Jack Nicklaus Golf Balls: Do They Stack Up?
So, Jack Nicklaus golf balls have been on the market for a little while, but are they any good? Or better yet, in the rising-cost nature of golf, are they a good value? And, sure we all know who Jack Nicklaus is and how many major he’s won, but does that actually translate into making a quality golf ball?
So many questions. I’m going to try to give you some answers so that you can make an informed decision for yourself.
When it comes to other manufacturers like Bridgestone or Titleist, you have to research their product lineup to identify which ball aptly suits your game. Nicklaus golf balls have on the surface what would appear to be an ingenious method for a player to most easily select the ball that suits their game; you choose based on the tees you play. Choose the White Nicklaus golf ball if you play from the white tees, choose the Blue Nicklaus golf ball if you play from the blue tees, or choose the Black Nicklaus golf ball if you play from the black tees.
Pretty simple, right? Well … maybe. There seems to be a caveat.
There is really no description for each Nicklaus golf ball on their website. There is no description on each individual ball saying something to the affect of “___ has a soft core,” or “___ has a cover that maximizes spin.” The only statements regarding the balls’ construction is this:
Tested and perfected by Jack and the Nicklaus family, Nicklaus Black, Nicklaus Blue and Nicklaus White OUTPERFORM other top of the line golf balls. Each ball incorporates the most CUTTING EDGE multi-layer technology to achieve the OPTIMAL COMPRESSION for the level of player it is designed for
So, you’re being left with a lot of assumptions about the ball itself. That’s the caveat. You might want a lot of green-side spin but need some help off the tee or vice versa. Like I said, just a lot of assumptions.
Let’s get down to how they perform then. We were only sent the Blue and Black Nicklaus golf balls. We’ll get white later.
The design of the Nicklaus golf balls is nice. It’s simple. There’s not a lot of text all over it or model names and numbers, but the Golden Bear logo was somewhat distracting at times. I’m not a big fan of logos on golf my golf balls. That said, the “Nicklaus” on the reverse side of the ball was very clean and served well as an alignment aid.
Using the hand test, the Blue seems to feel somewhere between a Titleist NXT Tour and maybe a Bridgestone e-series. It has a soft cover feel to it. The Black is most definitely comparable to a Pro-V1. This was all decided from very scientific methods. You know… the hand test and the bounce test. Very scientific.
The Nicklaus golf balls were tested with five putts each from three feet, eight feet, and fifteen feet on the straightest possible line.
There isn’t too noticeable of a difference between the Blue and the Black Nicklaus golf balls. The Blue is slightly firmer than the Black so it has a more defined sound off the face of the putter, while the softer Black has that muted pop and soft roll.
Both rolled very straight from all distances. Both were incredibly easy to lag putt. The sound and feel of the two balls left little concern about whether or not the right swing or pace was being put on them. The groupings to the hole from fifteen feet and out was very tight. Any variation from that was entirely user error.
Short Game Feel
The blue is definitely firmer than than the black, but please don’t misunderstand, it still has a soft-feeling cover to it.
For a ball in this range, it has some decent check and spin; probably more check than spin. It’s very easy to get it to slow down quickly on short flops and chips, but it really shines on “bump ‘n runs” because of its slightly firmer core. The responsiveness of all the Nicklaus golf balls allows ridiculously easy judgement when trying to run a chip up.
The Black Nicklaus golf ball is the spinner. It does everything the Blue can do in the short game but with more precision and action. Transitioning from the Blue to the Black left an obvious impression: don’t open the clubface up too much because where the Blue would roll, the Black stops. The first handful of short chips were left woefully short because of that.
Flops are this ball’s bread and butter. It would be interesting to see how much it spins compared to a Titleist Pro-v, (note to self) but the Black Nicklaus golf balls simply drop anchor when flopped well .
From the Fairway & Approach
The similarity in these two balls is very evident from the fairway. They both launch with the same, high trajectory and land soft, but again the difference comes to what happens when it lands.
In the same manner as on the green, the Black really checks and a handful of shots gave considerable roll-back, whereas the Blue would merely check at best. More often than not, it was one and two-hops from approach shots.
The Blue Nicklaus golf ball was outstanding from the fairway, but if you’re a golfer that concerns themselves with working the ball around the slope of the green when you’re taking your approach shot, go with the Black.
From the Tee
There was just as much difference on the tee as there was on the green between the Blue and Black Nicklaus golf balls.
If the Blue is geared for a mid-handicap player, it makes sense that it’s intended to be longer off of the tee. And, it was. The Blue had a more penetrating ball flight, but the really impressive part was the crazy amount of roll-out that it got. It actually was kind of annoying rolling through the fairway on drives that I normally wouldn’t, but that’s not something to complain about in most circumstances.
The Blue is much harder and louder off the face of the driver than the Black, but that doesn’t mean that it’s a HARD ball. Just harder than the Black, and the Black had a tendency to take a bounce and sit in the fairway. If you choose the black, you better have some high swing speeds.
The Nicklaus golf balls are really impressive, and that’s putting it mildly. It’s almost a shame that the only way you can get them is through the website or one of the Jack Nicklaus signature course locations.
What makes them the most appealing is probably the price. The White and Blue retail for $28 for a dozen, which makes it a bit difficult for them to compete with some of the other balls in that price range, but at $32 for a dozen the Black Nicklaus golf balls are a significant value. If you aren’t concerned with name and branding, you would be doing yourself a disservice by not at least trying the Black. It won’t outperform the Titleist Pro-V’s or the B330 — my ball of choice –, but it’s also not $60 for a dozen!
The best part about the Nicklaus golf balls is the charitable contribution attached to them. For every dozen purchased, $1 is donated to St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital and the Nicklaus Children’ Healthcare Foundation. Customers are also given the opportunity to apply additional donations to St. Jude’s.
See more at the Nicklaus website.