By Brian O’Hare.
AS new Australian golf ball company FORTE says, most players pick their golf balls because of “a feeling.”
“As golf lovers, we decided to crack open the enigmatic “feelings,” and design golf balls made especially for the day-to-day player,” the company says on its website.
Nice words, but is it true?
FORTE has burst onto the scene of late seemingly from nowhere, with lots of promotion and advertising.
It is certainly a brand I was not aware of previously, and as well as the straight advertising they are aiming to further highlight their products with some free trial promotions and other marketing activities.
As part of all that FORTE sent ASG a selection of their balls to try out.
Firstly, I’d have to agree with them that most golfers pick their golf balls because of “a feeling”.
For some very aware and focussed golfers that feeling may be the exact sensation they experience when their clubhead contacts the ball, and then their satisfaction level with the degree to which the ball then performs to their intended expectations. Nothing else.
For many others, there are lots of other variables. For some golfers it is all about the brand. They play with “X” brand because it is “their” brand – their favourites pros use it and they like the ads (subconsciously or otherwise). Or if a golfer tries a new ball variety in the Saturday comp, and they win, you’ve got to be looking at a long term love affair right there! Then for others it’s all about price.
The FORTE Story
As we said, FORTE is a new Aussie company trying to make its mark. So that’s got to be a bit of a plus in a market dominated by the big multinationals.
To quote from their website:
“Before creating FORTÈ, we were a group of golfers with a tremendous amount of love for the sport who have been around the golf industry for 25 years now. Since then, our passion for golf rivals those of the pro golfers. As our skills improved, we naturally learned which clubs to use—and which to keep in our bags. However, choosing the right ball was still a huge mystery.”
So there was lots of research, testing, player stats, consultations and refinements.
What they have come up with – currently – is four ball selections aimed broadly at different types of golfers, and at what appears to be a very reasonable pricing level.
Buying FORTE golf balls
We should point out here that FORTE balls are only currently available in their own online shop (apart from one shop in Queensland), a situation the company says cuts out lots of middlemen.
Apart from trial packs, the balls are only available as a dozen or more. Buy two dozen and discounts kick in, buy four dozen and there is a 12 percent discount and free shipping.
The FORTE range
- FORTE6 – For advanced players. “Ideal for players who demands the best or nothing. Underneath the cast urethane cover is the world’s first 6 piece golf ball! It guarantees to outperform the competition in all aspect.” $76.99 for 1 dozen
- FORTE Tour Performance – Advanced players. “Ideal for players with who demands premium urethane covers ball at all skill levels. Increased short game spin control without sacrificing tee shot distance.” $48.99 for 1 dozen
- FORTE SS3 Speed – All levels of golfers. “Ideal for players who emphasis on improved accuracy with 80mph+ swing speed. A slighter larger core that reduces excess spin off the tee and will deliver greater kinetic energy.” $30.99 for 1 dozen
- FORTE SS2 Soft – All levels of golfers. Designed to suit the widest range of player’s swing speeds, from 70mph to north of 110mph. Reduced backspin off the tee and great stopping power from its higher trajectory design. $24.99 for 1 dozen
FORTE sent us two versions of their balls to try, the “All levels of golfers” SS2 Soft and the more expensive Tour Performance aimed at more advanced players.
The balls arrived literally as we were getting in the car to drive to Queensland for an extended visit, so unfortunately we didn’t have the benefit of trying them on our home track.
That honour fell initially to the beguiling Tally Valley course on the Gold Coast.
We chose to try the SS2 Soft balls first, and I realise – especially after writing all that guff earlier in this story about “feelings” – that I am automatically drawn to balls with “Soft” in the title (it definitely has to be written on the box somewhere). Probably also very factual that I like the feel of “soft” golf balls off the face of clubs/putters.
I like the look of the FORTE balls, bright white, biggish dimples, and the SS2 has a putting alignment friendly stripe on the side.
Playing a new course, especially one rock hard after apparently several weeks without a drop of rain, I was certainly getting plenty of distance on the long shots, and actually had to scale back at least two clubs on approaches. A lot of that obviously had to do with the conditions.
It was also tough to judge on the unfamiliar greens, which were also very hard and fast, but the SS2 did feel very soft and responsive.
As it turned out I played a number of rounds on the same course and as both the course and the FORTE balls became more familiar to me I must say they did grow on me.
The balls were obviously very fond of me as well, as despite the numerous opportunities the course offered them to escape (bounded by a creek and a number of other water features) they steadfastly refused to part with my company. So I was able to attest that even in some quite abrasive circumstances in places, they demonstrated their durability and wore quite well.
Overall, and for the average “day-to-day player” as previously stated, I think the company has done a great job with the FORTE SS2 Soft balls.
They look good, perform well, and you can get them for a very good price.
The FORTE website is very user friendly, there is a simple ball selector feature that advises you of a recommended ball for your playing ability, you can get a small trial pack, or even snap a freebie sample.
Ongoing, if you decide on the SS2 Soft balls, you could get four dozen, with free shipping, for less than 90 bucks. Not a bad deal.
And I should add that a couple of times at Tally Valley when my playing partners and I were looking for my balls after a drive (because they were tremendously long and had run through the fairway into the rough, not because I ever hit a wayward shot) I was asked: “What are you playing?”
I was taken aback for a moment because I thought I was going to have to explain the whole “FORTE” thing. I thought it is much easier for some people because they can just say “I’m a ‘big X brand’ kind of guy, so I only play ‘big X brand’”.
Instead, I just said: “FORTE.”
There wasn’t one query.
I did try the try a FORTE Tour Performance ball briefly but thought it a better idea to save them for next week (as I write) when I’ll be playing in the veteran golfers national championship on some of the Gold Coast’s top courses (Royal Pines, The Glades etc) – a great opportunity to give them a good workout and no doubt there will be lots of “Tour Performance”-worthy action happening on my part to report upon. We’ll do a separate review for the Tour Performance balls later.
Katy Perry Discusses FORTE Golf Balls: Video