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Titleist’s Concept Clubs are its best ever, but you won’t see them on tour or in stores

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They’re the best performing clubs the company has ever made. Golfers are used to hearing that, but not this. You won’t see Titleist’s new Concept Clubs on the PGA Tour, and they won’t be in stores. Only a few thousand golfers in the world will hit them, and even fewer golfers will own them.

“We think we’ve got something here, but we’d like to get a little more experience with it,” said Steve Pelisek, Titleist’s General Manager of Golf Clubs.

That experience will come in the way of the most restricted new club launch from a major equipment manufacturer in recent memory. Titleist has made only 1,500 of its new C16 drivers, and just 1,000 sets of C16 irons. There’s no question that the clubs will sell quickly, despite their high cost and limited availability. But selling $1,000 drivers and $3,000 sets of irons isn’t the focus for Titleist, Pelisek said.

“You can do the math,” Pelisek said. “This clearly isn’t a revenue play.”

In golf equipment design, there are theoretical results based on computer modeling, and then there’s what happens when real golfers test the clubs. Because of manufacturing tolerances and limitations, clubs can’t always be made exactly as they were designed. And of course, golfers don’t always react as expected to new equipment. Concept Club launches give Titleist an opportunity improve its ability to manufacture cutting-edge equipment, and also learn more about what its doing in the hands of real golfers prior to a full-scale equipment launch.

Titleist Concept C16 Driver

From a design standpoint, Titleist’s C16 driver uses an extremely thin crown (0.35 millimeters). It’s made from a rolled sheet of titanium called ATI-425, which is laser welded to the club head to remove as much weight as possible from the top of the club. According to Dan Stone, Titleist’s Vice President of R&D Dan Stone, the welding process is key, as the crown is so thin that it can be deformed easily by heat.

“We basically had to invent [the welding process],” he said.

The driver’s club face is made from SP-700 titanium, which isn’t new to the industry, but Titleist’s application is. The company forged the material into the form of a cup face, which Stone said creates faster ball speeds.

The C16 driver also debuts an adjustable-weight technology that loyalists have been anticipating from Titleist for years. It’s called SureFit CG, and uses a weighted bar that is installed diagonally through the club head to give golfers three different weighting options: neutral, draw and fade. Each driver comes with a pair of weights, one of which is evenly weighted and creates a neutral trajectory. The other is heavier on one end, and depending on how it’s installed can create either a draw bias with a slightly more rearward center of gravity (CG), or a fade bias with a slightly more forward CG.

Titleist Concept Clubs_C16 Drivers Irons_1

To accommodate different driver builds, the C16 driver weights will be offered in pairs of 8, 10 or 12 grams. They are secured to the driver head using Titleist’s SureFit torque wrench.

 “The C16 driver is about 6 yards longer than [the 915] driver,” Pelisek said. “When you go through the fitting process, that 6 yards goes to 10 yards.”

Despite the improved performance, Pelisek said the C16 drivers won’t be played on the PGA Tour due to their limited availability. He’s “pretty sure” that one of the design concepts will be used in the company’s 917 drivers, however, which are expected to be released to PGA Tour players in July.

Titleist Concept C16 Irons

The C16 irons buck the general rule in the industry, which says that as irons get smaller, they fly shorter and become less forgiving than larger models. In Titleist’s testing, the C16 irons carried an average of 8 yards farther than the company’s AP1 irons in head-to-head testing of 4 irons, which is impressive since they use the same lofts. The added distance can be mostly attributed to their forged K301 cup faces, a construction as thin as 2 millimeters that supplies ball speeds at the USGA’s Coefficient of Restitution (COR) limit, according to Stone.

Just as intriguing is the starting point of the iron construction, which uses a friction-welded, bi-metal bar that’s part K301 and part 1025 steel. When hammered into shape, the K301 becomes the face, while the 1025 carbon steel becomes the hosel, as the softer metal improves the feel of the irons and allows them to be bent to custom lofts and lie angles. The irons also have a lightweight chassis that allowed Titleist to use twice the amount of tungsten in the design, compared to the AP1 irons, which boosts their forgiveness.

