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The greatest Titleist irons of all time

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Since the introduction of our ongoing “greatest of all time” series, Titleist irons have been one of the most requested lists to tackle. Even though, at one point, Titleist was basically known for being “just a golf ball company,” it uprooted that notion decades ago and has since produced some of the most notable irons of all time. From one-piece forged blades to some of the most technology-packed irons on the market, Titleist continues to be a leader in irons across player categories.

This is our list of the greatest Titleist irons of all time.

Original Titleist AP2 – Released 2008

The very first AP2 iron was one of the most hyped Titleist irons ever—full stop. Titleist engineers called the multi-material design “a total process breakthrough for constructing an iron,” saying, “never has a back piece with that kind of function or complicated geometry been welded to a forged body.” The back piece was a tungsten nickel box that placed more mass low in the head to boost forgiveness and launch in a compact head. This use of multi-materials is commonplace now, but in 2008 it was not.

When the AP2 originally arrived on the scene in 2008, it took Titleist’s already solid reputation for producing great irons and sent it through the stratosphere. The entire 2008 Titleist AP series, including the AP1, reintroduced Titleist as an iron company to many golfers who overlooked them because of their reputation for being a company that strictly catered to single-digit handicaps.

It’s not that the previous-generation Titleist irons totally stunk either. The 755 and 775CB were still nice clubs (just ask Steve Stricker—he used them for over a decade), but in reality, they lacked the technology other companies at the time were beginning to introduce to the market for both forgiveness and feel. The AP2 entirely changed Titleist’s reputation and single-handedly created a completely new category of iron: players technology.

Titleist AC 108 – Released 1972

We kicked this list offer with an iron that featured tungsten. Now, we’re going to go back to the Titleist roots to talk about the AC 108—one of the first irons to offer tungsten perimeter weighting on the heel and toe. But, before we talk more about this specific club, let’s go deeper…

Titleist clubs history

The first Acushnet irons debuted in 1970 and were known as the Finalist Forged irons. They were introduced to the market just one year after Acushnet (Titleist) purchased Golfcraft in 1969 to get into the space. If you are not familiar with the Golfcraft Company, it produced top-of-the-line forged clubs under a number of brands dating back to the 1940s.

In fact, in 1966, three years before Acushnet purchased it, the Wall Street Journal called Golfcraft the largest golf club manufacturing company in the world. Beyond its own brands, it sold blank heads to some other manufacturers to do final finishing and shaping. If you have read other articles in this series, you might remember that back in 1961, a man named Karsten Solheim bought some blank Golfcraft heads and milled the backs out to produces the very first cavity back iron: the Ping Ballnamic ’69 (reference: Greatest Ben Hogan Irons of all Time). The purchase of Golfcraft made Acushnet an instant player in the category to complement its already strong position in the ball market.

The AC 108, although small by today’s standards, offered a lot of playability for golfers looking for an alternative to traditional forged blades. One final fun fact about the AC 108, the branded Tungsten toe weights from the iron were used in the first prototype Scotty Cameron putters that had tungsten weighting.

Titleist DCI 962 – Released 1993

The Titleist DCI (Direct Central Impact) line first came out in 1993 with the black and gold models, denoted by a colored triangle in the cavity. The DCI line was a way to introduce more golfers to Titleist irons by offering a classic shape with the added forgiveness of a cast cavity back. It also allowed them to be offered at a different price point compared to the forged blades of the time. The DCI 962 is highly regarded as the pinnacle (no golf ball pun intended) of the DCI line, thanks to its clean look from address and its C-shaped sole profile.

But the other reason the 962’s are on this “great irons” list is there was a second model, the 962B, which offered the same sole but in a smaller blade profile, hence the “B” designation. It was the second DCI “B” iron, but it is by far the most well know and still sought after. The 962B’s were David Duval’s go-to irons while with Titleist and helped him shoot 59 at the Bob Hope. The 962B is also regarded as one of the greatest small cast cavity back irons ever made, thanks to its shape and sole design.

