The Prestige Tour is unlike any Prestige you’ve ever played with. With a more manageable weight, and powerful response from the string bed, players that have found the Prestige line too demanding in the past, will find the bar lowered. And, the 99 square-inch head size provides something that the Prestige line is generally not known for—forgiveness. It’s the easiest Prestige to play with in the history of the line.
At first, the thought of an 18 main string pattern disappointed, especially since Head was dropping the Prestige S from this season’s lineup (the S sported an 16x19 pattern, but in a smaller head size). However, on closer inspection, the spacing of the strings are more open than anticipated. When I overlaid a Graphene XT Prestige S above the new Tour, the string spacing in the middle of the string bed is almost identical. The spacing on the Tour is indeed tighter towards the perimeter of the frame, but this works to keep the overall spacing consistent within the larger head. As such, on court, the Tour outperformed expectations when it came to both spin production and power.
In terms of taming the power of the frame, 18 main strings was, ultimately, the right choice. My colleagues and I (all former college players) found the new Tour to provide plenty of power, even with a full poly setup. While we had no trouble controlling points, even at lower swing speeds, we all felt that the ball would fly a bit at times, forcing us to either dial back our swing speeds or increase topspin. While this might be slightly disadvantageous for us (three mid-30’s teaching pros), it might be just what the doctor ordered for players that would like just a little more help in the power department. I imagine technically sound players, on either side of their peak physical years, could benefit from the easy power of the Prestige Tour.
Where the frame falls short, for me, is in the feel department. Having played more than 30 years, I’ve had the pleasure of using, and growing accustomed to, some great feeling racquets (some of which were from previous Prestige lineups). For us “purists” (a much nicer descriptor than “snobs”), the Tour feels more like a “modern frame” (which basically equates to stiff/light/hollow). Still, while it’s certainly not the plushest of racquets, the more classic design elements (specifically, the thin, flat beam), allow it to perform more like a player’s frame than a ‘tweener.
At the end of the day, the Prestige Tour has no glaring weaknesses, and I was able to use my full complement of shots effectively with it. While I would tweak the setup for my own preferences (probably a little lead tape to increase the stability and plow through, and a different string/tension choice to better suit my playing style and arm), I think the new frame is a smart addition to the franchise. Former Prestige players who need a more forgiving option might be willing to sacrifice slightly when it comes to feel; developing junior players will appreciate the heightened control over other current racquets without having to move to the demands of a 95 square-inch head.
Which is something that would be difficult to be say of any past Prestige frame.