Please file away Titleist Brand Ambassador Ben Curtis' victory at the Valero Texas Open as a blueprint for overcoming some of golf's toughest conditions.

Trusting a Pro V1x golf ball and 14 Titleist clubs – including a set of new Titleist AP1 (712 Series) irons – Curtis got the best of a trying TPC San Antonio layout in an impressive display of consistency and control.

The result was Curtis' fourth-career PGA Tour victory, as well as one of four wins on the weekend for Titleist golf ball players around the world. Also raising trophies Sunday: Pro V1x loyalists Lee Westwood (Asian Tour) and Chris Swanepoel (Sunshine Tour) and Pro V1 loyalist Hiroyuki Fujita (Japan Tour).

 Titleist Pro V1 and Pro V1x players have now won 48 times across the worldwide professional tours in 2012, eight times the nearest competitor with six and more than all competitors combined.

A total of 5,618 players have teed up Titleist golf balls in those same events, more than six times the nearest competitor with 916 and more than all other golf balls combined.

Curtis' victory at TPC San Antonio, the statistically-toughest track on the PGA Tour last season, can be summed up in a few key stats.

He finished first in Greens in Regulation (68.1 percent), becoming the first player to win on the PGA Tour while gaming new Titleist AP1 (712 Series) irons.

Curtis's final G.I.R. came on the 72nd hole, his Pro V1x landing 12 feet from the cup on the two-tiered 18th green. He rolled it in for birdie for an even-par 72, 9-under 279 total and two-shot victory.

"I love hard golf courses. I love it when par is premium. …," said Curtis, the 2003 British Open champion. "I just love courses that set-up that way where you got to control your distance not only in the air but also on the ground."

 Carrying a Titleist 910 driver, 910Fd metal wood and pair of 910 hybrids, Curtis finished second for the week in Driving Accuracy at 73.2 percent, including a perfect drive Sunday down the 18th fairway.

He also ranked third in the Strokes Gained-Putting statistic (2.061), averaging just over 27 putts per round with his Scotty Cameron Newport 2. 

Curtis' final round will be remembered most for his 23-foot par putt at the 17th hole to complete what seemed like an impossible up-and-down from the back of the green, which began with a severeley-downhill pitch.

"I was just trying to get it down there somewhere on that right level, just give myself a good look and it was the best putt I hit all week," he said.

Curtis topped a leader board that featured nine Titleist golf ball players in the top 10 – including Pro V1x loyalist John Huh, who finished runner-up after starting the week with a 77.

Titleist Brand Ambassador Brendan Steele (Pro V1x), the 2011 champ, tied for fourth with Bob Estes (Pro V1), Brian Gay (Pro V1x) and Charlie Wi (Pro V1). Titleist Brand Ambassadors Hunter Haas (Pro V1x) and Cameron Tringale (Pro V1x) tied for eighth with Ryan Moore (Pro V1).

In total, 105 players relied on Titleist Pro V1 and Pro V1x golf balls for their success at TPC San Antonio, more than seven times the nearest competitor with 14 and more than all competitors combined. Titleist was also first in iron sets (35); sand, lob and approach wedges (123); and putters (62).

Here's a closer look at Ben Curtis' Titleist equipment:

Ball: Titleist Pro V1x
Driver: Titleist 910D3 8.5º (Aldila RIP NV 65X)
3-wood: Titleist 910Fd 13.5º (Aldila RIP 80X)
Hybrids: Titleist 910H 18º & 20º (Aldila NV Hybrid 85X)
Irons: Titleist AP1 (712 Series) 4-P (Dynamic Gold)
Wedges: Vokey Design Spin Milled 52•08º, TVD58º (Dynamic Gold)
Putter: Scotty Cameron Newport 2

• ASIAN TOUR: Lee Westwood successfully defended his title at the CIMB NIAGA Indonesian Masters after a 32-hole marathon Sunday, trusting a Pro V1x golf ball to his first victory of 2012.

Because of weather delays, Westwood arrived at Royale Jakarta GC early Sunday morning to complete his third round. He made seven birdies in those 14 holes to finish off a 7-under 65 and take an eight-shot lead into the final 18.

 “You never know how to play with such a big lead. You don’t know if you should attack or defend. It is quite hard to get your mental attitude around it," said Westwood, who closed in 2-over 74 for a two-shot victory.

He hit 81.94 percent of greens in regulation for the week.

"Hopefully this will kick-start my year. I’ve played well without any wins so hopefully I can go on and win other tournaments.

"It is tough when you are the favorite because if you don’t win then it will be disappointing. There was a lot of pressure so I’m glad I did it."

Westwood led a 1-2-3-4 finish for Titleist Pro V1x players. Thaworn Wiratchant closed in 67 to finish second at 14-under 274. Titleist Brand Ambassador Gaganjeet Bhullar and fellow countryman Shiv Kapur  tied for third, another two shots back.

