It’s been just under 2-years since Titleist released the 718 AP series, so you wouldn’t be alone in expecting to find the new 720s here. That isn’t going to happen. AP is gone (likely for good) – replaced by the three new models that make up the T-Series. This isn’t one of those new name on the same old thing releases either. As we’re all aware, it’s not uncommon for golf brands to rely on a not-much-has-changed refresh to extend the shelf life of products which are otherwise past their prime, but that’s not what’s happening here. “It’s not take these products and call them something else,” says Josh Talge, VP of Golf Club Marketing for Titleist. “We’re going in a different direction.”
That different direction is potentially the next big thing from Titleist – the company’s first new iron franchise in nearly 12-years.
We’re not quite at another of the equipment industry’s everything is different now moments, but when Titleist looked deeper at its new irons, it realized what it had was a significant departure from what it has previously offered in the iron category.
“We had a lot of internal debate about the franchise name,” says Talge. “It’s hard to say this is an AP2 when we’ve changed the size and shape and little bit of the performance. We started getting into these products, and this [T300] definitely isn’t an AP1. It doesn’t look anything like an AP1; it’s powered by something very different. Yes, it’s a game-improvement iron, so that part of it is an AP1, but everything else is different.”
On second thought, I guess everything is different now.
As you’ll with each iron, all of what Talge says is inarguably true. A good bit of the T-Series is a noteworthy departure from AP, but it’s also fair to suggest Titleist had reached the point where it was necessary to draw cleaner lines between new and old, and AP is most definitely old – twelve years and six models old. And while there’s been continued evolution from one iteration to the next and AP3 likely injected a bit of new life into the franchise, not much has changed in any significant way.
It’s true that AP expanded Titleist’s reach in the iron category, but the consequence of its plodding consistency is that some golfers who might have last tried an AP iron in 2010 may not have been particularly inclined to give Titleist irons another look since. T-Series is an opportunity to reengage with golfers.
“AP helped us broaden from only making serious clubs for serious golfers,” says Josh Talge. “Now we want to push that even further.” To do that, Titleist needs to make it abundantly clear the T-Series is not only something new but something entirely different.
As we work our way through the new models, you’re going to see new constructions, new materials, and as you’d expect, strong lofts too. Titleist hopes you’ll look past the numbers long enough to allow it to dispel the notion of loft-jacking. That’s not to say loft-jacking isn’t real, or that it isn’t problematic when poorly executed, but Titleist believes its approach – a fitting campaign it calls GET DIALED 3D – will overcome the pitfalls common to many of its competitors’ jacked irons.
FYI – The 3 Ds you need to get dialed are Dodge, Dip, Dive…sorry wrong movie.
Titleist’s 3 Ds are Distance (Carry), Dispersion (tighter), and Descent (angle).
“From a fitting perspective, if you can get those three,” says Josh Talge, “you’re going to play way better golf.”
With a 3D approach, Titleist argues that stronger lofts don’t have to mean diminished playability, though Talge is all too well aware that if you hope to sell many irons, they better perform on the launch monitor – and that means you have to keep up.
“You can’t lose a ball speed battle badly, but at the same time we’re going to challenge the preconceived notions of just distance,” he says. “We want to give players the performance that they need, but also be the thing that gets their hair to stand up on end, even in a fitting bay.”
Titleist hopes that by offering the complete package – looks, feel, and distance, it can’t get golfers excited about its irons. That’s something that, perhaps, it hasn’t done in a while.
Titleist T100 Irons
The design objective for the Titleist T100 iron was straightforward enough; take feedback from the best players in the world – guys like Jordan Spieth – and use it to craft the ultimate tour iron.
T100 will almost certainly become the most widely played iron across all global tours, but what noteworthy is that, as the replacement for the AP2, there’s still enough forgiveness that single to low double-digit handicap golfers (depending on ball-striking ability) can play it.
