I have a few questions about your hybrids.
In the interest of expediency, I’ll skip right to the lightning round:
- Do you carry hybrids?
- How many?
- What models?
- When was the last time you replaced or upgraded your hybrids?
- When was the last time you gave your hybrid even a moment’s thought?
The fact of the matter is that it might be time to start thinking differently about your hybrids, and possibly even thinking seriously about new hybrids. Even if you ultimately decide you’re not interested in a new Titleist TS2 or a TS3 hybrid, if I can incite even the smallest degree of contemplation about a club category for which golfers show a tremendous amount of apathy, this will easily be my most successful hybrid story ever.
Frankly, that’s not saying much, but hopefully, you’ll leave here with something to think about.
Titleist TS Hybrids
The first detail some of you will notice about Titleist’s latest run of hybrids is the names have changed. Two generations ago, Titleist decided to mix things up a bit. Its design philosophy is that are hybrids are scoring clubs and so, to create a distinction between its hybrids and the rest of the metalwoods lineup, it started naming them differently. That got us 816, 818, and a good bit of wholly unnecessary confusion.
Fortunately, there was an easy fix.
With the release of the TS2 hybrids, the underlying philosophy hasn’t changed. Hybrids are still scoring clubs – it’s why Titleist is launching them near-simultaneously with its new irons – but in the interest of common sense and simplification, the company has decided to re-link its hybrid technology to the rest of its metalwoods technology.
If you have a TS driver or a TS fairway wood, you have a pretty good idea what to expect from the TS hybrid.
Continuing tradition, Titleist is launching two hybrid models; TS2 and TS3. And while I’d personally be curious to see what a super-compact TS4 hybrid might look like, I expect that with U•500 and U•510 Utilities already announced, this will be as far as Titleist takes things in the long iron replacement category.
To no small degree, the TS hybrid tech stories match that of other TS clubs. Like other TS2 products, the namesake hybrid features a fixed flat weight used for swing weighting purposes. TS3 features a 3-position (draw, neutral, fade) magnetic SureFit CG weight. Both models feature Titleist’s sure fit hosel adjustability.
No real surprises there.
While it’s reasonable to describe TS3 as compact, In terms of actual head volume, there’s not much between the new models – just a few ccs here or there. The shapes are, however, distinct, and that’s what accounts for a good bit of what differentiates each model.
Titleist TS2 Hybrid
Broadly speaking, the TS2 is pretty much what you’d expect from a middle of the market hybrid. Longer from face to trailing edge, the TS2 has offers the larger address profile of the two TS models. The backside heel profile has been streamlined a bit compared to the 816 H1, so to some, despite similar volume, it may look a bit smaller at address. MOI is up a bit as well – the benefit of a 16% thinner face (common to both models) that allowed Titleist to remove the Active Recoil Channel and drop additional mass low and back.
That thinner face is good for an extra 1 to 1.5 MPH of ball speed and 2-4 yards more carry – and you get that without dropping spin rates. The point here is that while you’re getting the distance bump that golfers invariably want, you’re not losing the playability that you need from a hybrid. Again, this is true for both models.
The TS2 is available in lofts of 17° (RH only), 19°, 21°, 23°, 25°, and 27°.
I wouldn’t necessarily put a firm club number on any of the lofts (for reference, the 19° is a #3-ish hybrid). Ultimately it boils down to minding your gaps and finding the right loft to hit the distance you need to hit.
Titleist TS3 Hybrid
“The TS3 drew its inspiration from the 913HD,” says Stephanie Luttrell, Titleist’s Director of Metalwood Development. It’s the most preferred shape on tour, and that particular model still shows up in its fair share of bags each week. The signature design feature is a high square toe that gives the hybrid a more iron-like appearance at address. Compared to the 913HD, The TS3 has a slightly taller profile which allowed Titleist to boost iXX inertial (top to bottom MOI).
What does that get you?
“Maintaining and increasing that inertia gives more launch and spin and stability,” says Luttrell. “It’s one of the benefits of hybrids over utility irons or long irons.”
Beyond the physical differences, a point of differentiation for the TS3 is that, like the TS3 driver and fairway wood, it offers a 3-position magnetic SureFit CG weight. The draw setting offers some anti-right bias, while the toe-heavy fade setting makes TS3 an excellent option for some golfers who struggle with hybrids flying to a spot on the golf course described as “left of left” by Josh Talge, Titleist’s VP of Golf Club Marketing.
The TS3 hybrid is offered in lofts of 19°, 21°, 23°, and 25°. As with the TS2 hybrid, I’d urge you to forget about the club number and instead focus on proper gapping.
