One Golfers Experience Testing Titleist Golf Balls

About 3 weeks ago I received an e-mail from Titleist asking if I would like to join Team Titleist and test a new golf ball. Having a few minutes to kill I answered positively and went along without giving it much thought. Yeah I felt pretty good about it but I had received "Test offers" for golf equipment before and nothing had ever come of it besides junk mail offering me golf equipment at discount prices if I agreed to complete a survey.

Then I was browsing through eBay one day when I noticed a fair number of "Rare Titleist Test Balls" for sale at auction. A somewhat sad feeling came over me. 1st because it was apparent that for whatever reason I had been passed over as a "golf ball tester" and 2nd because these people that were selected were more interested in a quick $5.00 from eBay than providing the test data they agreed to provide.

To my surprise few days later though I opened my mailbox and there it was, a small white box, just large enough to hold a sleeve of golf balls bearing the return address of "Acushnet Company P.O. Box 965 Fairhaven, MA 02719-0965." I am sure a smile came to my face as I quickly checked my calendar and the local weather forecast. 

The test golf balls really came at a perfect time for me for a few reasons. I love to play golf in the fall, it is easy to find a time when I can practically have the golf course to my self and best for Titleist as well, my game has been the most consistent it has been in years with my last 6 rounds all within 2 strokes.

Anyway it looks like next week will be perfect as Indian summer will arrive here in Southern New England with temps in the 60's,and I just can't wait. 

Alright I admit it, I couldn't wait for a chance to try these golf balls on the golf course so I ended up dropping them on the putting green on my way home the other day.  The first thing I noticed was the dimple pattern. I'm surprised I didn't see this when I removed them from their sleeve upon arrival but I didn't. Maybe it just became clear when I held them next to my ProV1x which is the ball I normally play. The second thing I noticed was the sound. I use a bronze head Slazenger putter and the test golf ball Titleist made a "thunk" sound where the Prov1x makes more of a "ping". 

In the mean time a couple of photos for my memory banks.

After a dozen of so practice rolls I started taking dead aim from about 30 feet. It seemed a little odd but the test ball seemed to be holding the line a little better. Sure that it was my imagination I took my glasses off mixed up the 4 balls on the putting surface ( 2 test balls, 2 ProV1x). Now with my glasses off I was unable to see the difference in the ball dimples or marking so all four strokes would be made not knowing which ball I was going to putt. Again from about 30 feet I let them roll. The pattern left was interesting indeed. There were two balls that stopped about hole high just a few inches right of the hole and two balls that had stopped about hole high 12 -18" left of the hole. 

Now granted without my glasses on I couldn't be sure that I started everything on the same line, but I can be sure I tried. When I strolled down to the cup I was a bit taken back. Both balls that held the line and stayed above the hole were the test balls. Umm, I said to myself as I set up all 4 balls at about 2 feet and tapped them in, this is worth looking at again. However I decided it best to stop this little putting test now, and put the test balls away until I can take them for an on course work out. Needless to say I'm really looking forward to it.

Well test day arrived as forecast. 65 degrees F, crisp clear blue sky, the Southern New England fall colors just past their peak, an empty golf course and as if the golf Gods planned it that way no wind to speak of. It isn't that the wind bothers me, quite the contrary I enjoy golfing in the wind with its added challenges. But today was for testing a golf ball for Titleist and I wanted the only influence on the ball to be my stroke and the golf course.

I took a riding cart today because again this was about testing a golf ball not a late afternoon round and I wanted to be able to hit multiple shots from various locations with undo delay. As I went about my pre-round preparations I added a note pad to the card clip on the cart, re-read the notes that Titleist included with the test sleeve and slipped on a brand new Foot Joy StaSof. So you don't think I'm married to Titleist in some strange way here is a run down of my equipment. Foot Joy shoes and glove. Titleist bag and driver (983K). Taylormade Bubble 3 and 5 metals, Wilson Staff Midsize RM forged irons, Wilson PW & SW as well as a Wilson R20 Special wedge. The putter is a Bronze Head Slazenger. The driver is a stiff shaft, the metals and irons are regular shafts. Time dictated 9 holes would be all I give it.

