Monday, April 3, 2017

Srixon Z-Star XV, Z-Star, and Q-Star Tour Golf Balls Review

Golf season hasn’t quite started up here in Ohio, but a few nice days last week gave me the perfect opportunity to put in some extensive time with the new Srixon Z-Star XV, Z-Star, and Q-Star Tour balls. 


To compare how each ball performed relative to the other, I hit multiple shots from the same spots on the course using driver, a 7 iron, and a 56* wedge, and did this on a variety of holes.  A friend came with me and did the same thing so we could compare impressions. 

All three of Srixon’s new balls feature new innovations in dimple, cover, and core design.  This is the first time I’ve tested Srixon balls and haven’t played them with regularity in the past, so I can’t comment on how the new versions compare to previous generations.  But the new technology is still worth mentioning if only to give you another context into the performance differences we experienced. 


Dimple Technology

The Z-Star XV and Z-Star are what you might call sibling golf balls.  Both balls have 338 dimples of varying size to improve aerodynamics and drag properties.  Dimple patterns might not seem like a huge deal, but changing dimple size and depth by just 1/1000th of an inch can add up to five extra yards.  By comparison, the Q-Star Tour has 324 dimples.  Fewer dimples usually means larger and shallower patterns, which translates to higher trajectories. 

Cover Technology

All three balls have urethane covers, and next generation Spin Skin.  Spin Skin is another layer of urethane coating that Srixon uses to create more friction and spin than would exist with a urethane cover alone. 

Core Technology

The Z-Star XV is a four-piece construction with a 105 compression rating.  While the Z-Star and Q-Star Tour are both three-piece construction with 88 and 75 compression ratings respectively.  The Z-Star and Q-Star Tour mid-layer size is about 50% thicker than the Z-Star XV. 


All three balls also feature E.G.G (Energetic Gradient Growth) core technology.  I’m not an engineer so I won’t pretend like I understand what that means exactly other than to say the core transitions from softer to harder to maximize energy transfer.  The Z-Star XV core features a duel E.G.G with a softer inner core to help decrease driver spin, and a firmer outer core to help increase ball speed. 

I was expecting to hit the Z-Star XV the farthest since its stated mid-high launch profile would definitely help me off the tee.  However I actually wound up hitting the Z-Star the farthest, about five yards longer on average than the Z-Star XV, and a few yards longer than the Q-Star Tour. 

The Q-Star Tour launched the highest, followed by the Z-Star, and then the Z-Star XV.  Both the Z-Star XV and Z-Star produced more roll than the Q-Star Tour.  Ball flight was ideal with the Z-Star, a steady, penetrating flight.  The Z-Star XV exhibited a similar but lower flight, which led me to believe I wasn’t compressing it enough. 

Overall I generated good distance with all balls, but I’m the type of player who wants to squeeze every possible inch of distance out of my ball off the tee.  So my preference from a pure distance standpoint would be Z-Star, Q-Star Tour, and then Z-Star XV in that order. 


Distance Winners 
Q-Star Tour 
Z-Star XV 

My friend has a slower swing speed, I’d guess about 90 MPH, and his results were very different than mine.  He hit the Q-Star Tour undeniably longer than both the Z-Star XV and Z-Star.  The Q-Star Tour was at least 10 yards longer than the Z-Star, and some 15 yards longer than the Z-Star XV.  To say he was pleased with the results would be a bit of an understatement.  The Q-Star Tour gave him almost Holy Grail kind of distance. 

In terms of feel we both agreed the Z-Star and Q-Star Tour felt softer than the Z-Star XV.  Both had a thumpy soft feel to them, but not mushy or pillowy soft.  The Z-Star XV isn’t a harsh feeling ball by any stretch, but it was noticeably firmer feeling.  This held true with the 7-iron and wedge play testing as well. 

I wish I had the skill to consistently work the ball off the tee at will, but the truth is my mishits sometimes outnumber perfectly positioned draws and fades.  And the Q-Star Tour really had be questioning my driver credo of distance above all else. 

It’s a lot easier to move the ball left and right with the Z-Star XV and Z-Star than the Q-Star Tour, and when my driver game is on I’m absolutely favoring the Z-Star.  But the flip side of that means that if you’re not on, or generally not a consistent ball striker off the tee, your mishits with the Z-Star XV and Z-Star will be magnified. 

That’s not to say marginal slices or hooks become an immediate OB or embarrassing provisional.  The extra spin compared to the Q-Star Tour doesn’t make mishits worse.  It’s just that the Z-Star and Z-Star XV won’t fix mishits at all. 

The Q-Star Tour on the other hand definitely keeps mishits and off-line swings more in play and remarkably straight.  I could still play a slight draw or fade with the Q-Star Tour when I needed to, but mistakes weren’t punished. You really have to put a hideous swing on the Q-Star Tour to have it get away from you. 


Accuracy Winners 
Q-Star Tour 
Z-Star XV 

My friend sometimes looks down at the ball like it’s a little white piece of agony when he tees it up.  Driving accuracy is the worst part of his game.  He just wants to hit it as long and as straight as possible, no shaping the ball from the tee in his game.  The Z-Star XV definitely didn’t help him with accuracy.  And he thought the Z-Star was adequate in terms of keeping it in play.  But with the Q-Star Tour he hit some of the straightest drives I’ve ever seen him hit.  It never surprised him with an out-of-nowhere slice or hook.  And before the day was over, he was practically begging me to get him a season’s supply of the Q-Star Tour. 

Distance with the Z-Star XV and Z-Star was almost identical, with the Z-Star being a bit longer.  The Q-Star Tour came off the face a little hotter and was a few yards longer than both. 


Distance Winners 
Q-Star Tour
Z-Star XV 

All three balls gave me impressive stopping power, but the Z-Star was my favorite with more hit and stick type of action, sometimes stopping dead in its tracks.  Even shots nipped a bit thin held the greens.  The Z-Star XV and Q-Star Tour both had a tendency to bounce a few times but checked up quickly. 

The Z-Star was also the easiest ball for me to control trajectory and shapes. Flight stability with the Z-Star XV and Z-Star appeared similar, with the Z-Star seemingly reaching a slightly higher apex and the Z-Star XV being more piercing.  The Q-Star Tour launched higher than the other balls but didn’t balloon, and held its line as well as the others. 

We didn’t spend too much time hitting from the rough, but the Z-Star XV was superior at handling flier lies.  On well struck shots the Z-Star and Q-Star Tour still held the green but took longer hops before checking up. 


Control Winners 
Z-Star XV 
Q-Star Tour 

My friend was again enamored with the Q-Star Tour.  First he appreciated the five to seven yards of extra distance he got compared to the ball he normally uses.  He also found the Q-Star Tour to be more accurate than the Z-Star XV and Z-Star.  But again, here it’s a matter of perspective.  I viewed the Z-Star as more workable, he viewed it as less accurate.  I viewed the Q-Star Tour as less workable, he viewed it as more accurate.  It’s really a matter of what you’re looking for your ball to do from the fairway and rough. 

Spin & Control 
The majority of us lack the skill to regularly pull off high-spin, delicate shots from tight lies around the green, but all three of these balls made me feel like a flat-out world beater. In terms of action, accuracy, and predictability they’re equally responsive. 

On chip shots the Z-Star XV launched the lowest and seemed to check up quickest, but spin differences between all balls wasn’t as obvious to me as it was with my mid-irons.  The Z-Star and Q-Star Tour both launched a bit higher than the Z-Star XV, and had maybe three to five feet more roll out.  I can’t say one ball is better than the other however, as it really came down to adjusting to slightly different spins by choosing slightly different landing areas.  On well struck shots all three balls did everything I wanted them to. 

On pitch, half, and three-quarter shots, the Z-Star and Q-Star Tour had more impressive spin than on shorter chips, and was more similar in performance to the Z-Star XV.  The Z-Star and Q-Star Tour again launched a higher than the Z-Star XV, but all three balls delivered impressive hop and stop action. 


Spin & Control Winners (this one’s really a toss-up)
Z-Star XV 
Q-Star Tour 

My friend again preferred the Q-Star Tour to the others on both chips around the green as well as full wedge shots.  He was extremely confident hitting shots that required check and stop, as well as bounce and roll.  Compared to what he does with his regular ball, he looked like a short game virtuoso. 

Srixon should feel confident in the high expectations for their entire ball line-up, and my testing leads me to believe they’ll establish themselves a contender in the ball market this year. 

When it comes to choosing between these balls however, you really need to give your game an honest appraisal, and ask yourself what you expect from your ball.  I loved the accuracy of the Q-Star Tour off the tee, but I preferred the Z-Star for workability, and got a little more distance as well.  The action on my mid-irons clearly justified choosing the Z-Star’s sticking power.  And on chip and pitch shots closer to the green, I’d play any of them without hesitation. 

If you rarely work the ball and struggle hitting the fairway off the tee, the Q-Star Tour is a great ball to get some extra distance and keep your drives in play.  If you absolutely have to move the ball off the tee and in the fairway, look at the Z-Star and Z-Star XV.  If your goal is greenside mastery, all three balls generate superb spin and control in the short game and are extremely responsive. 


Whatever ball you choose, I have to tip my cap to Srixon for opening up an intelligent range of options to the golf masses.  All three balls deliver on their performance promises, and then some.  And at just $39.99 a dozen for the Z-Star XV and Z-Star, and $29.99 a dozen for the Q-Star Tour, that’s just another reason to like them even more. 

As always if you have any questions, shoot me an email or DM on twitter or instagram.

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