Evolution of the TaylorMade golf ball

TaylorMade balls are now played by four of the world's top six players - we look at the brand's rise since 1999. 

Andy Roberts's picture
Thu, 29 Jun 2017
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TaylorMade golf balls were played by only a handful of Tour professionals when the company first entered the golf ball market back in 1999. As of June 2017, four of the world's top six players are using either a new TaylorMade TP5 or TP5x golf ball.

Back in '99 when TaylorMade launched its first InerGel Pro ball, they were just one of a number of new companies looking to challenge the 70% Titleist and Pinnacle combined market share, and even the likes of Spalding TopFlite held the most popular market position behind Titleist when it came to amateur ball sales.

TaylorMade knew it had plenty of ground to make up from the start, and it was a case of small steps each year if they were to one day produce a golf ball that could be sung about in the same verse as its golf clubs.

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Following a stop-start beginning, by 2002, TaylorMade had acquired the Maxfli brand from the Dunlop-Slazenger group - who first produced the Maxfli golf ball in 1922, and set about producing the 'Maxfli Noodle'. This was hailed as the solution to give TaylorMade the jumpstart it needed, and consequently its market began to rise quickly.

By 2006, TaylorMade was in a position to release its own name of Tour balls with the urethane Tour Preferred TP Red and Black. TaylorMade professionals were not just starting to put these balls in play, but they were winning with them. A win count that would progress with each passing year. 

TaylorMade would eventually sell the Maxfli brand name and technical rights to Dick's Sporting Goods in 2008, but kept the manufacturing and brand name rights to the 'Noodle' ball invented by Maxfli engineers. TaylorMade wanted to focus its branding efforts on building both its own Tour Preferred and Burner families.

Nine years later, TaylorMade's Tour Preferred golf balls find themselves in the bags of four of the world's top 10 players and six of the world's top 13, including world number one Dustin Johnson (TP5x), new signing Rory McIlroy (TP5x) and Masters champion Sergio Garcia (TP5). 

It should also be noted that EVERY single TaylorMade Tour Pro on the European Tour has switched into either the new TP5 or TP5x ball. 

Titleist may still have a stranglehold on the golf ball market today - a story that likely won't be changing anytime soon where the Pro V1 franchise is concerned - but they certainly now have their eyes on TaylorMade following multiple early-season success stories with the TP5 and TP5x.

TaylorMade's new Tour balls incorporate a five-layer construction designed to increase distance, control and spin without sacrificing greenside performance. The company's Tri-Fast Core and Dual  Spin cover has been specifically engineered to perform with every club in the bag.

From recent testing with both balls - which GolfMagic is using in all its club tests this season - we have noted minor distance gains and a straighter ball flight off the tee, as well as exceptional levels of spin around the green and a remarkably true roll on putts. 

For us, the clearest differences between both balls is that the TP5 offers a slightly softer feel and a mid trajectory, while the TP5x generates a little more distance off the tee and a higher trajectory. 

But it's not just us that are screaming from the rooftops about TaylorMade's TP5 and TP5x. The world's best are too. 

Of McIlroy's recent decision to sign a long-term deal to play with TaylorMade golf equipment, TaylorMade's senior director Brian Bazzel explained how the TP5x golf ball impressed him the most of any golf ball he had ever tested.

REVIEW: TAYLORMADE TP5 AND TP5X GOLF BALLS

"I think we had him at our golf ball," said Bazzel. "I don't know how a player of that calibre could walk away from the performance that he witnessed with TP5x.

"If your career going forward is about winning major championships and putting yourself in history books, you want the best equipment. It was clear as day how incredibly well the TP5x was working for him. It was a defining moment."

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McIlroy himself described the ball as the "best ball I've hit ever"...

Even Jason Day (TP5x) couldn't quite believe what he was witnessing when he first tested out the balls earlier this year...

But it's not just the TP5 and TP5x that have paved the way for TaylorMade's recent golf ball success - there have been many other memorable models down the years. 

