In recent years, TaylorMade has committed more resources to golf balls and the result has been a growing presence on Tour and with recreational golfers. And while TaylorMade might be best known at this point for its premium golf ball offerings, and more specifically the five-layer construction that drives their performance, it has options to meet the needs of any player.
TGW customers put TaylorMade’s TP5, TP5x to the test
It has been an exciting year to say the least for TaylorMade, which has seen its top staff members enjoy incredible success on the PGA Tour in 2017.
Among the highlights have been Dustin Johnson’s multiple victories and stranglehold on the top spot in the world rankings, a Masters win from Sergio Garcia, and the emergence of Jon Rahm as arguably the best young player in the game.
Also making headlines, of course, was TaylorMade’s signing of Rory McIlroy to a long-term equipment deal.
Additionally, M-series drivers continue to enjoy incredible success, as do the fairway woods, rescues, and irons, and Spider Tour putters have been among the hottest in the game.
All that said, however, what TaylorMade might be most excited about is the buzz that its new TP5 and TP5x golf balls have generated.
The aforementioned Johnson, Garcia, and Rahm are each playing one of the new models, and McIlroy specifically mentioned the TP5x as one of the main reasons why he signed with TaylorMade.
Not surprisingly given the Tour success the two balls have in a short amount of time, recreational golfers are following suit as well and giving TP5 and TP5x a closer look.
In an effort to get some feedback about the two new balls, TGW enlisted the help of some of its customers, who have spent the last few weeks testing both balls on the golf course.
Our test panel of four players included Chris, a 2-handicap from Southern California, Baber, a 6-handicap from Southern California, John, an 8-handicap from Wichita, Kansas, and Anthony, a 12-handicap from Phoenix. Each is an avid golfer who plays on average at least twice a week.
Here’s what they had to say in response to five detailed questions that we asked about TP5 and TP5x:
TGW: What stood out to you most about the TP5 and TP5x golf balls and what did you find to be different about the two models in terms of playability?
Baber: They are definitely longer off the tee than the ball I currently play, the 2015 Pro V1x. The TP5x seemed to launch higher and spin a little less off of my 2016 M2 driver than the TP5. I couldn’t discern much difference with short irons, but with mid to long irons the TP5x was better suited to my game.
Chris: The thing that stood out to me the most was the distinct difference in feel between the two from the time I took them out of the package to my first practice putting session. You can really tell they are completely different balls.
John: To me, the biggest difference was in the ball flight. I hit the TP5x a lot higher than the TP5, especially with my irons. Beyond that, I thought both balls felt pretty similar and provided similar spin around the greens.
Anthony: Primarily, what stood out about the differences is the reduced spin with the TP5x. My drives seemed to hold the line better than with the TP5 off the tee, and I was hitting more fairways, which naturally led to better scoring. Both felt great around the green on chips and pitches. My approach shots with the X also seemed to land softer on the green than with the TP5.
TGW: Was there a certain aspect of either ball (spin, distance, durability, performance in the wind, etc.) that either significantly exceeded your expectations with these two balls or failed to meet your expectations?
Baber: They are definitely longer than I thought they’d be and particularly longer off the tee than I’m used to. They are quite stable in the wind but not much different than the Pro V1x.
Chris: I found the TP5x to be a bit "clickier" on pitches and chips around the green, as well as with the putter, but not in a "hard" kind of way. There was just a noticeable sound difference between the two. The TP5x flew a little lower with a more penetrating flight that cut through the wind, while the TP5 spun just a little more for me on full shots. I would say I hit the TP5x 5-7 yards farther than the TP5 on most full shots with my driver and irons.
John: Both balls performed well for me but I’m not sure there was any one thing that really exceeded my expectations. I guess I would say that given how long both balls are that the spin you can get on short shots was impressive. I also liked the feel of both balls when putting. They felt very soft.
Anthony: If I had to choose, the reduced spin off the tee with the TP5x impressed me greatly. The distance was comparable to the prior ball I used to play, the Pro V1x, so I was impressed that I did not lose any distance when using these balls. Performance in the wind also impressed me as one of the days I played with them was rather windy and it was nice to not have to think too much about what the wind was going to do to the ball flight. I was impressed by both with their feel when chipping and pitching. I was able to confidently stand over the ball knowing how it would feel coming off the club and how it reacted on the green. There were no aspects that failed to meet my expectations.
TGW: Of the two balls, which one did you find to be better for your game and why?
Baber: The TP5X is better suited to my game. It gives me at least 5-10 yards more off the tee (100-105 mph clubhead speed) with significant more rollout, and it feels about the same around the greens.
Chris: I felt that the TP5x suited my game a bit more as I am a high-spin player, so I'm not really looking for (extra spin) on daily fee or Municipal course greens that tend be a bit soft anyways. It had a more boring trajectory with my driver and irons that I like to see, and the slight clickiness at impact made me feel like I really compressed the ball. I also didn't feel like I lost anything around the greens, so why not take a few extra yards when you can get them?
