The biggest surprise of Titleist’s 718 iron lineup? It’s the AP3, an all-new design that has the potential to redefine what golfers expect from a Titleist iron.
In creating the AP3 irons, Titleist’s design team sought to blend the best features of two of its most popular irons: AP1 and AP2. It wanted to combine the distance and forgiveness golfers expect from game-improvement irons like the AP1 with the feel and consistency of PGA Tour-approved irons like the AP2 irons. The name of the new irons shows Titleist’s confidence in its work: AP1 + AP2 = AP3.
“You bring new technology to the [PGA Tour], and you wait to see what happens,” says Marni Ines, Titleist’s Director of Product Development for Irons.
The AP3 irons were first made available to PGA Tour players at the Quicken Loans National in July, along with the company’s new AP1, AP2, T-MB, CB, and MB models. “We expected a few players to use [AP3], but the tidal wave we saw was surprising,” says Josh Talge, Titleist’s Vice President of Marketing for Golf Clubs.
In a discussion about the AP3 irons, Ines recalled the response PGA Tour players had to Titleist’s AP2 irons when they were released 10 years ago. At the time, the vast majority of Titleist’s PGA Tour Staff was using the company’s CB and MB irons. The AP2 irons were significantly different from those irons, with a larger size and new technologies, namely an internal cavity and tungsten weighting for increased forgiveness. Despite the differences, PGA Tour players switched to the new irons at a much faster rate than the company anticipated. AP2 is now the most popular Titleist iron model globally on the professional tours.
“To see [tour players] stretch their perspective as to what [irons] they can and should play is cool,” Ines says. “They’re starting to see the benefits of faster, more forgiving irons, especially in their long irons.”
Possibilities for golfers within the 718 line go beyond the AP3. It includes six distinct models that can be mixed and matched to suit the specific needs of golfers throughout their iron sets. According to Titleist, more than 90 percent of its tour players used “mixed sets,” including the winners of the last two major championships: Jordan Spieth (T-MB and AP2 at the Open Championship) and Justin Thomas (CB and MB at the PGA Championship).
Learn more about each of the new Titleist 718 irons below, which are available for fittings beginning September 1 and in golf shops on September 29.
718 MB Irons
Titleist’s 718 MB irons are the company’s shortest-flying, least-forgiving model in the new line, and the company makes no apologies for that. “The majority of our PGA Tour players are saying, ‘Hey, I love the MB performance,’ Talge says. “We take that to heart.”
The back of the 718 MB irons looks slightly different than the 716 MB irons they replace, but the changes are purely cosmetic. The head design and shape is the same, relying on a one-piece, 1025-carbon-steel construction that gives golfers the ultimate in workability.
Purists will appreciate that the 718 MB irons maintain the company’s traditional lofts (the 6-iron is 31 degrees, the pitching-wedge is 47 degrees), as well as a minimalistic design that is unencumbered by medallions or badging. These irons are pure, which is what your swing better be to play them.
The 718 MB irons ($1299.99 for an eight-piece set with steel shafts) are available in 3-PW. The stock shaft is True Temper’s Project X.
718 CB Irons
The players iron category is brimming with forged cavity-back irons that look a lot like Titleist’s 718 CB, but to call the new CBs “yet another forged cavity back” is to miss the complex construction the company uses to squeeze more performance out of its classic CB shape.
Like the 718 MB irons, the bodies of the 718 CB irons are forged from 1025 carbon steel. That’s where the similarities end. The 718 CB long and middle irons (2-7) employ a 2.1-millimeter face insert that’s made of 17-4 steel. The thin, strong face insert isn’t designed to flex to increase distance; rather, it allowed designers to remove mass from the middle of the club head and reposition it to the corners where it enhances forgiveness.
In those corners of the club heads (the low heel and low toe), two high-density tungsten weights are added through a process called “co-forging.” It’s a secondary forging process that merges the steel body and tungsten inserts into a precisely-shaped iron head. It also maximizes the concentration of the higher-density material. On average, nearly 71 grams of tungsten are added to the 718 CB long and mid irons.
The co-forging process also has the advantage of placing the center of gravity (CG) of each iron closer to the true center of the club head than previous models, which creates more consistent distance on off-center hits across the club face. Another benefit is that it lowers the CG of the long and mid irons, helping golfers boost their launch angle and ball speed for more distance from the long end of their set.
The 718 short irons (8-P) are made with a one-piece, 1025 forged construction. Ines says the shape of short irons inherently gives them a higher MOI, as well as the higher CG better players prefer in their short irons. For that reason, a multi-material approach was unnecessary.
The 718 CB irons ($1299.99 for an eight-piece set with steel shafts) are available in 2-PW. The stock shaft is True Temper’s Project X LZ.
718 AP2 Irons
In recent years, Titleist’s AP2 irons have come to occupy a unique space in the players iron market. Competitive models have increasingly been given fast-face technologies to help the irons create more distance. Despite the peer pressure, Titleist has continued to focus on feel and consistency above all else with the AP2, opting to launch entirely new models like the T-MB and AP3 to offer golfers more distance.
“We’re being honest about what [AP2] is and who it’s for,” Talge says. “It’s our bread and butter tour product. [Tour players] like that size. They like that loft package.”
