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Top 10 clubs of 2003—inspired by Adam Scott’s Titleist 680 irons

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As has been well documented, Adam Scott recently won the Genesis Invitational with a set of Titleist 680 blade irons, a design that was originally released in 2003. One of the great benefits of being one of the best players in the world is you don’t need to search eBay to find your preferred set of 17-year-old irons. Titleist has been stocking sets for Mr. Scott—even to the point of doing a limited production run in 2018 where they then released 400 sets for sale to the general public.

A lot of time has passed since 2003, and considering the classic nature of Scott’s Titleist 680, I figured now was a good time to look back at some other iconic clubs released around the same time.

Ping G2 driver

This was Ping’s first 460cc driver with a full shift into titanium head design. The previous Si3 models still utilized the TPU adjustable hosel, and this was considered a big step forward for the Phoenix-based OEM. The driver was a big hit both on tour and at retail—as was the rest of the G2 line that included irons.

TaylorMade RAC LT (first gen) irons

The RAC LTs helped position TaylorMade back among the leaders in the better players iron category. The entire RAC (Relative Amplitude Coefficient) line was built around creating great feeling products that also provided the right amount of forgiveness for the target player. It also included an over-sized iron too. The RAC LT went on to have a second-generation version, but the original LTs are worthy of “classic” status.

TaylorMade R580 XD driver

Honestly, how could we not mention the TaylorMade R580 XD driver? TM took some of the most popular drivers in golf, the R500 series and added extra distance (XD). OK, that might be an oversimplification of what the XD series offered, but with improved shape, increased ball speed outside of the sweet spot, and lower spin, it’s no wonder you can still find these drivers in the bags of golfers at courses and driving ranges everywhere.

Titleist 680MB irons

The great thing about blades is that beyond changing sole designs and shifting the center of gravity, the basic design for a one-piece forged head hasn’t changed that much. For Adam Scott, the 680s are the perfect blend of compact shape, higher CG, and sole profile.

Titleist 983K, E drivers

If you were a “Titleist player,” you had one of these drivers! As one of the last companies to move into the 460cc category, the 983s offered a classic pear shape in a smaller profile. It was so good and so popular, it was considered the benchmark for Titleist drivers for close to the next decade.

Cleveland Launcher 330 driver

It wasn’t that long ago that OEMs were just trying to push driver head size over 300cc, and Cleveland’s first big entry into the category was the Launcher Titanium 330 driver. It didn’t live a long life, but the Launcher 330 was the grandaddy to the Launcher 400, 460, and eventually, the Launcher COMP, which is another club on this list that many golfers will still have fond memories about.

Mizuno MP 33 irons

Although released in the fall of 2002, the Mizuno MP 33 still makes the list because of its staying power. Much like the Titleist 680, this curved muscle blade was a favorite to many tour players, including future world No. 1 Luke Donald. The MP 33 stayed in Mizuno’s lineup for more than four years and was still available for custom orders years after that. Unfortunately, if you are looking for a set now you are going to have to go the used route.

Callaway X-16 irons

The Steelhead X-16 was a big hit at retail for Callaway. It offered greater forgiveness than the previous X-14’s but had a more compact shape with a wider topline to inspire confidence. They featured Callaway’s “Notch” weighting system that moved more mass to the perimeter of the head for higher MOI and improved feel. There was a reduced offset pro series version of the iron, but the X-16 was the one more players gravitated towards. This is another game improvement club for that era that can still be found in a lot of golf bags.

Ben Hogan CFT irons

The Hogan CFTs were at the forefront of multi-material iron technology in 2003. CFT stood for Compression Forged Titanium and allowed engineers to push more mass to the perimeter of the head to boost MOI by using a thin titanium face insert. They had what would be considered stronger lofts at the time sounded really powerful thanks to the thin face insert. If you are looking for a value set of used irons, this is still a great place to start.

King Cobra SZ driver

In 2003, Rickie Fowler was only 15 years old and Cobra was still living under the Acushnet umbrella as Titleist’s game improvement little brother. The Cobra SZ (Sweet Zone, NOT 2020 Speed Zone) was offered in a couple of head sizes to appeal to different players. The thing I will always remember about the original King Cobra SZ is that it came in an offset version to help golfers who generally slice the ball—a design trait that we still see around today.

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Ryan Barath is part of the Digital Content Creation Team for GolfWRX. He hosts the "On Spec" Podcast on the GolfWRX Radio Network which focuses on discussing everything golf, including gear, technology, fitting, and course architecture. He is a club-fitter & master club builder with more than 17 years of experience working with golfers of all skill levels, including PGA Tour players. He is the former Build Shop Manager & Social Media Coordinator for Modern Golf. He now works independently from his home shop and is a member of advisory panels to a select number of golf equipment manufacturers. You can find Ryan on Twitter and Instagram where he's always willing to chat golf, and share his passion for club building, course architecture and wedge grinding.