“If you want to play a tour iron…if you’re a regular golfer, you can handle this,” says Josh Talge. “It feels great, it looks great, it’s fun, and it’s consistent.”
As you’d expect from a legitimate tour iron, the T100 doesn’t offer the same suite of technology as the T200 and T300, but the collection of small changes adds up to an iron that’s significantly different from its predecessors.
With T100 and the new 620 CB, the design evolution has pushed the iron a bit towards the better player. If you have the opportunity to compare AP2 and T100 side by side, you’ll find that the new iron is appreciably more compact. The blade length is shorter, the topline is thinner, and there’s less offset. A Jordan Spieth inspired narrower sole offers more camber with a blended pre-worn leading edge that provides a faster transition from the leading edge to the sole and helps the iron move faster through the turf at impact. That’s a part of the story that will repeat itself with each iron we discuss.
The set design is progressive, meaning the heads get steadily smaller as the clubs get shorter. It’s a bit like having a pre-bundled combo set. That too is a feature common to all of the new offerings. From one end of the T100 set to the other, there’s a graceful transition from something the size of an AP2 3-iron to a pitching wedge that’s similar to a Titleist CB.
“None of the players have been asking us for longer [blade length] short irons,” says Marni Ines, Director of Iron Development, Titleist Golf Club R&D. The compact scoring clubs provide a smoother transition to Vokey (or any other) wedges.
And speaking of wedges, while Titleist isn’t going full Ben Hogan (even Hogan doesn’t go full Ben Hogan anymore), it is stamping the loft number on all of its T-series pitching wedges. We know that golfers don’t always maintain logical or even sensible gaps between wedges, so the hope is that by showing the loft on the set wedge, it will make it easier for golfers to find the right loft for the next wedge in their bag.
Like the AP2, the T100 is a forged iron. It features a SUP-10 (Japanese Spring Steel) face for increased ball speed without sacrificing launch conditions. The 3 through 7-irons feature an average of 66-grams of high-density tungsten split between the toe and heel to push mass lower in the head and boost stability.
Titleist T100 Specifications
“Our design philosophy for irons is always to try and stretch out the long and mid-iron end of the set because most players don’t have a ton of their disposal – at some point your gaps are going to start shrinking at the long iron end of the set, so we’re always trying to pull that out to make the set more usable for the largest cross-section of users. So, in the long and mid irons, especially in the mid, our players are seeing a little bit more ball speed and a touch less spin which helps gap them out.” – Marni Ines
Stock shaft offerings are True Temper AMT White (Steel) and the new MCA Tensei White AM2 (Graphite). The latter is a new ascending mass design. Weight increase by 2-grams per club (94-108g). Both stock offerings are categorized as low launch and low spin.
The stock grip is Golf Pride’s Tour Velvet 360. It’s an updated model that’s a bit tackier and more durable than the original.
As always, Titleist offers a plethora of no-upcharge alternatives for both shaft and grip.
Retail price for the T100 is $175 per iron with steel shafts ($1,399/8-club set) and $187.50 per iron with graphite shafts ($1,499/8-club set).
Titleist T200 Irons
With the T200 we’re moving solidly into that 3D approach we discussed at the beginning of this story. The design goal for the iron was distance without sacrificing looks, feel, trajectory, or stopping power.
That should be easy.
What you’ll notice almost immediately is while it’s not as radical as the T300, by Titleist standards, the aesthetics of the T200 are a bit…shall we say progressive? Some of that comes from a genuine need to modernize the lineup, but a good bit of it is attributable to the inclusion of what Titleist calls Max Impact Technology in the 4 through 7 irons.
To explain what Max Impact technology is from a physical standpoint, Titleist draws comparisons to a trampoline. If your goal is to bounce higher (create more speed), what do you do? In your backyard, you’d stretch the trampoline and make it tighter. In the iron design world, the equivalent is making the face thinner. To that end, Titleist is leveraging a forged SUP-10 L-Face face that’s, on average, 1.9mm thick (and thinner still closer to the sole). Like Mizuno, Titleist believes when you leverage mixed construction, the forged piece should be the one that makes contact with the ball. Specifics aside, the thinner face portion of this story has been told a time or two before.
