TaylorMade has produced excellent golf balls for a long time – it just hasn’t always marketed them effectively. That’s strange for a company that has been so successful with clubs, in no small part due to its marketing. TaylorMade has finally taken a play from the Titleist golf ball playbook which we think could grow its success.
And we’re not just talking about the rumored signing of Rickie Fowler to a ball deal, though it certainly won’t hurt.
TaylorMade has been producing 5-piece golf balls since 2009. Between the indifferent marketing and constant name changing, it struggled to fully established its place in the market following. Remember the Lethal? No? We’re not surprised.
The original TP5 was a genuinely great golf ball, and golfers saw legitimate distance gains (particularly in the irons) over ProV and V1X along with exceptional performance in the wind. Some form of TP5 is played by all the top TaylorMade staffers (excluding Tiger) and is the only other mainstream ball to feature a cast urethane cover like the Titleist offerings. Honestly, there wasn’t much TaylorMade needed to change with this golf ball.
To that end, it hasn’t changed what’s arguably the most important thing – the name. Launching a new ball franchise is an effort that just isn’t necessary every two years. If you’re trying to increase loyalty, reorienting the consumer to new branding name isn’t something that needs to be tackled with each release. Let them know it’s better, that should be enough.
So, what has changed? HFM or High-Flex Material. Each layer of the ball gets increasingly stiffer, so the core is soft while the ball gets firmer towards the cover. The HFM material stores energy better than previous materials used in TaylorMade golf ball designs, so TaylorMade says you should see increases in ball speed. TaylorMade says Jon Rahm has picked up an average of 3.5 mph over the previous ball. That’s good for about 11 more yards. That’s the mythical 10 more yards! + one more yard. Hmm, perhaps that’s due to the Speed Injected Twist Face on his new driver…
The new design features what TaylorMade calls a Tri-Fast core, with the inner core compression being just 16 in the TP5, and 25 in the TP5X. The material gets progressively firmer as you move from the outer core to the mantle. It’s this part of the design TaylorMade says unlocks even more extra distance in your irons than the previous models.
A dual-spin cover features a soft urethane outer, with a 30% firmer inner cover. This, according to TaylorMade, creates more spin around the greens as the inner layer forces the urethane into the grooves for added spin. The cover also features a new scuff resistant paint.
Which ball is right for you?
The TP5 is softer at 85 total compression, launches lower with irons, and spins more around the greens. TP5X is firmer at 97 compression, launches higher with the irons, and spins around 300 rpm less around the greens. Rory is expected to play TP5, while Dustin, Rahm, and Day will use the TP5X. There’s no word yet what ball Rickie Fowler might play. He was previously playing what was known as the “left dot” ProV1. A precursor to the 2017 ProV1, the left dot has low launch and low spin characteristics, so a special formula may not be out of the question.
The conventional wisdom among ball fitters is that you should start near the greens (wedge/pitch shots) and work backward. With greenside spin differences often inside the standard deviation for average golfers and similar spin promised off the tee, it may just come down to a feel preference.
Perhaps the biggest surprise is that TaylorMade hasn’t entered the distance urethane category alongside the Titleist AVX, though TaylorMade is convinced that their 5-layer design checks all the boxes. Let’s see if they change their mind on this down the line.
Golf balls are almost as difficult to write about as golf shafts. But in this case, it’s the fact there is so little to say that has us feeling good about this release. The TP5 range has been excellent. It didn’t need wholesale changes or new names, and it hasn’t received them.
The 2019 TP5 and TP5x will be available at retail on 2/15/2019 at an MSRP of $44.99 USD per dozen.
For more information, visit TaylorMadeGolf.com.