Today we are going to have a look at the new TaylorMade Penta TP golf ball.  When I first received these golf balls, I was sent a promotional Pentagonal box with 5 Penta TP golf balls, all labeled with the number 5.  I heard they would sell for around $45.  My first thought was: dear lord, $10 a golf ball??  My ‘blonde’ moment quickly passed as I realized they would be $45 a dozen, as are most of the premium golf balls on the market.  As a player of the TM TP Red LDP ball, I was excited to try this out on the course.  As always, a little background information and then we can get into our review.

Background

The TaylorMade Penta TP is the first tour ball with five solid-layers, with each layer engineered to optimize performance in five key shot categories that skilled players need – driver, long-irons, middle-irons, short-irons and partial wedges. The five layers of Penta TP include the core, inner mantle, middle mantle, outer mantle and cover, and each one plays a critical role in optimizing the performance of each of the five key shots.

TaylorMade Penta (5 of 7).jpg

Layer 1 – Cover


The soft Urethane Cover promotes a higher than average spin-rate on the all-important partial wedge shots required in the scoring zone, within 100 yards of the flag. These are the types of shots where many current tour balls fail to deliver the goods because they launch too high and don’t spin enough. Instead, most tour pros want a ball that launches lower and spins enough to stop fast after one or two bounces, which gives them maximum control over these types of shots. Penta TP’s soft, durable Urethane Cover has the necessary characteristics to deliver that coveted combination of lower launch angle and higher spin-rate, while also providing soft tour feel.

Layer 2 – Outer Mantle


The firm and fast Outer Mantle promotes optimum spin off the short-irons to stop the ball quick without sucking it off the front of the green or drawing it back too far from the hole. The Outer Mantle is the fastest mantle in the ball; because it’s positioned just beneath the cover it’s easily compressed by slower swingers (ball speeds 120 mph and below), helping them to generate higher ball speed for increased distance.

Layer 3 – Middle Mantle


The semi-firm and fast Middle Mantle, which surrounds the Inner Mantle , promotes mid-launch and mid-spin off the middle irons. Mid-launch promotes control; mid-spin keeps the ball from up-shooting, ballooning and falling short of the target. The Middle mantle consists of a fast material, allowing medium-slow swingers (who average from 120 to 140 mph in ball speed) to generate more ball speed and distance, as they will compress only the two outermost mantles underneath the cover.

Layer 3 – Middle Mantle


The semi-firm and fast Middle Mantle, which surrounds the Inner Mantle , promotes mid-launch and mid-spin off the middle irons. Mid-launch promotes control; mid-spin keeps the ball from up-shooting, ballooning and falling short of the target. The Middle mantle consists of a fast material, allowing medium-slow swingers (who average from 120 to 140 mph in ball speed) to generate more ball speed and distance, as they will compress only the two outermost mantles underneath the cover.

Layer 4 – Inner Mantle


The soft, fast Inner Mantle, which surrounds the core, promotes soft feel, high launch and low spin off the long-irons for exceptional distance and high, soft-landing flight that helps the ball sit quickly on the green. The Inner Mantle consists of a fast material, which helps players who average from 140 to 160 mph in ball speed to generate more ball speed and distance, because although they don’t swing fast enough to activate the core, they are able to activate the three layers between the core and cover including the inner mantle, which is the deepest of the three.

Layer 5 – Core


The extremely soft, low-compression core is the most critical layer to promoting high launch and low spin off the driver, which are well known to be the launch conditions that promote maximum carry and distance. Despite being soft and low-compression, Penta TP’s core is still very fast, which allows players who generate fast ball speed — in the 140 to 180 mph range — to generate more ball speed. Which means that if long-hitters who play a tour ball will likely be longer with Penta TP.

Progressive Distance Promotes More Yardage at a Variety of Swing Speeds


The layers of Penta TP are configured strategically to promote "Progressive Distance," which allows it to deliver terrific distance to all types of swing speeds. That’s because, as mentioned above, each layer is exceptionally fast. Slow swingers who generate only enough clubhead speed to activate the Outer Mantle will benefit. Medium swingers who can activate only the Outer and Middle mantles will benefit. Fast swingers who activate the Outer, Middle and Inner mantles will benefit. And of course, very fast swingers who activate every mantle plus the core will benefit.

Added Spin and Control in the Scoring Zone

The added spin Penta TP promotes in the scoring zone is especially important in light of the groove-change rule that will be implemented in high-level competitions by the USGA and R&Amp;A in 2010. The new grooves will impart less spin depending on the lie (much less out of the rough) and swing type (shallow swingers will lose more than steeper swingers). Penta TP will help some players recover some of the spin likely to be lost because of the new rule.
Recent testing with TaylorMade Tour Staff pros drew rave reviews from Sergio Garcia, Dustin Johnson, Jason Day, Retief Goosen and Justin Rose, who complimented Penta TP’s all-around performance and singled out for praise the spin and control on the all-important 30- to 75-yard wedge shot. "That’s been the biggest shortcoming in today’s tour balls," says Dean Snell, head of TaylorMade’s golf ball R&Amp;D department.

