What we say...
The Wilson Staff Model R is golf's first unpainted, tour-level, four-piece, urethane covered ball. Wilson say the lack of paint improves aerodynamic consistency... this is how.
For the last last two years golf balls, how they’re produced and the consistency of their construction from ball to ball has come under greater scrutiny than ever before.
Thanks to the #Finditcutit hashtag consumers have been urged to cut open the golf balls they find on the golf course to see for themselves that golf balls are not all made equal. And because of this inconsistency your game, at times, could be at risk.
It has been dubbed as golf's ‘dirty little secret’, because without cutting a ball open golfers never know whether a core is perfectly centred, the mantle layers are uniform or if the cover is consistent and blemish free. But now brands are now taking it upon themselves to demonstrate quality control and ensure the 850 million golf balls sold globally each year are up to scratch.
Wilson are first to strike out on this 'improved quality control' line and thanks to having a decent foothold in the super popular low-compression golf ball market, and their growing forged iron reputation on tour, they’ve focused on creating a brand new four-piece, urethane covered Staff Model ball (and Staff Model R), that will be played by the game's best.
What's provoked the move? Wilson's ball boffins have noticed how the automated painting process of golf balls, can lead to uneven pooling of paint in the bottom of dimples, especially those that are shallow.
And Frank Simonutti, Wilson Global Director of Golf Ball Innovation told us: “That can significantly affect trajectory, directional stability and aerodynamic consistency.”
Wilson are launching the 'Tour Model R', a raw unpainted 'tour level' golf ball for the very first time.
Simonutti added: “A glossy paint is primarily added for visual appearance, UV stability and stain resistance, not performance.” So although the new Staff Model ball will discolour over time, golfers won’t sacrifice performance for a shiny white cover.
How much difference does a poorly painted ball make?
Well it’s no surprise with Wilson making some pretty bold claims about poorly painted golf balls they’ve got some serious stats and test results to back up their story.
Wilson say they bought 5 dozen of the best 9 competitors urethane tour level balls, and inspected and tested the lot. And within those 60 balls (from each model), no brand had less than 42 balls with paint imperfections. And remember these imperfections can only be seen under black light, so you will never know they're there. Wilson’s conclusion is that it’s highly likely within every dozen balls you buy 1 or 2 balls will fly inconsistently through no fault of your own.
How does irregular paint affect a golf balls flight? Well Wilson say to think about the heavy and light painted sections of the ball like a plane flying with ice on one wing. If the ice is on the left wing, that wing experiences more drag. So the plane will want to fly more left, it's exactly the same as a poorly painted golf ball.
And on a drive of 260 yards at a swing speed of 105mph that makes a huge difference in terms of dispersion, just like we found in our TG robot golf ball test in 2019. But how much will your shots fly offline? Well Wilson’s Frank Simonutti reckons the worst ball tested had shots flying between 14 yards left to 10.6 yards right, and that’s a huge 24.6 yard dispersion window. And the only way to overcome the issue right now is by playing a raw, unpainted ball just like the new Staff Model R.
How much better is the Wilson? Well, Simonutti reckons the Staff Model R gave a tiny 1.6 yard dispersion in their test, which was 137% better than the next best ball and a whopping 1,437% better than the worst.
Wilson didn’t just stop at testing drivers though they also hit each ball with a 5-iron at 93mph, and they reckon a poorly painted golf ball can cause up to 10 yards of dispersion with an iron, which of course could be the difference between hitting and missing the green.
Is there any performance difference between the Staff Model and Staff Model R?
There’s no difference in terms of the construction of either ball, the core, mantle layers and cover are exactly the same so neither is aimed at different players. But because there’s a painted finish on the Staff Model and raw finish on the R ball there is a difference in how the two balls interact with the club face.
In terms of spin you can expect the Staff Model R to add 4.6% more backspin with a driver. That drops to 2.9% extra spin with a 9 iron and 2.1% with a 56° wedge. It’s not much but if you’re absolutely intent on getting your hands on the lowest spinning driver ball or highest spinning wedge ball your decision may well be made up on this basis.
What you need to know about the Wilson Staff Model golf ball
Wilson golf balls have barely been played on tour for decades, but the new Staff Model will be played by the likes of former Open Champ Paul Lawrie, and it has already been used by Craig Lee at the recent Scottish Open.
The Staff Model's four-piece construction has a “V-COR” that magnifies energy for excellent distance, but also maintains greenside control. A thinner cover and harder core generate more iron spin, and puts it on the edge of conformity for velocity with the USGA.
Don’t want to go Raw?
Even though the performance benefits of the unpainted version are real, Wilson are well aware not all golfers will want to play a ball that discolours more quickly. So the standard Staff Model ball has a traditional white cover. Both will sell for £44.99 a dozen.
WATCH: Wilson on the Staff Model golf ball
What Wilson say about the Staff Model and Staff Model R ball
"The Staff Model's four layers work together to produce unmatched shot-shaping off the tee, Tour-level workability off the fairways, predictable stability on approach shots and exceptional control around the green", says Global Director of Wilson Golf Ball Innovation Frank Simonutti.
"An advanced core (V-COR) also magnifies energy around the centre of the ball, generating maximum velocity for greater distance. We've also used a urethane cover that features a seamless 362-dimple pattern, to smooth airflow around the ball, for a lower flight trajectory" he added.
1999 Open Champion Paul Lawrie on why he switched to the Wilson Staff Model golf ball
“I’m delighted to be taking on new Tour challenges with a new ball that has performed exceptionally well during testing”. “It’s been great fun and very insightful working with Wilson on creating a Tour ball which offers more distance, spin and control than anything I’ve played before”.
Review written by: Simon Daddow
Job title: Today's Golfer - Equipment Editor