As I head deeper into my very unscientific testing to find the best golf ball I find myself starting to type phrases like “illegal golf ball” or “non conforming golf ball” into Google.
It’s not that I am getting bored with legal and conforming golf balls it’s that I need to broaden my horizons. All of these golf ball manufacturers are nibbling at the edges of the rules and traditions of golf.
And maybe all of these rules and traditions are whats taking “the fun” out of golf. This game is hard enough and Heaven forbid some schlubs actually have fun once in a while.
So when I found Bandit Golf in my searches for illegal golf balls I was interested in what they were selling. They respect the rules and traditions set forth by the R&A and USGA by admitting their golf balls will not show up on the conforming product list.
But that’s not what their about. Their about making golf fun. And their slogan “Serious Equipment for the Not So Serious Golfer” backs that up.
Bandit makes two golf balls. The SB and MD. Neither of which were apart of a sample pack. The only way to buy them was a dozen at a time which I did not want to do. I kind of have a lot of golf balls piling up in the house right now.
So I contacted Bandit and asked if they would send me two sleeves of each. Didn’t have to be pretty.
Just hit me up with a price including shipping and we will go from there.
An email was promptly responded to by the President of Bandit Golf himself (Jeff Bennett) saying that even though they don’t have a sample pack he would fulfill my request. We agreed on a price and an invoice was paid by me on PayPal. Who knows, maybe you will see a Bandit golf ball sample pack on their website soon. Two days later they were at my house.
From this point on I will write reviews of each golf ball separately. And just like I do with all of my reviews I play one round at Rackham Golf Course near my house in Huntington Woods, MI from the White Tees.
Bandit SB Golf Ball Review
Rackham Golf Course. 6-21-18. White Tees. 80 Degrees. Sunny. Breezy.
You know what the SB stands for? No? Well let me tell you.
SB stands for Small Ball.
Now you know.
Did you know that the USGA has a rule that says golf balls must have a diameter of not less than 1.680 inches? A ball can be as large as you want but good luck fitting a beach ball in the cup. The Bandit SB has a 1.65″ diameter.
I spent half an hour searching for diameter sizes of conforming golf balls like the ProV1 but all I could find was the size of the inner core and maybe one layer. Using Titleist’ist’s numbers of a 1.530″ single solid core and the Casing Layer of .045″ inches gives me 1.575″. Which would make the ProV1 illegal which we know it’s not. There is a layer or two they are not telling us about.
So lets say most legal golf balls are around 1.70″ to 1.75″ in diameter. Using the Bandit SB’s 1.65 and dividing by 1.70 we get .97. Or a golf ball 3% smaller in size. Using 1.75 we get .94. A golf ball 6% smaller.
As the Hamster spins the wheel which powers my brain my thinking says the Bandit SB deals with at least 3% less resistance when flying through the air. For every 100 yards the Bandit SB flies it has an opportunity to go 3 yards farther than a conforming ball. At 200 yards that could be an extra 6 yards. Using the 1.75 ball you could get an extra 6 to 12 yards from 100 to 200 yards. That’s huge.
I’m probably wrong but that thinking makes sense to me. And it’s what Bandit says in their description of the SB.
In the end there were only two real scientific tests I was willing and qualified to attempt. The “Hold In Hand” and “You Can See” tests.
It’s noticeable how much smaller the Bandit SB is versus a ProV1 when holding one of each in your hands. And to prove it even more I channeled my inner genius and cut this backdrop out of an Amazon box we had lying around to show how much smaller the SB is when sitting in-between two ProV1’s.
Have you had enough “small” talk? Are you ready for me to get on with it?
Ok, let’s do that.
Sending Driver – My very first shot of the day was with Driver. And as I made my way through impact it felt like I was missing something. But as I turned through the swing I saw the Bandit SB heading straight down the fairway with what appeared to be a bit of a floating flight path.
Everything felt different with that drive. And what was missing was the rest of the golf ball I’m used to feeling at impact. It brought a slight smile to my face. What also brought a smile to my face was seeing the SB in the fairway at what is the peak of my distance with regular golf balls.
What ended up happening for the rest of the day was one of the more interesting days of driving a golf ball I’ve ever had.
Popped up my drive on #2 to about 180 yards. Hooked my drives on #3 and #4. Both of which went fairly far. After those drives I figured out I didn’t need to set up for as much as a draw as I try to hit with conforming golf balls.
Again, getting the Hamster on the wheel it is my scientific thought that with the Bandit SB being smaller it is able to create more spin with an equal amount of force compared to a conforming golf ball.
From hole #6 on I made a subtle correction and pretty much hit the Hell out of the SB.
