"Within just a few shots, I knew this ball was a game-changer."
That's what Adam Kolloff, owner and Director of Instruction at Pure Drive Golf in Woburn, MA had to say about Titleist Pro V1 with Radar Capture Technology (RCT). The New England PGA Teacher of the Year in 2021, Adam created Pure Drive Golf as an indoor alternative for golf learning and fitting. He and his team rely exclusively on TrackMan launch monitors to inform their instruction and together with RCT, Adam reports that the indoor golf experience is more like the real thing than was ever before imaginable. The reason? Spin capture.
THE IMPORTANCE OF EXACT SPIN DATA
Before RCT, measuring the spin of the golf ball had been extremely challenging in indoor environments. The shot only flies a few short feet before striking a net or simulator screen, barely making a revolution or two before the data stream is cut short. Along with ball speed, initial launch angle and initial launch direction, ball spin data is used by radar-based launch monitors to extrapolate the entire flight of a shot. Without accurate spin data, the launch monitor algorithm is missing a crucial piece of the puzzle. The launch monitor is not able to project shots reliably. The shot shape, carry distance, landing angle – virtually every detail that defines a shot can be misrepresented.
"When you teach indoors," Adam said, "you're very reliant on good data and feedback, because you don't have the luxury of seeing the full flight of the golf ball. If you're getting erroneous data from your launch monitor, then it's very easy to go down a bad rabbit hole, looking for solutions to a problem that might not even exist for your student."
Before RCT, Adam and his staff would need to apply reflective stickers to golf balls (and orient each shot precisely) in order to capture accurate ball spin data.
"Even then it could be hit or miss," Adam added. "You'd fail to capture spin numbers because stickers would fly off at impact or you might not have the sticker aligned perfectly down the target line. By no means was it foolproof. I was fortunate, though, to be involved in the early testing of RCT. Titleist provided me with some beta models and it was just as easy as capturing shots outside. It doesn't matter how the ball is oriented, you just put the ball down in front of TrackMan and you get accurate spin numbers and a true picture of every shot that's hit."
RCT AND INDOOR CLUB FITTING
Those true pictures paid immediate returns to Adam and his staff during club fittings, too, addressing a blind spot in indoor fittings that had been a big challenge before Pro V1 and Pro V1x RCT.
If you take a close look, you'll notice that the faces of drivers and fairway metals are not flat, like irons. They are slightly curved, both horizontally and vertically. These design features are known as bulge (toe to heel curve) and roll (sole to crown curve) and it's designed into metal wood faces to take advantage of the "gear effect", a spin force that gives you a measure of self-correction on off-center hits.
Not to get too technical, but let's consider a toe strike with a driver. The force during this off-center collision will cause the face of the driver to open and rotate clockwise slightly (for a right-handed golfer). Through friction as the ball compresses, this rotation of the face at impact will then cause the ball to rotate in an opposite, counter-clockwise fashion. The ball will start right of the target line, but then curve back to the left because of the hook spin put on the ball thanks to the gear effect.
"But indoors," Adam explained, "radar-based launch monitors were unable to capture the true spin. So, they'd interpret toe strikes as dead pushes. They wouldn't capture the fact that the shot was really drawing back to center. If you weren't aware of this as a fitter, you might start looking at different heads or adjusting driver settings to compensate, when the real issue might have been something as simple as the golfer standing too far away from the ball at address."
Teachers and fitters would see a similar phenomenon depending on how low or high on the face shots are struck. You may have experienced longer drives when you tee the ball high and contact the ball above the equator of your driver. This is also thanks to the gear effect. During impact, with contact high on the face, the driver face rotates back slightly. This exerts an opposite frictional force on the ball, taking off some of the ball's backspin. The result is a high-launching, low-spinning shot – the modern recipe for long drives.
"Without RCT," Adam told us, "shots like these often registered as pop-ups. So, the golfer feels like he bombed one, but the monitor, because it has to essentially guess, would show us a high, spinny miss. If you weren't very conscientious about checking face contact on every shot, you could find yourself scrambling for different shafts and adjusting settings that were totally inappropriate for that golfer. With RCT, you’re now seeing the true shot profile in its entirety, regardless of where contact was made on the club face."