Titleist 600 Series blades – Released 2003

For any club to win on the PGA tour 17 years after its initial release, you know there must be something special about it. The Titleist 680 was part of the legendary original 600 series from Titleist that included the 660, 670, and 690, which was also offered in a forged cavity back, the 690CB. This heritage is part of the reason Titleist decided to name the newest forged blades and cavity back irons the 620 MB and CB and give a tip of the hat to some of the best it ever made.

While modern blades look to offer flowing CG’s and added forgiveness (a relative term for any blade design), the 680s are an uncompromising set of “you better hit this pure” forged blades. It’s one of the reasons—beyond the old school higher heel look—Web Simpson used them up until 2017 and Adam Scott continues to use them on the PGA Tour today (Adam Scott 2020 WITB). The 680s have been such a mainstay in Mr. Scott’s bag, Titleist did something almost unheard of: produced a limited production run in 2018, releasing 400 sets for sale to the general public—while also keeping an undisclosed number of sets for Adam to use into the foreseeable future.

The lineage of the 600 series dates back to the original 1979 Tour Models and the name stuck around until 1997. Like all clubs, the Tour Models went through a number of changes throughout their run as player preferences changed. From straight muscles to curved dual muscle pads, most of the changes were to the soles and address profiles. Two of the most well-known models are the “Square Toe” and “Box Blade.”

731 PM Limited LH set – Released 2002

Every list needs to have one odd standout, and for Titleist, it has to be the 731PM irons. The 731PM irons are unique for a number of reasons

  • They were designed with Phil Mickelson to be his personal set and were, from all accounts, originally intended to remain a prototype.
  • They were Titleist’s very first designated combo set. There was no mixing and matching to build your own. This set transitioned club to club from full cavity to high muscle blade.
  • They were cast. Even though the set had blades into the shorter clubs, the set was cast and not forged—making them the only cast set of blades Titleist ever made.

Photo: Dave Martin

Phil used these irons to win his first major in 2004. Last but not least, this is probably the only completely unique retail set that was only ever available in left-handed—for the first time ever, it was right-handed golfers that were left out in the cold.

Titleist C16 – Released 2016

The Titleist C16 irons were released in an under-the-radar secret handshake way in late 2016. No marketing, no tour validation process, just a simple “hey look what we have” arrangement, and it was off to the races. The going rate for a set of irons was $3,000, and there was good reason for it—they had every possible technology packed inside.

To even get the opportunity to test the C16 series, which also included a $1,000 plus driver, you had to sign up and take part in a fitting at either TPI in Oceanside or one of the few Titleist fitting locations offering the iron. It was Titleist’s first attempt to break into the ultra-exclusive, spare-no-expense concept car-style golf club market—and it was a huge success.

Here’s the part that made the C16’s so unique in the market and for Titleist. Generally, Titleist clubs go through an extensive tour validation process to make sure they are ready for the consumer, but in the case of the C16 irons, the development process was conducted behind closed doors and the validation was conducted by Titleist fitters working with consumers willing to participate in the experience.

It was a large scale experiment to both collect data and offer the most technology-forward clubs ever produced to golfer willing to participate. In total, there were around 2,000 sets of the C16’s ever produced, and it’s not often they are spotted in the wild—although the driver was most notably sighted at the 2018 Masters when the quietly famous marker, Jeff Knox, was spotted with one.

The “C” in C16 was for Concept, since the entire line was a limited run. However, it was only a few years later when Titleist once again put everything on the table and introduced the CNCPT (Concept) series 01 and 02 models to the mass market.

