Flight Tuning – the Exotics EXS from Tour Edge

Tour Edge Golf is upping their ante in the driver market with the Exotics EXS model which is loaded with advance features and as significantly, at the very affordable price point of $300. Announced as the first of the new EXS family, the driver will be at retail on Nov. 1.

The Exotics brand originally was conceived to be played by the low handicappers among us and hit its stride year after year with top performing fairway woods and hybrids, but the drivers never attracted the same kind of attention.

That should all change with the EXS. It has all the indications of being a top performing driver capable of competing with drivers costing 50% more.

“The EXS driver is absolutely loaded with technology,” said Tour Edge President and Master Club Designer David Glod. “This is the most technology we’ve ever been able to fit into a design and each one works in concert with one another to provide the best performing driver possible. The shapes are beautiful, and we utilized only the finest in materials and components. I believe that at the aggressive price point that we are offering, the EXS driver will have its highest impact on the driver market over any other previous Exotics release.”

The EXS driver’s 460cc basic clubhead is anything but basic with a frame made from 8-1-1 titanium. The face is a variable thickness design of TSP 910 titanium as was used in the EX 10 model only in the EXS its both thinner and lighter. As has become almost an industry standard the crown is carbon fiber which saves more weight and part of the sole towards the toe is also made of carbon fiber. This helped to reduce the head weight and push the center of gravity deep for forgiveness and lower spin with the added benefit, less toe weight means a draw bias.

The “Flight Tuning System” is all about the weight saved in face, crown and sole being used in the two sole weights, one of 9-grams near the heel and one of 3-grams in the rear. The result is a low spin head producing a medium trajectory launch and an anti-slice tendency. Switch positions of the sole weights and the EXS produces a medium spin with higher launch and a neutral shot shape. There’s even a kit available for additional cost with three more weights (6, 11 and 14-grams) for further fine tuning.

Tour Edge says the majority of miss-hit happen towards the toe so the EXS has a RollFace with the bulge and roll in that part of the face reconfigured to help reduce ball curvature. The company also points out this the most forgiving driver they have ever made. The crown has a new shape and with the added taper to the clubhead’s profile improves downswing speed by reducing aerodynamic drag. Plus, to help preserve ball speed on impacts low on the face the speed slots in the sole have been made wider.

Finally, to further dial in the driver to the needs of the player the hosel has two degrees of adjustability, as much as any driver on the market. The hosel also adjusts to three lie angles giving the EXS 16 different settings between the two FTS weights and the eight different loft and lie settings.

Ryder Cup – USA Over Euros

Ok, the real hype can begin now U.S. Ryder Cup team Captain Jim Furyk has made three selections leaving one pick which he will reveal that on Sept. 24. European team leader Thomas Bjorn picks Wednesday completed his roster so let’s take a look at the two squads and make a guess who will prevail at Le Golf National outside Paris.

Team Europe is complete: Paul Casey, Tommy Fleetwood, Sergio Garcia, Tyrrell Hatton, Rory McIlroy, Francesco Molinari, Alex Noren, Thorbjorn Olesen, Ian Poulter, Jon Rahm, Justin Rose and Henrik Stenson.

Team USA: Bryson DeChambeau, Rickie Fowler, Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka, Phil Mickelson, Patrick Reed, Webb Simpson, Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Bubba Watson and Tiger Woods. That’s only eleven with a player to be named later, in two weeks but let’s assume Tony Finau gets the nod.

It’s best to have some backup to rationalize any guess as to the winner and longtime observers know Ryder Cups comes down to a simple formula. Sinking putts plus making birdies equals taking home Samuel Ryder’s trophy.

We looked at strokes gained putting rank and birdies per round rank for PGA Tour events this season. However, several of the European Team members don’t play fulltime here so European Tour results were also researched and the best ranking used. As an example, Fleetwood is number 193 in SGP on the European Tour and number 77 on the PGA Tour so his PGA Tour rank was used.

