01/07/2016

We’ve never seen it either, the words Pinnacle soft together.

NBC sportswriter Joe Posnanski, whose book The Secret of Golf was published last summer, once asked his long-time friend Buck O’Neil how fast legendary Negro League baseball star Cool Papa Bell was.

Now, it was said of Bell that he was so fast he could flip the switch and be in bed before the room got dark. O’Neil, a Negro League player and manager himself, had a simpler answer.

“Faster than that,” O’Neil said.

This has nothing to do with golf and very little to do with Pinnacle in particular. But the O’Neil anecdote came to mind as I perused a Pinnacle press release that announced the company’s two new golf balls for 2016, the Pinnacle Rush and the Pinnacle Soft. Excluding direct mentions of the latter, the release included 14 iterations of the word “soft.”

Screenshot 2016-01-07 16.24.21

Here’s the line that introduces the Pinnacle Soft:

“The softest Pinnacle ever, new Pinnacle Soft combines a high-energy, very low compression core with an incredibly soft ionomer cover to provide an extremely soft feel with low spin for long distance.”

How soft is the ball? Both incredibly and extremely soft. Even Michael Mahoney, the Director of Pinnacle’s Golf Ball Product Management, got in on the hyperbole (or at least approved it).

“Pinnacle Rush is either longer, or longer and softer, than other top selling distance competitors that retail under $20,” said Mahoney. “Pinnacle Soft is longer and softer than the leading competitive products positioned as extremely soft or low compression.”

Guys—these balls are soft.

So, the question is, why the emphasis on soft? In another word, control.

According to the release, both Rush and Soft promise the distance of firmer balls (if I’ve lost you here, I don’t blame you), while promising the feel that Titleist lives off of with the Pro V1. Most amateurs know the Pro V1 and might even overspend to play a few. The reality is, the ball spins more than a standard model, which means it’s less forgiving off the tee. In other words, if you fight a slice, the Pro V1 is not for you.

Pinnacle, on the other hand, promotes Rush and Soft as balls that will spin very little off the club face. Here’s Scott Cooper, Titleist R&D’s Product Development Manager on the matter:

“[Pinnacle Rush]’s a distance-focused construction with a low compression core and a firm cover. That combination gives you high initial velocity off the clubface with very low spin, which is the perfect recipe for hitting it long. And because Rush has a lower overall compression than most other distance balls, it provides a very playable feel.”

As a result, you get that long and soft paradox. The Soft simply lives up to its name while hopefully producing a similar result as the Rush. The idea is that amateurs and pros alike will have the confidence to attack the golf ball from distance and then have pinpoint control 150 yards and in. Maybe I’m using pinpoint lightly.

It’s an intriguing marketing campaign that appeals to the everyman golfer.

If a player thinks to himself, “I have a soft golf ball. I have more control,” he’ll likely play better shots regardless of the legitimacy of that thought. But with Pinnacle, we don’t have to worry about that.

Rush and Soft are soft. Incredibly soft. Extremely soft. Softedty-soft-soft.

*****

The balls sell for under $20/dozen.

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