now as you'll be aware, the UK and the south of England has been basking in a heatwave and so the greens were firm. Add in my notoriously consistently inconsistent short game (even utilising the linear method) and I may be doing these balls an initial disservice. There didn't seem to be too much spin imparted and they tended to run out further than I'd anticipated. Add in the variables I mentioned and it was hard to form an objective opinion prior to play

However when putting with them, prior to playing on the course, using the Odyssey O-Works V Line Fang I reviewed recently (O-Works video review) or (O-Work blog review) I found them very dull off the face and very hard to control distance especially on anything in the 10-20 foot range.

You'll see from the video clip (Youtube clip) that my third into the green was a decent enough shot from the semi rough. It was from 154 and even allowing for the hot conditions, the 7 iron I hit seemed to go further. Indeed, the ball landed ten feet short of the green (around the 140 yard mark I usually get for that club) and then ran twenty yards through the green into the back bunker. Had the sand not been there I think there was about another ten yards of roll left so that shot went approximately 165 yards.

Now I know from historic launch monitor data that I have a swing far quicker than the 70-90mph target area Volvik suggest for these Vivid balls (and so often on the cusp of R/S flex in my irons and indeed the I25 I have have been hard stepped as a result) but that is a good distance for a mid handicap 7 iron. Add in to the mix that like the putts before going out, it felt dull (or dead as I say in the video) then it's hard to see where the distance came from. That said, the drives at the first and last of the three holes were both more of a cut than I wanted but both, particularly the last one got good distance off the driver. Now of course there will be added run out from the baked conditions but I was surprised at how well a ball not hit that great (certainly in terms of club path etc) ended up. The only detriment was the dullness off the face

You can't help but notice in the clip that they do seem attracted to sand and I found bunkers on each hole. I played reasonable shots at each but there was little evidence of any spin and they all ran out. That mirrors what I was seeing with pitches and chips on the practice area so I can't say that the Volvik claim of giving more control with these balls held up.

I'm not convinced by the ball at all and definitely in two minds about it. I'm going to keep it in the bag for when we get some softer conditions and see when the greens are more receptive whether I can get any more control over approach shots and the short game and to see whether another putter (my Ping Sigma Wolverine) makes a difference with the firmer insert.

As always with these reviews I'll end by breaking the product into various categories and give a final score.

Looks
These balls are definitely strong in the looks department. Vivid by name and very much vivid by nature. Even with a matte finish they are bright. Now as I've already mentioned the dimples don't seem overly pronounced and whether that comes from the finish or is a deliberate manufacturing move by Volvik I don't know. From a short distance away, the green one in particular looked like a small stress ball or table tennis ball and the dimples weren't evident. Even in the picture above taken from the Volvik website itself the dimples are far less discernible. Have a look at comparable coloured Srixon ball and you can see what I mean

Dimples are far more pronounced in this comparison picture of a similar ball. I'm not sure how much the matte finish in the Volvik makes a difference but there is a definitely less pronounced dimple pattern on the Vivid
I like the way the green and yellow versions I tried stood out and if anything preferred the yellow in terms of easiness to follow in flight in bright conditions and certainly against the grass. On the green they seem to stand out against the putter face and I can see how this could inspire confidence over the ball. 7/10

Distance
These are clearly designed for golfers with a slower swing speed of mine and Volvik say that it's optimum range is 70-90mph, I am definitely quicker than that. As I've spoken about already though, the distance achieved was noticeable. I do need to either capture some launch monitor data or better still actually pay these in more favourable and receptive conditions and report back. 7/10

Flight
Again, Volvik are looking for a medium trajectory from golfers swinging in the optimum speed range. I don't but I did find the ball flying on a rather penetrating and pleasing trajectory. While I prefer a higher flying (and therefore in theory softer stopping) ball this wasn't a bad trajectory at all. Tying this in to the distance and waiting for the inevitable rain in the UK and the course being softened back up a tad I'll be interested to see what results I can get, especially in the crucial scoring zone from 120 yards and in 7/10

Control
Another area in which Volvik make the usual claims that most ball manufacturers make and one that I found hard to reconcile the reality I found on the course, and practice before hand with the claims they made. Certainly in the short game area and on the green where I demand the most from whatever ball I play, I didn't see any check out of sand or around the greens and as I have to keep repeating it's an area that begs repeating in more conducive conditions. However at this time I can only comment on what I felt and observed and this was an area I found the ball lacking in 5/10

Feel
Now we come to the most variable and personal of all the characteristics of this ball and I'm aware how subjective this is and so please ensure these comments are my own based on the testing I did and may not correspond to your own experiences.

I didn't enjoy the feel of this ball across any area of the game. I've described the feel as dull or dead and that's exactly how it felt of all of the club faces. The sound even sounded dull and so whether that reinforces this view point is open to argument. It's simply a ball that when it boiled down to it I didn't enjoy hitting and this is something that you can't put down to the dry and warm playing conditions and is something I don't see changing irrespective of how the course may change in different weather. It's an area I find important in picking a ball and never want anything that feels rock hard and pebble like or sounds strong off the face. Even around the short game, I want a ball to give me response through the club face and encourage me that it'll respond as I planned on landing. I didn't get that in any shape with the Vivid 4/10

Overall
On the limited testing I did the simple conclusion is that this isn't the ball for me. I liked the colour and to a degree the matte finish and while I didn't pay the ball enough to test durability to any degree there was no significant marking even on the bunker shots. The Volvik Vivid just didn't match what I look for in a ball. I am prepared to repeat the process again in softer conditions but think in most categories the results and overall outcome will stay the same. 6/10

So there you have it. Not a glowing review but I do try and be honest and subjective and have no affiliation to any brand or maker and tailor these reviews as very much an average club golfer with all the limitations my 14 handicap brings.

These balls haven't been in the UK for that long but I know have been out in the US for a while now. I'm interested on hearing your own feedback. Does it correspond to my own or do you think they are a better ball than this review suggests. Please put your comments in the box below or if you watch the youtube video leave a comment there and I'll respond to you.

I hope you enjoyed this and the video version and stick around to the blog and the youtube channel as there is plenty more content coming including some course vlogs and reviews and of course the ongoing "Quest For Single Figures"

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