Dunlop-Slazenger Manufacturing LLC has launched a new line of golf balls, the first to use DuPont Co.'s HPF polymer in their covers.
The HPF ionomer is DuPont's first in a series of polymers the company is developing specifically for golf ball manufacturers. Wilson Sporting Goods Co. had used an earlier-version HPF polymer in its Staff True premium golf balls in May, but Dunlop-Slazenger is the first to use it for covers.
Dunlop-Slazenger's goal for its LoCo Bite and Super LoCo distance balls is to provide the soft feel of a polyurethane-coated ball with the resilience and durability of those covered with DuPont's Surlyn thermoplastic polymer, according to Greg Gianforcaro, vice president of manufacturing for Dunlop-Slazenger in Westminster, S.C.
``What our customers wanted was a ball with the price of a Surlyn ball [that] played more like a urethane ball,'' he said.
Both Surlyn and HPF polymers can be used in an injection molding process for golf balls, making them cheaper to produce than balls coated with PU, which must be cast, Gianforcaro said.
DuPont developed the HPF polymer to try to balance the softness and ``workability'' of PU-coated balls with the benefits in distance players can achieve with Surlyn balls, said George Wallace, vice president of research and development for Dunlop-Slazenger.
The HPF-coated balls allow players with the skill to control the spin of a ball to gain advantages in the angle of descent and direction of the roll of a ball when it hits the ground, he said.
``The softer the cover, the more, in general, the ball spins off the club,'' he said. ``Particularly with these balls - around greens, with wedges, with 100 yards to the green - they spin extremely well compared to other distance balls that they compete against.''
Many expensive, PU-coated balls have properties that are irrelevant to average golfers because they don't have the skill and swing speeds required to take advantage of them, Gianforcaro said.
``Some of the dimple patterns and properties these balls have are really only set in motion by a very good golfer who's swinging at about 135 mph,'' he said. ``When a novice or average player - who's only swinging 90 mph and not very accurately - tries to use them, it can actually make their game worse.''
Dunlop's LoCo Bite and Super LoCo balls have been designed to be more forgiving of player miscues than high-end PU balls, Wallace said.
With only about 3 million dozen of the 35 million-dozen annual North American golf ball market going to premium PU balls, it made sense for Dunlop to develop a ball aimed at the average golfer, Gianforcaro said.
LoCo Bite and Super LoCo balls have a suggested retail price of $16.95 per dozen, he said.
The company introduced a new series of three-piece PU-covered balls at the PGA Show in late January, the Dunlop Custom Series. The balls have HPF polymer mantles and are aimed at low-handicap amateurs and the top players on the junior tour, Gianforcaro said.
``We're trying to get to some of the young talents in the game and get them converted early,'' he said.
The balls' patented dimple patterns and composition were designed specifically to maximize distance for swing speeds of 95-115 mph, Wallace said.