Behind the Numbers: What do the Ball Counts Mean?

JJ Van Wiesenbeeck, Fordie Pitts and Webb Simpson discuss launch data during a golf ball fitting session at the 2019 RSM ClassicAt Titleist we have a saying – We win on Thursday.

That's when we've earned the players trust, once the official equipment count reports are published (usually on Thursdays) at the conclusion of the opening rounds at tournaments staged across the worldwide professional golf tours. And on Thursday evenings, for decades, across tours and around the globe, there has been one constant – the Titleist script positioned at the top of the official golf ball count.

Ranking No. 1 in the official counts is important to us as a company because it provides concrete proof that we're making good on our pledge to provide the best performing, highest quality and most consistent products available in the game. If we weren't, you can be sure that it would be reflected almost overnight in the counts. At the highest levels, players do not compromise. They play equipment that helps them win or they make a change.

Graphic showing that 74% of players on the PGA TOUR have teed up a Titleist golf ball in 2019.According to Darell Survey, 74% of players on the PGA TOUR during the 2018-2019 season have teed up a Pro V1 or Pro V1x golf ball.

Consider, too, the long list of "free agent" players who have won all over the world using a Titleist golf ball. These players aren't looking for endorsement money – they just want the freedom to play the golf ball and clubs that give them the best chance of winning. Players like these have earned some of the most prestigious victories in recent memory, including the 2018 Masters (Pro V1), 2018 U.S. Open (Pro V1x) and the PGA Championship (Pro V1x) in both 2018 and 2019.

Want even more evidence? Look no further than the counts from the National Amateur Championships. These players are not paid and can play any equipment they choose, yet they consistently choose Titleist in a landslide. Take a look at some of the most recent amateur counts from this year and last:


Consultant Fordie Pitts discuss golf ball performance differences

Why Pro V1? Why Pro V1x?

So it's clear that the vast majority of the world's best players are trusting their games to Titleist golf balls. But why? What are they experiencing that makes them choose Titleist in such overwhelming numbers?

One man who has the answers (and they are varied!) is Fordie Pitts, Tour Consultant for Golf Ball R&D. Fordie is on the road more than 30 weeks out of the year, traveling to stops on numerous tours and working closely with players, acting as a conduit between them and Titleist product development teams back in Fairhaven, Mass.

Bouncing between the practice tee, short game areas and walking with players during practice rounds, Fordie operates in a perpetual cycle of examination, testing, data collection, feedback gathering, communication, prototype development, re-testing, validation, and constant performance monitoring. His mission is a microcosm of the Titleist mission - to ensure players on the PGA TOUR are outfitted with the best performing golf ball products in the game.

"Players are always looking for that competitive edge and in R&D, we're always working on things, trying different things based on their feedback. We've got so many players in the world, and everyone's a little bit unique. You need to have options for these guys. Some guys are low spin, some guys are high spin. Some guys are lower speed, lower flight, whatever the case may be, so we've got to make sure we can cover everyone."

Fordie was recently back in Fairhaven and he was kind enough to share some notes with us and some insights into why so many of the world's best choose Pro V1 and Pro V1x.

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Patrick Cantlay reacts after holng the winning putt with his Pro V1 golf ball at the 2019 Memorial Tournament

Patrick Cantlay - Pro V1x

Fordie: Earlier this season Patrick had played with Justin Thomas and hit a few shots with a prototype that JT was testing. At the time Patrick was still in the 2015 Pro V1x. This ball was a Pro V1 construction with a higher spinning profile. So Patrick hit a few shots with that prototype and said, "This is great. I want to test this myself." So at the WGC – Match play event, Patrick came to us and asked to test this new Pro V1 construction.  During the testing, we noticed Patrick’s spin rates to be on the higher side and we agreed that a ball with slightly less spin would actually be better.  After hitting a few shots with the new 2019 Pro V1x with different clubs Patrick agreed that he needed to take it out on the golf course and give it a thorough test.  We went to the course together and found that Patrick was able to hit all his shots with an improved, more efficient flight and he immediately put it in play that week.  He didn’t make it to finals, but he went on a nice tear after that - played well at Augusta (T9), had a T-3 at RBC and the PGA Championship and then he won The Memorial.