That analysis shows the U.S. Team has a clear and significant advantage in both strokes gained putting as well as birdies made per round.

Moving on to a different measurement and though some feel the Official World Golf Rankings are flawed they do give an idea of how players stack up and again show the U.S. with at least some advantage. The top three in the OWGR are Americans (Johnson, Koepka, Thomas) with the lowest ranking being Woods at 26. The Euros can claim the 4, 5 and 6 spots (Rose, Rahm, Molinari) but they have two at 30 or over (Garcia and Poulter).

Who is currently playing well is also a huge factor and since the British Open won by Molinari no Euro team member has won on the PGA Tour. The best finish is a second by Justin Rose at the Dell Technologies Championship.

Other indications of the potential for the U.S. to dominant include that since Sergio Garcia won the 2017 Masters, Americans have won six of the seven majors played with Koepka taking three of them. The strongest competition is on the PGA Tour and to win, much less win repeatedly, is a perfect indicator for the strength of either side. There’s no question Team USA is tops by any objective measurement.

But what about subjective measurements such as heart, desire, maturity and reaction to pressure? Difficult if not impossible to quantify but anecdotally Mickelson is playing on his 12th team and not one of them won at a European venue. Lefty very much wants to correct that, has said so in public and will not hesitate to tell his teammates…probably several times how important a win in France will be to wipe away the blemish of over the pond losses going back to 1993.

Part of any consideration has to be the role rookies will play for each team and the Euros have five (Fleetwood, Hatton, Noren, Olesen and Rahm) while the U.S. has three (DeChambeau, Simpson and Thomas). DeChambeau after back to back FedExCup playoff wins is the hottest player on the planet will be a positive with whoever he is partnered. Simpson won The Players Championship and has a T-2 last month at the Wyndham Championship plus shot a 63 in the third round of the Dell Technologies last week. Thomas should perform well too with three wins this season, spending four weeks atop the OWGR and most recently a win at the WGC Bridgestone Invitational in August.

The questions on the European squad not only include their rookies but the inclusion of Garcia by Bjorn. The fiery Spaniard has had a miserable 18 months since his Augusta win and nothing seen lately would make one think that was going to change.  

And that brings us to the wild card factor at this Ryder Cup. For the first time U.S. players will be faced with not just partisan crowds but a whole sports culture exemplified by international tennis, soccer and cycling but certainly not golf. It most likely things won’t become too ugly, but we could see something similar done such as the baiting by U.S. fans in the past of European stalwarts Garcia and Colin Montgomery. It will be a tough experience for U.S. players.

At the end of July, I wrote the early call was a U.S. win 16 to 12. That prediction hasn’t changed except the effect of the European fans wasn’t sufficiently factored in. So, though there is no way Team USA can lose the final score is now guesstimated to be 15 ½ to 12 ½ for Europe.

Opportunity to Excel

Previously I reported Michael Breed’s proposal players missing the cut in PGA Tour events should be paid. His thinking is these 80 or so players still have expenses, their presence has contributed entertainment value and therefore deserve compensation.

In opposition were my points based on the fact gaining a PGA Tour does not and should not guarantee a player will earn money. It simply provides the opportunity. In addition, there is a question as to the where the $10 million required to fund this for a full season would come from. Breed’s feeling was it could be raised by soliciting additional sponsor dollars or maybe “charging $1 more for a beer.”

Both ideas in my view are unrealistic.

Breed is consistently ranked as one of the most respected teachers in the game and as host of A New Breed of Golf on Sirius XM Radio he is not one to shy away from a topic nor reluctant to voice an opinion.

After my column “Why Not Just Give Everyone a Trophy?” appeared he called, and we talked for over half an hour. It would be fair to say neither of us changed our opinion and the friendly exchange ended by agreeing to disagree however some interesting points were raised.

Breed said, and of course it is true, the PGA Tour is very well off financially with an immense income and it’s not just from selling the broadcast rights for the Tour events. They also have an extensive real estate/golf course operation not to mention income from the use of their brand name by a variety of “partners.” He also brought up the agreement recently signed with Discovery Channel for $2 billion covering the international rights fees for Tour events plus the immense potential of revenue due to the advent of legalized gambling in this country.

