The most demanding major of the year, The United States Open, gets underway this week, marking the first time since 1948 that the national championship has been contested in Los Angeles. Los Angeles Country Club will welcome the golf world to the heart of Beverly Hills, where players will battle over the club's renowned North Course. Designed by George Thomas in 1927, the layout winds through a shallow canyon and courses along and across a dry barranca that can be both visually intimidating and strategically taxing. The North Course demands creativity and rewards players who can use the terrain, not fight against it. Picking the player who will best respond to LACC's unique examination is anyone's guess, but one thing is certain – more players will trust a Titleist Pro V1 or Pro V1x than any other golf ball at the 123rd U.S. Open.
At Los Angeles Country Club, there will be an almost dead-even split between those who play a Pro V1 and those who tee up a Pro V1x. You may wonder, 'Why do players trust two different Titleist golf balls. Isn't one model better than the other?' The answer is no. Players are unique and different players need different performance from their equipment. We design different golf ball models so players can get the individualized performance they need – without adjusting their technique or shot selection to make one ball work.
To illustrate how important it is to play the golf ball that best fits your game, consider two prominent Titleist golf ball players in the field this week – U.S. Open defending champion, Matthew Fitzpatrick and 2022 PGA Tour Rookie of the Year, Sahith Theegala.
Both players enjoyed distinguished amateur careers. Matthew captured the 2013 U.S. Amateur (at The Country Club in Brookline, MA – the same site as his 2023 U.S. Open victory!) and in 2014 became the first player since Bobby Jones in 1930 to hold low amateur titles at The Open Championship and U.S. Open at the same time. Sahith was an All-American at Pepperdine University and he capped off his collegiate career by becoming just the fifth player to sweep the top awards in 2020—the Haskins Award, the Jack Nicklaus Award and the Ben Hogan Award.
Both Matthew (306.5 yard avg.) and Sahith (303.1 yard avg.) are long off the tee. They're both exceptional putters and scramblers. And they both have the ability (and affinity) to curve their iron shots at will. It wouldn't surprise anyone if either of these players triumphed at the U.S Open this week, but their approaches to playing the game are markedly different.
Matthew is a highly analytic golfer who relies heavily on statistical data and the careful notes he takes to track his performance and progress. "I have stacks of notes at home," he told us. "I keep my notes from the golf course and then I'll keep notes in practice as well. And then any other thoughts that I might have, I'll write them in my yardage book as the week goes on and go through them the following week when I've got more time to process.
"I was talking to Eduardo Molinari, my stats guy, and just in passing I said, 'Oh yeah, it's only a yard.' And he said, 'Well, a yard is the difference between going in the bunker or winning a major.' So, I think that's kind of the level of detail that I'd like to get to, because he's right, and it's something that I believe in too. You've got to be precise. The idea of Aim Small, Miss Small. For me, that's been really important in all the analytics that I keep track of. Over time, these small little numbers, they add up and they make it easier to figure out how to practice, how to create new goals and what levels you need to get to, to have success."
We asked Matthew how this relates to the golf ball:
"It's vital that every single shot you hit, you know it's going to be within a same window. And for me, that's what the Pro V1x does. All balls have deviation, but I feel like Titleist is much tighter than the rest. I think that's why the best players tend to have the most success with a Titleist golf ball.
A good example, distance control is massive. If you are pin high all the time, if you're pin high and five yards right, you've got a 15-foot putt. If you're five yards past and five yards right, then you've got like a 25-foot putt, so there's a big difference there. And that's what it means to be precise and why it’s so important to play the best ball. To be able to perform at your highest level possible. And I think if the ball can't do that, then obviously you're missing some serious opportunities to have success."
In contrast to Fitzpatrick's deliberate process, Sahith Theegala's game relies more on intuition and inspiration. In his practice sessions he'll typically hit shots spontaneously, mixing in 30-yard cut shots and high draws as the mood moves him. He's also fond of hitting shanks on purpose during warm-ups at big events. Does he do this to psych out his fellow competitors? To see the puzzled looks on their serious faces? Sahith wouldn't say. What is clear, though, is that it feeds his healthy sense of humor and helps him keep the game in perspective.
A high ball, high spin player, Sahith benefits from the lower flight and lower spin that Pro V1 offers, compared to Pro V1x. But perhaps the biggest factor in his ball selection equation is feel.
"I just really like the feel of the Pro V1," Sahith explained. "For me, short game is kind of where I feel the golf ball the most, and I just love how the V feels like it sticks on the face, just a hair, and I just feel like I have ultimate control around the greens. And with the longer shots, I've always been a high spin player. So the Pro V1 kind of lets me not worry about spinning it too much, which is great."
During golf ball testing, Sahith, like many players, took a close look at greenside performance. He also hit many shots from off the fairway, focusing on shots where it's crucial to have sufficient spin.
"I will not mess with performance around the green or out of the rough," Sahith said. "You're going to miss fairways and if you can't control your ball out of the rough, you're in big trouble. I play with so many amateurs who think they need low spin, when in fact, they need just the opposite. You see their drives diving out of the air and these shots that squirt eighty yards sideways out of the rough. If you're not a high spin player, you need to make sure your golf ball is providing spin for you."
This year, we're celebrating the 75th consecutive year that Titleist will be the #1 golf ball at the U.S. Open. What does that mean to players?
"It's crazy to think about," Sahith said. "That's three times my age. It tells me that Titleist isn't settling just because they're number one. They're always trying to push the boundaries and trying to make their product better. It gives me the utmost confidence."
"75 years certainly adds to my confidence. I think it is so important to have the best equipment that's going to help you perform your best and I feel like the golf ball for me is a very, very significant part of that. It's the one thing I don't think I can ever see myself changing from."
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Thanks to Matthew and Sahith and good luck to all of #TeamTitleist at the 123rd U.S Open!
Matthew Fitzpatrick | Why I Play the Titleist Pro V1x
Sahith Theegala | Why I Play the Titleist Pro V1