The Vice President of Marketing for the Golf Ball Division of Titleist Golf, Michael Mahoney, joins us for episode #260 of the Worldwide Golf Shops Insider Podcast to talk about the new Tour Soft and Velocity golf balls.
In this episode, we discuss the all-new Tour Soft golf balls, the new Titleist Velocity golf balls, what players would benefit most from both of these golf balls, and Michael gives us insider information on a new golf ball coming out from Titleist!
Tom: Welcome to the Worldwide Golf Shops Insider Podcast. Episode 260. Hello everyone. Tom Brassell here. So glad you joined us. If you’re a first timer, long timer, or maybe in the middle, doesn’t matter, we’re just glad that you joined us. Especially glad that you joined us, our special guest is from Titleist up in the northeast. He’s all about golf balls. He is the vice president of marketing for the golf ball division of Titleist, Mr. Michael Mahoney.
Michael, thanks so much for joining us. It’s always great having you. Thanks for coming on with us.
Michael: Hey, Tom, good to be with you. Thanks for having me on.
Tom: Ads look fantastic for the all-new ball, the Tour Soft ball. Share with us a little bit about that ball, Michael, and what went into it, and where it fits in the Titleist family of balls, and we go from there.
Michael: Yeah. Our process is we often say it always starts and ends with golfers. We have been really looking closely at this particular segment of the market, from a research perspective, for a number of years. Going back a few years, when we started sitting down talking to golfers about what they were looking for in this category, we got feedback that soft was really important, distance was really important but ultimately, golfers still expected a golf ball that had really complete performance and delivered in all facets of the game. We challenged the R&D department to really focus on those attributes of soft and distance with a kind of a total performance mindset and come up with a golf ball that fit within the space.
As always with us, it’s often, the product that we end up in the market with reflects both our R&D teams innovation and development cycles and different things that they’re working on, and also that input we have from golfers. Tour Soft is absolutely a reflection of the best of both worlds. In order to deliver Tour Soft and have the performance that it does, we focused on trying to get as soft as we could, but maintain the speed of the golf ball.
The engineering team around core development delivered the largest core that we’ve ever put in a Titleist golf ball. It allows us to have a very soft engine if you will, a soft core, but still retain … and it’s a big engine. It’s the biggest engine we’ve put in a golf ball, so it still retains all that speed. That’s how you get so much distance out of a product that’s so soft.
Tom: Yeah, soft has kind of been the, I don’t want to call it the buzzword, but kind of the feel that everybody’s been looking for the past few years. Certainly, you had your testing as far as pre-release testing, but then also you’re getting the actual feedback now from consumers. The feedback you’ve been getting, I know at least from our perspective, is off the charts.
Michael: Yeah, we’ve been really enthusiastic about everything we’ve heard from golfers who not only tested the product towards the end of the development cycle but now that they’re actually out in the marketplace and people are buying them, the feedback has been phenomenal. I think because Tour Soft delivers on its promise in terms of soft and distance, but also because of the cover that we put on it, this new technology we’re calling the 4CE graphic cover, which not only contributes to a really soft feel but openly also delivers on the short game.
The cover is such an important element of generating short game spinning control. This is a really soft cover that also has elements that contribute to speed. Those two things help make Tour Soft such a high performing ball.
Tom: Michael, what golfer should give this ball a try? What characteristics of a player should really say, “Hey, you know what? I probably really need to take a look at this ball.”
Michael: People ask this all the time. If you ever talk to anybody from Titleist, the first thing they tell you when it comes to golf balls is we think that any golfer is going to benefit from playing the best performing balls in the game in terms of ProV1 and ProV1X. People say, “Well if you think that, then why do you make other golf balls?”
We make other golf balls because we recognize that golfers do have preferences. Preferences include everything from things like feel and color to price, of course. One of the things we really spent a lot of time talking to golfers about is how they thought about buying golf balls in this particular segment, really that sub 40 dollar a dozen segment.
What we wanted to do was engineer something that would fit into that category using technology that fits into that category, and ultimately still deliver best in class performance. Being the best performing golf ball in that segment.
We look at golfers who typically buy in that segment of the market, golfers who prioritize feel and distance, but still expect a very high level of performance all the way through the bag. That’s the best way we can define the profile of this golfer. It’s one of those things where I think, in describing it that way, that golfer hears those things and they know who they are.
