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For Titleist, Golf Balls Are All About Consistency

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When people are buying golf balls, they’re generally thinking about two things. One is getting a golf ball that offers a performance benefit of some type. Maybe they’d like more distance, more feel, or more spin around the green. The second is cost. Is a golfer shopping for the absolutely best golf ball for their game, or the best ball for their game at a certain price point? To Titleist’s golf ball team, there’s a third and even more important thing golfers should consider when they’re buying golf balls: consistency.

Walking through a Titleist golf ball facility near its headquarters in Fairhaven, Massachusetts, I was starting to understand just how important consistency is to the company. The location of this particular facility is a close-kept secret at Titleist. To go there, I agreed not to publish its name, as it offers a hint to its location. And when I toured it in late March, I was the first media member to visit. In fact, only a fraction of Titleist employees have ever been inside the building.

The facility is not impossibly large or busy like the company’s golf ball manufacturing plants, nor does it have the immediate “wow factor” of Titleist’s Manchester Lane Test Facility. The one-story building and what goes on inside, however, is arguably the key to Titleist’s dominant position in the golf ball industry. It’s where the company makes good on the promise to “own every step of the process.”

ProV1Factory_2017_0969

These “preps” will become outer cores for Titleist’s Pro V1x golf balls.

Titleist’s parent company, Acushnet, sells extremely popular golf clubs, golf clothes and golf shoes, but there’s nothing more important to the company than the success of its golf balls, and it’s been that way for a long time. The company’s leadership position goes back to the 1949 U.S. Open, which was the first time Titleist led what’s known as the ball count (how many golfers are using a certain brand of golf ball in a tournament). It hasn’t relinquished the title in the nearly 70 years since. Today, Titleist is the most-used golf ball on all the leading professional golf tours. The company also owns more than a 50 percent market share in golf balls, and it has built an infrastructure to ensure its continued success.

Each day, Titleist produces more than 1 million golf balls in its golf ball manufacturing plants. About 500,000 of those balls are its flagship Pro V1 and Pro V1x models, which are the best-selling golf ball models in the world. That gives Titleist the distinction of being the most popular golf ball brand in the world, as well as the world’s most premium golf ball brand. And if you ask Titleist’s golf ball team why, they’ll tell you it’s the way its golf balls are made.

ProV1Factory_2017_1038

These Pro V1x dual cores are ready for their mantle layer, and then a urethane cover.

In the golf ball world, it’s commonplace for companies to outsource the production of their golf balls. For small golf ball companies, it’s usually a necessity given the huge cost of owning and operating a golf ball manufacturing plant. Titleist rejects the practice. It manufacturers all of its golf balls in Titleist-owned facilities, and it only manufacturers Titleist golf balls. The only caveat is that Titleist designs and manufactures golf balls for Pinnacle, a brand owned by Acushnet.

Standing in the secret facility, I was looking at the heart of those manufacturing plants. It’s where Titleist makes the machines and tools it uses to make its golf balls. Titleist’s leadership says that making its own golf ball manufacturing equipment provides the company with a competitive advantage in creating both better performing golf balls and more consistent golf balls, and there’s no denying that Titleist takes the practice seriously. The company makes its own golf robots for its internal golf ball testing. It even makes the rubber golf tees it uses for its robot tests. When it comes to actually making its golf balls, Titleist is even more granular, and you don’t have to look any further than the outside of a golf ball for an example.

ProV1Factory_2017_1429

Titleist produces its own urethane for its Pro V1 and Pro V1x golf ball covers.

The tools responsible for a golf ball’s dimples are known as “hobs,” and Titleist produces them inside its secret facility. They’re so important to Titleist’s golf ball team, in fact, that Titleist’s hobs are never disposed of even after they’re taken out of production. Every hob the company has made since the 1970s has been locked away for safekeeping.

Hobs are made of steel and look a lot like the end of a trailer hitch. They’re used to make the steel dimple cavities that are responsible for the dimple patterns of millions of golf ball, however, and for that reason they’re formed with incredible precision. To create a hob, copper electrodes jolt its exterior with 10,000 volts of electricity, which forms it into a dimple pattern that’s exact to one-third the thickness of a human hair. Few golfers realize that after a golfer makes contact with a golf ball, it’s the design of its dimples that are fully in control of a golf ball’s trajectory. While dimples can’t change the launch or spin of a golf ball — that’s programmed by a golfer at impact and a function of the materials used in a golf ball’s design — their interaction with the air can make a golf ball go higher and lower, and if they’re not perfectly designed, totally sideways.

Titleist_Donkey-Elephant

With the elephant logo pointed at the target, this golf ball has deeper dimples on its right side. Can you tell the difference?

Titleist’s golf ball team would prove this point to me later in the day in a robot test at its Manchester Lane Test Facility. The robot hit several shots with the company’s Pro V1 golf balls, each of which landed essentially in the same spot on the outdoor driving range. The company then hit intentionally flawed Pro V1 golf balls on the robot known as “donkey-elephant” balls. On one side of the ball was a donkey, the logo of the Democratic Party in U.S. politics. With the donkey pointed at the target, the ball hooked sharply to the left almost immediately into its flight due to the deeper dimples on the left side of the ball. On the opposite side of the ball was the elephant logo of the Republican Party. After it was aimed at the target, which positioned its deeper dimples on the right side of the ball, the test technician walked outside the robot room to check the road that runs along the right side of the driving range. It was clear, so he hit the button that started the robot’s arm. Had a car been driving by, it might have been struck with a wicked slice.

