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Titleist Ball Fitting – My Own Private Idaho
Since being on this “fitting kick” from the beginning of the year, I have mostly spent time discussing the various components of the golf club. The grip, the weight, loft and lie considerations, etc. I have a future thought about shafts so we’ll save that for another discussion. Since 2nd Swing was sponsoring a Titleist Ball fitting I figured my next step would be to find which ball I should be using. Hey, maybe I’ve been using the wrong ball (I’m calling that excuse number 14 as to why I’ve gone from a 2 to 9 handicap)!!
So I received an E-mail from 2nd Swing telling me that they will be having a ball fitting session and that I should sign up and pick a time. This ensures I will be on their schedule. Go online, follow the procedures, and you’ll receive a confirmation e-mail and reminder about the time and day. This session was being held at the U of M Les Bolstad driving range. If you have not gone, I recommend visiting their range. Grass stations, multiple targets, yardages to targets posted daily…hmmm, that’s another topic right there. Driving ranges around the Twin Cities. Anyway, very easy to book an appointment and great that you receive reminder e-mails.
I show up last Friday afternoon, register, and they ask me to start hitting balls to warm up while they finish with another golfer and his analysis. Once it is my turn, I was introduced to Titleist Golf Ball Fitter Jason Ng. He asked me questions about my game, handicap, how much I play, what kind of ball I currently use, and what I was hoping to learn from this experience. My response was, “just want to learn about the ball fitting experience and if I have been playing the correct type of ball or if I should be thinking about something different.”
Once the preliminary interview was over, the discussion turned to the process of the ball fitting. Titleist stresses the importance of the short game first. Not the driver and distance. I was impressed to learn that they would rather find me a golf ball that performs for me when I’m less than 100 yards from the hole, which is where close to 65% of the strokes we take come from. Jason had set out a Titleist flag approximately 50 yards from my spot and asked me to hit the club I would normally take from that distance, without accounting for wind. I hit about 6-7 balls in and around the target. Next, Jason asked me to hit the same number of balls but use my six iron. Finally, I pulled the big dog out and hit the same number of balls using my driver. All during this time, we were discussing about golf balls and playing golf and sharing stories. Very relaxed atmosphere and made for a fun session.
Once this was completed, Jason walked me over to the monitor and we went over the results. They are shown in this video below:
What did I learn? That for most of the irons– whatever iron you have– you should have a spin rate about 1000 times your iron number. So for the six iron, I should be spinning the ball about 6000 rpm. I re-confirmed my belief that my driver rpm needs to be under 2500 rpm, with a 12-14 degree launch angle for me to achieve optimal carry and roll on my tee shots. And, that I was not getting enough spin on my wedges. One tip Jason had for me: keep the wedges clean at all times. Grooves AND the face of the club. Even grass secretes an oily substance that can diminish spin put on a golf ball when hit. Think about how much that rate goes down when you have dirt in the grooves.
The one thing that stuck with me was when I asked about moving to a different ball if I would see increases in distance. Jason told me that almost all the golf balls out there all travel about the same distance and that the differentiating factor was the spin rate on the ball. USGA regulations limit the speed at which a ball can leave a clubface and most manufacturers have reached that limit. What makes the difference now is the type of core, cover, and dimple design.
This is a deviation from other tests that have been done with different golf balls (I’m going to leave this statement alone as I plan to conduct and attend other ball fitting sessions with other ball manufacturers). But a quick glance at various websites and periodicals all list the Titleist Pro V1 and 1x in their top 10 picks. And this is for all-around performance. Nice distance off the tee, solid iron control into the greens, the ability to spin the ball on closer approaches, and one of the key things I look for with anything golf-related: the “feel” of the ball off the clubface, how it flies to the target, and how it sounds and feels when putting.
So what was the recommendation? That I should stay with the Titleist Pro V1. I was then escorted back to the registration table where Jason handed me a sleeve of Pro V1’s and thanked me for my time. My recommendation? I think a golfer should experience as much outside information and assistance available to them as possible. Also, it’s a free fitting. Why wouldn’t you want to take a half hour out of your day for the experience?
What are your thoughts on golf balls? Which ones do you play and why? Is it cost? Is it performance? Is it that you’ve been thoroughly brain-washed into thinking only one kind of ball is for you? I’m curious….PS…does anyone get the reference from the title of the article? Please post me your answers and I’ll give the best answer a sleeve of Titleist Pro V1’s from my stash.