Tom: Yeah, it’s the performance you can trust from Titleist and also like you said with the soft feel and the distance. Let’s talk about one other new ball if you don’t mind, too. The new Velocity is new this year. Can you share with us a little bit about it?
Michael: Yes. When we first launched Velocity in 2012, it was with the mindset of delivering Titleist take on a distance golf ball. What that means is we want to deliver something that earns the Titleist name in terms of quality and performance, but ultimately also delivers on its promise of best in class. This particular class would be distance.
The new Velocity for 2018 is a faster golf ball. A golf ball that delivers more distance throughout the bag, and it does so by an enhanced … really enhancements to both the core and the cover. The core gets a little bit softer. When we make a core softer, you take spin out. Less spin equates to more distance, and that’s a positive thing for the Velocity golfer.
The other thing we did is we put the fastest cover that is on a Titleist golf ball onto Velocity. Anytime you reduce core compression and you take some spin out, you also, generally speaking, take speed away. We actually increased speed through the fast cover design so those two pieces work together to give you a little bit less spin, a little bit more speed, and ultimately more distance throughout the bag.
The other thing that we did with Velocity for 2018 is we expanded the color offering. We see more and more golfers who want to play different and unique colors, so we’ve added both an orange and a pink Velocity to the family. Also a new cover we’re calling Visi-White, which is … it’s a white golf ball, but it’s got a special coating on it that makes it a higher visibility. Golfers say, “That seems like kind of a gimmick.”
I tell you, if you go out, you hit it, and you all of a sudden see it up in the sky compared to your normal white golf ball, sort of one of those things that live somewhere in between a white and a yellow for those who want to play a white golf ball, but are looking for a little bit more visibility.
Tom: You know, for the last couple decades, colors have made a kind of an idle threat to come back, haven’t they? I think they’re back now, colors in golf balls.
Michael: I think they’re back, yeah. What we saw was, maybe in the early part of this decade, 2010-ish, we certainly saw a growth. It sort of seemed to plateau for a while. Then I think we’ve seen an increase in the desire for golfers to play colored golf balls over the last couple years. We’ve seen appetite for that grow within the family of golf balls that we offer at Titleist. It does seem like a really natural fit to expand the preference options within the Velocity family.
Tom: Michael, one final question before we close. Anyone close to the game, or certainly a Titleist follower, knows you guys were testing something kind of special next year. It’s not there yet. Can’t buy it yet, but can you talk a little bit about what you can about what might be on the horizon for later this year?
Michael: Yeah. We, like you said, those who pay attention to the equipment space know. We started a test market this past fall for a golf ball called the Titleist AVX, which is a premium performance golf ball that utilize some really interesting, new, and different technology. Really, the name AVX came out of the idea that this is a golf ball that will be an alternative to VNX, an alternative ProV1, and ProV1X.
We put it into the market because we really wanted to see whether golfers were interested in buying it, whether, once they bought it, they were interested in continuing to play it, and what golfers were buying it. Ultimately what we found was a lot of positive answers to all those questions, which has prompted us to make the decision to bring it to market, which we’ll be launching later this year. Sometime this spring in North America. Globally, shortly after that.
The feedback has been phenomenal for this golf ball. The new title of AVX will be in your shops before you know it. We got a lot going on.
Tom: When it gets in our shops, we’re gonna put you on the calendar and let’s do it again. How about that, Michael?
Michael: Love to do it, Tom. That would be great.
Tom: Great. Thanks for catching up with us. We’ll do it again in a couple months when we have something more to talk about, but for right now, it’s Tour Soft and Velocity. If you haven’t tried Tour Soft, give it a try because it’s certainly worth it. Michael, thanks so much.
Michael: Thanks, Tom.
Tom: Great stuff, again, from someone who’s become a bit of a regular on the show. Michael Mahoney from Titleist who’s there when the new golf ball come out. He’s there during the research, but he’s always there to give us the inside of the new balls and the new balls right now are the Tour Soft and the new Velocity. More to come later this year. Special thanks to Michael for joining us, and to you, our listeners. We’ll do it again next time we have another episode of the Worldwide Golf Shops Insider Podcast here at WorldwideGolfShops.com. So long, everyone.