I admit, I'd never heard much about Volvik until Bubba started playing that pink ball. So I bet when you think of Volvik, you think "oh it's those funky color golf balls'. But I did some investigating and what I found was quite interesting.
They've been around since 2010 and in the USA since 2012 and there are a lot of different models. In total, I've seen 16 models but only played 13.
Two-time Masters champ Bubba Watson switched to the White Color S4 at the beginning of 2017. Craig Stadler plays the Vista iV while Tim Petrovic plays the S3. In a few short years they've made an impact and continue to get more popular as we start to look beyond Titleist for our golf ball needs.
The head office is located in Gangnam in Seoul - one of the most upmarket areas in the capital of South Korea. Now that's South Korea, not the one with the crazy Pillsbury dough boy as it's supreme leader.
The factory is located in South Korea in some place I can't pronounce. Very far from the border it seems, so it should be safe from King Jong Un using the balls to infiltrate the United States.
I hear this phrase every time I bomb one down the middle. According to federal law, Volviks are not illegal and you won't be put behind bars for owning them or even selling them. It should be illegal to have them though, because they're as addictive to hit as taking a hit of other illegal things.
In terms of the USGA rules though, all Volvik's balls do confirm to the required standards for tournament play. Only the Volvik Magma doesn't meet the regulations on golf balls and can't be used in tournament play. Like all things in golf, during social rounds, if your friends don't mind, anything's worth a try.
I played 13 different types of Volvik and I'm going to run through a quick review of a few of the balls in terms of feel, performance and distance.
Very bright matte finish - very long with mid-low spin
mid - high
Subdued, matte finish- softer feeling cover than Vivid
mid - low
Tour quality 4 pc urethane (scuffs very easily)
Tour quality 4 pc urethane (scuffs very easily)
mid - low
Hard feel, long distance for moderate swingers
begin - mid
Low compression, soft urethane 3 piece
begin - mid
Soft feel with good spin but prefer Taylormade 4 piece
low - mid
Unique cover material on a premium golf ball
low - mid
Mid compression for distance
begin - mid
Volvik Magma doesn't conform with the USGA rules so isn't advised for tournament play.
The Volvik Luxury is for women and we are men. Men don't play with women's balls.
Both balls are aimed at lower swing speeds so an older playing partner (74 years old), Kurt hit them but didn't notice much difference between the balls he normally plays and the two Volviks. Probably because he lost them in the river off the first shot, which is what he does with his usual ball.
The Eyes-on 3 piece and the Blue 90 are older balls and feel like rocks. I wouldn't recommend them.
I've played mainly the Vivids, S3, S4, VIBE, Crystal Distance and Vista iV for the last few months over 20 or so rounds. I've hit over 1600 shots with them in total and practiced with them on chipping and putting greens. I guess the Vivids piqued my interest in Volvik after the corporate golf day I played in where they gave me bright orange Vivids. So I immersed myself in Volvik magic. Below are some of my findings.
Volvik Vivids are long. I even noticed a couple yards increase in distance on my irons. On drives, they're very long with minimal movement. If I try hit a big Bubba slice, the Vivids just don't want to co-operate, preferring to go straight.
They're by far the easiest to see while tracking in-flight and what you'll notice is they seem to stay in the air just a second longer than other balls. I often overshoot my usual distances especially into the wind with a penetrating ball flight that rarely balloons.
You won't be ripping the ball back on approach shots with a Vivid but I found on pitching wedge shots from 135 yards, the ball consistently ends about 2-3 feet from the pitch mark. If, like me, you chip with a lot of bump and runs, the Vivid is a consistent performer and the ball I chip in with the most often. The matte-finish seems to take a bit more grip on the green than other surlyn covered balls.
The matte finish of the ball makes it feel a lot softer than it is. The ever-reliable "bite test" tells me the cover is softer than a truly hard Rock Flite golf ball but not soft enough to be a Tour level ball. It feels like a Srixon Z Star or Titleist NXT Tour. Off the putter, the ball actually feels quite soft.
