We never set out to intentionally review the Titleist Tour Distance. Several of our testers had played the Tour Distance and the Tour Distance SF on numerous occasions. In addition, we had frequently used both balls for comparative purposes during the reviews of other balls. One day it dawned on us: No one disliked this ball. It may never have been rated as tops in any one particular performance category, but it had always proven competitive in all regards. No tester is uncomfortable playing this ball on-course. Except for those who have a bias against Titleist balls, each of our crew likes hitting the TD.
The Tour Distance SF was designed by Titleist to be a compromise ball that did not too strongly favor any one aspect of performance. It has a relatively durable Surlyn cover; not a softer balata one. The liquid center is surrounded by a layer of rubber windings, but it is a thinner layer than those found on high-spin, wound balls. The compression has been kept low – in the mid-seventies – to improve feel and spin.
Those familiar with “ball-speak” will know just by reading the name “Tour Distance” that this was intended to be a compromise ball.. Companies use the word “Tour” in a ball’s moniker to imply soft feel and high spin rates. They use the word “Distance” to imply long distances and low spin rates at the expense of feel and high spin. The use of both terms in a name is a contradiction in ball-speak terminology. It means that the ball is neither here nor there. The addition of “SF” (stands for Soft Feel) is like saying, “Maybe you don’t understand. This definitely is a soft distance ball – really.”
Our testers regularly give the Tour Distance SF high marks for feel. The SF version is softer than the original Tour Distance, but it is still not in the buttery soft category of the Titleist Professional or Titleist Tour Balata. A bit of crispness remains in this Surlyn-covered ball in spite of its windings and liquid center, so distance ball enthusiasts are not overly alienated. The TD compares favorably to new, low-compression distance balls such as the Maxfli Noodle and the Precept MC Lady that have scored big with their versions of crisp softness. Unlike those balls, the layer of rubber windings gives the TD a noticeable dose of that famous Titleist feel. Our crew has preferred the feel of the Tour Distance over those of the new Titleist solid core Pro V1 and NXT balls. In comparison hitting with mid-irons and woods, the TD has displayed a consistent accuracy on a par with any ball we have used.
Length off of a driver with the Tour Distance is very similar to that of the Titleist Pro V1 on straight hits. It is noticeably longer than the Titleist Professional – roughly five to ten yards. For slicers and hookers, the lower spinning Tour Distance does not exaggerate the curvature of errant trajectories the way that its higher-spinning siblings do. This gives an even greater overall yardage advantage to most amateur players. The majority will see better drives, on average, with the TD than with the other Titleist “soft” balls. The lower trajectory of the TD penetrates better into the wind than do most wound balls that often display a tendency to balloon. Again, this gives a distance advantage to the TD.
All of that said, the Tour Distance is not truly a distance ball in the sense that many two-piece, solid balls are. Numerous, solid balls can outdrive it by more than a few yards. The TD has never delivered the monster drives that we have seen with hard, high-compression two-piece balls from Pinnacle, Wilson and others. Then again, it is not supposed to. As Titleist claims, the TD delivers “maximum wound ball distance”. It will not fly as hot or roll as much as true distance balls will do. The TD has also not delivered the same top length as the new, low-compression balls such as the Noodle and Lady. However, the TD has displayed much better green holding ability than each of those two balls has.
While the accuracy, feel and distance of the Tour Distance is quite good, it has never received the same enthusiastic reception from pros and tournament players that the hugely successful Pro V1 has received. Unlike the Pro V1, the Tour Distance has a more conventional trajectory. It does not have the climb and drop tendencies of the Pro V1. It also has noticeably lower spin rates off of wedges and short irons. The TD spins more than Titleist’s other distance balls, but is still well shy of the Pro V1 and Professional. This Surlyn-covered ball can grab and bite on a green. It will rarely reel back like a true spin ball, however. It will also be a touch more volatile on finesse shots around the green compared to its siblings. Gentle, little flop shots are going to be livelier than with a Professional, or than with balls such as the soft Callaway Blues. However, the Tour Distance, especially the SF version, has been found by all to be a pleasing ball for both putting and chipping. Distance control and sensitivity has been good.
The Titleist Tour Distance SF is a nearly perfect ball for those players who yearn for the feel and cachet of a Titleist ball, but who are unsure just which one of the company’s many offerings will best suit their game. This ball is intentionally middle of the road in all regards. In this case, that is a big plus. No one will be too disappointed in any one aspect of the Tour Distance’s performance. It is a pleasant, fun to play ball that holds up well in direct comparison to countless other balls. From putting to driving, we have found this ball to be a solidly predictable performer. While the price per dozen is at the very top of the mid-range category, it is still well below some premium offerings.