Here’s how they are described

“To put it simply, we’ve never seen the ball come off the face of an iron faster. Engineered to produce higher launch, greater distance and the most generous impact possible, with high density tungsten making up nearly 50% of the total head weight in the lower lofts.:

The CNCPT Series are the supercars of the Titleist iron lineup, and unlike the original C16, they are offered in both a more forgiving shape and also in traditional blade-like profile—except with all the same technology jammed inside. I’m not saying the CNCPT series would have never existed without the original C16s, but they were the seedling that formed the root of this family tree.

Titleist 712U – Released 2012/TMB MOTO Released 2016

As mentioned previously, Titleist for a long time had a reputation of only making clubs that appealed to lower handicap golfers—something that is very much a misconception.

Engineers had the original DCI, they offered the AP1, and then in 2012, they went a step further by introducing their very first (for full retail release) hollow driving iron in the 712U—the original being the tour only 503i. The 712U was available from 2-4 iron with a 5-iron available to tour players.

It wasn’t long after the 716 T-MB’s came to market as part of the Titleist MOTO (Made Only To Order) Program, and even though they were hard to get, they were still very much a successful iron. This eventually leads to the full release 718 T-MB, and, if you connect the dots, you can see the lineage into the T400 iron—even though they are targeted to a very different group of golfer.

If it wasn’t for the 712U and the 716 T-MB, where would hollow Titleist irons be today?

Titleist T-Series 2019 – The new baseline?

The most recently released irons, the Titleist T-Series, marks an evolution in the Titleist iron lineup along with a complete rebranding of the Titleist “players technology line.”

The T100 and T100-S are smaller than any previous AP2 iron, while still offering greater stability than any previous iron. The T200 and T300 have been built with the new Max Impact technology to boost ball speeds off a thinner face while still maintaining the signature Titleist feel. Finally, T400 irons have incorporated technology from a number of other Titleist products, including the U500 and CNCPT series, to build the ultimate Titleist distance iron that sacrifices nothing.

Only time will truly tell if the newest T-Series will be included on this list, but based on consumer feedback, sales to date, and the technology packed inside, these irons are well on their way.

 

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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.

17 Comments

17 Comments

  1. Mikel Jorden

    May 4, 2020 at 10:43 pm

    Wow!! I’ll take a set of those Box Blades, standard length, 2′ degrees flat, Royal Sand Wrap grips with reminder and 2 1/12 wraps PLEASE!!

  2. mick

    May 4, 2020 at 2:02 pm

    Titleist 716CB. Awesome feel combined with tungsten made it as forgiving as earlier AP2 irons.

  3. William Davis

    May 4, 2020 at 1:44 pm

    Seems as tho’ Titleist have never made a poor iron.
    One day I would like to see an article on all the duds produced by the big brands.

  4. Joe

    May 4, 2020 at 1:43 pm

    I’m still gaming the ZB Blades 6-PW, love them

  5. Malibu

    May 4, 2020 at 1:39 pm

    Have really enjoyed these lists but this one left a lot to be desired…

    The 762’s can’t be forgotten

    As someone mentioned already the 735 CM’s were pure

    The CNCPT series isn’t something that 99% will ever try so why add them to the all-time list?

  6. ckay

    May 4, 2020 at 12:45 pm

    My first set of irons was a set of AC108s as hand me downs on the 1997.

  7. Bill Rutledge

    May 4, 2020 at 12:20 pm

    Agree with the AC-108s as well as all your selections. The same-generation Pro-100s were really nice, too. Smaller blade, less offset, but some ‘help’ on off-center hits. Enjoyed the article.

  8. dwayne bretzky

    May 4, 2020 at 11:12 am

    every titleist iron is the best iron ever.

  9. Bladehunter

    May 4, 2020 at 10:37 am

    Totally missed the opportunity to include the “ custom grind “ MOTO program for the tour model and 681 blades. Left out the Miura forged T limited blade set , and last but not least the entire DCI line is glossed over in favor of picturing the 962 thrice. It’s the gold over size and the actual DCI- B that put titleist on everyone’s radar.

