titleistOver the years that New England Golf Monthly has been in existence Tom Gorman and I have locked horns on all kinds of golf-related topics. Finally we have reached the most integral part of the game – THE BALL!

When I began playing golf some 40 years ago the first ball I used was a Kro Flite. Then I graduated to the Dunlap Blue Max, the Lee Trevino Faultless and then the revolutionary Royal that replaced the traditional dimpled ball with a hexagon pattern. Didn’t last long. Today the ball I have for regular play is Bridgestone, not because I think it’s the best ball out there, but because I got a great deal on them and I am not good enough to really care which ball I put on a tee (although there are a few balls that I’d throw in the woods if I found them because they are rocks).

Whenever I tee it up seriously, when I really have something to play for and I go into grind mode, the ball I pull out of my bag is the most familiar name of all; Titleist. The Acushnet Golf Company, based just north of New Bedford, MA, is the largest manufacturer of golfing equipment in the world and has been the leader forever. Titleist is unrivaled as the ball of choice among professional and top amateur players.

There are so many different brands now and because of endorsement contracts touring pros can make a fortune just by playing a certain ball. But here is how you know which ball is the best. Look at the amateur championships where the players choose the ball they feel gives them the best shot at winning, not the ball that somebody pays them the most money to play. That ball is invariably the Titleist Pro V1. With all the money that’s out there pros still choose the Pro V1 over any other brand because it’s simply the best ball. The other top brands try to come as close to Titleist as they can. Titleist doesn’t try to copy anybody else’s design. It always leads and the others scramble to keep up.

Back before companies began paying touring pros a kings ransom to play their ball, Titleist was almost exclusively the ball of choice. For years the company did not pay the pros to use their balls while others did. And even then the vast majority chose Titleist over any other brand. They still do. Titleist makes several brands of ball, trying to appeal to a wide consumer base. The most basic of the company’s arsenal is the Pinnacle which is fine for a high handicapper who only cares about how far they can hit it, but is positively awful in terms of feel and spin.

The Titleist SoLo is another ball that I don’t care for, but as far as reasonably priced balls go, I don’t think there is a better one out there than the Titleist NXT series, which combines length with feel. The ultimate ball is the original Pro V1, but while it is the Cadillac of balls, it also comes with a corresponding price, one that most average hackers, me included, are not willing to pay. Like so many others of my ilk, however, when we find one on the course, it’s like finding a crown jewel. I have never played golf with anyone who has ever offered a Pro V1 to anyone else because they don’t play it.

To my mind that tells you just which brand is number one. Tim Geary is a R.I. based freelance writer. He loves Titleist balls, provided he gets them for free.