The robot also hit two other intentionally flawed Pro V1s that produced even more drastic effects. One had dimples on only one-half of the ball, and it curved about twice as much as the donkey-elephant balls. The robot also hit a third ball with no dimples. It nose-dived directly into the ground less than 100 yards into its flight. The point of the experiment was to show not only that dimples work, but also to illustrate how precise they need to be to create a consistent trajectory. Changing the depth of a dimple or the angle of its edges only fractionally can significantly affect the way a golf ball flies, according to Titleist’s golf ball team, and a detail as small as the amount of paint applied to a golf ball can significantly affect performance.

Manchester_Lane_Robot

See the road on the right at Titleist’s Manchester Lane Test Facility?

Just like Titleist doesn’t mess around with dimples, it also doesn’t mess around with its intellectual property. The company made headlines in March when retail giant Costco, in response to a letter sent by Acushnet that accused Costco of infringing on Acushnet patents, sought a declaratory judgment from the U.S. District Court in Seattle related to its Kirkland Signature golf balls.

The news was widely reported, both inside and outside the golf world, given Costco’s outsider status in the golf industry. It also didn’t hurt that the Kirkland Signature golf balls weren’t available for purchase at the time. Costco had been selling them for the price $1.25 per ball, roughly one-third the price of Titleist’s Pro V1 and Pro V1x golf balls, on the few occasions they were available online or in select Costco stores. When asked about the potential dispute with Costco, Titleist representatives responded that the company does not comment on ongoing legal matters.

null

A hallway in Titleist’s Golf Ball R&D Facility at its headquarters in Fairhaven, Massachusetts.

If a legal dispute were to occur between Acushnet and Costco, it would not be the first time the company was engaged in high-profile litigation. Acushnet has gone to court with golf ball companies big and as small in the last two decades, and it’s clear why the company doesn’t shy away from litigation. Titleist owns more than 40 percent of all issued golf ball patents. It also employs six of the top-10 golf ball patent holders, each of which holds more than 100 patents individually. Inside Titleist’s R&D Department, its patent plaques are on full display alongside a main hallway. When you turn the corner, hundreds more line an even longer hallway.

“It’s not that Titleist is walking around saying we’re the best, but we’re very proud of our commitment,” says Michael Mahoney, Vice President of Titleist Golf Ball Marketing. But Mahoney points out that with golf balls, there’s no “silver bullet” for success. Everything in a golf ball — from its core to its cover and all parts in between — needs to be perfectly executed for it to perform as designed. Each of the golf balls in a dozen need to perform the same, as does every dozen of those golf balls in pro shops around the world. Only by guaranteeing that can a company be sure its golf balls are giving its customers the best chance to succeed on the course.

ProV1Factory_2017_1527

Rubber stamps place the Titleist script on the company’s golf balls.

To illustrate his point, Mahoney asked me to think about an avid golfer who uses a specific model of golf ball. He then asked how many golf balls that golfer might use in an entire season. I put myself in that golfer’s shoes. I assumed he or she might lose an average of three balls per round, and play an average of at least four rounds per month for six months. That’s a minimum of 72 golf balls.

“All those golf balls need to perform the same,” Mahoney said. “And if they don’t, that golfer isn’t playing a Titleist golf ball.”

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66 Comments

66 Comments

  1. Mad-Mex

    May 21, 2017 at 9:57 pm

    Now I know where the “Hammer” driver infomercial writers went to, GolfWRX !!

  2. Matt

    May 21, 2017 at 4:29 pm

    Lots of good balls out there to choose from now, so you can’t beat buying a few sleeves and seeing what feels best rather than being loyal to a brand. Anecdotally, I find more new condition Pro V1/V1X’s in the rough than any other ball (vanity handicappers?), NXT Tour to be a good all rounder, and DT Solo’s not for me but will try the new one.

  3. Gorden

    May 20, 2017 at 11:42 pm

    NO way the Costco ball is as good as the ProV…the Costco ball is based on a ball 4 or more years old….that said, Yes, the Costco ball is better then any other titlist product along with every other ball companies less then tour balls and that is the problem in the ball world….why pay $29 or even $20 a dozen for a ball that will not perform as good as a ball at 2 dozen for $29. A good example would be paying $36 for a dozen Titlist NXT now the Costco ball will play better then that.

  4. Harold Daly

    May 20, 2017 at 5:13 am

    For Titleist, Golf Balls Are All About Money

    • #1 Ball Every Season... FOR A REASON!

      May 20, 2017 at 2:54 pm

      The company was truly started because of a lack of golf ball consistency. However, yes – every company desires to make money and I certainly hope they do. As long as they make money, I’ll have the best ball ever made.

      • Kenn

        May 21, 2017 at 12:38 am

        Don’t forget your ‘best’ driver… ‘best’ irons… ‘best’ putter… ‘best’ shoes… because you deserve the ‘best’… except for your golf swing which is a ‘bust’… …!!!

    • Tom1

      May 20, 2017 at 6:56 pm

      yep… I will venture 45 to 50% of their sale revenue is from golf balls.

  5. FH

    May 20, 2017 at 2:49 am

    Who let you out of the asylum

  6. gunmetal

    May 19, 2017 at 6:44 pm

    “All those golf balls need to perform the same,” Mahoney said. “And if they don’t, that golfer isn’t playing a Titleist golf ball.” LOL – What a cheese packer line.

    I’d be trying to change the narrative too if I were in Titleists’ shoes with so many other high performing options available at your local wholesale club these days.

  7. RAT

    May 19, 2017 at 6:06 pm

    Over priced while other brands are as good and cost less. Proof in the Kirkland Ball price and performance.

