Titleist Pro V1 and Pro V1x Key Takeaways
- Titleist has announced new versions of its best-selling Pro V1 and Pro V1x golf balls.
- Described as improved from cover to core, it’s the most significant improvement to the franchise since the original launched.
- The retail price is $49.99 – $2 more than the previous versions.
With the launch of a new generation of Titleist Pro V1 and Pro V1x golf balls, it’s worth reflecting about where the golf ball world is right now.
It’s fair to say the ball market has changed a bit since the previous Pro V1 launch. Soft balls, patterned balls, colored balls and direct-to-consumer options are more prevalent than ever and each has impacted Titleist’s supremacy in the ball market to one degree or another.
But, as they say, the more things change, the more they stay the same. While not as dominant as it once was, Titleist remains comfortably No. 1 at retail. Its advantage on the PGA TOUR is even more significant where Titleist ball use runs at about 74 percent.
I know what you’re thinking. Hell, yes. Absolutely. A significant portion of that use is paid for but that’s true for nearly every ball in play on Tour. The more relevant piece of the story is that Titleist leads the unpaid counts as well.
“When folks get some freedom [in their contracts],” says Jeremy Stone, Titleist’s VP of Golf Ball Marketing, “they give us a call”.
Of course, you don’t stay No. 1 for long if you do nothing. Death, taxes and, every two years, a new version of the Titleist Pro V1 and Pro V1x golf balls — inevitable. While perhaps out of context in this example, consistency is a huge part of the Titleist story.
Titleist Pro V1 and Pro V1x – Significant Changes
Some Pro V1 years bring more aggressive changes than others. If you’re wondering where 2021 fits on that particular spectrum, insiders at Titleist say it’s the most significant change to the Pro V1 franchise since the original launched.
Officially, Titleist says the new Pro V1 has been improved from cover to core. Every aspect is better because every attribute was changed. What else would you expect a company to say?
Nobody is implying literal game-changing performance like the original. USGA rules mandate that golf ball design is iterative at best. The space for innovation is narrow so a good bit of what worked 10 years ago holds up today. It’s why direct-to-consumer companies with no intellectual property can compete.
Point being, in the modern world of golf design, even a massive overhaul can look subtle.
Titleist Pro V1 and Pro V1x – What’s True for One is True for the Other
Before we dig into the details, it’s important to understand that not a whole lot is changed from a comparative standpoint. The Pro V1x will still launch higher and spin more than the Pro V1. The Pro V1 will still offer soft feel and the mid-launch, mid-spin performance specification Titleist believes works for the highest percentage of golfers.
Pro V1 is still a three-piece ball. Pro V1x still has four layers.
The separation between the models is largely unchanged so, as far as the enhancements are concerned, what’s true for one is true for the other.
You can expect more spin off the irons and greenside. Both models will fly higher than the prior generation (Pro V1x will fly a bit higher still) and, while it’s unlikely to be significant, some golfers may notice a slightly softer feel.
With that introduction out of the way, let’s dig into the details.
Softer Feel from New ZG Process Core
Working from the inside of the ball out, Titleist has softened the core of the new Pro V1 and Pro V1x golf balls.
If you’re wondering about the ZG Process part, ZG is short for Zero Gradient. It’s a bit of a catch-all for the multitude of steps Titleist takes to ensure that every Pro V1(x) core is like every other Pro V1(x) core, regardless of when it’s made or which oven it came out of.
The ZG process is about ensuring consistency from one ball to the next and every one after that.
High Flex Casing Layer
Softening the core alone would have a speed impact and the objective isn’t a ball that’s slower or shorter. To offset the lower compression core, Titleist is using what it calls a high-flex casing layer to make the changes to the new models effectively compression neutral.
Compression for both the Titleist Pro V1 and Pro V1x should be consistent with the previous version though some golfers may find both feel a touch softer.
The casing layer was born from insights gathered from Titleist’s experience with the high-compression Pro V1x Left Dash. It provides a means to retain speed while taking some spin out of the long game.
Softer Cover – New Dimple Patterns
While everything with the 2021 Titleist Pro V1 and Pro V1x could reasonably fall in the “new and improved” category, the cover is where I’d argue the most significant changes have been made.
The cast urethane cover material is softer and there’s a new dimple pattern on both balls. The Pro V1 has 388 dimples while the Pro V1x has 348. The first part is going to give you softer feel and more greenside spin from both balls.
Titleist says the new dimple designs provide longer, more consistent flight. That’s boilerplate language for a ball release, but the real-world impact is more consistent stable flight when you’re into the wind or fighting a crosswind. The ultimate result is tighter dispersion, even when conditions are less than ideal.
With the Pro V1 and Pro V1x specific details covered, it’s worth taking a moment for a deeper dive into dimples as the unsung heroes of golf ball design and performance.
While many companies use the same dimple pattern on all or several of the balls in their lineups, Titleist doesn’t share dimple patterns across models. It’s likely not something golfers consider but, in addition to keeping the ball in the air and flying as straight as your swing allows, dimples serve to optimize flight, based on the other characteristics of the ball’s design.
