Nike RZN Black Review
Here I will be reviewing the Nike RZN Black golf ball, a gold medal winner on the 2015 Hot List for Golf Digest and played by the likes of Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Michelle Wie.
The RZN Black, like the RZN Platinum, is a high-compression tour-level ball; it’s designed to minimize spin off the tee (for maximum distance) while providing premium soft feel and control around the greens. Read on to find out what you need to know about these golf balls to make an informed purchase.
In a hurry? Here’s the quick overview and verdict for you…
Rating: 4.8/5 (Excellent)
Pros: Reasonably priced; delivers the performance one would expect from a tour-level ball (low spin and penetrating off the tee, high spin and soft and controllable around the greens); great for strong swingers who would gain distance from a lower spin and trajectory; sound and feel are solid; a significant step up from the previous 20XI models
Cons: Not generally suitable for golfers with slower swing speeds who have a naturally low trajectory and spin rate; some people prefer a softer sound and feel
Compression rating: High
Best suited for: Skilled golfers, low handicaps and professionals with a high swing speed looking for a lower, more penetrating flight off the tee as well as excellent spin and control around the greens.
Want a closer look at the ball and packaging? Click on the image at the top of the page and navigate the photos on the left-hand side of the screen.
What are the reviews like?
The RZN Black golf ball has top ratings on Amazon (4.8/5 average customer rating, see those reviews here), Global Golf (5/5 (!) average rating, see those reviews here), the official Nike website (4.8/5 average rating, 100% recommended), and the Dick’s Sporting Goods website (4.7/5 average rating, 100% recommended).
Players, in particular those with faster swing speeds (100 mph+ with the driver), laud this ball for its great ability to balance an explosive, low-spin and penetrating ball flight in the long game with higher, softer and more controllable ball flights in the mid and short games. The general consensus is that the RZN Black delivers everything you would expect from a tour ball. Do note that golfers with relatively slow swing speeds may not see the results they’re looking for with the RZN Black (due to the high compression rating), and also note that not everybody likes the feel of the ball off the putter face.
What are the features?
The Nike RZN Black, played by many top tour pros (mentioned above), is one of four balls in the RZN lineup and is aimed at skilled golfers with strong swing speeds. Along with the RZN Platinum (the higher spinning variant), the RZN Black has a high compression rating and a four piece construction. It has a “Next Generation RZN design” that makes the polymer resin core of the RZN Black softer, more controllable and better-feeling than the previous 20XI model. Aside from that, the features of the RZN Platinum are nearly identical to those of the RZN Black, and include:
- a urethane cover with a “spin-optimized” coating for greatly improved spin and control around the greens
- a lighter RZN core and heavier/stronger outer layers which contribute to a higher moment of inertia (MOI) — this improves the stability of the ball in the wind
- an RZN mantle that, when combined with the core, improves feel and delivers faster ball speeds
- a “Speedlock” construction that binds layers more tightly to the interlocking core, resulting in faster and more efficient energy transfer between layers and hence faster ball speeds (and hence more distance)
- a 344-dimple pattern with 13558 micro dimples (about 40 micro dimples per dimple); the micro dimples are said to improve drag properties and lift
How does the ball perform from tee to green?
Long game: The performance of the RZN Black with woods and long irons is superb; it feels quite explosive off the face and does indeed tend to be both low-spinning and very penetrating with long carry and plenty of roll as well. For this reason, golfers with high spin rates can very realistically realize large distance gains with the RZN Black. On the other hand, golfers who normally experience low trajectories and low spin rates won’t likely find the RZN Black to be suitable for their game.
Although it’s not immune to a strong gust, you should be very pleased with how well the RZN Black holds its line in both headwinds and crosswinds. The RZN Black is fairly workable (vertically and laterally) from the fairway, rough and bunker.
Short game: Whether it comes to pitches, chips, bunker shots or putts, there’s no question that the RZN Black delivers tour-level results around the greens. Its soft feel is very enjoyable off the wedges and putter face, and it produces some of the highest spin rates (in terms of RPM) of any golf ball currently available. Golfers who are skilled enough should have no problems hitting skip-and-stops or shots that spin back.
What about feel and sound?
It turns out that the RZN Black lies at about middle-of-the-range in terms of tour ball softness. There are softer balls out there, such as the RZN Platinum. With that being said, the RZN Black tends to feel quite moderate (not too firm, not too soft) and crisp with short irons and wedges, and firm and explosive with woods and longer irons. Sound is fairly high-pitched and “clicky” — a bit louder than the RZN Platinum but definitely not as loud as the previous 20XI model.
I would venture to say that most golfers would be pleased with the sound and feel of the RZN Black, but it does of course depend on the personal tastes of the individual.
Where can I get used RZN Black balls at a lower price?
Do be aware that you have the option of getting RZN Black balls refinished or recycled if you’d prefer not to pay full price for new ones. I would recommend staying away from refinished RZN balls, which are risky when it comes to performance.
That leaves recycled balls, which are balls that have been found lying around on golf courses and very often have only been hit once or twice. For the best value for your money, I would suggest only considering ball packs with condition ratings of AAA or above. You can find awesome deals for RZN Black balls on eBay.
Although some mid and even high handicappers may have a lot of success with the the RZN Black, it’s most ideal for professionals and low handicappers who are looking for more control and spin greenside or a lower ball flight off the tee. A terrific ball overall.