What I decided for my methodology if you will, was to hit a Titleist Test ball and Prov1x from each shot location. If I dubbed one with either ball I would re-hit with that type of ball so that I would have one shot with type each ball from each condition. I usually start out each round a bit conservative and decided to make today no different. Our opening hole is a 425 yard par 4 slight dogleg right that gets pinched by fairway bunkers left and right at about 255 off the tee. I typically try to hug the left side and with a medium swing and try to come up short of the bunker left. Both balls were struck reasonably well and straight down the left side. My first reaction to the test ball was that it felt "heavy" coming off the club face although it was about 1-1/2 yards past the ProV1x when I got to the balls. It did end up about a foot in the rough (no fault of the ball :o) so I decided great I'll play a soft 4 iron in and find out right now about mid to long irons out of the rough. I pushed the test ball slightly right and it ended up in a greenside bunker about pin high. The ProV1x finished left and about a yard or two into the depth of the green so once again with moderate club head speed the test ball was a little longer.

Neither chip was particularly good or bad and I missed both 6' putts. The Test ball seemed lively coming off the club face which surprised me as I had putted with it on the putting green the other day and did not remember that.

Our next hole is a short par 5, 475 yards. The firm fairway starts sloping right at about 225 off the tee toward a rather large and intimidating collection bunker so the shot is left center. I normally try to draw the ball into the slope which when executed can get the ball up onto the flat left center of the fairway. That is the shot I hit with the ProV1x. I thought I hit pretty much the same shot with the Titleist Test ball but it just did not want to turn over as it rocketed toward the collection bunker. Although the Test ball did not reach the bunker it ended up with a nasty side hill lie, so that even though it was a few yards further I decided to play from the flat lie with a 3 iron. To get home was going to take a poke but the green is severely bunkered with a row of trees behind so that if you miss, miss short. I took a big swing generating plenty of club head speed and hit what I thought was the ProV1x flush and the ball landed about 15 yards short of the green and stopped which surprised me a little so I just assumed I hit a soft spot. Then I hit what I thought was the test ball and it took off like a missile stopping just on the front edge of the green. When I got to the balls I found it interesting that all prior shots the Test ball had been a little longer, but figured there was a soft spot in the fairway that sat it down this time. Putting uphill from about 50' I sent the test ball past the hole by a good 10-12'. It held the line beautifully but really jumped off the putter. The ProV1x I put to around 6'. Missed  both birdie putts and moved on to one of my favorite driving holes.
Number 3 is a 350 yard par 4, dog leg left around a ancient oak that guards the green from being driven and forces all tee shots right. From about 120 yards in bunkers line the right side of the fairway all the way to the green. The first 2 bunkers on the right are drivable although to hit the second you really have to launch one so this is my normal target and I always try for a slight draw off the tee. There is not much trouble right before  the bunkers and if you miss it bad enough and end up right of the bunkers you have a slightly longer shot from the rough but the green slopes fairly strong back to front so if you hit enough club it normally does not present much of a problem. In other words, it is a good chance to grip it and rip it which I did with both balls. The Prov1x although not perfect drew slightly came left of the first trap and left about a 70 yard bump and run to a front pin. 

The Titleist Test ball once again felt a little heavy and did not come back left leaving about 120 into the green from the rough. I chose this a my second shot. I decided to be as unbiased as I could here and the sun made that fairly easy as it was directly in my face making it impossible to even see the green without shading my eyes, let alone ball flight. To make this little test as fair a possible I took off my glasses then dropped both balls at once in the rough leaving me no idea as to which was which and conditions as such that head down and smooth swing were my only options. Both shots were hit good, one a little purer than the other which made it quite interesting as I reached the shade and found both balls on the green. One pin high 10 feet left and the other back edge center. There was a ball mark just short of center that needed fixing and when I got to the ball I was little surprised to see it was the ProV1x as the test ball had been longer with every medium or soft swing thus far. When I got to the test ball there was no mark to be found so I putted out both balls. Again the test ball seemed lively off the putter leaving me with a come backer. As I left the green off the back left there was the ball mark about 20' past the hole and man had it ripped up some turf. Interesting indeed. With a 140 yard par 3 coming up next it I was looking forward to seeing if this was going to be repeated.

On the fourth tee I really felt the need to hit two smooth ones which I did. First the ProV1x landed short and right of the flag, did it's modest little dance and rolled back just shy of the where it originally landed. Now the Test Titleist, pulled slightly but hit well it landed about 30' past the hole and then like it was on a bungee cord it snapped back about 15'. Two putts on each ball on off to number 5 a monster par 4.