Of the 13 players who finished among the top-10 at the Indonesian Masters, eight trusted a Titleist golf ball for their success.

A total of 99 players in the field played Titleist Pro V1 and Pro V1x golf balls, more than four times the nearest competitor with 21 and more than all competitors combined. Titleist was also first in iron sets (46); and sand, lob and approach wedges (150).

• SUNSHINE TOUR: It was a 1-2 finish for Titleist Pro V1x players at the Golden Pilsner Zimbabwe Open, where Chris Swanepoel outlasted Titleist Brand Ambassador Trevor Fisher Jr. in a sudden-death playoff.

Swanepoel, who started the final round five strokes off the lead, closed with an 8-under 64 at Royal Harare Golf Club to force a playoff with Fisher (3-under 69) at 15-under 273.

On the second playoff hole, Swanepoel claimed the title with a tap-in for par.

“It’s a fantastic feeling," Swanepoel said of his third Sunshine Tour win. " I love playing out here on this fantastic course – it has a lovely layout. It’s my first playoff win in three tries, and it’s an incredible feeling."

Swanepoel was one of 114 players in the field that teed up Titleist golf balls, more than three times the nearest competitor with 33 and more than all other golf balls combined.

 • JAPAN TOUR: Pro V1 loyalist Hiroyuki Fujita won his 12th JGTO title Sunday at the Tsuruya Open. Fujita closed with a 4-under 67 at Yamanohara GC for a 15-under 269 total, four shots clear of Pro V1x loyalist Kyoung-Hoon Lee.

Eighteen-year-old Titleist Brand Ambassador Masahiro Kawamura tied for third, another shot back.

Titleist was the overwhelming golf ball of choice at the Tsuruya Open with 63 players, nearly twice the nearest competitor with 32. Titleist was also first in hybrids (46); and sand, lob and approach wedges (119).

• CHAMPIONS TOUR: Titleist golf ball loyalists Michael Allen (Pro V1x) and David Frost (Pro V1) captured the Liberty Mutual Legends of Golf, posting a 29-under 187 total for a one-shot victory over four other teams.

Their performance at Savannah Harbor included three nearly flawless rounds of 62-63-62 in the better-ball format.

• EUROPEAN: At the Volvo China Open, 94 players teed up Titleist golf balls, more than four times the nearest competitor with 21 and more than all other golf balls combined. Titleist was also first in iron sets (49); and sand, lob and approach wedges (142).

• LPGA: Titleist was the overwhelming golf ball of choice at the LPGA LOTTE Championship with 100 players, more than seven times the nearest competitor with 13 and more than all other golf balls combined. Seven of the top 11 players on the final leader board were Titleist Pro V1 or Pro V1x players.

In the last article, I introduced the factors that directly effect what goes on at the point of impact. Understanding the theory behind impact is important, however, becoming aware of the application is what will lower your scores. As impact is merely the collision between the club and the ball, the orientation of these components determines the balls flight.
 
The aid of launch monitors has answered many questions regarding the measuring of impact parameters. From these measurements, we have developed a stronger grasp as to how the player can improve in a much shorter time period. To narrow the focus of this article, I am going to limit the impact parameters to Clubhead Speed, Face Angle, Club Path, and Impact Point. The first three require a launch monitor for accurate numerical measuring, while impact point requires a mere dry erase marker. 
 
Clubhead Speed:
The common thought with Clubhead Speed is that it is impossible to improve. We are all aware that in order to drive the ball as far as a tour pro, one needs a certain amount of speed. But the question becomes, can we improve our speed?
 
I say, absolutely! A lot of factors relating to your current speed are based on genetics and what you did in your growing years. However, there are still ways to inch forward. Your physical limitations play a strong role in your technique and efficiency.

By working with a team of TPI experts, your functioning as both an athlete and a golfer can be assessed. Medical experts specialize in removing aches and pains through various methods of manual therapy and rehab training. Fitness experts specialize in improving your mobility, stability, and overall explosiveness in ways highly adaptable to the golf swing. Lastly, the golf instructor finely tunes your moving parts into a way that will enable you to get the most of your physical attributes. All in all, there are always improvements to be made when it comes to speed, so build a team around you to help you achieve your speed goals.

Here I am working with Mr. James Leitz in Orlando this past winter. James is a world renown instructor and a specialist in impact geometry.

Face Angle and Club Path:
When it comes to Face Angle and Club Path, though you do require a launch monitor to accurately measure respective degrees, you can gain awareness by watching ball flight.   The less loft the club has, the more Face Angle effects the direction the ball starts in relation to the target. The greater the loft the club has, the more the Face and Path balance out. For example, with a driver 85% of the initial take-off direction of the ball in relation to the target is due to the direction the face points, while with a wedge, the initial direction is approximately 65% of the face direction and 35% of the path.
 
