Custom fitting clubs for individuals has been around for a few years. But an element that is relatively new and underutilised by PGA Professionals is Ball Fitting.
As the #1 ball in golf, we spoke to Titleist’s Golf Ball Director, Michael Mahoney, to discuss why ball fitting is so important for all types of golfers and how that could influence your own ball fitting offerings.
What is the importance of golf ball fitting, and for golfers to play the same golf ball every time they play?
We hear all the time from golfers’ things like, “I’m not good enough to be able to feel the difference” or, “I just play whatever is in my bag”. By playing whatever is in their bag you run into the challenge of not knowing what the golf ball is going to do when you execute the shot the way you want to.
So to give you an example, a golfer who is hitting a shot into a tight pin over a bunker from say, 40 yards; if you put all of our golf balls down and hit that shot five times with each golf ball, you’ll start to notice a pattern and that they all perform a little differently on that shot.
It’s really important that a golfer knows that when he or she hits the shot that they are trying to hit, that the golf ball is going to perform how they are expecting it to. Playing the same golf ball consistently is really critical in helping you to play better golf.
What is the focus of Titleist golf ball fitting?
Our process focuses, first and foremost, on helping you to lower your score and helping you play your best golf. Our methodology starts with those shots that contribute the most to lower scores, which are the shots into and around the green. We go from the green back to the tee when we’re fitting, and start with those shots.
As a result, our fitting methodology fits the vast majority, 95%+ of golfers into a Pro V1 or Pro V1x, because those golf balls have the best scoring performance regardless of whether you’re a 25 handicap, a 10 handicap or a tour player. Our methodology doesn’t change depending on where you are from a skill level, your age, your gender, no matter what. Our fitting focuses on shooting lower scores, and it focuses on those scoring shots.
What about players who don’t swing at the same speed as a tour player, is Pro V1 or Pro V1x still the best ball for them?
We hear that all the time! In fact, club golfers do swing at the same speed as tour player. They may not do it with driver, but when a tour player hits a shot with their 7 or 8 iron, that’s probably the same swing speed as some club golfers have with their driver.
To simply answer the question, golf club fitting is very focussed on specific shots; we fit the driver for a very specific purpose, for one type of shot. We would never say, “Let’s take your driver and hit a 40 yard shot with it”. It would not work very well for that, but we fit wedges for that! We fit irons for their specific job, but the golf ball doesn’t change, the golf ball is the same regardless of what shot you are hitting so it has to work on all of those shots.
So a golf ball for Titleist has to be long, so in the long game it has to be low spin, has to fly far and generate a lot of speed, and in the short game it has to generate high spin from a relatively low speed shot. Pro V1 and Pro V1x are the most highly engineered products we have and they are designed to do exactly that; generate exceptional distance and also have great spin in the short game. Pro V1x is about the longest golf ball that you are going to find anywhere in the world for all golfers; it’s an extraordinary long product. We don’t fit for swing speed, we don’t fit for distance, we fit for scoring and Pro V1 and Pro V1x deliver that for all golfers.
Even lady golfers?
Well, the last time I checked the golf ball doesn’t look up and all of a sudden perform differently because it sees that a woman is hitting it versus a man! We look at the products that are labelled ‘ladies’ products, and we don’t quite understand them. There are certainly no characteristics within the products, no special technology that helps them detect that a woman is swinging at it! We see just as wide a variation in woman’s golf games as we do in men’s and so we design golf balls that are the best performing products for everyone!
What is that sets Titleist apart?
You can’t develop the Titleist culture of dedication towards making the best golf balls in the world in one day. We invest not only a lot of money, but a lot of time and energy in commitment to making the best products in the world. When you see the trust that golfers have in Titleist, it’s not only about golf balls that perform best, but that they know that nobody other than Titleist associates have played a role in the process.
We make all of our products in our own ball plants, with our own associates, mostly on technology that we designed in-house. We are protected by more patents than anybody else in the industry and our technology is more advanced than anybody else in the industry, and that we have a commitment to delivering products that golfers, whether they are trying to make a living playing golf or trying to achieve their best at amateur level, they can trust that our products are going to perform the way they expect them to consistently, ball after ball after ball.
We look at PGA Tour or European Tour counts and those are very validating, but when we look at the US Amateur or British Amateur, those counts go from 65-70% to 80-90%, it’s very validating that we’re achieving our mission, which is to deliver golf balls of superior performance and superior quality for serious golfers.