It has always amused me when I see weekend hacks open a new box of Titleist golf balls, remove one from its sleeve, tee it up and then launch it into the woods. After all, we are talking about a premium golf ball that is engineered for the worldâ€™s best players right? Do they really have any business playing a Titleist? I also get a kick out of the narrow-minded amateur who insists the only ball he or she can play is a Titleist. The reality is these same players couldnâ€™t tell the difference between a ProV1 and a crusty range ball. Maybe itâ€™s just me, a 15-handicap who isnâ€™t even sure if he can tell the difference, but I never jumped on the â€œTitleist or bustâ€ train and could debate back and forth with these guys for hours that there are a variety of golf balls that offer equal performance characteristics.
What isnâ€™t debatable however, is the undeniable stranglehold that Acushnet has had on the golf ball industry since the introduction of the Prov1 golf ball franchise in 2000. Last year alone, Titleist golf ball players recorded 29 PGA Tour victories, 24 European Tour wins, 23 Champions Tour wins, 23 Nationwide Tour wins and 17 LPGA Tour wins. Not bad at all. So why mess with a good thing? If it aint broke, donâ€™t fix it right? Maybe thatâ€™s what you or I would do if we were at the helm, but the R&D team at Titleist unveiled the 2009 version of the ProV1 and ProV1x and are promising more length off the tee, improved cover durability and scoring performance.
Not only did Pat Perez make TaylorMade Golf very happy when he became the first player to win on the PGA Tour with the sensational new R9 driver, he was also the first to validate the new ProV1x. A few weeks later, Mark Wilson became the second player to win using a ProV1x when he won at the Mayokoba Classic.
Okay so the ball plays well on tour, but what are the performance benefits to the average golfer? The time had come for this THP writer to tee up a Titleist and check my preconceived notions about the ball and the snobs who play it at the door. JB sent me a dozen of the new ProV1 (09) and it was go time.
For someone who had never played a Titleist (except for the occasional DT Solo that I stumble across in the woods when my gamer escapes me), I have to admit that it was a neat feeling to look down on the thin cursive â€œTitleistâ€ that I had ignored my entire golfing career. It was almost like I was traded from the Kansas City Royals to the New York Yankees and I was donning my pinstripes for the first time. I was teeing up the best in the business and surprisingly, it infused a great deal of confidence in my game.
The company claims that players will see added distance off the tee which can be attributed to its three-piece multi-layer construction. After a round and a half using the ball, distance gain wasnâ€™t the story for me. As someone who fights a slice, I was more impressed with the amount of fairways that I hit. Even when I put my 95 MPH swing on the ball that was conducive to a slice, I saw the ball travel at a lower trajectory, correct itself and stay in play. In other words, my mis-hits were tracking right, but werenâ€™t killing me. In fact, I noted that I hit more fairways in this round (at a tough canyon course mind you) than I had in about six months.
Now the approach shots: I made sure that I hit multiple approach shots from 125 yards in. When I struck the ball correctly, I achieved a very desirable mid-high ball flight. The company claims the ball spins more for improved mid- and short-iron performance. I noticed this to hold true because when I stuck the greens (especially with the wedges), the ball would back-up and nestle up next to the flag stick. Now I really felt like a PGA Tour Titleist ambassador! Now if I could only putt like Camillo (ProV1 09) or Zach Johnson (ProV1x 07).
One of my favorite attributes about the ProV1 09 was the feel off the putter face. I play a milled putter face, so the softness of the ProV1 09 seemed to counterbalance the firmness of the milled putter and proved to be a winning combination. Similar to the feeling I had on the tee, I felt confident standing over the ProV1 09 on the green and as a result rolled some excellent putts.
From its performance off the tee, its remarkable greenside spin and feel off the putter face, the ProV1 09 performed beautifully across the board and all but shattered my belief that double digit handicappers canâ€™t benefit from a tour-caliber ball. I would strongly recommend the new ProV1 to anyone. Heck, before my next round, I might catch myself opening a new box and boldly exclaiming to my foursome that I only play Titleist! Available now. $46 per dozen. More information at Titleist.