At last the weather appears to have decided that never ending rain is a story which has already been told, see the tale of Noah for full details.
I thought after the end of the midwestern monsoon season I'd at last have a chance to discover the ball striking abilities of these clubs instead of just gazing at them longingly. Remember eighth grade and the really attractive girl on the other side of the room, how you wondered several times a day what it would be like to actually talk to her? Well maybe it's not that romantic with you, but hey, I like the look of these new clubs. What follows is my first couple of dates with the new Titleist ZM forged iron.
What the Titleist website says is that the Z-M forged irons are high performance muscle back forged irons with traditional feel, superior looks and shot control for the highly skilled player. The Z muscle is designed to precisely locate the center of gravity in the center of the face by moving weight from the heel to the head. The traditional profile included minimal offset for Tour validated ball flight, trajectory control and workablity. The narrow sole reduces skipping in firm conditions while appropriate bounce prevents digging. The long irons have a shorter hosel to move weight lower for improved launch and longer hosel in the mid and shorter clubs for trajectory control.
That's a lot of marketing school verbiage meant to dazzle and confuse by repeating the word forged twice in one sentence, the word traditional twice, and adding the concept of validation of the ball flight by the Tour. I was never aware that ball flight needed validation, but it appears I'm wrong again. Let's just say this a traditional looking blade iron save for the Z in the back which makes the sweet spot centrally located rather that the heel side location usually found in blades.
Also included is Titleist's plastic dowel inserted into the end of the shaft as a vibration dampening measure. Something they've done since the 690 series I've been told. Although in the early models they used wooden dowels like master club maker Joe Kwok, they switched to plastic due to manufacturing consistency issues.
No matter how you look at these irons, they appear as traditional (that word again, but oh well it works) as any blade I've every played. Very compact head, very little offset thus enabling a point and shoot alignment, thin topline. All the attributes of a club whose appearance states swing me and the ball will respond to your desires. Until you look at the back of the club. There you see what resembles the letter Z drawn by someone who sneezed in the middle of the drawing thus exaggerating the top of the Z while minimizing the bottom of the Z. The effect, to my eye is quite stunning and seems to have progressed to this point from earlier models. l switched from Hogan Apex blades last season to a cavity back forged iron thinking I needed the forgiveness, but after hitting these I realize that nothing suits my eye better than the sight of a compact blade set up behind the ball. As Titleist says, these are serious clubs which need no words to make the point. Just one look and the truth of that statement is obvious.
After three shots on the range I knew I wanted these clubs! Eighty five balls later that desire had not changed. There is something about hitting a forged iron that sings joyfully to the hands, up the arms, throughout the rest of the body into the ears and on to the brain. The resulting sensations leave the player smiling the smile of the truly satisfied. Make no mistake about it, these are clubs for someone with a reasonably consistent swing. If you possess a swing that does not repeat itself more times than not the only thing these irons will do for you is to reduce your vocabulary to that of an episode of Deadwood.
I am a pretty good stick on the range, hitting a series of small draws, straight shots, slight fades, and big rope hooks. These make all of that possible. What I found most interesting is that I had to be more aware of my clubhead alignment than with any club I've played before or I'd not hit the ball straight, instead hitting a slight fade. You should know that I don't hit a fade. Ever. Not with an iron. But with the Z-M I could take a slight fade with me to the course. I've only been to the course twice, so I don't quite understand this new shot shape available to me, but the fact it exists opens a whole new world of possibilities. I have to attribute this improved opportunity to produce all the shot shapes to the design of the Z-M. Moving the center of gravity to the center of the face significantly improves the playability of these clubs.
I also feel like the sweet spot has expanded to cover more of the face. Evidence of this comes from the response of toe hits, which with my old Hogan's lost major distance and direction. My experience with the Z-M is a loss of 10 to 15 yards in distance, or just enough to dump the ball into the bunker, and very little directional loss. Major improvement in my book, hence these are more forgiving than the reputation of old blades. The vibration dampening effect of the insert in the shaft is noticeable and appreciated most on thin hits in 50* weather. Still get the bees in the hands, but only a small hive. I don't believe the plastic works as well as the wooden dowel in my iron set, but it is still effective.
As for distance, it seems I've regained most of the yardage I lost over the last couple of years. Whether this is due to the clubs or my increased off season training program I don't know. Likely a combination of the two. On the course I still haven't adjusted to the ball flight, which is higher than my normal flight. I've only gotten on the course twice so far this year so my playing swing is still iffy at best, and distance control is something I appear to leave in my trunk when removing the clubs. Given time, and more rounds, I have no doubt that these will continue to impress me with their solid performance.
I believe Titleist has a winner with this club. The technology has produced an improvement in performance that is measurable even if it's not visibly apparent. I can't put into words how delighted I am to finally hit a reasonably controllable left to right shot. I have to say these irons have done something I didn't think possible, they make the game more fun! The Z-M is an attractive club, which gets more with repeated exposure, with improved playability. I can think of nothing better in a set of irons.