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Adam Scott’s victory at The Masters with the 2013 model of Titleist Pro V1 is a reminder not merely of the latest evolution of the world’s most successful golf ball franchise but also the subtle idiosyncrasies in fitting golf balls for players of all levels, professional and amateur.

For a start, the Pro V1 series obviously comprises both the Pro V1 and the Pro V1x, each with different constructions and performance and feel characteristics. And it’s the lower spinning Pro V1x that’s, notionally at least, targeted to fast-swinging tour pros and, sure enough, it dominates on the PGA Tour where it’s preferred by over 75% of Titleist players.

So why is the powerful Australian in the softer, higher spinning Pro V1 camp?

“It’s true that Adam generates a high swingspeed and that he might well pick up a couple of extra yards if he played the Pro V1x.

But there are several other factors that lead him to prefer Pro V1,” explains Bill Morgan, Acushnet’s Senior Vice President of Golf Ball R&D. “His natural swing generates only an average launch angle and a relatively low spin rate and, as a result, he feels that on certain shots the Pro V1x does not give him enough spin. In terms of control, he’s better with the higher spinning Pro V1. He’s also a very feelsensitive player and – particularly on and around the green – likes the markedly softer feel that the Pro V1 construction offers.”

It was towards the end of last year (when many players were still playing the 2011 editions) that Scott put the prototype 2013 Pro V1 in play at the HSBC and the Singapore Open before becoming the first winner with the new ball at the Australian Masters. “I’ve found it a very easy fit into my game and I’ve been very happy with the results. I’ve played well,” reports Scott, who requests a special supply of Pro V1s bearing his favourite number nine.

As we reported in Issue 115, the new generation of both Pro V1 models feature an improved cover paint system which offers greater durability and better cosmetics (there’s even a sun block material in the urethane elastomer cover that stops the white from fading) while the method of application improves the dimple aerodynamics.

Performance wise, the general rule that Pro V1x flies higher than Pro V1, while the latter is much softer feeling, still applies but the nuances of the 2013 editions are worth appreciating. “Purely in terms of irons, fairways and hybrids, the spin on the 2013 Pro V1x is up a bit, making the two balls much closer together than they were in 2011. But the big differences are with respect to feel, and also the ball flight with driver,” says Morgan, explaining that the super-soft ZG core technology of the Pro V1 makes this feel difference wider than ever, while the slightly lower trajectory for the new ‘x’ was also the result of player feedback.

“It was felt that the flight of the 2011 Pro V1x was a probably higher than we needed to go,” confirms Morgan. “For a lot of players it created more distance but, for others – Lee Westwood, for example – the flight was too high. No trajectory is perfect for everyone, but we’ve tried to develop one that’s best for the most players.”

The fact that Lee Westwood skipped the 2011 generation (playing his 2009 Pro V1x until switching to the lower-flying 2013 model for his very high-spinning game) gives us an insight into how Titleist go out of their way to accommodate the tour’s most discerning players.

Supplying them either with ‘Legacy’ product (basically prior generations of the Pro V1 series from 2007, 2009 and 2011) or, in a handful of cases, making them their own custom option with bespoke feel and/or launch properties [though obviously still USGA/R&A conforming].

“I would stress that at least 90% of pros worldwide who play Titleist play the stock ball. But some players on the PGA Tour – and a few on the European Tour – are very tuned to particular flight and feel characteristics,” says Morgan, referring to the custom option made for Zach Johnson: a 2013 Pro V1x doctored to give him the feel of the 2007 model to which he had become so expertly familiar.

But doesn’t Johnson’s softer cover go against the whole philosophy of the firmer ‘x’ franchise?

“Yes,” admits Morgan. “But then this is the age of specialisation!”

Indeed, Titleist’s challenge every two years (this is the seventh generation of Pro V1 since it stormed the tour at the turn of the millennium) is to get as many players as possible into the latest and what the R&D team clearly feel is superior product.

While some players drag their heels, the signs are that the Legacy programme is now becoming a dwindling element.

Notwithstanding flight nuances, most golfers appreciate the landmark improvements such as the switch to the more aerodynamic tetrahedron dimple pattern, introduced in 2011, and now supplemented by the superior cover paint system in the latest range.

Perhaps the ultimate example is Luke Donald, who stuck steadfastly to his 2005 Pro V1x for over seven years before being tempted by the distinctive white box of Titleist prototypes which he found in his locker last autumn.

He put it one play at the Dunlop Phoenix and duly won, joining Adam Scot as the first winners of both new 2013 series. The same weekend, incidentally. Coincidence, or technical progress?

Guide: £51-per-dozen

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