By Mike Stachura
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: The TaylorMade TP5 and TP5x balls made inroads two years ago with a new emphasis on an inner mantle layer technology that focus on what was happening to the ball right off the clubface to make it go fast. For 2021, the focus is still on fast to some extent, but the improvements in the dimple pattern now aim to optimise what’s happening to that tee ball when it reaches its apex and begins its downward flight as it starts to go slow.
Price: €58 / £49.99 per dozen in white and yellow.
THE DEEP DIVE: In the litany of inscrutable golf technologies, golf ball dimple patterns occupy a special place in the high country of imponderables. We get the value of thin clubfaces in drivers and irons to produce spring-loaded distance. Lightweight carbon composite and heavier tungsten to take weight away from where it’s not helpful and put more where it helps produce better energy transfer and more forgiveness seems understandable enough. Even groove edge sharpness and its role in making our wedge shots spin more makes sense.
But dimples are golf technology Sanskrit, not exactly obvious even when you can see differences in shape, size and orientation. But TaylorMade’s new TP5 and TP5x balls make the case that a subtle change in the dimple pattern and especially the dimple itself makes differences apparent where you can see it: downrange.
The TP5 and TP5x balls have made inroads on tour and in the marketplace with their five-layer construction. That includes increasingly stiffer layers designed to produce more targeted performance benefits from driver through the wedges and a cast urethane cover for improved short-game spin.
The balls focused in their most recent upgrade (2019) on improving initial ball speed with the introduction of a high-flex modulus material in the fourth layer just below the cover.
But new design and manufacturing technologies have produced new freedoms in the design of dimple patterns for the 2021 versions. The result is a dimple pattern with a shallower, flatter bottom, what Ben Raymond, TaylorMade’s senior golf ball engineer, is calling a “dual-radius” dimple design.
A quick science break: Dimples on a golf ball are designed to do two things: Reduce drag at the start of flight, so the ball launches with as much speed as possible. Then, just as the ball is slowing down as it reaches its apex and begins its descent to the ground, the dimples should allow for increased lift so the ball maximizes flight as it loses speed. Trouble is, those two design characteristics typically compete with each other. That conundrum has to do with dimple depth and volume, and the new TP5 and TP5x dimple shallows the depth to decrease drag but maintains the volume to optimize lift. Raymond explains what’s different about the approach.
“Traditionally by reducing depth, you would also reduce volume which would actually increase lift initially and so you’d get this ball that balloons and comes up short,” he said. “But in the back half of the flight an increase in lift is actually going to help. So that’s kind of the trick: How do you minimise lift over that first stage of flight and then actually increase it over the back half? That’s what this new dimple shape is achieving.”
Oversimplifying the new dimple pattern on the TP5 and TP5x balls allows the latter third of your ballflight to benefit the same way and in somewhat to the same degree as it benefits Dustin Johnson’s ballflight. That’s largely because the ballspeeds at the end of the ball’s ascent and the beginning of its descent, is similar no matter who you are, Raymond said. But the new dimple has to work at both ends.
“Because of design limitations in the past we would have potentially given up some of those gains at that later stage,” he said. “If all we would have tried was to decrease the depth of the dimple, we would have reduced drag initially, but we also would have increased lift initially and decreased lift on the back stage of flight. So we would have had a penalty on that descent. With the new pattern, we’ve been able to decrease drag initially, which is where you’re getting the primary distance gain, but we’re not being penalized on the back half.”
The 2021 versions also have been altered based on input from the company’s tour staff. While some TaylorMade players like Rickie Fowler and Rory McIlroy had preferred the greenside performance of the softer TP5, they switched to the TP5x for its better velocity on tee shots. Other TP5x players were looking for a little better short-game performance, too.
So the updates for both balls show the new TP5 featuring a larger core to enhance distance, while the TP5x adopting a softer cover for more short-shot grab. That said, the differences between the two balls remain similar to what they were. TP5 is still designed to fly a little lower and is softer with the highest wedge spin; TP5x is faster and higher flying off the driver and irons and is the firmer feeling of the two balls.
TaylorMade again will off the TP5 and TP5x in its aim-and-alignment pattern called “pix,” which features 12 evenly spaced graphics for enhanced visibility.
The 2021 TP5 and TP5x will be in stores March 5 and is offered in white and yellow for $48 per dozen and in Pix for $50 per dozen.
WHAT TAYLORMADE SAY: TaylorMade Golf Company, an industry leader in innovation and technology, today announces the all-new 2021 TP5 and TP5x golf balls, building on a franchise that has earned the title of Most Complete Tour Ball in Golf.
Relying on the brand’s never done mentality, TaylorMade has once again pushed the boundaries of performance by redefining the path to distance with its new Tour Flight Dimple Pattern - designed to provide improved aerodynamics and carry distance at every level of the game.
The revolutionary new dimple design has a unique dual-radius shape that decouples dimple volume from depth to optimise airflow around the golf ball during flight, ultimately reducing drag and promoting distance.
TaylorMade first set out on this path in 2017, when TP5/TP5x debuted as the industry’s only five-layer Tour ball. By utilising a proprietary construction with four increasingly stiff layers wrapped in cast urethane, engineers effectively created the foundation for optimising both distance and spin.