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Henrik Stenson laughs during a lighter moment at the 2016 Open Championship

Henrik Stenson - Pro V1

"I put quite a lot of spin on my shots and I think that makes me a strong mid- and long-iron player. But sometimes that can cause a bit of problem if it's windy and you're having approach shots with a shorter club. I needed something that could really pierce through the wind when I played those three-quarter shots and the Pro V1 does that for me."

Fordie: I have a good Henrik Stenson story that tells you how big a difference the golf ball can make. In 2015, Henrik was on the range at the Wells Fargo Championship. (Titleist Tour Representative) Chris Tuten was walking by and noticed that Henrik and his club team were having a real difficult time searching for new shafts. No matter what they tried, they couldn't get the flight down into the window that Henrik wanted. So Chris ran back and told me the story. I ran back out and offered them a couple dozen of our new Pro V1 prototypes which had just come out. He hit three shots and stopped shaft testing. He had found his ball. A year later he won his first major at that classic at Troon and he played some of the best golf I've ever seen.


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Gary Woodland captured the 2019 U.S. Open soon after switching to the Titleist Pro V1 golf ball.

Gary Woodland - Pro V1

"For me, it was a matter of looking for a little more spin than the golf ball I was playing. So I asked the Titleist guys for golf balls to bring home. Even though I was familiar with it a little bit, I was surprised when I switched to the Pro V1. I got more spin, but I didn't lose any speed. In fact, I actually picked up a little speed and that was it for me. So, I literally tested for about an hour. It was a very easy switch and it went right into play the next time I teed it up." Click here to learn more about Gary's switch to Pro V1.

Fordie: During a conversation with Gary during the week of Torrey Pines, he mentioned playing with Charley Hoffman in the QBE Shootout and that he liked the performance of the Pro V1 golf ball that Charley was playing at the time.  He said he noticed a bit more spin but that it still had good flight and distance.  We discussed the characteristics of the ball but it wasn’t until the week of the Masters that Gary came to us and asked for some product to actually test.  We provided a couple of options for him (one of which was the Pro V1 ball from Charley and the QBE) and after testing it at home he put it in play straight away.  After finishing 8th at the PGA Championship, Gary went on to win the U.S. Open with some incredible shotmaking thanks in part to this Pro V1 golf ball.

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Fordie Pitts, Tour Consultant for Golf Ball R&D, discusses a new Titleist prototype golf ball with Jordan Spieth

Jordan Spieth - Pro V1x

"I think it's the best equipment in the game. I've been playing it for a decade now and it's brought some great success, I've got great memories. The product continues to improve and become more consistent."

Fordie: Since turning pro, Jordan has only played a Pro V1x construction.  Having grown up in the winds of Texas, Jordan tends to have a fairly flat ball flight and typically leans toward a product with some spin instead of something with very low spin. His high launch, low spin driver launch condition tendency fits favorably with a slightly higher spinning golf ball and his iron/wedge play dictates/requires a ball with more spin versus less. As a result, the Pro V1x Jordan uses gives him this overall performance. He has repeatedly told us he “loves his golf ball with his irons and wedges” and needs it for his long game and with 10 wins (including three majors) who can blame him.


Adam Scott smiles after holing a birdie putt during action at the 2019 PLAYERS Championship

Adam Scott - Pro V1

"Distance and feel.  For me, I just can't think of another golf ball that has a total performance like a Pro V1.  I don't think anything else comes close."

Fordie: For years Adam told us he prefers soft feel and spin in his golf ball. Then, a few years ago, like so many players, he chased distance. So he tried Pro V1x and while he played decent at times (top 10’s in 4 of 18 events) and did increase his driving distance the overall results were not as strong as Adam would have liked.  When it was told to Adam that we had a Pro V1 that was more in line with his preferences we hit on a much better fit for Adam's game without sacrificing on distance. Now he has a lower flight, a much softer feel and a ball that suits his style. And the results show. He's got 5 top-10s in 2019, a runner-up at The Memorial and he was right in the mix on the final day at both the PGA Championship (T8) and the U.S. Open (T7).

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Webb Simpson shows how he marks his Titleist Pro V1 golf ball

Webb Simpson - Pro V1

"There are no question marks with my Pro V1. If it's windy, if it's cold, if it's warm, if the ground's firm, if the ground's soft, I know what my golf ball's going to do and it's able to perform in every one of those conditions."

