Wilson Duo Podcast with Frank Simonutti


The Global Director of Golf Ball Innovation for Wilson Golf, Mr. Frank Simonutti, joins us for episode #253 of the Worldwide Golf Shops Insider Podcast to talk about the all-new Wilson Duo Spin line of golf balls.

In this episode, we discuss the history of the Duo golf ball, the technology that has evolved over the years, what people can expect out of the various models of Duo golf balls, the new color patterns that the Duo now comes in and much more.

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Tom Brassell: Welcome to the Worldwide Golf Shops Insider Podcast, Episode 253. Hello everyone, Tom Brassell here. You’re at the right place. New name but the same great podcast, same great guests, and everything you expect here at Worldwide Golf Shops. The calendar may say autumn, but there’s a lot of cool things happening out in the golf world. No exception with our friends up in Chicago at Wilson Staff. Some great new things happening and here to join us and tell us all about them is our good friend, the Global Director of Golf Ball Innovation, Mr. Frank Simonutti. Frank, thanks so much for joining us, great to have you with us.

Frank Simonutti: Yeah. No, thanks for talking to me, appreciate it.

Tom Brassell: Frank, for those who may not know a little bit about the history of the Wilson Duo ball, I think it’s very fascinating. Can you spend just a couple minutes and take us back in time and how this whole thing started?

Frank Simonutti: Sure. I mean, Wilson, we’ve been looking at going softer for, well, since the late 1990s with Duo, Duo Soft Spin. At that time, all balls were about 100 compression when they were surlyn covered. We got down to about 80. Over the years we kept making little steps forward.

When we came to Duo, the idea was to make a ball as soft as we possibly could, at the time. Which, in fall of 2011, we introduced it at a 40 compression, which was, at that time, the softest ball in the world. Duo went for a couple of years at 40 compression. The next generation we were able to bring down to 29 and still maintain the performance.

Next month we’ll have the new Duo Soft on the shelves, which is 29 still. We managed to maintain the compression, but improve the performance.

Tom Brassell: I remember back in 2011 when you were talking about it. I played that ball and was, after talking to a PGA professional, I saw him on the course and he had that ball. He’s a PGA club professional. He had that ball and he goes, “This reminds me of an old balata ball. The benefits, the feel of the balata ball, but with the technology of today’s ball.” I was like, “I love this ball.” I said, “I don’t know if I’ll play anything else.” That was until the compression went down even further, and then the urethane ball came out, correct?

Frank Simonutti: Yeah. We were able to bring a urethane ball to market, the Duo Urethane, a couple of years ago, at a 55 compression. The theory on the three-piece ball is exactly what you talk about on the old wound balls. You talked about the old wound balata. The idea, or really, the thought process behind the development was to make the same ball, just replacing the windings. It’s still a really, really soft core to keep your spin rate down, just like the liquid center balls on the old balata balls were to keep the spin rate down.

You get a lot of your speed out of the solid thermoplastic material, just like you did out of windings. It’s just, at the time windings were done, the plastics weren’t available that gave the velocity. Those materials weren’t developed by DuPont until the early 2000s. Then you put the cover on for whatever performance you want to see.

With the urethane ball, we put the thin urethane cover on it, to give you the spin you expect out of urethane, which is the tour level spin. The best control and most of the difference is from about 80 yards in.

Tom Brassell: Well, talk a little bit about the Duo Soft line that’s coming out in November and what you’ve done there. I think first thing you’ve done is increased the core size by 3%, which is going to increase ball speed, correct?

Frank Simonutti: Yes. The more core material we can get into the ball, the faster that we can get the velocity. The trick on getting a larger core is always in the process because, if you think about it, the cover now, based on our core size of about 1.595 inches, you have about 40 to 45 thousandths of an inch to work with, as far as your cover thickness.

The difficulty is actually molding that material around the ball, both from a cosmetic point of view to get it to flow and completely cover the ball with no voids or defects, and the second is, being able to get it around a very soft core, because if your pressure is too high as you inject the plastic into the cavity, you deform the core and you end up with more of an egg-shaped ball.

But what we’ve been able to do, the larger core, you’re able to make it a little harder since the core is softer than the cover material, in general. So we can bring the core compression up, pick up some velocity, maintain the ball compression because now the core is a greater all percentage of the volume of the core. Then, on top of that, we’ve adjusted the cover blend slightly and we’ve also made a change to our dimple pattern, in that, we’re making our dimple patterns with a new process. What we’ve done is we’ve shallowed up the dimples about 5%, roughly three tenths of an inch. Which, even though it doesn’t sound like much, it increases the trajectory and gives us longer carry distance.

Tom Brassell: Yeah. The press release you had said you reduced the dimple depth, I believe, 5.7%. Because that’s what everybody’s looking for is the big ball off the tee without that spin to have it ballooning off the tee, correct?