Overall the Volvik Vivid is a seriously fun golf ball to play with. I love the green as well as the dark & light orange design. The little arrow on the side of the ball makes it simple to line up to the target off the tee and on the greens. For a mid-range golf ball, this is great value especially for guys swinging it below 90 mph.
Volvik Vivids are really bright but the Volvik Vivid XT is far more subdued and in a way quite refreshing to your eyes after playing the flashy original Vivids. Even better is this is a 4 piece ball.
I tried the Vivid XT's out for a round at Dynasty Golf Course in Bangkok and instantly I noticed they make a much more muted sound off the club face than the Vivids. It was strange because the compression is so high at 100. The ball flight was pretty similar to the Vivids, but the biggest difference came on shots inside 150 yards.
The Vivid XT sat down within 3 feet on very hard greens which were not friendly in accepting my Callaway Supersofts the week before.
Even more of a surprise was how much more bouncy off the putter face the XT's are. With the normal Vivids, it's harshly apparent when you mis-strike a putt, the XT bounces off the face more like a premium ball giving you a softer feeling feedback.
If you look in my picture above, you'll see the yellow Vivid XT has a wrap-around arrow that circles the entire ball. This makes it extremely easy to align your ball to your putting line or line off the tee without needing to draw a jagged one on with your shaky hands.
The ball stopped much quicker than the plain Vivids. On the par threes, I compared the performance and the Vivid XT stopped around 3 feet from the pitch mark with an 8 iron, while the Vivids were closer to 6 feet. Off the putter, I'd say the feel was more like a slightly harder Pro V1.
Overall, because I swing the club at 109 mph, I will replace the Volvik Vivids in my bag with the Volvik Vivid XT from now on. The performance was far superior with my swing speed being much higher than the recommended for normal brightly lit Vivids.
I couldn't really tell the difference between the two. They both have extremely soft covers where the S3 feels very similar to a Pro V1 and the S4 feels even softer - almost like you'll rip the cover right off with a single hard lob wedge. Both balls also have a seam running around the middle of the ball like the Pro V1's used to - and I like that.
Performance-wise, these balls are the business. The $40+ price tag is no surprise because the White Color S3 and S4 performed exactly as a Pro V1 with long tee shots, and back spin I don't even get with Pro V1's anymore. On the 135 yard pitching wedge test, the S4 ripped back to usually around a foot behind the pitch mark while the S3 stuck exactly where it landed.
The S4 was especially easy to check up on 30 and 50 yard pitch shots while off the putter face, the S4 felt very buttery soft while the S3 had the same click as the Pro V1. If you're a bump and run fan like me, you want to be more aggressive with these balls because their softness means they run out much less.
As with all urethane balls, the cover scuffs really easily particularly the S4. The S3 seems a bit more resilient.
I like this ball because it's just insanely long.
The Crystal is just so long compared to other balls in the Volvik range, that if you're a slower swinger looking for a boost in distance and accuracy it's for you. The ball doesn't shape much and prefers to go straight too - it just feels so similar to a Bridgestone E6.
But make no mistake, this ball is hard. And by hard, I mean yes, it can feel like hitting a rock. On the 135 yard pitching wedge test, the Crystal usually finishes about 8 feet from the pitch mark - I just couldn't stop it quicker. On bump and runs, you want to be a little gentler because the ball runs out a lot more than others.
I gave a sleeve of these to my playing partner, Dietmar who plays off an 8 handicap and plays any golf ball, as long as it's free! Dietmar isn't long off the tee (230 yards) and likes a firm golf ball for more rollout to reach the greens easier. He shot a 78 with the Crystals so it just goes to show that hard balls can also produce good results, depending on your priorities.
A couple points he noted were that the ball felt like a Top Flite Infinity but he noticed more carry with the Crystals and hit more hybrids instead of fairway woods into the greens. Off his Odyssey Rossie putter insert, he liked the firm click of the ball. It took him some time to adjust to the chipping though because these balls run run run.
The VIBE has been produced to compete in the low compression market and is often compared with the Chrome Soft. Volvik have put a urethane cover on the low compression VIBE though and this gives it a much softer feeling around the greens with way more bite than any Surlyn covered ball.
