Srixon Z-Star vs Titleist Pro V1

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Introduction

The Titleist Pro V1 is the most popular ball on professional tours worldwide and also tends to be the choice of elite amateur players.

Unfortunately for us average golfers Pro V1’s are pretty expensive. As someone who is always looking for a “champagne lifestyle on beer money”, I’m always on the lookout for ways of getting the best performance without breaking the bank.

That’s why I’ve tended to play the Srixon Z-Star for quite a few years since you can pick up this ball for significantly less than Titleist’s number one ball.

While it’s unlikely any ball will usurp the Pro V1 from the top of the sales charts I think many people who just blindly buy Titleist balls “because they are the best” would be surprised as to how much they could save without sacrificing performance.

In this article, I`m going to compare my experiences with using the two different balls.

Srixon Z-StarTitleist Pro V1
MSRP (links to manufacturer)$42.99$50 
Construction3 Piece3 Piece
CoverUrethaneUrethane Elastomer
FeelSoftSoft
DistanceLongLong
Driver SpinLowMid
Greenside SpinHighHigh
Compression90*87*
comparison of Z-Star and Pro V1

The above table uses the manufacturer’s own assessments of Feel etc. How the ball performs for you is more important. Depending on which part of your game you want to maximize will determine to an extent which of the two balls would be best for you or whether you will be better off with a completely different type of golf ball.

Ideally, you want to spend some time hitting balls on a TrackMan or other launch monitor and also on the course to be sure.

Srixon Z-Star

The Z-Star is now in its seventh iteration (2021). It has long been the premium offering from Srixon and is their equivalent to the bestselling Titleist Pro V1.

It offers similar levels of performance to the market leader but retains a slightly lower retail price making it slightly less painful when you lose one!

In the UK, I found that this particular ball can be picked up for as little as half its retail price if you’re prepared to use logo overruns or the previous generation. I would assume similar opportunities in all the major golf markets.

Like the Pro V1, there is a second version available, in this case, called the Z-Star XV. This is a higher compression ball (around 100 depending on the generation) Which is really targeted at players with faster swings speeds (100+ mph).

Srixon tends to follow a two-year product cycle so if you’re looking at discounted models in-store or online they will probably be a previous generation although even the manufacturer admits that the changes between the 2019 and 2021 models are very minor.

In fact, I would suggest it’s unlikely you would notice a difference unless you had a very repeatable action and were comparing figures on a launch monitor.

“These aren’t a major departure from where we’ve been or what these golf balls are designed to do. We want to make incremental improvements but we won’t do it at the expense of the overall performance that we already had.”

Srixon R&D VP Jeff Brunski

Spin

The 2021 model has a slightly thicker skin than its predecessor. By slightly we are talking 1/10 of a millimeter!

The intention of this change is to slightly increase spin on approaches and around the green. Even such a slight change could affect distance however and to combat this Srixon has also changed the composition of the mid-layer and core.

This should mean the 2021 version retains the distance gains of the 2019 version while making it a little more spinny where you need it to be.

After returning to golf following a hiatus, I’ve been using a launch monitor which has shown me just how bad my swing really is! Based purely on the numbers I would probably be better off using a ball that offered a much lower spin to help combat the amount I produce with my driver. However, I do prefer the feel of a quality golf ball on shorter shots so will be sticking with the Z-Star for the foreseeable future in the hopes I can improve my swing and reduce the amount of spin with my driver.

Given my own dodgy launch monitor numbers, I think it would be a fairer comparison to look at figures generated in robot testing since that will produce consistent results.

Based on figures published in Today’s Golfer these particular balls have only 37 rpm difference with the Titleist having an average of 2358 rpm against the Srixon with 2395. The robot was configured to use swing speeds of 100 mph and 115 mph and an average was calculated for each ball.

How much difference the “Spin Skin with SeRM” coating makes is open to debate given that the Titleist Pro V1 had an extra 75 rpm spin when the robot was hitting wedges.

I think this highlights how little difference there can be between balls aimed at a particular market segment. If you have a repeating swing then are you going to notice 75 rpm one-way or another. I think not! If like me you don’t have a swing that repeats very well then you may find greater differences in spin, but they are due to your own swing faults and not the ball.

Don’t forget that when comparing balls it’s not just backspin that you need to worry about though. If you tend to hit a lot of slices or hooks then premium balls as a rule will exaggerate the slice or hook as they will tend to be higher spinning. If you’re really struggling to control the direction then you might be better off purchasing a ball with less spin than the Z-Star or Pro V1.

4 dozen Srixon Z Star
Srixon Z-Star

Feel

Feel is impossible to quantify as it’s very much personal to each player. One of the major characteristics that will affect feel is compression.

Generally speaking, players will think a ball is firmer the higher the compression. So for someone swinging at 75 mph, a 90 compression Srixon Z-Star may well feel too hard. Conversely, someone swinging at 120 mph would probably consider it too soft.

The only way you can be sure you like the feel of a particular ball is to go out and play with it. I tend to prefer a ball that feels good to me when chipping and putting even if it doesn’t feel quite so good off the tee or with irons but you may have different ideas.

Given that a large percentage of my golf over the past dozen years or so has been played with the Z-Star I find the feel is about right for me. Since the Pro V1 is also a similar compression then I’m perfectly happy to use that ball too. I do find that the higher compression Z-Star XV and Pro V1x do feel slightly too firm for my liking, however.

Interestingly in the Today’s Golfer testing, the balls had significantly higher compression ratings than other sources suggest. The Pro V1 rated 101.8 while the Z-Star was 99.6. This is at odds with MyGolfSpy for example who rate the Pro V1 at 87 and the Z-Star at 90!

