TaylorMade’s Project (a) update and new Project (s) offering both make the case that to maximize performance even the average golfer needs a ball with multiple sections beneath the cover.
The two new balls offer alternatives in both price and construction, but the guts of the two balls share a philosophy, namely, that the contrast of a firmer outer section with a softer, larger inner core is a way to produce shots with more velocity and less spin off the tee and better feel coming into and around the greens. The combination of multiple elements in a ball’s construction is a more effective way to meet different players’ performance demands, said Eric Loper, TaylorMade’s director of golf ball research and development.
“You’re able to get driver distance, launch conditions, feel and control all wrapped up because we have those additional dials to turn,” he said. “When you have more layers, there’s more performance you can tune.”
The inside of the two new balls share a similar design idea with the polybutadiene rubber core surrounded by a resin polymer mantle layer. Both feature soft, low compression cores—the Project (s) is softer—but the mantles differ in firmness to better function with their respective covers: cast urethane in the Project (a) for greenside spin; ionomer in the Project (s) for off-the-tee distance.
“The core in both balls is soft to provide soft feel and lower driver spin,” Loper said. “But the materials in the outer layer are actually quite different.”
The Project (a) uses a much stiffer outer layer than the Project (s). That creates more distance potential while creating what Loper calls a backbone to work with the cover for more spin on short shots, while adding spin control on iron shots. Meanwhile, the soft polymer blend on the Project (s) is to create better feel while not losing ball speed. In simple terms, the Project (s) focuses on driver distance and soft feel, while the Project (a) is a more full-service option with its urethane cover providing more potential greenside spin.
Now in its third generation, the Project (a) started off in 2014 as the result of TaylorMade’s mission to develop a golf ball that was a tour-ball kind of performance around the greens (through its cast urethane cover), while meeting the swing speed and off-the-tee performance needs of average golfers. The solid core ball got an update with a lower compression in 2016, but the new version takes the learnings from its immediate predecessor and combines a large and soft inner core with a firmer compression outer layer. That outer piece’s firmness also is designed to work with the urethane cover to generate greenside spin.
In stores Feb. 16, the Project (a) is designed to improve downrange flight by using the same 322-dimple pattern as the tour-played TP5 and TP5x balls. The Project (a) will retail for $35 a dozen and will be offered in both white and yellow versions.
New to the line, the Project (s) eschews the Project (a)’s urethane cover, but opts to enhance soft feel through an even lower overall compression. The Project (s) still utilizes the same two-piece approach to the guts of the ball by marrying a polymer mantle layer with a low-compression rubber core to help the ball feel soft. The combination of the two-piece internal design with a stiffer ionomer cover “provides the speed players in that category are seeking,” Loper said, noting that the cover is “relatively soft compared to the products in the competitive set.”
Available April 1, the Project (s) is available in white, matte yellow or matte orange ($25 a dozen).