Keith Sbar­baro, VP of Tour Op­er­a­tions at Tay­lorMade, man­ages the day-to-day equip­ment needs of the com­pany’s team of elite tour pros.

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There has been a real buzz around this golf ball. Why do you think that is?

I think it’s be­cause the play­ers and the pub­lic are start­ing to re­alise that there is an­other golf ball op­tion. Peo­ple haven’t felt that way for a long time – they just de­faulted to what they as­sumed was the best ball. Rory McIl­roy ad­mit­ted that’s what he did last Novem­ber. When he re­viewed his equip­ment op­tions, he didn’t even test golf balls, he just de­faulted to what he as­sumed was the best ball. And for him, it wasn’t the best ball. Once he got into his test­ing and he tested other prod­ucts, he found a bet­ter op­tion.

Has the suc­cess of the ball sur­passed your ex­pec­ta­tions?

You know, so far it prob­a­bly has. First off, though, we’ve al­ways had a great ball. We had a lot of our staff play­ers, in­clud­ing Jason Day, Justin Rose, Dustin John­son and Ser­gio Gar­cia, play­ing our pre­vi­ous model balls. This new prod­uct is ex­cit­ing, though, be­cause it’s dif­fer­ent. It’s go­ing to give some play­ers ad­van­tages, mostly in ad­verse con­di­tions. It wasn’t un­til we got it out on Tour and started test­ing that we saw the re­sults.

Jon Rahm had in­stant suc­cess with the TP5, right?

Jon Rahm put the ball in play at the start of this year and wins in his first week with it. On the PGA Tour, we have so much sta­tis­ti­cal data. His dis­tance con­trol sig­nif­i­cantly im­proved from 125 to 200 yards from where he was last year. That’s why he’s play­ing bet­ter this year to last year. It’s strictly ball-re­lated. It’s ex­cit­ing.

What has been the feed­back from the play­ers?

The big­gest ad­van­tage is how good it is in the wind – in all con­di­tions. It’s hard to judge the wind right ev­ery time be­cause the wind af­fects the ball so much more than peo­ple re­alise. But this ball doesn’t get af­fected as much. It is longer be­cause of the higher launch and lower spin. So they’re all pick­ing up yardage without sac­ri­fic­ing any­thing around the greens. The 5th layer is a big part of the suc­cess. It has ex­ceeded my ex­pec­ta­tions by far. It looked good on pa­per

and we’ve been work­ing on it for a while, but I’m ac­tu­ally sur­prised at how big the suc­cess has been.

Is it re­ally rev­o­lu­tion­ary in that it’s the first ball where you haven’t had to com­pro­mise?

Talk­ing to the play­ers who have used this ball, their feed­back was that, pre­vi­ously, your ball was ei­ther soft so you liked it inside 100 yards but you gave up a few yards off the tee, or it was firm, where it was great with the long game but you felt you made sac­ri­fices with your short game. Be­cause of the five lay­ers, we can hit both in one ball. I think it’s the only ball that you can say that about out here. With the Rory McIl­roy deal, the golf ball was the foun­da­tion of it. The golf ball is the rea­son Rory is at Tay­lorMade.

Where did Rory start to no­tice the dif­fer­ence in the TP5 com­pared with his pre­vi­ous ball?

It re­ally started at the 8-iron. There was a lit­tle ad­van­tage with the 9-iron, but with the 8-iron we started to see more no­tice­able and con­sis­tent im­prove­ment. He was hit­ting it five or six yards fur­ther. His ball flight was a lit­tle higher than what he was play­ing pre­vi­ously and it came down softer be­cause of that. But he’s still get­ting used to that. He needs to learn and trust it. The few ex­tra yards of dis­tance is great, but he doesn’t re­ally need four or five more yards. It’s the con­sis­tency of the ball – that’s the ad­van­tage.

You must be lov­ing the suc­cess?

It’s re­ally fun. We’ve got Jason Day and Dustin John­son, we’ve got Ser­gio Gar­cia and Justin Rose and now we’ve got Jon Rahm and Rory McIl­roy. I’d never have thought that we’d have five or six of the world’s top 12 play­ers in our fam­ily. My big thing is that I don’t want any of our guys stand­ing on the 1st tee look­ing at an­other player’s driver, irons, wedges or put­ter and feel­ing like they’re at a dis­ad­van­tage through equip­ment. I don’t think any of our play­ers feel like that.

John Rahm en­joyed im­me­di­ate suc­cess with the new ball.

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