A COMPLEMENT TO TRADITIONAL GOLF
It's not surprising that RCT technology is being embraced at state-of-the-art indoor facilities like Pure Drive Golf that require precise flight data. But RCT is also making waves at traditional clubs that offer indoor golf options. Case in point - Rhode Island Country Club in Barrington, RI. As part of a recent clubhouse renovation project, RICC commissioned the construction of a new two-bay indoor simulator room. Head Golf Professional Kyle Phelps told us that the new addition is so popular with members that they've already had to implement a reservation system to schedule tee times. In the new year, Kyle and his staff will also be organizing a series of indoor tournaments for RICC members, allowing them to play on simulated layouts like Sea Island Resort and the Old Course at St. Andrews.
Kyle is expecting many of his members to use Pro V1 and Pro V1x RCT when they play and practice in the simulator room. And he is also going to use Pro V1 RCT and Pro V1x RCT in the indoor lessons he teaches in the RICC Pro Shop during the off-season. Like Adam Kolloff, Kyle was also among the first professionals to receive and test prototype models during RCT development.
"The immediate benefit that I saw in teaching with RCT was that the TrackMan numbers translate so well from outdoors to indoors. The RCT ball performs exactly like the stock Pro V1s I sell in the shop. So, when my Pro V1 players come indoors, they're getting the same data, the same feedback on their shots that they would when they hit outside. They can dial in distances for every club in their bags, work on technique and hit different shots – everything we typically do outside – but because we're able to see accurate spin rate, we can now say with certainty, 'Yeah, that shot was the result of the archer, not the arrow.' "
IMPACT OF RCT ON GOLF BALL FITTING
With RCT, Kyle also saw an opportunity to help some students with some golf ball selection decisions.
"I was working with one of my better players at the club. He's athletic and has a lot of clubhead speed and we started the lesson with Pro V1 RCT. Right off the bat, his launch numbers were a little low with the irons and his descent angle was definitely too shallow. It was evident that he'd have trouble holding greens with his approach shots. But rather than mess with his technique, I switched to Pro V1x RCT. From the very first shot, he launched it higher and the ball peaked higher. The descent angle was significantly steeper, too, which is extremely important if you play on courses with firm greens like we have here at Rhode Island Country Club. He left feeling very confident and eager to put Pro V1x in play."
Mike Rich, Manager of Titleist Golf Ball Fitting and Education, has also seen the potential for RCT technology in golf ball fitting.
"We're extremely encouraged by the early testing we've done indoors," Mike said. "Spin is such an important component in determining which golf ball will perform best for a player. With RCT, because we can now see exact spin rates, we are able to compare performance between different models very accurately indoors."
At this time, Pro V1 and Pro V1x are the only Titleist golf ball models available with RCT technology, but Titleist expects to introduce AVX and Pro V1x Left Dash with RCT in 2022. Titleist golf ball fitting teams are currently conducting a pilot program to test prototype versions of AVX RCT and Pro V1x Left Dash RCT. This means that if you have an indoor golf ball fitting scheduled this winter with a member of the Titleist Fitting Team, you'll have the ability to test and compare every model in the Titleist premium performance line-up – just as you would in an outdoor Titleist fitting environment.
"The shot data that you can now collect indoors using RCT technology truly makes indoor golf ball fitting a more precise experience," Mike Rich said. "If you're limited by weather conditions or access to outdoor fitting options, you can have the utmost confidence now in the recommendations you receive in a Titleist indoor golf ball fitting. Because we're able to measure true launch, speed and spin rates on every model that you'll hit and compare, we can really zero in on the right Titleist golf ball model for your individual game."
Have you had a chance yet to play or practice indoors with Pro V1 and Pro V1x RCT? Please share your experiences in the comments below.
For more information about Pro V1 RCT and Pro V1 RCT, please click here.
And for more resources to help you find the best golf ball model for your game, visit https://www.titleist.com/fitting/golf-ball-fitting.