19 Comments

19 Comments

  1. Bob Pegram

    Feb 22, 2020 at 6:18 pm

    Unless Scott’s irons have been re-grooved, they are not in compliance with the 2010 groove rules. Grooves are required to have rounded edges. That is true whether they have V-grooves (which they probably have), or U-grooves. Because it is more expensive to manufacture irons with rounded groove edges, virtually NO irons prior to 2010 are legal.

    • Forged MB

      Feb 24, 2020 at 9:29 am

      Virtually every part of your comment is 100% incorrect. Many irons made prior to 2010 are conforming, wedges not so much. Just go look at the USGA’s list. Grooves have had rounded edges forever. That’s not what the change in the groove rule was about.

  2. JT

    Feb 21, 2020 at 8:47 pm

    It definitely should includes the steelhead iii fairway metal.

  3. Don

    Feb 21, 2020 at 5:43 pm

    Great article. Still have the RAC LT irons and bought 2 of the 983K’s for backup. The driver is perfect size, and the irons are still great sticks to this day. Also have the TM Vsteel fairways and Cleveland 588P irons…just love those older classic shapes.

  4. bobbyg

    Feb 21, 2020 at 4:04 pm

    Thanks for the article. Makes me wish I still had my 660 blades.

  5. Rich Douglas

    Feb 21, 2020 at 3:52 pm

    Not much has changed over the years. With drivers we’ve seen an increased use of composite materials (allowing for more perimeter weighting) and adjustability. With irons we have even more use of multi-metal design, greater perimeter weighting, and increased MOI.

    But really, you could take a set of clubs made in 2003 and do just fine with them.

  6. Skip to 'ma lou

    Feb 21, 2020 at 1:06 pm

    Titleist 905R! LOVED THAT DRIVER! Not sure if it was an ’03 gem though.

  7. James

    Feb 21, 2020 at 12:56 pm

    Love the TM R500 XD – had 4 of them because the face kept cracking and I don’t even swing that hard.

  8. Scootin'

    Feb 21, 2020 at 12:10 pm

    Love this post. Wishing for more like it!

  9. BingHogan

    Feb 21, 2020 at 11:52 am

    Great article!

    Still have a set of MP 33’s around here with DG S300’s.

    My favorite driver was the Titleist 983 series. Wonderful!

    Maybe Mizuno will do a new version of the MP33. Mr Vosh68…

  10. Gunter Eisenberg

    Feb 21, 2020 at 11:47 am

    Don’t forget the R510 TP. That club is still relevant till this day.

  11. Mike

    Feb 21, 2020 at 11:26 am

    Cool that AS won with 17-year old irons. The pro at a course I play says you should have a driver that was made within the last 5 years or so but other than that play what you like because the newer stuff won’t help you much. I think there’s a lot of truth in his opinion.

  12. DJJ

    Feb 21, 2020 at 10:27 am

    first set of irons I bought in 2003 was the Cleveland TA 5. I had both the 983K an 580 XD at some point.

  13. Brandon

    Feb 21, 2020 at 10:26 am

    You guys need to make a year by year series of this. Maybe 1 article per week. Way better than Instagram pictures of head covers and divot tools.

    • Bogan

      Feb 21, 2020 at 1:59 pm

      Agreed, the top Instagram posts and hot forum discussions are uninteresting and uninspired summaries. This article on the other hand is great!

  14. William Pucci

    Feb 21, 2020 at 10:13 am

    I played my best golf with my RAC LTs.Id still play them if I could. I have them in an old bag in our office.

  15. Oldguy

    Feb 21, 2020 at 10:08 am

    Great article…owned a few of them…still have the cft hogans in the garage…think i will get them out and hit them this weekend!!! Don’t remember ever hitting a good shot with the callaway x16s…lol!!

  16. Don T

    Feb 21, 2020 at 8:55 am

    I love all of this

  17. Frickie Rowler

    Feb 21, 2020 at 8:44 am

    King Cobra SS 427 driver was the best of 2002. BING

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Equipment

Puma unveil new Ignite NXT Crafted footwear

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Puma Ignite NXT Crafted footwear

Puma Golf has launched its new Ignite NXT Crafted footwear – a new version of the NXT with premium leather accents.

The upper of the shoe features a premium leather saddle wrapped around Pwrframe reinforcement. The Pwrframe TPU is an ultra-thin frame that is placed in high-stress areas of the upper for lightweight in a bid to offer added support and increased stability.

Puma Ignite NXT Crafted footwear

The new additions feature Puma’s Pro-Form TPU outsole with an organically-altered traction pattern, containing over 100 strategically placed directional hexagon lugs in proper zones, designed to provide maximum stability and traction.