John: I personally preferred the TP5 and believe it would be better for my game. The lower trajectory is something that I prefer given that I play in an area where it’s windy most of the time, and I also tend to launch the ball too high to begin with. It’s also probably just a little bit softer than the TP5x, and I like that soft feeling on short shots and when I’m putting.
Anthony: The TP5x fit my game the best. I need a ball that has reduced spin off the tee to allow for more accurate drives. This ball satisfied this requirement a hundred times over. Additionally, the soft feel on short game shots allowed me to be more aggressive with chips. I love the distance this ball affords me and consequently allows me to have several par 5s where I could attack the green in two without worrying about coming up short.
TGW: How would you rate the TP5 and TP5x in terms of feel, both on full shots and shots played around the green, and where did each ball excel most, on tee shots, full iron shots, short game shots, or putting (or some combination of some or all of those categories)?
Baber: Both balls feel the same to me around the greens. The TP5x is longer with mid to long irons and most definitely with the driver. The first time I ever played with the TP5x was on a 440-yard par-4 that I normally am happy making par. The drive was 298 yards in the fairway, and I hit a wedge to within 12 feet and made the putt for birdie.
Chris: I felt like both balls had a really nice (albeit different) feel that worked well for me. I noticed a few extra yards gained on tee shots with my driver but the irons shots flew just about the same as other premium balls I have tried. The durability was very impressive, as I played multiple rounds with each ball and did not notice any major wear and tear on them. Again, the TP5x was a better all-around ball for me and my usual play, but I would have no problem playing the TP5 on a regular basis (maybe when it's a little colder outside).
John: I thought these two balls performed best from 100 yards and in. I was able to get plenty of spin on all of those shots and both balls provided great feel and feedback. They were also very good in terms of distance but I would say they were comparable in that regard to other high-end golf balls that I’ve played.
Anthony: If it was a 5-star rating system, I'd give the TP5 4 stars for tee shots and the TP5x 5 stars. For feel I'd give them both 5 stars. Full shots from the fairway: TP5 4 1/2 stars, TP5x 5 stars. Short game and putting, I'd give them both 5 stars.
TGW: Have you personally made a golf ball change to play the TP5 or TP5x on a regular basis and if so what ball did you change from? If not, what ball is currently your "gamer"?
Baber: Once my Pro V1x stash is depleted, I will switch to the TP5x completely. I’ve already bought a box and am playing them both side-by-side for now.
Chris: I have switched to the TP5x ball for tournament and better course rounds that I have been playing. The price is still a little high for a man on a budget, but they are worth the extra money. I will still play the Bridgestone E6 ball for short courses or fun rounds with my friends/kids.
John: I haven’t made a golf ball change at this point. I really like the TP5 and plan to try it a few more times, but for now I will continue to play the Pro V1, which has been my ball of choice for the last several years. But I will say that the TP5 has given me something to think about.
Anthony: I have indeed started to play primarily with the TP5x. I have abandoned my previous relationship with the Titleist Pro V1x to begin playing with the TP5x.
TaylorMade expecting TP5 and TP5x golf balls to be game-changers
TaylorMade TP5X and TP5 Golf Balls at the 2017 PGA Show
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.
More distance off the tee, more spin around the greens equal lower scores
Tour Preferred X Johnson My Number Golf Ball Story
Tour Preferred: As mentioned, the Tour Preferred golf ball is long off the tee and delivers exceptional spin around the green. It is, however, different in several ways than its stablemate, the Tour Preferred X. The Tour Preferred is a four-layer golf ball and its lower compression, which at about 80 makes it the lowest compression Tour ball that TaylorMade has ever offered, delivers a ball that has a much softer feel than the X. Additionally, players can expect that on full shots with their irons that they’ll see mid flight and mid spin. Also of note, a 322 dimple pattern promotes greater stability in windy conditions and helps enhance distance off the tee. The Tour Preferred ball will work well for players with high or modest swing speeds but will appeal most to players who are looking for soft feel and a slightly higher ball flight with their irons.
Tour Preferred X: Distance off the tee and spin around the greens are also staples of the Tour Preferred X, which went through more than 40 prototypes before being tested on Tour. In creating the ball, the feedback that TaylorMade received from its Tour players, according to Product Manager for Golf Balls and Metal Woods Charlie Crisan, was that they wanted a ball that offered low spin off the tee, high spin around the greens and with a wedge, and low spin on full shots with irons. The lower spin and launch conditions that the X produces on iron shots are the result of a fifth layer, and it’s the ball that the majority of TaylorMade staffers are playing on Tour, including Jason Day, Dustin Johnson, and Sergio Garcia, among others. Players can also expect a firmer feel in the X than the Tour Preferred, as its compression is slightly higher at 87. You don’t necessarily have to be a bomber to play the X, although players with higher swing speeds will typically gravitate to a higher compression ball, according to Crisan. But a firmer feel, as well as less spin and a more penetrating flight on iron shots, can be expected.