Fordie: Just before the RSM Classic in November, Webb expressed an interest in getting more peak height and spin than he was seeing with his Pro V1. So at the beginning of the week, he tested the new 2019 Pro V1x. Conditions were very calm Monday and Tuesday and his early testing went very well. So he decided he'd give the X a try in the Wednesday pro-am. Well, on Wednesday it started to blow. Webb teed off on the first hole with the Pro V1x and hit it right down the middle of the fairway. He had an 8-iron into the hole with the wind in his face. He played his standard shot, trying to keep it a little lower –and the ball got caught up in the wind and came up well short of the green. Given Webb's launch conditions, ball flight is really important and in windy conditions, he has better distance control with a lower flying ball. Because Webb was surprised by that result (and perhaps a little spooked with the tournament starting the next day) Webb decided that he should stick with his Pro V1 for now. He switched back to Pro V1 and finished runner-up at that event.

It just goes to show that you have to test in all conditions. It also illustrates maybe the biggest factor when it comes to ball fitting. The ball can't surprise you. You have to be able to predict its performance on every shot.


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Louis Oosthuizen salutes the crowd after winning the 2019 South African Open

Louis Oosthuizen - Pro V1

"The last thing you want is to play a shot not knowing what the ball might do. On every shot you want to hit, from your driver to your lob wedge to the sound it makes when you’re hitting a putt, the ball has to work. Titleist to me is just the best in that department."

Fordie: When Louis won at The Old Course he used a Pro V1x, and he's played X for most of career. He's always preferred a soft feel, though, and about six weeks ago he began testing with Pro V1 and made the switch. He had a real nice showing at the U.S. Open, tying for 3rd with Adam Scott.

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Tommy Fleetwood salutes the crowd with his Pro V1x golf ball at the 2018 Abu Dhabi Championship

Tommy Fleetwood - Pro V1x

"The strengths of my game have always been driving and iron play. Literally the week I switched to Pro V1x I won in Abu Dhabi. And aside from the control, it’s just the confidence you have in it because it is the best golf ball on Tour. You know that you can trust it that much. You know its performance is that consistent and it does what you want it to do."

Fordie: Fordie: In 2016, Tommy had been playing a competitor's golf ball. He had been struggling, missing cuts in four of his last five events. He started testing with Pro V1x and at the start of the 2017 European Tour season, he won the Abu Dhabi Championship the first time he played the ball in competition. For Tommy, he saw an immediate improvement in distance control because of our ball-to-ball consistency. He went on to win in France, contended in majors and won the Order of Merit.

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Chez Reavie rasies his Pro V1 golf ball in triumph after winning the 2019 Travelers Championship

Chez Reavie - Pro V1

Fordie: Chez came to us last fall and wanted to test a new prototype Pro V1x ball that we had just developed. This model has a high compression, flies higher and had provided more distance for a lot of players. But when he compared that ball to Pro V1, the distance gain was negligible. Sometimes that's how it works. A ball that's a game-changer for one guy won't work at all for someone else. But Chez was happy with that confirmation. Some players just want to see the TrackMan numbers to ease their minds. It gives them that little added confidence that the product is doing what they want it to do. But you also have to confirm those numbers on the course and this X option was not necessarily giving him what the numbers suggested he might.  So, as a result, Chez decided to stay in Pro V1 and has had strong performances since including a 3rd at the US Open and then winning the Travelers.

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Bubba Watson in action on the PGA TOUR, using a Pro V1x Yellow golf ball

Bubba Watson - Pro V1x Yellow

"Pro V1x does everything I need it to do. It's long off the tee, but it's also soft and forgiving around the greens. I get consistency, I get a ball that moves the way I need it to move, and I get the spin. It does everything I ask of it."

Fordie: Bubba was very excited when he learned that we were planning on introducing Pro V1 and Pro V1x in yellow for the very first time. Having always played a Pro V1x construction Bubba looks for something that provides the right amount of spin, trajectory and feel for him to control his golf ball the way only Bubba can do. After testing Pro V1x yellow at home (and shooting multiple 64’s and lower), he showed up at the Waste Management Open ready to put it into play the first week it was available. He commented to us that the color of the ball provides a visual aid and actually forces him to focus more on the shot at hand. Being able to see the shot better in flight also made it an easy switch. After a 4th place finish the first time playing it, Bubba has been happy with the performance and high optic yellow color of the Pro V1x.

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