Patrick Cantlay (Titleist Pro V1x)
For Patrick Cantlay, 2019 was a coming out party. The former collegiate stand-out and top-ranked amateur player in the world had turned pro in 2012, but a debilitating back injury sent him to the sidelines. He fought though four years of physical therapy and rehab to claw his way back to playing shape, even retooling his swing to protect his damaged vertebrae. He took a big step forward in 2018, winning the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open, but the promise of his can't-miss game didn't truly reveal itself until last year.
Patrick's 2018-2019 PGA TOUR campaign was highlighted by his redemptive win at the Memorial, a tournament that had slipped through his fingers just the previous year. But his season was really a study in consistency, as he recorded a career-high nine top-10 finishes and made 18 of 21 cuts. He finished with the second lowest scoring average on Tour (69.306), advanced to the TOUR Championship (finishing 21st in the FedExCup standings) and broke the top-10 in the Official World Golf Rankings for the first time, ending the season at No. 7.
Through it all, Patrick has trusted a Titleist Pro V1x golf ball. We wanted to learn more about his journey to find the right ball, so we sat down with the budding star to get the details. Enjoy the conversation below.
The Most Important Aspects of Golf Ball Performance
In 2011, when he was still an amateur, Patrick played in five PGA TOUR events and won honors as the low amateur at the U.S. Open at Congressional CC.
TT: Patrick, are you a tinkerer? Do you like to experiment with different golf balls?
PC: No, I have only played three models since my freshmen year of college. I played the 2011 Pro V1x and then I played 15X and now I play 19X. And I think what I can say is, whenever I've had any experience hitting other golf balls, which isn't a lot, the Pro V1x always feels like it goes farther and has a better sound and feel to it than anything else. A lot of the other golf balls don't have that feel - they're either really soft like a marshmallow or too clicky, almost like a rock. Titleist, no matter what iteration of the golf ball it is, it feels similar, consistent, and you can always trust that it's going to have that correct sound and correct ball flight.
But I don't switch a lot. I had success with the 15X and now I'm really having a lot of success with the 19X. It's a little easier to control my distance into the wind, it goes similar, if not a little farther off the tee, and has that same great feel around the greens.
TT: When you talk about feel and sound, where are you most conscious of that? Is it in your short game or more on full shots?
PC: I think you can tell a lot about the the sound with driver. For me, I don't want it to be – I know it sounds silly – but I don't want it to be overly dull or overly clicky or loud. I think sometimes it can be like that. And then obviously around the greens, you want it to have that softer sound anf feel. You definitely don't want it to be clicky around the greens and I think the X for me is the best of both worlds. I still feel like I have control around the greens and yet I don't give up anything off the tee.
Patrick's Golf Ball Testing Process
In 2013 Adam captured his first major, becoming the first Australian to win The Masters.
TT: You switched into the new 2019 Pro V1x last season. What prompted that switch?
PC: I was practicing a little bit with Justin Thomas earlier last season. I was struggling just a little bit into the wind with my 15X and I noticed that his golf ball, a regular V, went through the wind a little better and held it's trajectory. It didn't balloon up in the air and the wind. So I asked Fordie what he thought. We tesed it but I seemed to lose a little distance. And I didn't necessarily like how much lower it was. So, that's when we started talking about moving potentially into the 19X. I tried it and it felt almost identical to the 15X. And yet it brought my spin down just a little bit. Not a huge amount but still enough where I noticed a positive change.
TT: Would you say that's the priority for you? Controlling your ball in the wind?
PC: I think controlling your golf ball in any element is the biggest thing for me. So if I hit a shot, and it feels like 152 and there's 10 miles an hour breeze into me, I'm expecting that's going to affect it, I don't know, 6 yards or whatever. So, I want it to go 6 yards less than 152 -146. I want to know that I can count on that 146 number and not have it do anything weird. Especially if I have maybe just a slight mis-hit, because I think a lot of golf balls do well if you strike it right out of the middle of the face, but not on mis-hits. But the Titleist golf ball, even on a little mishit, your number doesn't fluctuate too differently. Especially when that's magnified in a breeze or a rain or a weird condition, you see that benefit.
INSIGHTS FROM FORDIE PITTS: When Patrick played with Justin Thomas, he hit a few shots with the prototype that JT was testing. At the time Patrick was still in the 2015 Pro V1x. Justin's ball was a Pro V1 construction with a higher spinning profile. So Patrick hit a few shots with that prototype and said, "This is great. I want to test this myself." So at the WGC – Match play event, Patrick came to us and asked to test this new Pro V1 construction. During the testing, we noticed Patrick’s spin rates to be on the higher side and we agreed that a ball with slightly less spin would actually be better. After hitting a few shots with the new 2019 Pro V1x with different clubs Patrick agreed that he needed to take it out on the golf course and give it a thorough test. We went to the course together and found that Patrick was able to hit all his shots with an improved, more efficient flight and he immediately put it in play that week. He didn’t make it to finals, but he went on a nice tear after that - played well at Augusta (T9), had a T-3 at RBC and the PGA Championship and then he won The Memorial.