Bottom line is Breed believes the money is there to pay all the players something and they deserve it because they have earned a Tour card.

On the other hand, just as golf is unique among sports, professional golf is unique in the world of pay-for-play. Players are independent contractors and got into the business understanding there are no guarantees. In fact, that is the essence of the PGA Tour setting it apart any other professional sport.

Players on the PGA Tour have the chance to exhibit their skills in the face of intense competition. It is a bastion of individuality and an arena where the spotlight always shines.

Playing on the PGA Tour shouldn’t be just another job with a minimum wage disguised as an appearance fee rewarded for being unable to make the cut.

Playing privileges on the PGA Tour are an opportunity to excel.

Why Not Just Give Everyone a Trophy?


Michael Breed on his Sirius XM PGA Tour radio show A New Breed of Golf has proposed players missing the cut in PGA Tour events should be paid.

If I understand his premise correctly Breed feels these players have expenses and by their presence they contribute to the entertainment value of the tournament. A typical tournament field has 156 players with the low 70 scores and ties after the second round going on to play the final two rounds thereby “making the cut.”

Those with scores outside the cut receive no money but Breed says these 86 cut-missing toursters should receive a “minimum wage” of $3,000 as an appropriate amount to offset expenses.

It’s unclear where this money should come from but those making the cut certainly couldn’t be expected to be in favor of reducing their prize money nor would it make sense to decrease the amount going to the local charities benefiting from the PGA Tour tournaments in their cities. But Breed appears to think the solution is simple…just raise additional money from sponsors which if you do the math would be more than $250,000 each week.

The reasonableness of somehow magically finding a sponsor or sponsors to put up the $10 million needed to fund this scheme for an entire PGA Tour season is something out of never-never land.

Breed just hasn’t thought this through.

Why should those missing the cut be paid simply because they have made a choice to pursue a particular career?

Unlike other “jobs” they weren’t interviewed and then hired for their PGA Tour card. They simply showed up with their golf clubs and proved in an intense competitive environment they were good enough to try to take prize money away from DJ, Tiger, Phil and all the others.

Paying someone for showing up is the same as giving every kid a trophy so no one goes home with hurt feelings. You and I know life isn’t like that.

Monday After Bellerive

Brooks Koepka beating Tiger Woods for the Wanamaker Trophy and the 100th PGA Championship gave us some great golf and wonderful competition on a demanding course, but it is increasingly apparent the fourth major needs something to distinguish it from not only the other majors but the week to week traveling circus a.k.a. the PGA Tour.

By way of comparison the Masters, Bobby Jones’ tournament, has the tradition of being played early in April at the same course conveniently timed just as the weather is warming for golf in much of the country. The U.S. Open is our national championship and typically played on courses so difficult they would bring tears to the eyes of most amateurs. The British Open is the oldest, most historical, theoretically open to anyone in the world and often on linksland which requires an entirely different style of golf virtually unknown in this country.

The PGA really has nothing unique other than the mythic determination that somehow, it’s a “major” even though the field includes 20 club professionals. The schedule change next year to May between the Masters and the U.S. Open could be a real shot in the arm. But truthfully it still needs a singular uniqueness to better establish its identity…push it towards the front of the pack that not only includes the other three majors but the four World Golf Championship events, the FedExCup and other big tournaments during the year plus the Olympics every four years and the Ryder Cup or Presidents Cup annually.

Even though television executives may not like it the time has come to convert the PGA Championship to match play as it was until 1958. Keep the PGA professionals as part of the 156-man field and simply have a 36-hole qualifier on Wednesday and Thursday to select an elite 32 for match play.

One last thought on the PGA—the possible venues could be expanded by going outside of the states occasionally to gain not only the publicity but more international fans. As I said just a thought.

