USA Today called it "the ball that's turning golf upside down." Phil Mickelson, a paid endorser, says it's "had a greater impact on the game of golf than steel shafts." It's the Titleist Pro V1, a much hyped solid-core ball that—along with solid-core balls from Nike and other companies—has the golf world in a tizzy. Devotees say the new balls fly longer and straighter than wound balls and offer a soft feel around the greens. In short, they're the holy grail of golf balls.
Which is fine for Tour pros, but can the weekend hacker tell the difference? In the name of science—well, maybe more in the name of a goofy prank—we passed out logoless generic balls at two Los Angeles municipal courses and told the players they were Titleist Pro V1s. About half of the golfers were unimpressed. ("I wouldn't pay money for it," grumbled a 31-year-old L.A. resident.) Here's a sampling of responses from the other half.
?"Now I know what everybody's talking about! It went 15 to 20 yards longer on my tee shots."—23-year-old from Santa Monica, 15 handicap
?"Fabulous! I loved it. Every shot I took felt soft but really solid."—70-year-old from Marina del Rey, 20 handicap
?"No wonder you can't find these things anywhere. All my chip shots were stopping five inches from the hole!"—25-year-old from Venice, 20 handicap
?"A good ball. I especially liked it around the greens."—62-year-old from Santa Monica, 15 handicap
?"It really rewards you."—54-year-old from L.A., 22 handicap
?"It plays just as they say in the ads. Do you have any more of these you can sell me?"-38-year-old from L.A., 20 handicap