Patrick reacts after holing his putt to win the 2019 Memorial Tournament
TT: Talk a little bit about your victory at The Memorial. From our perspective that seemed like a career-changing moment.
PC: Yeah, it was great. It's a golf course I really like and I think it's one of the best golf courses we play. It was nice to go out there and play such a great round on Sunday when it mattered. When I woke up that morning, I knew I needed a really good round to get into contention because I was a few back and it really was cool doing it in front of Jack. He had been kind of ribbing me at the beginning of the week that I needed to figure out how to get it done and close the deal.
Coming off 18, it was really special. He just said basically that he was pulling for me and that he had a little bit of some tears in his eyes because he was so proud of me. I think that kind of comes from the conversations we've had, just about winning and how to play different golf courses. I showed up on Monday and he basically told me I just needed to go out and play better the last nine holes of the tournament. So being able to do that and close with no bogies and eight birdies was really special for me and having him be so proud of me, and feeling like he had a part in my success was touching for me as well.
TT: How do you evaluate a ball in the short game? Is it mainly a feel consideration? Trajectory? Spin? What are some of the big factors that play into your decision making?
PC: Around the greens I think feel kind of dictates everything, really. Feel is controlling your spin, your landing spot, and then also the trajectory that you hit the shot so you can judge your run-out. The line is so small, right? If you can hit every shot inside four feet, the odds are basically ninety percent or better that you're going to save par. But if that circle gets from four to eight feet, you drop from like ninety percent to sixty-something percent. So getting it inside that four feet is huge. SO feling like the golf ball does the same thing every time is really important.
Performance in Every Aspect of the Game
In December, Patrick helped lead the United States team to victory at the 2019 Presidents Cup
TT: How important is versatility to you? Does your Pro V1x cover every aspect of your game in terms of consistency?
PC: Yeah, I think you kind of want to find the overall best performer in all the categories, right? So it's not about finding the longest golf ball, or the softest golf ball, or the golf ball that you can control your wedge distances with the best. It's about trying to find something that's like an eight-and-a-half or more out of ten in every area, because you have to hit all those golf shots to perform. I feel like the Titleist golf ball always is a top performer in every category. So I'm not necessarily looking for it to be the longest or the spinniest or the softest around the greens. But it definitely is the best combo of all of those.
TT: Out on Tour, are you conscious of what other guys are testing and playing? Does that influence you?
PC: I am definitely tuned in to what other guys are saying about their equipment and their golf ball. What I notice, more than anything, somebody will say, "Well, I've been struggling with 'such-and-such' golf ball and I decided to hit the Pro V1x and it made everything much better." That's definitely something I hear every now and again and I don't really ever hear it go the other way. So I think that's an indicator of how good the Pro V1x is.
Advice for Amateurs on Golf Ball Testing
Patrick relies on Titleist equipment tee-to-green, including: Pro V1x golf ball, TS3 (10.5°) driver, 915 F (15°) fairway metal, T100 (3-9) irons, Vokey Design SM7 pitching (46.08 F Grind) sand (54.10 S Grind), sand (56.08 M Grind), lob (61.04 L Grind) wedges, Scotty Cameron GSS putter.
TT: What advice can you pass along to amateur players who are trying to find the right ball for their games?
PC: I think if you're an amateur, you should at least try other golf balls and not get too attached to the model you're playing, because I think there are a lot of options out there. So consulting a pro, somebody that knows what they're talking about, and then testing it - on the driving range is great if you have a Trackman, but also on the golf course. You have to see what the differences between models are for your game. I think some amateurs would be surprised by the difference in spin or in distance they could get just by changing the golf ball.Switching to the golf ball that's the right fit can be really helpful.
TT: As a guy who plays Pro V1x and all Titleist clubs throughout the bag, what do you feel when you see the Titleist script?
PC: Whenever I see a Titleist product, I feel like I just know that it's been vetted and it's going to be consistent. It's going to perform. Titleist is never going to launch anything too soon, or bring something out just to be flashy or anything. Whenever Titleist comes out with something new, it's going to be an absolutely quality product that's tested and has a lot of research and development behind it and a lot of thoughtful engineering behind it. I never have to worry about anything not being a totally solid product.
Patrick, congratulations on all your recent success, and thanks very much for sharing your golf ball insights with us!