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« Ernie On Muirfield: “There is rough, don’t get me wrong, but I don’t think it’s unfair." | Main | Rory Would Add A Tournament If Not For His Sponsor Obligations »

"The huge leap in distance off the tee on the PGA Tour in 2000 is due to only one thing – the introduction of the Pro V1." 

Andrew Rice was "handed a pristine collection of older model Titleist golf balls" that included Tour Balata 100's, Professional 90's and early model Pro V1's. 

He enlisted a consistent driver in Atlantic Golf Club's Zack Brady and had him hit six shots with the old balls and the current Pro-V model on the Trackman. And guess what they found?

"The huge leap in distance off the tee on the PGATour in 2000 is due to only one thing – the introduction of the Pro V1."  An increase in distance of almost 10% over the scuff resistant Professional.

The Tour Balata averaged 261.6 yds, the Professional 90 262.1 yds, the Pro-V1 392 286.4 yds and the current Pro-V1 298.4 yards.

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Reader Comments (36)

How the hell did the USGA allow this? Weren't the previous versions of Titleist's "tour ball'' right up against the Overall Distance Standard? Does the ODS still exist and if so, what is it??
06.28.2013 | Unregistered CommenterMedia maven
I'm not denying that the ball has gotten longer and (probably) needs to be reigned in.

However, I think the performance of those older wound/balata balls is known to degrade over time. (Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong.) But if I'm right, and those balls are 20+ years old, I'm sure they aren't as "live" as they would've been fresh out of the manufacturing facility.

So, I'm not convinced that the difference between the old and the new is as drastic as this experiment would indicate.

Plus, if the ball is so much longer, and we've seen club lofts creep downward over the last 10 years, why in the hell can I still only hit my 8 iron 150 yards? The same distance I hit an 8 iron 25 years ago. (haha) :-)
06.28.2013 | Unregistered CommenterPG
One can go to the PGA Tour web-site, in the stats section, and look at driving distance for players in 1999 and then compare the same player with 2001. (Discount 2000 since the Pro V1 was introduced in October.) The increases are in line with this experiment. The New York boys; Joey Sindelar went from 269.0 in 1999 to 291.5 in 2001 and Jeff Sluman went from 269.1 in 1999 to 281.6. Both were Titleist guys. Brett Quigley went from 277.4 in 1998 and 276.7 in 1999 to 298.5 and No. 2 on Tour in 2001 using Titleist.

Not sure this is "news". As Jack says: It's the ball.
06.28.2013 | Unregistered CommenterMashie
PG, you hit your 8 iron 150 now , the sames as 25 years ago, because your 2013 8 iron is actually a 6 1/2 iron.

And Old balatas lose distance, even NOS.

I think Iron Byron is on Deer Antler WD-40..
06.28.2013 | Unregistered Commenterdigsouth
Fun article but note that it was written in 2011.

If you look at the stats on the PGATour website you will see that driving distance actually plateaued in 2003 - so distance gains have slowed or stopped.
06.28.2013 | Unregistered CommenterWayne
@ Digs +2 on the Deer Antler comment and the Iron Byron machine!! Brilliant! I slowly come out of a wait, I think it's a marine layer!

Thanks, Pro!
06.28.2013 | Unregistered Commenterdigsouth
How about the old Tour Prestige? It seemed to be a mix of the Balata and the Professional.
06.28.2013 | Unregistered CommenterD.
I'd be interested in what the distance would be for old Top Flites. These were long balls in their day. The genius of the Pro V1 was that it married the distance of Top Flites with the soft feeling tour pros prefer.
06.28.2013 | Unregistered CommenterChandler
D, the Tour Prestige took the worst aspects of each. Like a bad basketball prospect, "short, but slow".
06.28.2013 | Unregistered CommenterKevin part deux
True golf ball Bifurcation. The usga never thought that the Top Flight Strata would give the feel and performance of the MaxFli HT with the distance of the Pinnacle. So they let the max distance of the "am" golf ball stay were it was at and never thought that they should lower it. Than every one, well the titlest tour players said that the PRO V1 was the longest ball ever. And it was, at least for the pros. I even has 70 year old ladies wanting the pro v1.

