At the recent global launch of the M family of clubs, TaylorMade were equally as excited about the potential for their new TP5 golf ball, so I caught with Eric Loper, Director of Golf Ball R&D to find out why.
Hi Eric. Apparently the TP5 golf ball has been 10 years in the making, so why did it take so long?
Something this great takes a long time! It all started when we launched the TP Red and that is when we first really understood that for the Tour players there is an opportunity to improve iron performance and that is what that golf ball did.
Each golf ball we launched from that point was really focused, including the Penta TP, which was our first 5-layered Tour golf ball, which was designed to give players more and more greenside control while maintaining that TP Red distance off the driver and with the irons.
What makes the TP5 and TP5x better than the previous generation of Tour Preferred golf balls?
The TP5 and TP5x are both based on our 5-layer construction. Both balls have a large soft inner core, what we call a Tri-Fast core, and that soft core helps reduce driver and iron spin whereas the additional layers in the core help pack on the speed. So the distance is coming from the Tri-Fast core.
Now it is important that this golf ball is not only long, but it has to perform around the green as that performance is what we have been able to build up over the last ten years. This control comes from the Dual-Spin Cover that consists of a rigid inner cover and a soft cast urethane outer cover. On shots around the green that soft cast urethane is going to get pinched between the club face and the rigid inner cover. That is what gives us great greenside control.
So is it the fact the softer cover compresses more than a firmer cover that gives you the spin?
That’s right. In order for us to offer excellent greenside control it all comes down to using that soft cast urethane. It is durable, it is malleable and it gets pushed into the grooves so that upon impact it comes off low with high spin.
TaylorMade are one of the few people who are using cast urethane, so can you explain why that’s the case and how it helps you?
Well, cast urethane has several advantages. It is well known on Tour, it offers the feel with the putting that the Tour players expect as well as the spin around the green that they are looking for, but it is also very durable so it is not going to want to cut.
What are the advantages in using a 5-layer construction?
The 5-layer construction is very significant because it allows us to de-couple driver and iron distance or spin from greenside or wedge spin. Being able to de-couple that spin rate on the wedges versus with your irons is important because typically in a 3 or 4 layer construction if you make the cover softer to get more greenside spin it is also going to impact your iron spin and your driver spin. So the advantage of 5-layers is being able to de-couple your drivers and irons from your wedges.
So is it the inner layers that are affected most by the driver and the outer layers by the irons?
Yes. When you think about when the ball compresses significantly, and it is not swing speed dependent so even if you are a low swing player with you driver and your irons, you will significantly compress the golf ball to the point where the soft inner core has a significant impact on spin because it will pull the spin out.
Now as you move out through the layers on shots closer to the green where you are not really deforming or compressing the golf ball at all, it is more about the soft cast urethane pressing up against the rigid inner cover that creates more spin.
Having spoken to your Tour players Jon Rahm and Dustin Johnson, they were saying that they were not only hitting the new ball further, but also higher. Will that be a problem in high wind conditions?
That’s a great question. We are getting significant distance through spin reduction and when you think of your typical Tour golf ball that has higher spin it is going to launch low and climb to its peak height. It is using spin to create lift. Unfortunately that has significant drag and distance consequences.
What we are doing with the TP5 and TP5x is creating a golf ball that will launch higher with less spin and less drag, it will reach that same peak height or higher and land soft because of the angle of descent.
But since we are using lower backspin to achieve that there is less drag. Compared to the Pro V1x for example, the TP5x on a 5-iron shot at the same starting speed delivers upwards of 2.3 mph more ball velocity at peak. So you won’t see that with the launch monitor, but that is what happens during flight since there is less drag
So if you are not using spin to create launch what is it that gives this ball that high launch characteristic?
It's the Tri-Fast core that works in two ways. It pulls spin out of the ball and when you are doing that it increases launch angle. So it is the Tri-Fast core that is really responsible for the distance gains and for the higher launch.
We have seen some players launch up to 2° higher, but with our robot testing it is 0.5° to 1° higher, which is actually significant as it gets you up to that peak height with less spin.
Going back to your question about it possibly being more affected by the wind, since we are reaching the same peak height but achieving that height with less spin, the ball should actually be better into the wind. Our current Tour Preferred X is well known for being one of the best wind balls on Tour but this golf ball will perform even better into the wind.
Can you measure that stability in any way?
It is definitely measureable. We have models that show a clear difference.
How would golfers choose between the TP5 and the TP5x?
Both balls based on the 5-layer construction are going to give you excellent iron performance and driver distance. It really comes down to feel.
The TP5x is 90 compression, designed for the player who likes a little bit more feedback, a little firmer golf ball, and trust me there are a lot of those players out there.
The TP5 is 83 compression and designed for players who are looking for a little softer touch around the green.