Hi Team Titleist,
I was surfing around Titleist.com earlier today and got caught up in a cool chapter of Titleist history that we first shared in The Endless Pursuit, the story of how Titleist progresses from prototype to Pro V1.
The section below details some clandestine testing that Mac Fritz, Senior Vice President of Tour Promotion for Titleist, conducted with Davis Love III. This was some three months prior to the 2000 Invensys Classic in Las Vegas, where the Pro V1 golf ball would first be played on the PGA Tour.
The results of Mac's testing with Davis that day would put in motion "The Hundred Man March", an all-hands-on-deck effort to test and validate this new prototype ball with 100 tour players prior to launch.
Enjoy the story of the first lost Pro V1!
... It was about three months earlier that Fritz boarded a plane with a white box full of 12 prototypes in his carry-on, and a straightforward request from Golf Ball R&D reverberating in his head: “Please return with all 12.” Fritz, along with a couple members of the Golf Ball R&D team, including Fordie Pitts, were headed to Sea Island, Ga., to introduce the new ball to Love and perform some extended on-course testing.
They met at Ocean Forest Golf Club, near Love’s home on next-door St. Simons Island. Love guided them out to the middle of the course, stopping around one green to test short-game shots, particularly a specific type of flop shot that he liked to hit. Eventually, they found themselves on a hole with a cross ditch about 340 yards from the tee. Fritz walked to the end of the fairway, about 300 yards out. Pitts stayed on the tee with Love, who pulled a Titleist 975D 6.5º driver from his bag.
“I told Fordie to raise his right hand when Davis was hitting (his current ball, a Titleist Professional), and left hand when he was hitting Pro V1,” Fritz says. “I remember the Pro V1’s rolling up to my feet at the end of the fairway. The Professionals didn’t come close.”
The shot was into a slight breeze, so Love was teeing the ball down and hitting his “into the wind shot.” It was the type of shot Love was accustomed to hitting with the Professional, knocking down the spin in order to maximize distance off the tee.
After about six shots with each ball, Pitts suggested that Love “tee it high and let it fly” with Pro V1. Pitts raised his left hand in the air, then watched the Pro V1 sail over Fritz’s head, into the ditch. Next into the ditch was Love, who dug through the mud trying to find what would soon become the first lost Pro V1.
Fritz returned home with 11 golf balls. Love returned to the ditch the next day with his son, Dru, to keep looking for the twelfth.
“We all went looking for it. Because, there’s one, you know where it is, and you could have it to goof around with, and we wanted to try it,” Love says. “It was just an exciting time. You knew you had something that was going to make a difference in your game, and that’s always fun.”
Three months later, when Pro V1 debuted in Vegas, Love was one of 47 players who put it immediately in play, Fritz having made the absolute most of his limited stock. To this day, there has never been a greater shift in equipment usage at a PGA Tour event.
To read the entire story of The Endless Pursuit, click here.
Team Titleist Staff