Thursday at the start of the 60th PGA Merchandise Show, Titleist launched its latest version of the Pro V1 and Pro V1x, the game's most popular ball franchise, and while there was much talk about the specific, big picture improvements in performance, feel and even durability, it was a small gesture used by Bill Morgan senior vice president of golf ball research and development for the Acushnet Company that illustrated how the underappreciated aspect of improved consistency can lead to tangible performance benefits.
During an interview with Golf Digest last week, Morgan held his hands about a foot apart near the edge of a table, and described the potential variability
in the performance attributes of two dozen golf balls, the number of balls in a single submission for the U.S. Golf Association's conformance testing procedures. Morgan then suggested the edge of the table was like the USGA's limit for the Overall Distance Standard, and he explained that if the variability in your ability to produce that two dozen golf balls remained like the width of his hands, your average ball would have to stay well short of that table edge to stay within the conformance guidelines.
"But," Morgan said, narrowing his hands to six inches apart and then just inches apart, "what if you can make your range like this? Or like that? It's going to take your average much closer to the limit, isn't it? Whether it's size, weight, velocity, spherical symmetry or overall distance, the tighter you can make that population, the closer to the edge you can get.
"The same idea works with how a ball performs coming into a green. As a player, you don't want to guess or hope, you want to know. The more consistent a product is made, the more consistent the performance result is."
It was with that in mind that the company debuted the 2013 Pro V1 and Pro V1x, highlighting the specific differences in the two new balls. The Pro V1, which is designed as a three-piece construction with an ionomeric casing layer and a softer compression core than its predecessor for lower spinning tee shots and long-iron shots for a lower, more controlled flight, features a new elastomer urethane cover formulation designed to improve durability and maintain its out-of-the-box appearance longer.
The Pro V1x again features the dual core construction and the same Zg core formulation process as the new Pro V1 that allows for a very soft inner core, designed to maintain lower driver spin while yielding optimal spin for shots hit into the green. It also features an improved elastomer urethane cover for enhanced durability.
The Pro V1/Pro V1x debut occurred in front of a crowd of about 2,000 PGA professionals in the Orange County Convention Center at the start of Thursday's opening day of the 60th PGA Merchandise Show.
"The 2013 Pro V1x results in a more consistent core hardness and more consistent concentricity," Morgan told the crowd on Thursday. "Any time you can improve the uniformity of the golf ball, it translates into more consistent on-course performance for golfers."
Also noteworthy on the new balls: The Pro V1, billed as the softest Pro V1 ever, features 352 spherically tiled dimples for consistent aerodynamic profile across the ball. The Pro V1x's 328 dimple pattern also features the consistency of a spherically tiled dimple pattern.
Michael Breed, one of Golf Digest's 50 Best Teachers in America and host of the Golf Fix on the Golf Channel, MC'd the event at Orange County Convention Center's Linda W. Chapin Theater. Along with Mary Lou Bohn, Titleist's Vice President of Golf Ball Marketing and Communications, the theme of the presentation was "Performance is Titleist."
"Education, fitting and golfer connection are at the core of what we preach," Bohn said.
Video testimonials from their tour players explained why they've switched to the ball.
"The edge over the guys who aren't playing the ball is amazing," said 2012 U.S. Open champion Webb Simpson.
"It's whiter and brighter, and it's not scuffing as much, so it's better for us and better for the everyday golfer," Rickie Fowler said.
According to Titleist, since being seeded on the world's professional tours late last year the new balls have produced seven worldwide victories, including recent wins by Louis Oosthuizen at the Volvo Golf Champions on the European Tour in South Africa and by Brian Gay at the Humana Challenge on the PGA Tour. The first two wins came in November when Adam Scott won the Australian PGA and Luke Donald won the Dunlop Phoenix tournament on the Japan Tour.
Titleist's Pro V1 line is available to golfers everywhere on Friday, at a minimum price of $48 per box.