For the second time in two seasons, out of the blue clear sky, I’ve received a single white sleeve of unlabeled golf balls from Titleist in a plain, nondescript envelope in my mailbox.
Disclaimer: I am not a golf brand loyalist, and certainly not paid to shill or endorse any particular equipment maker. In my bag right now you’ll find clubs bearing the names Titleist, Callaway, TaylorMade, Cleveland, and Odyssey, and a FootJoy glove and FootJoy golf shoes.
Over the years, I’ve signed up to be on pretty much every major golf manufacturer’s mailing list, without discrimination, probably more so out of boredom and curiosity than any sense of loyalty or pride of ownership.
Okay, I discriminate against TopFlite and Cobra because I just don’t care for their products. There’s my bias, out in the open for all of you to read, so get over it.
With that said, I really enjoy this aspect of being a member of Team Titleist more than I should, for a couple of reasons.
In exchange for a simple online registration and a couple of emails a month that keep me up to date on their product releases and new technologies, I have the opportunity, every once in a while, to test some of their new products before they hit the market.
I’m almost ashamed to admit how much of a thrill a simple unsolicited gift of golf equipment makes me, perhaps because it plays to the worst parts of who I am as a person and a golfer.
First, I’m cheap and am never too proud to accept quality free stuff. Yeah, I could dress this up in nicer terms (i.e., thrifty, cost-conscious, a prudent shopper), but the truth is I love not having to spend money if I can help it.
Second, I love the idea of having a little peek behind the curtain. Lord help me, one of my character defects that I’m least proud of, but also least able to reform, is that I love to feel like I’m in the know. The little narcissist within loves that idea that I know a secret.
The opportunity to test drive a golf ball that isn’t yet on the market, and that Titleist might care what I think about that golf ball as it prepares to market it (via the survey they will inevitably send me), just feeds my ego and makes me grateful for the opportunity.
After playing one round, alternating between one test ball and one Pro V1, I really want a box of these beauties. I the test ball straighter off the tee, with the slightly off-center hits curving a little less and generally staying closer to the fairway.
The distance with the test ball was identical. Literally. I mean, on a couple of approaches, I would hit my regulation shot, then drop my pocket ball down and hit it just for comparison sake. The results? Virtually no difference in performance (never mind the fact I’ve never made two identical swings in my life).
After playing a couple of par 3 holes and attempting to get up and down a few times, I had all the confidence that the test ball possessed the same stop and spin characteristics of my 2014 model Pro V1.
Oh, and using the test ball and the Pro V1 on alternating holes, I broke 80 for the first time. Ever. So maybe that’s clouding my judgment.
Regardless, these are the musings of one very happy lab rat. The only downside to being a Titleist tester is that, in the past, they never reveal to us what it is exactly that we’re testing. Last year, I think I was testing out the new Velocity ball, but that’s just speculation.
Anyway, the lesson herein is two-fold. First, if you like free stuff, even just once a year or so, be sure to sign up to be a Team Titleist member, and you will actually get your chance (maybe if I do this enough times, they’ll elevate me to a club tester?).
Second, and more importantly, if Titleist brings a new ball to market this fall or winter, buy the ball by the pallet; they really are fantastic.
*Editor’s Update: I just received my second sleeve of Titleist “test” balls in the mail today, this time with red numbers instead of black. Kind of like how ProV1 balls have black numbers and ProV1x balls have red numbers.