The first major championship on the LPGA calendar will have a new look this week, as the Chevron Championship moves to a new host course – The Club at Carlton Woods in The Woodlands in Houston, Texas.
An overwhelming number of players at the 2023 Chevron Championship will trust their success to a Titleist golf ball, with an almost perfectly-even split between Pro V1 and Pro V1x models.
Why do some players choose V and others X? The answer is simple. Players are unique and different players need different performance from their equipment. As a player, you shouldn't have to adjust your technique or shot selection to make a single ball work. We design different golf ball models so that you can get the specific performance that your game requires – without changing the things that you do well, naturally.
To illustrate this point, we recently met with two players who have close ties to the Chevron Championship. 2021 champion, Patty Tavatanakit, relies on the Pro V1x golf ball. 2022 champion Jennifer Kupcho favors Pro V1.
We had a front-row seat as Patty and Jennifer hit their first shots with the new 2023 Pro V1 and Pro V1x. The testing was conducted by Jeff Beyers, Tour Consultant for Titleist Golf Ball Performance. Jeff performs a crucial function for Titleist Golf Ball R&D, working with elite players across multiple world tours. He works extensively with players like Patty and Jennifer, introducing new prototypes, capturing ball flight dat and relaying player feedback to our development teams back in Fairhaven, Mass. This is how Jeff Introduced the new models to Patty:
"The 2021 Pro V1 and Pro V1x have been great golf balls on all tours for us, and in the marketplace as well. So with 2023, we didn't want to change them a whole lot. What we wanted to do was just take everything we like and that players like about the 21 V and X and just make subtle tweaks where we saw opportunities to improve. So, we changed the core formulation, made it a little bit faster in both models. We were also able to optimize spin throughout the bag. We took some RPMs out to maximize distance, especially with the driver and longer clubs, but we retained that same aerodynamic performance, short game control, spin around the green – everything that you and other players love about 21."
As Patty warmed up, we asked her if there are specific shots that she pays most attention to when testing and comparing golf ball models.
"The wedge shots and probably the 4-iron," Patty told us. "With the 4-iron I can really see if I'm launching it too low or spinning it too little. Because you want to go into par-fives with height and spin to be able to stop the ball on the green. Around the greens I really need to see consistency in the spin and I have to get feel out of it. So, those are the two things that I'm most concerned about before really trusting the golf ball."
Patty hit shots with her wedges, 8-iron, 5- and 4-irons and finally her driver. Jeff shared the TrackMan numbers, noting that the 2023 Pro V1x was hitting the peak height and spin numbers that Patty needs to see. The feel of the new X also checked the right boxes for Patty:
"When I play short irons or wedges, especially wedges around the greens, the first thing I look for is the feel and the sound. I love the feedback of the sound of the Pro V1x ball compared to the Pro V1. In my opinion, I think the X tends to give a little bit more feedback in terms of sound. Even with putting, I love the feedback of the Pro V1x. It's important, because that feedback is what makes you do things consistently."
Feel is also an important consideration for Jennifer Kupcho, but she perceives feel very differently than Patty does.
"Jennifer is very feel sensitive," Jeff told us. "But unlike Patty, Jennifer needs her golf ball to sound and feel soft. That's how she's able to dial in her touch and adjust the weight on her shots. She also likes the lower flight and launch window of Pro V1. Jennifer generates a lot of height and spin on her own, so she doesn’t need the higher flight and increased spin of X. The way she strikes the ball and her preference for soft feel makes V an easy choice."
During her range testing with Jeff, the new Pro V1 generated ideal flight and spin numbers for Jennifer. But this was only the first step in the process required to thoroughly evaluate and compare golf ball models. Jeff shipped a couple dozen 2021 and 2023 Pro V1s to Jennifer where she would continue the process, testing and comparing the models side by side on her home course.
"I think it's mostly around the greens that I need to see the shots," Jennifer added, "because it's being able to trust how much it's going to spin and making sure it's going to spin all the time. You need to see that on the golf course. I feel like I'm a pretty good short game player, but I'm a lot different than other girls. I like to hit cut spinners where a lot of girls just bump it. So being able to get that consistent spin is really important to me."
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Thanks to Patty, Jennifer and Jeff and good luck to all of #TeamTitleist at the Chevron Championship!
Patty Tavatanakit | Why I Play the Titleist Pro V1x
Jennifer Kupcho | Why I Play the Titleist Pro V1