By Mike Stachura
The TaylorMade TP5 Pix, a new multicoloured version of the company’s popular five-piece tour ball, embraces a trend that shows more than half of serious golfers expressing an interest in playing a coloured golf ball.
But true to its tech-focused heritage, TaylorMade endeavoured to make the TP5 Pix not merely an alternative shade. Instead, it uses a multicoloured pattern of X-shaped images to produce a visual indicator of the ball’s rotation. The images arrayed on the TP5 Pix are a pixilated combination of red and yellow, a design developed by researchers at Indiana University. The aim is to enhance the eyes’ natural ability to better process darker images more efficiently when it’s lighter and lighter images when it’s darker. It’s the same team that contributed to the design of the alignment features on the TaylorMade’s new Spider X putters.
“The whole purpose of having a graphic on the golf ball is to have something that is contrasting with the white substrate, but ultimately so you can see the ball’s rotation,” said Eric Loper, TaylorMade’s director of golf ball research and development. “It’s going to be primarily around the green, and you’re going to be able to see how that ball is rotating based on your club presentation. It’s not a practice ball, but it really is instructive. Our goal was to make a high contrast image on the ball, but not make it look like a bunch of blobs.”
Of course, Loper also admitted there’s a little more to it than just science: “It just looks cool, and people want to stand out.”
The pattern of X’s on the TP5 Pix is similar to the pattern of pentagons found on the Truvis version of Callaway’s Chrome Soft balls, which was first introduced in 2015. The Truvis portion of Chrome Soft has been a runaway surprise hit for the brand, exceeding its initial projections in its first year by some 300 per cent, according to the company.
Indeed, coloured golf balls have been gaining momentum in recent years. In Golf Datatech’s spring study of Golf Product Attitudes and Usage, which will be available April 1, serious golfers who expressed an interest in coloured golf balls at an all-time high of 59 per cent, an increase from the previous spring driven in large part by those who said they were very interested. In addition to the success of Truvis, Callaway’s “triple track” alignment lines were used by Phil Mickelson in winning the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am this year and is featured on the new ERC Soft. There’s also been the emergence of Volvik through its coloured and matte-finished coloured golf balls, and most other brands are now offering at least one additional colour option in many of their balls. Even at the tour ball level, Srixon introduced its Z-Star balls in optic yellow nine years ago, in part a reflection on how the coloured ball business has been a major trend in the Asian market since the early 2000s.
Of course, the tipping point for the coloured golf ball market in the U.S. might have come when Titleist brought a yellow version to its vaunted Pro V1 line this year. That ball goes on sale this week, days after Kirk Triplett recorded the first professional win with a Pro V1x Yellow at the Hoag Classic on the PGA Tour Champions.
TP5 Pix will be offered initially only in the TP5. The TP5, as well as the TP5x, are five-layer balls which feature increasingly stiffer layers around the core, surrounding a soft urethane cover. The upgrade for the line this year is a new high flex modulus material in the mantle layer just below the cover, what Loper called “the fastest material that TaylorMade has ever used in a golf ball.”
The TP5 Pix will be available March 22.