What's in Your Ball Pocket?

When Steve Stricker 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 Rory McIlroy? 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 backyard."

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.

It's pretty easy to sum up Sony Open week at Waialae Country Club: Great golf, and even better views.

(Or is it the other way around?)

For Team Titleist, it's definitely about giving a first "Aloha!" of 2012 to many of our Titleist Brand Ambassadors and golf ball loyalists, including several of the rookies making their debuts as full-time PGA Tour members (i.e., Bud Cauley, Seung-yul Noh and Erik Compton).

A total of 99 players in the field this week are playing Titleist golf balls, more than seven times the nearest competitor with 13 and more than all competitors combined. Titleist is also No. 1 in iron sets (37); sand, lob and approach wedges (120); and putters (56).

In the slideshow below, we're taking a closer look at some of the Titleist equipment in this week's field, including more pics of the new Scotty Cameron Select line due out this spring.

(Also be sure to check out this week's Scotty Cameron Tour Slideshow on ScottyCameron.com.)

Enjoy!

  

The 2012 PGA Tour season opened in familiar fashion this weekend, with Titleist Brand Ambassador Steve Stricker leading a 1-through-8 finish for Titleist golf ball players at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions.

Trusting a Pro V1x golf ball and bag of Titleist equipment, Stricker closed in 4-under 69 for a 23-under 269 total and three-shot victory in Hawaii, the 12th of his PGA Tour career and eighth in last 50 starts.

Stricker's victory also capped a three-win weekend sweep by Titleist Pro V1 and Pro V1x golf ball players across the worldwide professional tours, including wins by Louis Oosthuizen (Pro V1x) and Scott Arnold (Pro V1). Last year, Titleist players combined for 175 wins around the world, nearly 150 more than the nearest competitor with 27 and more than all competitors combined.

Once again, Stricker's success was largely the result of staying nice and steady. Off the tee, he sent his Pro V1x sailing long and straight down the fairways at Kapalua's Plantation Course. Around the green, he chipped and pitched and putted his way to 26 total birdies, many of those coming during his bogey-free 10-under 63 (eight birdies, one eagle) in Round 2.

 "My caddie, says, 'Do what you do,' and I think that sums it up the best. We just go about and do our thing. It may not be the flashiest thing at times, but I do other things well,"  said Stricker, the only player to have won won multiple times the last three seasons (2009, 2010, 2011).

"I chip and putt well, I'm driving the ball well. … Everybody has got a little bit different game, and that's the way I just kind of look at mine and do the things that we know how to do the best."

Such results have led to 43 consecutive made cuts, currently the longest streak on the PGA Tour. (He hasn't missed a weekend since 2009.)

Stricker, who last season won The Memorial and John Deere Classic, topped a leader board that included a Titleist golf ball loyalist in each of the top eight positions and 10 of the top 11.

Pro V1x loyalist Martin Laird finished alone in second, while Titleist Brand Ambassador Webb Simpson and defending champion Jonathan Byrd (Pro V1x) tied for third. For Simpson, it was his seventh top-10 finish in his last eight PGA Tour events.

Titleist was the overwhelming golf ball of choice at the event with 23 of the 27 players trusting the #1 ball in golf in the winners-only field. The nearest competitor had two. In fact, Titleist was the top choice across every major equipment category, including drivers (13); fairway metals (12); hybrids (9); irons (14); sand, lob and approach wedges (38); and putters (14).

Here's a closer look at Steve Stricker's Titleist equipment:

Ball: Titleist Pro V1x
Driver: Titleist 909D3 8.5º, (UST Mamiya Proforce V2 86)
3-wood: Titleist 906F2 13º, (UST Mamiya Proforce V2 96) 
Hybrid: Titleist 909H 19º (UST Mamiya Proforce V2 Hybrid 104)
Irons: AP2 3-P (KBS Prototype)
Wedges: Titleist Vokey Design Spin Milled 253•09º, 259•11º (True Temper Dynamic Gold w/Sensicore)

 • EUROPEAN TOUR: Pro V1x loyalist Louis Oosthuizen opened 2012 with four rounds in the 60's to successfully defend his Africa Open title at East London Golf Club in South Africa.

The former British Open champion won on home soil for the second consecutive year, closing with a 6-under 67 for a 27-under 265 total and two-shot victory over countryman Tjaart Van der Walt (Pro V1). He won last year's event in a three-way playoff.

Oosthuizen has now placed inside the top eight in his last six European Tour starts, dating back to the 2011 Alfred Dunhill Links Championship.

Titleist was the golf ball of choice at the event with 156 players, more than five times the nearest competitor with 21 and more than all competitors combined.

• AUSTRALIAN: It was a 1-2-3 finish for Pro V1 players at the Victorian Open as Scott Arnold earned his first professional victory with some last-minute fireworks.

Faced with a plugged lie in a bunker on the final hole, Arnold slammed his wedge into the sand and watched as Pro V1 flew toward the flagstick, spun and stopped a couple feet from the hole.

Arnold tapped in for a 3-under 68 and 12-under 272 total, one stroke clear of Kurt Barnes (Pro V1), who closed in 5-under 66. Pro V1x loyalist Mike Hendry rounded out the Top 3.

Among the top-10 finishers at the Victorian Open, seven relied on a Titleist golf ball for their success. Titleist was the golf ball of choice at the event with 110 players, more than five times the nearest competitor with 20 and more than all other golf balls combined.

Aloha from the Hyundai Tournament of Champions, where Team Titleist is in full force. Twenty-three of the 27 players on this week's tee sheet are Titleist Brand Ambassadors and golf ball loyalists, including 14 of the top 15 players at the top of the leader board heading into Monday night's prime time finale.

We were on the ground at Kapalua's Plantation Course earlier in the week, catching up with players as they flipped the switch back into tournament mode.

You can view all of our pictures from the practice rounds in the slideshow below. And check back next week for even more inside-the-ropes updates from the Sony Open.

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