When Titleist launched only five new iron models last fall, I figured that meant I’d be telling you about another new Titleist iron right about now. And, yup, here we are, though the T100•S isn’t even remotely what I thought we’d be talking about.
As part of our annual Editor’s Choice Awards, we discussed the evolution of the Titleist brand, specifically my assertion that the overhaul of its club lineup has been nothing short of dramatic. It’s as if the company managed to chisel off its cement shoes, take several steps forward and actually do something different and, dare I say, interesting. Perhaps more impressive is how, thus far, it has been able to strike a balance between maintaining its identity and reinventing itself.
Case in point: A year ago, the T100•S would have been totally out of character for Titleist but if you’ve been keeping up with the new (and improved) version, it makes perfect sense.
The Simplest Iron Story Ever Told
If you’re looking for a complicated technology story, you’ve come to the wrong place. Guys, this one is as easy as it gets, so I’m going to move fast.
The T100•S is almost exactly like the T100, except that the lofts are 2° stronger. The S stands for Strong.
I’ve been told that I sometimes can be overly technical so I want to make sure I didn’t lose any of you.
Is that it?
Let’s address what many of you are probably thinking. No, Titleist didn’t just take T100, bend it 2° stronger, Sharpie an “S” on it, and do the Vegas dealer thing – clap its hands, maybe give you a touch of spirit fingers – walk away from the table and call it a day.
When you change the loft of an iron, the bounce goes with it. In a “better player’s” club, that’s a turf interaction problem waiting to happen. If you’re reducing loft to add distance and you have any aspirations of holding greens, you’re going to have to move some weight around inside the head as well.
The point I need to convey as that while the T100•S has the same bones – the same look and feel of the T100 – the internal tungsten weights were reshaped to shift the center-of-gravity locations lower to provide optimal launch with less loft.
And, yes, the soles were tweaked as well to keep bounce angles consistent with the T100.
Why loft-jack a better player’s iron? (You might ask.)
It’s no secret that the “player’s distance” category has taken off in recent years. Nearly every manufacturer has a set of irons (if not multiple sets) in the category but Titleist thinks something is missing.
That “something” is a true single-piece solid-face forging. “Think of it as a player’s distance iron with all caps on the word PLAYER’S,” says Josh Talge, Titleist’s VP of Golf Club Marketing.
If you accept that what’s missing from the player’s distance category is an emphasis on players, you’ll be excited to know that Titleist says it has the solution.
Talge says the idea for T100•S isn’t much different than the intent behind the original AP2. That was supposed to be what we now think of as a player’s distance iron but as it became popular on tour, the distance part of AP2’s story faded away.
What you get with T100•S is a compact body, narrow sole and a thin topline. Sound familiar? T100 is the embodiment of the modern player’s iron. Add an S, and you’ve still got a T100, but you’re sure as hell going to get more distance.
Bottom line: It looks the same as T100 – that’s kinda the point – but it plays differently.
If that’s not appealing to you, remember that T100, T200, T300, 620CB, 620MB, and maybe something else will be on the rack next to it.
Another Word about Loft Jacking
We’ve covered this many times before but, what the hell, I’ll bang my head into the wall again. Yes, everybody is jacking their lofts, but it’s time to start coming to terms with the idea that static loft (the number listed in the catalog) doesn’t tell you much of anything about performance. Even on a relative basis, it won’t tell you launch angle, spin rate, peak height, descent angle or whether you’ll be able to stop a ball on the green. All of that stuff is heavily dependent on additional factors like geometry and CG location.
That’s not to say all loft-jacked irons perform as advertised but it also doesn’t mean that none of them does.
When Titleist offers an 8.5° driver head, nobody shakes their fists and yells at a cloud about how they have a 10.5° driver in their bag and that they are sick of these sons-of-bitches loft-jacking the big dog. “Back in my day, son…”
Back in your day, drivers were made of wood and golf balls were filled with feathers. Things change.
Nobody complains about lower-lofted drivers because everyone understands that loft is an essential fitting variable. Guys, loft is an essential fitting variable for the rest of the bag, too. Loft isn’t the SAT; there’s more than one right answer.
The New Normal
Another consideration is that there is a new generation of golfers making their way to the PGA Tour, guys who have never played anything other than jacked lofts. It’s not as if Viktor Hovland and Matthew Wolff – young guns who make Jordan Spieth look like Phil Mickelson with skinnier calves – are betting their success on a transition from what they’ve always played into loft-deficient irons.
It’s true. Stronger-lofted irons may require a fresh look at gapping, some reconfiguration of the bag and perhaps even an extra wedge. We’re not hiding from that,” says Talge. “We have a robust wedge business.”
While that might sound scary, there’s some research – admittedly in its infancy – into the possibility that the way we gap our bags now is fundamentally flawed.
I don’t know if the T100•S is for you. What I do know is that growing numbers of golfers are flocking to the player’s distance category. For its part, Titleist aims to bring a different kind of swagger with the hope of reaching golfers for whom “player’s distance” hasn’t been quite “player-centric” enough.
Maybe that’s you.
Retail Price for the Titleist T100•S Iron is $175/club ($1,399/8-piece set) with steel shafts and $187.50/$1,499 with graphite. The stock shaft is the Project X LZ, but consider all of Titleist’s no-upcharge offerings at your disposal.
Pre-sale begins March 12 with full retail availability starting March 27. For more information, visit Titleist.com.