Q & A WITH BILL FRYE, TITLEIST’S SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT OF GOLF BALL OPERATIONS
GA: When did Ball Plant 4 open in Thailand and tell us how this facility mirrors Ball Plant 3 in the US in terms of processes, manpower training, management, overall quality assurance, etc?
BF: We opened Titleist Ball Plant 4 in December 2010 to meet the growing global demand for our Pro V1 and Pro
V1x models. The manufacturing process at Ball Plant 4 is a replica of the one at
Ball Plant 3. Both plants use the same manufacturing technology and are held to the same operational standards. We also employ sophisticated instrumentation and quality information systems that allow our Central Quality Department to monitor every physical property of product produced from both Plant 3 and Plant
4 on a shift by shift basis. This helps to ensure that the products of both plants are exactly the same.
When the original Pro V1 launched in December 2000, we were running shifts 24-7 here at Ball Plant 3 in Massachusetts but still couldn’t keep up. Our urethane casting process is a really complex and precise operation, and there were only so many lines available. We had to keep adding capacity for the next 2-3 years. What made Pro V1 so unique was that for the first time ever, the best performing golf ball for tour pros was also the best performing ball for everyone else. You no longer had to make any sacrifices. It was exceptionally long off the tee but also provided the best short game spin and control. It gave you soft feel but also had a durable cover. And it was consistent from ball to ball and dozen to dozen. Pro V1 technology was and still is about total performance, on every shot, for every player. That’s why Pro V1 models are the most played and best-selling golf balls around the world, and ultimately why seven years ago we needed another ball plant to satisfy the worldwide demand.
GA: How does Asia measure up in terms of Titleist ball consumption/sales?
BF: When you look at Asia, we’re talking about some of the biggest golf markets in the world. The primary reason for building Ball Plant 4 was to satisfy the demand for Pro V1 and Pro V1x golf balls in those countries. We truly appreciate how many golfers in Asia trust their game to our products, and we’re laser-focused on delivering the performance and quality they expect from us, day after day.
GA: How many balls on average in total get thrown out during process of manufacturing to ensure only the best and consistent balls get packaged? Tell us more about the dedicated process of quality checks, production, and the steps of quality assurance to ensure the golf balls are made according to the set standards, especially when introducing a new golf ball in the production line.
BF: Quality control and product consistency are among the founding principles of our company. Every Pro V1 and Pro V1x is x-rayed before it goes into the box. It’s the final step of a manufacturing process that includes 90+ processes and product quality checks for Pro V1 and 120+ processes and product quality checks for the dual-core Pro V1x. Every single Titleist golf ball is designed and manufactured by our associates in our own world-class manufacturing facilities, to the highest performance and quality specifications in the game. We do not make golf balls for anyone else and we do not buy golf balls from anyone else.
Our associates take enormous pride in the fact that they make the #1 ball in golf and ensuring that every time you tee up a Titleist golf ball, you are getting the performance, quality and consistency that you expect. We know that golfers trust their games to us on every shot, and we don’t take that for granted.
GA: Is there an optimum temperature for the storage of material and finished products in the Ball Plants? How would consumers best store their Pro V ball stock?
BF: There are many points throughout the Pro V1 and Pro V1x manufacturing process that require precise temperatures. Once the golf balls are finished, however, they can be safely stored at normal indoor conditions. Be sure to avoid extremely high temperatures, like keeping them in your car or attic, which can get pretty hot during a sunny day.
GA: What's the biggest challenge for Titleist in their Pro V1 range going forward?
BF: That challenge is no different than it has always been. How do we make the best performing, most consistent golf balls in the game even better? We do so through a commitment and ownership at every step of the process. We’re constantly in the field talking with golfers of all skill levels, gathering feedback on our products and asking them how we can help them shoot lower scores. At the same time, our R&D team is focused on improving our current golf ball technologies and developing new innovations that golfers might not even know they need. On the Operations side, we are driven every day by Phil Young’s belief that a better process will result in a higher quality, more consistent and better performing product. That belief manifests itself through quality assurance teams that monitor every stage of the development process, through advancements in tooling that allow us to develop even more stringent manufacturing tolerances, through process technologies that continually improve upon the most exacting standards in the industry and through an expectation of continuous learning that allows us to stay informed as to the latest in manufacturing technology and ensures that key technology is transferred consistently to all of our manufacturing operations. Literally every golf shot depends on that consistency. We never forget that.
Bill Frye, Sr VP Titleist Golf Ball Operations
Pro V1 cores being prepared for applying the Ionomer casing layer, one half of Ionomer casing layer