Lexi Thompson is one of the most compelling figures in golf. A 13-year veteran of the LPGA Tour, Thompson has won 11 LPGA Tour titles including the 2014 Kraft Nabisco Championship and 2018 CME Group Tour Championship. Starting in 2024, Thompson has signed an exclusive arrangement with Maxfli to play its ball, a move sure to raise some eyebrows as the 28-year-old LPGA star can clearly play any ball she chooses. In this exclusive interview with Golf Digest equipment editor, E. Michael Johnson, Thompson discusses her reasons for the switch, her process for testing and the biggest mistakes amateurs make when it comes to their golf ball selection.
Golf Digest: This is a really big switch, and obviously you could play any golf ball that you want. How long have you been testing the Maxfli ball?
Lexi Thompson: I’ve been practising and testing with it for the past few months. I was just looking for a change in my game, and I’ve always known about Maxfli and the quality of product they make and the performance behind it.
GD: What was the primary impetus for making the change?
LT: I was like, You know what, I’ll give it a try. And it just exceeded my expectations. I’ve seen my game around the greens improve and definitely some extra distance off the tee. I’ll take both those things.
GD: What’s your process for testing golf balls? Do you rely on launch-monitor data or is it more what you see and feel on the course?
LT: Definitely a combination of both. I’ve gotten on the launch monitor just to see the spin numbers. I saw improvement there as I’ve dropped down in spin, but it’s gained me a little extra ball speed. That’s a pretty good combo and that’s really what I was looking for. As far as ball testing, I usually love to test in 30 mile-per-hour winds, which you can get in Florida and elsewhere on tour. It’s important for me to see how the ball reacts, especially in the wind if it’s going to move as much as I feel that it should when hitting a solid shot. And the Maxfli ball reacts the way I expect a shot to. That’s big. Once I see that, then there’s the feel around the greens. It reacts and feels just how I expect it would when hitting a pure chip.
GD: I’ve written a couple of pieces with Tiger Woods about his equipment and on golf balls, he’s always told me his final sanity check is the trajectory on chip shots, which I find remarkable. Do you have kind of a final sanity check before you say, “I’m good to go with this”?
LT: The chip shot is a big thing because you want it coming out in the window that you feel that you’re hitting the chip on. You want it to react on the green the way you expect it to when hitting a nip chip. But I would have to say how it reacts in the wind, that’s definitely the most important aspect of a ball for me.
GD: Maxfli has multiple models in its Tour series, with the Tour, Tour S and Tour X. Did you test all the models and if so, what were some of the noticeable differences you saw?
LT: I tested the Tour and the Tour S. I didn’t see too much of a difference. A little difference in spin and the Tour S came off a touch higher around the greens, so I settled on the Tour model. They were both very good, but the Tour lessened my spin off the tee and gave me a few extra yards.
GD: Are you a player who likes to know all about the technology of a product or do you simply focus more on how it performs?
LT: Honestly, I can’t say I get too involved with that. Of course, I like to know the performance behind the golf ball and just how it’s very trusted with the technology that’s involved with it. It’s always nice to have that in the back of my mind. So while I’m not super into all the technology behind it, it’s very important to have that trust.
GD: Have you made any equipment changes during this period?
LT: I haven’t as of now, but I am in the transition of changing into the Cobra Darkspeed driver. It’s super important to test if you change to a new driver, especially change to a new driver and new ball. The driver might have a little less spin off the face, and I need to see if that matches up with the new ball, too. So, I did test that as well and it was still good off the new driver.
GD: You say you’ve gained a few extra yards. Have you had to recalibrate any of your distances or make any other adjustment?
LT: The yards off the tee you just take, but I also have to be aware I’m one or two yards longer with the irons as well. It’s also a little bit of a lower ball flight, which I really like. It not only behaves better in the win but comes out in a better window for me.
GD: You play in a lot of pro-ams. What’s one of the biggest mistakes you see everyday players make with their golf ball choice?
LT: It depends on the player. A pretty decent golfer, I feel like some of them don’t get the spin numbers matched up with their swing speeds and launch conditions, which is super-important. I feel like a lot of people don’t take that into account and they should. You might feel like you hit a good shot and it doesn’t go the distance that you think it should or it moves a lot in the wind and that could just be a matter of a too high spinning golf ball. People don’t realise how important the golf ball is in golf.