The need to be fit for each C16 product means that golfers can essentially get any shaft the company offers installed in the clubs, but Titleist did partner with Mitsubishi Rayon and Nippon to create two new shafts that Pelisek said should pair nicely with the irons. The graphite option is a 50-gram Kuro Kage shaft, while the steel option is made by Nippon. Called “AMC,” the shafts are roughly 20 grams lighter than the True Temper Dynamic Gold AMT shafts that are currently available in the 716 iron line.

“These clubs are previews of what’s to come,” Pelisek said. “Maybe not in the next generation. Maybe in two generations.”

Or maybe not at all, in the case of the C16 irons’ SureFit grips, which have an adjustable counter-weighting feature. The grips allow 20 grams of weight to be added above the shaft or below the grip, depending on a golfer’s needs.

“It causes you to activate the hands in a different way and rotate the hands though the ball in a different way,” Stone said.

How many golfers will be asking for these new technologies in Titleist’s next iron launch? One-thousand sets of irons later, the company will have a better idea.

Starting April 28, golfers interested in Titleist’s C16 driver and irons can purchase the clubs after a fitting at Titleist’s Performance Institute (Oceanside, California), Titleist’s Manchester Lane Test Facility (Acushnet, Massachusetts) or Titleist’s Thursdays, which are held at locations across the country. 

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64 Comments

64 Comments

  1. Http://suppliesgymnastics77.tumblr.Com/

    May 18, 2016 at 7:04 am

    I just like the helpful info you provide for your articles.
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  2. Tony P

    Apr 22, 2016 at 4:09 pm

    nobody cares

    • George Hanson

      Apr 25, 2016 at 11:53 pm

      Tour players will care if the can pick up 6, and they will demand that these drivers go into the bag — this just might be counterproductive from Titleist’s perspective.

  3. I’m amazed, I must say. Rarely do I come across a blog that’s both equally educative and
    amusing, and without a doubt, you’ve hit the nail
    on the head. The issue is an issue that too few folks are speaking
    intelligently about. I am very happy that I came across this in my hunt for something relating to this.

  4. rayarcade

    Apr 20, 2016 at 10:22 am

    Will they have a single length set?

  5. tlmck

    Apr 20, 2016 at 2:55 am

    $4.5 million is not a payday?

  6. Gubment Cheeze

    Apr 19, 2016 at 7:51 pm

    Break your fingers please

  7. Rich

    Apr 19, 2016 at 6:38 pm

    Don’t for a second forget that Acushnet is a business like all others. Their main focus is to make a profit. I’m not saying that all their launches need to make a profit individually but this venture in the long run is supposed to make money, simple. Secondly, if they are saying they are doing this to get real feedback from players, how exactly are they going to do that? No mention of the method of collection of that feedback from said buyers. Would seem to me like that process alone would be unmanageable, let a alone possible to do in a large enough scale to be meaningful. Nice try Acushnet, but it sounds an awful lot like marketing hype to me.

  8. I get it....

    Apr 19, 2016 at 1:07 pm

    I respect what Titleist is doing, and truly think it’s actually a good thing. AS LONG AS they stick to the script. Maybe it will benefit the players, similar to what WRX is doing by putting out a product, getting true, non-robot feedback to produce a better product when released. Now if that’s their intentions, it will only be better for us the consumer/player in the end.

    Now my issues are, these clubs getting in the wrong hands, huge price tags on black market, and when i.e.917’s are released and they have no resemblance of this product, I and I’m sure many others would have issues as well. So this could actually be a good thing if what I mentioned above doesn’t happen. Economically I don’t know if it hurts or helps R&D from a financial standpoint once 917’s hit shelves.

    As for the clubs themselves, I don’t like the very TM/non-Titleist alignment aid on driver. The irons do not look like a Titleist product to me in the least bit. But, if they perform, and after refining “916’s” we get an even better product I say bravo to Titleist.

    All of that being said, IMO, they shouldn’t label a proto if you will, limited edition. Also, a proto shouldn’t be sold by a manufacture. I know it’s vague on what exactly this is, but from what I gather, they are trying to make a future product better. I know that’s essentially what it is, but I believe if they are trying to perfect a product, and not generate a hype “mmproto-style”, these clubs should maybe be made in less quantity or the same, because I’m sure a acushnets pockets run deep, and these clubs should be dispersed to players of all levels particular to targeted player skill level, and give them to each player with an option to buy at the end, when Titleist releases their “official product” to the masses. I apologize for the novel, but it please Titleist stay where you are. Don’t try to be TM, or other end of spectrum PXG. You are perfect right where you are.

