FIRST HIT: Nike’s revolutionary 20XI ball


The NCG test team get to grips with Nike's new ball - the 20XI. Billed as one of the biggest innovations in ball history, did it live up to the hype?

After overcoming stock issues, Nike are set to launch their flagship ball on British shores in February.

The 20XI family comprises two balls aimed at fast swing speeds and different spin requirements.

The S version is soft and high spinning, while the X offers less greenside spin and more distance.

Both balls feature an impressive new core material – arguably one of the biggest innovations in ball technology in recent years.

Nike led the way in ball evolution at the turn of the century when their famous Tour Accuracy ball with a plastic core put an end to wound construction.

Their new core, Nike say, represents just as big a leap. Made from a unique resin – known as RZN – which is lighter than conventional materials, it allows weight to be redistributed to the perimeter of the ball to increase stability and moment of inertia for a straighter, more forgiving flight.

Two layers of urethane between the core and cover increase initial ball speed for more distance and allow the 20XI to have a steep spin slope.

This simply means the balls spin a lot with short irons, and very little with the driver – something that anyone serious about performance is looking for.

After testing the balls extensively, I must admit that I am incredibly impressed. Although the sound at impact reminds of a firm ball, the feel off the club is soft.

Control and spin around the green is excellent and stability through the air is most impressive.


Tested by Joe Whitley (9hcp)
SRP: £50 for 12
Out: February 2012

Control and spin around the green is excellent and stability through the air is most impressive.

Rock on balls

We spoke to Rock Ishii – Nike’s head designer of golf balls – about the revolutionary 20XI family…

The 20XI is designed for high swing speeds, but can slower swingers also use it?
Slow swings will not be able to apply enough force to compress the core enough for optimum performance, but a lot of senior players do use it as it offers great control.

Granted, the harder compression will mean slow swings will lose a bit of distance but the control gained makes it worth it.

A few senior amateurs have said to me the control reminds them of wound balls from 10 to 15 years ago.

Do Nike see ball fittings as an art or a science?
We take a scientific approach and we have one of our team focusing completely on fittings.

We have a web-based system but are also developing a fitting programme that tests the ball throughout the bag. We have a unique algorithm that recommends two balls for the swing. It’s out soon.

How important is compression?
Very. I believe all golfers should know their swing speed as it will help them select balls that suit them best.

If you have a swing speed around 75mph, you need a soft compression to get optimal performance, but if you are over 100mph, you can use anything. It’s just a trade-off between getting good greenside spin or distance. I’m a firm believer in using different balls for different conditions.

For example, when I play in winter I use a soft compression ball for more carry.

Which players that you work with are most knowledgeable?
Tiger is incredibly knowledgeable, but so is Stewart Cink – his emails to me are like engineer reports!

Paul Casey is also very helpful as he is interested in technology and always wants to learn more.

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