  8. Vancouver Mellencamp

    May 19, 2017 at 6:00 pm

    Done with Titleist balls. Too many other better options.

    #teamCostco
    #freesamples

  9. Jon

    May 19, 2017 at 5:22 pm

    Nice article. Obviously Titleist has a very successful position in the market; not just in the market share for balls, but the number of patents also likely provides a source of revenue. While the “bandwagon” of comments seems to want some sort of attack on Titleist, I applaud them for investing in technology, R&D, owning their own production processes, facilities and protecting their intellectual capital. If they can get a return on their investment and get a buck more for their ball…….great for them…….it likely means more investment and development in the future. It’s nice to see they manufacture and have R&D in the US. Just about every other ball marketer wants to sell a better ball than Titleist, and the consumer has lots of choices at all price points.

    Interesting to hear that some people think the Kirkland ball is a competitive threat to Titleist. While Kirkland brand usually is a good value, their products are mostly (there are a few exceptions) just procuring and branding a 3rd party manufacturer. Costco is more about a “good deal”, rather than having the same product stock consistently.

  10. McGary

    May 19, 2017 at 4:28 pm

    Tremendous article. Titleist seems to be scrambling amid the new golf ball competitors and the new technologies by pushing a consistency article to your site. Come to think of it, I can’t name a single golfer in my golf league that still plays a Titleist ball.

  11. J

    May 19, 2017 at 3:11 pm

    ….people are not robots. why does that continue to persist?

    • Tom1

      May 19, 2017 at 3:16 pm

      I beg to differ…. my first wife…..

    • #1 Ball Every Season... FOR A REASON!

      May 20, 2017 at 6:50 am

      Robots tell you exactly what happens under given parameters. In this case, they let you know that the ball will perform the same way again and again because the balls are effectively identical. The consistency is extreme. They also allow you to see how very minor variations actually do cause inconsistencies in flight. Without robotic testing, there is no way to tell how much of the result is related to the ball and how much is related to the strike. People who love player testing are hoping for some strikes in their favor and don’t really want to know the differences between golf balls.

  12. Lob Wedge

    May 19, 2017 at 11:22 am

    Well written article Zak.

    While I understand you want to be deferential to Titleist for bringing you into the factory, I think you missed an opportunity to give the story a depth it deserves. You could have done it without making Titleist look bad. Or you could have used it as a lead in to a larger, more comprehensive article. Maybe next time?

    I know you guys don’t see it, but it’s articles like this that actually drive views to other sites. I’d rather get my info from WRX but you are forcing us to look elsewhere. Please.. keep us here with more information, don’t send us away looking for the other half of the story.

  13. Golferguy

    May 19, 2017 at 11:20 am

    How much higher can the price go for the ProV balls? The cost/benefit ratio to many golfers is turning into a bigger number every year.

    • The Dude

      May 19, 2017 at 5:16 pm

      not really….this year you could buy 3 doz …get one free (promo)…..pretty good actually…..

      • #1 Ball Every Season... FOR A REASON!

        May 20, 2017 at 6:52 am

        So true. Under that program, they average $37.50 at my club.

    • #1 Ball Every Season... FOR A REASON!

      May 21, 2017 at 10:15 pm

      More amateurs play Titleist at the highest levels and they are not loaded with money. They just know a good ball when they play it. Its funny how so many complain about how much Titleist costs but they don’t complain about the ball. Nearly all the time they will say some other ball is “as good as the ProV1/V1x” I rarely ever hear someone say they actually prefer another ball. They only prefer the cost. As for me, I try them all. I can honestly say I like the Srixon Z Star as much as a Titleist but if I were playing for my life….. I would be playing a Titleist. They are simply that consistent.

      • Brian

        May 26, 2017 at 12:49 pm

        Could be due to the fact that Titleist gives away so much gear at the amateur level.

  14. Chuck Zirkle

    May 19, 2017 at 11:13 am

    Have played with most of the leading brands on the market and I like the consistency and performance of the Titleist ProV1. Have been playing them for a number of years and only ball in my bag. They do last, I can use one for a couple of rounds. Buying golf balls is all about choices, you purchase the balls that suits your game and budget. I have found that by playing a better ball has enabled me (with practice) to play a better game. The proof is in the ball not the advertising. At 70 I need all the help I can get to maintain my 10 handicap. I am retired, so to save I order them during their spring buy three get four dozen promotions. Cheers, in life, it’s all about choices, and I have made mine and it is Titleist 100%. With respect. =)

    • David

      May 19, 2017 at 12:03 pm

      Chuck, from your twitter handle it appears you are a Footjoy rep. Are you saying that you still have to purchase Titleist balls during promos in order to get a deal? I would think they would take care of their own better than that.

    • Steve

      May 19, 2017 at 1:00 pm

      With all due respect, as a 10 handicap, I HIGHLY doubt you’d be able to tell any differences in performance and consistency between high end golf balls from different brands, let alone the consistency from ball to ball in the same box. 99+% of amateur golfers (yes, even us on golfwrx) don’t strike the ball consistently enough to tell if it was the ball or your strike that produced a “different” result.

