Pros: The ultra forgiving long irons and compact short irons make the new AP1’s one of the most attractive sets in their category. The 714 AP2 irons offer even better looks and feel than previous models, and their progressive design (lower CG long irons, stronger-lofted short irons) give them the distance previous models lacked.
Cons: The AP1 long irons will still be a bit clunky for some golfers. And the AP2’s steep price tag, $1099, will have price-conscious buyers looking elsewhere.
Bottom Line: Titleist engineers had a very difficult task – improve what many golfers believed to be the leaders in their respective segments. The AP1’s build on their strengths with the game-improvement crowd, giving golfers a set of irons with more distance, forgiveness and a cleaner look. And the changes to new AP2’s set the bar even higher for what just might be the best forged cavity-back irons in golf.
There’s no doubt that Titleist’s 712 AP1 irons were a solid option for golfers looking for help with their consistency and distance. That was proved by sales of the irons, which in 2013 became Titleist’s No. 1-selling model. But there’s no more competitive iron segment than the game-improvement category, which is why Titleist took great care to make its fourth generation of the AP1 irons its best yet.
As a result, the AP1 714 irons underwent an extensive redesign. Titleist added an additional undercut underneath the top line, which created more discretionary weight. That weight was then moved low and deep in the iron heads, lowering the irons’ already low center of gravity (CG) to offer a higher flight for more distance and forgiveness. Titleist also narrowed the soles of the short irons, and made the faces thicker to raise the irons’ CG. That gives the short irons a more compact look, solid feel and penetrating trajectory that’s aided by their slightly strengthened lofts.
714 AP2 irons
If you follow golf equipment trends on the PGA Tour, you probably already know how ubiquitous forged irons are in the bags of touring professionals. The reasons are obvious: forged irons produce more consistent feel and distance control than any other alternative. That allows skilled golfers to execute shots that do exactly what they want them to do.
Since their introduction in 2007, the AP2 series has been almost synonymous with “players irons.” Previous AP2 models have been recognized as a leader in combining feel and control without sacrificing distance.
Better players were also attracted to the AP2’s ability to deliver a higher trajectory than one-piece forged irons, which resulted in longer carries and softer landings.
The engineers at Titleist listened to the army of tour players and better amateurs who had embraced previous models, but wanted even more from the irons. To make them look better, they changed the hosel blend to minimize the visible offset. And the set was made to be even more progressive, with lower CG long irons and thinner-soled short irons that could be mistaken for blades at address.
Above: Photo of the new 714 AP2 (left) and the 712 AP2 (right).
The sole design was improved in both the long and short irons with the addition of what Titleist Wedge master Bob Vokey calls a “pre-worn” leading edge, which helps improve turf interaction from tight lies. And what was an already attractive iron was bettered with a new combo satin-and-mirrored finish to reduce glare at address without sacrificing bag appeal.
Photos: 5 iron soles of the 714 AP2 (left) and the 712 AP2 (right).
Above: A 714 AP2 (left) and the 712 AP2 (right) at address (both 5 irons).
Pricing and Availability
The AP1 and AP2 irons will be available at retail on Nov. 8. The AP1 irons will sell for $799 with True Temper’s XP 95 steel shafts, and $999 with Mitsubishi Kuro Kage 65 graphite shafts. The AP2 irons will cost $1099 with True Temper Dynamic Gold steel shafts.
For a committed blade fan, the following may seem somewhat surprising: I found the 714 AP1’s a joy to play. This AP1 seems to have successfully avoided the problems that I’ve had with other game-improvement irons. I will discuss looks the next section, but let me say that the look of the AP1’s added to my enjoyment of the club. They just doesn’t look like GI clubs, and they don’t play like other game-improvement irons, either.
All GI designs aim to help golfers increase distance, but the AP1’s might be the best at producing playable trajectories and (here’s the key) a somewhat traditional feel. My sessions with the AP1’s showed just how much distance I was leaving on the table with my forged irons. That was particularly evident in “less-than-perfect” shots. My misses are typically thin and toward the toe, and there was a very noticeable difference with the 714 AP1 irons at providing almost no distance loss.
But the biggest differences I noticed between the new AP1’s and other distance irons was their consistent accuracy. I was stunned at the ability of the AP1’s to hold my line. It was such a pleasant surprise that I had a very brief urge to ask myself if I was ready to change my preconceived ideas about GI clubs.
Above: A 714 AP1 iron, compared the Titleist’s 714 MB “blade” irons.
The only downside I encountered, as expected, was in the areas of appearance and workability. It was somewhat difficult to keep shots down with the AP1’s, but then again, I had very little problem getting a ball into the air, even with the long irons. With some practice, I had luck hitting knock down 7-iron shots, but I didn’t completely conquer the wedge. It was just too much larger than the blades I grew up hitting into greens, and much less workable.
