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Inside Titleist’s Golf Ball Facilities

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You want to know what a Titleist golf ball plant smells like? Rubber. Want to know what a Titleist golf ball customization plant smells like? Paint.

If you’re wondering anything else — like how Titleist designs and builds its golf balls, how a ball’s core is constructed or what role ball compression really plays — come with me on this journey as I relay my knowledge and experiences from my visit to Titleist’s golf ball facilities.

What’s it like there? 

Let’s put it this way, Titleist’s research and design team are possibly the most over-qualified chefs in the world. Biochemists and chemical engineers develop formulas for ingredients with painful precision, and have access to a three-story, factory-style kitchen to cook up golf balls that sell like hot cakes — something to the tune of 240,000 Pro V1 and Pro V1x’s each day.

Ball Plant III (yes, there’s more than one in Massachusetts and another in Thailand) has a rubber mixer that’s taller than three basketball hoops stacked atop one another. It has top-secret rooms that aren’t to be photographed, X-ray machines, automated everything and a terrifying robotic guillotine that slices huge blocks of rubber.

Its R&D facility has a room full of its competitors’ golf balls — pretty much every golf ball ever made, just to keep an eye on the competition — laboratories everywhere and hallways of patent plaques that act as Titleist’s own golf ball hall of fame.

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Titleist has over 1,000 patents, the most of any golf ball company, and owns 47 percent of all patents on golf balls.

Just down the road from Titleist’s corporate headquarters in Fairhaven, Mass., is Ball Plant III, where its golf balls are made, as well as Plant C, where Titleist golf balls receive personalized touches.

So what’s it like at Ball Plant III and Plant C? Before I get to that, I’ll start from the beginning.

Chasing perfection 

I stood on No. 18 green at New Bedford Country Club, putter and golf ball in-hand, waiting my turn to try the putt that started it all.

The story goes like this.

Acushnet Company founder Phil Young, who was an amateur golfer and owner of a precision molded rubber company at the time, was playing golf one Sunday in the early 1930’s at New Bedford CC. His foursome included Dr. Bonner, head of the x-ray department at St. Luke’s Hospital in New Bedford.

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Acushnet Founder Phil Young.

Young was considered a good player, but he was all over the course that day — hitting hooks and slices, struggling mightily to control his ball. On No. 18, however, he had a putt to win the match. Despite a good stroke, the ball rolled offline and missed the hole. While squaring away his bets from the match, Young claimed there was something wrong with his golf ball, not his game.

The argument got heated, and Young convinced Dr. Bonner to go to St. Luke’s Hospital and put his golf ball under the X-ray machine. It turned out Young was right — the exterior of the golf ball was round, but the core was way off center.

Young and Bonner returned to the pro shop and convinced the club professional to let them put a dozen balls of every model under the x-ray machine. Sure enough, every ball had an unbalanced core, some worse than others.

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X-rays of out-of-round cores.

This discovery set a fire under Young, who set his mind to developing a truly balanced golf ball. It took nearly three years — in the midst of the Great Depression, mind you — to get a ball that was ready for the golf course. But when he did, he had built golf’s first, perfectly balanced golf ball.

Today, more than 80 years later, quality standards are still paramount with Titleist golf balls. Each Pro V1 goes through more than 90 quality checks, and each Pro V1x, because of its dual core, undergoes over 120 quality checks. And, sticking to it’s roots, every Titleist ball passes through an X-ray machine before it’s retail-ready.

With that said, I did miss my 6-foot putt on No. 18 at New Bedford CC with a new Pro V1x. Titleist balls have been much improved in the 80 years since Phil Young missed the putt that started it all, but it still takes a good stroke to knock a 6-footer in the hole.

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Factory workers in the 1960’s analyze Titleist golf balls for any imperfections.

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Not much has changed.

Ball Plant III: The Mecca

Now for the fun stuff. Join me on a tour of Ball Plant III, where I saw Pro V1 and Pro V1x golf balls get built from scratch.

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Outside Ball Plant III in New Bedford, Mass.

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Raw mixture for Pro V1x inner cores get flattened and labeled before getting sliced.

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Pro V1x inner core material is sliced and ready to be formed into “preps.”

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The two-piece core of a Titleist Pro V1x golf ball before they’re molded together.

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Titleist Pro V1 cores before they’re cut and individually separated.

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Pro V1x cores before the outer casing has been applied.

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The casing layer has been applied.

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Core’s for Titleist Pro V1 golf balls being automatically transported to undergo the next step in the process.

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The Urethane Room is so top secret that GolfWRX wasn’t allowed to take photos!

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Static electricity is used so that the cover materials better adhere to the core.

