Titleist is making a previously TOUR-only golf ball available to the public
September 10, 2019
By Andrew Tursky, PGATOUR.COM
- Titleist is now making the Pro V1x Left Dash golf ball available to the public. (Andrew Tursky)
While Titleist says that over 80% of its PGA TOUR players, week-to-week, use stock Pro V1 and Pro V1x golf balls that are available to the public, there are some TOUR golfers who use prototype golf balls. Titleist calls these CPOs, or Custom Performance Options. The purpose of these custom offerings for TOUR players is two-fold; it allows Titleist to test out possible future retail technologies on TOUR players as a proving ground of sorts, and it also allows Titleist to better fit a golf ball to players with specific flight and feel needs.
One of the well-known CPO offerings is the “Left Dot” Pro V1 that became available around 2013. A number of very high-spin players on TOUR use the golf ball to lower their spin and ball flight, and it provides a firmer feel. There are two lesser-known CPO offerings played on TOUR, as well. There’s a Pro V1 “Star,” and a Pro V1 “Left Dash.”
The Left Dash Pro V1x is a high-flying ball that’s made to have lower spin and a firmer feel. Players such as Luke Donald, Scott Piercy, Lucas Glover, Jimmy Walker and Ryan Armour have used, or still use, this golf ball.
In order to allow more golfers to find their best fit in a golf ball, Titleist is now making the Pro V1x Left Dash golf ball available to the public.
To get the complete lowdown on exactly what the Left Dash golf ball is, who it’s for and how to get it, PGATOUR.COM caught up with Titleist’s VP of Golf Ball Marketing Michael Mahoney.
Enjoy the full Q&A below!
PGATOUR.COM: I think most golfers know about the Titleist “Left Dot” prototype at this point, but what is the Left Dash?
Michael Mahoney: I would start to explain it by taking a step back and talking about what we were refer to as Custom Performance Options (CPOs), which Left Dash, Left Dot, and Pro V1 Star are. The primary purpose they serve for us is to be able to put new technologies – technologies that may influence future directions of golf balls – out on TOUR and have them put the balls in play. The secondary purpose of them is to fit players with really unique launch conditions.
So the Left Dot, as you mentioned, is a golf ball that we put out on TOUR 5-or-6 years ago. It was really the precursor, from a technology standpoint, to the 2017 Pro V1. It has continued to live on with a handful of golfers playing it on any given week.
Left dash, similar to Left Dot, was a golf ball we put on TOUR about a year-and-half ago, or 2 years ago. It had a big influence over the direction of the Pro V1x for 2019. From a performance standpoint, Left Dash has a similar flight to the (2019) Pro V1x since it’s a high-flying golf ball, but with dramatically lower spin and a little bit firmer feel. For simplification purposes, it’s essentially a low-spin Pro V1x.
In terms of what CPOs do for us, they help us test technologies and address players with unique launch conditions. But as we’ve said widely, on any given week out on TOUR, 80+ percent of players are playing a stock model. And we really think that Left Dash, as an example, will only fit probably 5 percent or less of golfers out in the world; that’s what we see out on TOUR, as well.
So what made you bring this product to retail, and not one of the other CPOs?
We made a decision to expand the offering of CPOs across all worldwide tours earlier this year, just from a simplification standpoint. We also had some demand for the performance properties in the Left Dash among some elite amateurs, college players, and players playing competitively in USGA events and so forth. So we decided to use Left Dash as an option for them. Again, still similar in terms of the volume -- pretty small – but we saw some demand.
As soon as we moved Left Dash outside of the world of the professional tours, in terms of being consistent with what we do from a mission standpoint, serving golfers and also serving our partners, we wanted to be sure that it was available. We didn’t want a college player who’s playing this ball to walk into their pro shop and say, “Oh yeah, I play this special ball from Titleist,” or something like that, and have it be misconstrued as something that’s a TOUR select or different. As a result, we said, “We’ll make it available.”
