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Titleist AP1 Irons Review
Titleist has done some drastic spring cleaning. They’ve swept out all of their resident iron designs and restocked with four brand-new ones, three forged and one cast. The lone cast model is the AP1.
What’s New? For Titleist, just about everything. This reminds me of the ad that appeared in the Washington Post in the 1960’s, I think. The ad stated: “President Abraham Lincoln’s axe up for sale. Handle was replaced 40 years ago. Head was replaced 32 years ago. Best offer!”
So are these all-new irons truly Titleists? In my opinion, the AP1 irons represent what a traditional clubmaker can do when it takes advantage of technology to help the largest possible number of golfers enjoy the game even more. This certainly is a big change for Titleist, but the market has changed, as well.
These are dual-cavity irons, which means the weight is squeezed out to the perimeters. The body of the head is cast #431 steel with an aluminum cavity plate. New for Titleist is a soft elastomer cushion and central cross-member, which translates into a nice, solid feel with muted vibration. Combine all that with a high-density tungsten nickel box and a low center of gravity, and you get a state-of-the-art cast club with excellent feel and control that flies the ball high.
Titleist says that these irons are for “the skilled and aspiring player.” This is a little puzzling, in that the remaining three-quarters of their line is composed of forged clubs for skilled players. After playing the AP1 irons, I think that many truly skilled players will opt instead for one of the more exacting forged offerings from the Titleist, namely the AP2, ZB (Blend), or ZM (Muscle).
AP stands for Advanced Performance. Between the marketing line I quoted above and the name of these irons, I think Titleist is trying to take one giant step away from the game-improvement market, while retaining a better-club appeal for the masses.
Many committed mid-handicappers are asking this question: Should I go with forgiving irons like the AP1s while I’m trying to improve, or should I go for irons that are more challenging? I can only speak for myself, of course. For me, my swing is my biggest challenge, and adding harder-to-strike clubs to the mixture gives me too many things to analyze. I need to keep it simple, one thing at a time. Let me get a better swing, then I’ll work on my feel and shot-making. I guess it can be as complicated or as a simple as a golfer wishes to make it.
I liked the colorful look of the AP1 irons in the bag. With the bold lines and slashes of red and black they look cheerful, confident, comfortable, and welcoming, like an old diner with shiny new siding.
Setting a 6-iron down in address position, the first thing I noticed was the thicker-than-I’m-used-to top line. Everybody is talking about thick top lines in the same vein they’d talk about the short bus. Stigma aside, I’ve always had trouble with fat top edges, going way back to my set of Ping Eye-2s that I had for exactly six weeks. To me, when I see a fat top the club is telling me that it also has a fat bottom and is unable to swiftly snick a ball from the turf. For me, it is not a look that inspires confidence. What helps the AP1 irons is that the club head is a normal size and not gigantic. Besides, I’ll tell you this: the more I played these clubs, the thinner the top line seemed.
Lining up the clubface posed no problems at all. Some won’t like the shiny chrome on the toe face. The offset is minimal and that suited my eye. The feel and weight of the club is satisfying, although they feel a bit heavier than my TaylorMade RAC LT2’s, which is fine with me. Also, the sole of the AP1s have virtually no camber from toe to heel, so the club sits relatively flat. My LT2’s have a bit more camber, although the club heads are nearly identical in size. As usual, buyers, club-fitting is essential.
I took these irons to the range, as well as onto the golf course. The contact of AP1 meeting golf ball at nearly all times was good, solid, soft, and long. With the longer irons particularly, the ball jumped off the face and flew higher than I normally hit them. I enjoyed playing these clubs and was punished less when I hit one of my out-of-nowhere pull-slices.
The feedback I received from the clubface was less felt than it was heard. Normally, if you toe a shot, you feel it from your hands to your hair. The AP1s didn’t provide too much of that kind of sharp feedback, but the sound the ball made hitting the clubface was, as usual, a sound you don’t want to hear.
The lofts on the AP1 irons are strong, two degrees stronger than my LT2 irons from a couple of years ago. Still, the ball gets up in the air and stays there longer than I’m used to, even with the lower loft angles. Could it be the tungsten sole weights in the AP1s? Out of the rough, they’re no better or worse than any other club, but if you toe the ball you might still dig the ball out (and your hair won’t hurt).
I’m not totally sure why, but I had difficulty moving the ball with these irons. After some practice, I could perform baby draws or fades, but nothing drastic. I could, however, still pull, push, top, chunk, thin, and sky, so the rest of my game was just fine.
So, the AP1s are not game-improvement crutches for your game. They will not improve the game of high-handicappers as much as, say, a bag full of seven-woods might. And the AP1s are probably not for low-handicappers who love to slice and dice the ball with forged kitchen cutlery. In my opinion, the AP1s are for weekend mid-handicappers who want to improve but can’t practice enough to master forged or less-forgiving irons. They’d also be great for golfers who are returning to the game and can’t decide what to buy, or if you’re looking to finally get rid of your old rusty MacGregors.
I just love this description from Titleist’s website. I can hear a sexy female announcer saying these words as a dazzling fashion model flaunts these clubs down a long runway…“Titleist AP1 irons offer a contemporary, confidence inspiring appearance in the playing position with soft blends, modern proportions and semi-underslung hosel. The metallic cavity plate tunes sound and feel and provides attractive cosmetics for great bag appeal.”
Bag appeal. That’s what I’m talking about!
MSRP $100 per club, steel shaft.
Design: Multi-material, tungsten nickel box, dual cavity irons
Center of gravity: Center, low, and deep
Construction: Cast #431 steel body, tungsten nickel box, elastomer cushion and aluminum cavity plate
Stock grips: Titleist Tour Velvet Rubber (round with logo underneath)
Stock shafts: True Temper Dynamic Gold HL, Titleist VS Proto-T 75
Available Irons: 3, 4 – W (RH & LH)