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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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Equipment

Titleist launches Pro V1 RCT (Radar Capture Technology) golf balls

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If you’ve hit golf balls indoors on a TrackMan, you’re familiar with the annoyance of orientating a ball’s reflective marker for tracking.

Beyond the inconvenience of tinkering with every ball before hitting, the current “position the sticker” system is far from perfect — if you don’t orientate the ball the right way, the sticker is damaged or has fallen off, spin numbers will be estimated, and thus, less accurate.

And while this phenomenon is bothersome to the golfer beating balls on a TrackMan indoors, it’s even more problematic for indoor fitters who rely heavily on spin numbers and accuracy in peak height, roll out, carry distance, and more to make their club and shaft recommendations.

Fortunately, Titleist Pro V1 and Pro V1x golf balls with Radar Capture Technology (RCT), launched today, offer a solution and provide the most accurate ball flight information possible.

“Titleist Pro V1 and Pro V1x RCT golf balls combine the game’s greatest combination of speed, spin, and feel with new technology that more consistently captures precision performance and golf ball data from TrackMan units used in an indoor setting,” said Jeremy Stone, Vice President, Titleist Golf Ball Marketing. “We have worked closely with TrackMan for more than two years to optimize this embedded radar reflective, patent pending technology. The result is a reliably strong ‘signal’ that enables spin capture on all shots.”

Years in the making, these golf balls have the same performance characteristics of Pro V1 and Pro V1x golf balls. According to Titleist, golfers can play them outside, if they’re so inclined, and they won’t notice a difference in performance, and RCT balls conform with R&A and USGA rules.

It took Titleist and TrackMan engineers years of collaboration to develop a technology that would both stand up to the wear and tear of a golf ball in an indoor environment and return 99-plus percent signal capture.

Titleist Pro V1 and Pro V1x RCT golf balls will be available through authorized Titleist trade partners in North America and EMEA, as well as Titleist.com beginning Nov. 3, Global distribution will follow in April 2022. $64.99/dozen.

 

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‘It’s the perfect club’ – GolfWRXers discuss Callaway’s new Apex UW utility wood

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In our forums, our members have been discussing Callaway’s new Apex UW utility wood. WRXer ‘CopeGolfer’ is interested in hearing from members who have hit the club, and plenty of WRXers have been sharing their very positive early experiences with the UW in our forum.

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.

  • XanderSingh: “I took mine out for the first time yesterday! I have it shafted with an Atmos Blue 8x. I have a 21 degree to go up against my 7 wood. I really like it so far; it’s much easier to work and flight the ball than my 7 wood. Also should mention that I’ve never gotten along with hybrids. I would equate it to fairway woods that I played as a junior (early 2000’s). Also, I think it’s for everyone really; my friend who is an 18 handicap hit it a few times and really loved it. So much that he picked up a 17 degree on his way home to replace his 4 wood.”
  • PowerCobra98: “I’ve had mine for about a week now. It’s the perfect club. Really the best of both worlds between fairway and hybrid.”
  • mootrail: “Got Mine! Looks fantastic! Easy to hit, centered every one and feels hot and solid (off the mat). I settled for the Project X as I didn’t want to wait but seemed decent at the shop. From address, it reminds me a lot of my Nickent 3DX Utility DC which was exactly this; a cross between their fairway and hybrid. Beyond that, it’s miles different. Mats and launch monitors are meaningless to me; I can’t wait to get it out on the course! I will say it sets up open, launches low and definitely seems anti-left; exactly what I’m looking for.”
  • QuigleyDU: “This club is awesome. I am completely smitten.”

Entire Thread: ‘It’s the perfect club’ – GolfWRXers discuss Callaway’s new Apex UW utility wood

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Coolest thing for sale in the GolfWRX Classifieds (10/20/21): Byron Morgan DH11 Oil Can Finish putter

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At GolfWRX, we love golf, plain and simple.

We are a community of like-minded individuals that all experience and express our enjoyment of the game in many ways. It’s that sense of community that drives day-to-day interactions in the forums on topics that range from best driver to what marker you use to mark your ball. It even allows us to share another thing we all love – buy and selling equipment.

Currently, in our GolfWRX buy/sell/trade (BST) forum, there is a listing for a Byron Morgan DH11 Oil Can Finish putter

From the seller (@GolfFeen007): “1)Byron Morgan DH11 Putter Oil Can Finish. These are becoming more and more rare in the wild. The DH11 is basically a full cavity DH89, usually a little heavier with a softer more dense feel at impact. Carbon Steel with fine face milling and hand-stamped lettering with the mushrooming, which is very rare these days unless it’s a Tour Issue Putter. Tiffany and white paint fill. Head weight is 360g and plays 33.5”. Headcover included. Dropped to $600 OBO Let’s move it! $550 shipped is a heck of a deal on this one! Byron Morgan DH11 – $550″

To check out the full listing in our BST forum, head through the link: Byron Morgan DH11 Oil Can Finish putter

This is the most impressive current listing from the GolfWRX BST, and if you are curious about the rules to participate in the BST Forum you can check them out here: GolfWRX BST Rules

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