      Heck, Crossfield even had a video where he was chipping multiple balls from multiple brands with a launch monitor, and the difference from ball to ball (both changing balls in the same line and between manufacturers) was all over the map. Even a DT Solo spun almost as much as a Pro-V for him. That’s obviously not an end all be all test, but if he can’t find a substantial difference and has numbers all over the map, I highly doubt most (if any) amateurs can. Most amateurs base their “facts” on something they’ve seen happen one time and then talk themselves into seeing differences between balls. Just because you got a Pro-V to back up 3ft one time and haven’t done it with a TM in one round, doesn’t mean it was the ball…

  15. Precept MC Lady

    May 19, 2017 at 11:13 am

    Phoned this one in, eh, Titleist

  16. Scott

    May 19, 2017 at 11:01 am

    Hope the check from Acushnet cleared before you posted this ‘article’

  17. D Louis

    May 19, 2017 at 10:58 am

    I actually think Titleist is finally worried about their dominant position in the ball market and they’re trying everything and anything to remain there. I think the other manufacturers can sense that they’re finally chewing away at Titleist’s market share.

  18. Joseph

    May 19, 2017 at 10:54 am

    Enjoyed the article. And I’ve been an intellectual property lawyer for 39 years. And golfer a lot longer than that. I have a Costco membership. But I know from reading all of the IP lawsuits involving Costco, that their business model involves buying products that are not intended to be sold in the US for various reasons, selling them at low prices and using them to create buzz and increase traffic. Especially in the watch department. I disagree with this as it harms legitimate distribution channels, but you may not. If I can find high quality US made products, I buy them. It’s hard to do in golf anymore, but these balls are US made and high quality. Finally, must be a young crowd posting. 3 balls in a round? Lmao. I still have a few dozen new Titleist and Maxfli balata balls in the basement that are 30+ years old. No one who played golf prior to 1975 would ever complain about only using 3 balls in a round.

  19. Patdugolf

    May 19, 2017 at 9:57 am

    Titleist is failing in this game theory strategy. Lately, Titleist has deployed an army of paid LPGA, PGA pros to push V or X in the television ads.
    Costco understood that the average amateur cares about Price in buying performance golf balls. Consistency is null in that decision making process. It’s funny, will Titleist explain to Jim Furyk why he dunked 3 pro v1x on 17 during the Players? What happened to consistency?
    Titleist needs to review its cost of goods sold and cut the price to $30.00
    This article would have worked in the pre internet era, customers are smart in researching for the best of the $.
    Praise Costco….

    • Keith

      May 19, 2017 at 10:21 am

      Well…..Furyk hit three CALLAWAY balls into the water on 17 at the Players, so there’s that.

      Know what you’re talking about before you post.

      • ooffa

        May 19, 2017 at 10:41 am

        Furyk may have the consistency problem not the ball. Just sayin.

        • Thomas A

          May 24, 2017 at 10:37 am

          Well, I’d say hitting 3 in a row in the water is pretty consistent.

    • #1 Ball Every Season... FOR A REASON!

      May 19, 2017 at 10:31 pm

      Why would they cut the price to $30? Its the best selling ball on planet earth. I have hit the Costco ball. It’s OK…. Its no Titleist. Think McFly. Think.

  20. ooffa

    May 19, 2017 at 9:56 am

    Whats the matter Titleist, Costco got ya nervous.

  21. SoCalSlicer

    May 19, 2017 at 9:37 am

    In the decade I’ve been a part of the WRX forums, I’ve never commented on an article until no.

    One question – did titelist ask you to write this? Good grief, this smells like complete damage control. Honestly, this article is complete garbage, due to the timing.

    • Kevin Dut

      May 19, 2017 at 9:52 am

      Totally agree. This reeks of pay for play. Disappointing.

    • #1 Ball Every Season... FOR A REASON!

      May 19, 2017 at 12:57 pm

      It seems as if you don’t like the facts. The facts are Titleist produces the most consistent ball on the planet and this article gives you a glimpse into the facts other articles don’t seem to mention because they are too concerned with price point and the hope that there is some perfect ball for $29.95. Titleist has more patents and more R&D employees than anyone. They have had the number one ball for 70 years. You consider it “damage control” while I consider it education. When you know about the things Titleist does to produce the best golf ball on planet earth, you quickly realize why other balls are so cheap. If your shag bag contains 20 different types of balls, good luck learning distance control chipping and pitching. Similarly, if your new dozen balls are not performing the same (many others do not), good luck hitting the same shots hole after hole. Ever wonder why a putt looks like it broke uphill? Maybe its the cheap and inconsistent balls you play. Hmmmmm.

      • SoCalSlicer

        May 19, 2017 at 8:49 pm

        Not one time, in the history of ProV series balls, has Titleist ever PUSHED consistency. Never. Ever. Not once. This is absolutely a backdoor PR department methodology. I can absolutely, guarantee that the author had contact with someone at Titleist about this article, before it was ever written. Btw, with all do respect, you know absolutely NOTHING about basic business models (which include sponsorship and contractual stipulations), if you think Titleist ball are expensive because of the technology…

        • #1 Ball Every Season... FOR A REASON!

          May 19, 2017 at 10:24 pm

          Titleist has pushed consistency since DAY 1. Consistency is why the company was started. When I was a kid they touted the 32 quality checkpoints. Now they tout 90 and 120 quality checkpoints on Pro V1 and ProV1x. So, I see you know nothing of golf balls. Then, on the subject of business models, I think you should look at whose model is still working best (its Titleist). The best ball played by the best players and those who aspire to be the best. Sold at a price that reflects extreme technology, quality, consistency, and performance. MEANWHILE…. you play a Top Flite or Nitro because they are cheap (certainly not a reflection of their lack of technology or consistency).

      • AG

        May 19, 2017 at 10:03 pm

        Feel free to provide the independent lab testing results that show that Titleist golf balls are more consistent that any other golf balls.

        • #1 Ball Every Season... FOR A REASON!

          May 20, 2017 at 2:57 pm

          I’m sure its coming due to the lawsuit with Costco.

