I was one of the lucky Team Titleist members to be invited to a 718 iron/hybrid fitting. I headed across to the St Ives facility last night and just thought I'd give a bit of a summary of my experience.
First off - a little about me and my game. I currently play off 4, I've been playing for about 15 years, I started when I was I was about 14, I got down to 5 after 3 full seasons and have been around 4 or 5 since then. I think I've definitely found my 'level' and to get any lower I think I either need:
More natural talent (which I don't have).
Time on the range and some lessons.
Generally speaking I'm a pretty good ball striker and generate a fair bit of speed so distance usually isn't an issue for me. I'm a tall guy and have a naturally steep swing so my bad shots tend to be when I get too steep, this often results in a double-cross style pull/draw. My natural flight / shape is a high draw and I'm pretty comfortable shaping the ball and flighting it down too. I'm totally confident hitting my current irons 5-PW and then a little bit of confidence disappears in the 3,4 and my 712u 2 iron.
I've never had any 'real' fitting before so was very excited to get this opportunity. Previously I've just guessed at my specs so for me the real value in this experience was 2 fold; to try the new 718 line and to bottom out my specs. My last 4 sets of irons have been Titleist, 690 cb's, 690.cb's, 735 cm's and my current irons - 714 AP2's, Project X 6.5, 3/4" long, 1 degree upright, 1 degree strong - as I said, these were my guess specs!
I'm a big fan of all Titleist clubs but the irons are the main attraction for me - playable, attractive and well made.
I arrived at the fitting centre about an hour early as I had a couple of hours to travel and didn't want to miss out on it because of traffic or anything. When I arrived I met James, he said I could use any of the facilities whilst I waited but recommended not hitting too many balls before the fitting. I opted to go and hit a few chips on the short game area. James offered me a basket of balls "V's or X's?" - I went for a full basket of the X's and spent half an hour or so hitting chips and pitches (the new X's feel great on short pitches and still spin plenty too btw!). I then returned to the range and James was ready for me.
I hit a few full swings just to get loose and then he switched on his iPad and Trackman. I hit a few balls with my 7 iron on Trackman to get a baseline, nothing fantastic but I was relieved to make contact! We looked at the numbers, they were pretty much as I expected, a little low in terms of speed and distance but probably down to me still loosening up.
James then talked me through the 718 line, I already had an idea of who each clubhead was targeted at but it was good to hear a bit more about the science behind each of them and how each line has evolved. I was particularly interested in the CB and AP2 line, then maybe the AP3 or TMB for long irons.
We started with the AP2, PX 6.5, 1" long, 2 degrees upright - it felt very similar to my 714 and results were fairly similar, a bit longer but probably down to me loosening up and swinging faster. I then hit the CB (same specs), the CB looks stunning both in the bag and behind the ball. Results were similar again and James sais he'd be happy to fit me into either. It was a bit of a head Vs heart - the numbers were almost identical, the CB looks amazing, but the AP2 is still a very good looking club. In the end I couldn't ignore the fact that the AP2 offers more forgiveness and would be a bit more friendly on bad days. The AP2 is the most popular iron on tour, those guys play for millions of pounds and hit the sweet spot a lot more than me, besides - there aren't any shots I could hit with a CB that I couldn't hit with the AP2.
I then hit the AP3 and the AP1. James was keen to demonstrate the rest of the line too. The AP3 is still a fairly good looking iron but the real star here is the AP1. The numbers below are the averages of and AP2 and an AP1 - I was expecting about 5 yards more, as you can see - I got much more!
Anyone looking for forgiveness, height and distance - give these a go! My Dad plays off 13 but struggles with his irons - I'll be pointing him towards these for sure. I'd be a bit scared to go for them in a full set as I think my gapping would be all over the place and can't help but think there'd be a few "hot" ones coming off the face, especially out of the semi.
Back to serious testing…..
James got the impact board out and we decided that the best specs were 3/4" long and 2 degrees upright - so not too far from my guess!
We then tried a number of shafts, in short - nothing could beat the project X, I liked the feel of the Modus but the numbers were no better - and trust me to gravitate to one of the few shafts that carried an upcharge.
We moved onto long irons and agreed that 5-PW was right in the AP2. I hit a few with the TMB and the AP3. For me - the AP3 outperformed the TMB in the 3 and 4 iron. I absolutely loved the AP3 long irons. The data below is the 3 iron, these numbers are crazy good for me!
I also hit a few with a 718 H2 but the numbers and the consistency were no match for the AP3 3iron.
We called it a day after that, James has already sent me the recommended spec sheet as well as the trackman data.
I'll be putting an order in with my pro for the AP3 3 and 4 irons. Personally - I can't justify a full set of new AP2's just yet as the numbers were pretty much identical (and I got married in August so my credit card is still in la-la land).
I just want to say thanks to Hannah for her hard work in organising the trip and also a big thanks to James at the fitting centre - he made me feel comfortable and at ease for the whole session. He really knows his stuff and has an obvious passion and admiration for the product and the research behind it. I had a great time there, it was interesting, enjoyable and very useful - I will definitely return at some point.
Thanks Team Titleist, all the best :)