Sitting alone in its throne at the top of the premium golf ball mountain is Titleist, which behind the staggering success of Pro V1 and Pro V1x has resided in that lofty position for the better part of the last two decades.
TaylorMade, however, has designs on challenging Titleist’s market supremacy, and it has made no secret about the fact that it wants to carve into Titleist’s share and that it believes it has better premium golf balls to offer players.
In an effort to prove the latter, TaylorMade has devoted significant resources to its new TP5 and TP5x golf balls, both in terms of research and development and an aggressive advertising strategy that has routinely singled out the top competition by name.
TaylorMade also believes that its new design approach relating to golf ball performance is what will differentiate TP5 and TP5x from the other premium golf balls on the market.
“This is a project that we’ve been working on for over ten years,” said Eric Loper, TaylorMade Director of Golf Ball Research & Development. “We’ve had this idea of higher launch and lower spin with the irons since we launched the TP Red LDP and we’ve developed the technology to be able to deliver it this year, so we’re pretty excited.”
What’s most notably different about the TP5 and TP5x relates to their construction. While most premium tour balls are either three- or four-piece golf balls, that’s not the case with TaylorMade’s new offerings.
“Both the TP5 and TP5x are based on our five-layer construction,” Loper explained. “And what that really enables us to do is design a golf ball that’s going to have excellent control around the green with high wedge spin and then with your driver and irons have low spin, where players want more distance.”
TaylorMade believes that by having five layers its golf balls can offer more optimal performance with every club in the bag, as players won’t ever have to sacrifice distance on full shots to get all of the spin they need and want around the green.
From a technology standpoint, TaylorMade’s Tri-Fast Core and Dual-Spin Cover are fueling the performance of the TP5 and TP5x.
The Tri-Fast Core features a low-compression inner core and a progressively stiffer outer core and mantle, with the result being soft feel but exceptional velocity and lower spin rates on full shots, as well as optimal energy transfer at impact.
As for the Dual-Spin Cover, it is constructed from soft cast urethane, which helps provide exceptional feel, and it also features a more rigid inner cover that helps produce maximum spin on shots played from around the green.
That said, to address the preferences that different players have, there are subtle differences between each ball when it comes to the core and cover that impact feel and performance.
“On the TP5x, we’ve made that Tri-Fast Core a little bit bigger and what that’s done is made significant reduction in your driver and iron spin, a couple of hundred RPM with the driver,” Loper said. “But most significantly with your irons, you’re going to see anywhere between five and eight hundred RPM less backspin. Lower backspin equals lower drag, and lower drag means more distance.”
Loper was also quick to point out that players who use the TP5x do not have to worry about less iron spin as it relates to being able to control the golf ball on approach shots. In addition to offering between a half and a full club of added distance, higher launch angles will allow players to easily stop the ball on the green with any iron in the bag.
And controlling the golf ball and hitting greens in regulation certainly haven’t been issues for players like Dustin Johnson and Jon Rahm, both of whom have excelled thus far in 2017 while using the new TP5x.
Also noteworthy in terms of the TP5x when compared to the TP5 will be its firmer feel.
“The TP5x is a 90-compression golf ball,” Loper said. “It’s designed for the players that actually like a little more feedback on their shots.”
As far as the TP5 is concerned, delivering exceptionally soft feel without sacrificing distance was goal No. 1 for TaylorMade, a process that started with constructing the core.
“The TP5 is an 83-compression golf ball,” Loper explained. “We start with a very soft 16-compressive core and then we add those layers to pack the speed back on, so you’re not going to lose ball velocity; that’s important. That 16-compression core is going to make the golf ball feel softer and help pull spin out on your driver and iron shots.”
Also different when compared to the TP5x is the TP5’s cover, with feel again being the driving force.
“We’ve made the (TP5) cover layer, which is a soft cast urethane material, a little bit thicker to make the golf ball feel softer around the green,” Loper added.
In terms of early adoption on Tour, as mentioned, players like Johnson and Rahm are playing the TP5x, as is Jason Day, while Sergio Garcia, among others, has been actively testing the TP5, according to Loper.
As the year progresses, Loper said he expects Tour play to break down at about 50-50 between TP5 and TP5x and as will ultimately be the case for recreational players picking between the two balls that preferred feel and trajectory will be the determining factors in a decision.