LDP Technology for Improved Distance on Driver Mis-hits

Penta TP also incorporates TaylorMade’s LDP technology, which uses improved aerodynamics to promote increased lift to keep the ball in the air longer for more distance on the most common types of driver mis-hits, which occur on the top half of the clubface. TaylorMade robot testing shows that LDP improves driver distance on mis-hits dramatically, and that TaylorMade balls with LDP are clearly longer on driver mis-hits compared to competitive balls without LDP. Also, Penta TP’s dimple configuration delivers the same hold-the-line stability in the wind that the TP Red and TP Black are renowned for.

Three Years in Development, Five-Layer Penta TP Delivers a New Level of Performance


"Penta TP took three years to develop as our golf ball R&D team carefully experimented with different mantle materials, compositions and thicknesses until the ideal combination was defined," said Dr. Benoit Vincent, TaylorMade’s chief technical officer. Extensive computer modeling, prototype creation, robot testing and player testing went into creating what we believe is the finest all-around performing golf ball of its kind, a ball that delivers outstanding performance on every key type of shot a golfer has to hit while also delivering tremendously soft and responsive feel off everything from driver to putter."

Penta TP on Tour

Penta TP is already being played on tour, first by Sergio Garcia and Retief Goosen, who switched into it at the PGA Championship. Other players who have switched into Penta TP include Y.E. Yang, Justin Rose and Jason Day. "It usually takes players several weeks or even months of trial before they’ll change balls," said Snell. "We’re seeing players switch into Penta TP after testing it for nine holes. That’s proof that Penta TP offers a dramatic improvement in performance."

A Great Choice for Every Level of Player


Penta TP was created for our tour pros, yet it’s a great ball for every level of player. You don’t have to be a fast swinger to achieve excellent distance with Penta TP, and it delivers the kind of spin in the scoring zone that a distance ball can’t compete with, giving shorter hitters the added control to get up-and-down more often. The same goes for higher handicappers – the extra spin Penta TP promotes will only improve the quality of their short shots, helping them score lower.

Look and Feel

Usually we go with ‘Look and Feel’ here, but well, it’s a golf ball.  Look is pretty similar to most other golf balls on the market!  That being said, there are a couple little look related things to discuss.  A lot of golf balls on the market these days include a great little alignment aid, much like what the ProV1 is offering with their latest models.  The Penta TP does not offer any such alignment aid.  In fact, the Penta actually has a little less text on it than the TaylorMade TP Red or Black golf ball.  With the Red LDP there is enough text there that one could use it to help in alignment in a pinch.  So, that is one small thing I missed.  Generally I end up using a little plastic line tool to draw a line on the ball with a sharpie anyway, so not a huge deal.  Just nice to have should you forget the line drawing helper (there is probably an official term for such a device, but it escapes me at the moment).

TaylorMade Penta (7 of 7).jpg TaylorMade Penta (6 of 7).jpg TaylorMade Penta (4 of 7).jpg

So with the TaylorMade TP Red and Black golf balls (I am always referring to the latest LDP model in this review..I know it gets confusing as the Red/Black seemed to have swapped from the 2007->2008 models, but alas, go with the LDP ones in this review), I found the Reds to be nice and soft off irons and while putting, where as the Blacks were a little firmer and clickier on putts.  I always liked the green side spin of the Blacks, but always preferred the feel of the Red.  That takes us to the first comparison.  I was happy to find the Penta had a nice soft feel to it on putts and on iron shots, similar to that of the Red.  I even found the feel off the driver to be nice and soft.  Not overly soft like a ProV1, but some solid feel to it on, not mushy.

So yeah, the Penta certainly delivers in the feel department.  Now, can it deliver in the performance department?

Performance

First thing I would like to mention here is the LDP technology built into the Penta.  This same technology was built into the TP Red and TP Black golf balls, and let me tell you, if you play in windy conditions, this ball is a life saver.  If you have played on windy days enough, you know that you either need to keep the ball down and out of the wind or make sure you make dead solid contact.  If you get a little side spin on the ball, it turns into a lot of side spin.  The LDP technology really seems to help the ball pierce through the wind, even on those shots that are not pured.  The LDP also seems to help keep the ball aloft on mis-hits on not so windy days.  Having played the TP Red or Black balls most of this season, I am going to find it hard to switch to any non LDP ball at this point!

