Next week we welcome the second major championship on the 2023 calendar, the PGA Championship. The 105th playing of the PGA has a special feel this year because the championship returns to historic Oak Hill Country Club in Pittsford, NY, a suburb of Rochester. Players will compete on the East Course, widely regarded as one of the toughest venues in major championship golf.
In the lead-up to this event, the East Course underwent an extensive renovation, clearing out encroaching tree growth and reshaping greens and bunkering to revive the strategic nuances of Donald Ross' original design.
In the lead-up to one of our own major events at Titleist – the launch of the new Pro V1 and Pro V1x – we targeted Oak Hill as a perfect location to test and validate our newest designs. After all, what proving ground could ask more from a golf ball than Oak Hill?
In planning our Oak Hill Validation photo shoot, we reached out to the Head Golf Professional at the club, Titleist staff member Greg Beringer. Greg was excited to host us and eager to the try out the new products himself – the 388 prototype (the late-stage iteration of what would become the new Pro V1 golf ball) and the 348 prototype (the design that would become the new Pro V1x).
As it turned out, we got the round in just under the wire. As Greg told us, "The opportunity to play the East Course a few weeks before it was going to close ahead of the 2023 PGA Championship already made it an exciting day. To spend the day with a few of our members and the Titleist team made for a great environment and lots of camaraderie."
It was late September when Greg and three skilled Oak Hill members, Carter Lucas, Tim Saur and Gene Baldino put the 348 prototype through its paces. This event was part of a vast testing and validation effort that ensured that the new Pro V1 and Pro V1x would perform for all types of golfers, under any playing conditions, throughout every corner of the globe.
Tim described how he felt heading into the round: "From my perspective, I was cautiously optimistic. The truth is, I liked the current Pro V1x, and while I, like nearly everyone, particularly as they reach 50, need more yardage, I lean heavily on the ability to control my irons and good wedge play around the greens. The weather was not particularly good the day we played. A little cold and damp, perhaps what will be similar for the players at the upcoming PGA, so 348 was also about to be tested in less-than-optimal conditions."
The difficult weather didn't seem to affect the scores. There's an adage that says, "Steel sharpens steel" and Oak Hill certainly created some strong players in Greg, Carter, Tim and Gene. Greg is a pro's pro with a fluid swing – one of those guys who makes it look easy. Gene is a board member at the club and is a steady 10-handicap. Carter is a 12-time club champion at Oak Hill and recently defeated Tim in a playoff to win the 2022 senior (50+) club championship. But in the friendly validation match, it was Tim who would come out on top. He needed a birdie on 18 to shoot even-par for the day. He had to settle for a four, but it was good enough to seize bragging rights.
Tim had this to say about the 348 prototype after the round:
"The wedge play around the greens was excellent - possibly even an improvement vs. the prior version of Pro V1x - and that is quite an accolade! I could flight the ball as in the past, and it felt the same coming off the putter. Overall, the ball seemed to be 2-3% longer off the tee, spin control with wedges even better, and no sacrifice on iron control or putting."
Check out the slideshow gallery above for some more detailed feedback on the 348 prototype that the Oak Hill gang provided after their round.
Thank you to Greg, Tim, Carter and Gene for helping us bring the new Pro V1 and Pro V1x to market. We'd also like to extend a special thank-you to the members and staff at Oak Hill Country Club for their gracious hospitality. We can't wait to see the world's best compete next week at this magnificent club!
Have you had a chance to experience the new Pro V1 and Pro V1x golf balls? Please weigh in and hear what other players from around the world have to say on on our Pro V1 and Pro V1x Validation page.