Adam Scott (Titleist Pro V1) salutes the crowd at renowned Riviera Country Club after claiming his 14th PGA TOUR win on February 16th at the 2020 Genesis Invitational
You might think that the owner of one of the most coveted golf swings in the game doesn't need to be too picky when it comes to equipment. When you move the club with the grace and power that Adam Scott does, you might think he could play with a beat-up range ball and bring most golf courses to their knees – but as we learned when we sat down recently with Adam, he doesn’t take anything for granted when it comes to his equipment. When you still hunger for major titles, nothing is left to chance.
Enjoy the conversation below.
The Most Important Aspects of Golf Ball Performance
Adam turned pro in 2000, the year that Titleist introduced the Pro V1 golf ball on TOUR.
TEAM TITLEIST: What are the key features that you look for when you test and compare golf balls?
ADAM SCOTT: I think if I broke it all down, when I hit a shot that feels great and I look up my eye probably should go straight to where that golf ball is. And if it's not, then I'm going to question whether it's the right ball for me.
The spin and launch angles obviously relate to that, but I'm looking for probably more spin than most people today. I turned professional with a balata golf ball and my golfing DNA roots are way back there really. I'm making myself sound old, but you can't change your golf DNA too much if you want to bring out your best assets.
TT: What does more spin do for you as a player?
AS: When you have some speed and some power, which I'm fortunate to have, you have to balance that with control, and you get that through spin. I mean, going back to a balata, that spun a lot. It was hard to get that driver under 3000 rpm with a balata ball and I taught myself and was coached to swing that way. Because I naturally produce very low spin, I need a bit more high spin in the ball. And I think Pro V1 complements that.
And I do believe that to perform consistently well at the biggest events, the majors – which are generally the toughest and have the firmest ground conditions – that control really plays a big factor in your performance. So I definitely gear some of my equipment set up to those events. I only have one major so far, but my performance over the last decade in the majors is as consistent and as anybody else's on a tour across maybe about 40 events.
TT: When you talk about spin, I'm curious why Pro V1x wouldn't have been the right fit, as it spins a little more than Pro V1.
AS: My decision to try the Pro V1x was based more off looking at the numbers and the pure data. Pro V1x may have the highest spin available, but the flight window is very different. My initial change to X was very good, because I felt like it was spinning, it was going longer, which is always nice. Everyone likes that. But I guess after some time, seeing the ball fly in that higher window, it had an effect on how I started trying to hit the ball. I found myself trying to bring the flight back down to where I like to see it. And you know, after some time, my swings moved to a spot that I'm not comfortable with. I had to transition out, and the easiest way to put my swing back on track was with a lower-flying ball.
TT: How much did feel play a role in your evaluation?
AS: Adapting to the feels of short game is less of an issue for me. A clicky feel and a soft feel – that distinction used to be a big deal. But once I start seeing the ball react the way I want around the green, I'm able able to adjust to the feel. Having said that, the Pro V1 does have a softer feel around the green, so even though the feel aspect is lower down in the order of importance for me, that has been a nice bonus.
Adam's Golf Ball Testing Process
In 2013 Adam captured his first major, becoming the first Australian to win The Masters.
TT: Adam, could you describe your process for testing golf balls? Did you start on TrackMan or did you start right on the golf course?
AS: I did some very rough testing on my own at home with TrackMan. I scrounged up some old balls out of the garage and sent the data through to Fordie (Titleist Tour Consultant for Golf Ball R&D, Fordie Pitts) to have a look at three different balls. I hit the Pro V1x that I was playing at the time and I had a few dozen of the Pro V1’s that I won The Master's with. I also hit some Pro V1 prototypes that Fordie had given me
So, I sent those numbers through, and I was clearly leaning towards a ball that would fly consistently in a lower window, but with a bit more spin than the Pro V1 prototypes. Fordie felt the Pro V1 would be a good option and that's what led me in that direction. With the proper strike, this ball performs ideally for me, and that's what fitting is all about.
Fordie Pitts (left) monitors ball flight during a testing session with Adam at Titleist's Oceanside Test Facility.
TT: What's that like, the give-and-take relationship between Titleist Golf Ball R&D and Tour players like you?
