The TaylorMade TP Red and TP Black Golf Balls

Rumors of a TaylorMade branded ball have been floating around the internet for some time now. Most assumed, however, that when it did happen, the ball would be at most a rebranded MaxFli. It was a good assumption, given that Maxfli is owned by TaylorMade. It’s an assumption that was solidified when John Daly was signed to promote Maxfli balls and TaylorMade clubs.

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But it turns out that that we underestimated TaylorMade’s commitment to the cutthroat ball market.

The new TaylorMade balls are just that—TaylorMade balls. Branded the TaylorMade Tour Preferred (TP), they come in red and black versions. The TP Red offers a lower spin rate and lower launch angle for increased distance. The TP Black has a higher launch angle for players with slower swing speeds (this is the one the GolfBlogger will be playing).

So why did TaylorMade do it? Because, they say, TaylorMade is recognized as the best performance brand in the world (and the GolfBlogger would have to agree with that statement). The new balls, according to TaylorMade, will extend that tour-caliber performance into the ball market.

Already a number of pros have switched to the TaylorMade ball, including Sergio Garcia and Hale Irwin. The prototype Garcia has been using for months was a TaylorMade TP with Maxfli branding.

Sergio apparently has been a driving force behind these balls. Even after switching to TaylorMade clubs, he continued to play Titleist balls. TaylorMade says that “During the three years that have passed since Sergio joined the TaylorMade Tour Staff, he’s been our golf ball department’s biggest critic. Now, since the creation of the TP Red (his choice), he’s their biggest fan.”

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The TP balls are TaylorMade’s first foray into the golf ball market in four years. The last TaylorMade balls were the InnerGel line, which—if I remember correctly—came in translucent plastic sleeves and had a sort of metallic motif to their logos. I remember playing with a sleeve, but can’t recall anything else about them.

The new TaylorMade TPs are—as you would expect—packed with every bit of technology that TaylorMade and director of golf ball technology Dean Snell could muster.

Both the TP Red and the TP Black are three piece-balls and are constructed with the same materials: a NdV4 rubber core, a ionomer mantle and a urethane cover.

Both also employ a new dimple design, called the PDP—pentagular di-pyramid.

The difference in the two balls is in the ratio of the core diameter to the mantle. The TP Black has a smaller core-diameter and a thicker mantle. This, TaylorMade says, will make it launch higher off every club and offer less spin off the driver. The TP Red has a larger core diameter and a thinner mantle, which should create lower launch conditions.

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The NdV4 core is a proprietary material that offers “ultra-high COR and exceedingly low compression.” In English that means that it boosts ball speed.

I don’t pretend to even begin to understand the chemistry of the materials, but I’m fascinated by the new dimple design. Just as Callaway a few years ago launched the reverse dimple hexes, TaylorMade seems to have found a way to optimize aerodynamics.

The Pentagular Di-Pyramid Dimple design sports a variety of dimple shapes, sizes and edges designed to balance lift and drag. The result, TaylorMade says is a ball that extends the “back-half of ball flight, promoting longer hangtime,longer carry and longer distance with every club.”

Other balls, TaylorMade says, have too much drag, resulting in tee shots that fall too quickly from the sky.

That really interests me. I’m the only guy I know who gets absolutely no roll out of his drives. My drives (indeed, most of my shots) sail high into the air and then drop like a rock. I usually have to hit my second shot out of a pitch mark—even on a summer fairway.

Just as interesting to me is that TaylorMade says the PDP design will deliver “consistent spin, trajectory and yardages from club to club.”

That’s exactly what I need. I really don’t care if my 150 club is a 8 iron or a 7, as long as it’s the same club every time.

The final nice touch to the balls is that the logos are stamped horizontally on the seam of the ball. While TaylorMade says it makes no difference to the ball flight how you line it up, I’m not sure people will believe that. I know plenty of players who swear that you have to seam the ball for maximum performance. TaylorMade just made it easier for those guys.

As a former PR guy, I’m also interested in the marketing of the ball. They launched the ball just before the Master’s, when the golf media frenzy is at its height. If Garcia can get himself into contention on Sunday, he could do for TaylorMade what Woods did for Nike last year.

The box is striking, especially with its sports car grills and sports car-like TP Logo. They’re clearly designed to associate TaylorMade with the word “drive.” It’s got a kind of Corvette feel.

We Detroit guys appreciate that.

TaylorMade also has implied that these balls will not be their last, saying that “The TP Red and TP Black should prove the first in a long line of successful, high-performing golf balls that bear the TaylorMade brand.

So will TaylorMade succeed in its bid to take a slice of the premium golf ball pie?

I wouldn’t bet against them. It was only a few years ago that when you said driver or fairway wood, the first words out of people’s mouths were Callaway and Titleist. I have a PGA pro friend who told me that Titleist drivers and balls were by far the best on the market.

He’s now got a TaylorMade in his bag. And he’s playing a Nike ball.

The TaylorMade TP Black and TP Red will be available at retailers beginning May 19, with an MSRP of $55.

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