The Titleist StoryFebruary, 2013 Courses & Travel
The origins, the icons and the technology
They produce the most famous and popular golf balls in the world. This is the story of their business
Founded over a century ago by Phil Young and two college friends, the Acushnet Company began life in 1910 as a rubber-processing business. Some time later, in the early 1930s, Young hit a putt where he was convinced that something was wrong with the ball. He went back home and X-rayed it and found the core of the ball wasn’t round.
Three years later, in 1935, Young and his team brought out a consistent, uniform ball.
The same year the company brought out the first mechanical golfer, Iron Byron, and at the 1949 US Open they won the first ever ball count. Come the 1960s Titleist were the first company to carry out wind tunnel testing and that enabled them to pioneer aerodynamics and dimple design patterns.
In 1973 they introduced an icosahedron pattern which divided the ball into 20 triangular regions which was a major breakthrough.
The Pro V1 made its debut on the PGA Tour at Las Vegas on October 11, 2000 and Billy Andrade won that week using it.
The Pro V1 soon became the most popular ball on tour and three years after Titleist’s initial breakthrough with the Pro V1 came the Pro V1x, a ball with 160 fewer dimples.
From the very start the message was all about consistency and that remains the case today.
These days Titleist produce approximately 25,000,000 dozen boxes of balls per year with around 750,000 made each day at the company’s three manufacturing plants. The flagship product, the Pro V1 and Pro V1x, claimed a staggering 190 wins across the professional tours last year (compared to 25 for the nearest competitor) and since its introduction in 2000, in an era much dominated by Tiger Woods, has claimed 22 Majors and counting.
THE PRO V1 PROCESS
The manufacturing process starts in the laboratories with the R&D department. A highly skilled, dynamic team of physicians, biologists, chemists, electrical engineers and aerodynamic specialists are involved at this point.
It starts with a bespoke mixture of chemicals, which are measured by hand before being mixed.
From there the rubber is rolled and dried before being cut to size and pressed into a sphere. They are checked and buffed to make sure they are perfectly round, before going into a urethane mould.
Just before they are put into soft urethane, every core has an electric current passed through it. This slightly changes its chemistry …and brings the ball to life.
After being covered with urethane and moulded with the dimple pattern, the balls are buffed before receiving multiple, very thin, layers of paint and polish and being finished with the legendary side-stamp and nameplate.
Finally, before leaving the production line, every ball is X-rayed to ensure its perfect construction. At every stage multiple checks are carried out and if it isn’t 100 per cent perfect it won’t go any further.
The company are rightly proud of their manufacturing excellence. THE PEOPLE
The company are rightly proud of their manufacturing excellence. The Titleist R&D team includes over 75 associates ranging from chemists to electrical engineers. Furthermore there is human intervention during the manufacturing process to ensure they maintain the quality control of all their products. That is why the process is not fully automated.
The balls are then inspected by hand and X-rayed before being deemed suitable to be packed and shipped.
Titleist do not have any ‘tour only’ ball models. The balls that leave to be sold to consumers are the exact same ones that are used by the best players in the world.
The process of identifying new Titleist golf ball models is exactly the same for all Titleist golf balls, including the Pro V1 and Pro V1x. It starts with golfer testing and research, which identifies performance and preference needs at every level of the game.
From there a R&D product design brief would be put together to ensure that they never compromise superior product quality during any part of the design or manufacturing process.
Once a prototype has been manufactured then these are rigorously tested and performance validated using real golfers, at all levels of the game, including the best in the world.
Machine or robot testing will also be used and it will only come to market if it has a discernible performance difference and is accepted by golfers.
WHY IT WORKS FOR YOU AND ME
It is very important to note that all Titleist balls are produced at their own ball plants by their own staff. No component or part of the manufacturing process is outsourced.
This gives them complete control over the process and quality of our products and ensures every ball is of the highest standard.
There are differences in material components between the Pro V1 and Pro V1x balls and the other models.
All Titleist balls are engineered and produced with performance in mind.
However, it is the ionomeric casing layer and urethane cover that gives the Pro V1 and Pro V1x ball its outstanding control into and around the green.
Titleist’s ball-fitting philosophy starts from the green and works its way back so they would always recommend the Pro V1 and Pro V1x as the No 1 choice to lowering your scores due to its ‘drop and stop’ technology.
It is the best performing ball for all golfers. They have never found the need to add a third model as the Pro V1 and Pro V1x cover 98 per cent of the golfing public.
They have come a long way since 1910.