Tiger Woods: A seeming lack of focus on the 14th hole of the final round and wide right drive into the hazard on 17 sealed Woods’ chances for winning his fifth PGA and 15th major. However, his final round 64, his lowest round ever in a major championship, had fans glued to their televisions. It’s not going out too far out on a limb to say not only will he soon win again and his position now at 11th in the Ryder Cup points list means a role as a playing vice-captain on the Ryder Cup team is a given. Woods comeback to tournament winner and major champion will be of the same magnitude as Ben Hogan returning after his 1949 collision with a bus.

Disappointments: Play in the PGA by much of the U.S. Ryder Cup team was not inspiring and except for Justin Thomas none were ever in contention. Dustin Johnson finished T-27, Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler T-12, Webb Simpson T-19 and Bubba Watson who along with Phil Mickelson missed the cut.

TV Coverage: You would think that TNT, which covered the first two days of the PGA Championship in conjunction with CBS Sports for the weekend, could have done a better job but it was refreshing to hear the critics going after someone other than the coverage on Fox of the U.S. Open.

Photo credit: PGA of America

USGA Shoots Themselves in the Foot…Again

USGA has again taken a position that gives the impression they like embarrassing themselves and enforcing the feeling of many the organization is irrelevant to golf in the real world.

The latest is the announcement by the USGA (and R&A) citing they “are proposing regulations regarding the use of green-reading materials, reaffirming the need for a player to read greens based on their own judgment, skill and ability. Following a six-week period of feedback and consultation with interested parties that begins today, the regulations will be finalized in a published “interpretation” of Rule 4.3 (Use of Equipment) and adopted Jan. 1, 2019, when golf’s new rules take effect.”

A couple of points seem appropriate—why are they asking for feedback if the new rule will be in effect next year? It appears the decision has been made so why bother soliciting comments other than for the sake of appearances?

The USGA’s stipulation today’s green reading books give an advantage to players doesn’t hold up. Green reading books of the type the USGA is banning are used almost exclusively by elite players and most commonly on the professional tours. The simple fact the putting average on the PGA Tour for the past 15 years has actually gone up didn’t appear to have made a difference to what was assumedly an already formed opinion. PGA Tour stats show the average putts per round in 2002 was 29.09 and this season is 29.15. Of course, the minuscule increase is statistical noise but if Tour players are gaining such a large advantage and the green reading books means less skill is needed why doesn’t it show in the results?

Referring to the press announcement again, “Both the USGA and The R&A are committed to the position that a player’s ability to read their line of play on the putting green is an essential skill that should be retained,” said Thomas Pagel, Senior Director, Rules of Golf and Amateur Status for the USGA. “The focus of the interpretation is to develop an approach that is both effective and enforceable.”

The answer to the question of why average putts per round have not plummeted is not addressed which opens speculation of what the USGA ‘s real agenda might be and equally important the Association’s relevance to golf in general and the recreational golfer. Enforcement is another question and raises the specter of local tournament committees being in the position of arbitrating the proper numbers, marks, colors and arrows. Really?

This new rule is another in a long list of changes that apply mostly to the game as played by less than 1% of golfers…the elites. Should for example the PGA Tour, whose slogan until recently was “These Guys Are Good,” believe the topographical slope maps included in green reading books are not appropriate they should ban them.

The USGA has had similar “shoot themselves in the foot” embarrassments with other issues including “square grooves”, solid core golf balls, clubface rebound, anchored putting and their as yet unfulfilled goal of rolling back golf ball distance. They seem to make rules with little regard for 99% of golfers only on their view of the elite few.

It’s a wonder average players can see the USGA as having even a little relevance to the game.

An Early Ryder Cup Call

At this writing it’s still two months until the Ryder Cup will be played at Le Golf National outside Paris. Italian star Francesco Molinari’s British Open win over two likely European Team and two possible American team members plus a final day push from Tiger Woods was the impetus for many to start speculating on team makeup and which squad will triumph in France.

