‘It was a no-brainer’: Inside a Tour pro’s surprising gear deal

ben griffin holds his maxfli tour x golf ball at the cj cup byron nelson

Griffin shows off the Maxfli Tour X golf ball he'll be playing at the CJ Cup Byron Nelson.

Jonathan Wall/GOLF

McKINNEY, Texas — Several weeks ago, Ben Griffin did something that raised some eyebrows. Before a PGA Tour round commences, players arrive on the first tee and show their playing partners the golf ball they plan to use — markings and all. It’s an easy way to ensure the pellets don’t get mixed up on the course.

Most pros flash the ball and go about their business, but on this particular day at the Houston Open, Griffin flashed his ball and waited for a response. It’s the same one he’s received in subsequent rounds since he chose to employ Maxfli’s Tour X in competition.

“The reaction is usually the same,” Griffin told GOLF.com. “Their face lights up and they look at me and say, “Are you serious?” It’s a brand they likely haven’t seen in 15 or 20 years, so that’s been cool. It’s definitely sparked some curiosity out here.”

On a Tour where equipment blue bloods dominate the headlines, Griffin is embracing a more contrarian route by agreeing to play Maxfli’s flagship Tour ball for the remainder of the PGA Tour season following extensive testing. As part of the agreement, Griffin will join Lexi Thompson as the latest pro to endorse Maxfli golf balls.

“Lexi drew my interest to the ball initially,” Griffin said. “I saw she was playing it and my caddie, [Alex Ritthamel], who used to caddie for Lexi’s brother Curtis, thought I should at least test out the Maxfli to see how it performed. A few months passed and I finally got my hands on some. I did some preliminary testing but wasn’t planning on doing much with the ball.”

That was until he saw the increase in ball speed and distance.

“It was roughly 8 yards additional during preliminary testing,” Griffin said. “Around the green, I didn’t see a ton of differences across balls. That’s when the distance side really started to intrigue me. There are certain weeks out here when distance has kind of turned into a priority.”

According to Griffin, he saw the benefits extra distance can provide during a practice round this week at the CJ Cup Byron Nelson when he easily cleared a bunker sitting 300 yards away by 10-plus yards.

ben griffin maxfli tour x golf ball
Griffin shows off the sidestamp on his Maxfli ball. Jonathan Wall/GOLF

“That was a pleasant surprise,” he said. “You see things like that and wonder why you didn’t switch sooner. Because of the positive results, it was a no-brainer for me. I definitely think it’s going to help me.”

While Griffin’s ball deal with Maxfli is being announced this week, he confirmed on-course testing has been going on for a few months and included competitive rounds in Houston and the Dominican Republic where he was able to see firsthand how well Tour X performed in the wind.

“Houston was a good test,” said Griffin. “Then I put it in play on probably the windiest weeks of the year, in the Dominican, and it performed exceptionally well in the conditions. I finished T14 that week. The ball wasn’t holding me back by any means. It was one of those situations where I felt like I could’ve been in contention if I had made more putts. Once I realized the ball was performing well on Tour, I figured I better look at it a bit more. Over the last few weeks, we’ve been in touch with Maxfli to see some potential opportunities.”

Lexi Thompson of the United States walks onto the first green during the final round of the LPGA Drive On Championship at Bradenton Country Club
‘We were all in shock’: Inside Lexi Thompson’s new endorsement deal
By: Alan Bastable

The conversations eventually led to a deal that subsequently expanded Maxfli’s Tour footprint. Before Thompson and Griffin put the Tour ball in play, Maxfli was merely known as a Dick’s Sporting Goods brand. It’s a far cry from the years when Maxfli was a major player on Tour and boasted a roster that once included the likes of Jack Nicklaus, Greg Norman and Fred Couples.

With pros beginning to embrace Maxfli again, Griffin said it’s time for weekend golfers to reassess the brand’s position as a big box offering.

“I’ve done enough testing to where I feel very confident in the ball’s performance on Tour,” he said. “If you look at the price point compared to other balls in a store, it’s significantly less. But in my opinion, it has the feel of an elite ball — and the distance to prove it. There’s the stability in the wind, too. Hopefully playing in the wind later this summer in Scotland, along with the British Open, I need to make sure I’m using a ball that’s good in those conditions.”

It’s easy to look at Griffin’s latest deal and wonder if endorsement dollars drove his decision to sign with Maxfli. What ultimately swayed him to change balls midseason was the opportunity to try something different that wasn’t available on Tour and get Maxfli back on the Tour map.

“It’s one of the only products you’re using on every single shot, and I know a lot of guys are hesitant to change for that reason,” he said. “I’ve been excited this year to be a free agent and test some more products out, at least the last month or so. The [Maxfli] ball is the one that piqued my interest the most. Maybe part of the reason is because it doesn’t have a presence [on Tour]. It’s an opportunity to showcase how good it is. I’ve done enough testing with it to feel like I’m confident with it out here.

“It has a lot of potential. This could be the start where we see a few more guys test it. Maybe not this year, but in the years to come. It’s fun to try something out here that no one else is. Some might say it’s a risk. But to me, it’s very calculated. I’ve seen the numbers to prove it.”

Griffin is hoping his calculated switch pays off — starting this week in Texas.

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Jonathan Wall

Golf.com Editor

Jonathan Wall is GOLF Magazine and GOLF.com’s Managing Editor for Equipment. Prior to joining the staff at the end of 2018, he spent 6 years covering equipment for the PGA Tour. He can be reached at jonathan.wall@golf.com.

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