  9. Jesse R

    Apr 19, 2016 at 11:19 am

    Instead of these, why doesn’t Titleist make the AP1 Forged they released in Japan more available? Seems like the same club to me.

    • Adam

      Apr 20, 2016 at 9:40 am

      the current AP1 forged irons are for the korea market, they are not JDMs,

  10. Dylan

    Apr 18, 2016 at 11:40 pm

    They still fail to tell us exactly how the driver is 6 yards longer than the 915. I feel like if you were properly fit, any driver that’s maxed out in legal tolerances should be able to beat any other. How can you make a driver longer than another when it’s all the same! Stop with the marketing and focus on making good, quality products.

  11. john

    Apr 18, 2016 at 9:42 pm

    I thought speed slots, adjustable weight ports and cup faces were just gimmicks titleist?

    • :-p

      Apr 18, 2016 at 10:39 pm

      They’ve been behind in clubs for so long they had to catch up somewhere

      • jgpl001

        Apr 19, 2016 at 5:11 pm

        Behind who and how???

        Absolute nonsense

        Seems like the AP2’s are pretty much up there to me

        Titleist make quality clubs that perform from AP1 to MB – period

        • :-p

          Apr 20, 2016 at 2:47 am

          Dopey, Titleist is number one in BALLS only, nothing else. And way behind in everything else, except may be wedges, but in woods and irons definitely far behind

          • R&A

            Apr 20, 2016 at 7:16 pm

            Clubs in the same category pretty much do the same thing. If one was way better don’t you think all pros would use it since they play for millions

      • Mike M

        Apr 27, 2017 at 8:37 am

        Because they don’t succumb to putting out a “new model every other month there behind?

        Seems their products do pretty well on tour, week in week out, again, I don’t think it so much the sticks, as it’s the artist wielding the play.

        Their Vokey Wedges, Cameron Putters, lead the field week in, week out.

  12. Chuck

    Apr 18, 2016 at 8:35 pm

    I’d like to see the offset on those irons. Are there specs/better pictures anywhere?

  13. Steve

    Apr 18, 2016 at 6:57 pm

    I played Titleist almost exclusively for the past 10-12 years. This year I ventured out and I’ve found Titleist, Callaway, TM, and Ping all make great products. However, if the C16 Drivers gives an additional 6 yards, I’ll pass, the M1 already gave me 12 more than the 915d3. I’m a +2 handicap and swing the driver 108. This article makes me dislike Titleist a bit….

    • cgasucks

      Apr 18, 2016 at 10:14 pm

      You should give it a try…you might be impressed…

    • stephenf

      Apr 19, 2016 at 1:11 am

      Plus-2 here too, and I know what you mean. At some point it starts seeming a little slimy and unnecessary. There’s such a thing as being long enough to play any given course, and once you’re well past that threshold, it really stops mattering very much. Since for a ball to cover a certain distance at a certain height and approximate spin, it’s going to take about the same amount of force applied to that ball regardless of what the number on the club is, I’m not sure why it matters whether you hit your 5-iron 200 or your 4-iron. That’s in addition to the fact that the USGA’s stats show 185 as the average 5-iron carry on tour anyway, so a lot of this distance saga-telling has to do with ideal max-out kinds of stuff that doesn’t happen much in the real world. If the ball has X forces on it, it’s not going to matter whether your club has a 4 or a 5 on the sole. Or even a 6. It’s going to have about the same miss potential regardless.

      I mean, I understand that people who are too short or who are marginal love this sort of thing, and that’s fine. But if you’re a decent striker, especially at a plus-handicap level, all this seems like much ado about not very much, and there’s particularly something about Titleist doing this “let’s chase the industry gimmicks” thing that is a little eye-roll-inducing.