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Managing Editor Zak Kozuchowski preparing to enter the PAD Print room. It gets messy, plus Titleist didn’t want our hair to get in the paint!

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This is where liquid materials react to form the urethane elastomer cover.

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This tumbler machine smooths the surface of golf balls before paint is applied.

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Automated assembly line to paint the outer cover of Pro V1 and Pro V1x golf balls.

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Before adding print onto the balls, employees use a magnifying glass to manually ensure there’s no imperfections.

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Golf balls are automatically aligned and stamped either Pro V1 or Pro V1x.

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Sticking to its roots, Titleist puts every ball through an X-ray before it gets ready for packaging.

The Custom Plant

At the custom plant, employees sit at golf ball stamping machines and exhibit ninja-like hand-eye coordination. You can see below just how fast one of the factory workers moves her hands, changing golf balls in and out to get fresh stampings.

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Golf balls with logos, sports teams, organizations, names and sayings lay around the custom plant by the hundreds of thousands. This batch of Titleist Pro V1X No. 7’s read “Junkyard Dog.”

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Many small-batch golf ball stampings are still performed by hand at Titleist.

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Yes, you’re in New England. At the Custom Plant, workers use chowder cups to sort paint.

5 Minutes, Max

That concludes our tour of Titleist’s golf ball facilities. If you’re like me, you now have a new appreciation of what it takes to make a premium golf ball. Remember, the rules of golf only permit you to search for 5 minutes before a ball is deemed “lost” — even if it’s a Pro V1.

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He played on the Hawaii Pacific University Men's Golf team and earned a Masters degree in Communications. He also played college golf at Rutgers University, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism.

12 Comments

12 Comments

  1. Pingback: ?? ???????? ????????? ??? Google ?? ???????????? ????????. ????? ???????? ?? ??????; - ?? ??? ????;

  2. Pingback: Best Babel » Google’s Toughest Interview Questions. Can You Answer Them?

  3. bob

    Jan 19, 2015 at 10:13 am

    I was hoping for more, something similar to the “How its made” series on discovery.

    This turned out to be just pictures of ball forms with no detail as to how they really got that way.

  4. FTWPhil

    Jan 16, 2015 at 1:17 pm

    And they will still think more of themselves than you ever will.

  5. Jim

    Jan 16, 2015 at 12:17 pm

    Terrific article and great photos. I knew someone that worked at the facility and he said the amount fuel required to run the facility is pretty incredible too – it apparently takes a a great deal of resources to make the balls. Nice to know that they are made in my backyard too. And the photo of the static electricity is awesome.

  6. kev

    Jan 16, 2015 at 4:07 am

    think about this x-ray next time you want to purchase any x-outs.

  7. Jon

    Jan 15, 2015 at 9:36 pm

    As expensive as Titlest balls are, they should be made 100% in the USA. Bring back our jobs please.

    • Seth

      Dec 8, 2015 at 10:46 am

      Thank you Jon. No reason for Titleist to build a golf ball plant in Thailand “to meet international demand.”

  8. Mats B

    Jan 15, 2015 at 7:56 pm

    Looking forward to test the New 2015 series of Pro V1:s both the regular and the X…. 🙂

  9. TR1PTIK

    Jan 15, 2015 at 3:50 pm

    Very good read!

  10. Johnny

    Jan 15, 2015 at 3:35 pm

    I’m surprised they even let him in the facility. A big chunk of patent applications come from Golf ball manufacturers and they’re very secretive how they make their golf ammo..

  11. slider

    Jan 15, 2015 at 3:09 pm

    best ball on the market

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What GolfWRXers are saying about the easiest to hit hybrids

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In our forums, our members have been discussing the easiest to hit hybrids currently on the market. WRXer ‘Used2PlayAlot’ struggles to launch the ball with anything less than a five iron and reaches out to fellow members for suggestions on an easy to hit hybrid. Our members discuss.

Here are a few posts from the thread, but make sure to check out the entire discussion and have your say at the link below.

  • kcsf: “Ping G410. Consider going with a softer flex than you’re currently using too.”
  • mgoblue83: “Sounds like you are playing clubs that are way too heavy and stiff for you. Try something with a light R flex or Senior flex shaft in the 21-25 degree range. Choke up on it if needed, but if you can’t get that in the air it’s your swing, and no club will help.”
  • Tax77: “Adams 2014-2015 model hybrids, New Idea or Idea tech. The heads are massive, super-duper game improvement hybrids. You can find them for 20-30 bucks.”
  • Argonne69: “The Ping G30 and G hybrids can be found used for less than $100. Heck, I just sold a G30 4h for $60. Both models are available in 26 (5h) and 30 (6h) degrees. If you can’t get them airborne, it’s definitely a swing issue.”
  • txgolfer45: “Callaway Big Bertha hybrids.”

