Titleist has had the number one ball on the market for as long as I can remember, and I have a few gray hairs. Every two years Titleist releases a new version of their high-end balls. I sometimes think that if it isn't broke, don't fix it. Titleist seems to use the mantra of "every moment we rest gives our competitors a chance to catch up."
With that, Titleist has released all new versions of the Pro V1 and Pro V1x in an attempt to keep their competitors at an arm's length and keep a tight grip on their tremendous market share. So how do you improve the number one ball on the market? Well, there are a few ways but you'll have to read on to find out what those are and if it made a difference to this long-time Titleist player.
Design and Technology
The Pro V1 and Pro V1x both are multi-piece, solid-core golf balls. The Pro V1 is a three-piece ball and the Pro V1x is a four-piece ball. One of the new features is an upgrade to the cover of the ball, offering a higher performance urethane elastomer to improve durability.
The core of the Pro V1 and Pro V1x is where the two balls differ the most. While both are made of Polybutadiene, the four-layer Pro V1x sports a dual core design while the three-layer Pro V1 has a single core. The inner core of the Pro V1x is a 1" diameter ball. The outer core surrounds it, and as a whole, the core is a bit larger than in the 2007 Pro V1x. The role is still the same: reduction of spin over Pro V1's single core.
Outside the core, the remaining two layers of the Pro V1 and Pro V1x balls are the casing and the cover. While the core grew in size, the Ionomer casing was made a bit thinner. The cover, as mentioned before, has gotten a makeover to make it a bit more durable.
The 392 (Pro V1) and 332 (Pro V1x) dimple design with Staggered Wave parting line has not changed in either the Pro V1x or Pro V1. The A.I.M (Alignment Integrated Marking) on the side of the ball has subtly changed with a dot between the end of the line and the arrow. Not a big change, but a change none the less, and one that will differentiate the product from the 2007 version.
In general, the balls break down as follows:
- Softer feel around the greens
- More spin leading to added workability with irons and more short-game "check"
- Firmer feel around the greens
- Longer off the tee and straighter due to decreased spin
Feel and Spin
How a ball feels off the face of the club, especially around the green, is more important to my game than any other aspect, feature, or measurement. I know that the ability to control the ball the way I want in a consistent manner in the scoring area (80 yards and in) shapes my scoring more than distance off the tee, control in the wind, or anything else.
As advertised, the Pro V1 continues to be the softer ball of the two. With the wedge, you can hit an array of shots using the new Pro V1. Even on firm greens I was able to hit one-bounce-and-stop chips with ease. Half wedges and longer shots also had a decent amount of spin without overdoing it.
Once you ratchet up to a full swing with a lob or sand wedge you can put some serious spin on the Pro V1. It's a bit more than I like, but players who are not able to normally put a lot of spin on the ball should be able to do so with the Pro V1. For comparison sake, it spins a bit more than what I experienced with the TaylorMade TP Red ball.
The Pro V1x also maintains its reputation as a lower-spin ball with a slightly firmer feel. Around the green you can still generate enough spin to get the one-bounce-and-stop action, but technique and clean contact matter a bit more. The new Pro V1x doesn't stop quite as quickly as its sister ball, the Pro V1, but it's got plenty of spin for this golfer. The action I can generate with the Pro V1x is just right. Full wedges hardly ever over-spin and normally will take the one hop, stop and pull back to where the ball landed - that's Titleist's "drop and stop" technology. Chips that I play to roll out do so without taking away the opportunity to hit the checking short shot. Like I said, it's just right.
On the green the Pro V1 has a very pleasant soft feel without being "mushy" soft. You still get feedback off the putter face. In this respect, I prefer the Pro V1 over the Pro V1x. I wouldn't classify the Pro V1x as a bad ball to putt - it's actually very good - but the Pro V1 is just a bit softer and feels a bit better on the green. The Pro V1x is still soft, but has a bit more of a "click" off the face of the putter.
The soft feel of both the Pro V1 and Pro V1x and the ability to consistently control spin is what makes the Pro V1 balls, in my opinion, the best out there. Current Pro V1 and Pro V1x players will find the new balls nearly identical in both feel and spin. The only thing I could barely notice was that the new versions felt a bit harder than their older counterparts. Not enough to make one change their preference though.
