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It is unlikely that anybody’s CV reads as cool as Fordie Pitts’.

Currently in his 24th year working for Titleist, the 50-year-old
Bostonian started out as a ‘Golf Club Tester’ and now works as the ‘Tour
Consultant for Golf Ball Performance’.

Jealous yet? Just wait. You haven’t heard the half of it.

There’s no greater satisfaction than seeing our players being successful

Titleist Ball Pyramid

“For me, there’s no greater satisfaction than seeing our players being successful with our products,” Pitts told bunkered.co.uk on the range in Abu Dhabi. “Tuesday and Wednesday, I’m hard at work.

“Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, I’m leaderboard-tracking to see
how the guys are doing. Just like them, I just try to get a little
better at what I do every day.”

Pitts’ job sees him work as an effective liaison between Titleist’s
product development teams and the company’s tour staff. It all harks
back to the brand’s famous ‘Pyramid of Influence’, a barometer of
validation which begins with tour pros and filters down through various
levels – PGA professionals and leading national amateurs, for example –
to the game’s grassroots.

Producing products that can be appreciated and enjoyed by every
golfer is no mean feat but it’s a controlled and systematic process,
which, more often than not, begins with Pitts and his team.

READ MORE -> How did the Titleist Pro V1 get its name?

Titleist Balls

“When our product development teams produce a prototype, they give it
to me and another guy – there are two of us who do this job – and we
take it to the players to give it a hit and give us their feedback,” he
explained.

“Sometimes, we know what a product is. Other times, we don’t. That’s
what we call a ‘double blind’ test – the player doesn’t know what
they’re using and neither do we.

“As an example, very early on in the development of a new ball, the
product team might give us a ball that is completely blank. It will have
no markings on it whatsoever.

The product team might give us a ball that is completely blank

Henrik Stenson

“I know what they want and what they like, as well as the shots they
typically hit,” he said. “So, when we’re developing something, I always
have in my head things like ‘How is Adam Scott or Henrik Stenson (above) going to like this golf ball?’

“Considerations like that are really important. That’s why, in Adam’s
case, when we came out with these new balls, he was able to have
complete trust that we were giving him a product that we felt could
benefit him more than his existing ball.

I won’t give them something that I don’t believe will benefit them

“He could say, ‘Okay, Fordie knows this will be good for me – I’ll give it a go.’

“These guys are treading such a fine line all the time that the
slightest little thing could give their confidence a serious knock, so
it’s important that I can give them that reassurance. I won’t give them
something that I don’t believe will benefit them.”

Adam Scott

According to Pitts, former Masters champion Scott (above) is ‘very particular’. “He knows what he likes,” he added.

“Historically, he has liked soft feel. He’s high speed but not
necessarily high spin, so he’ll tend to gravitate towards something that
has a little more spin, even though, in the case of the new balls, the
Pro V1 he is playing spins a little less than the Pro V1x.

“Coming from the ball he had been playing previously, it’s flying
higher with a little more spin. We could give him even more if he wanted
but we’re going to stay where we are right now.

“He experimented with the ‘X’ for a few months – he was chasing
distance, believe it or not – and he played okay with it but, when all’s
said and done, Adam’s a Pro V1 guy through and through.”

Jordan Spieth

Whilst Scott is a ‘Pro V1 guy’, two-time major champion Jordan Spieth (above) is a long time advocate of the Pro V1x.

“Jordan doesn’t over-anlayse and doesn’t necessarily need to see a
number to confirm what he’s seeing,” said Pitts. “He just goes out,
plays and, if likes what he sees, he’ll move into it.

“He’s had immediate success when he’s changed balls, too. The 2015
‘X’ and the 2017 ‘X’, he won the first events he played with them both.”

Of course, trying to persuade a top pro to consider changing their ball is by no means as straightforward as it might sound.

“Some of these guys, the last thing they want to do is change a piece
of equipment and particularly their golf ball,” explained Pitts. “Once
they get dialled in on something and they know what it does, they don’t
necessarily want to change that, so it’s a process.

“Some guys will say, ‘Give it to me, I’ll play it’, whereas others
are going to want to see numbers, spend a bit of time on the short game
area, even take it out for a few rounds, so you could be talking weeks
before they make a decision. Every one is a little different but that’s
what makes it such a cool job.”

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