Ball-fitting isn't as easy as it looks

One tip on ball fitting: Stick with one ball. Golfers who frequently switch from one kind of ball to another are asking for trouble. “If you don’t know how your ball will spin and react around the green, you are adding shots to your score."

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. - Choosing a golf ball may appear to be simple. It isn’t.

The subject of ball fitting is so important to Titleist that the company has launched a major campaign to educate golfers.

“For golfers of all abilities, they have to focus on the fact that the golf ball is used for every shot in a round,” said Mary Lou Bohn, vice president of Titleist golf ball marketing and communications. “Most players don’t want tradeoffs. They want a ball that performs well on long shots, on short shots, on all shots.

“It’s not so simple that you push a button and some machine spits out your swing speed and a recommended ball. You have to have confidence in the ball for your scoring shots – into and around the green.”

Also attending the 2011 Players Championship and contributing to the discussion of Titleist golf ball fitting were Megan Morgan, director of leadership communications, and Fordie Pitts, a Titleist PGA Tour rep and golf equipment fitting expert.

“It may not sound very profound,” Morgan said, “but every golfer needs to use the ball that will help them shoot the lowest score. If you don’t hit a lot of greens in regulation, don’t you need to use a ball that will help you get a little closer to the hole and hopefully save par?”

Pitts stressed that every golfer needs to make an objective decision. “You have to know your game, and you have to know your golf ball,” he said. “Make a conscious decision about your ball. Know that it fits your game.”

Here are some additional insights into the process of choosing the proper golf ball:

• Stick with one ball. Golfers who frequently switch from one kind of ball to another are asking for trouble. “If you don’t know how your ball will spin and react around the green, you are adding shots to your score,” Bohn said.

• Forget the myth that some balls are designed strictly for Tour players. Even for the best players in the world, a ball has to be suitable for a large variety of shots with many different swing speeds.

• More women should consider using high-quality, softer golf balls. So-called women’s balls often are very firm and difficult to control on chip and pitch shots.

• The modern urethane elastomer golf ball goes virtually as far as a firmer two-piece, Surlyn-covered ball and offers the additional advantage of better control around the green.

How much yardage difference are we talking about? Titleist is on the record as saying the difference between any of its balls, with a driver, is no more than three or four yards.

“The reality is that the difference between any two of them is never more than half-a-club into the green,” Morgan said.

• Try evaluating golf balls by going out alone and hitting key shots with different golf balls. Go slowly and pay very close attention to the results.

• Golf ball criteria should be organized from the green backwards. Short shots around the green come first. The ball must perform satisfactorily on those shots. Short iron, mid iron and long iron (or hybrid) shots are next. For most players, drives should come last.

“Give yourself your best chance to shoot your lowest score,” Bohn said. “Be smart and be honest about it.”

The subject of the 2011 model of the Pro V1x is intriguing to many golfers, because the ball clearly is different from its predecessor, the 2009 model. Some say it goes farther, many say it has a more penetrating trajectory, and touring pros seem to like it because it is somewhat softer.

“We made aerodynamic changes,” Morgan said. “It comes into the green a little softer. It gives golfers the opportunity to control it a little better.”

Pro V1 or Pro V1x?

“I always let players decide for themselves,” Pitts said. “If somebody asks me how a particular ball feels, I would never answer that question. It’s player dependent and shot dependent. The most important thing is for ball selection to match the priorities of each player.”

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