If you followed golf equipment release cycles for any period of time, you probably know that Open Championship week always doubles as utility iron week. With more players seeking to lower trajectory to suit the unique needs of links-style golf, it creates the perfect opportunity for golf club manufacturers to unleash their latest in a category that’s only slightly less niche than chippers.
While I’d be anything but surprised if there were others, today’s case in point comes courtesy of Titleist and its somewhat soon to be released U•500 and U•510 utility irons. And though it doesn’t do anything to get one in your bag any faster, the company is confident when the ball rattles the cup for the final time Sunday evening at Royal Port Rush, its utility irons will be the most played at the Open.
That’s the kind of bragging rights you don’t get with a Square Strike wedge.
The new models simultaneously represent a replacement for the T-MB and a full reset on Titleist’s utility franchise. The T-MB franchise, a complete set of hollow body utility clubs is, for now, dead. You won’t find a replacement among Titleist’s upcoming iron offerings. Instead, think of the U•Series as an opportunity for Titleist to concentrate its efforts in the utility space without the compromise that comes from trying to make the concept work all the way from a 2-iron to a pitching wedge.
It’s your classic good news/bad news situation…unless you really loved the T-MB, in which case, this just sucks.
As is typical for Titleist at the long end of the bag, the company will offer the U•Series in two distinct models. While you could argue both are similar to the T-MB, the U•500 slants significantly more towards the better player than the alternative, which I guess makes it more akin to a classic utility iron.
It features a more compact head, thinner topline, and less offset. On paper, that inarguably makes it the less forgiving of the two models, but Titleist asserts it’s still easy to launch and is particularly well suited for blending with MB or CB sets.
The U•510 is billed as offering hybrid performance in an iron shape. As you’d expect, it’s positioned as the even easier to launch, more forgiving alternative for golfers who need a bit more help than is typically offered by a Utility iron. Not to pigeon hole it, but the U•510 is a utility iron for guys who struggle to hit utility irons, but still want a utility iron in the bag anyway.
It’s still very much a utility iron for golfers who are serious about carrying a utility iron, but it has a shorter face profile, longer blade length, and a super-wide sole. Definitively more hybrid-like than the U•500, almost everything in the U•510 is designed to help get the ball up in the air, though Titleist believes it retains enough versatility that players who want to, will still be able to flight it through a variety of launch windows.
“It can be hit as low as you want, or as high as you want.” – Josh Talge, VP of Golf Club Marketing for Titleist
More options, fewer compromises. I suppose that’s the larger point here – even if it sounds almost too good to be true.
Both models feature forged L-Face construction. Finer points aside, that’s Titleist-speak for technology that helps preserve speed on mishits, particularly on the lower portion of the face. A 17-4 hollow steel body saves weight, giving Titleist the ability to load the U•500 and U•510 with Tungsten (98g in the U•500, 95 in the U•510) to push the center of gravity deep and promote higher launch. CNCPT levels of Tungsten aside, it’s boilerplate Titleist technology.
So does that mean the U-Series is right for you?
From a fitting perspective, there are few, if any, absolutes here. Golfers can expect more distance than they’d get from a comparable iron with less spin than they’d get with a hybrid, though loft for loft, it’s reasonable to expect a hybrid is going to be longer.
We can go back and forth about optimizing performance in one situation or another, but the reality is that a good bit of the hybrid vs. utility (iron) debate comes down to mindset and personal preference. There are golfers who can’t hit hybrids, and there are golfers who won’t hit hybrids. Either way, Titleist wants you to have a few options for bridging the gap between your fairway woods and irons.
To that end, between the U•500 and U•510, Titleist offers a selection of head/loft combinations beginning with a 16° 1-iron and lofting-out at a 23° 4-iron. For what it’s worth, Titleist says the 1-iron is incredibly easy to hit, and I’m really looking forward to proving them wrong.
Specs, Availability, and Pricing
The U•500 will be available in 3° increments (17°, 20°, and 23°) while the U•510 will be available in 2° increments (16°, 18°, 20°, and 22°).
The stock shaft is a Project X HZRDUS Smoke Black (90g in the U•500, 80g in the U•510). The heavier model should launch a bit lower with a bit less spin, though both are solidly in the mid to mid-low range for both launch and spin.
As an acknowledgment of the reality that the Smoke isn’t for everyone, Titleist is opening up its shaft catalog. Any of its existing stock .370 tip offerings can be ordered with the U•SERIES. That includes both graphite and steel (unless you specify otherwise, steel shafts will be .25” shorter to account for weight differences).
The stock grip is the Golf Pride Tour Velvet 360.
Fitting clubs for all of Titleist’s late summer releases will be available 8/8 with full retail availability beginning 8/30.
The retail price for Titleist U•Series Utility Irons is $250 each. For more information, visit Titleist.com.