Seed promise their golf balls' performance will match any premium golf ball, but at a fraction of the price. We put the claim to the test against the market-leading Titleist Pro V1.
Not too long ago, the only golf balls you could buy were big-name brands from big-name retailers. But times have changed.
Direct-to-consumer (DTC) golf balls – from brands you won’t find in any retailer – are growing in popularity and changing how lots of club golfers buy balls.
RELATED: Vice vs Titleist Pro V1 golf balls
The business model lets start-ups and golf entrepreneurs design and manufacture golf balls in far flung factories using very similar materials and technology to tour-backed alternatives.
But with no retailer margins, no tour endorsements and no enormous R&D budgets, it means pricing can much more competitive.
Over the last few years we’ve done quite a bit of testing with Snell and Vice balls, both available online only. Last year we tested them on a robot alongside the most popular balls in the business, and both were more than a match for some market leading models.
Thanks to the success of Snell and Vice, others are dipping their toes in the golf ball business. We’ve watched closely as Seed have grown steadily over the last few years and, unsurprisingly, they promise their balls, like other DTC brands, offer comparative performance to the market leader. With that in mind, we wanted to put them to the test, and compare them against the benchmark Titleist Pro V1 franchise.
We’ve chosen the balls in this test because they’re the direct tour-level competitors to the two Titleist balls. Seed also make softer, lower compression balls which boast the same technology, but are specifically designed to perform at more average club golfer swing speeds – we’ll test those with a club golfer at another time.
TESTED: Most Forgiving Driver 2020
How we did it
We asked Seed to send us two dozen of their best tour-level urethane covered golf balls (SD-01 and SD-02), like the Titleist's. TG test pro Neil Wain hit shots with his own Ping i210 wedge, 7-iron and G410 Plus driver indoors to ensure a controlled environment as a Foresight Sports GC Quad launch monitor recorded data.
What you need to know about Seed Golf
Seed are based in Ireland, founded in 2015 by golf industry veteran Dean Klatt. Partnering with Enterprise Ireland and initiatives like the Department of Aerospace and Engineering it took Klatt two years to fine-tune prototypes and come up with Seed’s first ball the SD-01. Klatt reckons Seed can shave costs by 40-50% without sacrificing performance.
Seed SD-01 and SD-02 golf balls
Seed SD-01 - The Pro One
Price: £33 per dozen
Cover material: Urethane
Key numbers: Seed SD-01 golf ball
37% cheaper than a Titleist Pro V1
4.7% more driver distance than the comparable Pro V1 - (0.7% more than the Pro V1x)
1.7% less iron distance than the comparable Pro V1 - (1.2% less than the Pro V1x)
0.6% less wedge spin than the comparable Pro V1 - (2.3% less than the Pro V1x)
Seed SD-01 and SD-02 golf balls explained
Seed are all about trying to make it quick and easy for golfers to decide which ball best suits them. The SD-01 is a slightly firmer design to offer a combination of distance and control off the tee, with good feel and spin control on approaches. The SD-02 targets lower driver spin (for more distance at higher speeds) and it has a flatter, lower flight.
Seed SD-02 - The Pro Tour
Price: £33 per dozen
Cover material: Urethane
Key numbers: Seed SD-02 The Pro Tour
37% cheaper than a Titleist Pro V1x
0.7% more wedge spin than the comparable Pro V1x - (2.5% more wedge spin than the Pro V1)
1.8% less iron distance than the comparable Pro V1x - (2.3% less iron distance than the Pro V1)
1.4% less driver distance than the comparable Pro V1x - (2.5% more driver distance than the Pro V1)
Related: Titleist CNCPT irons reviewed
Verdict: Seed SD-01 and SD-02 golf balls
Our test pro Neil Wain isn’t your run of the mill club pro – he played off +4 as an amateur, represented England on the national stage and thanks to Titleist’s aggressive recruitment at elite level he’s always played a Pro V1. So when he says he wasn’t expecting anything like the performance he got from all our test balls, you know they've upped their game.
He thought the SD-02 was as good as any ball he’s tested and said if the dimple patterns and logos were blanked out, no club golfer could tell is wasn’t a Pro V1, from feel alone.
He was particularly impressed with how shots with the driver peaked out a little higher and hung in the air for a little longer than his Pro V1, and he felt shots didn’t deviate or move in the air either. Impressively, switching to this model from his Pro V1 would add seven yards of driver carry and 2.5% more wedge spin, while dropping nothing in terms of iron spin.
For golfers who swear the Pro V1 gives the perfect feel for their game the SD-01 is closer in terms of compression than the SD-02 and it’s no slouch, either. It was the second longest driver ball (in DTC golf balls test), a full 13 yards in front of the Pro V1 with a driver. OK, it gave up three yards with the 7-iron, but crucially backspin was almost identical, and when it comes to wedges, there’s less than 1% difference in stopping power, which is negligible at best.
TESTED: The Most Forgiving Irons
Seed SD-01 and SD-02 golf ball pricing
1 dozen - £33 per dozen + £7.34 shipping charge
2 dozen – £33 per dozen – no shipping charge
3 dozen - £33 per dozen – no shipping charge
4 dozen - £33 per dozen – no shipping charge
5 dozen - £33 per dozen – no shipping charge
Seed say the most popular way to buy their golf balls is on a delivery plan so you decide how often you’d like a dozen (or more) appearing through your letter box. Prices then drop to £23 a dozen for the SD-01 and SD-02. And if you give their trial pack a go they’ll throw in a pack of 100 tees and reduce the price of your first dozen by 20% (so that’s £18.40 + £7.34 shipping).
Data comparison: Seed SD-01 and SD-02 vs Titleist Pro V1 and Pro V1x
What did we learn from our direct-to-consumer golf ball test?
Don’t sacrifice wedge spin
If you play the Titelist Pro V1 because you believe it gives the most spin with a wedge, think again. Just as our robot ball test revealed last year, you get more backspin/control from the firmer Pro V1x. We’re only talking between 2-4% more, but it’s the 11 yards you give up with a driver compared to the Pro V1x that really hurts with a Pro V1.
The Taiwan connection
A glance at the boxes our golf balls arrived in shows several are made in Taiwan. Investment levels required to construct a golf ball plant are significant, so while Titleist, Callaway and Srixon all own theirs, plenty of others share a factory. What’s our point? Well, as long as there’s a major brand using the same factory, significant quality control procedures will be in place. So small brands can piggyback on the consistency and quality of a major player.
Commit to one golf ball
We’ve said it a million times, but right now there couldn’t be a better time to commit to using the same ball every time you play. It gives consistency and similar results, which for most club golfers would be a decent step forward from using the different balls they find. DTC brands often offer discounts when you buy more, so if you can invest in five dozen for the year, it means you’ll get the best possible price, too.
Can you tell the difference between the balls?
It’s difficult conducting a “Pepsi challenge” blind test on golf balls as dimple patterns and logos can’t easily be neutralised, but our test pro said he’d be amazed if a club golfer could spot the difference between any of our tour-level test balls and a Pro V1 based on feel alone; he couldn’t. There can’t be a better endorsement of how far DTC golf balls have come than that.
They’re all USGA and R&A conforming
Over the years we’ve seen plenty of balls go up against the Pro V1, but they’ve always come with a “they’re just as good as a Titleist” sub-story. This is the first time we’ve seen Titleist’s market leading designs out-performed in areas they’re supposed to dominate, which is a milestone. Both Seed balls conform to USGA and R&A rules too.
Review written by: Simon Daddow
Job title: Today's Golfer - Equipment Editor