  14. Tom Duckworth

    Apr 18, 2016 at 5:10 pm

    I think the driver and the irons look fine. It’s an interesting idea to sell a short run like that and I would guess Titleist will follow up with lots of questions about how they feel and preform.
    I noticed the they kept comparing the irons to AP1 irons so if they are some kind of GI iron I don’t think I would want them anyway.

  15. Jimmy Dean

    Apr 18, 2016 at 4:51 pm

    The driver is the ugliest I have ever seen!! The irons are nice, and I would love to buy them, but I will pass on the stupid pricing?

    • Rod Clarke

      Apr 18, 2016 at 8:05 pm

      Its the underside of the driver in the photo Jimmy. Try as one might its pretty difficult to see the underside of the club when it is addressing the ball on the tee so unlikely to be distracting. Just a thought!

  16. Rwj

    Apr 18, 2016 at 4:16 pm

    Who proof reads the articles for GolfWRX? The site needs to proof before uploading.

  17. Scooter McGavin

    Apr 18, 2016 at 1:19 pm

    Looks like Callaway’s 2014-2015 lineup. BB Alpha bar weight and BB Irons cup faces, anyone?

  18. michael johnson

    Apr 18, 2016 at 1:17 pm

    irons look sweet. i will buy a couple of sets.

  19. chris b

    Apr 18, 2016 at 1:00 pm

    why tease us if they are only going to release a certain number of them? hopefully they incorporate a lot of the technology into the 917 line when it comes out

    • gdb99

      Apr 18, 2016 at 9:33 pm

      I’m guessing he’s talking about movable weights and thin crown on the driver and cup faces and more tungsten to make a slimmer, more forgiving iron. Keep up.

  20. Bob Zinna

    Apr 18, 2016 at 12:47 pm

    I think the customer has earned the right to be cynical given the way companies have withheld their hosel adapters for drivers and fairway woods making the new technology just as inconvenient as the old (you either buy a full shaft pre-cut with grip and adapter from the company or stew asking yourself why you can’t just buy a shaft, adapter, grip and do it yourself).

    Even if you want to have them do it you’re sort of at the mercy of what they’re willing to do. I prefer +!/2″ 2-6 irons and then 1/4 inch decrements from 7 to PW. I put a Mitchell 8 gram brass weight in the tip and a 11/4″ inch clevis pin in the butt. Use Lamkin oversize with 3 wraps on the down portion of the grip. Could only imagine what the upcharge would be or if they’d even do it for me. Surely the clevis pins would become some overpriced OEM purchase and the Mitchell brass weights probably not even stocked by the “custom” departments. The thing is I am a feel player and don’t even care what they finally swing weight to … but what seems to happen is custom departments take a big brother knows best attitude towards what the customer wants and only offer options that can easily be (over)priced.

  21. Eric

    Apr 18, 2016 at 12:42 pm

    May not be a revenue play for the limited edition, but it does sort of set the stage for the mystique of the next generations. “Technology from our $3, 000 double-secret phantom clubs bow available to the public.” Good lifecycle marketing really.

  22. Beggroll

    Apr 18, 2016 at 12:36 pm

    They now have a captive audience for the 917 that is salivating. Good marketing. The collectors and gullible ones will be financing the move.

  23. Leon

    Apr 18, 2016 at 12:22 pm

    Similar to Google’s glass, high price to prevent big amount of demands and facilitate the intention to distribute (or test) in a small group, while makes lots of marketing buzz. Smart strategy.

    And limited edition makes it good for a gift or self proud. All the performance benefits (if any) will transfer to the 917 series so that the PGA pros won’t cry for it (Probably they already start testing the 917 series with similar features as the C16)

    Well played, Titleist.

    • sumsum

      Apr 22, 2016 at 10:47 pm

      Except then everyone who spent 3000$ will be pissed because they spent $3000 and then titleist launched same technology in a $1000 after. They either discredit EVERYTHING the AP2’s are doing right now by saying that tech sucks and isn’t as good as our new $3000, OR the immediately discredit their $3000 when they use the same tech for their new AP’s at 1200$. Very TM of them and stupid.

  24. farmer

    Apr 18, 2016 at 12:15 pm

    A grand for a driver that might get you 10 yards? Three grand for irons that might gain you a club? Equipment junkies, rejoice! Everyone else, meh.

