The pursuit of perfection is admirable but in the world of golf, it’s practically never achievable. Titleist’s aim in producing its Tour-level golf balls is to be all things to all players, regardless of ability. The newest iterations of the Pro V1 and the Pro V1x move closer, company officials say, to giving golfers everything they want.
“Golfer feedback is the center of our process from beginning, middle and end,” says Michael Mahoney, vice president of golf ball marketing at Titleist. “The first thing we do when we launch new balls, we start to gather feedback from golfers from all walks of life. We sit in focus groups that might include Tour players and groups that might include 25-handicappers.”
After a successful 2017 launch of the two balls, the company saw the largest percentage of Tour players playing the Pro V1 and Pro V1x in years. Some weeks, the count was as high as 80 percent. And there was just about an even split between the two balls in Tour usage.
“We had a highly satisfied customer who told us the flight, feel and spin characteristics are great, don’t mess them up,” Mahoney said. “We heard from golfers in terms of improving distance without changing the characteristics that golfers had loved about (the balls). If we could do more of that without changing the identities of the balls, they would love that. They wanted (balls that were) longer and faster without changing the feel, spin and short game characteristics that golfers are looking for.”
When the Pro V1 was introduced in 2000, Billy Andrade won on the PGA Tour in Las Vegas the first week the ball was available to Tour players. The Pro V1x was introduced three years later and the two balls were distinctly different. The Pro V1 was the softer ball that spun more and the Pro V1x was firmer and spun less. Over the years, as the balls have evolved, they have some of the same characteristics, particularly in the short game, but are still distinct, Mahoney says.
“Today, the ProV1 is the lower-spinning, lower-flying, softer feeling of the two and the Pro V1x is the firmer feeling, higher flying, higher spinning through the mid-irons and long game,” Mahoney said. “It wasn’t a big shift; it was something that happened over time.”
Over the years, as the balls have evolved, they have many of the same characteristics, particularly in the short game, but are still distinct, Mahoney says.
“We feel like it’s easier to distinguish between the two,” he said. “There’s a very clear difference and the addition of AVX to the line has helped that even further in the premium performance category.
“We essentially have three golf balls we think will fit any golfer’s preference of flight, feel and spin. ProV1, for the majority of golfers, is the best performing ball, it’s right in the middle. It’s flanked by ProV1x and AVX, the Pro V1x being the higher-flying, firmer feeling, higher spinning; AVX being lower spinning, firmer feel and lower flying.”
The other result that came from the 2017 focus groups was that golfers were ready for a yellow version of the Pro V1 and Pro V1x and that color is available in the 2019 models.
“One of the things we like about developing golf balls, we are making a piece of equipment that is designed to be optimized in every shot a golfer can imagine,” Mahoney said. “We’re trying to deliver a golf ball that can do everything. There’s always room to find places we can improve.”