  22. Paul

    May 19, 2017 at 9:34 am

    Whet about the Bridgestone lawsuits?

  23. Bruce

    May 19, 2017 at 9:34 am

    Marketing RUBBISH. What make you think the average amateur plays well enough to tell the difference? Costco sold a ball with performance and a much better feel for $15/doz – that’s what the game needs.

    • TM Chucky

      May 19, 2017 at 11:22 am

      Well, for one many “average amateurs” buy a $400 driver that boasts a little more forgiveness and uses that driver on maybe 15 shots a round. I don’t see the difference in mind set. For me, more consistent is more fun.

  24. AvidGolfer

    May 19, 2017 at 9:32 am

    An avid golfer would not lose 72 balls a year. I lost 12 balls last year in 30 rounds. And I only put brand new balls in play if it is a tournament round. Otherwise, I use ProVs that I find til I lose them or they’re so beat up I feel like they don’t perform as well. I can’t remember the last time I’ve bought or used more than ~15 brand new balls in a year. That would get expensive quick.

  25. Scott

    May 19, 2017 at 8:48 am

    It is nice to know that Titleist makes their balls in the USA and controls the entire process. They do make a great golf ball. But, I would disagree with their quote “It’s not that Titleist is walking around saying we’re the best, but we’re very proud of our commitment,” says Michael Mahoney, Vice President of Titleist Golf Ball Marketing. They clearly think that they are the best and they clearly are paranoid about Costco selling a supposedly very playable ball for 1/2 of the price.

  26. Mark B.

    May 19, 2017 at 8:33 am

    This is an interesting article on Titleist’s approach to manufacturing golf balls and I thank you for publishing it. While interesting, it does very little to convince me Titleist makes a better ball. All the materials and components they use to build machinery are not exclusive. Neither are the raw materials they purchase to make rubber tees and balls. Plus there is no claim that their urethane is superior to anybody else’s. Despite owning so many patents, there are, around the world, golf professionals who use competitive balls to win major tournaments as well as to make a living: which proves other companies have the capability to produce high quality balls. Finally, the way I read the legal issue with Costco is that the latter is pushing back against Titleist’s claim of a patent infringement. To me, this makes Titleist look weaker.

    • Zak Kozuchowski

      May 19, 2017 at 8:47 am

      Mark,

      I’m glad you enjoyed the article, and thank you for taking the time to comment.

  27. Jim

    May 19, 2017 at 8:31 am

    Nice article, but lacking in a few items as noted by the other comments here. Bridgestone was the originator of the ProV1 technology but perhaps Titliest improved upon it and it certainly capitalized on their marketing machine to tell everyone it’s the best ball out there. But at almost $5 per ball it just doesn’t make sense for most golfers. The success of Callaway Chrome Soft and Snell MTB balls prove that and I almost never play a ProV1 for that reason alone. If someone is losing 3 balls per round they should be playing a Pinnacle or some other cheap ball as they clearly don’t have the game to use a more expensive golf ball. Overall pretty interesting but it would have been more interesting if you showed the production photos – even Titliest’s ads show more information.

    • Zak Kozuchowski

      May 19, 2017 at 9:03 am

      Jim,

      Thanks for the comment. There are already a few people questioning something I said in the ending — that an avid golfer could lose an average of three balls per round — and I understand that. I want to be clear that I’m not assuming an avid golfer (someone who plays frequently) is necessarily a low-handicap golfer. I’m also not assuming that they’re playing a tour-level golf ball. Most golfers aren’t low-handicappers and don’t buy top-shelf golf balls. I’m also aware that GolfWRX readers are very much unlike the majority of golfers. They’re more passionate about what they play and how they play, which is why it’s so much fun to be a part of this site.

      One takeaway that didn’t make it into the story is that it’s very important for golfers to play the same model of golf ball round after round if they want to play their best, even it it’s not a top-shelf model. Just about every golf ball manufacturer, including Titleist, makes golf balls that sell for under $20, $30, $40 and $50 per dozen. Pick a few balls that fit into your budget, test them on the course, and stick with the one that’s your favorite. If you do, I bet you’ll find yourself hitting it closer more often.

      • TheCityGame

        May 19, 2017 at 10:42 am

        “One takeaway that didn’t make it into the story is that it’s very important for golfers to play the same model of golf ball round after round if they want to play their best, even it it’s not a top-shelf model.”

        I play Callaway, K-Sig, Pro V1, Taylor Made, Bridgestone, round to round to round.

        Let me ask you something. You’re an X handicap. You’re playing a match against another X handicap who plays the same ball round after round. How many strokes would you give him if he had to play another ball in a $100 match against you? Would you give him a stroke a side? I wouldn’t give him a half stroke for 18.

        That’s how important the golf ball is.

        • #1 Ball Every Season... FOR A REASON!

          May 19, 2017 at 10:28 pm

          You underestimate the importance of KNOWING how your ball will react on both good and bad shots. Its the same as knowing what your clubs will do even if they are 10 yards shorter than your opponents. Scoring is all in the understanding and consistency of results.

          • TheCityGame

            May 25, 2017 at 7:50 am

            How many shots? Answer the question.

            How many shots would you give your “identical twin golfer” to switch balls if you were playing him $100 a hole?

            You’d give him 1 a side? 2 a side? Please quantify your “understanding and consistency of results”.

            • #1 Ball Every Season... FOR A REASON!

              May 28, 2017 at 1:14 am

              I would go for one a side and ties.

  28. TheCityGame

    May 19, 2017 at 8:03 am

    Someone who loses 3 golf balls a round has no reason to play a “consistent” golf ball. Take something out of the shag bag.