The 714 AP2 irons were very easy to align, given their blade-like profile. And I did not find them to be overly large at address, especially compared to the 714 AP1’s.
As you might expect, the AP1 irons were more forgiving than the AP2’s. However, the differences were not as great as one might expect. While the AP2’s were somewhat punishing on distance forgiveness, they held their lines remarkably well. But shots hit fat and toward the hosel were a little more punishing than those hit with the AP1’s.
I did see a slight difference in distance between the AP1 7 iron through pitching wedge compared to the AP2’s. The difference was not profound by any means, and was more of a function of loft. The AP1 short irons are 2 degrees stronger than their AP2 counterparts. However, the distance loss is made up somewhat by the additional shot control provided by the AP2. I am not the most skilled iron player, but I was able to work draws and fades with the AP2’s with the same degree of success I am able to achieve with smaller forged irons.
Above: The soles of the AP1 irons get slimmer as the irons get shorter.
Controlling trajectory is very important in my neck of the woods (or more accurately, lack of woods), because of the ever-present Kansas winds. On this score, I love the AP2’s. Knocking down the AP2 irons is a dream. The shot control, even for this semi-skilled, elderly hacker speaks well for what is possible for the AP2 714s in the hands of a more accomplished player. It also explains in part the success that previous editions of the AP2s have achieved with professional golfers.
I need also to applaud the stock True Temper XP 95 shafts both my the 714 AP1 and AP2 irons came equipped with. I am of the age where swing speed is declining, so distance and accuracy are important. The lighter (15g less than the TT Dynalite Gold XPs) XP 95s were a welcome alternative to graphite for me. I loved the stability and accuracy I experienced with the shaft.
Looks and Feel
714 AP1 — Above: A 714 AP1 3 iron at address.
While golf clubs are not designed to be beautiful, they are designed to sell. Whether golfers actually play pretty clubs or not, we all appreciate equipment that looks pretty enough to be hung on the wall.
It is clear that Titleist had this in mind with the redesigned AP1 irons. They added a striking combo satin-and-mirrored finish that sparkles when the clubs are in the bag. The satin finish also removes glare problems at address, and the tastefulness of the AP1 badging avoids the garishness of some other game-improvement clubs.
The profile of the entire club is very professional. The top lines and the soles are wide where they need to be and narrow where they can be. The top lines might get little thick for some golfers in the long irons, but it doesn’t approach the look of a glorified rescue club that many manufacturers are touting.
714 AP2 — Above: A 714 AP2 3 iron at address.
I have probably hinted at how impressed I am with the looks and feel of the 714 AP2 irons. I’m not sure I can say much more than I have already said about the wonderful feel of the clubs (and for that matter, the surprisingly good feel of the 714 AP1’s). A pure shot with an AP2 produces a response that is truly “blade-like.” There is “sweetness” about a forged club, and if you are a blade fan you know what I mean. If you have not experienced playing with compact forged iron (and are willing to put up with a little “miss-hit crankiness” from time to time) these AP2’s will explain.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, as the ancient Greeks said long ago. And to me, standing over the 714 AP2 irons is a joy. No wonder they went went straight into the bags of Jason Dufner and Jordan Spieth. They’re not clunky in any way from any angle.
I cannot imagine a set of irons that could look any more beautiful in or out of the bag than the 714 AP2’s. The combo satin-and-mirrored finish produces an understated background that reduces glare at address without giving up the striking gleam that golf equipment aficionados appreciate in their bags.
When I was first learning to play the game, my father made it clear to me that throwing golf clubs was an insult to the game in general and my game tools, in particular. Hitting both the 714 AP1 and AP2 irons drove home this point as few clubs have.
As an aging baby boomer, I am heartened at the tremendous strides Titleist has made in creating a GI iron like the 714 AP1. It promises me that as I continue to get a little slower, a little weaker and a lot less patient with my game, I will be able to hit a club that will help me play to the level of my ability. As a lover of forged golf clubs, I am heartened that there is a club like the 714 AP2’s available to provide show stopping beauty, control and feel while I am still able to enjoy it.
Both offerings are serious tools for serious golfers and should be respected as such. The 714 AP1’s provide additional distance and forgiveness to golfers who are willing to sacrifice some feel and control. As with any other forged club, 714 AP2’s are not the most forgiving clubs you have ever hit (but they may be the most forgiving clubs in their class). However, if forgiveness is not a huge problem because of good ball striking, the sweetness of a well-struck AP2 714 iron shot will reward you. And the striking beauty of both the AP1 and AP2 714s is a wonderful icing on the cake.