Rickie Fowler’s overall outward appearance will look very similar when he tees it up for the first time in 2019 — his signature orange outfits, the oversized, flat-billed Puma hats and the latest footwear — but if you look a little closer you’ll see a small change that is could make a very big difference.
After years of playing Titleist’s ProV1 golf ball, a pairing with Dustin Johnson at the Ryder Cup in September began the process of Fowler inking a mult-year deal with TaylorMade to play their TP5x golf ball and wear their Tour Preferred glove.
With his contract with Titleist running out last year, a foursomes pairing with DJ in Paris set into motion the move.
“I got a little bit of time with the golf ball during the season and did some initial testing to see if it was a road worth going down. Then I played with DJ at the Ryder Cup, and I would play his ball some in Foursomes, so I got to see it in tournament conditions and I was impressed,” Fowler told GolfDigest.com’s E. Michael Johnson. “It was mostly driving the ball where he was hitting the approach shot, so I really waited until after the season to get time in with the golf ball. It’s been impressive.”
The switch to TaylorMade came as a bit of a surprise to his new contacts on Tour, like TaylorMade’s director of golf ball R&D, Eric Loper, who worked with Fowler during the testing process.
“When you’re working to convert a player from a competitor, you really have one chance,” Loper told Golf.com’s Jonathan Wall. “There’s a series of tests you have to go through, and if you don’t pass a certain test, you aren’t moving forward.
“After his first pass with our product, he really understood there was an opportunity to make some changes and enhance his iron play. (Rickie) is quite technical. He really wants to know how the golf ball works and how the layers work together in the ball construction. Why we’re using certain material properties in each of those layers. Dimple profiles, dimple edge angles, the paint we’re currently using. He wants to know it all.”
— Rickie Fowler (@RickieFowler) January 21, 2019
When it came down to it, Fowler was impressed not only with the TP5x’s performance not only in benign conditions, but in the wind as well.
“The cover and the dimples and the aerodynamics do a great job to where the ball doesn’t float in the wind,” Fowler said. “Into the wind or in windy conditions I want a golf ball that’s going to be strong, and this definitely is. I want it to fly through the wind, still hit my numbers and be consistent with it. It’s definitely been a fun winter testing in some of those conditions and seeing what the ball can do and learning a new golf ball.”
The added bonus of superior iron performance in blustery conditions? Added distance.
“Driver, long and mid irons I’m picking up some yards and with the shorter clubs you’re making more of a glancing blow and not compressing as far into the ball toward the core, so those numbers stayed about the same from a distance standpoint,” Fowler explained. “But if you get a little longer with the driver and long and mid irons, that can mean a club shorter into some holes and that’s never a bad thing. It’s nice when I’m in between clubs now to just take the shorter one, take my normal swing and trust it. I’ve had some of my buddies scratching their heads lately on some of the drives I’ve hit and clubs that I’ve pulled.”
Fowler will put the ball in play for the first time this week at the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines.