What's in Your Ball Pocket?

When Rory McIlroy reaches into the ball pocket on his golf bag, he knows exactly what he's getting: A Titleist Pro V1x golf ball. Every time.

For Adam Scott, it's always a Titleist Pro V1. Same for K.J. Choi. For Steve Stricker? Pro V1x, every time.

Top amateur golfers subscribe to the same philosophy, choosing to play the same brand and model golf ball every time they play or practice, whether it's on the course, a practice green or in a short-game area.

The reason is simple: Changing the golf ball changes every shot.

And if you want to shoot lower scores and consistently play your best golf, one of the first steps is knowing what to expect out of your golf ball on each and every swing.

 What does your golf ball pocket look like?

"Consistency starts with knowing how the golf ball is going to perform," says Bill Morgan, Senior Vice President of Titleist Golf Ball R&D.

"We play with the same driver, the same irons, the same putter during the course of the round, but a lot of golfers think nothing of pulling out a different golf ball than what they started with and playing their next shot with it. .... Unless you're prepared for that and skilled enough to change your swing, you're going to get a different result."

Through extensive player and robot testing, Morgan says, the R&D team has found "dramatic differences in golf ball performance on shots into the green from brand to brand to brand."

For example, say you're hitting a short iron into a green. What's the goal? Hitting it as close to the pin as possible, if not in the hole. The closer you hit it to the pin, the better your chances of making the putt and lowering your score.

Executing that shot consistently not only requires a good swing, but knowing how your golf ball is going to react when it hits the putting surface.

"Does it hit and stop? Does it bounce a couple times before checking up? That sort of reliance and that confidence in your golf ball can really start to alter the rest of your game," says Titleist Golf Ball Fitter Michael Collins.

Accordingly, here are a couple easy New Year's resolutions you can add to your list, courtesy of Mike Gibson, Manager of Titleist Golf Ball Fitting.

"First, make sure you have been properly fit for the best golf for your game," he says. "Second, stick to that golf ball for the season. For casual rounds and tournament rounds. On the practice green before a round. Even if you're just hitting pitches in your back garden."

Titleist's green-to-tee ball fitting methodology is based on the fact that most scoring opportunities are created by shots into the target, and improving your game in those areas will have the most game-changing affects.

"As you learn how your golf ball performs in various situations, you also gain the confidence necessary to hit more greens and get the ball closer to the pin," Gibson says. "Whether you're a tour pro or a 15-handicap, you're going to make shorter putts more often. Who doesn't want to make more putts?"

Step one: Taking a look in your golf ball pocket.

To begin the Titleist Performance Golf Ball Fitting process yourself, click here.

Aloha Sweep for Titleist

Pro V1x loyalist Johnson Wagner gave Titleist the Aloha Sweep, capturing the Sony Open in Hawaii by two shots over four players including Titleist ambassador Harrison Frazar (Pro V1x, 910 D2 driver, MB irons, Vokey Design gap and lob wedges) and fellow Pro V1x loyalist Charles Howell III.

Pro V1x loyalist Johnson Wagner celebrates on the 18th at the Sony Open

Wagner's win at the PGA TOUR's first full-field event of the year follows Titleist Brand Ambassador Steve Stricker's victory at last week's Hyundai Tournament of Champions.  The win was the third of Wagner's PGA TOUR career.

Titleist staffer Harrison Frazar on his way to the runners up spot

Wagner fired a final round 3-under 67 to finish with a winning total of 13-under 267.  He posted a top 10 finish in Maui last week.

Titleist was the overwhelming golf ball of choice at the Sony Open with 99 players, more than seven times as many as the nearest competitor with 13.

Meanwhile on the European Tour, seven of the top 9 and ties at the Joburg Open were Titleist golf ball players - with Pro V1x loyalist Jamie Elson finishing just one shot off the pace.

 More than 70% of the field at the event put their trust in Titleist golf balls - with Titleist being played by 148 players compared to 28 for the nearest competitor.

Elsewhere, on the China PGA Tour, Pro V1x loyalist Xin Jun Zhang captured the Hainan event, posting four scores in the 60's to win by two shots from fellow Pro V1x loyalist Lee Joung Wook. Zhang topped a leaderboard that eight Titleist golf ball players among the top 10 finishers. This was the final event of the 2011 China PGA Tour season. Almost nine times as many players relied on a Titleist golf ball (88) at the event compared to the nearest competitor (10).

The Joburg Open in pictures

The European Tour has moved on to its next stop in South Africa, the Joburg Open, hosted at the Royal Johannesburg & Kensington Golf Club. Played over two courses, the East and the West, the event is another chance for some of the European Tour's new members to get off to a good start and secure themselves further invites for the rest of the season. Unfortunately, as we write play has been suspended due to thunderstorms.

Before play was halted, several Titleist Ambassadors and Titleist golf ball loyalists had got off to good starts, with staffer George Coetzee, Pro V1x loyalists David Drysdale, Carlos Del Moral and Joel Sjöholm all carding -6 65 to lie two shots off the clubhouse leader. The players will all be hoping to get back on the course as soon as possible to avoid having to play more than 18 holes in a day. In the meantime, here is this week's slideshow:

Our home for the week - any shade is welcome given the heat and humidity!!


In the last of the current series of his tips and drills, Titleist Ambassador and PGA professional Andrew Hall looks at how setting a target area for your scoring shots can help you to lower your score.

We'll have some more instruction and tips from other Titleist Ambassadors very soon!

Defending champion and Pro V1x loyalist Louis Ooosthuizen closed out his final round at the Africa Open with a 67 to claim victory by two shots from fellow countryman and Pro V1 loyalist Tjaart Van Der Walt.

"It was a real dogfight for most of the day," said Oosthuizen. "I remember watching Tjaart when I was an amateur and it was just great seeing him play to his potential today."

Oosthuizen held firm on the back nine as his playing partners struggled for birdies - an eagle at the third, plus birdies at 6, 7 and nine had put him in the driving seat.

Titleist was the overwhelming ball of choice at the Africa Open with 103 players, almost five times as many as the nearest competitor with 21.

Meanwhile, on the USPGA Tour, Titleist brand ambassador Steve Stricker leads the field by five shots going into the final round at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions at Kapalua in Hawaii.

Having been level par through the 12th hole in round three, Stricker fired birdies at each of the last four holes to go into the final round today leading by five. Fellow Titleist staffers Webb Simpson, Bryce Molder and Kevin Na are all in the top 5 and ties.