    This article is clearly a response to the competition that the Pro V is finally facing. They’re not able to market “performance” any more, so they’re marketing “consistency”.

    In order to demonstrate consistency, they show a test with severely flawed golf balls and then tell us, “a detail as small as the amount of paint applied to a golf ball can significantly affect performance.” OK. . .where’s that test? Show me that one. Show me the performance difference that comes from mis-applied paint, not leaving dimples off half the ball.

    • AndyUK

      May 19, 2017 at 8:23 am

      Exactly, the marketing dept. has been working overtime since RM changed to the TM ball. This is now a damage limitation excercise. Accept for maybe the brain dead it is obvious other high-end manufacturers produce consistent balls too. Testing a ball with a different dimple pattern on the opposite side will only fool aforementioned brain dead.

      • Tom

        May 19, 2017 at 9:06 am

        I don’t think RM’s change to TM has, or should concern Titleist very much. He hasn’t exactly put the equipment he has switched to on spectacular display.. Titleist was #1 when RM was playing Nike too, so he has very little to do with it.

        FWIW, I prefer the new TM series over Titleist, but I don’t think that RM has much to do with anything. The consistency thing with Titleist is a true statement though, and for a guy who doesn’t have a single Titleist club, I do legitimately feel confident in purchasing their golf balls. Year to year I’ll try the new ones, knowing I’ll like it, but the same can’t be said for every other ball out there. Sometimes other manufacturers out perform them, sometimes they don’t, but the Pro-V series will always perform as a top contender.

      • TM Chucky

        May 19, 2017 at 11:18 am

        “Testing a ball with a different dimple pattern on the opposite side will only fool aforementioned brain dead.” The way I read it, they tested a ball with a little more paint on one site – not just a ball with no dimples on one side, as they show in the picture. Obviously a ball with an different dimple pattern wouldn’t fly consistently. But if it’s true that a ball with a little more paint “1/3 the diameter of a human hair” on one side messes with the trajectory, seems compelling to me. I would have blamed myself!

  29. ooffa

    May 19, 2017 at 7:58 am

    Nice Ad!

  30. Nath

    May 19, 2017 at 7:58 am

    You assume an avid golfer losses at least three ball per round!
    Average hacker would better describe this golfer.

    • #1 Ball Every Season... FOR A REASON!

      May 19, 2017 at 1:00 pm

      Depends where you play. Water, tall grasses, trees, etc…. can make marginal shots hard to find at challenging layouts.

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Forum Thread of the Day: “Tiger Woods with a new Scotty Cameron at The Open”

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Today’s Forum Thread of the Day comes from No Gimmes who was quick to spot Tiger Woods preparing for this week’s Open Championship with a new Scotty putter. Woods has also been seen warming up for this week’s event at Royal Portrush with his old faithful on the greens, but our members have been discussing the thinking behind the 15-time-major champion’s potential change, as well as the putter itself.

*Photos from Golf Central’s ‘Live From The Open’ coverage

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.

  • TheMoneyShot: “I’m really surprised he is making the switch. Let’s see if it’s in the bag come Thursday.”
  • Hedgehog: “That topline and the alignment aid and all the smooth lines, gorgeous!”
  • MuniPukeLife: “Makes sense as his trusty NP2 is super light by today’s putter standards.”

Entire Thread: “Tiger Woods with a new Scotty Cameron at The Open”

 

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Mizuno T20 wedges: Let’s get spinning

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Spin.

We’re always trying to reduce it with our driver and increase it with our wedges for maximum control, but with the rules of golf being so strict, how do actually achieve a performance gain? Simple engineering…

This is the Mizuno T20 wedge.

It’s been a few years since we have seen a T (teardrop) wedge from our friends at Mizuno, and there is good reason.

Let’ get into a quick history lesson: before the JPX900 series was introduced, Mizuno had quietly been realigning the product cycles of the MP and JPX lines. You might remember back a few years ago now before the MP18s hit the scene that there was a bit of a lull in the MP line—so much, in fact, there was even a thread here on GolfWRX asking “Is Mizuno not making MP irons anymore?”

It was a naturally curious question to a company that always had very standardized release cycles, but it was a long-term play that has paid off tremendously. We now get “T” wedges with MP irons (MP20s to be exact), and we should (from everything I know) continue to see “S” Silhouette (more rounded profile) wedges with future JPX lines.

Before we get to what’s new, how about we first talk about what will be staying the same

  • Grain Flow Forged HD – like all new Mizuno irons, the T20s are made using the same forging process to increase the density of the material in the clubhead for an improved solid feel.
  • Boron – this little element when added to the 1025e mild carbon steel used in the wedges (we’re talking trace amounts equating to 3ppm – parts per million) increases the strength of the material by 30 percent—how crazy is that for chemistry? This improves groove life and has ZERO effect on club feel.
  • Variable Width & Depth Quad Cut Grooves – Like previous T and S wedges, the T20s will have quad cut grooves that will vary in shape based on the loft of the club. Lower lofted wedges are more narrow and deeper, while higher lofted wedges are wider and more shallow since impact happens at lower speeds this increases spin consistency.
  • Same beautiful Teardrop profile from address

So what’s new?

Flow. Just like the MP20s, engineers are bringing more a more extreme CG (center of gravity) shifting philosophy, or as Mizuno explains it, increased vertical moment of inertia to the wedges. As much as you (well maybe not “you,” depending on who you are) might think “a wedge is just a wedge” and loft is the only deciding factor for spin, you couldn’t be further from the truth. By relocating the CG throughout the set and changing the sweet spot height, engineers can further alter the launch and spin precisely for each loft.