When we say it’s available, it’s special order only. We don’t expect golf shops are going to stock this, or it’s going to be another Titleist display in your golf shop. It really will be something you get fit into from your pro, or your pro may say, “You can benefit from these characteristics.”
Say I just want to get a dozen of these golf balls, will I be able to go on Titleist.com, or do I have to go through a fitter or a club pro?
We’re not going to offer it on Titleist.com right away. We don’t have any plans to, anyway. So yeah, it’d have to be something you order through your pro, or through any Titleist golf ball account.
Was there a specific player on TOUR who this ball was designed for? Who plays it on TOUR?
I can tell you some players who play it on TOUR, but I also would tell you that what’s interesting about it is, it isn’t necessarily that all the players using this golf ball have certain characteristics. A lot of people look at the ball immediately and would say they think it would be a golf ball for a high-speed player. As it turns out, that’s not really what we’ve seen in terms of people playing it. Like, Ryan Armour has put this in play, Luke Donald has put it in play, Jimmy Walker has played it, Lucas Glover has played it. Ben Silverman has played it a little bit. Again, it’s not a huge number of players, but those are the ones who come to mind.
Again, the characteristics of it are that it’s high-flying and low-spinning; it’s the lowest spinning Pro V1 or Pro V1x that we make. So typically it’s somebody who’s relatively spinny, somebody who’s trying to control the spin with their irons in particular, and prefers a firmer feel.
If you could place it within the lineup of your current offerings – Pro V1, Pro V1x, AVX – where does it sit?
It’s got spin characteristics closest to the AVX – not quite that low spin, but pretty close. Then it has flight characteristics like the Pro V1x. So it’s the firmest golf ball that we have, it has similar flight characteristics to the X, and then it has spin characteristics of the AVX.
How is possible to design a ball that flies high but spins low? It seems a bit counterintuitive, no?
Yeah, it does. The big thing to keep in mind about the way a golf ball flies is that once it leaves the club face, the thing that really influences its flight is its dimple pattern. So why does Pro V1x fly higher? It flies higher because of the aerodynamics of the dimples that we use, versus Pro V1, which flies lower. So we use patterns to optimize the flight to the golf ball’s performance. A golf ball, as an example, that wouldn’t have a lot of spin, we’ll use the aerodynamics to control the flight… and a golf ball that does have more spin doesn’t fly off the planet.
Will it be the same pricing as the Pro V1 and Pro V1x? And when is it out?
It will be the same pricing, and it’s available for shipping on October 1.
OK, so if someone goes to a ball fitting, they have the ability to get fit into the ball? And they can get it ordered for shipping by that October date?
Yes, with our ball fitters right now. But at a club-fitting event, some will have it and some won’t; it’s not universally available across the board. And really it won’t be available for order until October 1. There’s no real pre-order window or anything.
Can we expect, if this release goes well, for Titleist to eventually release the Left Dot and the Star? Is that where we’re heading?
No, I don’t necessarily know. We don’t have specific plans to do that. We haven’t seen demand… I would say this: Left Dot, a lot of characteristics are pretty similar to the V, and even AVX in terms of low spin and low flight. But we think the AVX and the Pro V1 are better golf balls for the vast majority of players than the Left Dot. We have golf balls in the line that resemble the Left Dot. The Pro V1 Star is such a unique golf ball in that, I’m not sure it’s all that good for any regular golfer. It’s really extreme in terms of launch conditions. It’s a very, very high-spin Pro V1, is how I would describe it. That is a unique profile.
Left Dash is a little different in the sense that the thing we don’t necessarily have is low spin and high flight in the line right now. So that’s what prompted us to [release it]. Again, like I said, it’s still a very small group of golfers that will fit into it, but it’s made sense for us to at least offer it as an addition to the line as a special order standpoint. Of course, if golfers demand it, and they want it, we will make it available, but from a performance standpoint we think it’s best.
Related: Understand the differences between the Pro V1 and Pro V1x golf ball.