Entire Thread: “Easiest to hit hybrids?”

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Golf club history: woods and irons

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If you’re going to play golf, you’re going to need some clubs. The game dates back to the 1400s in Scotland, so naturally, golf club history does too. We’ve come a long way from wooden clubs and feather-filled balls. For the sake of this piece were going to stick with the modern evolution of the game’s equipment starting off with the invention of the steel shaft in the early 1900s.

Some of the first steel shafts came from a fishing rod producer in Britain by the name of Apollo and we’re developed in the early 1920s. The shafts were much more consistent than the wooden shafts they were attempting to replace but they were still considered inconsistent by many players. Steel shaft also didn’t catch on until a number of years after their conception because until 1924 the USGA considered them nonconforming equipment. It took 5 more years for the R&A to make them legal in 1929.

It was that same year in 1929 when True Temper advanced the steel shaft and developed the process to taper shafts down or create “steps”—something we are all familiar with now. These steps could be moved around the shaft and change the flex which created more options for golfers to find the right equipment and be fit.

Since that time, the biggest steps (no pun intended) we have seen taken in steel shafts have come from stronger, lighter materials to create more flex and bend profile options for golfers.

If you are curious about graphite shafts, check out my piece “The real firsts of the golf industry” for the history behind their development as well as some other technological firsts.

Here’s a broad survey of recent golf club history.

Golf club history: woods

best driver 2020

Now to the “big stick.” The term “driver” comes from the idea that the longest club was meant to be driven as far as possible from the teeing area and hence the name stuck. The club heads were made of persimmon, because of the strong dense nature of the wood. To get these wooden heads to where they needed to be for weight, they would be fitted internally with lead weights.

The video below profiles one of the last persimmon wood manufacturers in the world.

With persimmon becoming more expensive and golf growing in popularity, many manufactures shifted from using solid persimmon to laminate—that change also made the clubs more durable, and also a change in golf club history. Those companies included Wilson, Spalding, MacGregor, even Ping with the introduction of the Karsten driver and woods.

As technology continued to move forward, other companies used various materials like graphite composites to make woods, and as much as they worked well for increasing durability they never quite caught on.

The next jump came in 1979 when Gary Adams had an idea to make wood a thing of the past. He took out a $24,000 loan against his house to found TaylorMade Golf. The first product to market was a 12-degree metal driver; the very first of it’s kind in golf club history.

Since then, metal wood technology has continued to move forward leaps and bounds; shifting from steel to titanium, and titanium to multi-material heads featuring aerodynamic designs built for speed. The rules of golf have limited size and spring-like effect of drivers but manufacturers continue to innovate and make drivers faster and more forgiving.

golf club history: Irons

Until Karsten Solheim and Ping arrived on the scene (see Greatest Ping irons of all time), iron design remained mostly the same—thin, forged blades that weren’t very forgiving. It’s not to say that everything was exactly the same, quite the contrary, but from an evolution standpoint, these were just baby steps.

To see the blade evolution here are a couple of great reads:

Then, just like with putters, Karsten Solheim designed an iron that would help reduce the severity of shots hit away from the sweet spot and the modern cavity back was born: the Ping 69. It was then only a few years later in 1982 that the most popular iron of all time, the Ping Eye 2, was set free into the world and this is where iron technology went from baby steps to full-blown Olympic sprinting.

Cavity back irons make the game more enjoyable and easier because their design reduces the severity of mishit shots and get the ball in the air easier, something that benefits all level of golfers, even professionals. Just like drivers, over the last decade, we have seen the introduction of faster, longer more forgiving multi-material designs enter the market. As CAD design and manufacturing techniques go well beyond was would have been imaginable only a decade ago.

Golf club history: beyond cavity backs

New 2020 PXG Gen 3 Irons

The next leap forward was thin-faced irons so fast they needed to be reinforced with polymer materials to prevent them from caving in. The idea wasn’t new, with the introduction of clubs like the PXG 0311 or Taylormade P790, but they perfected the ability to build ultra-thin faced irons that not only performed but felt good too. The title of the first thin or slot-soled irons belongs to Wilson golf and their Reflex irons.

Conclusion

Technology will continue to push the boundaries of design, and golfers will benefit from these breakthroughs. The question of “how much further can we really go?” is up to engineers and advancements in materials and manufacturing, but however far it is, we should be excited about what they will think of next!

