Last year, TaylorMade supplemented its golf ball lineup with the graphically charged TaylorMade pix. Available only in a TP5 version, there was something familiar enough about the design that no one would argue – at least not with a straight face – that there weren’t similarities to Callaway’s increasing popular Truvis offerings. That’s simply the nature of the beast that is the golf equipment biz.
We can banter about who did what first or we take pix for what it is – an indication that the golf ball market is changing. That’s not to suggest that white balls have gone the way of the pleated khaki but patterns, lines, and colors all play to a slowly growing segment of the market that’s receptive to something other than a plain white ball.
As it stands today, non-white hovers around 20% of total ball sales. For Callaway, however, the segment accounts for upwards of 70% of its sales. It’s a big number that suggests an opportunity for companies who dabble in something other than soft balls. TaylorMade would undoubtedly qualify.
The New Rickie Ball
While the changes to the TaylorMade pix are cosmetic only, there are a couple of striking things about this release.
First is the repeated emphasis on the partnership with Rickie Fowler. Rickie is a ball-and-glove-only TaylorMade athlete (he’s a Cobra guy for clubs). TaylorMade reportedly spent a sizeable chunk of cash to lure him from Titleist and, with Tiger being a Bridgestone ball guy, it certainly makes sense to make Rickie the face of the pix franchise – if not TaylorMade’s entire ball business. That no doubt explains part of the reason why TaylorMade describes the new pix as co-developed by Rickie Fowler. Pro-level credibility is likely another factor.
The story of the new TaylorMade pix begins with Rickie lamenting the issues with plain white balls: There’s nothing to focus on. In contrast, graphics give you something to look at. That’s reasonable enough…lines, dots, geometric patterns: they’re part and parcel of any golf ball graphics story.
It was Rickie who suggested that if the Taylormade logo weren’t in two places, there’d be room to create a visual pathway on the ball.
TaylorMade pix Clearpath Alignment
That brings us to the more significant part of the story – Clearpath Alignment. While the first generation of TaylorMade pix was meant to be a cool alternative to white, the updated pix design is more purposeful.
Instead of having two identical logos, a single TaylorMade logo is positioned opposite the sidestamp. Both are centered between the updated TaylorMade pix graphics. The alignment of text and pix graphics creates a pathway through the center of the ball. Twelve multi-colored graphics (the pix ninja stars) frame the text. According to TaylorMade, the new pix design serves as an alignment aid and feedback tool – nothing more. While there’s nothing in the language that states Clearpath is TaylorMade’s answer to Triple Track, the provided animations suggest as much.
Clearpath helps align the ball while the effect of the channel when the ball is rolling indicates whether you’ve hit it true.
I suppose you can call it TaylorMade’s “two-birds, one-ball” answer to Chrome Soft Truvis and Triple Track.
Rickie is expected to use the ball at the Waste Management this week which should provide more than enough tour-level validation to reaffirm that even serious golfers sometimes play something other than white.
TaylorMade pix Availability and Pricing
The new TaylorMade pix is available in both TP5 and TP5X versions. Availability begins February 28. MSRP is $44.99.
For more information, visit TaylorMadeGolf.com.