Hopkins VL Pro Review: Course Testing
Hopkins Golf is already making a big impact in the wedge game, and now they’ve decided to provide the Hopkins VL Pro and VL Speed golf balls to the consumer market. We’re going to be testing the Hopkin VL Pro golf ball on the course and compare it side by side to a ball close to it in construction and price – the Bridgestone e6.
The Hopkins VL Pro is a three-piece ball with a surlyn cover and it sells for $19.99 through hopkinsgolf.com only. Hopkins describes the ball as being long off the tee but soft around the greens at a price that nobody can match. The Bridgestone is also a three-piece ball with a surlyn cover, but the e6 is noted for its soft feel and reduced spin and retails for $26.99 but can usually be found for cheaper.
At first inspection, this ball is ridiculously white. It’s almost glowing. Trust us, you won’t have any problems finding it in the rough if you’ve let a tee shot go wide. Like the Bridgestone, the Hopkins VL Pro has a surlyn cover, but it doesn’t feel like the e6. It feels slightly more slippery; nowhere near the tackiness of its playing partner for this test. And after holding it and bouncing it on the ground more than a few times, it doesn’t feel soft like Hopkins said it would be. Not that any of this is bad, but it’s not what we expected after reading the description of the ball.
First things first: the Hopkins VL Pro is a loud ball. We didn’t entirely know what to expect after the claims of it being a soft ball then feeling it and bouncing it, but our initial thoughts of the cover and how it bounced were confirmed on the first swing. Please do not misunderstand, we would absolutely not consider this ball a rock; however, we don’t think it’s accurate for them to be comparing the Hopkins VL Pro to a Callaway Hex Chrome. The Chromes are notoriously soft balls.
The sound didn’t translate to poor driver performance. It seemed to consistently have a mid ball flight with extremely little side spin. That meant dispersion was pretty excellent. The flights were consistent and the feel of the cover started making sense as the Hopkins VL Pro repeatedly outgained the e6 by 6 – 8 yards after rollout, which became a trend. There was not a single instance of “ballooning” as most of the strikes seemed to produce more penetrating ball flights.
Personally for us we prefer balls with a softer feel to them, which made getting used to the Hopkins VL Pro a bit difficult at first and only because we had to adjust for distance. Again, it feels slightly hard off of the face but not to the point of taking away performance. The hard feel and loudness made it seem like we needed to give more effort to work them.
Similar to the driver, they kept that same penetrating ball flight with little spin side to side. There was plenty of rollout meaning shots going longer than expected, but who hates more distance, right? For long irons, it was great. Once we moved into the mid and low irons it became more of an issue. We had to hold off our swings more than we would have with the e6 to stop the ball. 7 iron and down shots with the Hopkins VL Pro seemed to one-hop pretty well, but there wasn’t always the check that we were hoping for. It felt like we really had to attack the ball to get it to spin back with our irons, whereas the Bridgestone from low irons up to long irons had a “hop and stop” tendency that was great for the greens.
This is where we want to see more from the Hopkins VL Pro. The loud sound and harsh feel tended to be highlighted with our wedge game as it didn’t bite the way we wanted it to on the green. It always had a quick rollout as opposed to a check and soft release that we like to see in the e6. With its firm cover, we just could not get the greenside spin that we were looking for on precision shots or from tight lies.
The hard feel was also pretty evident in the sand. On splash shots that we wanted to slow release like the e6, it seemed to keep going leaving us regularly with difficult return putts.
And that brings us to the putter. We have a tendency to leave putts short, so the Hopkins VL Pro was great in this category. It doesn’t have that soft, muted feel off of the face of the putter like the Hex Chrome or the e6 does, but that’s why we leave them short. The Hopkins VL Pro was extremely responsive, and in this case the harder feel and the loudness of it was greatly appreciated as it made it easier to judge stroke strength making lag putting a breeze.
Putting may have been our favorite part of using this ball.
The Hopkins VL Pro was harder than we expected. From a feel category, we would probably liken it closer to a TaylorMade ball like the Rocketballz from a little bit back more than we’d compare it to the Hex Chrome. From tee to the fairway, the feel didn’t bother us as we were gaining extra distance, so no complaining from us there. And it was without a doubt durable. But on approach shots and from around the green we would have liked to see more spin and response from the Hopkins VL Pro.
Hopkins Golf is on the verge of having a real gem here and at a price point that will have its competitors shake in their boots if they can add a little more scoring performance. We did a comparison against a ball that’s $7 more expensive, and it ended nearly neck-and-neck with the Bridgestone slightly being favored. Again, if Hopkins can get that greenside performance improved then we’d be putting in comparisons with the B330’s, which is its $30 senior. It’s still a steal for the price.