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Equipment

The new Titleist ball designed to make your indoor game better

October 20, 2021

There’s a problem with some indoor simulator golf and indoor fittings that you didn’t even realize. But it could change everything about the results of your next driver fitting, your next iron lesson or your next practice session. That’s why Titleist’s engineers spent more than two years fixing it.

And because they did it so well you might not ever notice what they did. The result is a new ball, the Pro V1 RCT. “RCT” stands for “radar capture technology,” which makes the ball more precise for indoor use with a Trackman launch monitor, even though it’s perfectly acceptable for outdoor use.

Safe to say, developing that specific characteristic, even though it might sound like it, wasn’t trivial. First, a bit of an explanation. The Trackman launch monitors use a doppler radar-based technology that in an indoor setting often requires the application of a reflective silver sticker to better gauge the performance of the golf ball as it flies off the clubface into a net or screen. But even with that sticker, which also of course, requires a precise orientation before each hit and often might fly off after a series of hits, the Trackman device has to use a complicated algorithm to calculate spin. That’s why you’ll often see an italicized spin number on a Trackman readout, which means the number is an estimate. More precisely, it means the spin number was not actually measured. Further complicating matters is that in an indoor setting and for the higher swing speeds, a Trackman might need more than 20 feet of space to get enough information to make even a reasonable estimate.

Now, those estimates are very good, well-educated numbers. But the best fitters, the top teachers and aspiring and elite players don’t want decisions based on estimates. Why? Well, firstly, the spin number even when it’s estimated influences other key shot metrics. Those include things like peak height, angle of descent, carry distance, roll out, and overall distance. It would be like asking Waze to find an address without the house number. Fact is, a few hundred RPM here or there might mean the difference between two driver shafts. That’s a difference a Golf Digest test with Club Champion recently showed could mean 17 yards.

“There’s just a growing group of fitters, teachers and players where estimates aren’t good enough,” said Matt Frelich, vice president of business development at Trackman. Makes sense, particularly with the increase in indoor simulators and the wide prevalence in indoor clubfitting facilities that use a Trackman launch monitor. While a precise spin number means a more precise fit, it also can mean a more real-world experience with Trackman’s golf simulator.

So Titleist’s team began trying to figure out how to make a version of its top played Pro V1 and Pro V1x balls so they could be seen more clearly indoors by Trackman’s sensors. Not only that, they wanted a design that wouldn’t have to be oriented in the same way every time. (In other words, just like on an outdoor range, you could rake a ball back and take a swing without first making sure the logo was lined up in a certain direction.) And, of course, they wanted the ball to look, feel and perform just like the Pro V1 normally used out on the course. In other words, no goofy lines all over the cover, no bizarre neon graphics, no change in the construction of core, mantle layer or urethane cover.

The trick was using the reflective silver markings inside the ball on the Pro V1’s mantle, or casing, layer. The result seems simple enough but making it durable to last hundreds of shots was not, especially because putting markings on a casing layer is not how golf balls are manufactured. It required new methods, new techniques and new machinery. And a lot of trial and error. Example: The first few tries lasted only one shot, and when they figured out that problem and thought they had a finished design, they rolled the ball around and hit thousands of shots only to find that Trackman was only seeing about 85 percent of the shots. Back to the drawing board. Titleist’s team working with Trackman found the final version to capture more than 99 percent of shots. As well, it allows for better data in less space, particularly for players with higher speed and lower spin rates.

“What we wanted to achieve was the same performance and the same experience indoors that you were getting outdoors,” said Matt Hogge, Titleist’s director of product implementation. “The scientific side can appreciate the value of a good estimate, but when you get the ability to measure something properly, that’s of extreme value.”

According to Titleist representatives, the Pro V1 and Pro V1x balls with RCT already are being purchased by top-rated fitters and teachers, but they also are available for purchase by consumers, especially those with Trackman indoor simulators. They will be initially available in North America and Europe beginning in November and will be launched globally in April ($65 per dozen).