The Srixon Z-Star 2017 range comprises the usual two models of the standard softer Z-Star version and the firmer Z-Star XV version.
As I found out when I interviewed Srixon's R&D Director Jeff Brunski, both have the same enhancements to the previous 2015 Srixon Z-Star.
Firstly having decreased 20 to 324 last time around, the dimples have recouped some of their number to 338 for the 2017 version. This is to reduce drag and create a little bit extra glide in the second part of the flight to keep the ball in the air a little bit longer.
Secondly there is also a Next Generation Spin Skin, which is Srixon's soft urethane cover that has another thin urethane coating applied to create additional friction and spin.
The durability of the cover was about average for a premium ball, which is good as previous 2015 versions of the Spin Skin were not the most resilient.
Srixon Z-Star 2017 Golf Ball Review
The standard 3-piece Z-Star is the softer version of the two and the 2017 version sees the compression lowered 2 to 88.
This makes it feel a little softer on chips and putts and Srixon say that it should spin a little more around the green, but compared to the previous model I did not notice much difference and it is still middle of the range for this feature.
Heading out with the longer clubs, I tested all the balls out on SkyTrak to see what impact the new designs would have.
With the 6-iron there was very little performance difference between the 2015 and 2017 versions. The numbers show a slight increase in spin with the new version, but the deviation is a little higher so I could have add more spin with a fade.
With the driver again there was not a lot in it with the carry numbers varying principally because of the lower launch angle. That could again be player dependent as otherwise the spin and ball speed were pretty similar.
However the ball speed was up on the 2015 version, so its just a case of harnessing that extra speed. The Srixon Z-Star 2017 is a reasonably high spinning ball and therefore some mid to slow speed swingers may benefit from this more.
Srixon Z-Star XV 2017 Golf Ball Review
The 4-piece Srixon Z-Star 2017 XV is the same 105 compression as before, but within the E.G.G. (Energetic Gradient Growth) core the softer inner core is now larger.
The firmer outer core has been through a temperature process in a vacuum in order to make it firmer than before and it is this ratio of size and firmness between the inner and outer core that Srixon say improves the speed of the ball.
Srixon are quite bullish about the ball speed of the XV and when I compared it to the other leading premium balls in the market it was neck and neck with them for 6-irons and drivers. However whether this makes it as long will depend on the level of spin you create as that will influence the amount of carry.
Compared to the 2015 version, the Z-Star XV 2017 is faster and spins less off the irons. It was therefore going further as a result and the lower spin should help the accuracy a little too.
With the driver there was again not much in it, but it was longer than the standard Z-Star 2017 so the firmer version is going to be slightly longer, as you would expect.
It also spun 150-200 rpm more and flew higher as the dimples did their job, but this did not affect carry distance.
Compared to the Z Star, the cover felt a little bit clickier to chip and putt with, so it will just be personal preference and maybe those with the softer putter inserts would find the XV more to their liking.
Overall the Srixon Z-Star is an improvement on the previous version with the XV delivering better distance performance that is right up there in the market, whilst the softer standard version delivers decent premium performance in a lower compression ball.
Really this is going to come down to whether you prefer the softer feel and sound of the standard Z-Star ball as the spin and performance were pretty similar to the XV. If you already use a soft insert putter then the firmer XV may be the one to go for.
It's around £5 per dozen less than its direct competitors, so if the performance creates some gains for your game then the Srixon Z-Star 2017 could also create some savings.