The fifth is a 465 yard par 4 that can be stretched out to 490 when the super is feeling nasty. Today though it was just normal tough. I proceeded to push both drives right into the tree line. I found them both with in a few yards of each other the Test Titleist a little longer but with less bark so I don't think that tells us anything. I did choose its spot though as there was an opening to squeeze a low cut through and not having tested this shot yet I decided to give it a go. The ProV1x responded much like I'm used to climbing to the right and working its way down the fairway a few extra yards. The Titleist Test ball stumped me again only this time it just did not want to turn left to right. Not really happy with its lack of response I tried another with a very exaggerated cut move and it did respond in kind but not to the degree I expected. Anyway I found myself about 115 yards out and hit both with a soft smooth swing and both balls acted as I was now expecting. Both on the green, the  test ball carrying a little further. One putt later on the test ball, (uphill about 15') and I just simply went on to the sixth another of my favorite driving holes.

Number six is a 375 par 4 that begs the right hand golfer to hit a draw of the tee. A very slight dog leg left up a fairly good hill. If you don't reach the top third of the hill which is about 250 off the tee you have a blind second shot so most guys try to turn it up a bit here. I hit the Test Titleist first picking my favorite tree on the right and tried to draw it back into the fairway. Not only did it not turn, to my surprise it did not reach the top third of the hill and I thought I hit it pretty good. I then hit my Titleist ProV1x along the same line and not only did it turn as I hoped but ran like a rabbit when it landed climbing to the top of the hill giving me a clear 100 yard pitch to a back left pin. I missed the green left with the ProV1x and long with the Test ball leaving me my first flop shot of the day. I know when I hit these with the ProVx1 I need dead hands so I played the test ball the same way. To be honest I had to hit three shots before I was comfortable that it was the ball but found I could not get that "dead cat" bounce I was looking for. It just seem to to want to jump off the club face.
The seventh is a 175 yard par 3 that requires from me a solid 5 iron or light 4 iron. Based on what I'd been experiencing I chose the 4 iron, swung smooth at each ball and got the expected result. Although I missed the green with both shots right, the Test Titleist carried a few yards further. I pitched both balls to about 12' and although it seemed to be ok the Test Titleist again seemed to leap off the club face yet it felt heavy at the same time. The result was ok and after two putts I moved on to number 8.

A 545 yard par 5 with OB right and narrows at 130 yards this hole can be a challenge. I can reach it in two if I hit the down slope on my drive which is about 240 off the tee. The fairway landing area is WIDE and this little puppy just screams pucker up. Hitting the Test Titleist first I did everything I could to blast one. Bang ! Or more like "thunk" and off it shot. I just knew that would catch the down slope and go. Happy with that swing I teed up the Prov1x and bang, gave it a rip knowing it would reach the down slope as well and for the first time I would be able to fairly state which ball I thought was longer off the tee. As I approached the down slope I thought it would be close. To my surprise it was not. I had hit the Titleist ProV1x past the Titleist test ball by 15 yards. Playing from the ProV1x spot I had about 265 in and chose a 3 metal. This shot I like to draw and put the ProV1x about 40 yards from the front of the green. Not a terrific shot but playable. Again trying to hit a slight draw the Test Titleist just would not turn over and although it was hit a little better and a little further up I was unhappy and dropped another ball. I wanted to hit a draw damn it. So like the earlier cut, I exaggerated my move and low and behold the Test Titleist went right to left thought reluctantly. Both short pitches in left me tap in birdies and off to the 9th.

The 9th is a short 280 yard par 4 that is drivable but I normally play a 4 iron off the tee as the fairway is narrow and the green is well bunkered both sides and front. Once again easy swing, moderate club head speed the Titleist Test ball was 2-3 yards longer than the ProV1x. Both approach shots came up short with no major difference in play other than the Test Titleist once again felt heavy. Chips and putts as prior.

In summary 

  • I found that the Test Titleist when struck with moderate club speed was 1/2 to 1 club longer in most situations. However at higher club head speeds it did not perform as well distance wise as the Titleist ProV1x. 
  • The Titleist Test ball seemed to produce a lot of action or back spin on full swing short and mid iron approach shots. Real stopping power.
  • I found the Test Titleist difficult to work especially a draw.
  • Around the greens I found it to be lively off the club face. This is something I'm sure I could get used to fairly quickly as it seemed to roll smoothly and hold a line very well.
  • Lastly on shots that were even the slightest mis-hit the ball felt heavy.

Well that's it. My thanks to the Acushnet Company for the chance to be part of Team Titleist and giving me the chance to advance test their new golf ball. I have no idea the market they are targeting with this new beauty but my guess is those with moderate swing speed wanting a little extra distance are going to love it ! Especially those that at times have some curving issues with their tee shots.

I'm looking forward to Titleist's over all test results and see where my thoughts fit (if at all) to the big picture.

To learn more about golf balls and golf ball testing, continue your search here........

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