    And since the comments were turned off for the tiger iron post I’ll have to say it here. Why did you miss the fact that there are 3 sets of tiger titleist irons pictured ? One T. One with no T and one with Tw-p3 ( practice set early edition ) pictured. The T irons didn’t come until last. It would be better to open up the comments than to miss obvious things that the pics depict. And you never know when someone can chime in with actual experience. Since I own a set of the “ blank “ 681s as pictured IN tigers bag. The no T version.
    Several titleist staffers had these. Matt jones , Steve Stricker , and jay haas to name 3. And most people have never seen a set. Sure “ nobody cares “ but if that’s true why print the article ?

  10. Pierre

    May 4, 2020 at 9:55 am

    Forged 735 CM

    • V

      May 4, 2020 at 12:34 pm

      I use the 735 stainless version and like them. It would have been fun to try the 731s had they ever made a right-handed version (you lucky lefties!). Titleist shows that the lofts on the 731s are 2* stronger than the 735s, so that would have created a bit more of a loft gap – at least on paper – with my SW. The 731s also look to be a more rounded shape and from the pics I’ve seen, they appear to have a more pronounced slope from toe – hosel. I always thought the 6 & 7 irons are really neat-looking with that scooped area in the muscle. Wonder what kind of steel they were cast from?

    • billyjack

      May 4, 2020 at 1:00 pm

      These were great! I mixed them with a set of 660 blades, but the 735 felt so much better. Thanks for reminding us.

  11. Rick

    May 4, 2020 at 9:30 am

    Titleist Golf 1979-80 TOUR MODEL

  12. acsott

    May 4, 2020 at 9:29 am

    990s?

  13. jeff

    May 4, 2020 at 9:26 am

    i believe mizuno mp-19 late 90’s were first lefty only irons

    • curt j benjamins

      May 4, 2020 at 9:38 pm

      I had a set of the tP 9’s directly from the mizuno rep when I worked at the course in Washington.

      Great sticks with old school lofts, felt like butter

  14. SV

    May 4, 2020 at 7:42 am

    I loved the look of the AC-108s and always wanted a set. However, as most clubs of the time they were not available left-handed. It’s better now, but there are still gaps.

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Equipment

Wunder: Titleist TSi driver first impressions

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Three things I want to address before I kick this off.

  1. “Better, best” will not be addressed. It’s never about that these days only what works for me or you.
  2. I’m not adding TrackMan data to this for one simple reason: It doesn’t matter to me for a first impression. I can get lost in the data and ultimately it confuses my ability to just enjoy the sound feel and look of the driver. Obviously, the fitting was on TrackMan, but in the past, successful drivers for me started with the emotional part. Simply, do I like the thing? Can I look at it? Can I trust it? Can I hit shots with it? That’s it.
  3. When I say “spin this” and “spin that,” it’s always addressing a positive aspect.

On Tuesday of this week, I had the good fortune of visiting the Titleist Performance Institute (TPI in Oceanside, California) to do my TSi metal woods fitting. Won’t get too far into that, but essentially it’s golf heaven in every sense of the word. Like TaylorMade’s Kingdom or Callaway’s ECPC, TPI it’s a gearhead paradise.

Titleist Master Fitter Joey Saewitz (@thejoeysaewitz on IG) was my fitter and after hitting a few balls to warm up, we dug into my gamer driver that I adore.

Current Gamer Spec

TaylorMade SIM (9 degrees @ 8.5). Fujikura Ventus Black 6X (no tipping) 45 inches, D4, GolfPride BCT 58R

I have been constantly messing with my driver between new shafts, lofts, lie, etc. Since I’ve been playing a bit more this month, I’ve had the chance to work on my swing and the driver has been the last thing to come around. I’m working on decreasing dynamic loft through the bag and have not adjusted my driver to match. The point is, I’m hitting the driver solid but have lost a ton of height and spin to keep it in the air.