There's something about this ultra low compression trend that is a bit maddening so it's nice to see Volvik responding with a more moderate 65 compression instead of the sub 40 and even zero compression balls you see released lately.
With that low compression, you get the lower spin off the longer shots which means higher distance numbers. But couple that with the urethane cover, and you're able to stop the ball quicker and get more control in the short game than most other low compression distance-oriented balls.
It's very easy to gauge the roll out of the ball almost immediately and this makes playing bump and runs and pitch shots much simpler. The feel off the putter is marshmallowy and while a turn-off for me, it does feel great off a steel faced putter.
On the 135 yard pitching wedge test, the VIBE stops almost on the the pitch mark and overall gives me similar performance to a Chrome Soft I prefer the VIBE mainly because I love Volvik.
At first, I didn't play with these after I bought a whole bunch of Volviks because initially I thought they were just a hard ball. But upon closer inspection and through more "bite testing" with my teeth on the cover I thought, hey this doesn't feel like a distance ball at all. And when you actually read the name, it's a Volvik Vista iV 4 piece!
So while this is a four piece golf ball, if I were looking at a 4 piece ball, I'd choose a Taylormade TP5 at a lower price with a much softer cover. If durability is an issue, the cover on the Vista is Zirconium Z-I which really means it's not urethane so it's much more durable than a urethane ball. I've hit this ball hard and I've hit it wild and the cover stays in great shape.
On the 135 yard pitching wedge test, the Vista stops at around a foot and a half past the pitch mark. While I'm disappointed with that result from a four piece, the fact I don't have to replace one after a few wedge shots is good news. The Taylormade TP5 behaves similarly to the Volvik S3 and stops on the spot with a wedge.
Off the putter face, the Vista is my favorite feeling ball of all the Volviks. It's the right mix between firm and soft and with all the buttery balls out now, I really enjoy putting the firmer Vista iV.
Probably the ugliest name ever given to a golf ball, the Pro Bismuth is a steal at the price they sell it for. In this price range, you'll struggle to find a ball that works as well from inside 100 yards and around the greens. Remember though, it's for fast swingers.
With the 135 yard pitching wedge test, the ball stops within 2 feet of it's pitch mark and I like how durable the cover is as it's made from the same material as the more expensive Volvik Vista iV golf balls.
Off the tee and on approach shots the ball feels and performs like a premium golf ball but the big difference comes around the greens. I really suggest most golfer shit bump and run chips and not the two bounce and down chips. The expensive premium balls are too tricky to control around the greens without massive skills so this is where a ball like the Pro Bismuth comes in handy.
When you chip with it, it rolls out evenly and consistently regardless of the strike unlike a very soft, expensive urethane covered ball. Off the putter face the ball feels like a Srixon Soft Feel and will be perfectly fine for most golfers. Keep in mind though, this ball is aimed at golfers with swing speeds far above 90 mph.
With a compression of 77, the ball is made for the average swing speed with the focus on increasing distance. It's a two-piece so it's a firm ball to help generate some more carry and roll out off the driver face.
If you have an average swing speed and you want some more boom boom, the DS77 is for you. While they do promise extra control and soft feel around the green, to be honest, it's not going to give you some kind of crazy touch around the greens. This a pure, hard distance golf ball with a very durable cover - the feeling would be similar to a Titleist Velocity or a Srixon AD333.
If you're looking for some extra distance and swing below 95 mph, this is a nice option. My swing is a bit fast to take advantage of the benefits of the ball. The pitching wedge from 135 yards usually resulted in the DS77 finishing about 8 feet from the pitch mark and on bump and runs, the ball runs out very long but very consistently.
This ball ticks all the boxes of a distance golf ball and if that's your priority, don't get too hung up in the marketing and sales talk about this ball feeling soft and unique. It's a nice colorful distance golf ball plain and simple.
Your priority will determine what type of ball you use whether it's for Tour performance for advanced players or just some extra yards off the tee with less errant shots as a higher handicapper. Volvik might be new kids on the block but they've got a range of balls to fit everyone and it you love colored golf balls, there just isn't a better option for high visibility.