Well, I enjoy speculating as much as the next guy and felt it might be worth the exercise to look at teamed picked based on the respective current Ryder Cup points list with Official World Golf Rankings (OWGR) and PGA Tour putting rank used to select the captain’s picks. Obviously, this isn’t perfect but then no method is without flaws. What is true though is the OWGR shows how players have done against every other ranked player and because the Ryder Cup usually comes down to putting, the relative prowess of the two teams is relevant.

For all its shortcomings the OWGR is a way to compare players over the world’s professional events not just those on the European and PGA Tours but I have always taken them with a healthy dose of skepticism. Without belaboring the point, Rickie Fowler earned 48 ranking points for wining the Hero World Challenge against a field of just 18 players. If I was one of the world top 25 and didn’t get an invitation from the host who happened to be Tiger Woods that would really have upset me.

It’s hard to make a case for including limited field events in the OWGR calculations and the fact is two weeks later Justin Rose won the Indonesian Masters but due to the strength of the field earned just 24 OWGR points. Still it was a full field event not a just a dozen and a half however, they didn’t ask me if this is fair nor do I expect they will.

The other indicator for Ryder Cup performance is putting performance ranking and these statistics are fairly straightforward.

Team USA will be made up of the top eight in Ryder Cup points through the PGA Championship with Captain Jim Furyk having four picks. European Captain Thomas Bjørn will have the first four players on the Ryder Cup points list plus the top four on the World Points list and four captain’s picks. Since many of the European stars play much of the season on the U.S. tour the qualifications were modified. Team lists presume those qualifying on points will stay the same and the only leeway is in those tapped by the captains.

Two caveats. First is the information used was current as of the British Open and second my crystal ball broke in 1983. Here is my list of who will be on each team.

Team USA
Qualifying on Points: Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson, Patrick Reed, Justin Thomas, Bubba Watson, Jordan Spieth, Rickie Fowler, Webb Simpson
Captain’s Picks: Phil Mickelson, Bryson DeChambeau, Tiger Woods, Xander Schauffele

Team Europe
Qualifying on Points: Francesco Molinari, Justin Rose, Tyrell Hatton, Tommy Fleetwood, Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm, Alex Noren, Paul Casey
Captain’s Picks: Sergio Garcia, Ian Poulter, Thorbjorn Olesen, Matthew Fitzpatrick

Some comments and rationalization about the captain’s picks. Furyk will pick Lefty and Tiger almost regardless of how they are playing and since Woods is already one of the team’s vice captains it will save a set of uniforms. DeChambeau and Schauffele are the best of the young talent but its tough to leave veterans Matt Kuchar or Kevin Kisner out unless of course one of them wins the PGA.

The European Team’s first big question is can Molinari continue to be the world beater he has been the past six weeks? Chances are the answer is no…the same answer as to whether McIlroy’s putter will show up and whether Rahm can control his emotions. Poulter is a pick for the same reason as Sergio. Bjørn needs them and though Sergio is playing poorly Poulter won the Houston Open the week before the Masters. In any event you can’t imagine a Euro team without them.

With Ryder Cup experience an important factor the European team appears to have a disadvantage with five rookies (Hatton, Fleetwood, Rahm, Olesen and Fitzpatrick) versus three for the USA (Thomas, DeChambeau and Schauffele) and this might be a big difference. Team USA has an average OWGR of 15.5 to 19.1 which again may be an indicator of performance. In putting, which is often the difference in winning and losing, American’s have a definite edge with an average rank in total putting of 58.9 versus 69.3 for the Europeans. This could help to make up for the European fans who are expected to be a loud and partisan.

After all this that passes for analysis my guess is Team USA retains Samuel Ryder’s cup 16 to 12.

Monday After Carnoustie

Truth time. My favorite majors are the Masters and the British Open and that’s not saying anything against the PGA Championship or the U.S. Open, just my view. This past week at Carnoustie, the most northern course on the Open rota, we got to see the 147th playing of the world’s oldest major and Francesco Molinari was certainly a worthy Champion Golfer of the Year.

