As you can tell by my username, I am (and always have been) a big Titleist fan. So, from that brand alone and their amazing club archive, as well as my personal experience, I felt it worth writing a little bit about "blades". I mean real blades, the kind that grass cannot get caught in the back, the kind that most golfers fear, but would help each of them with their games if only if used on a range for practice.
Before I get into the history of the blade (at least from the last 30 years using Titleist), I wanted to point out that blades are back with a vengeance (or are they)?
Below is the current top 10 world golf rankings, where as you can see, 7 of 10 use true blades. And of course there is another pretty big name (currently outside the top-10) named Tiger Woods.
1. Dustin Johnson (BLADES)
2. Justin Thomas (BLADES)
3. Justin Rose (BLADES)
4. Brooks Koepka
5. Jon Rahm
6. Jordan Spieth
7. Rickie Fowler (BLADES)
8. Rory McIlroy (BLADES)
9. Jason Day (BLADES)
10. Tommy Fleetwood (BLADES)
Back to my experience that led me to this topic. Really it was just a Titleist brochure I picked up at my local GolfMart while buying a SM7 wedge a few days back. Tonight I finally got around to looking at it and I was pretty surprised. See cover below and tell me what's missing (completely not even mentioned)?
That's not fair, from the title you probably guessed correctly ... the 718MB (and CB) are missing completely, not even a mention.
Also, the other day I saw a flier in the mail from the Roger Dunn Superstore, which as I flipped through were missing blades for every manufacturer. Now this may be due to blades not being a high buy-rate item so they made a marketing decision, but not a mention (no where, no OEM).
So, what gives? This is where I wanted people to follow the Titleist club history to think about what happened, when and why things have evolved to today's current market conditions. In responses, I would like fellow WRXers to project blade volumes going forward ... do they trend ever downward despite players using them every weekend on TV or do they make a resurgence?
Let't start with Titleist. Again, using my history and this handy website (which I think every OEM should keep (other than TM because they would break the internet - slight dig on how frequently they change club models)) ... we can look through the history of Titleist blades.
Long time ago (1990s), Titleist made blades because that was pretty much what everyone played on tour, either blades or Ping Eye2s. The sole grinds had not been figured out yet, but they were sweet (but not being purchased), so the last blade (Titleist Tour Model) was made pretty much unchanged from 1991 to 1997. Titleist then stopped making blades.
Along came this guy named Tiger Woods, who used a set of Mizuno blades to absolutely dominate Augusta National in 1997. Titleist wanted to get him on their staff, so they went into hyperdrive trying to create a set of blades to get Tiger on their staff. Born was the 681MB and "T" version (Tiger's specs of the 681 blank stamped simply with a T). Due to popularity of Tiger and his incredible run in 2000, Titleist released the 681 to the public and even some "T" versions in 2001. The 681 continued in 2002 along with the 690MB, which was easier to hit with the muscle lower in the head and longer heal to toe. This is where Titleist went a bit haywire, deciding that one type of blade was not enough. They decided to bring out over the next few years the 680MB (likely most beloved of all - and still played by many on the PGA tour including major champions), the 670MB and 690.MB.
Back to my own experience, in 2004, I was stationed in Everett, WA. There was a golf shop having a Titleist trial and when I got there as a Titleist and blade lover, it was one of the best experiences of my life ... I was able to try 680MB, 670MB and 690.MB all at the same time (pure heaven), all shiny and new. Wish I had stocked up on some 680MBs right then.
Anyway, that was Titleist's blade hayday from a build quality and variety standpoint. I cannot think of any single OEM that built three types of blades at the same (or near enough the same) time as Titleist did during 2002 to 2004.
But, horrible sales led to Titleist not making a single blade in 2005 (head scratcher), but in 2006 they brought out the beautiful 660MB (but only for pros or custom orders) and the horrifically ugly 695MB. From that bad taste in their mouths, Titleist again gave up on blades until 2009 when the beautiful 710MB was brought to market, which was the start of the 7-series designating irons and "10" designating the model year (sort of). Titleist then got on an every other year thing with MBs in 712 (2012 sort of), 714 (I have a set of these), 716 (trying to resemble 680) and the most recent 718 (which look nice).
Shifting away from Titleist for a moment over to TaylorMade with their most recent development of the P730 blades (also very nice looking), and versions specifically for big-headed PGA pros like "Rors", "Rose" and most recently "Tiger", it seems they are now following the Titleist 2002-2004 path (history repeating itself?).
Anyway, hope you think about this topic and let me know what you think with this trip down blade-memory lane.
My raw 680MBs and SM6 wedgeworks (in away bag).
Edited by Titleist-Golfer, 03 August 2018 - 01:51 AM.