From all the years on tour I worked as a caddie on the PGA European Tour I fancy the first tournaments of the year. This is were golf brands put their latest equipment into public play. So by the end of the season somewhere November of each year when you see the tour reps with the so called “white box” testing you know there will be new balls for the next season.I’m pleased to share with you I am one of the lucky ones to try them out and share my experience with you globally.
The EXP 01 Project:
To understand what EXP 01 really it helps to start with the EXP part. EXP is short for experimental or perhaps exploratory. As the name suggest, it’s a new ball platform that aims to take next-generation directly out of the Titleist R&D department and put it into the hands of a handful selected golfers. Titleist develops all sorts of golf ball concepts and while many of them make it out of the lab, when something looks promising, it wants to involve golfers earlier in the validation process. With that being shared, Titleist launching the EXP 01. The 01 part should be obvious enough: it’s the 1st of what could prove to be many EXP balls launched in the coming months, years or decades. While every indication is that EXP 01 is more AVX/ProV1 than it is TruFeel/Velocity.
I spoke to Michael Mahoney, Titleist VP of golf ball marketing, he says that the EXP platform won’t be limited to the tour lineup. As the EXP program ramps up in the earnest, you should expect everything from 2-piece to 4-piece urethane. We might even see things unlike anything we’ve seen before, again.. this is an experimental platform.
Titleist is being deliberatly vague about the performance specifications for the EXP 01. Titleist providing a few clues to perhaps point usin the right direction, but the ultimate goal is to generate genuine feedback from the selected golfers to understand real-world viability and bits of technology. Titleist would much rather leave it on you to find what you find and report back to them.
So here we GO!
Before I put the balls into practice. I take a golf ball, start looking at it, dimple structure, feel, printing etc.
Not long after that I cut the ball into 2 pieces. I wanted to see the inner cores and not long I reveal that the EXP 01 is a 3-piece design that consistent with the ProV1 or AVX. The target seems to be, what Titleist calls the MTR Developmental Cover System. You can find more details on every sleeve written on the back. First thing I realized was that the inner core was purple and had multiple colors (blue, red, orange material in there). Also the core seemed to me bigger. I’ve cut every Titleist golf ball from all the way back to 2003 to the day of now and got a huge amount of results in my database.In addition to the MTR developmental cover system, there are two other bits of technology detailed on the EXP 01 sleeve:
Innovative Core Technology – “The high-speed core construction and specialized casing layer deliver low spin on long game shots for greater distance and tight dispersion.” That’s boilerplate, mostly generic ball language. The low spin characteristics could suggest something more in line with AVX than ProV1, while the speed story potentially speaks to a higher compression ball.
Proprietary 346 Dimple Pattern -“Through testing, the proprietary aerodynamic package has demonstrated an optimized flight profile for peak performance.” So again, the cover matters. The 346-dimple pattern isn’t found on any other current Titleist ball, and it’s worth mentioning that while some brands reuse the same dimple pattern throughout their lineup, Titleist’s dimple patterns tend to be unique to each model. The goal is to best pair what’s on the inside with what’s on the outside. The USGA’s testing procedures account for distance derived from dimples, but improving stability throughout the entire flight is something ball companies continue to explore and where there may be a legitimate opportunity to improve performance.
EXP builds on past Titleist release platforms. You may recall that Titleist first launched AVX in a limited release form. That was different in that the performance was already a known commodity. The purpose of the sunbelt-only launch was to gauge consumer response and ultimately decide where it should fit in the lineup and how much it should cost.This release is perhaps more similar to the white box prototype balls sent to Team Titleist members. That program also solicits direct feedback from golfers, but in those cases, the balls are much further along in the development process. EXP aims to reach a broader segment of golfers with technology that’s earlier in the development phase. I’ve done some experimenting with the new ball and have my own ideas about what Titleist might be up to.Comparing the EXP 01 to ProV1 and ProV1 X the EXP 01 spins a lot less! Also the sound of the shot is more muted from smashing it off the tee.
For the upcoming weeks I will do more testing to share with you all the latest results. Please see the photoslider below for the images of the EXP 01. Find me on Twitter: @bartvanderdoes to get all the latest updates of the testing phase.