TS2 or TS3 – Which is Right For You?
When two or more hybrid models are offered, typically the performance decision boils down to forgiveness vs. workability. There’s a bit of that with the TS line (the TS2 is more forgiving in the conventional sense, whereas the TS3 is more workable), but a good bit of the decision (dare I say the fitting equation) boils down to how you play your hybrids.
If you’re a sweeper – a golfer who plays hybrids more like fairway woods (and prefers the look of a larger head) – the TS2 is likely the better option.
If you play your hybrids more like irons (you hit down on them) and prefer a more iron-like appearance, the TS3 will likely suit you better.
From Titleist’s perspective, the TS2 offers a high launch and easy distance with forgiveness, while the TS3 provides mid-launch with precise distance and iron-like control.
Bottom line, you’ve two excellent new hybrid choices, provided you’re in the market for hybrids – and that brings this entire discussion full circle.
Mind Your Gaps
The challenge for Titleist – and everyone else who makes a hybrid – is that even the most aggressive of golf club replacers among us show next to no interest in upgrading their hybrids on the regular. Golfers who replace drivers annually, irons every couple of years and who obsess over fresh grooves in their wedges, seem oddly content keep hybrids – old hybrids – in the bag almost indefinitely.
Josh Talge routinely tours the bag room of nearly every golf course he visits. He’s found plenty of evidence that putting new hybrids isn’t a priority for the majority of golfers. “I have Adams as the clubhouse leader in bags currently,” he says.
That’s pretty wild when you consider that Adams has existed in name only since just after it launched its Blue and Red series of golf clubs. That was early 2015. What Talge often finds in bags is older still. “Most of what I see is like Idea 2.”
That doesn’t make much sense to Stephanie Luttrell.
“Iron technology has significantly evolved over the past 4-5 years, and you look in people’s bags, and you see the hybrids that people are carrying, and they’re old,” she says. “And they’re not really looking at them as something I need to replace, or I need to upgrade, but if you think about…ok, all of my irons have gotten stronger, I’m hitting them farther. That hybrid doesn’t really satisfy your gap requirement any longer.”
And it’s not just irons. Drivers have gotten longer. Fairway woods have gotten longer too. That leaves us with the golf equipment version of the Wooderson Paradox: Your other clubs are getting longer, but your hybrids stay the same (they go the same distance).
How is that supposed to work?
You shouldn’t need me to spell this out for you, but… If you’ve upgraded your fairway woods or you’ve upgraded your irons, but you haven’t upgraded your hybrids, there’s a damn good chance you’ve got a yardage problem in your bag. Mind your gaps, people.
I understand that not everyone wants a hybrid. There are plenty of you who, for whatever reason, believe you simply can’t hit a hybrid. Titleist is cool with that. “We’ve made great hybrids for 15 years,” says Josh Talge, “but if someone believes he can’t hit one or play one; you know what, let’s give them something else to try.”
That something else is the recently announced g U•500 and U•510 utility irons. Utility use on tour is climbing (to the detriment of hybrid counts) as professional golfers are making the most of the other kind of long iron replacement.
Titleist hopes that rising utility use on Tour will create an opportunity to fit more players into hybrids. We know that golfers want to play what the pros play, and so plenty of us will try the utility irons at fitting events. Some of you will hit the utility irons better (guys like me won’t), but the thinking is that if fitters can convince golfers to try the hybrids too, a good bit of the time, they’re going to hit the hybrid better.
“In terms of the mass market of players,” says Stephanie Luttrell, “What are they going to have success with more often? It’s the hybrid.”
I’d encourage you to try both and see which works best for you.
Stock Shafts (and grips), Pricing and Availability
The stock shafts lineup for the Titleist TS family of hybrids includes:
- Kuro Kage Dual Core Black – High Launch/Mid Spin (50g – Ladies / 60g – stock, 70g – custom)
- Tensei AV Series Blue – Mid-High Launch/Mid Spin (70g – stock, 80g Custom)
- HZRDUS Smoke Black 80 – Low-Mid Launch/Low-Mid Spin (80g – stock, 90g – custom)
- EvenFLow White – Low Launch/Low Spin (90g – stock, 100g – custom)
Any of Titleist’s no-upcharge .370 tip shafts, including steel options, can be ordered through custom at no additional cost.
The stock grip is Golf Pride’s Tour Velvet 360 with gray paintfill.
Retail price for Titleist TS hybrids is $279. Worldwide retail availability begins on August 30th.
For more information, visit Titleist.com.