It’s about gear effect—the higher you hit above the CG the less spin the ball with have, and the closer to or lower you make impact compared to the CG the more spin you will create. Either way these are wedges, so a 50 degree, for example, is still going to spin, but it is now more controllable (think less likely to ballon or get too high on full shots). On the other side of the equation, a 60-degree wedge will allow for even MORE trajectory and spin control for the low flying quick checkers with zip.

Now about that spin.

By the Rules of Golf, you can’t make grooves sharper, you can’t increase their volume, and you can only have so much surface roughness (sorry but that old Spin Doctor wedge is HIGHLY NON-conforming). So what do you do? You change the way you think about that surface roughness…

Hydroflow Micro Grooves

Instead of traditional laser etching parallel to the grooves, Mizuno engineers took a concept from the high-performance tire world and went perpendicular to the grooves and parallel to the direction the ball moves up the face to channel moisture away. This directional tread has proven to increase spin on shots especially in conditions with moisture up to 1,200 RPM (on a 60-yard shot), that’s a very tangible number. It’s not just about spin either: the more the friction that can be created also means more control on launch angle and less of a “floating” ball flight. That’s how those low zippers keep zippin’!

Don’t think for a second that Mizuno just changed the etching and was done with it. The process went through multiple iterations to figure out how they could improve its life (beyond the boron) and the solution was to etch before the chroming process to elongate the lifespan. The other groovy take for the T20s is the actual reconfiguration of the grooves. To get the bottom groove closer to the leading edge without having it disorient the overall look of the club and making it appear that the heel or toe is thinner on one side. The lowest groove has been shortened and centered.

All of these refinements; CG, micro-grooves, and reconfigured scoring lines add up to one thing: more control and improved shotmaking with your wedges.

Finishes, specs, and grinds

The wishes of many have been answered when it comes to the T20s, there will be a RAW finish (happy dance time) along with traditional chrome and the signature blue ion. Leftys will only be able to get chrome, but all the same options will be available as far as lofts and grinds.

Coming in lofts from 46-60 degrees, the grind options progress depending on the loft and bounce. Going from full-soled in the lower lofts to more aggressive back edge, and heel-toe relief in the 60 degree. These sole shapes came directly from Mizuno’s craftsman that worked with players and prototypes to determine exactly how the bounce and sole shapes should work in harmony.

All of this has come together to create Mizuno’s finest wedge to date.

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Mizuno MP-20: Layers of feel

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“Mizuno Feel”

It is part of the golf vernacular. It’s ingrained in golf (nerd) culture—it’s a real thing.

But where does it comes from, how did it get here, and what is it really?

I’m here to give you some answers and introduce you to MP-20 family of irons from Mizuno.

Born from tradition, and the idea of creating the ultimate set of irons for every player, the MP-20 family is the next series of MP irons that will connect golfers to the “Mizuno Feel.” Speaking to tradition, and something I touched on when these were originally teased on social channels with #LayersOfFeel, Mizuno is going back in time to the TN-87s and reintroducing a copper underlay to their irons—all of them! (Before someone tries to correct me: yes, I realize that they have done this for more recent Japan market models )

What does this copper layer mean? Here’s the funny thing, even Mizuno has had a hard time trying to quantify it. Through multiple rounds of extensive blind prototype testing with all of their staff players, the irons with a copper underlay won on feel EVERY SINGLE TIME!  How’s that for dominance?

But why? They are truly still trying to 100 percent figure that out. Mizuno has used its HIT (Harmonic Impact Technology), metallurgy analysis, and every test it can to try and figure out why. Engineers even went as far as trying to prove the hypothesis the copper underlay “feel” was based on nostalgia but time and time again Cu won in blind testing. At the end day, the human element was still the deciding factor because humans are the ones that ultimately hit shots.

This brings us to the flagship MP-20 (Blade) (The Ultimate Tour Blade as described by Mizuno’s Product Manager & Engineer Chris Voshall). Evolving from the tradition built into the MP-18, and taking design cues from historic models like the TN 87 and MP14, the MP20s provide more flow throughout the set from top to bottom leading to even more control over ball flight. This flow also increases forgiveness (please remember it’s still a blade) and launch in the longer irons, with an increased ability to flight the ball in the scoring clubs… all of this AND a thinner top line.

Now about that top line: it’s an extremely important part of the look of the club but, what many don’t realize is it also plays a big role in feel and acoustics too. Let’s simplify for a moment: think of a clubhead like hunk of metal—a cube—now when you hit that thick piece of metal on something it doesn’t reverberate much and when it does, it’s at a different frequency making it sound heavy and “thuddy,” or as some would say, SOLID.

Now imagine if that same piece of metal, same mass was stretched out like a saw blade. Have you ever hit something with the side of a large saw blade? It’s wobbly, loud, and generally unpleasant, that’s what happens when an unsupported part of a club gets too thin, it acts like an amplifier of bad sound, creating terrible feel. By blending a small channel (think MP5) with the classic looks of yesteryear you get a club that feels and performs like no Mizuno before it, and as I said, with a thinner look from address.

What’s all this talk of “Flow”?

Center of gravity and mass placement (or as a Mizuno Engineer explained to me “Vertical Moment of Inertia”). Since each club is designed individually, you need the center of gravity to shift throughout the set to help control launch/trajectory (or “traj” as the kids say), and make sure spin is also at an optimal level.

