Hi Team Titleist,
I hope everyone had a fantastic U.S. Open weekend! I wanted to share with you an excerpt from our latest project, The Endless Pursuit, a story from prototype to Pro V1. The section below is about building trust through Tour validation and focus groups, and includes a story from 2007 Open Championship victor Padraig Harrington that you may not have heard before. Enjoy!
While most of the focus groups conducted by Golf Ball R&D during the summer of 2015 consisted of three, four or five golfers, and lasted no more than an hour, Padraig Harrington’s session at TPC River Highlands was a one-man show featuring more than 70 minutes of insightful and often impressive commentary on golf ball and player performance.
The three-time major champion is, quite unabashedly, fascinated by the quest for constant improvement and optimal performance, not unlike the golf ball makers sitting around him that day.
“I want to know why everybody hits the golf ball the way they do,” Harrington says about 20 minutes through the discussion. “You would struggle to name too many players out here on tour I couldn’t tell you their swing speed and ball speed… I want to understand what keeps me long or not long. So if I see a guy who’s hitting it outside me, I want to know whether he’s doing it on pure speed or whether he’s doing it with efficiency.”
Twenty-five minutes later, Harrington leans over, placing both of his palms flat on the table. Watching the tape back, you can almost see the memory pop into Harrington’s head as he interrupts what has been at least a half-hour straight of highly technical back and forth. “You haven’t heard this story before…,” he says with a grin.
Late Sunday afternoon at the 2007 Open Championship at Carnoustie, as it became clear that Harrington was headed to a playoff against Sergio Garcia, the nerves really started to kick in for Ronan Flood, Harrington’s caddie. Flood’s father, along with two sleeves of Pro V1x, had gone missing.
That morning, Flood, trying to keep his boss’ bag as light as possible, handed the golf balls over to his father in the gallery for safekeeping, two sleeves of insurance in the event that Harrington needed them for the Open’s 4-hole aggregate playoff. “Obviously,” Harrington says, “he was thinking right.”
Yet when Flood went to claim them about five hours later, amid the chaos of fans hurrying back onto the course and jostling for position around the first tee, his father was nowhere to be found.
That’s when Harrington sent his manager, Adrian Mitchell, through “the melee” and into the Carnoustie pro shop. When Mitchell walked out, he was holding two sleeves of Pro V1x. “Probably the best thing about Titleist is what we play on tour is exactly what you’re going to get in the shop,” Harrington says. “I was going to tee it up on the first playoff hole of the Open with a Titleist Pro V1x with the Carnoustie Golf Club logo on it.”
Only then, Flood found his father. Four holes later, Harrington was presented a Claret Jug to go along with those six, now commemorative, golf balls.
“That story really gets to the essence of the Titleist brand,” says Waddell, watching the tape back in his office a year later. “Consistency and performance go hand in hand. The last thing a golfer needs to worry about when teeing up a new golf ball is whether or not it’s going to perform the same as the last one.”
To read the entire story of The Endless Pursuit, click here.
Team Titleist Staff