It’s a bit of an oversimplification but think of it like this: ball speed comes from core. Assuming some allowance here or there for material differences, speed correlates with compression. It’s the simple explanation for why “soft” is “slow.”
Soft Over Hard = More Spin
Spin is the result of the difference in hardness between layers. Soft layers over hard layers produce what qualifies as high spin while hard layers over soft produce lower spin. It’s the reason why low-compression balls – especially two-piece models – are inherently low spin.
In terms of actual ball design, a hard casing or mantle layer over a softer core gets you lower spin off the driver and irons. Soft covers over a hard casing layer gets you more spin around the green and other shots where you’re not engaging the core.
We’ve covered ball speed (core) and spin (differences between layers) which brings us to launch. I bet you can see where this is going.
A Brief Interlude Into Dimples
Dimples play a significant role in how the golf ball launches. They also contribute to how high the ball flies, how it moves through the air and, ultimately, how it comes down.
Two words to explain the role of dimples in ball design: lift and drag.
If we translate to a typical golf club fitting scenario, putting the same dimple pattern on every ball is a bit like trying to get fitted for a driver with a limited ability to change launch angle, peak height or descent angle.
Speed, launch and spin work together to create optimal ball flight. When you’re only tuning two of the three, you’re leaving performance on the table.
While this “one dimple pattern to rule them all” approach isn’t entirely uncommon with larger manufacturers, it’s incredibly common in the DTC space where factories are often limited to a few viable dimple patterns that get used across everything they produce.
Those patterns work but probably not as well as if they were individually optimized for each ball.
Different Dimple Counts for a Reason
To bring this back full circle, hopefully you can start to understand and appreciate why it’s no small thing that Titleist uses a different optimized pattern for every ball in its lineup.
The reason why the Pro V1 has 388 dimples instead of 348 like the Pro V1x is because the 388 dimple pattern provides better performance on a ball with the Pro V1’s lower peak height.
This is “big picture” stuff. It’s not meant to suggest Titleist makes wholesale changes to its dimple patterns with each new release. Typically, Titleist tweaks what it already has — subtle changes to things like dimple depth to pair with subtle changes in other areas of the ball.
The 2021 Pro V1 and Pro V1x are the first Pro V1s with entirely new dimple designs since 2011. It’s easily overlooked, but it’s a big deal.
What About Pro V1x Left Dash?
Many of you reading this know that as a spin-generation machine, the Left Dash variant of the Pro V1x gets my vote. If you’re just hearing about Left Dash, the quick story is that it’s a lower-spinning flavor of Pro V1x that’s quite likely the longest Tour ball on the market.
Most retailers don’t stock it but you can order it nearly anywhere Titleist balls are sold.
With the introduction out of the way, the pertinent bit is that Titleist is not introducing a new version of the Pro V1x Left Dash at this time. On one hand, the current version is excellent and performs really well for me. On the other, well, I WANT A NEW ONE!
I’m guessing some of you feel the same way.
Somebody call a waahmbulance because we’re not getting what we want. At least not in the immediate future. We have to sit back and wait and see what Titleist does with Left Dash. Whether that means a fall release, next January with a new AVX or Left Dash carries on in perpetuity remains to be seen.
Yeah. I don’t love it either.
Comparing Titleist Golf Balls
There appears to be some confusion about where each of Titleist’s now Four cast urethane “Premium Balls” fits in the lineup from a performance perspective.
The simple answer is that there’s a mostly linear relationship between the balls as you move from the low launch, low spin AVX to the high launch, high spin Pro V1x. Left Dash is non-linear relative to the other balls, which does complicate things a bit. Hopefully, this chart will help.
Don’t hold me to the slope of the line, or the absolute distance between balls, the idea is to provide a simple representation of the relative performance characteristics. Compression values are based on our measurements from the previous generation. I don’t expect they’ll be much different with the new model.
Is the New Titleist Pro V1 Right for You?
Titleist says the Pro V1 series is for the golfer who prioritizes performance above all else. That speaks to the idea that the majority of serious golfers should put preferences like color, feel and even cost aside and play what’s generally regarded as a Tour-caliber golf ball.
Within that space, fitting matters. So, while there’s a reasonably good chance that between Titleist Pro V1 or Pro V1x or Left Dash or even AVX you’re going to find something that works well, I certainly won’t say a Titleist will be the absolute best performer for you. The reality is that there are a multitude of strong performers in the market with some unique performance characteristics in the mix to fit golfers of all types.
The Ball Lab Standard for Quality
Titleist isn’t alone in offering high-performance golf balls. Where Titleist truly separates itself is in the areas of quality and consistency. As we continue to add more models to our Ball Lab database, Titleist’s quality advantage continues to shine through.
Titleist has a simple philosophy. Your best shots should be rewarded. When the quality of the product isn’t in doubt, you never have to worry that they won’t be.
Titleist Pro V1 and Pro V1x Pricing and Availability
The 2021 Titleist Pro V1 and Pro V1x will retail for $49.99. That’s an increase of $2 from the prior generation and the first increase since 2011.
Retail availability begins Jan. 27. Pre-order available now.