 

 

 

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The most popular golf clubs on Amazon right now (Summer 2020 edition)

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The most popular golf clubs on Amazon right now (Summer 2020 edition)

What are the most popular golf clubs on Amazon right now? From time to time, we like to get out of our little bubble of OEM releases and what’s being played on tour to look at what golf consumers are buying on one of the largest online retail marketplaces: Amazon.

Here are the best-selling golf clubs on Amazon as of July 2020.

1. Callaway Golf Men’s Strata Complete


The best-selling golf club on Amazon is actually a collection of clubs: a starter set from Callaway’s Strata line. 

From the listing: “The Strata 12 piece set is designed for maximum performance right out of the box; The set includes: driver, 3 Wood, 5 Hybrid, 6 to 9 Iron, PW, Putter, stand bag and 2 head covers.

Price: $249.99.

Buy here.

2. Pinemeadow Wedge

The most popular golf clubs on Amazon right now pinemeadow wedge.jpg

A decent-looking wedge for under 30 bucks…plus, it comes in 68 degrees!  

From the listing: “Built standard with high quality Pinemeadow steel from Apollo(R), a 125 gram shaft with a low to mid kick point for the same $19.95 value, perfect for the beginning to average golfer.”

Price: $29.19

Buy here.

3. Wilson Harmonized Wedge

Tidy-looking wedge with a sole grind that affords you some versatility for under $40. 

From the listing: “Blade shape with modified bounce angles for dead stop spin and versatility from the sand, rough, or fairway”

Price: $36.94

Buy here.

4. PreciseGolf Co. Precise X7 Junior

The top-selling junior set on Amazon, here. 

From the listing: “Right handed, designed for age 9-12, Boys, junior set includes: 15 driver, 22 Hybrid, #6/7 iron (1 piece), #9/P iron (1 piece), putter, 2 head covers and stand bag (rain Hood included)”

Price: $128.67

Buy here.

5. Callaway Women’s Strata Complete Golf Set

Just like the men’s version, Callaway’s Women Strata golf set is the most popular golf set in its category on Amazon

From the listing: “The Strata Plus Women’s Package Set is designed with distance and forgiveness technologies for women who want to easily hit accurate shots that go a long way. The complete set includes: Driver, 5 Wood, 5 hybrid, 6-9 Iron, Pitching Wedge & Sand Wedge, Stand Bag and 3 Headcovers.”

Price: $249.99 – $499.99

Buy here.

6. Pinemeadow Excel EGI Hybrids

Replace any of your irons with Pinemeadow’s Excel EGI hybrids

From the listing: “3 Hybrid/19°, 4 Hybrid/22°, 5 Hybrid/25°, 6 Hybrid/28°, 7 Hybrid/32°, 8 Hybrid/36°, 9 Hybrid/40° & PW Hybrid/45°. More and more players are trading in their traditional irons and replacing them with hybrids. The EGI hybrids allow you to do this for every iron in your bag. Join the movement and expect an improvement in your game”

Price: $43.26 – $69.63

Buy here.

7. PGX Offset Golf Driver

An affordable driver option with plenty of offset designed to help players hit more fairways

From the listing: “Offset anti-slice Technology. 460Cc clubhead. Headcover included ; The matte black finish and white and green gives the driver a clean and sleek look.  The offset of the driver helps you square the ball at impact.”

Price: $49.31 – $119.20

Buy here.

8. TaylorMade Men’s RBZ Black Driver, Black

TMs RBZ black driver is a great option for those looking for greater launch off the tee and comes in a sleek satin black finish

From the listing: “A large, 460cc Titanium head with an adjustable loft sleeve allows for optimized launch and trajectory. Ultralite Titanium core strategically positions mass for higher launch and trajectory control. Premium matrix White tie 55 shaft for maximum distance and smooth feel. Legendary speed pocket performance for high launch and low spin, resulting in more distance. New satin black finish with elegant detailing to improve alignment”

Price: $199.99

Buy here.

9. Square Strike Wedge

The extra wide sole of the Square Strike Wedge aims to do away with fat shots. The wedge is fully legal for tournament play and costs under $100

From the listing: “The Square Strike Wedge pitching wedge has an extra-wide sole and beveled leading edge prevent digging; No more chunked pitch and chip shots reduces wasted strokes; Heavy, solid feel promotes greater confidence vs thin-faced wedges that dig and rotate; Less rotation with the Square Strike Wedge golf wedge for men and women makes clean contact easier and much more consistent”

Price: $99.00

Buy here.