We also had the chance for a few observations, hopefully cogent and worth reading.

The Course
The R&A found the time to test the face rebound of 30 drivers used by contestants and all of them passed muster…not too much trampoline effect. They were able to engage in this equipment certification exercise because they didn’t spend endless hours attempting to trick up the layout, trick the players or otherwise mess around with an already immensely difficult course. On Wednesday Carnoustie’s fairways were tested by the Golf Channel and had a Stimpmeter reading of 9.2; less than the greens but not by a lot which probably averaged 10 for the week.

The British Open is played au naturel and unlike our national golf association the R&A doesn’t seem to have an agenda to “preserve par” or push the greens to the edge of extinction. Even Tiger Woods agrees the R&A has the right idea saying after his round on Thursday, “…this is how the game should be played. It should be creative.”

Difficult for sure and unfair at times applies to every Open and especially the 2018 Car-nasty event. But who cares. It is compelling to watch.

Tiger
If you are Woods fan his performance for the week was encouraging and if you’re not it was confirmation his struggles to close out a tournament once in position to win. Since his return from back surgery and other personal problems his pattern has been reasonable play in the first two rounds then almost lights out in the third round where he has the best scoring average on the PGA Tour. We saw this clearly at Carnoustie and to win on Tour, much less another major, he must relearn how to close.

Woods T-6 performance in Scotland did achieve one thing. He advanced from 71st in world to 50th giving him a spot in the WGC Bridgestone Invitational starting on Aug. 2nd which is played over Firestone CC (South) in Akron where he has won eight times.

Long Ball
Molinari’s win should again point out the fallacy of the argument the golf ball goes too far. The Champion Golfer of the Year is ranks 53rd in driving distance on Tour and 79th in driving accuracy. It’s likely however advocates of “rolling back the ball” will either ignore these facts or put it down to a never to be repeated Carnoustie fluke.

Television Coverage
How anybody could have serious complaints about the 50 hours of live Golf Channel/NBC Sports coverage says reams about the critic’s lack of knowledge about the massive effort televising an outdoor sports event requires. And while we are on the subject, special kudos goes to the producers. For the third year at least one shot of each of the 156 players was shown on television. “If you’re good enough to qualify for The Open, you deserve to be seen on TV.”

PGA Tour Schedule “These Guys Are Busy”

It was interesting the revamped PGA Tour schedule for the 2018-2019 season received so little play by the press and social media due no doubt to the buzz concerning the prospect of a head to head match between Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods. After all they are the “needle movers” for sports fans and certainly for diehard golf fans but at this writing no deal has been firmed up.

During the week we also were treated to coverage and comment, in and out of the legitimate press, of Lefty’s two-shot penalty at the Greenbrier plus the USGA ruling Bryson DeChambeau’s drawing compass was out of bounds.

However, should you define golf news by the impact on fans the PGA Tour announcement of a shortened 2018-2019 tournament schedule was the most important. As PGA TOUR Commissioner Jay Monahan put it in the press release, “It’s been our stated objective for several years to create better sequencing of our tournaments that golf fans around the world can engage in from start to finish. And by concluding at the end of August, the FedExCup Playoffs no longer have the challenge of sharing the stage with college and professional football. This will enhance the visibility of the FedExCup Playoffs and overall fan engagement with the PGA TOUR and the game as a whole.”

How fewer tournaments help “the game as a whole” is not clear but the I’m sure quibbling is beneath us.

The first eight tournaments of the split schedule take place prior to the hiatus from Thanksgiving to New Years as they did this season, but the significant fact is these events are now a bigger part of the year. With the new schedule having three fewer tournaments you can expect more of the big names more of time rather than just the WGC-HSBC in Shanghai and one of the other two in the Asian swing. This could be good news particularly for two well thought of event, one in Las Vegas (Shriners Hospitals for Children) and the other in Georgia (RSM Classic).