Out of the next 10 holes I could hit Driver on I put 6 in the fairway. And if it wasn’t in the fairway I was just off.
Another subtle change I made was teeing the SB a little lower than normal so I’d hit the sweet spot and reduce pop ups. That makes sense, right? It made sense to me.
I am pretty sure I had one of my longest drives ever on #10. It’s a very long 442 yard Par 4 where I am typically left with 3 or 5 wood into the green. This may have only been a 237 yard drive but I cannot remember ever being able to see the 200 yard fairway marker from where my drive came to rest. I hit 3 iron from here for the first time ever.
And I definitely hit my longest drive ever on #17. There is maybe 40 yards left to the green on this 300 yard long Par 4. That’s a big poke for your boy. I’ve had some pretty good drives with the TaylorMade TP5X and Titleist AVX on this hole but I feel this drive with the Bandit SB went just a little bit further.
The Bandit SB seemed to stay in the air for a half a second to a second more than my regular drives. Which resulted in more carry and more distance. Both of which me likey long time.
Fairway Woods & Hybrids – With me getting more distance on average with my drives it meant less 3 and 5 woods. I hit a lot of these at Rackham. Definitely on the Par 5’s and a number of my approach shots on Par 4’s on the back nine.
Again, distance was noticeably further. All because of that slight half a second to second carry that it appeared to have in the air.
I didn’t have any notable shots to talk about and nor did I have any GIR with one which I’m usually good for. Today it was all about advancing the Bandit SB down the fairway. It was refreshing in a way.
Irons – Hitting the Bandit SB with irons might have been one of the best ball whacking experiences of my golfing career. There is no other golf ball I have played which can replicate what the SB can do.
As I placed an iron behind the ball it gave me a little bit of extra confidence. The ball looks like it fits on the face of the club. And as you make contact it felt like the club explodes through the ball. Again, because there’s less of it to hit.
There are two characteristics of the Bandit SB which stuck out to me besides the distance. And those are height and spin.
Nearly 100% of every iron shot I hit resulted in the SB being at the top or above the window I’m used to seeing the ball in with each club. It was impressive.
But the spin was intense. Twice I put back spin on the ball. That rarely happens. Here it happened with a 9 iron.
And I took a chunk out of the Par 3 5th green with an 8 iron. The SB chewed a piece of the green up and spit it out four feet from the divot. Angry little golf ball you are.
On the Par 4 6th I sent a Pitching Wedge into the green from 95 yards out and it hit, jumped to the right 9 inches, and stopped.
And I basically hurt the 10th green with a 3 iron from 205 yards out.
I only had 6 Greens In Regulation which is about average. But man, hitting the SB with irons felt great. Ball flight, trajectory, and distance all had results I try to achieve with conforming golf balls.
Wedges – One of my biggest problems chipping has always been leaving them short. And that did not happen today. The Bandit SB felt a little “hoppier” leaving the club face and rolled out more.
Oddly I did not get any of them to check up which might be expected as most of my chip shots were 5 yards off the green.
As I stated above with irons the Bandit SB performed exceptionally when taking full swings with my Pitching Wedge.
Got up and down for Par once due to chipping. I did however chip one in to save double bogey on the Par 4 4th from 50 feet away.
I’m a little embarrassed to admit that happened as it started with my drive going through the fairway and under a tree. And then I did not “take my medicine” to punch it out resulting in me flubbing it under another tree. And I decided against the medicine again hitting said tree again. After that I was left with hitting the Bandit SB off a gravel road the grounds crew uses with my 4 hybrid. Which I did.
Putting – I’m going to make a bold statement here and say the Bandit SB is the best golf ball I’ve ever putted with.
Zero 3 putts. Four 1 putts. And 30 total putts for an 18 hole round of golf represents one of my best rounds of putting ever.
Can you guess why? That’s right. The Bandit SB is a smaller golf ball so it made the hole bigger.
You know when you hit a putt and its 5 feet from the hole and you can already tell its going to miss. Not so with the SB. It has a chance right up to the moment it does not.
I must have had 4 putts fall in that would have lipped out with a conforming golf ball. For the first time ever the cup looked like a peach basket as the SB made its way toward the hole.
The greens at Rackham have had a tough Spring and I putted over quite a few diseased areas which made it bumpy causing a couple putts to go offline. Who knows, maybe if the greens were in regular conditions I make those and have 28 total putts.
The Bandit SB didn’t have the softness of a ProV1 but didn’t feel like a rock coming off the putter…even though it is.
And just like the other clubs I noticed the SB to travel a little further with the same amount of force. Sounds weird to say that but if I left a putt short it was a foot or less. Everything got to the hole.
