By James Achenbach, Golfweek
Titleist’s newest Pro V1 golf balls are ready to hit retailers’ shelves this week, promising more distance, softer feel and more durability in a tour-proven ball that already has won seven professional golf tournaments around the world.
The 2013 Pro V1 and Pro V1x golf balls go on sale Friday in the United States.
Five players have won with the new Pro V1x: Luke Donald (Dunlop Phoenix), Angel Cabrera (Visa Open de Argentina), Louis Oosthuizen (Volvo Golf Champions), David McKenzie (Victorian PGA Championship) and Brian Gay (Humana Challenge).
Two have triumphed with the new Pro V1: Adam Scott (Australian Masters) and Hiroyuki Fujita (Nippon Series JT Cup).
Let’s look at the evolution of these balls. The first Pro V1 appeared at retail in early 2001. In every odd year since - 2003, '05, '07, '09, '11 and now '13 - new versions of the Pro V1 and Pro V1x have been unveiled.
The 2013 Pro V1 promises softer feel than previous versions. According to Titleist, the new ball is the softest Pro V1 ever produced.
If the Pro V1 is softer, the Pro V1x is longer. There are many more refinements to these balls, but golfers in general will be talking about the softness of the Pro V1 and the length of the Pro V1x.
Titleist says each model goes farther than its predecessor. One reason is that both produce less spin and fly lower, which enhances rollout and provides longer total distance.
In comparing the trajectory of the two balls, the Pro V1x has always flown marginally higher than the Pro V1.
And to go along with its longer distance, the new Pro V1x offers a slight spin increase on iron shots.
What else is new?
The compression of the Pro V1 is down about six points, from the mid-90s to the high-80s. The Pro V1x remains close to 100.
The aerodynamics and dimple patterns are the same as the 2011 versions.
“It still has 352 dimples and five different dimple sizes,” said Bill Morgan, senior vice president of golf ball research and development.
Morgan was referring to the Pro V1. The two balls always have had different dimple patterns, with the Pro V1x at 328 dimples.
The paint, however, has changed on both balls. Titleist says the new paint is much more durable, noting that it is extremely difficult to chip, and the ball will not begin to turn yellow or brown after UV exposure.
This increased durability is a noteworthy achievement, because many consumers play one ball for more than 18 holes. The prospect of 36 or 54 holes with one ball is enticing.
The side stamp on the new balls looks similar to the one used previously, except it is painted a silver-gray color rather than the black used in the past.
Another major selling point for Titleist is ball control around the greens. Tour pros Stewart Cink and Tom Gillis, who use the new Pro V1, expanded on the topic.
“These balls are softer, particularly the Pro V1,” Cink said. “This is really appealing to touring pros.”
Gillis concurred: “The softness is very impressive. You just feel like you can get everything up and down.”
PGA Tour player Scott Stallings also switched to this year's Pro V1x model.
“It performs better," Stallings said. "It does everything that the other ball did but better. It flights better. It’s a little bit softer, and it just performs better in all circumstances. The durability, that’s probably the thing I like the most.”
The price of either ball will be $47.99 per dozen.