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Titleist ZM Iron Review

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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.

Technology

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. 

Appearance

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. 

Performance

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.

Conclusion

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.

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6 Comments

6 Comments

  1. Eric Schuster

    Aug 17, 2009 at 7:58 am

    I have these just off the rack, the only thing I did was have loft and lie adjusted. Surprisingly the lofts were quite close to the specs Titleist lists on their website.

  2. Don Fenton

    Aug 16, 2009 at 10:36 am

    I have played blades since I was a kid, I am 48 now and a decent 5 handicap stick. My iron of choice has been the Mizuno MP33 for 6 years now, prior to that I was a Taylormade player back to the originals. My question is this….I am curios if you just hit/played standard off the rack ZM’s or if they were modified shaft wise to your specs. I would order my clubs 1″ over and probably with Rifle 6.0 or Dynamic Gold X100’s in them for shafts.

    Thanks

  3. James Lawler

    Jan 29, 2009 at 5:48 am

    I went in to purchase a set of MP62’s to replace my TM RAC TP MB’s, but loved the look of these irons, so I changed my mind at the last minute (also remembering how solid my 905R still is). These are very solid clubs, but with a much higher ball flight than I was expecting. They are relatively forgiving (and I use the word “relatively”). However, swipes will be severly punished, as they should be. The short irons (8-pw) are especially good for working the ball and for knock down shots.

    Are these better than Mizuno irons? I don’t know. For me they are more playable, but they certainly do not feel as soft. When struck on the sweet spot there is a noticable solid click, but I really like this now that I have got used to it.

    The solid feel and performace of these irons has made me change all of my bag to Titleist equipment.

  4. E Schuster

    Jun 21, 2008 at 11:04 pm

    The ZB’s have been reviewed by my colleague. You’ll find that review here also. Thanks

  5. James L

    Jun 18, 2008 at 4:45 am

    Will you be reviewing the ZB’s as I want to change to them but would like a good honest review before taking the plunge?

  6. gg

    Jun 9, 2008 at 10:29 am

    Finally found a set to replace my mp-29’s, took a few sessions at the range to get use to since the sweet-spot is in the middle of the club, but now after playin several rounds with these they are the best clubs I have ever played with to date!!! My scores are dropping fast. I highly recommed these to low hdcp players!!!

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Tour Photo Galleries

10 interesting photos from Monday at the Zurich Classic

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GolfWRX is live from the 2018 Zurich Classic at TPC Louisiana, were, among other things, a giant three-legged crocodile roams.

Now in it’s second year, the tournament’s unique two-man team format has attracted a wealth of top talent, including 10 of the top 14 golfers in the OWGR. We’re on the scene snapping bag pictures, and have WITB looks at Matt Jones and Roberto Diaz, in addition to a general gallery from the TPC Louisiana range.

Let’s dig in.

Matt Jones doesn’t need his name embroidered on his headcovers: tape and a marker will do just fine, thanks

Last week, Faaaabel the Goat. This week, someone who would eat Faaabel

Roberto Diaz: Brand agnostic

Wesley Bryan’s Taco Bell(t) lives

Homemade putting aid or soon to be seen on a Golf Channel infomercial (or both)?

UDI with a side of lead

Shaft bags: Assemble!

Roberto Diaz Fourteen RM wedge

What more do you need in life?

A bouquet of Circle T putter covers

Check out our photos from Monday below!

Monday’s Galleries

Special Galleries

Discussion: See what GolfWRX Members are saying about the photos in our forums

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Monday’s Photos from the 2018 Zurich Classic

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GolfWRX is live from the 2018 Zurich Classic at TPC Louisiana (par 72; 7,425 yards), designed by Pete Dye with consultants Steve Elkington and Kelly Gibson.

The Zurich Classic is a unique event on the PGA Tour because it’s not an individual stroke-play event. Instead, the format consists of two-man teams playing best-ball on Thursday and Saturday, and alternate-shot on Friday and Sunday.

Last year, Cameron Smith and Jonas Blixt won the event after four playoff holes against Kevin Kisner and Scott Brown. The Smith/Blixt duo will be back to defend their title, and the Kisner/Brown pairing will be back avenging their loss.

Other notable pairings in the field include Daniel Berger/Gary Woodland, Wesley Bryan/Jon Rahm, Patrick Reed/Patrick Cantlay, John Daly/Rory Sabbatini, Jason Day/Ryan Ruffels, David Duval/Jim Furyk, Tony Finau/Daniel Summerhays, Sergio Garcia/Rafa Cabrera Bello, J.B. Holmes/Brand Snedeker, Matt Kuchar/Bubba Watson, Louis Oosthuizen/Charl Schwartzel, Sean O’Hair/Jimmy Walker, Pat Perez/Jason Dufner, Justin Rose/Henrik Stenson, Jordan Spieth/Ryan Palmer, Justin Thomas/Bud Cauley and more!

Check out our photos from the event below!

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Discussion: See what GolfWRX Members are saying about the photos in our forums

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Tour News

Tour Rundown: Moriya Jutanugarn and Andrew Landry win their first titles

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It was a week of firsts on two of the world’s major professional tours. Moriya Jutanugarn claimed her first LPGA title in an impressive manner, while 2016 U.S. Open surprise Andrew Landry seized control in Houston to inscribe his name on the winner’s trophy for an initial time. Elsewhere, a pair of underdogs upset the favorites at the Champions Tour’s Missouri affair, while two veterans added additional titles to their resumes in Europe and on the Web.Com tour. It’s an interesting brew in this week’s cauldron, so let’s give it a stir and see what we taste in this week’s Tour Rundown.

