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The Tour Report

January 27 2012

5:51 PM

New balls, exotic clubs, taking stock

Live Report Image

By John Schwarb, PGATOUR.COM

ORLANDO, Fla. – Titleist dominates the golf ball market, led by its iconic ProV1. This year, the company is taking a renewed run at the part of the market it doesn’t have.

And by its standards, Titleist is getting a little crazy in the process.

The company launched a revamped line outside the unchanged ProV1 and ProV1x this week at the PGA Merchandise Show, including a pure distance ball and – hold on tight – two offerings in yellow.

The NXT line includes a new NXT Tour and NXT Tour S (for soft), with the latter available in white and yellow. The SoLo is also available in white and yellow.

Titleist has sold yellow balls in Japan for a few years but it hasn’t had such an offering in the U.S. in at least 15 years. The company tested many shades of yellow with customers and the colors used on the NXT Tour S and SoLo are slightly different.

The company’s other new offering is the Velocity, a pure distance ball. A high-speed solid core is enveloped in a NaZ2 cover (two parts zinc, one part sodium) with a 332 icosahedral dimple design. Its price point is between the SoLo and NXT, and available with double-digit orange numerals – 00, 11, 22, 33.

For those not quite ready to go so crazy, the Velocity also is offered with regular 1-4 numbers.

MORE BALLS: Bridgestone is releasing updated versions of its popular B330 series on March 1. The company is heavy into ball fitting, with more than 40,000 fittings in 2011 and hundreds more on-site at the Show this week, and slots customers into one of four B330 models.

The B330, used on the PGA TOUR by Davis Love III, Brandt Snedeker and Fred Couples, is their Tour-style ball for swing speeds of 105 mph or more. The B330-S is a spin model, preferred on TOUR by Matt Kuchar and Billy Hurley III.

For swing speeds under 105, Bridgestone offers the B330RX and B330RX-S (the 330 refers to number of dimples; and all models feature new dual-dimple technology), and the B330RX is offered in white and yellow. Bridgestone estimates that in other models offered in both colors, yellow is preferred 30 percent of the time.

ADAMS MAN: Robert Karlsson, second in a playoff at last year’s FedEx St. Jude Classic, switched allegiances from Titleist to Adams Golf over the offseason. On a trip to the company’s test facility in Dallas, he took an immediate liking to the new Speedline Fast 12 driver. He signed a contract with the company, then later bought Adams Golf stock.

CAR CLUBS: Callaway has touted an allegiance with Lamborghini to develop materials for its drivers, but a new company on the Show floor takes the car relationship even further.

Mercedes AMG Formula One Team (that’s the entire name) has released a complete line of clubs, balls, clothes and accessories, targeting buyers who want the prestige of a racecar team on their golf bag. The prestige comes at a price – a driver’s suggested retail price is $499 and a set of irons with graphite shafts is $1,299.

With the price comes technology inspired by the actual Formula One team. The driver features a “Venturi Channel” on the sole, an aerodynamic cavity that disperses air and increases swing speed.

But make no mistake, the Mercedes AMG Formula One Team buyer wants to show off the name. On the company’s driver, the words “Mercedes AMG” appear six times.

F or more from the PGA Merchandise Show, click here.