To many, golf has often been paraphrased as the rather pointless pursuit of trying to hit a little white ball into a hole 18 times. It is a futility that all of us golfers will have felt out on the course at one point or another at some stage of our golfing odysseys. However, golf manufacturers are now working on a small, but fundamental change that could alter how we (literally) view golf forever. They are creating visual technology golf balls. These are golf balls that are designed in different ways and with different colours, rather than a single monochrome white. Therefore, it’s only fitting that we at AMERICAN GOLF are on hand to explain what these visual technology golf balls are and the thinking behind them. Hopefully this has sparked the curiosity of any keen golfer, so let’s read on to find out more.

What is Visual Technology?

As golfers, we are looking for any little advantage that we can find, while golf manufacturers are always thinking of what the next boundary is they can push in order to try to improve our golfing experience. Now they have turned their attention to the golf ball. For years, golfers have had to find their own solutions to get the right alignment between the club and the ball. We have had to use the lettering of the maker’s name on the golf ball or use our own symbol or marking on the ball to aid our game, whether that is nailing a drive out of the sweet spot of the club or setting a putt in exactly the direction we want. But not anymore, the golf manufacturers have done it for us!       

What are the advantages of Vis Tech?

·        Better alignment

By usual a more colourful golf ball, we can improve our alignment in an instant. We can use the colour on the ball to set that in the right position for our point of impact. It can allow us to focus better on what we are trying to achieve and think even more carefully about the shot or putt rather than us just placing the ball down.

·        Improved putting

The area of the game where better alignment should really come into its own is on the putting green. Visual technology golf balls give us the helping hand to putt better. We can set the ball in exactly the direction or line that we think the putt is going to travel, by hitting it at the coloured point of alignment. The theory is that this should improve our putting – the big test will be whether we are reading the putts correctly!

·        Finding our ball

Now we all hit shots into the rough, thick grass or unwelcome bushes. So a dash of colour to make our golf balls stand out is very welcome. If using a Vis-Tech golf ball makes us lose fewer balls during a round, especially during periods of the year like autumn or winter when conditions are muddier and there are lots of leaves on the ground, that can only be a good thing.

·        Visual aid

We all know that as we are getting older, our eyesight is deteriorating. We don’t have the 20:20 vision that we had in our twenties. Let’s not be embarrassed to admit it, so using a golf ball that is brighter and more visually appealing, has to be a positive.        

Now this new trend for visual technology golf balls resonates with me on a personal level. My father, Gerry, lost sight in one eye when he was in his early sixties and gamely carried on playing golf for around 15 more years afterwards. Only he truly knew what his sight was like when he was stood over the ball, but I am certain that he would have appreciated any help in visual terms, not just to aid his alignment with a putter, but simply the act of seeing the ball. Visual technology golf balls may have been able to keep him playing for longer, with all of the health benefits that come from that. Now, this advancement may have come too late for my dad, who has had to stop playing, but it can benefit all of us, no matter the quality of our eyesight.

What Visual Tech Balls are on the market?

We have talked about the benefits of Visual Technology golf balls, so let’s have a look at what is on the market to put in our golf bags.

TaylorMade Tour Response Stripe (£39.99 – 12-ball pack):

Colour options: Lime Green, Orange, Blue, Blue/Pink, Multi-coloured

TaylorMade are hailing their 360° CLEARPATH Alignment as the revolutionary feature on the TaylorMade Tour Response Stripe golf balls. The stripe goes all the way around the golf ball to provide the visual technology element. The stripe comes in lime green, orange, blue, and blue with a pink trim (presumably to cater for the style-conscious female golfer!). Alternatively, there is a special multi-pack that includes golf balls with a mixture of these different colours.

The 360° CLEARPATH Alignment is designed for use on the greens primarily. Using the stripe, it should be possible to line our ball up in exactly the right line or position that we want it to follow, in theory, making us more likely to hole it. Although the increased spec of colour on a white background should also make it more distinguishable in different situations.       

TaylorMade TP5x Pix 3 (£47.99 – 12-ball pack):

Colour options: Orange

The TaylorMade TP5x Pix 3 has all the attributes that we want from a golf ball in terms of ball speed and feel, but the importance of visual technology has not been discarded. The latest TP5x maintains the coloured urethanes that are designed to match paint graphics for enhanced durability perception, with a high colour contrast on the golf ball. However, the orange and black ‘motion’ triangles have been changed to diamond shapes after feedback from customers and leading professionals. Already strategically positioned on the ball, these newly-adjusted logos are designed to add more colour and make alignment even more user-friendly.

TaylorMade Speed Soft Ink (£26.99 – 12 pack):

Colour options: Blue, Green

On top of producing a golf ball that aims to provide increased distance thanks to its soft feel, TaylorMade have another option on the vis-tech market with the Speed Soft Ink. This visual technology golf ball has a special hi-visibility design with splashes of either blue or green all over the ball. The colourful splashes are there to stand out when we look down and to provide solid alignment with the club, while providing a touch of personality to proceedings in contrast to the traditional white golf ball. The same graphics are used here as for the TaylorMade TP5x vis-tech golf ball, but it is deliberately targeted to be at a more affordable price. While TaylorMade have also announced the Speed Soft Ink golf ball will be available in both red and pink colours at some point later this year.     

Callaway Supersoft Splatter (£26.99 – 12-ball pack):

Colour options: Blue, Red

The Splatter is the first visual aid on the Callaway Supersoft range of golf balls. The balls have a 360° splatter on them in either blue or red to provide increased visual aid. There is also a coloured arrow, in either blue or red, with ‘Supersoft’ written on it that can be specifically used to line the ball up on the green. The word ‘splatter’ is apt because it is as if the colour has been splattered on with a paintbrush, so it is perhaps not as bold or prominent as other vis-tech golf balls.  

Callaway E.R.C Soft Fade (£39.99 – 12 ball pack):

Colour options: White

The Callaway E.R.C Soft Fade incorporates visual technology as a way of helping with a golfer’s alignment on the putting green. Using 360° Fade Technology, there is a line of colour that fades away around the golf ball. There is ‘ERC Soft’ writing on the side in a red block to use as the alignment aid with colour rolling on from there. A player can then judge perfectly how the ball is visibly rolling on the green by following this line. Like with Callaway’s Supersoft Splatter, the E.R.C Soft Fade is more suited for alignment work rather than as a golf ball that is easier to spot.  

Srixon Q-Star TOUR Divide (£32.99 – 12-ball pack):

Colour options: Blue, Orange, Red

Srixon has always been a very good option for yellow golf balls. But they have produced probably the most advanced of any visual technology golf ball with their Srixon Q-Star Tour Divide range. Quite simply, it is a half-and-half golf ball. Half of the ball is coloured in yellow and the other half of the ball is our choice of blue, orange or red.

We can use the point of separation between the two colours as our alignment guide for putting, while the flash of colours beneath our eyes is excellent as a visual aid, which should make it easier to spot when lying in rough or slightly thicker ground. Yes, it is very different to the traditional white golf ball, but that is not relevant. If it makes us play better or more importantly improves our basic golfing experience then we would be foolish not to consider buying these Srixon Q-Star TOUR Divide Golf Balls.