  25. Desmond

    Apr 18, 2016 at 12:13 pm

    So the irons are cupface and Callaway is delivering that tech at $800-1200, and at its upper end, the heel to toe length of the Callaway also says “player irons with forgiveness.”

    I think what it means is that Titleist is not ready to abandon its current lineup.

  26. farmer

    Apr 18, 2016 at 12:13 pm

    So you can spend a grand on a new, base model driver, and maybe gain 10 yards? Or 3 grand on irons and maybe gain a club? Equipment junkies rejoice! Everyone else, meh.

  27. PXG

    Apr 18, 2016 at 11:27 am

    What they meant to say is PXG changed the game and we are trying to catch up

    • Desmond

      Apr 18, 2016 at 12:15 pm

      PXG is not cupfaced. But their irons do deliver a thin face, higher launch with spin that is more traditionally acceptable, instead of the low spin, higher launch cup face irons

      • prime21

        Apr 19, 2016 at 1:08 am

        With a higher launch and a land angle of 50°, nothing is rolling off the back due to reduced spin. 90% of amateur players spin they’re irons too much anyway, so you’re 0-2 with your commentary. You could probably snag a job with Titleist tho, they’re 0-5 with their last releases.

  28. Tom

    Apr 18, 2016 at 11:26 am

    Form forged?

  29. Brandon

    Apr 18, 2016 at 11:21 am

    I don’t understand the hate going around in the comments. People complain about tour players’ equipments not being available to the public (not immediately at least), but now, when the general public is being given a chance to purchase a limited run set, people go back to saying “oh this is overpriced nonsense”? You guys need to stop complaining every chance you get.

  30. Oskars P.

    Apr 18, 2016 at 10:36 am

    God they just look plain ugly though, at a time when almost all golf clubs perform similar to every other brand looks matter and those irons and driver just look like something designed in 2005.

    • Jnak97

      Apr 18, 2016 at 11:59 am

      How can you say they look ugly when you cant even see a top line view?

    • Jim H

      Apr 18, 2016 at 12:40 pm

      Honestly, I had the exact opposite opinion. I loved the design before even reading the article. If I had an extra $4K I’d buy them as soon as they became available.

    • Joey

      Apr 18, 2016 at 1:14 pm

      The irons in particular are busy as hell, and I agree just plain UGLY. Glad I’m not the only one…

  31. Brian

    Apr 18, 2016 at 10:23 am

    More overpriced nonsense from Titleist…

  32. ca1879

    Apr 18, 2016 at 9:37 am

    Every other manufacturer has managed to deliver clubs that use adjustable exotic multi-material constructions that are hot-faced and forgiving – without doubling the entry fee. This has everything to do with the sales tropes that move Rolexes and Mercedes, and little to do with the nominal performance story. We’ve chuckled at the Honma and Maruman customers for being gullible and elitist, and now we’ve got PXG and Titleist trying the same thing.

    • alexdub

      Apr 18, 2016 at 10:11 am

      You think this launch is designed to generate revenue? At the prices and quantities given—$1000×1500 and $3000×1000—this launch would only generate hard dollars of $4.5 million. I bet they blew past that 4.5 before R&D was completed. Granted, they will get some soft dollars through the press generation, but I’m sure the debits will rule the credits on this specific launch. It will be interesting to see how much of the tech and press of this launch can be rolled into the 17 line.

      • sumsum

        Apr 22, 2016 at 10:41 pm

        Alexdub… you are an idiot… ~” Only 4.5 million$$…they probably spent that in R&D”….??!?!? are you serious?! they don’t spend that much in R&D, and in a declining golf market, 4.5 million dollars is a TON of money…. so YOU do the math: A.) They aren’t inventing ANY new technologies – meaning same tech as other OEM’s who only charge 1000$ and probably make their product for 300$. so they will make 2700$ PER set GM (that’s take home dollars- real profit). That’s $2.7 million straight to the bottom line; raw profit… go ask Taylormade and it’s shareholders how much they would love to have an extra $2.7 million in profit. B.) Do you think that MAYBE, Titleist is feeling a little pressure from PXG, that the TItleist guy is a status guy and likes the statement of expensive elitist irons and therefore has ventured toward PXG and that this MAY just be a scared ‘me-too’ play? C.) BOTTOM LINE – IF they were that good, the Tour pros would play them. There are COR and MOI limits, they aren’t that good, they are probably jacked up lofts and therefore tour pro’s don’t want them.