Landry holds off resurgent trio to claim Houston Open

Andrew Landry led that U.S. Open at Oakmont after day one, and hung around the top of the leader board until the fourth day. When his name resurfaced at this week’s Tour stop, few were certain he could hold off a resurgent Zach Johnson, the two-time major winner. Well, few other than Zach Johnson thought Landry might pull it off.

How Landry locked in

From the 10th hole on Friday, through the same hole on Sunday, Landry made zero bogeys. He had 13 birdies in that stretch, on a course that gives a few up, but not in buckets. That 36 hole run of brilliance, including birdies on Sunday’s first three holes, staked Landry to an advantage that he would not relinquish. For the entire week, only four bogeys dotted his scorecards, and two of those came on Thursday. Landry’s putter was hot all week, and his driving game was laser-accurate. The sum total: welcome to the winner’s circle, Mr. Landry.

Click here to see the clubs Landry used to win the 2018 Valero Texas Open

Who made a run?

It wasn’t Johnson. Iowa’s favorite son hasn’t won since the 2015 British Open, although his game has shown its old fire of late. Johnson couldn’t find a groove on day 4, making as many bogeys in that round as Landry did all week. In the end, Johnson had a top-5 finish, amid signs that another victory may not be far in the offing. Sean O’Hair had the low round (66) of the day, and that magic was enough to boost him to a second-place tie with young Trey Mullinax, who followed a Saturday 62 with a notable 69 to rock steady. Jimmy Walker, finally recovered from a bout of illness, had the day’s 2nd-lowest score of 67, and he moved all the way to 4th spot.

Mighty Moriya holds off Korean trio for first tour title

Moriya Jutanugarn of Thailand has been close before. She has seen little sister Ariya hoist victory awards before. On Sunday, it was her turn. Jutanugarn and Marina Alex were two of the leader with no title to their credit, heading into the closing 18 holes. While the key to victory still eludes the young American, it was Jutanugarn’s turn to triumph.

What Moriya discovered on Sunday

Actually, she dug deepest on Saturday. The older sibling opened round three with a double bogey, stood 3-over on the day after six holes, and appeared to be sinking. The ship’s wheel steadied with two birdies and hole-out eagle coming home, and then it began the final day with four birdies and no bogeys in the first 15 holes. A late bogey served only to add faux drama, as Jutanugarn calmly closed the deal for victory the first.

Park, Young and Yeon can’t win this case

Reading a bit like a law firm, Inbee Park, Jin Young Ko and So Yeon Ryu made their runs at Moriya. Inbee had a bogey at the turn, and needed perfection on Sunday. She didn’t get it, so a tie for second was in the offing. Ko might have had the best opportunity at day’s start, but a 2-over outward nine took her too far off pace for a 3-under inward half, to provide recovery. She also came second, at 10-under. Ryu put an opening bogey behind with four birdies through 12 holes, but could not go deeper over the closing stretch. Her fourth-place finish was her best of 2018.

Levy wins for third consecutive year on European Tour

France’s Alexander Levy nearly has a five-year win streak. His first two tour titles came in 2014. He skipped 2015, but hasn’t missed in the subsequent years. His work in Morocco this week added up to a one-shot win over a literal blast from the past, Spain’s Alvaro Quiros. Eight golfers finished within three strokes of the top spot, adding drama to the finish at Royal Dar-Es-Salaam.

Nothing spectacular leads Levy to win

There were no great streaks of brilliance, no runs of multiple birdies, for the 28-year old. All that he did, efficiently, was make enough birdies to stay ahead of his pursuers. After bogey at the antepenultimate hole on Sunday, Levy responded with a dart at the par-three 17th, to re-establish his lead. The win was the fifth of his career.

See the clubs Levy used to win

Oh so close for Oh so many

Let’s begin with Quiros. The Spaniard, compared with Dustin Johnson (for his length off the tee) in his early years, has been adrift. Sunday was his best chance in forever to secure a tour title. His first 16 holes were a tangle of bogeys and a pair of birdies. The Iberian closed admirably, with birdies at the final pair, to claim solo second, one back of Levy. Also close were Mikko Illonen (tied for third with three others at 7-under) and England’s Andy Sullivan, one more back at 6-under, in a tie for seventh.

Two more for the road: Axley wins on Web, while Broadhurst/Triplett claim Legends

Eric Axley would have preferred to win his 3rd professional event in glorious fashion. He’ll take a rain-shortened title at the North Mississippi Classic, his second career Web.Com title and his first title of any sort in 12 years. Waaaay back in 2006, Axley won the very same Houston Open (see above) contested this week on the PGA Tour, and a bit of success was predicted for the left-hander. Success, as we know, doesn’t come to all hands, and Axley was able to birdie his final two holes on Saturday to stake a one-shot advantage. Tied for second were the USA’s Willy Wilcox, Columbia’s Sebastian Munoz, and Korea’s K.H. Lee.

Triplett and Broadhurst birdie 1st playoff hole for victory

The rules for the Bass Pro Shops Legends of Golf are slightly simpler than those of field hockey, which means that they aren’t very simple. Both courses in use boast par-3 holes alone, but each has a different number of holes, so numbers on the scoreboard are meaningless. With the two Spaniards (Olazabal and Jimenez), the defending champs (Franco and Singh) and two major champions (Lehman and Langer) in the mix, the undervalued pairing of Kirk Triplett (he of the hat) and Paul Broadhurst (he of the …) were not anyone’s favorites to emerge. And here we are.

No one seemed bent on making any heroic moves on Sunday, so it came down to which teams would find their way. Lehman/Langer joined the eventual winners at the 9th hole. Triplett played the hole to perfection: tee shot into bunker, bunker shot into hole, thank you very much. No birdie putts were holed, and the title belonged to the unlikely pairing of Kirk and Paul.

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