Titleist have adopted a very bold strategy in calling out other golf ball manufacturers by saying that their new Tour Speed ball produces a faster ball speed than the likes of Callaway Chrome Soft, Srixon Z Star and TaylorMade Tour Response.
This is pretty unusual for a company to name who they're better than, and in which category. As Titleist are the Number One ball in golf, who are we to say otherwise?
Well, I want to see for myself as judging by the robot testing conducted by Titleist, this ball appears to be aimed at golfers with a ball speed, launch and spin rate that is similar to mine.
Could this be the new ball for me, whilst saving me a few quid in the process?
What's It All About?
Titleist's Tour Speed is a three-piece ball with a new thermoplastic urethane cover, which Titleist say provides exceptional distance in the long game along with precise short game control.
The high-speed core formulation combines with an ionomer casing layer for faster ball speeds and low spin on tee shots and with longer clubs.
This speed also comes thanks to a new 346 quadrilateral dipyramid dimple design. It all sounds very confusing, but the basic idea is that the design allows the ball to cut through the air with a more penetrating flight, that encourages long distance whilst retaining a tight dispersion.
Along with the aforementioned robot testing, Titleist also conducted extensive amateur testing across the US and Canada over a three-month period to 'validate performance' and ensure that this iteration is the best product that Titleist can offer.
To see whether the Tour Speed lived up to Titleist's claims I tested it up against the Callaway Chrome Soft, Srixon Z Star and TaylorMade Tour Response on the Trackman 4 simulator.
I then took the Tour Speed on-course to Denton GC and Stockport GC for some on-course testing and short game focus, up against by own Titleist Pro V1x balls.
Titleist Tour Speed Golf Ball Review
Looks and Feel
At first glance, I thought that the Tour Speed reminded me a little of a lake ball due to the glazed, off-white colour, and the logo wasn't the same print that I was used to seeing on the Pro V1 range.
However one of the guys I teach actually brought in the old Pro Trajectory 100 balls, which I am a bit too young to remember, but the Tour Speed then looked more like a throwback to the finish of golf balls back in the 70s. So apologies Titleist, I understand the look now!
I do like the alignment aid on the ball, which I found useful both on the putting green and also when hitting tee shots. It has parallel lines which are arrowed to give you a very useful visual, and means that you don't need to have a surgeon-like touch with a marker pen to draw the lines on yourself.
The Tour Speed did feel a little softer than I expected with my first hit, particularly as I had been using Pro V1's previously so I was expecting something which had a much firmer feel.
Compared to the balls I was testing against, the Tour Speed was much firmer than the Chrome Soft (clue's in the name!), and pretty similar to both the Tour Response and Z Star when chipping and pitching around the green.
On the putting green, the Tour Speed certainly felt quicker off the face than the Chrome Soft and Pro V1 balls that I am used to playing, so don't be surprised if your first few putts end up whizzing past the hole.
I spent some time hitting shots into the par 3 13th hole at Denton GC and found that all four balls were very similar in terms of distance.
I then hit driver on the 14th to compare the Tour Speed with my own Pro V1x ball to see if it did provide the faster ball speeds and long game distance that Titleist had suggested. Off the face the Pro V1x looked as if it was lower spinning, so I assumed that it had gone further, but it was actually almost identical in terms of distance.
Overall the ball performed pretty nicely in the wet autumn weather during the testing. It felt good off the face with my driver and fairway wood, although on the greens it did seem to pop off the face a little harder than I would have liked. If you struggle with leaving putts short, however, this may not be a negative!
I then hit a few pitch shots, and ranked the balls in terms of feel and stopping time as follows:
- Callaway Chrome Soft
- TaylorMade Tour Response
- Titleist Tour Speed
- Srixon Z Star
Following my initial testing I also played around Stockport GC and really struggled with controlling my pace on the greens, even hitting a 25ft putt 6ft past the hole! After about six holes I found myself swapping the Tour Speed for my usual Pro V1x as I found it much easier and more reliable both on the greens and with approach wedges.
During my testing on Trackman I found it difficult to conclusively see any real difference between any of the golf balls, so Titleist's claim of the Tour Speed producing faster ball speeds than other brands wasn't evident for me.
I put the Tour Speed up against my Pro V1x too and found that the Pro V1x had a very minor edge in terms of carry distance and ball speed, whilst the spin rates were almost identical. Throughout the indoor testing I couldn't help but feel that any real changes were more down to my own swing speed or ball-striking producing slightly different numbers, rather than the balls themselves.
Titleist Tour Speed Golf Ball Verdict
The Tour Speed comes with an RRP of £40 per dozen, which is around £10 less than Titleist's Pro V1. To be honest I would say that it is worth paying that money because I think if you're already willing to pay £40 then you'll definitely see the benefits from that extra tenner.
The performance is pretty similar between the two balls off the tee and with longer irons, but around and on the greens the firm feel really wasn't to my taste.
According to the quote on the box this ball is built for golfers with swing speeds like mine but I'm afraid to say that I didn't see any increase in ball speed as Titleist were suggesting.
I think it does fit pretty well into that middle tier of golf ball for players who don't swing it particularly fast, although I wouldn't say that it performed any better than any of the other balls in this market and so that was a little underwhelming.
If you have played the Srixon Z Star then it may be worth a try as the performance was very similar in terms of spin, distance and height. I could imagine it being a pretty decent option for winter golf where there are slower greens and you don't want to risk losing your precious Pro V's!
Would I Use Them?
I'm going to stick with my Pro V1x, because although the Tour Speed was pretty good in the long game, the closer I got to the hole the less I was able to trust it when attacking tight pins and judging the reaction of the ball on the greens when pitching, chipping and putting.
My ball speed was not faster as promised
Looked a little cheap compared to Pro V1
Seemed to scuff up quickly
Firmer around and on the greens
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