Titleist's premium balls have long dominated the market, but Nike One Tour golf balls are trying to loosen the chokehold. Naturally, the fact that Paul Casey, Lanny Wadkins and several other golf professionals use Nike One Tour balls doesn't hurt their reputation with skillful amateurs.
According to the company, these particular golf balls are engineered for players who swing 90+ mph and want the same balls played by tour professionals. There are two versions of Nike One Tour golf balls - the "regular" Nike One Tour and the Nike One Tour D. I tried both types even though my swing maxes out at 91 or 92 mph. I figured I made the grade for these balls - just barely.
So, what's up with these golf balls, and are they really good enough to justify their price of $58 per dozen? Why would better players want to play them instead of the similarly-priced, extremely popular Titleist Pro V1 golf balls, for example?
These golf balls are a medium-trajectory, four-piece ball. They use a "progressive density" solid core, 378 dimples and a cover of soft, seamless urethane for excellent feel and predictable shots. The progressive density solid core has been designed to increase ball speed, keep excessive spin under control and provide a better feel. The ball's design also includes an inner cover and a "power transfer layer" - a mantle layer that Nike developed to maximize ball velocity, distance and control no matter which club is being hit. The power transfer layer also provides increased forgiveness on mishits.
Nike built a lot of technology into Nike One Tour golf balls. The company's goal was to create a tour-level ball that delivers distance, accuracy, control and feel and bears the famous Nike "swoosh" instead of the Titleist script. Their length was good: I hit the balls slightly longer than Titleist Pro V1s. They get passing grades for accuracy and control too: they held their line and I thought they were slightly easier to "work" than Nike One Tour D balls. It was windy the day I tried them out, and I liked the ball's trajectory off my driver - medium-high and able to cut through the wind. They're also fairly durable, and after a full round I only saw a couple of small scuff marks on the cover. Although they are said to be designed to deliver a longer, more consistent, stable ball flight, I actually thought their strength was with the scoring irons. Most of my full swings and finesse shots with wedges and short irons put me into good scoring position. They're not the softest balls I've ever played, but their spin and feel was very, very good.
Nike One Tour D Golf Balls
If you don't need all the spin the Nike One Tour gives you, consider taking a look at the Tour D version of these golf balls. In my experience, the Tour D is slightly longer off the tee and has a slightly higher ball flight than the regular version of the golf balls, but it has a lower spin rate. They're a bit harder to work because they don't spin as much, but their softer compression makes them a joy to hit for those of us with swing speeds that are on the "speed bubble" for Nike One Tour golf balls. And they do give you enough spin to still bite on the greens if you hit them crisply with your wedges and short irons.
Unlike the four-piece Nike One Tour golf balls, the Tour D version is a three-piece ball. The power transfer layer and the seamless urethane cover are still there, but the Tour D uses 336 dimples (instead of the regular version's 378) and a softer, 80-compression progressive density core. Nike One Tour D golf balls are great for reaching your distance potential without losing much feel, although to me the cover felt slightly harder and made a louder click than Nike One Tour golf balls.
The Bottom Line: Pricey, but possibly worth it - if you swing fast enough. They're optimized for fast swing speeds, but assuming you pass that test, both versions of Nike One Tour golf balls have nice characteristics. Choose "regular" Nike One Tour golf balls for spin and feel; the Tour D is better for distance and spin control.