The new Titleist Pro V1 and Pro V1x golf balls—somewhat remarkably given their near two decades of consistent dominance across all levels of the game—enter a fundamentally different space technologically this year than ever before.
Of course, that change can be measured in what amounts to the thickness of a single sheet of paper. That's how precise advancements in golf ball technology now have to be.
The new Pro V1 and Pro V1x, unveiled this morning at the PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando, will have their thinnest cast urethane covers ever, moving from .030 of an inch in the 2017 versions to just .025 of an inch in the new models. The 17-percent thinner cover, which given the depth of a dimple can get nearly as thin as .015 of an inch in some places, is part of a fully reformulated design aimed at creating more potential distance in the driver and long irons across the lineup.
“The product brief for 2019 centered around four key areas,” said Frederick Waddell, Titleist’s senior manager of golf ball product management. “The first was to deliver more distance in the long game, specifically how do we deliver greater ball speed.”
The new Titleist Pro V1 and Pro V1x, which already have been played by more than 60 players on worldwide professional tours and recorded their first win when Charles Howell III won the RSM Classic in November, build this fundamental technology change in three parts. That includes reformulating the core, thickening the casing layer or mantle and from that, thinning the cover. Thinning the cover is a natural way to boost ball speed potential because urethane tends to be a slower material when it comes to golf ball resiliency. Less urethane theoretically means greater use of other faster materials that better contribute to increased ball speed, as well as less spin on driver and longer iron shots, like the thicker mantle layer.
“We’ve been able to understand theoretically the benefits to casting thinner layers of urethane,” Waddell said. “But to do this on the scale of what we do from a production standpoint every day in cast urethane golf balls required a gigantic investment. So, first we have to prove the concept that we do get what we want by doing this. And second, we have to ask, ‘Is it worth the investment we have to make?’ This checked both those boxes.”
The mantle’s faster ionomer and 14-percent thicker design helps contribute to ball speed gains as do the new core manufacturing process (ZG 2.0). The outermost portions of both the solid core Pro V1 and dual core Pro V1x have increased in stiffness, but keep the soft centers for both faster ball speed and less spin on long-game shots. The balls accomplish these gains without changing the compression and feel characteristics.
“As we experimented, each of these would build on each other,” Waddell said. “You would get a little more ball speed from the core, a little more ball speed from the casing layer, a little more ball speed from the thinner cover. And all of those things add up to a meaningful product improvement in terms of delivering greater ball speed but maintaining all the things we wanted to maintain in terms of scoring control and trajectory.”
The rest of the 2019 product brief seems what you would expect for the No. 1-selling golf balls in the game. That included “maintaining the flight, feel, spin relationship between Pro V1 and Pro V1x, with Pro 1x flying higher, spinning more and feeling firmer than Pro V1,” Waddell said. As well, maintaining the balls’ short game spin and control was also mandatory.
One surprise is that the new Pro V1 and Pro V1x will be offered in yellow—although the company leaked the change last August.
The Pro V1 again is a solid core design with the thickened mantle and thinner cover than before, while the Pro V1x remains the dual-core design but reformulated for greater difference between the outer core’s stiffer outermost region and the softer inner core. It also has the thickened, fast mantle and thinner urethane cover.
The new balls are in stores starting today, with the yellow versions scheduled to appear beginning March 15 ($48 a dozen).