Companies have attempted to design golf balls that feature low compression cores, low spin rates, a soft, enjoyable feel and excellent distances for slower swing speeds. In an inspirational move, Maxfli decided to name its combatant in the category, the Noodle. The move worked. Some love the name; some hate it, but all agree that any ball with a name that goofy has to be tried at least once. Sales have been brisk.
The Noodle has a soft, highly resilient core that responds well to low swing speeds. With its Surlyn cover and 408-dimple pattern, it has been designed to come off of a clubface hot with very low spin rates. The resulting ball flight is designed to generate maximum roll. Some of our testers have reported exceptional distance with this ball – among the longest they have ever seen. On the other hand, an equal number have reported so-so distances for the Noodle – very good, but not great.
First-rate distance depends upon a combination of good carry and good roll. On firm fairways, the roll of the Noodle can kick in and create distances that are up there with the best. Drives that keep rolling and rolling are possible on the right terrain. However, the carry of the Noodle is not particularly great. It is less than that of the higher flying MC Lady. Those who already hit low, hot trajectories will probably not see any real distance benefit from this ball when compared to other distance balls. They may benefit more from high-trajectory balls such as the Top Flite XL 2000 Aero or Pinnacle Precision Spin. The Noodle performs better for those who normally hit high, arched shots that land too softly. Slow to moderate swing speed players will see the most benefit. This ball’s low-compression core is not geared towards strong hitters.
A downside to high-roll balls is that rolling takes a toll on consistency of accuracy. Flight through the air can be controlled – roll on the ground cannot. Too much of it can make players pay a price on their scorecards – and in lost balls. Such is the case with the Noodle. It lands lively and energetic. This characteristic means that some good drives will go awry. On approach shots, it means that many players will find that they have to play one less club to keep the ball on the green. If an approach shot has to go over a trap to a tight pin position, forget it. This ball will go off the back of the green. The Noodle is for those who like to run the ball up to the pin. Unfortunately, many golf courses will not accommodate that style of play.
As to feel: All of our crew have felt that the Noodle is enjoyable to hit. It has a distinctive feel – soft, but responsive. It is noodle-like in that it has a rubbery feel to it as opposed to the buttery feel of soft, wound balls like the Titleist Balata. The sound at impact is a much more “cluck” than “click”. All testers had expected to the Noodle to be even more noodle-like in its feel – mushy soft. They were pleased that it was not. This ball is fun to hit. It jumps off of the clubface in a lively fashion. The MC Lady, in comparison, feels and sounds brighter and more crisply firm. As to which is more pleasant: That is a case of apples and oranges. The Noodles are the oranges. Top Flite Flying Lady’s feel hard in comparison to both – like small, green apples
Where the Noodle has universally failed to impress is around the green. This ball is a runner. It does not like to sit. With a wedge, it comes off too hot, spins too little and rolls too much. Considerable adjustment is needed to adjust to these tendencies. Players who like to make the ball plop, flop, bite or dance around the pin will not be happy with the Noodle. Those players, particularly higher-handicappers, who play only bump, run and roll golf should have little trouble adjusting to this Maxfli’s lively behavior. For many of them, finesse shots with wedges will not be in their arsenal of shots, anyway.
With a putter, the Noodle will run too hot for players accustomed to premium balls. For them, long putts and chips can be risky business. Those who routinely use hard, two-piece distance balls should find the pace of the Noodle to be quite manageable. Some testers have complained about the Noodle’s feel coming off of a flat stick. They find it too firm. That opinion has not been universal, however. Two of our testers were very fond of the feel at impact. They preferred it to the feel of other, comparable distance balls. Personal opinions on the feel and pace of the Noodle will depend a great deal upon the type of putter used. Those who use soft-insert or carbon steel putters are going to be much more apt to like this ball on the putting green.
We did a 120-ball comparison putt-off between the Noodle, the MC Lady, the Top Flite 3000XL Super Straight and the Wilson Smart Core Straight Distance. Using three different soft-feel putters, each ball was putted 30 times on our true board from a distance of 13 feet. The results surprised us. While the Wilson did track consistently truer than the rest, the Noodle won hands down when it came to final scoring points. On our fast synthetic putting surface (Stimp reading of just under 12), we found that we could control the pace of the Noodle better than we could with the other three distance balls. Putts from the Noodle found the tiny, shallow 5-point cup at a rate of 2 to 1 over each of its rivals. The pace of the Noodle was comparable to that of the Lady. It was slower than that of the Wilson. The XL 3000, in direct comparison, was much livelier and harder feeling. It had a skid-like roll to it.
The roll of the Noodle impressed us – for the most part. The balance of the Noodle is not perfect. When a Noodle rolled well, it rolled very, very well. When it did not, it would track straight to the hole and then veer off for the last rotation or two. Sometimes it would veer left; other times it would veer right. This is a phenomenon that we also saw in the Titleist Pro V1 – evidence of its “seam”. With the Noodle, the effect was even more pronounced. Fortunately, the Noodle’s consistent pace kept these deviant rolls from wandering very far from the hole.
The Noodle produced the best dispersion pattern in our putt-off. As stated, the Wilson Smart Core did track more consistently straight than did the Noodle, but it did so in a lively, aggressive fashion. It invariably overshot the prime scoring circles. The Noodle delivered those beautiful, little, “dying mouse” rolls wherein the last rotation caused it to plop softly into our miniature, 1/2″ deep, 5-point cup. Or, the mouse would track straight up to the cup and then decide at the last moment to wander off and die just left or right of the hole.
It will probably be quite some time before our testers make a final decision on the Noodle. We suspect that, as with the Lady, its tendency to not stay put after landing will eventually override its good qualities. For very windy days, for cold weather, or for overly long, hard fairways, the Noodle has a lot going for it. We suspect that it might not be a bad idea to keep a sleeve of Noodles in the bottom of the bag for emergencies. For women and seniors who do not like to spin the ball, the Noodle definitively merits a tryout. They will probably enjoy the softer feel much more than the harder feel of other popular, distance balls such as the XL 3000’s and Pinnacle Extremes. Slow swing speed players should see some very good distance results.