At Titleist, we take great pride in the legions of professional golfers who rely on our golf ball products. Our place in the game, even our brand tagline – the #1 ball in golf – can be traced back to tour player approval and loyalty. In fact, just this past week we celebrated the 75th consecutive year that Titleist was the number one golf ball at the U.S Open. One hundred six players at Los Angeles Country Club (more than five times the nearest competitor) trusted a Pro V1 or Pro V1x golf ball, including this year's champion, Wyndham Clark, who also relied on a full bag of Titleist club equipment to capture his first major title.
However, helping players achieve success at the highest echelons of golf is only part of our mission at Titleist. The vast majority of golfers who play our products will never compete on golf's biggest stages. Yet their games and their needs are every bit as important to us as the players who raise trophies on Sundays. It's very rewarding to see players like Wyndham Clark perform so well, under such demanding conditions, with his Pro V1x. But the larger concern for us is ensuring that our golf balls will do the same for you when you face your biggest challenges.
This is why we invest so heavily in testing and validating the performance of our golf products with dedicated amateurs. In late 2022, we launched the broadest and most extensive validation effort in our company's history, as we prepared to introduce the new 2023 Pro V1 and Pro V1x golf balls. Validation is the final stage in golf ball product development, a demanding final examination that 2023 Pro V1 and Pro V1x had to pass before we could bring the new models to market in January.
During validation, we supply golfers with what we hope are the final version of new golf ball models. At this point they've gone through hundreds of rounds of tests and numerous tweaks and design iterations. These late-stage prototypes have achieved the design objectives initially set by Titleist R&D. But whether we've truly succeeded or not is not up to us. It's up to you. And thousands of golfers like you. Players at every level of the game – from champions on the worldwide tours, to PGA club professionals, to competitive and aspiring amateurs – they all test these "final" prototypes and decide whether we advance to full-scale production or head back to the drawing board.
One of the first places we targeted for Pro V1 and Pro V1x validation was Winged Foot Golf Club in Mamaroneck, NY. Winged Foot's West Course has hosted the U.S. Open six times and the PGA Championship once. The East Course has hosted the U.S. Women's Open twice as well as a U.S. Senior Open. The club, which is celebrating its centennial this year, has also hosted a Walker Cup and the U.S. Amateur twice.
Few golf clubs share the history and championship pedigree of Winged Foot, but what interested us most was its reputation as a "players club". The members have a reputation not only for skill but passion for the game – just the kind of golfers who could tell us if we were on-track with 2023 Pro V1 and Pro V1x. One of those members, Billy Carrabino, provided some insight into what makes Winged Foot so special:
"In my biased opinion, Winged Foot represents (golf course architect A. W.) Tillinghast's best work. It is a true Golf Club to its roots. With little more to offer than 36 holes and a clubhouse constructed from the rocks excavated during the original shaping of the property, the club's very identity is golf. Outside the quality of the individuals that are members, the club boasts one of the highest percentages of single digit handicaps in the country, further proving its dedication to golf and being a players club."
In late September, Billy would join a Titleist crew and three other Winged Foot members – Ally Steffan, Drake Ferriter and Timothy Rooney – to tee up and evaluate the 388 prototype (the late-stage iteration of what would become the new Pro V1 golf ball) and the 348 prototype (the design that would become the new Pro V1x).
As the photos show (see the slideshow gallery above) it was a postcard day for golf. Each player provided us with a number of highlight-reel shots. What really came across was the pride our golfers had in their club and how much fun the group had in testing white box product.
"I could not have been more proud to be wearing and playing Titleist," Ally shared after the round. "This day will go down in the record books. I can't tell you how many people I bragged to about the ball. I will forever be the biggest sales person for Titleist technology. Best of all I got to share this experience with three of my best friends at a place that feels like my second home."
Check out the video and slideshow gallery above for some more detailed feedback on the 388 and 348 prototypes that our Winged Foot foursome provided after their round.
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Thank you to Ally, Billy, Drake and Tim for helping us bring the new Pro V1 and Pro V1x to market. We'd also like to extend a special thank-you to all the members, golf professionals and staff at Winged Foot Golf Club for their gracious hospitality.
Have you had a chance to experience the new Pro V1 and Pro V1x golf balls? Please weigh in and hear what other players from around the world have to say on our Pro V1 and Pro V1x Validation page.