FINAL REVIEW and ASSESSMENT:
After an exhaustive (and exhausting) launch monitor/simulator session, a 90-minute chipping, pitching and putting session on and around the practice green at one of my favorite golf courses, and two rounds of golf (one 9-holer, and an 18-hole round today), I am ready to present my final assessment of these Titleist "White Box" Test balls. First a refresher and summary of my prior findings --
Initial Impressions and Data from Launch Monitor Session (11/7/23)
You have already seen my unboxing impressions and the dissertation that I did regarding my planned testing methodology. Today, I spent more than 2.5 hours (actually closer to 3 hours) on one of the launch monitors/simulators at Baylinks Golf, which is the golf center where I do a great deal of my clubfitting and analysis work. The LM is an HD Golf model (made in Canada), and as someone who owns two other launch monitors, and who has done fitting and testing work with all of them, plus several other models, I have a great deal of confidence in these monitors, which I have used for close to 6 years, as has the PGA Professional who owns Baylinks Golf. I collected ten pages of data, and did my tabulations and comparative analysis for another two hours after I got home late this afternoon. The following is a summary of my findings and impressions based on this launch monitor session.
Partial Shots (25 & 50 yards) with 50* 54* and 58* Wedges:
Most of these shots were taken with my 54-12 and 58-10 Ping Glide 2.0 Wedges, with a small sample of low punched partial wedge shots taken using my 50* Cobra "Snakebite" wedge. Here's a summary of what the data showed:
Total spin is between 900 - 1,550 RPM lower with this Titleist Prototype Ball than with either the 2023 Maxfli Tour X CG or the Titleist Pro V1x Left Dash balls on partial wedge shots from both of these distances.
Due to the lower spin, run-out is about 20% greater with the Titleist "Test" ball on 25-yard pitch and chip shots (ball speed average of 31.8 MPH), and a whopping 100% greater on-average when the Titleist White Box Prototype ("TEST") ball is used with any of these wedge lofts for 50-yard pitch or chip shots. This run-out gap widens by an even greater margin vs. the above-referenced balls (Maxfli Tour X CG and Pro V1xLeft Dash), plus vs. the standard Pro V1 ball) when hitting lower-trajectory partial wedge shots.
The combination of low spin and significantly greater run-out, which naturally go hand-in-hand, makes control very difficult on all types of short pitch and chip shots
Full Swing Shots with Irons and Pitching Wedge:
Once you get to full-swing shots with the irons and pitching wedge, the gaps in total spin and run-out actually widen. I saw an average spin difference of 1,060 RPM on full shots of 100 - 113 yards with my Paradym pitching wedge, which already produces fairly low spin numbers, and about 1,200 RPM less on full shots with my Paradym 7-iron when using the Titleist Test ball. The average spin rate of less than 3,600 RPM with this Titleist ball on full 7-iron shots of between 146-152 yards makes this Titleist Prototype ball unplayable with the irons, in my opinion .... at least, for me.
Add to the above the fact that I saw a consistent trend of almost 9 yards of additional run-out (8.8 yards actual delta) on full 7-iron shots, and about 4.5 to 5 yards of additional run-out on full PW shots with the Titleist Test ball, making the "unplayability factor" even worse.
Here's Some Positive Data Regarding this Test Ball .... at least for me!:
When it comes to the longer clubs (hybrids, and especially fairway woods and the driver), the lower-spin/greater run-out trend continues, which for me is a very good thing. Lower spin and greater run-out leads to both longer shots (at least overall .... carry distance wasn't the greatest, but it was never more than 10-12 yards short of what I would expect from my better hits) and straighter shots, as well. With these longer clubs, particularly with the driver, I was seeing very straight shots and lots of run-out; however, the launch monitor/sim is set to "firm fairways", and because I was hitting these longer clubs VERY straight, I saw good overall distance. Nearly every shot that I hit with my driver, 4-wood, Apex Utility Wood and 21* Sub 70 hybrid went virtually dead-straight when hitting this ball, while that was not exactly the case with the balls that I was hitting for comparison purposes. There were no extreme hooks, in fact nothing worse than gentle draws and 2 to 5 yard fades with the Titleist Prototype ball, even when I was sure that I had hit some shots that were going to miss the fairways left, and maybe a couple that I thought could fade off the fairway to the right. I wasn't hitting the ball all that well today, and based on a few shots that I missed by a fairly wide margin with the other balls (almost exclusively hooks) I expected to see some that would at least show themselves to be significant draws when hitting this Titleist Test ball, but that definitely was NOT the case. I did hit a few driver shots and one or two with my 4-wood that carried farther when hitting the Maxfli Tour X CG and Pro V1x Left Dash balls, but they ended-up in the rough, or in the "virtual trees" on a couple of occasions. We'll see how things go when I get outside and play these balls on a real golf course!
Keep in mind that this data and my impressions regarding this ball's performance were derived entirely from a 2.5+ hour launch monitor session. I still plan to spend an hour or more on the chipping/putting green and in the practice bunker at an area golf course tomorrow (I have to go there for an awards luncheon anyway, so I might as well make use of the facilities). This will be followed by a round of casual golf using these Titleist Prototype balls (and hopefully hitting some side-by-side shots with my favorite Maxfli Tour X CG balls for comparison purposes). I will post my final report and complete the questionnaire following these additional ball-testing activites .... stay tuned for the final report.
Next, off to the chipping and putting green (11/09/23) --
As I posted yesterday in my initial impressions from my launch monitor session, I got out on the chipping and putting green to test these Titleist "White Box" Prototype balls in a variety of around-the-green conditions [very short chips from adjacent to the green, longer chips (up to 10 yards) from the rough, high pitch shots and plenty of putts]. I had also planned to hit a variety of shots from the practice bunker, but that bunker was under repair, so that was impossible to do. Here is what I observed with these Titleist Test balls vs. both the 2023 Maxfli Tour X CG and the regular 2023 Maxfli Tour CG:
Feel - The Titleist Test ball feels quite soft; much softer than the Maxfli Tour X and also a bit softer than the Maxfli Tour ball. The Tour X from Maxfli is a very firm ball at more than 100 compression, and it has a rather firm feel on all shots, but the 2023 Maxfli Tour is only 85 compression, and this Titleist ball still feels noticeably softer than that Maxfli model, so I'm guessing that this Titleist ball is a sub-80 compression ball (?)
Responsiveness - It seemed that it took a more forceful strike on short chip shots with the wedges and with the putter to get the same distance with the Titleist ball as I got from either of the Maxfli ball models, especially with my favorite Tour X model. This is not necessarily a bad thing, especially on downhill putts and chips to tight pin positions or on chips and pitches with some downward slope toward the pin; however, you need to know what to expect, and when I first started hitting shots (particularly short chips and putts) with the Titleist ball, I was leaving everything short.
Performance - Once I got used to the softer feel, nothing about the Titleist ball was "bad", and I actually made a few reasonably long putts (15-25 feet) with it. I also hit some chips pretty close to a few of the holes that were in tough positions (I tried as many difficult chips as I could), and hit the flagstick one time with the Titleist ball, although I didn't hole the chip. Again, nothing to complain about with the Titleist ball, once I got used to the feel, but as soon as I dialed-in my stroke with those balls, I started blowing the putts well past the holes with the Maxfli balls, particularly the Tour X.
Overall Observations - I'm not a fan of "soft" or low-compression golf balls (one in the same, I guess), but when I got used to these Titleist "White Box" Test balls, they performed all right off the wedges and putter .... especially the putter. I was expecting to see some excessive run-out on chip and pitch shots, after what I experienced yesterday on 25 and 50 yard partial wedge shots when testing on the launch monitor, but this didn't happen outdoors under real-world golf course conditions, and this practice green was certainly not what I would call "slow" (in fact, it was pretty fast).
NOW FOR THE ON-COURSE ASSESSMENT: (performed 11/13 through 11/15/23)
As I mentioned in my introduction at the beginning of this post, I played nine holes on Monday and 18 holes today with the Titleist test ball (well, not actually a full 18 holes today, because I lost two balls by the 8th hole, and the third ball was so badly abraded from my Ping Glide 2 wedges that I had to take it out of play by the 10th hole). The on-course performance that I got with the test balls very closely paralleled what I saw on the launch monitor and during my time pitching, chipping, and putting with it .... but, if anything a bit worse for me, especially around the greens. Whenever I had the opportunity, I hit two balls off the tee, or into the greens, with the first being with the Titleist "White Box" test ball and the second shot hit with a Maxfli Tour X CG (2023 model). Not one shot that I hit with the Titleist Test ball was as long as with the Maxfli Tour X that I hit from the same spot, using the same club. Now, of course you can say that no two swings are the same, and maybe I was making better swings and contact with the Maxfli ball, but it's just not realistic to think that I would always make a better stroke, better contact, etc. with one ball over the other!
With my Callaway Paradym X driver, I was hitting the Maxfli Tour X ball about 20 yards longer EVERY TIME than I did with the Titleist ball(s). On iron shots, I was at least 1/2 club longer with the Maxfli Tour X than with the Titleist ball (sometimes, close to a full club longer, meaning about 12-13 yards).
Here is the part that was most disturbing for me - The Titleist test ball would just not check-up at all for me on partial wedge shots and greenside chips! This was much worse than what I had experienced on the launch monitor, as I was seeing close to 2x, and sometimes even 3x, the run-out with the Titleist test ball than what I saw with the Maxfli Tour X.
Putting was another area where I was VERY disappointed with the Titleist ball. I had 19 putts on my front nine today (all with the Titleist ball), and only 13 putts with the Maxfli Tour X ball on the back nine. Some of this was attributable to my approach shots ending-up far closer with the Maxfli ball, but then that speaks volumes regarding how much more spin and check-up that I got with the Maxfli ball hitting everything from an 8-iron to my 58* wedge.
Sure, a great deal of my better performance with the Maxfli ball (I shot 4-over on the back nine today, after shooting 8-over on the front nine) was due to getting into a groove and with my greater comfort level with the Maxfli Tour X. However, when you are playing a ball that doesn't work as well for you, as this Titleist ball definitely did not work well for me, you're going to shoot higher scores with the poorer-performing ball.
I did not do as much of a comparison on Monday, as I played the Titleist ball exclusively. In addition, I was in a foursome where we were being pushed, so I did not have the luxury of hitting two balls on any holes. However, my observations during the nine holes that I played on Monday were about the same as I saw today on my first ten holes with the Titleist ball.
Today, I spoke with my playing partners about my wish to compare balls on as many shots as possible, and their response was "as long as we aren't holding up the groups behind us". We played 18 holes in 3:46, so we were definitely not holding anyone up .... in fact, after the first hole, we never again saw the threesome behind us (we were a foursome, by the way).
I initially thought that I might be able to play this Titleist ball model as my "winter golf ball", but today's results in particular were telling me clearly that I would not get along well with that Titleist ball model.
There you have my take on these golf balls; everyone will get different results and impressions, but my impression is that these balls are not a good fit for me.