In the last cycle of golf ball launches I felt that the TaylorMade Tour Preferred was the closest challenger to the number one selling Titleist Pro V1.
This time round TaylorMade has been taking this message directly to Titleist by making direct performance comparisons with the TP5 balls using videos such as the one with Jon Rahm shown in the player below this review.
It may sound a little too good to be true and bear in mind Rahm swings it faster than most of us, so the gains will be bigger. It should also be noted that the comparisons are with the 2015 Titleist Pro V1 rather than the 2017 Titleist Pro V1 as that is what was available to them at the time. However, fear not as I was able to do some 2017 Pro V1 comparisons, which I will come on to later.
Firstly we need to compare the TP5 to the pervious Tour Preferred and whilst both have five layers, the differences in construction from the previous three layer Tri-Fast core below left is what makes the TP5 different.
As I found out when I interviewed TP5 designer Eric Loper, the five layers enable the ball to behave differently with short irons and driver and it is the higher ball flight combined with lower spin that is generating these performance claims below.
The higher launch with higher ball speed claims to give a different flight trajectory that relies on a steep landing angle to create stop, but without the excess spin that would cause it to stall at the top of the flight.
To be fair it is hard to see with the naked eye unless you are an elite player who can hit it consistently, but a lot of the SkyTrak data I got backed this up with an increase in peak height of a yard or so.
The soft cast urethane cover sits above a firmer inner cover and it is this difference in firmness that creates the optimum level of spin. The softer outer cover also gets pushed into the grooves of the irons and wedges which then grip the ball and ensure it comes off with less spin and a higher launch.
The durability of the cover was about average for the premium ball sector and I liked the fact the visible seam was in the same position relative to the logo every time for lining up for putting.
Recent TaylorMade balls have been very stable in the wind and this continues with the TaylorMade TP5. Even though it may be flying higher, it is doing so with less spin so in theory it should hold its line better.
As with most makes of premium ball there is a softer standard version and a firmer X version. The TP5 is 83 compression and the TP5x is 90 compression and if you were comparing them to a Pro V1 then the feel of the two versions is pretty similar.
Using SkyTrak I compared the TP5 balls to the pervious Tour Preferred models. With the driver there was very little in it with the softer standard versions of both balls, with the TP5 spinning more and flying higher than the Tour Preferred for me.
However with the firmer TP5x then the lower spin, higher flight story delivers an extra 4 yards carry than the Tour Preferred X at a fractionally slower swing speed and to be fair it is the X version that TaylorMade has been pushing when doing their competitor comparisons.
With a 6-iron the picture was the same with the TP5x using that high launch and steeper descent to stop quicker than the Tour Preferred X.
Due to a technical glitch I have the data, but not the summary screen for the wedge results. However I can tell you that the both balls performed pretty much the same on full shots.
On and around the greens the feel was about the same as the Tour Preferred with the TP5x feeling a little softer than a Pro V1x and the same for the TP5 versus the Pro V1. This means most better players could easily transition into the TP5x without much difference in feel, which is important because this is probably the option to go for from the TP5 range on a strictly numbers basis.
If you were unsure if the Tour Preferred could challenge the market leader, then I would say that the TP5x definitely can for better players. If you compare the numbers with the 2017 Titleist Pro V1 review that I gathered on the same day, then it is honours even for the driver with the Pro V1 having the edge on the TP5 and the TP5x sneaking the X ball battle for me.
However ball selection is more about feel and control and the wedge numbers between the two makes were virtually identical with the softer versions and Pro V1x spinning more and going a yard or two further than the TP5x for me. As ever it is very player dependent, so it is really going to come down what works best performance wise and then provides the control, sound and feel you like when chipping and putting.
The RRP is a couple of pounds cheaper than Pro V1, which in some respect shows TaylorMade's confidence in the TP5 ball, but a greater price difference could have encouraged more people to try it out.
The TP5 is definitely an improvement on the Tour Preferred and will challenge the Pro V1 strongly again, so trying it out is something you should definitely do.