Durability – There are a couple blemishes on the SB. Which is entirely predictable since I hit the same tree twice and hit it off a gravel path. But I could definitely get a few more rounds out of it.
Score – 82. GIR – 6. Putts – 30. Fairways – 7.
Many things are going through my mind when trying to summarize the Bandit SB as there is no golf ball like it.
Fun pops into my mind because it was. Hit some of the farthest drives I’ve ever hit at Rackham. And seeing how high the ball would get. And the spin. It looked like I knew what I was doing.
Besides the fun factor my overall lasting impression of the Bandit SB is I felt it helped level the playing field against the game of golf.
Golf is a hard ass game. Even for those who are good at it.
I shot an 82 with the Bandit SB. Disregarding the chip in double bogey hole I probably would have shot an 86 with a conforming golf ball.
But those 4 putts that would have lipped out instead fell in. And being able to take a club or two less approach shot into the greens after an above average drive made a big difference on the small greens at Rackham Golf Course.
It’s the sort of ball I see myself playing in “non-conforming” golf outings. Or with friends. Or just about anywhere.
Jeff and his team at Bandit Golf are onto something with their small ball technology. I think they just made golf fun.
Bandit MD Golf Ball Review
Rackham Golf Course. 6-28-18. White Tees. Sunny. 93 Degrees. No Wind.
After a very exciting round with the SB it was time for the MD. And you can probably guess what MD stands for. That’s right, Maximum Distance.
The MD is the golf ball that put Bandit on the map a decade ago. They currently claim 5 Guinness World Records in Distance and Velocity. I doubt I’ll set any World Records myself but I sure as Hell am gonna try.
Bandit says what makes the MD unique is its “Super Reactive Core” and “Revolutionary Aerodynamic Dimple Design” coupled with an “Optimum Gram Weight”. Those are the highlights of the MD’s design. Stashed in its description are fun words like polybutadiene and icosahedral. Both of which I Googled. And both of which I will probably never Google again.
I have played a lot of distance golf balls recently so the hype is fresh. Let’s see what the MD can do.
Sending Driver – Only hit 3 fairways which is below average. Did a bit of Military style driving today. Left, right, left, right. You get the picture.
There might be something to Bandit’s claim that the MD hanging in the air a little longer and descending at a shallower angle. It appeared to do just that.
Now about the distance. This one is tough because I only found the fairway three times. Its my opinion the MD does not go as far as the SB. And I did not have any drives where the MD ended up in a spot I haven’t hit before with a conforming golf ball.
Thoughts of the Pinnacle Gold Long Drive came to mind where I felt I had to have a much faster swing to get it under control. On that day I kept pushing everything.
There was really only one notable drive with the MD and that happened on the Par 4 6th. On this drive I hit a baby draw and I know it went ten yards further then the SB I hit a week prior. It’s a 311 yard long hole and I cannot be anymore than 60 yards out. A 251 yard drive is very good for me. And it was pretty. Even the guy I was golfing with said the same.
Misses were much more “missier” than I’m used to which put me in spots in the rough equal to the limits of my drives that land in the fairway or just off with conforming golf balls.
I believe that translates into the MD having more distance because even though it didn’t end up in the fairway or just off the MD was still getting out there. Even if I did push or hook it.
Playing the round back through my mind the one thing that sticks out on the front nine is I hit Pitching Wedge into the greens where I normally hit 9 Iron.
Fairway Woods & Hybrids – I hit a lot of these today because I couldn’t get the MD in the fairway resulting in longer approaches. But this is where I felt the MD shined.
My third shot of the day (because my tee shot landed behind a tree on #1 forcing me to punch out) was with 5 wood and I scorched that thing. And the sound it made was awesome. So was the feedback.
Distance was angry sorts of distance with the MD and 3 or 5 wood. It was like that for most of the day. Piercing shots with mid ball flight trajectory that rolled out on just about every shot.
Must have hit my second shot on the Par 5 7th 230 yards with a 3 wood. Even though it ended up on the left side of the fairway in the trees it was still only 20 yards to the green. I’ve never been that close to the green after my second shot on this hole. And that’s with my drive ending up on the right rough of this dogleg left 502 yard hole.
Sadly I do have to admit to losing an MD today. My tee shot on the Par 5 14th went left but also went far. It’s not a great place to be because there are 120 foot tall Oak Trees in-between you and the green. There is a lot of hard ground over there so even though my drive might have been the longest of the day I saw it bounce a good 30 yards.
Took out my 5 wood and tried to hit it through a gap between the trees and move it down the fairway. Well, I cleared the trees, the fairway, the fairway bunker, the first 10 yards of tall grass growing in a hazard, and saw it disappear into the 30 foot trees in the middle of the hazard.
