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Posted May 4, 2021 in Products and Brands by Tom Brassell
It all started for Titleist with an X-ray machine in Massachusetts and a dedication to making a better, more consistent golf ball. More than 90 years later, the same pursuit of perfection continues to drive the company. When M.I.T. graduate Phil Young decided in 1930 that a missed putt in a key match was likely caused by imperfections in the core of his golf ball, he set out to make a better product.
Alongside fellow molded rubber specialist Fred Bommer, Young formed the Acushnet company, developed the first Titleist golf ball, and not only infused into that sphere the most consistent quality ever seen, but instilled the company with a spirit of innovation that continues to this day and has since extended to every piece of equipment in the golf bag.
The first few months of 2021 serve as an excellent example as Titleist has unveiled ground-breaking new products such as the TSi line of drivers, fairway metals and hybrids, along with Vokey wedges, Scotty Cameron putters and updated versions of the Pro V1 and Pro V1x golf balls that carry on the spirit of innovation that began with Young and his friend’s X-ray machine.
Ultra-low spin is the key development in the TSi4 driver, which retains the advanced speed and distance gains that have made TSi2 and TSi3 so successful. TSi2 focuses on forgiveness and a high launch in a classic profile, while TSi3 offers mid-launch, precise distance, and iron-like control with adjustability via its SureFit CG Track Technology system.
But the product most likely to improve the performance of amateurs everywhere is the TSi1 metals line.
The clubs are designed for players with swing speeds 90 mph or lower seeking increased club and ball speed. That goal was engineered with new aerodynamic head shaping, higher inertia and moving the center of gravity closer to the face center. The 460cc driver is almost 40 grams lighter than average drivers, a key factor in increasing club speed.
“We asked ourselves, ‘How do we deliver more speed and more distance to players?’ and focused in on new materials, aerodynamics, center of gravity placement and inertia,” said Stephanie Luttrell, Director of Titleist Metalwood Development. “With the TSi1 line, we knew that players with slower swing speeds generally need help getting the ball in the air, and they need forgiveness and stability. We’re really excited about the full lineup, and the response has been terrific.”
Scotty Cameron’s Phantom X line has four new versions added to the line (5, 5.5, 11 and 11.5), featuring different heads and shaft configurations to suit various preferences. Each of the four evolved from tour player input specifically related to the line’s most popular models – the Phantom X 5 and Phantom X 12 – with requests for more compact overall head sizes, refined swept-back wings and more tour-like configurations inspired by the design of those mallets.
Since their tour release, the results have been indisputable. Max Homa won The Genesis Invitational with the 11.5 in his bag, and Justin Thomas captured the Players Championship putting with the 5.5.
“It helps that golfers of all skill levels are seeing them in use by the best players in the world, and with those results it’s hugely impactful,” said Michael Bradley, Director of Marketing for Scotty Cameron Putters. “A lot of people hear Scotty Cameron and they think of blades, but mallets can help a lot of players because they’re larger so we can put longer lines on them for alignment. Also, the resistance to twist that you get from the bigger head is greater. To a 15-handicapper hitting a lot of long putts, a mallet can be really helpful.”
The popularity of Vokey’s SM8 wedges has led to an extension of the line, as the company has added a version with a unique slate blue finish that helps boost confidence as players stand over critical shots around the green. The finish is as durable and long-lasting as it is visually appealing, and it’s available in all 23 loft, bounce, and grind options.
“It’s a really good option for the player who wants something that’s a little darker in finish,” said Corey Gerrard, Director of Marketing for Vokey Design Wedges, adding that SM8 is also available in tour chrome, brushed steel and jet black models. “It looks stunning, and I think players really have to look down and love the look of their wedges to inspire confidence.”
Looking back to Young’s innovations in the 1930s, it may seem remarkable that improvements can continue to be made to golf ball technology, especially in the case of the Pro V1 and Pro V1x, but that’s the case with the 2021 release of the models that have been the most played on tour since their release two decades ago.
Designed for longer distance, improved greenside spin and control, and softer feel, Pro V1 and Pro V1x feature a new core, casing layer, cover and aerodynamic technologies — including proprietary 388 (Pro V1) and 348 (Pro V1x) dimple designs optimized for more distance and consistent flight. As with previous models, the Pro V1 offers a lower ball flight and penetrating trajectory, while Pro V1x flies higher with increased spin and a firmer feel.
“To put it simply, both of these golf balls are longer, softer and spin more around the greens, which is what golfers asked us for,” said Frederick Waddell, Senior Product Manager for Titleist Golf Balls. “Justin Thomas winning the Players using the Pro V1 was a perfect example. On the 10th hole Sunday, he hits a high wedge that spins back and he makes birdie. The next hole he hits a long iron into the par-5, comes in high and soft and makes eagle. Then on 16 he hits a rope hook driver and sets up another two-putt birdie.”