  33. Emb

    Apr 18, 2016 at 9:09 am

    “The driver’s clubface is made from SP-700 titanium, which isn’t new to the industry, but Titleist’s application is. The company forged the material into the form of a cup face”

    That’s a bold statement considering Callaways driver face tech is literally called forged cup face technology.

    • M

      Apr 18, 2016 at 11:53 am

      Callaway has not done this with Beta-Ti’s like SP-700. Perhaps that’s what the writer meant?

    • sumsum

      Apr 22, 2016 at 10:44 pm

      oh and EVERY other OEM uses SP-700 for their Tour line… nothing new.

  34. Nor

    Apr 18, 2016 at 8:58 am

    These will probably showup in Japan first. It’s not like the VG series clubs they are selling over there are much cheaper than these protos. T-MBs have been on sale in Japan for almost a year before Titleist released them in USA.

  35. tony

    Apr 18, 2016 at 8:54 am

    wait wait wait. huh?

  36. Ian

    Apr 18, 2016 at 8:39 am

    Surely if they were that good they would be in tour players hands first?

    • Ian

      Apr 18, 2016 at 8:42 am

      Even tour players would go for more distance – especially the shorter hitters.

    • Matt

      Apr 19, 2016 at 8:30 am

      I still don’t think people are understanding the concept of this C16 series. They mention early in the article that this is a new way of testing some technology and getting actual player feedback, without having to publicly release new clubs and then wait for the feedback. So they can see what works, and what doesn’t for the upcoming line. Sure some pros might be testing it, but I could almost guarantee you won’t see any of them game the clubs since there is no plan on them being mass produced to the public.

      • Ian

        Apr 19, 2016 at 1:21 pm

        Straight out the gate they say these are the best performing clubs Titleist has ever made… Do you think they would make the best Pro V1 ever and not give it to their tour players?

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Equipment

GolfWRX Spotted: Prototype Callaway Jaws wedge (Updated with in-hand pics)

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Update (6/8): Our friends at Sports Marketing Surveys sent along some in-hand photos of the new Jaws wedge from the Scottish Open. For the first time, we can see the wedge has full-face grooves and is stamped with “Full Toe” on the hosel, leading us to not-so-expertly suspect this might be called the “Callaway Jaws Full Toe.”


Callaway introduced the most recent iteration of its Mack Daddy line in September of 2019 with Jaws MD5 wedges. So, you don’t have to be the savviest of GolfWRX forum members to deduce we’re due for another generation of Callaway wedges soon.

I mention all of this as a preamble to ask the question: Is this design we spotted in the bag of Chase Seiffert at the Rocket Mortgage Classic the next Callaway Jaws wedge? (and might we be sold bold as to christen it the “MD6”?)

The answer according to Callaway? Not exactly.

The official word from the Carlsbad-based company, “This is a prototype wedge. We’re constantly testing prototype products with our staff pros out on tour.”

In other words, maybe it is, maybe it isn’t, but they aren’t saying.

Regardless of whether this is the “MD6”, it is a new wedge design with a different channel in the rear of the club. Given the trend toward moving mass around in wedges, we can assume this is done in order to optimize weight placement to enhance launch and offer a measure of forgiveness. There certainly looks to be more mass high in the toe of the wedge.

Enhanced grooves were a big part of the MD5 story (generating lower launch, higher spin than with the Mack Daddy 4). Indeed, Callaway marketed the Jaws grooves as “the most aggressive grooves in golf.” It stands to reason that, if this is the MD5’s successor, there will be improved groove technology here as well — but that’s difficult to determine from a spy shot of the cavity of the club and no comment from the manufacturer!

Chase Seiffert’s Callaway Jaws Prototype wedge

Callaway Jaws MD5 wedge

We’ll keep an eye on Callaway staffers’ bags in the tournaments ahead and will certainly let you know when we have more information.

In the meantime, speculate away! What do you think about this design? Does this have the look of a wide release to you or is this a more limited prototype? Let us know in the comments.

