With the 98th PGA Championship beginning this week, golf’s greatest stars will descend upon Springfield, New Jersey as Baltusrol Golf Club plays host to the year’s final major. The first PGA Championship was contested in 1916 with Jim Barnes defeating Jock Hutchinson in the final round of what was then a match play tournament. Though much about the game of golf has stayed the same since that first championship 100 years ago, one facet of the game has been the focus of unrelenting innovation – the golf ball. That is why this week we take a look at the balls used by the last three PGA Champions and the features that helped them on their way to lifting the Wanamaker Trophy.
2015 – Jason Day
Golf Ball: TaylorMade Tour Preferred X
Day’s display during the 2015 PGA Championship at Whistling Straights was a truly special performance as he shot a record-setting 20-under-par. This impressive showing was no doubt aided by an impressive ball – the Taylor Made Tour Preferred X. It’s REACT™ Core which, promotes fast speed off the driver and the Seemless LDP® 322 Dimple Pattern, which creates a penetrating ball flight into the wind, combined to help Day smash a 382 yard drive down the fairway of the par-5 11th as Jordan Spieth looked on in awe. The Tour Preferred X’s Spin Mantle™ Technology and Soft Tech™ Cover helped day to generate the greenside spin as he hit 13 greens in regulation during the final round on the way to claiming his first major title.
2014 – Rory McIlroy
Golf Ball: Nike RZN Tour Black
When McIlroy shot a final-round 3-under 68 at Valhalla he became only the fourth player in the last century to win four majors by the age of 25. He accomplished this feat playing the Nike RZN Tour Black. The RZN Tour Black uses a lighter core which provides a softer feel and allows more weight to be moved to the perimeter of the ball, increasing stability. Its urethane cover with micro dimples and Speedlock mantle worked together to increase control and greenside spin and allowed to McIlroy to hit a 9-iron from the fairway bunker on 17 to within 10 feet of the pin. He would make that birdie putt to take a two-shot lead and never look back.
2013 – Jason Dufner
Golf Ball: Titleist Pro V1
Four birdies and a final round 2-under-par 68 were enough to give Jason Dufner a two-shot lead and the first Major of his career. On that day at Oak Hill Country Club, Dufner relied on the most popular ball in golf – the Titleist Pro V1. Dufner took advantage of the extra distance provided by the tetrahedral dimple design and the increased control from the extra-soft compression core to fire a second-round 63. That impressive scorecard not only stands as the course record, but is also tied as the lowest round ever in a Major. Just another notch on Titleist’s already impressive resume.
What ball do rely on for rounds that really count? Let us know in the comment section below.