Nike exited the hard goods business in 2016, but the original manufacturer of the RZN balls has brought them back to live (and store shelves).
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When Nike exited the golf hard goods business in 2016, fans of the Nike golf ball with “RZN” technology grabbed all of the remaining balls that they could, fearful that the ball would never be seen again.
It’s not often that truly new things happen in the golf ball industry. The last may have been the switch to the solid-core ball at the premium level, started by Top-Flite, strongly pushed by Titleist, and now the realm of everyone including direct-to-consumer brands like Snell or Vice. A strong case could be made for the introduction of Nike’s “resin” technology, which isn’t constructed quite like other golf balls.
As best as I can tell, Nike produced balls with Bridgestone for a number of years, but introduced the resin ball produced by Feng Tay Enterprises since 2006.
So, fans of Nike’s later golf balls rejoiced, and the rest of the world? Well, I suppose we were interested to see if the golf world had moved on from 2016, or if Nike was truly on to something that was reborn in the RZN.
Read on to find out what we thought of the RZN HS-Tour and MS-Tour balls.
Design, Technology, and Esthetics
RZN says that their ball, compared to a typical rubber core golf ball, is both “lighter and faster.” The ligher resin core promotes a higher moment of inertia (MOI), which RZN says “grants the ball with a piercing and stable flight, especially in windy conditions.” Speaking from a physics perspective, a higher MOI ball (with more weight toward the perimeter of the ball) would spin less, but would maintain spin a bit longer into the flight.
As seen in the marketing materials from Nike and now RZN, the balls feature a “3D texture” on the resin core that helps “maximize surface contact for better energy transfer and longer distance.” This 3D texturing not only connects the core to the mantle, but the mantle layers to the cover, too.
The RZN balls have two more features worth noting. First, the company claims that the balls have “13,558 micro-dimples on the entire ball surface” that “reduces air drag and enhances carry distance.” You’ve likely seen Bridgestone balls with “dimple-in-dimple” designs designed to do the same things, and while I couldn’t particularly see these micro-dimples, I trust that at some microscopic level they could result in whole inches added to your tee shots. Penultimately, RZN claims that their balls’ “soft TPU cover enhances grip and control in wet conditions” by eliminating slipping (the ball riding up the club face). If true, this may have put Bryson DeChambeau’s water spritzer guy out of work.
Finally, RZN also calls their golf ball cores “nature-caring with fully recyclable materials.” And, though the odds of recycling golf balls is probably pretty slim, it’s important not to overlook manufacturing waste in considering recycling efficiency.
As for the looks, to be honest, the balls fall down here. The two balls feature a logo, a number, and the ball model all on both hemispheres, with a multi-line alignment feature on one “side” along the equator. The HS-Tour features red text for the model name and number, while the MS-Tour is black.
Several fellow golfers commented on the logo and alignment line, with one calling them “bargain bin graphics.” I couldn’t strongly disagree. On one hand, the graphics don’t really matter – ball performance should dictate whether you like the ball at all. And, to be sure, there is a natural bias in a ball not saying “Titleist” or “Callaway” on it. Other logos are bound to “look” cheaper because golfers simply aren’t used to seeing these fonts or these logos on high-performance balls. On the other hand, how you feel about the product you’re looking down at or playing can influence play.
As for me, well, I didn’t like the logos at all. The font choice just does nothing for me. But, the balls were easy to identify as mine, whether in the rough or near another player’s ball. So that’s a plus. Nobody’s likely to hit my golf ball accidentally!
Performance and Playability
As noted above, we tested the MS-Tour and the HS-Tour balls, designed for medium-speed (MS-Tour) players and high-speed (HS-Tour) players.
The MS-Tour is a three-piece ball with a soft urethane cover and:Long Distance on ALL long Irons, Woods and DriverOur Lowest Compression Tour Core Formulation ?soft feel on all shots.Good Control all around the greenReduced Air Drag due to Micro Dimple SurfaceHigh Grip in Wet ConditionsBigger Alignment for easier aiming while putting
The HS-Tour is RZN Golf’s four-piece ball, with a soft urethane cover, and:Explosive Distance on ALL long Irons, Woods and Driver.Specifically forgiving on driver miss-shots due to a low driver spin.Control all around the green through its High Spin on short irons and wedge.Reduced Air Drag due to Micro Dimple SurfaceHigh Grip in Wet ConditionsBigger Alignment for easier aiming while putting
In other words, the MS-Tour is a slightly softer ball that’s going to spin a little bit more, likely off the driver and the wedges both. In testing, this bears out, though the differences in spin were often only 300-400 RPM with wedges and 100-200 RPM with the driver.
In play, this bears out, too: it’s difficult to tell which ball is which if you don’t see the red text on the HS-Tour. The balls perform very similarly to one another, and quite honestly, to virtually all other premium balls on the market.
The RZN golf ball performs really well. It’s long off the tee, it launches at a good angle. It sounds good, and spins well enough into greens. I didn’t have to adjust my game to account for more or less short game spin than I’m used to. The lighter core (and heavier outer layers) and thus higher MOI didn’t noticeably reduce spin at all. The balls still curved as much in the air and behaved predictably landing on greens, whether from a 167 yards or from a green side bunker shot or pitch.
Durability was good. I found a few cart paths, and the RZN ball didn’t scuff more than most other premium balls, despite the “soft TPU cover.” One such scuff was right on the logo, improving the appearance of the golf ball. (I kid, I kid!) I did hit one shot from a bunker that seemed to unnecessarily scrape up the ball, but given the lack of bunker maintenance due to COVID-19, I chalked it up at the time to a small rock.
One knock on the Nike RZN balls was how they’d perform in cold weather. I didn’t have the most options to test these balls in cool conditions (55° F or cooler), and I’m not a robot, but I didn’t notice any noticeable decline in performance. I didn’t play Nike’s RZN ball much prior to 2016, though, either.
I remember a story from when TaylorMade was coming out with their first tour-level ball in quite some time in the mid-2000s. Sergio Garcia was switching from his current ball to the TP ball, and kept insisting the TP wasn’t quite as good as his current ball. One day, unbeknownst to Sergio, Dean Snell (then of TaylorMade) printed his current ball’s logo on some TP balls. Sergio hit a variety of shots, and said “see, I want it to fly like that!” After awhile, Snell revealed that Sergio had been hitting the TP ball the whole time.
We hear tales all the time of players being able to detect the smallest of differences between clubs, balls, gloves, shafts… whatever. Some of them may even be true, and some may be a matter of superstition or rationalizing. What I know for certain is that we’re not at Sergio’s level, or Tiger’s, or Bryson’s, or JT’s.
In a crowded market, RZN Golf still has something unique with their resin technology and 3D textured core and mantle. The HS-Tour and MS-Tour perform just as you’d expect for a high-level, premium ball, and I recommend giving them a trial.
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If you were already a fan of Nike’s RZN golf ball, I have good news for you: they’re back. They’re new and improved. They’re also a bit less expensive, though I had trouble finding a source to buy these RZN golf balls online. If you are able to find them, they should be run you about $34.99.