Thursday, 15 November 2018

Product Review - Vice Drive Golf Ball

I’m back and this time it’s another product review. This one is looking at the Vice DRIVE, their two piece offering. As with all my ball reviews, it’s just me as a mid-handicapper straight out of the car, onto the course and playing three holes, a par 3, par 4 and a par 5. No gimmicks, no launch monitors no data. Just me hitting the ball in real conditions and coming back with my honest and totally unbiased opinions. This isn’t my first review of the Vice range and I’ve done a review on their four piece offering, the Pro Plus which you can check out here Vice Pro Plus Blog Review. As always, there was a video review of my on course reactions as I tried it and you can see that here (Vice Pro Plus Youtube Review)

As I’ve already said, this is their two piece ball. I’ve done a video review to accompany this review and now would be a good time to stop, get a drink and watch how I got on. Check the video here (Vice DRIVE Youtube Review). If you made it to the end, a) well done and b) you’ll have a good idea of what I thought but this blog will go into more detail and I’ll give my thoughts on key areas and score each out of ten as well as an overall rating. Before I proceed further, many thanks to Nick Kevern, editor of Golfhacker, a brilliant online magazine (check their website here for the latest magazine and loads more great stuff – Golfhacker Website) for giving me the balls to test. It seems like excellent product placement too with the Golfhacker logo on them, ready for free advertising when I lose them.

Vice are a German company, founded in 2012, and were designed to bring premium golf balls at a cheaper price, and do so by only selling over the internet and directly to the consumer. They offer some fantastic price breaks for buying in bulk. Don't be fooled, cheap doesn't mean poor quality and Vice claim they perform equally if not better than other comparable balls already on the market
Whilst this is their two piece offering, it’s not an entry level ball by any stretch of the imagination and bears no resemblance to some of the cheap two piece balls on the market. Vice say this is designed for players with a low to medium club head speed (so perhaps not ideal for someone that swings as fast as I do, although I am working hard to slow it to a blur). It’s a 368 dimple design and has a surlyn cover that Vice say is resistant to scuffing and marking up.

The Vice Drive Two Piece Ball
I played my home course, Royal Ascot just after a bout of rain, not really enough to make a difference to the fairways which the green staff had worked on after the summer drought but just enough to give the greens a modicum of hold. That said throughout the summer the greens were still relatively receptive to a well struck shot and our greens staff did a brilliant job, on very limited resources to ensure they were some of the best I’ve putted on in 2019 and I’ve played a number of top 100 courses in the UK.

So after all this build up, what did I think? Well I didn’t swing the club perfectly after a stressful day in work and a fraught rush to the course. That said, this is fairly representative of where my game was at that time anyway, I was playing a premium four piece in the firm summer conditions and will switch to a three piece, the AD333 tour, once the colder, wetter weather arrives.

As I stated in the video, this ball actually surprised me. It performed far better than my pre-conceptions when I did my initial introduction and even when I pegged it up on the first hole I filmed. Let me reiterate, as I feel it’s an important point worth repetition, that what you see on the videos, warts and all, including poor swings and shots, are as it happened. I don’t re-shoot any poor or duffed shots and I test the ball exactly as I find it on the course, whatever the lie or position on the hole.

As always, I conclude these reviews breaking the ball and the way it performed into a number of key components and mark each separately out of ten and then give an overall score. Again, this is subjective to how I found they performed and please bear in mind these may not hold true for all standard of golfing standards. Vice do offer a testing pack, which is a two ball sleeve of each ball in their range and so it may be worth investing in one of these and trying the DRIVE (and all their other balls) to make sure it’s the ball for you.

Looks

The DRIVE looked a nice bright colour, and was in marked contrast to the more matte finish that seems to be en vogue from some companies at the moment. The Golfhacker logo was crisp and bright with no blurring around the edges. Vice offer a customisation programme across the range and this example was really impressive. 9/10

Flight

I have used some of the well known two piece balls on the market, in particular the Srixon AD333, especially in winter conditions, as a self-confessed short hitter, and like that ball for the higher flight I get, which in turn means more carry. Perfect when the fairways are wet. I found the DRIVE gave a comparable flight, and while the fairways were still firm, there was an impressive amount of run on landing. 8/10

Control

Now, while it’s one thing to throw a two piece ball onto damp winter greens and expect a level of stop, hitting the Vice DRIVE onto firmer green would provide a sterner test. It actually performed very well and as you’ll have seen I hit a nice chip on the first hole (the par four 10th) that finished stone dead, and when I hit the green on the par three (the 13th at Royal Ascot) it pitched and stopped up very well. I played a few holes off camera, having already filmed a par three and four on our back nine and with pitches and bunker shots there was a level of stop I wouldn’t normally associate with a two-piece ball. 8/10

Durability

Vice have already stated the DRIVE is designed for durability. I didn’t strike the ball particularly well, hit it out of bunkers and generally gave it a thorough going over throughout the back nine. What I found was, and as I mentioned in the video, it stood up to everything very well and there were no discernible marks or scuffs. It was perhaps one of the most durable balls I’ve played with in a long time. 9/10

Feel

This brings me neatly back to the most subjective category of all. How do you mark “feel” as it differs from player to player subjective to the strike put on the shot? All I can really do is compare it to the other balls on the market and again, if we use the Srixon AD333 as a bench mark, then it doesn’t perform any differently in terms of feel. Well struck shots felt soft of the face (but so do range balls if you hit them right) but there wasn’t any discernible click or nasty hard feeling off the putter face. Clearly as a two-piece it’s never going to be the softest ball on the market and it’s not designed or sold that way, but again, it did outweigh my personal pre-conceptions I had. If anything, it felt hardest off the driver but ultimately if that’s going to help lead to a few more yards, that would be a trade-off I’m happy to accept. 8/10

Overall
I called the DRIVE as the Vice entry level ball. It’s so not that in any way at all. It’s a ball designed to be both part of their range as a whole and capable of standing on its own merits. It fits both parts of the criteria well. It definitely ticks a lot of boxes, particularly in terms of durability, which may be a buying decision when you look to purchase new golf balls. As far as a two-piece ball goes, this is right up there with any of the market leaders in my opinion. I’ve spoken already about pre-conceptions and I think we all suffer from this whenever we try new gear. Once I get out there and film any review I try and be as open minded as I can and each and every one are an honest and unbiased opinion on what I really thought.

The DRIVE is a very strong performer in the two-piece sector of the market. I’ve tried several Vice offerings now and as a newcomer (relatively speaking) to the crowded ball market place they’ve really created a place for themselves as well as a growing reputation. The DRIVE performed really well and I was very impressed. In fact, I was so impressed I’m seriously considering buying a few dozen and switching to these as my winter ball of choice. I don’t think you can give a better recommendation than that. 9/10

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