It is easier to work on face/path differences with a less lofted club. Because the club face possess more effect on starting direction, it is easier to curve the ball. When practicing, pay attention to where the ball takes off in relation to the target. The direction the ball takes off in is primarily a factor of where the face points. If the ball curves from that point, you can assume that the path in which the club was traveling was different to that of the angle of the face.
 
Here is an example using a right handed golfer - if you see that your ball starts left of the target and fades to the right, you can assume that the club face pointed left of the target at impact, however the path was directed further left. If you desire to hit a draw, the face should be oriented slightly open to the target at impact, with the path slightly further in-to-out. If you want to hit a straight shot at the target, both the face and the path need to be oriented at the target at impact. I would recommend experimenting by trying to curve the ball both ways, then attempting to straighten it out.

A greater difference between face and path will result in a greater curvature, a smaller difference will result in less curvature. There are limitless ways to find a fairway, but they all rely on proper orientation of face and path. Work on this skill and see how many more fairways you hit.
 
Impact Point:
The final parameter I want touch on is Impact Point. Where the ball collides with the club is so crucial and often not given enough attention, especially with the driver.
 
Picture a plane... If the wings are parallel to the ground the plane travels straight. However, if the wings are tilted to the left, the plane will bank to the left. This is much like a golf ball in flight.
 
Contrary to what you may have heard, side spin does not exist. A ball rotates about an axis and will bank much like a plane if that axis is tilted off center. Striking a ball in the middle of the face not only maximizes ball speed, but also minimizes any effect on the spin axis of the ball. Shots contacted on the toe will cause a draw-favoring spin axis while shots on the heel will cause a fade-favoring spin axis. That said, you can have a nearly perfect swing with a Face Angle and Club Path directed at the target but strike it on the heel and end up with a fade that bounces into the right rough.
 
So, how again do you measure this?

Invest in a dry erase marker and paint the face of your club. After hitting the shot, examine where you struck it on the face, then relate that to how the ball flew in the air.

Start to correlate whether your misses are more due to Impact Point or Face/Path differences. If you find that you are struggling to find the center of the club face, shorten the length of your swing to the point that you can easily make solid contact. If this means that you are taking a chipping motion, so be it. It is better to grow the length of your swing from solid contact than to make a full motion and hit it all over the face. Golf is merely a sport of ball control, therefore the closer you are to the center of the face, the more control you will have over the outcome.

The four impact parameters mentioned in this article can be great areas to focus on in your practice. The greater you are able to recognize why the ball travels in the direction it does, the quicker you can fix your problems. Remember, there are a million ways to swing a golf club, but its only the split second at impact that truly matters.

Feel free to comment with questions or further discussion topics of interest to you!

Alex Riggs
Canadian PGA Professional
TPI Golf Instructor Level III & Junior Coach Level III
Twitter - @RiggsGolf

 



Hello there Team Titleist, 

I thought I check in again with an update.

After the Transitions, I went home to Boise for a week off.  While at home we had a Steelhead fishing trip planned in eastern ID, however, they had gotten too much rain and the river was running too high so it didn’t happen. Which was pretty disappointing.  Instead, I played a little golf, watched March Maddness, and caught up with some buddies while I was home.

Overall, I played well first round in Houston where I was excited to go back. Unfortunately after a poor Friday I ended up missing the cut.

I spent the next week in Scottsdale.  I was planning on going home to Boise, but the weather forecast was not good.  I love Scottsdale, so I wasn't all that disapointed. 

This week we are in San Antonio.  My game feels as good as it has all year and I am excited about the next couple weeks.

Been watching a lot of playoff hockey.  Cant believe some of the series!

 

Check back soon!

-Graham

 

Welcome to the (statistically) toughest week on the PGA Tour, the Valero Texas Open.

How tough is it, Titleist Brand Ambassador Brendan Steele?

 "It's so tough that a lot of guys are going to be walking away shaking their heads," said Steele, last year's winner at TPC San Antonio.

"I think it's a good test and it's a little different test than we see week-in, week-out."

TPC San Antonio, a par-72 layout guarded by narrow fairways, deep bunkers, undulating greens, tight lies and high winds, had the highest scoring average of any PGA Tour event on the 2011 schedule (73.665).

Steele won with an 8-under 280 total, trusting his Pro V1x golf ball to a final-round 1-under 71 that included a tournament-winning up-and-down on the 18th hole.

"I don't think there's anything about the course that's unfair even when the wind blows that hard," Steele said. "It demands really good shots and if you don't hit them, you're going to pay the price."

