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If there's a faster-growing segment of the golf equipment market than the direct to consumer ball space, we're hard-pressed to come up with an example.
New brands are entering the market at a frantic pace, but the business models are similar; sell 3 and 4-piece urethane covered balls that offer performance similar to traditional OEM brands. Cut out the middle man (retail), keep ad spend to a relative minimum, and don't even consider the contracts, tee-up and win bonuses the brands everybody knows pay out to PGA Tour Pros.
Under the direct-to-consumer model, the ball company gets a fair profit, and the consumer saves money. It's a win for everybody except the status quo.
Among the leaders in this emerging category is the German brand, Vice Golf. We've already told you the Vice Story, so today we're sharing the results of a recent test of Vice's 4-piece, urethane covered Pro Plus against the best-selling 4-piece model on the market today; the Titleist Pro V1x
HOW WE TESTED
- Vice Pro Plus and Titleist Pro V1x golf balls were tested head to head.
- Testers used the same driver, 6 iron, and sand wedge for all shots.
- Testers rotated between clubs until 12-14 "good" shots were hit with each.
- Club order was randomized for every tester.
- Six golfers with handicaps ranging from 0-10 and driver swing speeds between 90 and 110 mph participated in this test.
- Gross mishits were eliminated and are not included in the shot counts.
- Remaining outliers were identified using Median Absolute Deviation, and dropped before calculation of the final averages.
- Ball Data was recorded using a Foresight GCQuad Launch Monitor.
*The GCQuad accurately characterizes initial launch conditions including ball speed, launch angle, and spin rates, however; dimple patterns differences between balls can have an impact on downrange values such as peak height and descent angle. For this reason, the comparative Total Distance numbers provided should be considered reasonable estimates.
Titleist Pro V1x
Vice Pro Plus
- Off the driver, the data suggests the Titleist Pro V1x generated slightly higher ball speeds and was longer than the Vice Pro Plus
- Average ball speed differences were negligible, contributing to a total yardage difference of less than two yards
- Accuracy differences were also minimal, with the Pro V1x finishing on average slightly closer to the target line
- Launch angles differed by only .25° and the two balls produced nearly identical (and low) spin rates
Vice VS. Titleist - 6 Iron Data
|Titleist Pro-V1x 6 iron||175.49 yds||7.70 yds||5,770 rpm||15.52 deg||119.32 mph|
|Vice Pro Plus 6 iron||176.77 yds||6.92 yds||4,864 rpm||16.56 deg||117.72 mph|
- Off the 6-iron, the vice Pro Plus was just over a yard longer
- This is likely attributable to the Pro Plus's higher launch (+1°) and lower spin rate (~1,000 RPM less).
- While accuracy differences are again extremely minimal
Vice VS. Titleist - Sand Wedge Data
|Titleist Pro-V1x Sand Wedge||93.38 yds||2.77 yds||10,536 rpm||28.06 deg||79.16 mph|
|Vice Pro Plus Sand Wedge||94.88 yds||2.52 yds||10,110 rpm||29.29 deg||79.56 mph|
- Differences in ball performance off the sand wedge are nearly non-existent
- The most pronounced exception is the higher spin rate (~400 RPM) of the Pro V1x
- TheVice Pro Plus was marginally longer; again attributable to higher launch, lower spin, and slightly higher ball speeds
- Average yards from center is effectively identical
The data collected during this tests suggests that the Vice Pro Plus and Titleist Pro V1x offer similar performance. Differences while generally minimal are most pronounced when comparing spin across irons and wedges.
While we can understand better players preferring a higher-spinning ball, particularly as shots move closer to the green, the most significant difference between the two models tested is not found in performance, but rather in price. The Titleist Pro V1x currently sells for $47.99 online; the Vice Pro Plus sells for $13.00 less $34.95/dozen. Not bad, but with Vice's volume discounts, if you order five dozen, the per dozen price drops to $25.
We're creeping towards a 50% savings for similar performance.
More to Come
Have you tried a Vice ball yet? Which one and what did you think?