Continuing our trampoline analogy; if you wanted more bounce (even more speed) – let’s call it a double-bounce – what would you do? Titleist says that a solution might be to place an exercise ball under the trampoline. You’d get the bounce from the trampoline (the face), and because the ball is effectively anchored to the ground, it would give you something akin to bounce on bounce.
I realize this is all slightly convoluted and I’m not convinced the physics directly translate, but hopefully, it provides some sort of visual for how this Max Impact thing is supposed to work.
The screw in the back of the T200 head isn’t for swing weighting as most of us assumed. It serves as the anchor for Max Impact, and since we can’t see what’s on the inside, it offers us the requisite amount of visual technology. It’s the ground in our trampoline analogy.
The real-world manifestation of the exercise ball is a new polymer core positioned inside the iron which not only produces more speed but helps to balance the speed across the entire face. While I want to make it abundantly clear the core isn’t a chunk of Pro V1 buried in a clubhead, Titleist leveraged its ball team’s expertise to find a material that provides the right balance of resilience, dampening, and durability.
The keen-eyed among you will pick up on the fact that the Max Impact tech appears to be positioned a bit towards the toe (the bigger the iron, the more obvious it becomes). That’s by design. Max Impact evenly supports the entire clubface, not just the portion where the scorelines are. For that reason, it’s located at the geometric center of the clubface, which is different from the center of the hitting area. Locating it at geometric center balances the unsupported area of the face, which in turn, balances ball speeds between the heel and toe better than it would if the Max Impact core was centered relative to the scorelines.
The piece to understand here is the sweet spot is in the center of the hitting area, while Max Impact is in the geometric center of the entire clubface.
By some measure, the idea of Max Impact serves as a catch-all for the performance benefits; speed, consistency, and improved feel, Titleist says Max Impact delivers all of it, but that’s only part of it. If the new polymer core maintains playable conditions like Titleist says it will, it should make max impact on your scorecard (while leaving max impact marks on the green from the steep descent angles it produces). And, if all of that comes together, no doubt there’s some optimism that iron sales will have max impact on Titleist’s balance sheet.
The AP3 Replacement
As for where it fits in the Titleist lineup, the T200 is the replacement for the AP3. That means it’s categorized as player’s distance iron, even if, from a shaping perspective it’s closer to an AP2 710 or 712.
Like T100, it’s been slimmed down relative to its predecessor. Compared to AP3, blade lengths are shorter, toplines are thinner, there’s less offset, and a refined sole offers improved turf interaction. Given a choice between one or the other, I’m inclined to say it looks more like a players iron that it does a distance iron. AP3 was too big for my tastes, T200 isn’t.
An average of 90-grams of tungsten in each head drives the center of gravity down, which in addition to allowing for stronger static lofts, lowers the sweet spot and helps prevent fliers out of the rough. The Max Impact polymer core boosts ball speed across the face and provides dampening to mitigate the less than desirable feel often produced by thin faces.
Josh Talge says T200’s aesthetics take their inspiration from luxury watches. “We didn’t want sharks, and lasers, and hot dogs,” he said. “We really wanted to put the performance in a players package, not have it be scary, but have it look like a really good iron.” As with any other matter of opinion, your mileage on that last bit may vary.
Titleist T200 Specifications
With a 43° PW, lofts have held where they were with AP3, but Titleist concedes they’re solidly in what looks like jacked territory.
