New Pro V1 balls, Ping drivers, Cleveland wedges spotted to start new tour season
It’s the start of a new season on the PGA Tour where hope springs eternal for players. And, as it turns out, new golf equipment, too. Today marked the official debut of the next generation of Titleist Pro V1/Pro V1x golf balls, a new G driver from Ping and new wedges from Cleveland. And the excitement apparently even got the best of one player, the LPGA's Maja Stark, who put in play a club too new for competition, resulting in a DQ on the LPGA Tour late last week.
First up is the early tour player testing of the latest generation of the game’s No. 1-played golf balls, the 2023 versions of Titleist’s Pro V1 and Pro V1x. Scheduled to make their traditional debut at this week’s Shriners Children's Open in Las Vegas, a few players on the PGA Tour actually put the new models in play last week at the Sanderson Farms Championship. According to the company, Garrick Higgo, M.J. Daffue and Gary Woodland had been testing prototypes of the new models for some time and requested whether they could put the new ball in play last week in Mississippi, a week ahead of the planned schedule. The trio received balls Tuesday morning and Higgo used the new Pro V1 on his way to a third-place finish, one shot out of the playoff eventually won by Mackenzie Hughes. (Interestingly, when Higgo won on the Palmetto Championship on the PGA Tour in 2021, he was playing a Pro V1x.) According to the company, Daffue used the new Pro V1x to make a hole-in-one on Thursday.
The use of the new balls by tour players in competition has consistently been a final step in Titleist’s research and development process for new versions of its Pro V1 family. Like when it was originally introduced two decades ago, the new balls are going through tour player testing this week at the tournament in Las Vegas. Twenty-two years ago, Billy Andrade won the Invensys Classic a few days after switching to Titleist’s new multilayer solid core ball becoming the first player on any tour to win using the Pro V1.
On the other end of the club-and-ball collision is Ping’s G430 driver family, which debuted on the USGA’s list of conforming club heads this morning. The new G430 line is the latest iteration of Ping’s multi-faceted approach to drivers, and it once again includes a Max version, an LST version, which is often characterized as a low-spin model and an SFT model, which traditionally has been designed to counteract a slice.
According to the filings on the USGA website, all three models include a perimeter weight labeled "TUNGSTEN." In Ping’s most recent driver G425 family, a rear tungsten weight on both the Max and LST models could move between one of three positions on the rear perimeter. On the new G430 line, that tungsten weight port is on all three models, including what is presumed to be the slice-fighting SFT. It would be the first time that version has a movable weight. Like on the G425, there appear to be three weight ports on the Max and LST versions, while the SFT appears to have two positions. They are labeled “Draw” and “Draw+” on the SFT, while the Max and LST ranges from “Fade” to “Draw” positions. Ping staff players may put the new driver in play this week in the PGA Tour event in Las Vegas.
The interest in Ping’s G430 may have gotten the best ofStark last week. Stark was disqualified after the first round of the LPGA stop outside Dallas, The Ascendant. Stark was using a driver throughout Thursday’s first round that was not found on the USGA’s list of conforming club heads. It’s believed to be the G430 Max, which technically wasn’t a conforming club head until it was listed as such on Monday.
Also coming in hot and new is the next series of wedges from Cleveland. The new RTX6 wedges, which are labeled "Tour Rack," are set to be in PGA Tour players’ hands this week in Las Vegas. While the company is mum on details, images of the wedges indicate that this new model also will feature the company’s “ZipCore” technology. “ZipCore” refers to a lightweight polymer filler in the hosel and low in the clubhead that displaces the heavier metal and frees up mass to redistribute for increased stability in the head and a more centralized center of gravity.