Now every ball every one plays is as long as it can be and preforms like an old tour ball. But i still cant get my members to play up a tee when they cant break 100
06.28.2013 | Unregistered Commentermark
@ Media Mav

Frank was loading up on Fortune Brand stock just before he gave the Pro V 1 the green light, it's known as insider trading.
06.28.2013 | Unregistered CommenterNYSE
Chandler...funny you mention the Top Flites. I have a huge shag bag of balls that I regularly go to a large field near my house to hit balls. If I hit the driver, say 50 times, and try to use different brands of balls, the longest ball almost every time are either 20 year old Top Flites (my dad had thousands with his company logo that make up 25% of my shag bag stock), or Pinnacles. The Pro V1's aren't far behind (5 yards or so), but the Pinnacles and Top Flites are almost always the longest. I hit my driver in the 240-260 range, so maybe if I had another 20-30 yards in my swing, the Pro V1's would win out...but for me they are not the longest.
06.28.2013 | Unregistered CommenterSteve
steve, definitely a true statement. i can't count how many playing partners i've had that play the pro-v1 because they think it's the longest ball on the market. rock flight wins every time, good luck getting them to stop though
06.28.2013 | Unregistered CommenterMatt Cambro
@everybody -

I'm three+1/2 sheets right now, so take this for what it's worth (very little) ..

I study the game. Study Geoff's site, books, comments. Historical context ... thrilling shots.

Generic drives due to gear effect suck. They suck to watch. Pro's playing with "smooth swingin'" cavity back irons that they couldn't dial in if they wanted to .... suck.

I read stories. Of old golfers. Because nowadays they suck to watch. That's why TW can (occasionally) be the best thing going. Like Jordan - when you watch - he thrills you. Soul leaping and all that,

Time for a ... Canadian sleep aid, lol. :)
06.29.2013 | Unregistered CommenterPepperdine
I was reasonably long back in the day, none of the touted improvements ever gave me any extra yardage until the ProV1 came along. The Professional should have been the end of the evolution, a great ball that wasn't fragile and could be played for 18 holes.
@Digs: Good to see you're feeling spry these days. You got some WD-40 antler spray for the new wing?

Anyways...for anybody who played through the the late 90's to early 2000's this is nothing new. It was blatantly obvious the ball was what changed the game. I too hit my shorter irons basically the same as with wound balls today...maybe 5-7yds further carry when I want it. But as the irons get longer...I can now nail a 3-iron 240yds which was my old 1-iron distance. Yup. it's the mostly ball with the giant sweetspot's comming in a close 2nd in the distance dilemma.

I once posted a question to the Senior Tour online when it was on MSNBC and they interviewed playeds live on the course...and they asked Hale Irwin if he thought the new ball technology made the ball flay TOO straight making it harder to work the ball in cross winds. He replied by saying these new balls just "Fly through the wind" and they curve about 1/2 as much...which he said makes finding pins easier after one got used to hitting new numbers
06.29.2013 | Unregistered Commenterjohnnnycz
Oh...and anybody remember the Hogan Apex ball circa 2001-2003-ish?

IIRC it was supposed to be the "New Strata" but they branded it under the Hogan name. Of all the new supercharged balls out there, to me, it felt the softest and still flew like a mofo. Halimony sure liked it!
06.29.2013 | Unregistered Commenterjohnnnycz
When I played high school golf in the mid-90s, we got a sleeve of titleist balatas before every round. God help you if you hit one thin. It was also very easy to not mishit a shot and still have to replace the ball every 3 holes. I don't complain now that I regularly average 285 off the tee and can now play 5 rounds in a row with the same Pro V1! Saves me money and makes me feel good about my manhood. Interestingly, my handicap hasn't really come down just because I drive it longer.
06.29.2013 | Unregistered CommenterChris from DE
I would like to see Jeff the robot take this test, though I am sure the results would be similar, but it would be a lot more scientific (and funny).
06.29.2013 | Unregistered Commenterh2o-boy
I would like to see this same test given to an average golfer - say a 15 handicap that drives the ball 200 yards (on a good day).

My guess is the difference would be immaterial.

So we revert back to why do we obsess over the .000001 percent of golfers who gain advantage?

And frankly - why do I care if a club spends their money building more tee boxes? Isn't that good for the golf economy - employing architects, workers, etc? And doent it give greens committees something to meet and discuss at length while they drink fine wines and steaks? Hey - those wine makers and cattle ranchers need to make a living too.