My shot did not go as planned but man was it awesome. The MD must have carried 225 yards in the air as those trees are about pin high on the right side of the green.
Irons – Only 4 GIR with the MD and just one came with something more than Pitching Wedge. Just barely put an 8 iron onto the Par 3 8th green from 150 yards.
Due to me not being in the fairway most of the day it forced me to hit 3 and 5 wood a lot. Rackham is a long golf course for us average schlubs and I’m the type who would rather be long with a club I know I don’t have to swing out of my shoes with then over swing with not enough club and duff it.
I was not able to replicate what I did with the SB with the MD. Trajectory and distance were average with the MD compared to conforming balls. And it didn’t have that piercing ball flight I was able to produce with a ball like the ProV1 or AVX. You know what I’m talking about.
Sadly, no pictures of the MD leaving divots on greens with 6 through 8 irons today.
Wedges – Remember that sweet drive I had with the MD on #6 I talked about above? This is where I put my approach shot to with a three-quarter Pitching Wedge from 60 yards. Not bad.
And just like with the SB I chipped in again. This time to save bogey on the Par 4 11th. Funny thing is I duffed my 4th shot 3 inches then promptly hit the next one clean and it went in from 25 feet away.
Putting – I don’t know what it is about Bandit golf balls but I putt very well with them. Had 29 putts which is one better than the SB which I absolutely loved.
Two 3 putts and 7 one putts. We do have to acknowledge I was chipping a lot with me not hitting greens on approach shots which allowed me to get many shots within 15 feet. Saying all that I still had to make putts.
And just like the SB the MD got to the hole. Outside of my first putt of the day from 40 feet away coming up ten feet short everything else got to the hole.
When the MD left the putters face it felt like solid contact every time. It wasn’t soft but it was responsive. Does “distance” carryover to putters also?
Durability – I do have to apologize here as the MD you see below only has four holes of play on it. It of course looks brand new. It’s too bad I lost the first one after that monster of a 5 wood because that ball hit at least 4 Oak Trees and one cart path when the 4 hybrid I hit went right on #11 from 190 yards out. It took one Hell of a bounce and thankfully hit the fence some 20 yards away to stay in play.
Score – 84. GIR – 4. Putts – 29. Fairways – 3. Penalty Strokes – 1.
My round of golf with the Bandit MD was different from the rounds I’ve had with other golf balls I’ve unscientifically tested. I rode a cart and played with somebody I knew. Hence why you see the name Ben up there.
With all my other tests I just go play. This time I put a post up in my fraternities alumni Facebook group saying I was playing the next day and Ben joined. It kind of threw me off my game for a couple of holes because we were talking. Typically I get paired up with someone I don’t know and we chit-chat on the tee box, throw out a few “Nice Shots”, and meet at the green.
And I’m usually the only one walking so I hit, walk to my ball, hit, walk, and there is little talking as they are driving. It keeps me focused. The 6 mile walk is great exercise too.
But it was a good decision to ride today because it was hot as balls and I was wearing brand new Nike Explorer 2 golf shoes. Hot as balls and breaking in new golf shoes could have been disastrous around the 7th hole. Thankfully the shoes were comfortable and not too many other people golfed because of the heat. We didn’t wait to hit until the 17th hole.
Those other details are important because they are details. And my unscientific testing covers all the variables. Because unscience.
Alright then. The Bandit MD was a very good golf ball. The putting surprised me. I just wish I could have been able to control it off the tee better.
An 84 is a very good score considering a penalty shot was on the scorecard because it went too far.
If Bandit comes out with another golf ball I will un-conclude this conclusion and add a review for it here too. Until that time comes I can only talk about the MD and SB. I played the SB first but I’m going to talk about it last.
The MD put Bandit Golf on the map. I’ve played a few gag golf balls and the MD is not one of those. It might come off as one but it is not. This is a ball you can play. I feel like I was able to experience the distance it could possibly get with fairway woods. Just wish I could have been able to control it better off the tee. Putting with the MD was surprising too.
But its the SB that stuck out to me. It was awesome. I cannot compare it to any golf ball I’ve ever played because there is not another small ball out there. At least not new. You can find a few old and beat up British golf balls on eBay but that’s it.
The distance, the spin, the height with irons, and for the first time ever I actually felt like I had a chance to make every putt from within 20 feet. It felt like it leveled the playing field for somebody like me who can break 80 but doesn’t have the skills to be a scratch golfer.
What the SB did was show me what my game could look like with a conforming golf ball if I practiced a whole lot more.
Bandit does not have a golf ball sample pack yet. You could contact them like I did and maybe they will send you a makeshift one like they did for me.
At a minimum I would highly recommend buying the SB. You might actually have fun playing golf for the first time in your life.