We reveal our favourites...

How many of these did you play? 

Stay tuned for our upcoming ball test where we'll be throwing TaylorMade's new balls up against a number of its older ones...

 

TAYLORMADE INERGEL PRO - 1999

Lowdown: InerGel's innate softness supplied it with Tour-Preferred spin, feel and control, while its inherent resiliency gave it more distance

Performance: Higher iron spin rate improved control on approach shots and its lower driver spin rate reduced side spin for longer, straighter drives. 

TAYLORMADE TP BLACK - 2006

Lowdown: Three-piece Tour ball that helped get TaylorMade on the map. It had a high velocity resilient core with a lower moment of inertia to help decrease spin off the tee and improve distance on off-centre hits. Soft mantle layer for mid-high launch and a soft urethane cover for increased spin and greenside control.

Performance: High launching off the tee with low spin. Soft and crisp feel around the greens, especially from inside of 100 yards, with strong levels of spin with the wedges. Great ball in the wind, as we've typically found with the majority of TaylorMade balls. 

TAYLORMADE TP RED LDP (LOW DRAG PERFORMANCE) - 2008

Lowdown: It had a high velocity resilient core of polybutadiene and a core with a softer compression than the TP Black model. The two mantle layers provided a softer layer for mid-high launch angles, and there was a softer urethane cover on offer for increased spin and greenside control on the pitching wedges.

Performance: Great ball in the wind with its 360 dimpled pattern and lower trajectory. Its lower moment of inertia (MOI) decreased spin off the tee and improved distance gains as well as accuracy on off-centre hits. It was first played by Sergio Garcia, Retief Goosen, Darren Clarke, Fred Funk, Sean O'Hair and Natalie Gulbis. 

TAYLORMADE PENTA TP - 2010

Lowdown: First five-piece Tour ball on the market. The polybutadine core was made with low compression catalysts and high COR materials to ease driver spin. The soft inner mantle promoted high launch and high spin off the long irons, while the semi firm mantle promoted mid launch and mid spin off the middle irons for better control and distance. 

Performance: Strong levels of spin on wedge shots within 100 yards. High launch and low spin with the driver. The soft urethane cover provided a softer feel than Surlyn on putting. 

TAYLORMADE BURNER 2.0 - 2011

Lowdown: The two-piece Burner golf ball was built for speed and distance with a fast core that explodes off the clubhead. It featured a REACT Core, LDP Dimple Technology and an Iothane 60D Cover.

Performance: As the name suggests, a much harder and faster feel off the tee. Very long when cracking one out the centre. But despite its hardened feel off the tee, it flew pretty high off the tee and was soft enough where it mattered around the greens. Its cover felt soft, resilient and durable. 

 

TAYLORMADE LETHAL - 2012

Lowdown: The Lethal ball was a five-piece 322 dimpled ball designed with low spin off the driver and medium spin off the short irons. 

Performance: Another great ball in the wind. Probably the most penetrating golf ball TaylorMade had ever made up until 2012. Great levels of spin around the greens and superb greenside feel out of sand. Also very long on centre hits off the tee. Justin Rose put the ball into play immediately at the end of 2012 to win a tournament a month later before helping Europe win the Ryder Cup

TAYLORMADE PROJECT (A) - 2014

Lowdown: 3-piece 360 dimple patented Soft Tech cover. Cool numbering with 00, 11, 22 and 33 available. This 86 compression ball was made with TaylorMade's softest and most durable Soft Tech technology with a cast urethane cover.

Performance: Superb value for money. Low spin off the driver for long and straight drives. Spin Mantle delivered precise and consistent spin rates throughout the bag. Fantastic durability - the best we had seen up until 2014. A golf ball that took many amateurs by surprise. 

What's the best TaylorMade golf ball you've ever played with? Share your thoughts in our forum or tell us on our social media channels and YouTube.

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