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|The dimple pattern is the key to the new NXT Tour ball by Titleist. (Courtesy of Titleist)|
On March 19, 2010, Acushnet Company, manufacturer of Titleist golf balls, announced that a jury had found in its favor in a long-running patent infringement suit brought against it by Callaway Golf.
The suit revolved around four patents related to the Titleist Pro V1 golf ball that Callaway claimed infringed on its own golf ball patents. Acushnet had responded to the suit by asking the U.S. Patent Office to review the validity of the Callaway patents.
The PTO, and later the jury, both found that Callaway's patents were in fact invalid, having been awarded after Acushnet's patents.
In short, Acushnet's patents stand, and the No. 1 selling ball in golf is back on top.
An interesting side note to the lawsuit story is the following line tacked onto the end of the official Acushnet press release:
"As the worldwide golf ball performance and technology leader, Acushnet currently holds over 715 of the nearly 2,000 active patents related to golf balls – more than any other manufacturer."
Even as a golf writer who specializes in golf equipment, I found myself muttering "Holy cr*p!" at that figure. It boggles the mind that these little dimpled orbs we smack around fields (and lose with such frustrating regularity) incorporate such a dizzying number of engineering innovations.
I have no idea what constitutes a new, patentable feature of any given golf ball (assuming it doesn't glow or yodel or defy gravity), but I'm guessing the newest lines of Titleist's top sellers are hiding some serious technology inside themselves.
The new NXT Tour's ($30/dozen) most noticeable innovation for 2010 is the conversion to a low-count, high-coverage, Tour-proven 332 Icosahedral dimple pattern in seven different sizes. Combined with a Staggered Wave parting line, it contributes to enhanced aerodynamics and longer distance off the driver and long irons. (So - maybe it does defy gravity, just a bit.)
The new NXT ($26/dozen) replaces the NXT Extreme and improves upon its predecessor's promise of extreme distance and straight ball flight. With high speed and low spin, the NXT provides the straightest flight within the Titleist golf ball family and is also the most durable Titleist ball.
And for the more budget-conscious among us, even the DT SoLo ($20/dozen) features the NXT Tour's fancy-schmancy dimple pattern and a new two-color alignment line to help sink a few more putts.
I know that sometimes it's hard to root for the perennial favorite. But when it comes to Titleist golf balls, you have to give the folks at Acushnet credit where credit is due. They've led the way in golf ball innovation for decades, and each year, they just keep getting better.
April 15, 2010
Kiel Christianson has lived, worked, traveled and golfed extensively on three continents. As senior writer and equipment editor for WorldGolf.com, he has reviewed courses, resorts, and golf academies from California to Ireland, including his home course, Lake of the Woods G.C. in Mahomet, Ill. Read his golf blog here and follow him on Twitter @GolfWriterKiel.
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