In 2019, the company wove High-Flex Material (HFM) into the construction of TP5/TP5x to more efficiently convert compression into ball speed. Known as the Speed-Layer System, this design injected a new level of speed into TP5/TP5x compared to the prior generation.
Since 2017, we have blazed a path to distance and speed with TP5/TP5x – building upon a foundation of Tour-proven performance with the patented five-layer system at its core. With the development of HFM in 2019 and now the Tour Flight Dimple Pattern, we’ve examined every component of the golf ball to ensure that each layer is functioning at its highest possible level and working in unison to deliver unmatched performance on every shot.
UNIQUE IMPROVEMENTS TO 2021 TP5 & TP5X
While the new Tour Flight Dimple Pattern enhances performance for both TP5 and TP5x, each product was individually improved based on Tour player feedback. Analysing insights from Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler and others – who have used both prior models in competition – engineers discovered that players switched from TP5x to TP5 for the enhanced greenside spin and control in the short game. Conversely, players switched from TP5 to TP5x for the added distance and ball speed.
For those reasons, the new 2021 TP5x has a slightly softer cast urethane cover that better grips the grooves on a wedge for increased spin around the greens with lower launch, while remaining the fastest Tour ball in the TaylorMade lineup. The 2021 TP5 now has a larger, more reactive core that delivers more ball speed while retaining the same feel and spin properties of the prior generation.
TP5 still provides a softer feel, increased greenside spin and a lower launch in comparison to TP5x, which is faster, longer and higher launching. The new individual enhancements give golfers performance precisely where they want it the most in both models.
Team TaylorMade’s top athletes have switched into the new TP5/TP5x faster than any product in the company’s recent history. Major champions Rory McIlroy and Collin Morikawa both elected to play the new ball in their respective 2021 openers. McIlroy took TP5x (21) to Abu Dhabi for the HSBC Championship, where he led after an opening round 64 before finishing the week in third at 13-under-par. Morikawa gamed the TP5 (21) at the Sentry Tournament of Champions, citing the ball’s wind stability in Maui’s Hawaii breeze. He finished the week T7 at 20-under-par.
Tommy Fleetwood, the latest addition to Team TaylorMade, started playing the new TP5x almost immediately after signing a new long-term contract. Before making the decision, he elicited feedback from fellow TaylorMade athletes who vouched for the ball’s distance, spin control and stability in the wind.
Those comments were quickly validated by Fleetwood’s strong play in Abu Dhabi, his first event with TP5x, where he finished in seventh at 10-under-par. At the time of this release, he ranked third in Total Strokes Gained on the European Tour. This adds Fleetwood to the long list of players moving into the 2021 TP5/TP5x.
It’s one thing to test a new ball, it’s another to put it in play during competition with confidence and ease. The fact that Rory, Rickie, Wolff, Collin and Tommy all switched into the new ball for their first event of the year speaks volumes. The best players in the world have quickly embraced the performance of the new TP5/TP5x.
THE MOVEMENT HAS MOMENTUM
The launch of TP5/TP5x spurred a movement that has TaylorMade among the fastest growing golf ball brands of the last several years. Since 2017, the company’s total market share has been on a steady and steep upswing, a growth trajectory that positions TaylorMade among the largest golf ball companies in the world. Golfers at every level of the game are making the switch to TP5/TP5x, while Tour adoption continues to happen rapidly.
CHOOSING BETWEEN THE 2021 TP5 & TP5X
The 2021 TP5 and TP5x offer complete tee-to-green performance thanks to TaylorMade’s proprietary 5-layer construction. Both models deliver world-class distance off the tee, with the TP5 having a softer feel and more spin around the greens, while achieving fast ball speeds with a new reactive core that is larger than the prior generation.
TP5x is the fastest and longest ball in the current TaylorMade lineup, with a firmer feel and higher launch on iron shots. In addition, it has more greenside spin than the prior generation with a new and softer cast urethane cover. TaylorMade staffers anticipated to play the TP5 are Collin Morikawa and Matthew Wolff (pix), while Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy and Tommy Fleetwood will expectedly gravitate toward the TP5x model.
VISUAL TECHNOLOGY & HIGH-VISIBILITY YELLOW
TaylorMade released pix™ in 2020 to much fanfare among Tour players and amateurs alike. Being powered by the swagger and appeal of Rickie Fowler certainly helped, but it was the performance and functionality of pix that truly set it apart.
Co-developed in conjunction with Fowler, the ClearPath Alignment™ system delivered innovation that golfers could see. The 12 evenly spaced graphics enhanced visibility while significantly aiding in alignment on the putting green and helping golfers immediately gauge the quality of their stroke. This technology was only further validated by the adoption of players like Matthew Wolff, who improved his putting inside 6’ by nearly half a stroke after switching and moved his OWGR from 44 to a peak of 14th.
For 2021, the visual technology behind pix will not change. However, the performance has been upgraded to match the all-new design of the 2021 TP5/TP5x with the Tour Flight Dimple Pattern, larger/more reactive core (TP5) and softer urethane cover (TP5x).
The high-visibility TP5/TP5x Yellow will feature a new enriched yellow urethane that provides added durability and while maximising visibility.