By The ClubHouse correspondent Scott Kramer in Carlsbad, California
There are plenty of new-and-improved golf balls on the market this year. I’ve tested many of them and am thrilled with how good they are, with respect to feel, spin and performance.
The very first 2019 ball I tested out – three months ago (mind you) – was a prototype version of Titleist’s new Pro V1. As promised by Titleist, it really was an improvement over the previous version from two years ago, which I’ve played almost exclusively since it debuted.
Both the Pro V1 and its sibling Pro V1x are billed as being faster from core to cover. That is, they’re designed to accelerate from the clubface at impact, with more ball speed and lower long game spin for more distance, while providing the best short game control.
“When we set out to develop the 2019 models, we found that golfers at every level are extraordinarily satisfied with the performance of their Pro V1 or Pro V1x,” says Mike Mahoney, the company’s vice president of ball marketing. “At the same time, golfers keep telling us they would still like more distance – as long as they don’t have to give anything else up.”
That was the motivating factor for the Titleist’s ball team. Through a prototyping process, its chemists and engineers discovered a way to cast an even thinner urethane cover, and thus increase the percentage of speed-enhancing materials in the ball construction. As a result, both models are faster yet maintain the scoring performance and feel characteristics that golfers want.
Offered in white and for the first time in high optic yellow, both models sport a 17 percent thinner cast urethane elastomer cover that increases ball speed but retains its renowned “drop-and-stop” greenside control and soft feel. Underneath the cover, a faster ionomeric casing layer also boosts ball speed and lowers long-ball spin. It’s thicker by 14% on the Pro V1 and 11% on the Pro V1x.
Then there’s also a new core that’s geared to add distance. The outermost portions of the solid core in the Pro V1 and the dual core in the Pro V1x are stiffer, while the centre is soft. It all works together to accomplish Titleist’s desired feat.
The white version is on store shelves now, while the yellow version comes to market in mid-March. However, you will see some Tour professionals playing the yellow version beforehand, to generate product awareness.
Interestingly, coming out with a yellow version was not simply a task of adding colour to the existing paint. “As the demand for yellow Pro V1 and Pro V1x started to grow, our material scientists got to work on what we knew would be a significant research and development undertaking,” says Mahoney.
“The performance and durability characteristics of our cast urethane are the best in the industry. It’s because we formulate and manufacture the cover ourselves that we are able to control the material with such precision and consistency. While it may seem pretty straightforward, recreating those properties in yellow required a new and complex chemistry with considerable iteration until we got it just right.”
So, which is right for you? That depends on what you’re looking for. If you’ve been using – and liking – one model, then stick with the new version of that model. You will likely see improvement. If you’re new to the Titleist family, then know that Pro V1 provides optimal flight and spin for most golfers, flying lower than Pro V1x with a penetrating trajectory and very soft feel. Pro V1x flies higher, spins more on iron shots, and has a slightly firmer feel.
When the balls came out on Tour in November, players found instant success with them. Charles Howell III won the RSM Classic using the Pro V1 for the very first time – his first PGA Tour victory in 11 years.
“The 2019 Pro V1 for me is a home run,” said Howell. “I’m getting all the ball speed I had with the prior generation Pro V1x and more. Plus, the new Pro V1 feels softer to me around the green, which I prefer. I go through a fairly rigorous testing process when it comes to new equipment, but it did not take long for me to put this ball into play – seeing it gives me the best of both worlds.”
By the end of the year, more than 60 professionals had already put these new models in play and with its worldwide release on January 23, more serious golfers will too.
The new Titleist Pro V1 and Pro V1x golf ball will be available at all good golf stores across the country beginning January 30, 2019 from RM228 a dozen.