FEEL­ING THE SQUEEZE

Titleist’s Pro V1 is the most dom­i­nant golf ball on the world’s pro tours. But for the first time in years, its lead­er­ship po­si­tion is un­der pressure. Richard Gillis looks at what this means for the brand and the club golfer.

Golf Asia - - GOLFING GEARGUIDE -

Billy An­drade was in a rut. The jour­ney­man pro started the 2000 sea­son badly and the year had gone from bad to worse. By Oc­to­ber, the Amer­i­can was 159th on the PGA Tour Money List and star­ing a trip to Q School in the face. Then, at the In­ven­sys Open in Las Ve­gas, he won, shoot­ing 68 in the last round to hold off Phil Mick­el­son, take the US$765,000 first prize and se­cure his card for the fol­low­ing year. “I’m speech­less the way the whole week went,” An­drade said af­ter­wards. ”I’m near tears af­ter hav­ing such a bad year, to do this.”

An­drade’s win was more than a sport­ing come­back story, how­ever. It has a broader sig­nif­i­cance, mark­ing a key mo­ment in the de­vel­op­ment of the golf ball. It was the first time a Tour Pro had played with Titleist’s new Pro V1. An­drade was one of 47 play­ers who switched that week from their old liq­uid filled bal­ata balls to the solid core Pro V1, de­scribed by Mark Mc­clusky, au­thor of Faster, Higher, Stronger as ‘what might be the sin­gle most in­flu­en­tial prod­uct in the his­tory of any sport’. This was the start of the Pro V1 rev­o­lu­tion – the legacy of which has de­fined the golf mar­ket over the past two decades. And the speed of the take up was ex­tra­or­di­nary.

From the end of 2000 and over the course of the 2001 sea­son, the av­er­age driv­ing dis­tance on Tour in­creased by six yards, pro­pelled by the Pro V1. Since that Sun­day in Ve­gas, more than 2,600 pro­fes­sional and top am­a­teur play­ers have won play­ing the Pro V1 around the world. At the 2000 Masters, 59 of the 95 play­ers used a wound golf ball. One year later, only four

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