Understanding which of Titleist’s popular golf balls works best for you … and what’s the deal with the ‘left dot?’
February 26, 2019
By Andrew Tursky, PGATOUR.COM
- Titleist’s Pro V1 and Pro V1x 2019 golf balls are designed for more ball speed and lower spin. (Andrew Tursky/PGA TOUR)
Titleist launched the Pro V1x golf ball alongside its second-generation Pro V1 golf ball in 2003, and golfers quickly understood the relationship between the two golf balls; the four-piece Pro V1x spins less than the three-piece Pro V1. That was common knowledge, embedded into the psyche of not just Titleist golf ball users, but golfers in general.
“Originally, when Pro V1x was introduced, it was introduced to be a lower-spinning but higher-flying golf ball (than the Pro V1),” Fredrick Waddell, Senior Manager of Titleist Golf Ball Product Management, told PGATOUR.COM.
That relationship remained for the next 14 years.
With the release of its 2017 Pro V1 and Pro V1x golf balls, however, Titleist switched the script. The relationship between the two golf balls changed. The 2017 Pro V1x was a higher-spinning, and still higher-flying, golf ball than the 2017 Pro V1. Some golfers didn’t realize the change, while others were simply perplexed.
“There was a little confusion at first because it’s been, for such a long time, X was always the lower-spin golf ball,” said Fordie Pitts, Titleist’s Golf Ball R&D rep. “(Even for TOUR players), we had some guys look at us like ‘Really?’ We’re looking at some high-speed, high-spin players, going up to them saying, ‘Hey, you should be considering the Pro V1 ball,’ and they’re like ‘Pro V1, what are you kidding me? I would spin that (way too much).’ But no, no, no. It took some guys a little bit to get comfortable with it.”
After all of those years, why the switch? Why cause any type of confusion, especially for such a well-known and understood relationship?
“What happened over time is our technology developed on our Pro V1 and Pro V1x. We really were able to take spin out of the iron game in Pro V1 in that solid-core, three-piece construction,” Waddell explained.
“Before the 2017 Pro V1 came out, it really did spin less than the Pro V1x with irons. Maybe it spun a little more off the tee. But the new process in the 2017 Pro V1 really lowered that driver spin and increased speed to where throughout the bag, the Pro V1 spun less than the Pro V1x.
“So we wanted to make it clear that we had this real clean story in terms of flight, feel and spin, and that Pro V1 provided a more penetrating trajectory than Pro V1x, feels softer than Pro V1x, and spins less than Pro V1x.”
Then, with its 2019 Pro V1 and Pro V1x release, Titleist stayed with the same 2017 relationship, except that it designed both golf balls to be lower spinning and to produce faster ball speeds. So while the 2019 series of golf balls was made to be lower spinning, the Pro V1x still spins relatively more than its Pro V1 counterpart.
OK, so the Pro V1x spins more than the Pro V1 now. Got it.
At the 2019 Sony Open in Hawaii, Justin Thomas switched to a Pro V1 ball after playing a Pro V1x for his entire professional career. Why the change?
“I wanted something with a little bit more spin, especially around the greens,” Thomas said.
Wait, what? Having just established that the Pro V1x is a higher-spinning ball, Thomas decided to switch to the lower-spinning Pro V1 for more spin?
Thomas, however, is correct in his reasoning. Pitts explains why:
“The (golf ball) he’s actually in right now is just a prototype. Even though it is a Pro V1 and it has a black number on it, it does technically spin even more,” Pitts said. “It’s not a ball that’s available out for sale at this point. It’s just an early prototype.”
While consumers have access to the retail versions of the 2019 Pro V1 and Pro V1x golf balls, Titleist makes prototypes, or CFT (Customized For TOUR) golf balls made specifically for TOUR players. After those TOUR players use the golf balls in practice and in tournament play, and they provide feedback to Pitts and the Titleist golf ball team, Titleist then considers using those modified constructions in later retail releases.
“(The TOUR) is the best testing ground and proving ground (for new golf ball designs),” Pitts said. “So, as we continually make products and test different things, on occasion, we’ll bring out some balls to make them available for (retail). Because … you never really know what a ball does until you tee it up in a tournament.”
Another well-known Titleist CFT golf ball is “the left dot,” which has been rumored to be a TOUR-only golf ball for years.
Pitts settled the speculation on this golf ball: “Essentially what it is… it is a Pro V1 ball. What a lot of guys liked about it was the fact that it does spin a little bit less and aerodynamically it flies a little lower. It’s a great ball, especially in windy conditions. To the point where we get some guys who say, ‘Geez, it’s like the wind doesn’t even touch this thing,’ which is good for some. For some guys it’s actually not a good thing because everything in their golfing experience tells them, ‘You need to hit this shot with this kind of wind,’ and all of the sudden they hit this ball and it flies over the green or something. …
“I would say (the left dot is) probably slightly firmer than the current (2019) Pro V’s, without going as firm as compression as any of our X products. So from a feel and sound standpoint it would be somewhere kind of right in the middle.”
According to Pitts, the design of the left-dot Pro V1 “directly” contributed to the 2017 Pro V1 and Pro V1x designs, and those constructions continued into the current 2019 Pro V1 and Pro V1x designs.
“The new balls are just better versions of their predecessor,” Pitts said. “A little bit faster, they spin maybe a hair less than the ’17 version, so they’re even better in windy conditions.”
In case there is still any confusion about the relationship between the 2019 Pro V1 and Pro V1x golf balls, or which golf ball you should play, Waddell puts it into real-world perspective:
“We don’t like to generalize, but a player like me who’s steep and spinny, I hit a lot of high-spinny shots, the Pro V1 is a great ball for me because it lowers my ball flight; it lowers my spin rate, it gets me into a better window, and I end up hitting my irons a little further than a Pro V1x,” Waddell said.
“I’ve got a colleague who has trouble generating spin. He’s a great candidate for the X because the ball gets up, it spins a little more, and he’s able to control shots into the green better. So, it’s a full game assessment when we talk about who these golf balls are for. The differences between them are very specific. … if you really want to get dialed in, come get fit. That’s the best way to optimize ball performance for your game.”
While retail consumers may not have access to Titleist CFT golf balls, they do have access to fitters around the country. No matter how well you know your game or the relationship between the Pro V1 and Pro V1x golf balls – or any golf balls for that matter – getting properly fit by a professional fitter is always the right decision for your game.