I’m saying this now because for key metrics I was at a deficiency because of the craftsman not his tools. The SIM I was fit into was/is excellent. So, as you read on, keep in mind that I knew that numbers-wise apples to apples my setup was vulnerable to getting beat out due to my tinkering.

Thoughts

My average numbers these days are are 105-108 mph swing speed, 155-160 mph ball speed, 14-degree launch, and 1,800-2,000 spin. At 43-years-old, when I’m hitting it solid I get a lot out of my driver. IF I’m swinging well, at my low spin, off days can be nauseating with the driver.

LOOKS

TSi3: If two of my favorite drivers 975D and R7 Superquad TP had a baby, the TSi3 would be it. Its flawless appearance-wise. The heel section gives it an onset look that the faders will love and the top line toe section is a bit rounded off to give it an open look without having to crank it open. Not the first time we have heard that but nonetheless, Titleist nailed it.

The face has a cool matte finish that I can’t get into yet, but it frames a white ball excellently.

TSi2: Like the TS2, it has that high-MOI shape, although I will say the top line and transitions are a bit softer on the eye. It’s a driver that looks like it just wants to go high and far. If I wanted to hit something as hard as I could that’s the shape I would look for.

Side note—the black shafts in the TSi3 are almost too cool to even look at—the closest thing to a Darth Vader golf club I have ever seen.

FEEL/SOUND

This is where they really figured it out. Titleist drivers in the past to my ear sounded good but not great. There was always an essence of ting that I couldn’t fall in love with. The TSi series fixed that in totality, like all the great drivers on the market in 2020 it has that hammerhead thud that I adore. When you crunch it, you literally hear crunch. At impact, however, it has a more compressiony (is that a word?) feel than its competitors. The comparison would be a one-piece forged feel vs a hollow body players iron. Both feel excellent but there is a difference. You can feel the ball squeeze into the face which I think most will notice and respond well to.

PERFORMANCE—Not going to compare it to my gamer as it’s not fair, I gear headed my gamer to the point of lunacy. I will only comment on what the TSi series did while testing.

TSi3: The biggest standout here was usable spin. I am not a high-spin player by any stretch, so if I can find a driver that gets me 2,100-2,200 consistently when I flush it, it’s a contender. For a player at my speed to sneak it out there with the big hitters, I have to launch it at 14 at 1,700 spin, and hope I’m aimed correctly. What I found with the TSi was I was getting that performance at 2,100-2,200, and if anything only giving up 2-3 yards all while doing it 5/10 times as opposed to 2/10.

What does all that jibberish add up to? Consistency and something I can play with. Is it longer than my gamer? I have no idea, but we will find out. What I know is I hit a bunch of really good shots with TSi3, and after I got going with it, it was point and shoot. Stable? Yes. Long? Yes. Forgiving? Yes. Playable? Yes.

TSi2: To be honest I only hit a few with the Tsi2 as its not my genre of music. What I can say is it feels apples to apples with the Tsi3, launches higher with a bit more spin, and goes really straight. No shocker there. The high MOI category has a bunch of contenders, and in my opinion, it’s a head weight game. Heavy is always better for stability.

The setup I landed on

I was fit into the (D4 SureFit setting 9 degrees @ 9.75, flat) however after testing a bit at home on course and range, I landed on the D1 setting, which I like. For whatever reason, I can play Tsi3 at 8.25 and still maintain height spin and it flew about five yards further.

Final setup

Driver: Titleist TSi3 (9 degrees @8.25, D1 SureFit, 44.5 inches, D4 swing weight)

Shaft: Fujikura Ventus Black 6 X (tipped 1)

Overall, the TSi Series drivers will be VERY popular but not for the reasons you would think. It’s playable, you can hit shots with it, that’s the mark of a GREAT golf club. It’s not all ball speeds and carry anymore in my opinion. This is a driver I can go out and play well with, that’s huge for a hack like me. In my experience, I can’t say that about a lot of drivers I’ve tried to make work in the last four to five years. That’s just me. Lots of great drivers every year but I’m a hard case and finding one that’s just right is a challenge.