For the MP-20, it means long irons that are “easier” to hit (air quotes, because like I said before, it’s still a blade), and short irons that can be more easily flighted lower with greater spin and control. Just like with the MP-18s, Mizuno is keeping with the continuous reduced blade length into the short irons for a look preferred by better players and for improved grass and turf interaction.

But What About the Rest?

You might have noticed off the top I called it the “MP-20 Family.” Here’s why: In golf, like with any other industry, data is important. But it’s only as good as you use it and well…let’s just say Mizuno has been paying close attention to how golfers and fitters have been making combo sets over the last few years. It’s all about understanding what golfers really need and thanks to some proprietary data they went even deeper when it comes to designing each and every iron in this family to make sure its performance is maximized. This is why I continue to emphasize how each set has a flow, it to make sure each club in your bag is just right for you. Now to introduce you to the rest of the family members…

Mizuno MP20 MMC (Multi-Material Construction)

I know, you think you’ve heard this story before but…NOT LIKE THIS!

The new MP-20 MMC is a BIG shift in design, not just because of the Cu underlay, but a radical change in how the whole part is put together. I know it sounds very “big biz,” but in the world of manufacturing it truly comes down to how “parts” are manufactured. Now, with Mizuno, I will reiterate a well-known story. All of its forged irons are single-sourced from one foundry (Chuo) in Japan through a handshake agreement that has been in place for decades.

Now back to the MMC. Before the MP-20 the MMC always had one tiny design difficulty (not a bad one, just a truth) and that was the titanium piece in the back was the same size throughout the whole set. This lead to a set with almost constant sole width. That doesn’t mean previous generations were constructed poorly, but it just means there were improvements that could be made to how the set flowed (there’s that word again) from top to bottom…which leads us to the tech story.

For the first time in the MMC’d life, the titanium piece of the iron will actually vary in mass depending on the club. It will be broken up in the middle of the set to allow better CG placement, and like its blade cousin, improved turf interaction in the shorter irons.

What is also very cool from a build and engineering perspective is the way the titanium gets into the club in the first place. Here we go down a metallurgy rabbit hole, buckle up…

  • Titanium has a mass density (rounded) of 4.5 g/cm3 – cubed
  • Carbon steel has a mass density of (rounded) 7.9 g/cm3 – cubed

That means that from every cubed cm of steel volume you replace with titanium in the head, you save 3.4g… which might not seem like much, but in a 4-iron for example that has an average mass of 248g for (4) cm3 you save 13.6g or just over five percent. I realize this is DEEP into the mass property weeds, but when you think of what a club head weights and how every half percentage point matters, five percent is a lot! That’s more forgiveness, more MOI, more spin control, and overall better performance.

What is also very cool is all of these parts (titanium and tungsten) have ZERO chemical bond—no epoxy. They all fit snug based on the shrinkage rates of the different materials. Ti & W( tungsten – W comes from the ore Wolframite) shrinks less than the steel so as the steel cools around the titanium and tungsten pieces it creates a mechanical (solid) bond.

All of this together adds up to an iron that looks smaller than the previous version, offers more “flow” in CG, something we mentioned earlier that creates more forgiveness and control throughout the set, and at the end of the day it means a better-engineered version than the one before it.

Truth Break for a moment…

Let me make one thing clear, new sets are AWESOME! We are, and always will be, attracted to the latest and greatest but the player should still get fit and find out what works best. New will and should inevitably be better but the cost-benefit analysis should always be at the end of the day up to the individual golfer to decide and figure out what will end up in the bag to help lower scores.

The Hot Metal Mizuno MP-20 HMB

look AT THIS!!!

YES…you read that correctly. Mizuno is bringing Hot Metal tech to the MP line!

A hollow body blade looking iron using the same strong yet highly flexible Chromoloy material as the 919 Hot Metals except this time forged to create an iron like they never have before. The look and shape of a blade the speed of a Hot Metal.

Let’s break things down.

The look is clean as clean can be, from there the face of the HMB is thin and fast, while hidden inside the back of the club is complex geometry for both acoustics and precisely positioning mass. These will be the replacement for the MMC Fli-His but unlike that set, only going to the 6-iron, the new HMB will go all the way to the pitching wedge.

What is also different for the HMB vs. the MMC Fli-Hi is the way tungsten is used in the head to create different impact dynamics. The Fli-Hi had all the tungsten (20g worth) in one place in the head (low and towards the toe). The CG was still located right in the middle but through in-depth testing some players found that the Fli-Hi was a more difficult club to turn over and draw.

To improve the workability of the new HMB, the Tungsten was split into two 12g pieces (four more grams than previous Fli-Hi) and positioned into precisely formed pockets on the heel and toe in the back of the club. This allows the unsupported face to flex and makes the club more workable while still maintaining all the forgiveness you would expect from a hollow body iron built for speed. Seriously who doesn’t like the sound of that?

Since the new HMB is a full set and not just long irons, there is more to the tech story… here is comes… better flow and CG positioning throughout the set. This is hugely important for the mid and short irons where loft is already going to create spin so controlling ball flight and traj on approach shots is vital for scoring better.

This is again where the MP-20 Family discussion comes into play. Mizuno knows they are going to sell a lot more HMB long irons vs. blade and MMC long irons, so the entire family is designed holistically for every player to find each and every head that optimizes them on the course.

The Full Package

Like with previous generations going back almost a decade, Mizuno is keeping its industry-leading matrix of shaft and grip options available at NO upcharge. BUT… based on the growing demand for more exotic options the newly expanded shaft line up will include a few shafts that will come with a slight upcharge.

Whatever you end up being fit for, it’s important to realize that there has never been family of Mizuno irons designed like this, which could also mean you could be bringing home some new family members soon.

 

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