This week, 105 players are relying on Titleist Pro V1 and Pro V1x golf balls for their success at TPC San Antonio, more than sevent times the nearest competitor with 14 and more than all competitors combined. Titleist is also first in iron sets (35); sand, lob and approach wedges (123); and putters (62).

 Take a look at Team Titleist's pictures from the practice rounds in the slideshow below.

One week and 12 time zones from Masters Sunday, Louis Oosthuizen trusted a Pro V1x golf ball to his second victory of the season at the Maybank Malaysian Open.

Oosthuizen, the runner-up in last week's playoff at Augusta National, closed with a 4-under 68 for a 17-under 271 total and three-shot victory at Kuala Lumpur Golf & Country Club, capping a week that began with a 30-hour trip from Georgia to Malaysia.

“It was a long journey to get here and I have to be honest and say that I didn't expect to play this well because of the tiredness," said Oosthuizen, who has now played his last eight rounds in 27 under.

 “The one thing I did know was that the game was there so that helped a lot. I was pretty tired at points in those first couple of rounds but overall it has been great and I am over the moon with the result."

Oosthuizen's victory highlighted a three-win week for Titleist Pro V1x golf ball players around the world, including wins by Alex Aragon (Nationwide Tour) and Michael Allen (Champions Tour).

Titleist Pro V1 and Pro V1x players have combined for 44 victories so far this season across the worldwide professional tours, more than seven times the nearest competitor with six and more than all other golf balls combined.

A total of 5,000 players have teed up Titleist golf balls in those same events, more than six times the nearest competitor with 789 and more than all other golf balls combined.

Oosthuizen was the only player in Malaysia to post four rounds in the 60s (66-68-69-68), rolling his Pro V1x in for one eagle, 19 birdies and just five bogeys. He finished fourth for the week in greens in regulation at 81.9 percent.

"On Thursday I knew the game was there - it was just a question of whether or not I would be able to go all the way physically," said Oosthuizen, who moved to No. 12 in the Official World Golf Ranking. "Having a good week this week was important and playing well. I didn't want to come here and play bad but to win means a lot because I have been playing well for the last few weeks now and to win gives me a lot of confidence for the rest of the season.”

Oosthuizen topped a leader board that featured four Titleist golf ball players in the top 5, including runner-up Stephen Gallacher (Pro V1x). David Lipsky (Pro V1x) and Rafael-Cabrera-Bello (Pro V1x) tied for third.

Ninety-four players in the field relied on Titleist golf balls for their success, more than four times the nearest competitor with 24 and more than all competitors combined.

• NATIONWIDE TOUR: Pro V1x loyalist Alex Aragon earned his first career Nationwide Tour title at the TPC Stonebrae Championship, leading a 1-2-3-4 finish for Titleist golf ball players in Southern California.

 Araxon closed out a week of significant weather delays with a 4-under 66 for a 10-under 270 total, one shot clear of Pro V1 golf ball players Duffy Waldorf, Paul Haley II and Matt Harmon, who tied the course-record Sunday with a 9-under 61. 

"I'm trying to keep it all in perspective," said Aragon, who played 54 holes on the weekend after Friday's play was washed out.

"It's a major step and I'm proud of myself for doing it."

Aragon was one of 106 players in the field that trusted Titleist Pro V1 and Pro V1x golf balls, more than five times the nearest competitor with 19 and more than all other golf balls combined. Titleist was also first in iron sets (46); sand, lob and approach wedges (164); and putters (63).

• CHAMPIONS TOUR: Titleist golf ball players swept the top five positions on the leader board as Pro V1x loyalist Michael Allen earned his second-career Champions Tour title at the Encompass Insurance Pro-Am of Tampa Bay.

 Allen birdied three of his final seven holes for a final-round 3-under 68 and 12-under 272 total, three shots ahead of Kenny Perry (Pro V1x). Peter Senior (Pro V1, 3rd), Corey Pavin (Pro V1, 4th) and Bernhard Langer (Pro V1, 5th) rounded out the top 5.

"It's been a long time since I beat these guys," Allen said. "I haven't beat them very often. It's very nice to get on 18 and finally go, 'man, I got them all.'"

A total of 59 players in the field teed up Titleist golf balls, more than four times the nearest competitor with 14 and more than all competitors combined. Titleist was also No. 1 in iron sets (15); and sand, lob and approach wedges (59).

• PGA TOUR: Titleist was the overwhelming golf ball of choice at the RBC Heritage with 90 players, more than six times the nearest competitor with 14 and more than all other golf ball combined.

Titleist was also first in iron sets (34); sand, lob and approach wedges (127); and putters (58).

 • JAPAN TOUR: At the Token Homemate Cup, 57 players relied on Titleist Pro V1 and Pro V1x golf balls for their success, nearly twice the nearest competitor with 31. Titleist also led the field in hybrids (38); and sand, lob and approach wedges (108). 

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