We’re not afraid of a 30° 7-iron or a 43° wedge because we’re going to get you speed, we’re going to get you launch, and we’re going to hit on all 3 of those Ds (distance, dispersion, descent angle),” says Josh Talge. “We think this is the best way to get you ball speed and higher ball speed across the face, get you higher launch, but all that Tungsten in there gets you closer to your target more often, and we’re going to be able to get your peak height so high that your descent angle is going to be great, so you’re going to stop at that target more often.
Adds Titleist’s Corey Gerrard, “Nothing good comes from being over the back of the green anywhere on the planet.”
With that in mind, Titleist hopes you won’t obsess over the number stamped on the bottom of the club. Despite the stronger lofts, because of the tungsten and Max Impact technology, the T200 should go higher and land every bit as soft as the more-traditionally lofted T100.
The best advice I can give is to try them and see how the T200 plays for you.
Stock shafts for the T200 are the True Temper AMT Black and the MCA Tensei Blue AMT (74-88g). Both options and are described as mid-launch and mid-spin.
The stock grip is again Golf Pride’s Tour Velvet 360
Retail price for the T200 is $175 per iron with steel shafts ($1,399/8-club set) and $187.50 per iron with graphite shafts ($1,499/8-club set).
Titleist T300 Irons
The T300 is the replacement for the AP1, so if you’re keeping up with the progression, you’ve probably figured out that as the numbers get bigger, the clubs get larger, and there’s a bit more bundled technology as well.
In this case, the technology story largely mirrors that of the T200, but it’s worth noting that unlike T200’s hollow body design, T300 features a cavityback implementation of Max Impact technology in the 4-7 irons (Max Impact has no real benefit in the higher lofted clubs, so as it does in the T200, its use stops at the 7-iron). Unlike AP1, the T300 offers cavityback designs through the entire set; there aren’t any hollow-body long irons this time around.
Because the head is physically larger, the Max Impact core that supports the face needed to be larger, but otherwise the polymer material is the same, and just like T200, the placement of the Max Impact technology appears off-center. It’s worth repeating that it’s designed to sit at the geometric center of the clubhead, not the center of the hitting area. Trust that Titleist has this particular detail figured out.
Other T-Series design standards trickle down to the T300 as well. It offers an improved sole design (more camber and bounce) to help the larger iron move through the turf more efficiently. It offers progressive blade lengths and progressive CG locations (high launching long irons, more penetrating scoring clubs).
Titleist describes T300 as a mid-sized cavity back design, and while it’s not nearly as compact as the others in the lineup, it’s not a clunky, or even overly-large, super game improvement iron.
Whether or not that makes it easy on the eyes is a different conversation entirely. Titleist wasn’t done any favors when the less than glamorous shots for the USGA’s conforming grooves database leaked before the glamour shots were released. The initial reaction to the iron hasn’t been kind, and it remains to be seen whether the tides will turn when consumers start hitting the product.
The negativity will likely dissipate with time, even if the T300 is the most cosmetically aggressive iron Titleist has ever created. It’s probably not what anybody expected from Titleist, but according to Josh Talge, “it goes high, it goes far. It’s really fun and exceptionally playable.”
If that proves true, the looks likely won’t matter anyway.
Titleist T300 Specifications
T300 lofts are jacked just a bit beyond that of the T200, but Titleist remains adamant that when you try the irons for yourself, you’re going to see that stronger lofts and added distance don’t come at the expense of green-stopping power and general playability.
Stock shaft offerings are the lightest in the T-Series iron lineup. The steel option is True Temper’s AMT Red, while the graphite option is the new Tensei Red AM2 (54-68g).
Both are described as high launch with mid-high spin.
The stock grip is Golf Pride’s Tour Velvet 360.
Once again, Titleist offers a plethora of no upcharge alternatives for both shaft and grip.
Retail price for the T300 is $125 per iron with steel shafts ($999/8-club set) and $137.50 per iron with graphite shafts ($1,099/8-club set).
Titleist T100, T200, and T300 irons are available for fittings beginning August 8th. Retail availability begins August 30th.
For more information, visit Titleist.com.