Pros: The 716 AP2 irons retain the looks, forged feel and flight characteristics of Titleist’s previous model, while adding 25 percent more tungsten to their design to improve performance on off-center hits. Stock shaft options include True Temper’s Dynamic Gold AMT.
Cons: By no means are the 716 AP2’s “distance irons.” Their forged construction (1025 carbon steel) and reinforced club face design limits the distance these will fly, especially when compared to Titleist’s 716 T-MB and 716 AP1 irons.
Who they’re for: Single-digit handicappers to the best golfers in the world. Every iron in the set allows for ultimate trajectory control, while still pardoning slight mishits.
- Price: $1.199 steel, $1,399 graphite (for eight irons)
- Irons available: 3-P, W ($150 each steel, $175 each (graphite)
- Construction: Forged (1025 carbon steel, tungsten)
- Stock Shaft: True Temper Dynamic Gold AMT (steel), Mitsubishi Rayon Kuro Kage TiNi 65 (graphite)
- Availability: In stores Oct. 23
An analysis of Titleist’s 716 AP2 against its competitors reveals that the irons are mostly in a league of their own, which is at least partially due to the AP2’s own success. Now in its fifth iteration, the AP2’s have become a leading choice with better players as many manufacturers have trended toward larger, distance-orientated players irons — often at the expense of looks, sound and feel.
At the time of its release, there’s simply no other forged players iron that can match the technical accomplishments of the 716 AP2, which follows in a design strategy that resulted in its predecessor, the 714 AP2, being used to win all four major championships from 2013-2015 (Jordan Spieth in the 2015 Masters and U.S. Open, Zach Johnson in the 2015 Open Championship and Jason Dufner in the 2013 PGA Championship).
What Titleist continues to get right with the AP2 line has to do with its compact size, as well as what’s referenced its namesake: “Advanced Precision.” The 716 AP2 offer more forgiveness than the previous model by using an industry-leading amount of tungsten in the irons. Titleist uses an average of 56.2 grams of the high-density material in the 3-7 irons of the 716 AP2. Its competitors don’t even approach half of that number.
What’s also distinct is Titleist’s co-forging process, or the way the tungsten is distributed. Each of the iron heads (3-7) is fitted with a specialized pair of tungsten weights, which are forged into corners of their soles to maximize the irons moment of inertia (MOI), a measure of ball speed retention on off-center hits. It’s that process that has allowed the AP2 irons to remain essentially the same size over the years, yet improve on the performance of past models. It also allows the multi-material design to retain an acoustic quality eerily similar to other 1025 carbon steel forgings, yet offer forgiveness typical of much larger club heads.
Of course, golf is played on courses, not in engineering departments, and on grass is where the 716 AP2’s truly shine. I’ve tested a variety of leading players irons from different manufacturers in recent years, and the AP2’s always surprise me with how compact they are at address. While their shorter blade lengths and slight offset can be intimidating for less-skilled golfers, many better players — especially those who, like me, grew up playing traditional forged cavity-back and muscleback irons — gain a feeling of control and precision from their small chassis.
What’s just as important is the way the AP2 feel at impact. Marni Ines, director of product development at Titleist, makes the case that forged irons with tungsten in their design can actually feel softer at impact than one-piece forgings because of its aforementioned MOI boost, which causes less twisting of the club head on mishits. Both myself and our two testers noted Titleist’s tungsten-laden 716 CB and 716 AP2 irons as feeling softer than the company’s 716 MB irons, which supports Ines’ stance.
The turf interaction of the AP2 irons is also fantastic for better players — especially those with moderate-to-steeper angles of attack. The irons, because of their compact size, are extremely nimble on long grass. From tighter, firmer lies, their Vokey-inspired sole grind, which uses a combination of a pre-worn leading edge and a reasonably cambered sole, supports a golfer’s ambition to make ball-first contact, strike the ground and keep the club moving through the turf without snagging.
These finer points of the 716 AP2 design, which Titleist has honed with the feedback from its staff of Tour Professionals, have to breed confidence with golfers in the form of reassurance that they’re using the same clubs the best golfers in the world are using to support their livelihoods.
The one weakness of the 716 AP2 may not be a weakness at all, depending on your needs. Their club faces are reinforced with structure that prevents them from creating any meaningful spring-like effect at impact. Other manufactures, including Titleist with its 716 AP1 irons and 716-T-MB irons, have sought to increase this spring-like effect to add distance and retain more consistent ball speed on off-center hits.
There’s no question that fast-faced irons are effective at adding ball speed, which you can see in the comparative data of the 716 AP1 and 716 T-MB irons below, but so far the reception of such irons by PGA Tour players has been lukewarm at best. At the high levels of competitive golf, most players demand irons that offer accurate feedback and reassure them that their best and worst shots will fly exactly the distance they expect. The AP2’s live in that space.
Expect the 716 AP2 irons to go a little farther on mishits than their predecessors — especially the long irons — but don’t buy them if your main desire is more distance than you’re getting from your set of 714 AP2’s.
- Review: Titleist’s 716 AP1 irons
- Review: Titleist’s 716 T-MB irons
- Review: Titleist’s 716 MB/CB irons
- Titleist 816 H1 and H2 hybrids