Putting

The rise of soft insert putters can be at least partially attributed to the rise of the solid core ball. Since the ball had gotten harder manufacturers looked at ways of balancing it out by having softer-faced putters.

How you feel about the ball when putting will go a long way to making your decision irrespective of how far the ball might go off the tee.

If you don’t like the feel of the ball off the putter face then the fact you hit it 10 yards further is probably irrelevant. This is why I tend to suggest picking the ball based on its performance around the green rather than off the tee.

I would be quite happy using either of these balls on the green, in fact, any of the premium balls such as the Callaway ChromeSoft, TaylorMade TP5 or Bridgestone B-RX have a similar feel so I wouldn’t be averse to any of them. You may find if you use an insert putter that even the firmer ‘x’ models feel ok when putting. It’s all down to you!

Driving

My own testing showed I was getting more spin with my driver than my wedges with this ball – clearly my game needs some work!

Looking at more repeatable swings I don’t think there would be a great deal of difference between the level of spin you would produce. Picking out the data from Today’s Golfer shows a difference of 37 rpm and a 2-yard difference in the amount of carry produced.

Is an extra 2 yards worth paying an extra £20 per dozen? For me, the answer is no. 

Your particular swing might produce slightly different results but for the moment I’m happy to stick with the Z-Star given its combination of performance and price.

Final Thoughts on the Srixon Z-Star

The Srixon Z-Star is a great ball choice for the more accomplished player. If you tend to hit the ball with a lot of hook or slice already then any premium ball is likely to increase your inaccuracy, however.

For me, it beats the Pro V1 on price by so much that it is a no-brainer to use this ball.

Should You Use This Ball?

If you already play with a premium ball then the Z-Star is definitely worth testing. It offers comparable performance and is probably one of the cheapest options if you’re prepared to do a little bit of digging.

If you have a slower swing (below 105 mph) then this ball could prove very suitable. If you’re swinging at higher speeds then you might want to check out the Z-Star XV which is designed for faster swingers.

If you want to give this ball a try then click here to check availability and price

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If you’re in the UK then CGDiscount Golf often has good deals on then Srixon Z-Star.

Titleist Pro V1

In one form or another, this is the most used ball on tour and also by elite amateur players. When it first arrived on the market its “drop and stop performance” meant a wholesale change over for tour pros who had probably been mainly playing balata-covered three-piece balls.

Titleist still dominate ball counts across the major tours and their premium ball offerings account for 38% of the market (2019)

The Pro V1 is also available with a higher compression for faster swingers called the Pro V1 x.

This is the ball that started the solid core revolution 20 odd years ago and it’s still the one that all other manufacturers aspire to beat!

My own reasons for preferring the Z-Star are primarily down to pricing rather than performance. If I was being given them, like a professional player, then I would be more than happy to use the Pro V1 but as I’m having to spend my own hard-earned money I do look at what the ball is going to cost me if I can find equivalent performance.

You can pick up some Pro v1 balls here.

Titleist ProV1 and ProV1x
Titleist Pro V1 and Pro V1x

Spin

As already stated in the Z-Star review the spin rates show only minor differences which would be unlikely to be detected without the use of a launch monitor.

My own launch monitor testing showed a much greater disparity but that will be down to my inconsistent swing.

Like all manufacturers, Titleist is trying to produce a ball that spins less with your driver to generate extra distance while still maintaining higher spin rates for iron shots and particularly short game shots.

On this front, they have certainly succeeded with the Pro V1 just edging out the Z-Star to in the distance stakes. It also offers fractionally more spin with a wedge – 75 rpm. 

Feel

I’m showing my age here but I always used to love playing with a brand-new wound balata ball. Nothing could beat the feel, particularly around the green.

The Pro V1 is still a great ball in terms of how it feels off the clubface. I would have no hesitation in using this ball based on how it feels. 

Putting

My own experience is that the Pro V1 feels a little softer with a putter than the Z-Star but not everyone will probably notice. I find the difference more pronounced with my milled putter (Scotty) than a soft insert putter (Spider).

It really comes down to you testing the balls to see which you prefer.

Driving

My personal launch monitor numbers weren’t that different in terms of length and similarly, robot testing shows only minor differences between the two.

It really comes down to your personal preference again. I don’t think the characteristics of the balls themselves will mean much of a difference on the golf course.

Golf is also about confidence so if you feel more confident with one over the other then that may be the way to go.

Final Thoughts on Titleist Pro V1

Obviously, with so many professionals using the ball, Titleist must be delivering the goods. If your income depends on it then you aren’t likely to stick with a demonstrably inferior product for long no matter how much money you get from the manufacturer.

“Nobody ever got fired for buying IBM” is a famous quote. Perhaps we could amend it to “nobody ever dropped strokes by buying Titleist”.

If you have the game to take advantage of the Pro V1 and you don’t mind paying a bit more then you will do just fine with this golf ball.

Should You Use This Ball?

If you have a swing speed below 105 mph and don’t have too many issues with ‘wides’ then the Pro V1 should do a great job for you if you can stomach the price!

If you need to stock up then click here.

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Srixon Z-Star vs Titleist Pro V1: Conclusion

In terms of performance, there is really little to choose between these balls. If you play often or tend to lose more than your fair share then the Z-Star might be better for your wallet!

I took that decision some years ago and never regretted it. Now your head has been turned from Titleist maybe you might consider the Srixon Q-Star!

How do you think these compare? Do you use something else entirely?

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