10. Wilson Golf Profile JGI Junior Set

The perfect set for kids learning the game, with each club in the set offering lots of forgiveness

From the listing: “Engineered with Super Game Improvement technology to enhance new Junior golfer experience. Weight is positioned very low in this oversized junior driver to help launch the ball for a better ball flight off the tee”

Price: $127.88 – $325.99

Buy here.

11. Pinemeadow Golf PGX SL Putter

One of the best-reviewed putters on Amazon. A great plumbers neck option for those on a budget

From the listing: “Perfect Balance. Alignment Tool. Headcover Included”

Price: $42.49

Buy here.

12. Cleveland Golf Men’s RTX 4 Wedge

Cleveland’s RTX 4 Wedge remains a very popular option amongst golfers and comes in several different finishes (Black Satin, Tour Satin, Raw)

From the listing: “4th Generation Rotex Face Technology with our sharpest Tour Zip Grooves yet, the most aggressive face milling we’ve developed, and even more precise laser milling, Rotex 4 generates more spin.”

Price: $99.99

Buy here.

13. Acstar Two Way Junior Golf Putter

A junior putter designed with both right and left-handers in mind

From the listing: “Zinc alloy putter head + 100% carbon putter shaft + anti-slip rubber putter grip construction, shaft flex: regular. Two way putter–Perfect for any golfer,whether you are right-handed, left-handed,advanced or a beginner, this double way putter performs at a high level ”

Price: $28.99

Buy here.

14. C3i Wedge

Featuring a wide auto-glide sole, the high-loft C3i wedge is a popular option for golfers looking for an effective wedge under $100

From the listing: “The C3i lob wedge is extra-wide. Its auto-glide sole cuts through the sand without skipping or digging; This sand wedge is a high loft golf club for men and women that gets the ball up easily to clear the lip and stop it quickly on the green; 12 degrees of bounce make sand wedge for men and women perfect for any type of sand, fluffy to firm; Get out in one more often and reduce wasted strokes; Makes bunker play a breeze with this sand wedge golf club.”

Price: $99.00

Buy here.

15. Odyssey White Hot Pro 2.0 Putter, Black

The evergreen Odyssey White Hot Pro 2.0 Putter remains one of the best-selling putters on Amazon

From the listing: “Designed to meet the meticulous performance demands of the world’s best golfers. Re-engineered White hot insert generates improved sound, feel and overall performance. Laser milling insert cutting process achieves tight tolerances for consistent performance.”

Price: $109.99 – $299.99

Buy here.

16. Wilson Golf Women’s Ultra Package Set

Designed for women picking up the sport, Wilson offers a complete set for just $219.99

From the listing: “Super game improvement design focuses on generating more distance for beginner golfers. Designed for Women’s swing speeds with low center of gravity for improved launch characteristics.”

Price: $219.99

Buy here.

17. TaylorMade Men’s RBZ Rescue, Black

TM’s RBZ Rescue is a massively popular club amongst golfers and it comfortably cracks the top-20 list on Amazon

From the listing: “Legendary speed pocket for high launch and increased carry distance. New satin black finish with elegant detailing to improve alignment. Shallow profile and improved sole geometry for optimized turf interaction.”

Price: $129.99

Buy here.

18. Wilson Golf Profile SGI Men’s Complete Golf Set

The super game improvement characteristics of this set from Wilson makes it one of the most popular sets on Amazon for teenage golfers

From the listing: “Designed for Teen swing characteristics to produce maximum distance and a rewarding experience for beginners. Large 460cc Driver Engineered with Super Game Improvement technology to enhance new golfer experience
Deep, perimeter weighted 431 stainless steel irons with very low center of gravity for improved accuracy and distance.”

Price: $319.95 – $349.99

Buy here.

19. Callaway Golf 2020 Mavrik Max Individual Iron

Loaded with technology designed to take your iron play to the next level, Callaway’s Mavrik iron cracks the top-20 list

From the listing: “With MAVRIK, we’re using Artificial Intelligence for the first time in an iron. Ball speed is further enhanced by our 360 Face Cup that flexes and releases at impact. We’ve created a sophisticated face architecture that’s unique to every loft, so we can create a significant boost in ball speed and increased spin robustness off of every iron.”

Price: $128.58

Buy here.

20. Wilson Golf Ultra Plus Package Set

Another Wilson golf set that has proved popular amongst buyers and offers an entire set including a 360cc forged titanium driver for under $300

From the listing: “Includes 9 clubs: Driver, 3 Wood, 5 Hybrid, 6-PW, Putter. Oversize 460cc forged titanium composite driver features advanced weight distribution to create an enormous sweet spot. Unique driver head design provides stability and improved launch conditions at impact for straighter ball flight for greater distance.”

Price: $299.99

Buy here.

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