More golfers find new ball is tailor made for them - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

By Mike Purkey

More golfers find new ball is tailor made for them

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Perhaps the piece of equipment that PGA Tour players are most reluctant to change is the ball. For a number of reasons, players grow accustomed to one ball, one brand, one model and simply don't want to talk about doing something different. They believe they know how their brand and model of ball will react off the driver, in the wind and around the greens. They can change drivers, shafts, loft and lie, but they just won't change the ball.

Which makes it significant that TaylorMade has moved several of its high-profile staff players into its new TP Black and TP Red balls. Darren Clarke, Retief Goosen, Fred Funk, Sean O'Hair, Justin Rose and Sergio Garcia are among the staff players who have made the switch. And it's certain they wouldn't make such a radical decision without extensive testing and the knowledge that the new ball will fit nicely into their own games.

Everyone acknowledges that Titleist is the dominant player in the ball market, both on Tour and in golf shops. But for any competitor to grab the biggest piece of the remaining pie, Tour usage is vital to the marketing effort. TaylorMade has been a believer in having a high Tour profile and, as a result, wins the driver and fairway wood count on Tour every week.

Now they want to make inroads into the premium ball market and are doing so, not only on Tour, but in Titleist's dominion-golf professionals at green-grass golf shops. Titleist is legendary in the way it takes care of club pros and the result is that their shops are filled with Titleist balls and equipment.

TaylorMade now has a greater presence in golf shops, as evidenced by the fact that almost 30 percent of the field in the PGA Professional National Championship played a TaylorMade ball, including winner Chip Sullivan of Ashley Plantation in Daleville, Va. In a heretofore Titleist dominated field, that percentage is significant.

For the last 10 years, TaylorMade has owned a number of golf ball patents and every year the industry talk was that the company was going to introduce a new ball. It was thought that through the acquisition of the Maxfli brand that TaylorMade would go into the ball market guns blazing. That never happened. Maxfli could never get the foothold it once had and an attempt at a TaylorMade branded ball failed miserably.

It wasn't until last year that TaylorMade ball engineers created a product that through machine and player testing, company officials believed they had a competitive ball at the highest levels. The result is the TP Red and TP Black. The Red is a higher-spinning ball for control around the greens and a flatter driver trajectory and the Black is designed for a higher launch off the driver, resulting in more distance.

The difference in performance between the TP Red and TP Black is a result of their different core diameters and mantle thicknesses. The TP Red incorporates a larger core (1.510" diameter) and thinner mantle (.055" thick) compared with the TP Black's smaller core (1.480" diameter) and thicker mantle (.070" thick).

The TP Red's larger core and thinner mantle promote a low spin rate off the driver and a slightly lower, tour-like launch angle off every club in the bag, which promotes increased control. Likewise, the thinner mantle promotes a slightly softer sound and feel.

Conversely, the TP Black's thicker mantle permits the ball to slide up the clubface a fraction at impact for a higher launch angle, while the thicker mantle and smaller core work together to promote an even lower rate of driver-spin. That combination of higher launch angle and lower spin-rate helps promotes increased carry and distance.

"To make the TP Red and TP Black significantly faster, we had to find a faster core material, but one soft enough to minimize driver spin," said Dean Snell, senior director of R&D for TaylorMade and Maxfli. "We succeeded with NdV4, a neodymium-based rubber compound that combines ultra-high COR and exceedingly low compression. The result is accelerated speed, low driver-spin and soft sound and feel. Independent tests revealed the TP Red and TP Black to be consistently faster than many competitive balls in the tour category."

While techno-speak might explain the physics, Tour players rely on results. And if the ball doesn't perform like they think it should, they're out of it so fast it would make your driver spin, no matter how high the launch angle.

Mike Purkey has been covering professional golf for more than 20 years for a variety of publications, including GOLF Magazine. He is a former president of the Golf Writers Association of America and is a frequent contributor to NBCSports.com0.

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