Accomplishing the goal of having the Tour Championship before Labor Day when football takes over meant one of the year-end FedExCup playoff events would have to go. Sacrificed for the good of the game (or at least to beat out the NFL) was the Dell Technologies Championship at the TPC Boston which has fans in New England more than a little unhappy.

Previously we knew about The Players Championship (Ponte Vedra Beach) moving from May to March and in 2019 the date is preceded by the Arnold Palmer Invitational (Bay Hill) followed by the Valspar Championship in Tampa. Combined with the Honda Classic the week before Arnie’s tournament there’s a reborn Florida swing.

The other major move was also by a major, the PGA Championship, which went from being the final major of the year in August to being put in The Player Championship’s old slot in May. The season’s majors then will be spread from the Masters April 11 – 14 to the PGA May 16 – 19 to the U.S. Open June 13 – 16 and finishing with the British Open July 18 – 21. That’s five weeks between the Masters and the PGA, four weeks from the PGA to the U.S. Open and four from the U.S. Open to the British Open.

Add in The Players, three WGC championships from January to July and “must-play” events such as the Arnold Palmer Invitational, the Memorial, the AT&T Byron Nelson and the…well you get the idea. Many if not most players rarely play more than three tournaments in a row, so the new Tour schedule could result in two situations. First, they may find it difficult to fit in some time off and secondly some very good tournaments may have a problem attracting players in the top 50. The Valspar tucked in between The Players and the WGC-Dell Technology Match Play is obviously on that list as is the RBC Canadian falling the week between the Memorial and the U.S. Open.

It’s ironic the Tour’s slogan was changed because if it was still “These guys are good” it might be more appropriate to say, “These guys are busy.”

Titleist AVX – Five Things You Should Know

We took the Titleist AVX to the course and had golfers try it, giving each two sleeves so they could put it in play for several rounds. They were a mixture of handicaps, female and male, ranging from single digits to low 20s. All were first asked if they had ever tried “soft-feel” golf balls and if they liked them and then, assuming they liked the AVX, if they would be averse to its $48 per dozen price.

The AVX is the first premium category ball from Titleist since the Pro V1x in 2003 and is meant to compliment it and the Pro V1 not pirate sales from the two flagship models.

Next the AVX has a lower compression core to help achieve a softer feel contrasting with the Pro V1 and the firmer Pro V1x. The mantle has lots of flex contributing to both ball speed for distance and to control spin making it the lowest spinning of the three.

The cover is a new as well, a proprietary thermoset cast urethane elastomer of something called GRN42 formulation.

Put altogether the AVX with approximately an 80 compression goes slightly farther with both the driver and irons so even though its trajectory is lower club for club you are often will be hitting a 9-iron where before it might have been an 8-iron or even a seven. Thus, the descent angle is steep enough to mitigate the lower spin of the AVX versus the Pro V1 which has a compression of approximately 90 and certainly the Pro V1x at around 100 compression.

On course results reflected the differences in construction with favorable comments about its playability similar to: “I personally liked the way ball felt when I made solid contact off the tee. It seemed to add 5 yards or more than the Callaway SuperSoft ball I previously used. I also noticed a very soft feel to the ball when putting. Good ball with a good feel even for an 18-hcp type golfer.”

A 14-handicap female said, “Distance is no contest. Longer and will play it.”

Around the green especially the softer feel was evident and a former senior professional with a 2-handicap remarked, “The added distance from the tee is important but what I like more is the way it reacts on scoring shots and chips. It is going to replace the Pro V1x I have been playing.”

There were a few negatives. One 15-handicap male did not see any more distance and another, who plays Bridgestone, saying the AVX was a good ball but he was probably not going to change though he didn’t state a reason.

Overall and from my experience testing and playing soft-feel golf balls since they first came on the market the Titlesit AVX is a strong choice for those wanting a lower trajectory, lower spinning ball that still has a soft feel. Priced the same as the Pro V1 and Pro V1x at $48 per dozen and for those who prefer it, the cover chemistry allows Titleist to make a yellow version.