WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: Srixon’s Z-Star lineup, its family of three tour-level multilayer urethane-cover balls, gets a full update for 2023. The majority of the changes focus on how the core of all three balls changes in firmness. The softer Z-Star is designed for approach shot and maximum greenside spin, the firmer Z-Star ♦ (Diamond) aims at iron spin control and distance and the Z-Star XV mixes a softer central core with a very firm outer region to maximize ball speed for the most aggressive swing speeds.
PRICE: $48 per dozen. Z-Star, Z-Star ♦ (Diamond), Z-Star XV are available on Feb. 15. Z-Star Divide/Z-Star XV Divide are available April 14.
3 COOL THINGS
1. An inside story. All three Z-Star balls have modified their cores to enhance both the performance and the differences between them. It all has to do with the way the cores are processed and the specific recipes of rubber and other elements that activate certain sections. Generally, the cores of multilayer, urethane covered golf balls get progressively firmer as you move from a softer center. The degree of that progression from soft to firm, and how extreme the difference is between the softest and firmest sections of the core determine how a ball will play and feel. The Z-Star balls are benefiting from new core formulations that come under the company name FastLayer DG, but they each take a distinct approach to that firmness progression.
The standard Z-Star features the softest central part of the core and its outer section while firmer is softer than the other ball’s firmest sections. Still, it’s firmer than past versions in an effort to increase potential distance. That overall soft compression means the Z-Star will feel softer but the way the core presses against a firm intermediate layer between the cover and the core helps to create more spin on approach shots and greenside pitches.
The Z-Star XV, which had been a dual-core design for more distance by way of increasing the firmness in that outer core, now has become a single-core design. That switch is possible because of the new FastLayer DG core, which allows for a greater difference in the firmness of the outer edges of the core compared to the softer center. The new core formulation in essence allows the Z-Star XV to achieve the ball speed and distance for higher swing speeds the way a dual-core ball might but with the more efficient design of a single core.
2. Outer limits. All three balls again use a 338-dimple pattern on the cover. Its deeper-dimension dimples are designed for increased lift later in flight to maintain carry distance, as well as a generally more penetrating trajectory.
The cover also features the sixth generation of the cover coating that is designed to provide more grip on short shots. Known as Spin Skin+, the chemical enhancement to the urethane cover changes the molecular structure to create stronger and more flexible molecular bonds that give at impact. In practical terms, Srixon’s research suggests the coating gives the cover more friction, allowing the urethane to get into the grooves more easily on wedge and iron shots for higher spin.
3. Which one’s for me? The Z-Star XV features the thinnest cover and firmest compression. It targets players with higher speeds who are focused on distance. The standard Z-Star has a lower compression and a 20-percent thicker cover (0.6 millimeters vs. 0.5 millimeters on the XV). It might be the best choice for players who demand the most spin around the greens, and by comparison to the XV it should offer a little more than 10 percent more spin on the shortest of chips. Meanwhile, the Z-Star Diamond offers a cover that’s the same thickness as the higher-spinning Z-Star but with an overall compression and firmness that’s similar to the Z-Star XV, to help key more distance. Srixon’s internal testing suggests there’s about eight percent more spin on the shortest shots than the XV, but just 100 rpm less spin on those same shots compared to the standard Z-Star.
Once again, the Z-Star lineup will offer the standard model and the XV in the Divide dual-color pattern that splits the ball between one white half and one yellow half. The idea behind Divide is to help golfers see spin better, as well as providing a 360-degree aiming line where the two colors meet.