The Titleist AVX golf ball is a bit of an enigma.

Based on its material make-up, it doesn’t fit with the three-piece, TPU-covered Titleist Tour Speed or two-piece Titleist Tour Soft. Yet, without any obvious connection to the Pro V1 franchise (say, like calling it Pro AVX or something), it exists in golf ball purgatory. It’s not a value-priced option aimed at the golfer who wants to play Titleist without paying a premium. However, it lacks perhaps the most identifiable moniker in the golf ball industry—Pro V1. For those of you who enjoy pop-culture references, the AVX is like working on Dutton’s Yellowstone ranch but without the “Y” brand.

So, that roughly covers what AVX isn’t. But what about what AVX is?

Back It Up

Titleist introduced AVX in 2018 primarily as an alternative to the bellwether Pro V1 and Pro V1x offerings. The intent was to give golfers softer overall feel with less spin and a lower trajectory. Point of reference: Titleist Pro V1 is billed as mid-launch/mid-spin while Pro V1x is high-launch/high-spin, relatively speaking.

Admittedly, it’s a niche performance design that probably won’t ideally fit most of you reading this article. However, much like Pro V1x Left Dash, AVX caters to a specific, albeit smaller, group of golfers best suited by a particular combination of flight, spin and feel. Speaking of which …

Titleist AVX Flight, Spin and Feel

You’ll hear Titleist reference its three hallmark ball fitting criteria quite often. These aren’t unique to Titleist but it does give us a clean and tidy structure to help understand the differences between models. Additionally, it’s worth noting that flight, spin and feel are all dependent variables in the golf manufacturing equation. Meaning that when you change one aspect (spin), it’s going to alter either flight or feel or both. And therein lies the crux of the golf ball manufacturing conundrum.

Golf ball design is a series of opportunity costs, much like allocating finite resources such as time or money. If you have $5 and decide to spend it on a pint of Ben and Jerry’s Chunky Monkey, you can’t spend that same $5 on something else. OK. Back to golf balls. A softer core material produces lower spin off the driver which is beneficial for most golfers. However—and stop me if you’ve heard this before—a softer core is also slower when it comes to generating ball speed. As a result, engineers must fudge around with dimple patterns, mantle layers and cover thickness to alter spin and trajectory to generate sufficient distance.

Contrary to what some might want consumers to believe, it’s ill-advised to suggest that a single ball has the necessary performance attributes for every golfer. We’re all just too damned different. “One size fits all” might work for that $2 Walmart poncho, but that’s about it.

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Titleist AVX Third Generation

“With new AVX, we focused on what AVX golfers are asking for: improving upon the already incredible distance and feel that golfers love while enhancing greenside spin,” says Frederick Waddell, Director of Golf Ball Product Management.

Translation: Golfers want more distance off the tee but without any loss in greenside spin. In fact, while you’re at it, a bit more short-game spin would be nice as well.

Yeah, and I want cauliflower rice that tastes like filet mignon. The asking for something part is easy.

“We achieved this by softening the urethane cover to achieve greater short game performance while adding a new core formulation for speed, and new aerodynamics for flight stability and more distance,” according to Waddell.

Again, the salient point is that every component of a golf ball is connected and has a direct impact on performance.

Titleist AVX Core

The revamped core is designed to generate high speed with less spin in the long irons. Wait. What?

But you just said that a soft core, such as that found in low-compression balls like AVX, is inherently slow. It is. And in this case, based on initial measurements on our gauge, the new AVX is three to four points softer than the current version. But to help mitigate this reality, Titleist developed a graduated core where the center remains soft and the outermost portions are incrementally stiffer. If you’re thinking about Snickerdoodle cookies, you’re on the right track. Next, a high-flex casing layer surrounds the core. The purpose of this layer is more speed and less spin from long irons and hybrids.

Titleist AVX Cover

The cast-urethane cover is a proprietary formulation developed by Titleist R&D which is slightly thinner than the cover used on the previous-generation AVX. More importantly, the thinner cover sits over the harder casing layer. And “soft over hard” is what generates spin in a golf ball. Read that last bit again. It’s why two-piece balls (hard core/hard cover) can’t offer “Tour-like” greenside control. As such, increasing short-game spin requires either a softer/thinner cover, harder mantle/casing layer, or both.

You might also hear some reference to Titleist’s design goal around making the “spin slope” steeper. Basically, think of your typical X-Y coordinate plane where the X-axis shows driver spin and the Y-axis shows wedge spin. A steeper slope profile occurs by increasing the difference between the two (less driver spin and more wedge spin).

Titleist AVX Aerodynamics

Aerodynamic dimple patterns require that you understand the concept of total trajectory. Fortunately, that’s simple. When you watch a golfer hit a shot standing directly behind him or her, the ball goes up, moves right or left, reaches a peak height and then descends. The side-on view tells a more complete story. From that vantage point, it’s easier to assess the entire trajectory of the shot. For example, understanding that your 7-iron has a peak height of 105 feet is an important piece of data. But how far into the total flight does the ball reach its peak height? And how does that impact descent angle and therefore stopping power?  That’s the difference between antiquated thinking that fixates exclusively on launch and spin and understanding the value of total trajectory.

The new 348 tetrahedral catenary pattern is designed exclusively for the low-flight window of AVX. With that, Titleist asserts that the new pattern with seven dimple sizes is longer and more consistent than the previous one. For the record, we’re still waiting for a company to come out with a new product that’s explicitly shorter and less consistent. TBD on that.

Last year, Titleist released updated Pro V1/V1x models featuring spherically tiled, tetrahedral dimple patterns. It was the first new dimple count on Titleist’s flagship balls since 2011. The 348-dimple pattern on the new AVX also came out of that exploratory process. I point that out primarily to reiterate that, in terms of component quality and design, AVX is some version of a Pro V1 by any other description.

Is Titleist AVX For You?

Across Titleist’s Tour-level ball line-up, which includes AVX and anything with “Pro V” in the name, the 80/20 ratio roughly applies. That is, approximately 80 percent of golfers will fit into either Pro V1 or Pro V1x. The remaining 20 percent who fight excessive spin end up with either Pro V1x Left Dash or AVX. So, as it stands currently, AVX is the Pro V1 alternative for the golfer who needs less launch and spin than Pro V1.

But some of you are wondering about Pro V1 Left Dot. Besides the fact that it’s sold out (unless you want to drop $250 for a dozen on an auction site), Pro V1 Left Dot and AVX aren’t the same. Similar? Yes. Same? Nope.

In terms of launch and spin profiles, Left Dot fits between Pro V1 and AVX.

Moreover, Pro V1 Left Dot is played on the PGA TOUR every week. AVX is not. This is because Pro V1 Left Dot is firmer with a bit more spin than AVX. The additional spin helps golfers who want a lower flight window but require the additional spin around the greens. Should Pro V1 Left Dot make an appearance in the retail market at some point in late 2022 or 2023—and I’m not promising it will—that would give Titleist five Tour-level balls in its lineup. Then the primary question becomes whether the performance separation between the five models is sufficient to warrant keeping them all around.  We shall see.

Pricing and Availability

Titleist AVX is available in white and high optic yellow.

Retail price is $49.99 MAP and will be available at retail beginning Feb. 4.

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