Titleist Pro V1 balls interview

Titleist golf ball product & marketing manager Jonathan Dowdell talks to GolfMagic

Andy Roberts's picture
Wed, 21 Jan 2015

Following the launch of the new Titleist Pro V1 balls, GolfMagic caught up with Titleist’s golf ball product and marketing manager Jonathan Dowdell to discuss the new models.  

So Jonathan, what is new about the Titleist Pro V1 and Pro V1x for 2015?

The one area we conducted research on was short game performance and how much that meant to our players on the worldwide Tour and our consumers. We found the one thing that everyone wanted a little bit more of, without sacrificing anything else, was short game control.

So what we have done to the new 2015 Pro V1 balls is deliver more short game spin and control from the half wedge shot in, as well as provide softer feel through a new softer thermoset urethane elastomer cover. That’s the only thing we’ve changed in terms of construction.

We’ve been able to keep the ball extremely durable through the paint and cover system we applied two years ago, so the balls are still as durable despite the softer urethane change. Some of the Tour pros who have been using them a couple of months now, have not noticed any lack in durability. 

What makes Titleist’s new ‘thermoset’ urethane different from others in the golf ball market?

From all the research we do in our R&D labs, there are two distinct ways at the moment that urethane is applied to a golf ball. We own one way of doing it, and really all competitors fall into another bracket. From what we’ve found is that all our competitors are using an off-the-shelf version of urethane that comes in a pellet form and is bought from a third party vendor. It’s also melted down and injection-moulded around the golf ball, so it’s not their own urethane and essentially they aren’t able to control it as well as we are. Not all urethanes are the same. 

In contrast, our urethane is very, very different. It is a liquid urethane - used for both Pro V1 and Pro V1x - created by a chemical reaction that takes place during the casting process. It’s a ‘thermoset’ process, where it is wet when poured into the mould and reacts to form the solid cover. Essentially, the cover, once heated and formed, will not re-melt. As we own this process and create our own urethane, we can control the properties (spin control, softness and durability) of the urethane better. It’s very unique, something we own and is protected by a patent. It is one process that makes us the market leader.

We notice a lot of Tour players are favouring the Pro V1x, is there a particular reason for that?

Yes, the majority of our Tour professionals are using the Pro V1x but that is not to say it is better than Pro V1. It just gives them certain performance and preference characteristics that they are looking for and that’s why they choose to use it.

Both of the new Pro V1 and Pro V1x balls perform extremely similar in terms of short game performance. You would find it hard to separate them.

A lot of players with the new Pro V1x so far have noticed a different sound and feel to it. They have not sacrificed any distance or control over the trajectory of their flight, but they now get better short game spin, control and soft feel.

There are still Tour players out there using Pro V1 because of its different flight characteristics and softer feel. I think that’s the other argument, outside of performance attributes, it does come down to a feel preference. If you like the softer feel, Pro V1 is for you, but if you prefer a slightly firmer feel then Pro V1x delivers that. 

I think there might be a misconception out there that the professionals are using Pro V1x because of a swing speed or compression benefit to get more distance out their games. In reality, between Pro V1 and Pro V1x at single swing speeds, and our entire golf ball family, there is maybe between one and four yards of difference. So it's not as if our Tour players are getting loads more distance with the Pro V1x, it is really to do with dialling in spin, trajectory, flight and control rather than a compression benefit by playing Pro V1x over Pro V1.

What do you have to say to the minority of golfers out there who think Pro V1 and Pro V1x balls are for players with faster swing speeds, such as Tour players?

It is really important for people to understand why they should be using Pro V1 or Pro V1x, and it all comes down to short game spin and control with either model - no matter what swing speed, handicap or gender you are.

Does every golfer compress a golf ball? Yes. Obviously different people compress it differently, but all of us compress a golf ball, even a Pro V1 or Pro V1x. If you’re thinking to yourself ‘I’m this swing speed, so I must match myself to this golf ball’, then that is simply nonsense.

When it comes to swing speeds, every player has a different swing speed throughout the bag. You would be playing lots of different golf balls in your round if you matched a golf ball to your swing speed. Pro V1 and Pro V1x perform for professionals and amateurs at every swing speed.

Everybody will get the most out of Pro V1 and Pro V1x in the short game, where you play the majority of your shots and need to control your ball and stop it closer to the pin.

Why has Titleist never made a 5-piece golf ball?

In our research and development labs, we most probably have made a 5-piece golf ball, but have we bought it to market? No. This is because we have not seen a benefit in doing so.

We don’t see a discernible performance improvement in what a 5-piece would deliver when a a 4-piece Pro V1x or 3-piece Pro V1 delivers everything our Tour professionals want from a golf ball.

How important is it for the golfer to use the same golf ball each round for more consistent scores, rather than pluck any old ball out the bag?

By playing two different golf balls during the course of a round, you are really adding another variable to your game.

For example, if you were playing a Pro V1 for one hole, you will get excellent scoring performance and short game spin, and be able to control your ball into and around the green. If you lose that ball and you play a more value-orientated golf ball with different properties, when you come to your approach shot, and don’t have the same levels of spin and control, then you will likely fire your ball through the back of the green.

You really just need to eliminate that variable from your game to help you play better golf and shoot lower scores. A golf ball is used on every shot so it is important to keep things as consistent as possible each and every round you play.

How long did the 2015 Pro V1 models take from initial sketches to manufacture?

Our design and manufacture process is always in constant development so it makes it hard to put an exact timing on things, but we never really start from scratch as we build upon what we have found in the past.

We take all the good stuff and find ways to improve the product by listening to our Tour players and consumers, so it’s difficult to say when that first sketch to production really is. Every day our R&D team is looking at ways to improve the Pro V1 balls. They are testing materials, testing dimple patterns and reviewing the manufacturing process. We work every single day at finding ways to improve upon our products and processes.



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