Wednesday, 4 October 2017

Product Review - Vice Pro Plus Golf Ball

Thank you for joining me for another product review. As always, it's an honest, no frills opinion, without any technology and gadgets or affiliation to any of the products being looked at. So what is it all about? Who are Vice and what is the Pro Plus golf ball.

Vice are a German company, founded in 2012, and were designed to bring premium golf balls at a cheaper price, and do so by only selling over the internet and directly to the consumer. They offer some fantastic price breaks for buying in bulk. Don't be fooled, cheap doesn't mean poor quality and Vice claim they perform equally if not better than other comparable balls already on the market.

Vice have five balls in their range:
Drive - 2 piece
Tour - 3 piece
Pro Soft - 3 piece
Pro - 3 piece
Pro Plus - 4 piece

They offer a selection pack (£15.95) which offers a two ball sleeve of each make of ball so golfers can try them all and find one that works best for their own game before committing and placing an order.

I tested their four piece ball the Pro Plus. Now let me make a small confession, I've not been playing a premium ball (four or five piece) for a while now and have preferred a three piece version (AD333 tour or Titleist NXT).

As always, there is a video on my Three Off The Tee Youtube channel and if you want to see how the ball performed on the course, click here (Vice Pro Plus Review - On The Course). As with all my ball reviews, it's my mid-handicap swing, three holes ( par 3, 4 and a par 5) and my verdict. No launch monitor, no technical data. Hit it, find it and hit it again until it goes in the hole.

So what do I think? I had a go at the Pro Plus in lime and white. This is what Vice say about the lime version:
The day glow Neon Lime colour ensures maximum visibility for both the long and the short game. The optimised visibility arises by transformation of the dark or invisible spectral daylight by fluorescence into very bright, long-wavelength visible light. The micro molecular structure of cast urethane is extremely soft but also very resistant. The very thin coating and special adhesion to the green offers the player superbly smooth and on-demand feel of the ball and controllable, high degree of backspin thanks to the S2TG technology.

I have to be honest, I thought the finish looked a little dull, almost a matte finish in both the lime and white version. Not a huge problem and in that manner it reminded me of the Volvik Vivid which I reviewed (Volvik Vivid - 1st review and Volvik Vivid - Follow Up Review). 

Vice say these golf balls are suppose to perform equally as well as the other, more well known equivalent brands, but are a fraction of the cost. As you'll see in the video, my ball striking wasn't the best, but captures accurately the vagaries of being a 14 handicap golfer and the way my swing can change on a daily basis. That is why I feel these reviews offer a unique and unbiased verdict without needing to look at swing data, which for many golfers is of little interest. 

A cut away of the Vice Pro Plus ball showing the four layers
Did they live up to the claim. Well yes, they did. Even though I didn't hit the driver particularly well, the ball still flew a decent distance. It didn't seem to spin overly and so from the tee I was happy. I enjoyed the feel off the irons on my approach into greens. Again, the strike wasn't perfect but the ball performed well and distance wasn't compromised. However, it's around the green I thought this ball really came into it's own. I've been working hard at my short game so was optimistic my pitching and chipping would hold up but I was really surprised and pleased with the amount of control and in particular the spin I could impart. It really did everything I'd expect from a premium ball and more. 

Feel of a putter is perhaps the most subjective and why the selection pack is a great idea, but the Pro Plus golf ball was very soft feeling off the putter face but without coming off the face like a pudding. It gave a pleasant feedback through the face and I was able to control distance easily as I'd expect with other top end balls

As I've done with other ball reviews I'll finish the review by breaking the Vice Pro Plus into various categories and giving a final verdict

Looks
The lime ball in particular wasn't quite as I expected and I thought it was a little dull in the finish. That said it performed well and was easy to see in flight and stood out well against the grass and in the semi-rough. The white was also less translucent than a conventional premium ball but again stood out well enough. 6/10

Distance
As I said earlier, I've stopped using a four piece ball regularly and prefer the distance I can get from a three piece version even if that perhaps compromises control around the green. I felt the Vice Pro Plus was no longer or shorter of other top end balls I've played. Distance is important to me as I'm a fairly short hitter, although I try not to compromise dispersion looking for yards. As a result, I was pleased with the lack of driver spin. 7/10

Flight
I didn't hit too many good shots in the review (my tee shot on the par 3, the 11th at Royal Ascot probably the best) and so it's perhaps hard to be totally objective but I felt the Pro Plus launched low off the driver and was at best a medium trajectory off the irons. While I can see that being an advantage in windy conditions, I, and I'm sure others would prefer to see my irons coming off higher. That all said, the flight wasn't offensive and its mid-flight angle wouldn't put me off buying this ball if I was in the market for this type of ball. 7/10

Control
Around and on the green, this ball excelled expectations. It checked and spun on command and came off the club face with a buttery soft feel. In fact I felt the Pro Plus was softer and more responsive than most of the other four piece balls I've tried. The only ball that was comparable was the Taylormade five piece TP5 offering. The Vice ball performed well on the green as well and my distance control was on point straight away. 9/10

Durability
I only played three holes with these balls and used both the green and white version and I was a little disappointed that there were a couple of scuff marks on both after the test. Granted I hit out of a bunker which adds friction but I've tested other balls and they've kept their looks slightly better. Maybe it was the matte looking finish of the green version. Maybe it was the quality of my strike. It certainly didn't affect performance and was cosmetic. 7/10

Feel
As always this is the most emotive category but one that most golfers seem fixated on. Ask on any forum what ball a person uses and they will give you a make and model and ask why they prefer this ball and most will say "feel".

I liked the Pro Plus off all the clubs and thought it had a pleasant sound, and a soft satisfying feel off the face, even if the strike was away from the centre. It was most satisfying around the green and I liked the way it responded. 8/10

Overall
Aside from a minor gripe about durability and marking up, everything else about the Vice Pro Plus pleased me. I thought it did exactly what Vice wanted to achieve and was every bit as good as the competition. I'll put the link to the Vice website and you can go on for yourself and see the prices for each ball in the range and compare, dependant on the quantity being ordered, the price of these balls and get a feel for how that stacks up



Overall, on a bad ball striking day, the ball did everything I'd expect from a four piece ball and as I keep stressing was exemplary around the green and in that facet of the game is perhaps the best ball I've tried. Vice are rightly proud of their products, their online only business model and their production values (Vice Production). I'd like to try the Pro Plus again on a better ball striking day to see what else I could squeeze out of it in terms of a few more yards off the tee and see if a better strike leads to a better flight. Again it's a small quibble and even given the performance on the day, this was a solid performing golf ball, with arguably a robust price structure to entice customers to buy in bulk. I was very pleased with it and would happily give it a very solid 8/10

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