With the 2020 Top Flite Gamer on shelves at DICK’S Sporting Goods and Golf Galaxy, I suppose we could say a classic fan favorite is back. The thing is, though, that many of you may not have noticed it was gone.
The original Top Flite Gamer developed a bit of a cult following among golfers. In 2017, however, DICK’S scrapped the Surlyn side of the Gamer’s family tree and decided to focus on the three-piece, urethane-covered Gamer Tour. While you may have lamented the loss of the original, at $25 a dozen the Gamer Tour was a solid bargain in the “kinda like a Pro V1” category that golfers on a budget find so attractive.
Unfortunately, DICK’S had some issues with its TPU cover process. The durability wasn’t what it should have been – and certainly not what golfers expected coming from the original Gamer. With the Maxfli Tour series more than meeting expectations, DICK’S decided to scrap the Top Flite Gamer Tour and return the Gamer to its roots.
The New Top Flite Gamer
To that end, the 2020 Top Flite gamer is a three-piece ionomer ball designed to compete for your attention in the emerging “Premium Ionomer” category. I’ll spare you a rehashing of my rant on why that term is an oxymoron and instead focus on what DICK’S hopes to achieve with the new ball.
The Premium Ionomer category is filled with three-piece ionomer/Surlyn-covered balls priced between $30 and $40. The extra money buys you an additional layer (compared to most ionomer balls) and a softer grade of Surlyn. That last bit is what gives you a little more greenside spin, though I can’t imagine anyone paying attention will mistake it for urethane.
The notables in the category include the Callaway ERC Soft and the Titleist Tour Soft. Priced just a bit less, it wouldn’t offend me if you wanted to toss the Bridgestone E12 Speed into the conversation as well.
Top Flite Gamer – A Faster Premium Ionomer Ball
As new balls have entered the category, the thing that strikes me as odd is the emphasis on “soft.” Sure, that’s a part of appealing to golfers for whom performance takes a back seat to feel and price but there’s no practical reason why there shouldn’t be a faster alternative to the marshmallows that permeate the category.
Enter the new Top Flite Gamer. It has a stated compression of 85. On our gauge, it measured 79 on average, which makes the Titleist Velocity in the closest comparable in the ionomer space. For full context, that’s about 10 compression points firmer than the leaders in the premium ionomer space. That could be enough of a speed jump that golfers will notice. You will likely notice a feel difference as well.
As a distance ball in a category full of marshmallows, the Top Flite Gamer can be expected to feel a bit firmer than the alternatives. You may not love that so it’s worth pointing out that the cover is 15- to 20-percent softer than most two-piece Surlyn balls. The combination of a comparatively firmer inside with a softer outside should lead to more spin through the bag.
Quick ball lesson: Spin comes from layering soft over firm. It’s why soft balls inherently spin less.
Using the term generously, DICK’S says the 2020 Top Flite Gamer will give you “Tour-like” greenside spin. To be clear, “Tour-like” doesn’t mean “exactly like.” Think of it more as “kinda like Tour-like.”
What we’re talking about is a ball that’s going to give you as much spin as you’re going to get from a Surlyn cover.
If you want more spin, you need urethane. Sorry, I don’t make the rules.
Is the Gamer Right For You?
If you’re looking to maximize every bit of performance, the Maxfli Tour is almost certainly the better option. If, however, you’re looking for a little bit softer feel and a more favorable price point, the Top Flite Gamer fits the bill.
At $35 for two dozen, it is significantly less expensive than anything else in the category. Even if it’s not as soft, the price alone should be enough to bring some Gamer fans back into the fold.
Top Flite Gamer
Dick’s Sporting Goods
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