AS: I think when you're in these relationships – and there's so much pressure on both sides to perform, to win – there has to be this great communication, with guys like Fordie on the Tour Van and with Titleist R&D on the whole. Without that you can't achieve great performance. And, you know, my golf game has evolved. Everyone's got to kind of move together, so that communication is really important. And knowing that we have that understanding between us, that comes back in a confidence boost to me.
INSIGHTS FROM FORDIE PITTS: For years Adam told us he prefers soft feel and spin in his golf ball. Then, a few years ago, like so many players, he chased distance. So he tried Pro V1x and while he played decent at times (top 10’s in 4 of 18 events) and did increase his driving distance, the overall results were not as strong as Adam would have liked. When we suggested to Adam that we had a Pro V1 that was more in line with his preferences, we hit on a much better fit for Adam's game without sacrificing on distance. Now he has a lower flight, a much softer feel and a ball that suits his style. And the results show. He had 9 top-10s in 2019, a runner-up at The Memorial and he was right in the mix on the final day at both the PGA Championship (T8) and the U.S. Open (T7). And he capped the season off with a win at the Australian PGA.
Performance in Every Aspect of the Game
In December, Adam captured the final regular season event across the 2019 major worldwide professional tours, winning his second Australian PGA Championship. It marked his 11th career European Tour title and his 30th worldwide crown.
TT: Once you got into the Pro V1, and you found that it complemented your natural swing, did you find that it was easier to work the ball, and adjust the flight as needed?
AS: Yeah, it was. Once the ball is coming out in your window, then when you want to flight one down, you can move the ball back a couple inches and know exactly how it's going to come out. This can be very important. Certainly, on the occasion when you hit an errant shot and you're in the trees and you're looking for a window to recover. I mean, it's a big difference between punching it through a window to salvage par or hitting that first tree and kicking, who knows where, and making a big number. So as soon as that ball was back in my window, I was very comfortable to start moving the ball around.
TT: How important is versatility to you? Does your Pro V1 cover every aspect of your game in terms of consistency?
AS: Absolutely, I think it does. Let's look at my stats this year. I've been pretty accurate on tour these days. I mean, my play from 115 yards*, I don't think it's ever been better, and I'm using a Pro V1 ball. Having a ball that I can control and manipulate. If I want more spin, if I want less spin. I know how to do it with this ball. So I know my wedge game has improved considerably this year and that's been one of the factors that's had me back playing a bit more consistently.
* In 2019 Adam ranked 8th on the PGA TOUR on approach shots from 100-125 yards. He also ranked 6th in approaches from 125-150 yards and 5th in approaches from 150-175 yards.
Advice for Amateurs on Golf Ball Testing
Adam has recently found a winning combination with his Pro V1 golf ball and a new Titleist TS4 (10.5°) driver. The traditional, compact head of the TS4 provides Adam with the proper spin for control and workability as well as a flatter descent angle for more roll-out distance.
TT: What advice can you pass along to amateur players who are trying to find the right ball for their games?
AS: One thing I still see from amateurs that I can't understand is when they have all sorts of different balls in their golf bag. To me, it's vital to find what works best and play it exclusively. It's one simple variable you can eliminate.
If you gave me a Pro V1x ball this week to play, I'd probably be really lost. I wouldn't really know how far my 5-iron is going to go. I mean, I know roughly, but you need to be precise. You need to be dialed in to this one ball that you have. I think that takes away a lot of doubt and negative thoughts that can creep in. And we all know what it's like to go around the golf course when things aren't going your way. Lots of stuff can go sideways, but if you're using the ball suited to you, then I think you can eliminate some of that error. That's a good start and you can control that.
TT: You've attended a tour of our Ball Plant 3 facility. What kind of confidence does that give you as a player?
AS: Yeah, I think the most surprising thing I took away from touring the plant is how little the tolerance levels are in making the golf ball and how strenuous the checks are to make sure there is very little variation ball to ball. For someone whose livelihood and dreams depend on it, it's nice to see how dedicated Titleist is to providing you with the same ball every time out of the box.
Adam, congratulations on your recent win at the Australian PGA, and thanks very much for sharing your golf ball insights with us!