Ultimately, for me, the best driver on the market is SIM hands down because it performs in the hitting bay and even better on the course—my hunch is Titleist has something that will do the same.

It’s a beautiful driver that I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know.

 

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GolfWRX Classifieds (9/25/20): Titleist U510, XXIO Red, Tour issue M5 head

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At GolfWRX, we love golf equipment plain and simple.

We are a community of like-minded individuals that all experience and express our enjoyment for the game in many ways. It’s that sense of community that drives day-to-day interactions in the forums on topics that range from best driver to what marker you use to mark your ball, it even allows us to share another thing – the equipment itself.

One of the best ways to enjoy equipment is to experiment and whether you are looking to buy-sell-or trade (as the name suggests) you can find almost anything in the GolfWRX BST Forum. From one-off custom Scotty Cameron Circle T putters, to iron sets, wedges, and barely hit drivers, you can find it all in our constantly updated marketplace.

These are some of the latest cool finds from the GolfWRX BST, and if you are curious about the rules to participate in the BST Forum you can check them out here: GolfWRX BST Rules

Member Yenmaster – TaylorMade M5 driver head

If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it 100 times—if you already have a shaft that you love, buying a driver head is the best way to upgrade and save a few bucks along the way. Is it time for you to trade up?

To see the full listing and additional pictures check out the link here: M5 Driver head

Member dansrixon – XXIO X Red Driver

This listing is littered with really cool and rare drivers and fairway woods from Cleveland, Srixon, and XXIO, including the XXIO Red driver looking for a new home.

To see the full listing and additional pictures check out the link here: XXIO Driver

Member kkennedy – Titleist U510 1-iron

The new U500 series utilities are the fastest and most forgiving Titleist have ever made, so if you are looking for a club to keep the ball out of the wind—here you go!

To see the full listing and additional pictures check out the link here: Titleist 1 Iron

Remember that you can always browse the GolfWRX Classifieds any time here in our forums: GolfWRX Classifieds

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Whats in the Bag

WITB GolfWRX Members Edition: Rkelso1984

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Recently we put out the call for our members to submit their WITBs in our forum to be featured on the GolfWRX front page. Since then, our members have been responding in numbers!

Now it’s time to take a look at the bag of Rkelso1984.

*Full details on the submission process can be found here, and you can submit your WITB in this forum thread.*

Member: Rkelso1984

Rkelso1984WITB

Driver: Callaway Mavrik Max (10.5 degrees, set to 9.25 degrees)
Shaft: Oban Devotion-6 04 Flex 65g

3-wood: Callaway Mavrik Sub Zero (15 degrees)
Shaft: Aldila Rouge 130MSI 70s

5-wood: Callaway Mavrik Sub Zero (18 degrees)
Shaft: Aldila Rouge 130MSI 70s

Hybrid: Titleist TS2 (19 degrees, set to 20.5 degrees)
Shaft: Project X Evenflow 6.0S 90g HY

Irons: Mizuno JPX 919 HMP (5-PW)
Shafts: KBS C-Taper lite 110s

Wedges:  Mizuno JPX 919 (50 degrees), Callaway Jaws (54, 58 degrees)
Shafts: KBS C-Taper lite 110s, KBS Hi-Rev 125s

Putter: Ping Heppler Ketsch (34″)

Putter Grip: Golf Pride Tour SNSR Contour Pro 140cc

Golf Ball: Taylormade TP5x PIX

Grips: SuperStroke TX1 Mid + 1 Wrap

Get submitting your WITB in our forum as we’ll be publishing more and more of them on our front page over the coming days and weeks.

Feel free to make it your own too by including some thoughts on your setup, your age, handicap, etc. Anything you feel is relevant!

Share your WITBs here.

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