Distance and Durability
Titleist has touted the new versions of the Pro V1 and Pro V1x as longer. Anyone expecting a big, noticeable distance boost will be disappointed. The Pro V1x, of course, was the longer of the two balls. Most everyone would expect that. For this review, I took a sleeve of the 2007 Pro V1 and Pro V1x and hit some drives and irons along with the 2009 versions.
Comparing the '07 and '09 versions, I found that with the Pro V1, I gained a few yards off of the tee with the new version. Some golfers may not see any difference. The only time I saw a bit more length was with the driver as I saw no discernible difference with my irons.
My current ball of choice, the Pro V1x, performed surprisingly well in terms of distance. While I noticed only a few yards difference with the Pro V1, the gap between the '07 and '09 Pro V1x was often 10 full yards. As such, I'm a bit more comfortable in saying that the new Pro V1x is longer. Again, these results will vary by golfer and your individual launch characteristics, but I think that most will see positive results.
Finally, the last area that Titleist has hyped about the new versions of the Pro V1 - its durability. Typically I will stretch a single Pro V1x to last an entire round - assuming I don't lose it. After that, it will usually go into a shag bag. I'm a bit picky about my ball's appearance, so others may find another round in a ball that I'd throw away.
Naturally the new Pro V1, because it is a softer ball, did not wear as well as the new Pro V1x. Compared to the 2007 Pro V1 though, the 2009 model held up a lot better. In fact, after nine holes with the Pro V1 there were only minor marks and the ball was close to new in appearance. The same can be said for the new Pro V1x against its older version. It didn't finish with scuff marks, which I never seem to have a problem with unless a cartpath gets in the way, but the minor scratches and scrapes (and groove bite marks) were reduced or eliminated after the same amount of use. The newer models simply seemed more "useable" after a round or less of use.
This is good news given the most common criticism of the number one ball on the market: its price. With the 2009 models, you can expect a bit more return on your investment - and that's something just about everyone will welcome.
Charting the New Ball
So how does the new ball stack up with the old? A few charts might help.
These graphs show three things: Driving Distance, Softness, and Spin from Irons. They use a relative scale of 1-10. There aren't any actual measurements, and for the sake of comparison this 1-10 scale considers premium golf balls available today, like the Nike One, the Callaway Tour i, the TaylorMade TP, etc. Only Titleist's new and old balls are charted, but you should consider the 1-10 scale as covering the entire premium ball category.
The '09 Pro V1 and Pro V1x are slightly firmer than the '07 version. I attribute this to the fact that the new ball is more durable and Titleist has sacrificed a bit of the softness to accomplish that. The difference is barely noticeable.
Along with being a bit firmer, the new Pro V1 and Pro V1x spin a bit less than their older counterparts. The good part about this is that none of the control and feel around the greens has been lost. Any shot you have been able to hit before remains possible with the new ball.
The best enhancement to the Pro V1 and Pro V1x is added distance. With what you lose in spin and softness, you gain back off the tee. Again, most of these changes are subtle and may be more noticable by different players. My guess is that most won't notice a difference.
Not charted: durability. While the '07 models were pretty average within their respective softer/spinnier and firmer/longer categories, the '09 models would rank quite highly among all premium balls.
When you're on top, it's hard to climb any further. Despite that, the 2009 Pro V1 and Pro V1x have done just that. It wasn't a leap or a jump - just a couple steps forward to keep the masses happy and coming back for more.
I've been playing Titleists since the latter days of the Balata and first generation of Professionals. I'm a loyal customer and have only been tempted once or twice to switch to other manufacturers but never made the jump. The newest update to the Pro V1 by Titleist will keep my business for the foreseeable future. The only switch I can really conceive of making at this point would be from the Pro V1x to the Pro V1.
For the price, I tend to look at it in simple terms. In a round of golf, the only piece of equipment you are guaranteed to use on every shot is the ball. Shouldn't it be the ball you want to play and not a concession or compromise in order to save $0.35?