Puma Ignite NXT Crafted footwear

The Ignite NXT Crafted footwear contain a full-length IGNITE Foam midsole, wrapped in Soleshield in design to offer maximum durability, comfort and energy return. Soleshield is a micro-thin TPU film that is vacuum-formed around the midsole designed to make cleaning off dirt and debris effortless.

Puma Ignite NXT Crafted footwear

Speaking on the new Ignite NXT Crafted footwear, Andrew Lawson, PLM Footwear, Puma Golf said

“The Ignite NXT Crafted perfectly fuse the beauty of handcrafted shoemaking with modern development techniques to deliver optimum elegance and peak performance. With the combination of style and performance these shoes will appeal to a wide variety of golfers – those who appreciate the classic look of a leather saddle shoe and those who value modern comfort and stability technologies being a part of their game.”

Puma Ignite NXT Crafted footwear

The Ignite NXT Crafted shoes are available in 4 colorways: White-Leather Brown-Team Gold, Black-Leather Brown-Team Gold, Peacoat-Leather Brown-Team Gold and White-Hi-Rise-Team Gold) and come in sizes 7-15.

Puma Ignite NXT Crafted footwear

The shoes cost $140 per pair and are available online and at retail beginning today, June 5, 2020.

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What GolfWRXers are saying about the best Nike driver ever

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@ukgolfclubsales

In our forums, our members have been discussing Nike drivers. WRXer ‘DixieD’ is currently building up a Nike bag and has reached out to fellow members for driver advice, and WRXers have been sharing what they feel is the best Nike driver ever made.

Here are a few posts from the thread, but make sure to check out the entire discussion and have your say at the link below.

  • Ger21: “VR Pro LE? I have two I was still playing last year.”
  • mahonie: “The STR8-Fit Tour was one of the best drivers I’ve played. Still have it the garage and take it to the range occasionally…it would possibly still be in the bag if it hadn’t developed a ‘click’ in the head which I cannot fix. Long, straight(ish) and nice sound.”
  • jackr189: “The VR_S is one of the best.”
  • Finaus_Umbrella: “I played the Vapor Fly Pro, and still do on occasion for nostalgia sake. Sound and feel are great, but it demands a good strike.”
  • PowderedToastMan: “I enjoyed the SQ Tour back in the day, the one Tiger used forever. Do I miss it? Not at all, but it was a pretty good club for its time.”

Entire Thread: “Best Nike driver?”

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What GolfWRXers are saying about driving irons for mid-handicappers

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In our forums, our members have been discussing whether mid-handicappers can benefit from a driving iron. WRXer ‘jomatty’ says:

“I average about 230 off the tee on good drives. I can get a little more sometimes, but 230 is probably the average. I’m 42 years old and shoot in the mid to low 80’s. I do not get along with fairway woods very well, especially off the tee, and really don’t get enough extra length over my hybrid to consider using it aside from very rare situations on par 5’s (I’ve considered just going from driver to 19-degree hybrid and getting an extra wedge or something).”…

…and wants to know if he would be better served by a driving iron. Our members have been sharing their thoughts and suggestions.

Here are a few posts from the thread, but make sure to check out the entire discussion and have your say at the link below.

  • MtlJeff: “If you can shoot mid 80’s, you probably hit it well enough to hit a bunch of different clubs. Personally, I think hybrids are easier to hit….but some driving irons are quite forgiving. I use a G400 crossover that is very easy to hit and looks more iron-like. Something like that you might like. Be careful with some of them though because they aren’t always super forgiving, so you’d have to hit them first.”
  • HackerD: “G410 crossover is my version of a driving iron, feel like I hit it straighter than a hybrid. Just as easy to hit as a hybrid.”
  • hanginnwangin: “I shoot in the low 80s normally and in the 70s on my really good days. I have probably around the same or similar swing speed as you. I have been hitting my 4 iron off the tee on tight holes, and it’s been working pretty well so far. I hit it about 190-220. I have a 4 hybrid but just can’t hit it as consistently as the 4 iron, and it doesn’t even go much farther. I have a 5 wood which I only use for 220+ yard par 3s or wide-open fairways. Basically, it’s all personal preference and what you do best with. Everyone is going to be different. Try new stuff out and see what works. But if irons are the strongest part of your game (they are for me as well), I would give the 4 iron a shot. You can get a lot of roll out on the tee shots with it,”
  • Hellstrom: “Don’t laugh, but I bought a 17* hybrid with a senior flex shaft at a garage sale for $5, and I can hit it nice and easy and keep it in play without losing any distance. My driver SS is between 105 and 110 usually and swinging this thing feels like swinging a spaghetti noodle, but it works. I don’t have it in the bag all the time, but I do use it for certain courses. I take my 6 iron out and throw that in, so if I struggle with getting the ball off the tee, I just go to that.”

Entire Thread: “Driving iron for a mid-handicapper”

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