On Friday Dec 14, the Associated Press came out with breaking news as Callaway Golf had won a patent infringement case against Acushnet, the maker of the popular Titleist Pro V1 ball. While lawsuits in golf balls are nothing new, it is the magnitude that makes this newsworthy.
Maybe the single most instrumental product in the past decade – the Titlist ProV1 golf ball was introduced in 2000 and has been the dominating ball not only on Tour, but in retail shops as well. Since its introduction, the ProV1 family has accumulated a billion dollars in sales.
Callaway acquired the patents when they bought Top-Flite out of bankruptcy in 2003. In the mid-to-latter 1990’s, Top-Flite introduced the Strata, which was basically a soft polyurethane cover on what was practically a Top-Flite distance ball, with an added thin middle layer that encased the ball’s already large, solid rubber core. This type of construction produced a whole new category of ball; one that produced long distance / low spin off of the tee and a high spinning ball with the irons.
While the Strata may have paved the path, it was Titleist that made it popular. In part, the ProV1 franchise influenced clubhead design because of the reduced spin over balls previously manufactured, thus the need for drivers with more loft.
What affect does that have on those who were loyal to the ProV1? Will supplies be limited or will the cost increase even greater to offset the settlement that Titleist may have to pay to Callaway. It will be interesting to see what happens in the upcoming future on whether Titleist settles out of court or fights it vehemently in court. This begs to ask will the consumer ultimately prevail.