Frank Simonutti: Right. The Duo, generally, doesn’t balloon. It doesn’t have enough spin rate to balloon. It is the lowest spin golf ball out there, which means it’s going to fly the straightest to reduce hooks and slices, so you’re on more fairways. And most players need to be on the fairway. I can’t think of anybody who doesn’t.

Tom Brassell: The softest ball in the market. The longest ball and also the straightest ball, also comes, now, in a variety of colors, matte finishes. Can you talk a little bit to that Frank?

Frank Simonutti: Sure. The matte finish, it gives a different appearance to the outside of the ball. It’s a nice look. The matte finish, itself, really doesn’t do much to the color of the ball … I’m sorry, it doesn’t do anything to the performance. But, I guess, what I’m trying to say is, as far as color, the Duo, Duo Soft, and the Duo Soft Women’s, now, they’re the same concentrate, the same color. The difference in the appearance is strictly from using the matte paint.

We have a really nice looking white ball in the women’s package. Then we’ve gone with five other colors, which you pretty much can see forever. I mean, the orange, yellow, pink, green, and red and just the visibility of them, we’ve made these balls with as much optical brighteners we can get in them, so the appearance in sunlight actually is better than the appearance in a shop. They just really look terrific on the course.

Tom Brassell: Frank share with us a little bit about where this ball fits in with the other balls available from Wilson Staff.

Frank Simonutti: Okay. Well, the Wilson Duo golf ball line has always been about having the ideal ball, low compression, for every type of player. Now, the Duo Soft is a straight ball, long, low spin. This is the ball for, in our category, the D or the distance player. This is the ball for most players. It’s straight, enough spin on approach shots as any two-piece ball out there, terrific ball. For a guy who’s a better player, tenish handicap, somewhere around there. A guy who wants to, who’s accurate is such that he’s aiming for the pin, as opposed to the green.

The Duo Soft Spin, which is a new ball this year, is a three-piece ball, which gives you the softest compression, the best feel of any three-piece ball on the market. It gives you straight flight off the tee. It gives you long distance off the tee, as long as any three-piece surlyn ball out there. What it does is it gives you 13% higher spin rate on low iron shots, or approach shots … I’m sorry, short iron shots and approach shots then the Duo ball. We do this by making a very soft small core similar to what we discussed about the old wound balls.

Because it’s so small, when you hit the ball with a high impact speed, the ball deforms and the core is in play and is a major contributing factor to the spin rate off the tee, and fairway, and long iron shots. As your clubhead speed slows down, the outer two layers take over, so your spin rate, with relation to say the Duo ball, picks up, so you get both … The third piece allows you to get both the straight flight off the tee, or relatively low spin, and a high spin rate on approach shots. That is for the C or the crossover player.

Then for the D player, we have the Duo Urethane, which is staying in our line. Again, low compression for the best player. This is the ball that the guy could work … Your better players, or your pros, can work the ball off the tee left to right, fade or draw, and has the best control around the greens.

What we try to do is have low compression, or soft feel, for every category of player.

Tom Brassell: Yeah. It’s like we said, it’s the Duo Soft 29 compression is the softest ball out there, the longest ball because of the low spin rate, the straightest ball. All this performance for what you’d expect to pay, probably what, 39.99? No. 29? No. Frank, give us the price.

Frank Simonutti: 19.99. 19.99 a dozen for this.

Tom Brassell: And if you haven’t ever played a Duo ball, you need to try it because it really is something else. I mean, Frank, I’m going to let you toot the horn as we close. To me, like I said, it’s probably the only ball you should ever play. You can compress it. Final words from you, and our friends at Wilson Golf, on this new fantastic ball.

Frank Simonutti: I’d say, the Duo Soft is a great ball. Again, it’s longer, softer, straighter, hitting in the fairway, most players, actually all players, benefit from being in the fairway, has reasonable spin around the green. It’s the best ball for most players.

Tom Brassell: That’s awesome. Frank, thanks so much for carving out the time. I know you’re busy this time of year, we really appreciate it.

Frank Simonutti: Okay, Tom. Thank you very much.

Tom Brassell: It’s the all-new line of Wilson Duo Soft matte golf balls in six new colors. The softest, longest, straightest ball out there and still at that low price 19.99. Available at a Worldwide Golf Shops location near you, or WorldwideGolfShops.com.

You want to get social, follow Frank Simonutti, #LetsBeFrank. He has a lot of episodes out there on YouTube that Wilson Staff puts out there. Follow him on Let’s Be Frank. Well, special thanks to Frank for joining us today and to you, our listeners. We’ll do it again next time. We have another episode of Worldwide Golf Shops Insider Podcast at WorldwideGolfShops.com. So long everyone.