An added benefit - we get to discuss the evils of length rather than the intimate details of the world # 1's golfer's love life.
06.29.2013 | Unregistered CommenterRealist
I think the biggest difference this ball has made has been the skewing of distance vs accuracy at the highest level. The advantage now is squarely with the power boys. It doesn't mean a short knocker can't win just that the margin that player has to work with is smaller. This ball has not skewed the women's game as much because even their strongest players can't consistently control shots out of the rough like the men. The usga tried to address things with the grooves but most of changes magnified the power advantage more. The result? For me I learn more watching the women and old guys than the men. The big boys play a game I have never known.
06.29.2013 | Unregistered CommenterMuni hack
Chris from DE Your note about playing Titleist in the mid- 90's make me think how long I have been playing --- thinking back a number of decades prior to your dates, when golf balls were really balata, I mean balata and not "manufactured balata", when Dunlop still owned all the rubber plantations in S.A., talk about soft, you could look at a golf ball then and it would crack, all the way to the rubber windings. We carried 'ball rings', you hit a hard drive and would have to check and see if the ball was still round when you got to it. That is when the USGA changed the "ball unfit for play' rule. They were taking balls out of play after one or two shots! The Hogan Apex ball of the early to mid 80's (Tom Watson won a lot of events playing this ball) was the old Titleist ball. Acushnet did more to open up the ball market when they started experimenting with the Pro-Traj, High -Traj, Low-traj, But the real balata balls were soft and would curve and spin like crazy. Today's ball has little playing characteristics of the old ball we played some 40 years ago.
Since TF's have come up with a ball that spins, they are not too bad. My main reason for using the PV1 is I know how it with react with my wedges. I think a little time with the new TF's would warrant giving them a go.

Thanks Johnnny (and all) I am a few weeks from needing the antlerWD-40-- in a sling for 3 more weeks with a 0-1 pound lift limit. And every time I think it is not hurting (as much) it gives me a bad time, with a LOT of pain...I have the meds, though.
06.29.2013 | Unregistered Commenterdigsouth
@ digs re: "have meds"....need company?

LOL-- no fun when real pain is the issue.... could have been a lot more mellow in college with this stuff, but now it is simply an equalizer.
06.29.2013 | Unregistered Commenterdigsouth
Man, when I was kid, I could barely afford 'Club Special"s with old Wilson Staff blades. I wasn't worried about distance as much as how many holes I could play with the ball before it was so cut I just had to take it out of play! I wasn't worried about pace of play or distance; cost was the biggest influence on how much I could play.
06.29.2013 | Unregistered CommenterHBL
As of today - the top 20 in Driving Distance on the PGA Tour have exactly 1 win in full field events this year (2 if you count Dustin Johnson in the limited field Hyundai). That would be Adam Scott at the Masters who is # 16 in driving distance.

So why again am I supposed to get worked up about the distance .0000001% of golfers drive the ball - when it doesn't appear to alter winning on the PGA Tour?

And Clubs spend their own money dealing with it?

And old Pros are going to whine about something regardless --- just to tell us how much more skilled they were back in the day than today's youngsters? (Think J Miller's US Open score - its down to about 56 in a hurricane with a feathery now isn't it?)
06.29.2013 | Unregistered CommenterDon't Get It
I hit everything as far as I used to 20 years ago. In some instances, I hit it further. The combination of Pro-V1 and rocketballz is much longer than I ever hit anything back in the day. And I love it, even if I think the pro game has gotten wacky. The only easy fix would be the ball and I just don't see that changing. C'est la vie.
06.29.2013 | Unregistered Commentertlavin
This is all bollocks!!The reason I hit the ball further now than I did when I was younger and practiced every day is nothing whatsoever to do with equipment.It is entirely down to the fact that old players were useless and that the modern generation are totally brilliant.I rest my case me lud.
06.29.2013 | Unregistered CommenterChico
the only thing that has really changed my game for the better, the golf shaft.
06.29.2013 | Unregistered Commentervwgolfer
PG if it not for the pro V1 you wouldn't be hitting your 8 iron 150 yard today , you would be hitting a 5-6 iron
06.30.2013 | Unregistered CommenterGolf craze
"So why again am I supposed to get worked up about the distance .0000001% of golfers drive the ball - when it doesn't appear to alter winning on the PGA Tour?"

Because classic courses have spent millions to modify themselves to accommodate the .0000001%.
07.1.2013 | Unregistered CommenterPGT
Because classic courses have spent millions to modify themselves to accommodate the .0000001%.

Maybe they should just stop doing that.
07.1.2013 | Unregistered CommenterCarl Peterson
A worthwhile mention is the difference between those original Pro V1s and what they make nowadays ... finding an old, original is like finding a Top Flite.
07.1.2013 | Unregistered CommenterJohn C

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