Distance wise I found the Penta to be solid on both drives and irons.  With regard to the driver, I found that for me the Penta played at least a few yards longer than the Black consistently.  The Penta was pretty similar to the TP Red distance wise.

As mentioned in the Background section, the Inner Mantle layer provides a high launching, low spin trajectory with the long irons, and that certainly seemed to be the case for me.  Anything from a 3 hybrid through a 5 iron launched high and landed very soft on the green.  Combined with Project-X shafts in my irons, the Penta cut its way through the air, seeming to hang forever, then just drop from the sky nice and soft.  Was pretty to watch.

TaylorMade Penta (1 of 7).jpg

Mid to short irons held the green well and provided a consistent distance on well struck, full swing shots.  TaylorMade claims that the Middle Mantle layer should help with these irons and prevent ballooning.  I do not generally notice any ballooning with my irons when I play the TP Red or Black, and I did not notice any with the Penta either.  Sometimes the TP Black can get up there if I am playing on a windy day.  So, based on that, I would put the Penta more in the Red category on the mid irons, good thing for me.

Last, and certainly not least, short game performance.  This is one area where I felt the TP Red lacked.  I play with a decent amount of spin on my wedges and short irons, but by no means do I generate Tour Quality spin.  That being said, I could usually get the TP Red irons to hop and stop or spin back a foot or two on full swings.  The TP Black always had a ton of bite in them for me.  I started to like using the TP Black for greenside shots, just because of that added spin, however never could get used to the harder feel.

In steps the Penta, which, so far had me feeling like it was a TP Red on the long shots, and the TP Red off the putter face.  Now, can it feel the same as the TP Red on pitches and chips, but bite like the TP Black?  The answer is…pretty darn close.  Full swings with a Pitching Wedge was providing a boat load of back spin, on par with the TP Black.  Little chips with the 58 around the green also could one hop and stop like the TP Black.  With the Red, on those delicate 5-10 yard chips, I often had to just let the ball release and run out.  You can be a little more aggressive with the Penta.  Me like!

Conclusion

So where do we stand with all of this?  I loved the TP Red off the driver, on the putting green, off my irons, but always felt like I could use a little more spin around the green.  The TP Black left a little to be desired off the tee and felt too hard inside 100 yards.  For me, at least, the Penta felt like a great compromise between the two.  Great distance, control and feel in the long game and great distance, spin and feel on the greens and in the short game.

Given that the Penta is priced around the same point as the TP Red and TP Black it seems like a no brainer to me.  Though I do occasionally find deals on the TP Red for $19.99 on various websites.  As long as I can get the TP Red at half the price of the Penta I may stick with that ball…I managed to get by with it for most of the year.  However, whenever I find a deal on the Pentas, or someone wants to get me some for Christmas..I will happily put a couple sleeves in my bag!

If you are a TP Red or TP Black player, you should most definitely check out the Penta.  If you are a ProV1 player looking for a little more distance off the tee, while retaining most of that greenside spin and feel, check out the Penta you may be surprised.  If nothing else, I think you will find the LDP technology to be a great addition to your game.

Dave, over at The Orland Golf Blog has also put together a nice review of the Penta TP from a higher handicapper’s perspective. If you are in the 25 range, have a look at his review, he does a nice job of explaining it from his perspective

Comments
Harvey Specter
Posted at 10:24 am November 30, 2009
Orlando Golf Blogger
Author

Thanks for the plug! Handi is a 23 now and rapidly falling :) I freaking love these golf balls, anyone who’s considering making the purchase, don’t hesitate, go ahead and give them a try, you won’t regret it.

Harvey Specter
Posted at 11:23 am December 7, 2009
Paul
Author

They can’t innovate so they add another layer. I’ve little respect for golf equipment manufacturers.

They wan’t to charge $43 a dozen, but can’t invest in R&D to really innovate.

Although I do say the technology used in the R9 was not only innovative but clever. Simply by misaligning the shaft’s axis to the hosel they were able to create a multitude of lofts and face angle. That was truly innovating and we ought to recognize them for this truly simply solution.

The Penta not so innovative, lets not reward them by buying this ball.

Harvey Specter
Posted at 5:46 pm September 12, 2011
Andy
Author

The Penta is a stunning ball but it’s not for everyone. I had a Bridgestone ball fitting a couple of days ago and I really learnt something. Basically, the faster you swing speed, the more these tour balls like the Penta are for you. Most of us swing at less than 100mph so a Penta is never gonna compress enough to get anywhere near the core. That means the ball will start to roll across the clubface and give you a that dreaded hook or slice. I would recommend a Bridgestone B330 RXS or a Srixon AD333 for the slower swing speed. You’ll be straighter of the tee and you’ll save $10

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