With fast-face technologies and stronger lofts off the table (the 6-iron is 30 degrees), Titleist investigated new ways to improve the AP2 recipe. The result was a new main ingredient, a high-strength steel known as SUP10, which is used to make the forged bodies of the 3-6 irons. Titleist also used SUP10 to form the face inserts for the 3-6 irons. Because SUP10 is stronger and lighter than the 1025 carbon steel bodies and 17-4 stainless steel face inserts Titleist previously used to create the AP2, designers were able to move the CG of the new irons lower in the club heads for higher ball speeds and a higher launch angle.
Like the 718 CB, the 718 AP2 irons are also co-forged to concentrate high-density tungsten weights in the corners of the club heads to improve MOI and exactly center the CG of the irons. “This is the Tour iron that’s really in reach [for most golfers] because it’s so forgiving,” Ines says. “The MOI is now pretty much at the level of the 714 AP1 irons.”
Another change, which could be just as important as the structural changes for discerning golfers, is the addition of a pre-worn leading edge to the soles of the 718 AP2 irons. The sole grind is inspired by the shaping of Titleist’s MB and CB irons, and it has also been added to the 718 T-MB, AP3 and AP1 models. It can help golfers make cleaner contact, particularly from tight lies.
The 718 AP2 irons ($1299.99 for an eight-piece set with steel shafts) are available in 3-PW, 50. The stock shaft is True Temper’s Dynamic Gold AMT Tour White.
718 T-MB Irons
“[The 716 T-MB] is what allowed us to feel like we can go forward with fast-face designs and give our players what they’re looking for,” Talge says. Which is to say, if you’re happy to see more fast-face irons from Titleist, you have success of the T-MB to thank for that.
Like the original 716 T-MB irons that marked Titleist’s entry into the fast-face players iron category, the 718 T-MB irons have a hollow-body construction that makes them longer-fliers than the AP2. That has made them particularly popular as long-iron replacements on the PGA Tour due to their higher launch and faster ball speeds.
Like the 718 AP2 irons, the new T-MB long and mid irons (2-6) use SUP10 club faces, but they’re made with an L-shaped club face that encourages the head to flex at impact for increased ball speed. Their cast construction also contributes to improved distance and forgiveness, enabling an average of 91.5 grams of tungsten to be welded inside the club heads to optimize the launch angle and spin rate of each iron.
The 718 T-MB irons ($249 each, $1,999 for an eight-piece set with steel shafts) are available in 2-PW, 50. The stock shaft is True Temper’s Project X PXi.
718 AP3 Irons
More distance, more forgiveness. That’s what golfers should expect from Titleist’s 718 AP3 irons when comparing them to the company’s traditional players irons. In Titleist’s robot testing, an AP3 4-iron offered an average of 6.4 yards more carry distance when compared to an AP2 4-iron at a moderate swing speeds.
According to Ines, higher-swing-speed golfers should see an even larger distance increase, a realization that has had several of Titleist’s PGA Tour players to swapping their current long irons for AP3s, including Jimmy Walker, Bill Haas, Byeong Hun An, and Jason Kokrak.
To create the additional distance, Titleist gave the AP3 a size that falls roughly in-between the AP1 and AP2 irons. Compared to the 718 AP2, the AP3 long irons are between 3-4 millimeters longer from heel to toe. The AP3 short irons are only fractionally larger than the 718 AP2, however, creating a progressive design that merges longer-flying, easier-to-hit long irons with short irons that could be mistaken for AP2s.
The internal design changes, on the other hand, are unmistakable. Titleist gave the 718 AP3 irons what it calls a “hollow-blade” design. The bodies of the irons are cast from 17-4 stainless steel, and they’re given L-shaped club faces made of 455 Carpenter steel to boost flexing at impact. The result is not just more distance, Ines says, but more “playable distance.”
Ines’ emphasis on playable distance has to do with consistency of the irons, which is boosted by an average of 84.9 grams of tungsten in the 3-7 irons that’s positioned strategically to optimize the trajectory of each iron. It ensures that each AP3 iron is not only as forgiving as possible, but that the irons also offer golfers enough height and spin to stop their shots on even the most demanding greens. The playable distance promise extends to the feel of the irons, which were fine-tuned to create an AP2-like sound at impact.
The AP3 irons ($1299.99 for an eight-piece set with steel shafts) are available in 3-PW, 48. The stock shaft is True Temper’s AMT Black.
Titleist’s 718 AP1 irons offer golfers the most distance and forgiveness of the company’s new iron line. They accomplish the feat with a cast, hollow construction and thin, unsupported club faces that boost both ball speeds and MOI.
The 4- and 5-irons in the set are designed to be particularly lethal from long range, with a fully hollow construction and club faces that measure just 2 millimeters in thickness. They also use an average of 57.4 grams of tungsten (4-7 irons) to lower CG for higher, more consistent shots. According to Ines, the 718 AP1 irons are about 5 yards longer than the 716 AP1 irons, but as with the AP3 irons, the faster golfers swing the more benefit they’ll see.
“If you have more speed, all technology is going to be even better,” Ines says.
The 718 AP1 irons share the same sole design as their predecessors with the exception of a pre-worn leading edge that can improve turf interaction. The club heads also have a lower profile than previous models.
The AP1 irons ($999.99 for an eight-piece set with steel shafts) are available in 4-PW, 48, 53. The stock shaft is True Temper’s AMT Red.
The stock graphite option is Mitsubishi’s Tensei Pro Red AMC (Ascending Mass Concept). Like True Temper’s AMT White, Black, and Red steel shafts, the shafts gradually increase in weight from long iron to wedge to help golfers maximize the performance of each iron. With graphite shafts, the 718 AP1 irons sell for $1199.99 for a set of eight irons.