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Equipment

The Wedge Guy: Some putting research I’ve been doing

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As many of you might know, I started my golf industry career in the advertising and marketing world, and my first golf client was the Ray Cook putter company, which in the 1980s was still a very relevant brand, with a long history of PGA Tour use and over 150 wins, including all the majors. But it didn’t take me long to be drawn to the back end of the business, where putters were created and crafted.

Being the kid that was loaded with curiosity, I began to dive into the “whys and wherefores” of putter function. I read nearly every book I could find on putting and was blessed to be able to spend time with many teaching pros, PGA Tour pros, and mental coaches.

In the decade before I became focused on wedges, I became somewhat of a “junkie” into the cause-and-effect of the trilogy of putter design, agronomy practices, and technique evolution. And I created over 100 different putter designs for several companies during that decade.

To me, the modern history of putter design is kind of a chicken-and-egg thing. It’s apparent to me that the design of putters and changes in putting technique have evolved together. And that this “dance” has been driven by advancements in agronomy practices that have made greens ever faster and smoother.

A hundred years ago, when greens were probably not any better than the typical tee box today, putting was done with a lightweight club with considerable loft and a very wristy “pop” or “hit” of the ball. Bobby Jones and his peers were masters.

As greens got quicker into the 1960s and 70s, a more arms-and-shoulders stroke began to replace the “pop”, and putters like the Ping Anser, Zebra, and Ray Cook mallets began to replace the staid old blades like the Bullseye and 8802. Putters also began to get much heavier. This continued evolution of agronomy has pushed even typical green speeds into the 10+ range on the Stimpmeter, and the intertwined dance of putter design and putting technique has continued to evolve. The modern oversized mallet putters are many ounces heavier than their forerunners, and grips have gotten larger to take the small muscles out of the stroke action.

And whereas unconventional methods were rare 20 years ago, the “claw,” “armlock,” and “left-hand-low” are now seemingly the norm on the PGA and LPGA Tours. It is all driven by faster and faster green speeds. With that bit of my own historical perspective, let’s go to that research I’ve been conducting on my own the past few months.

One of my goals for 2021-22 is to shoot my age, which means I need that magical day of 2-3 under par to pull that off. To give that a chance to happen, I realized have to get more consistent on the greens – good shotmaking alone doesn’t put those scores on the card. So, I purchased a practice putting mat for the living room and made a commitment to not just practice my putting, but to return to my penchant for learning.

I’ve been studying what I have been learning along the way.

My personal favorite putter is a “modernized” take on the Bullseye that I designed for the Ben Hogan Company in the early 1990s. It has a then-patented approach to weighting that makes it face-balanced and pretty darn forgiving for the type of putter it is. And it is that forgiving thing that is the subject of what I want to share with you today.

As I hit dozens of putts several times every day, I have been exploring the effect of off-center impacts and different stroke paths. I’ll offer this disclaimer and tell you that this is pure visual observation, as I am not recording any of these putts with high-speed cameras or radar. And that I am watching putts of 5-10 feet on an indoor mat that probably runs about 9 on the Stimpmeter.

But what I’m observing goes against almost all of what we are told about putter “forgiveness.”

First, realize that the ball is in contact with the putter face for mere milliseconds on almost all but the longest putts. On a deliberate off-center hit – even ½ to ¾ of an inch toward the toe or heel – I am consistently seeing the ball leave the face on an exact right angle to the clubface angle at impact. And yes, while the face does recoil a bit from an off-center impact, the ball is obviously already gone so it is not affected measurably by that recoil. In other words, I’m seeing putts intentionally hit on the toe go straight at the hole, as do putts hit intentionally the same measure toward the heel. I have hit hundreds of putts with these kinds of misses and see the same result every time.

My toe hits go straight, and my heel hits go straight.

I then began to watch the ball’s path when I altered the stroke path from extreme inside-out to extreme outside-in. I have been making a deliberate effort to keep the face square to the intended line, though the stroke is crossing that line from inside-to-out or outside-to-in. Again I am observing how the ball leaves the face of the putter, regardless of whether the putter is coming across the line from the outside or inside. And every single time, I see the ball leave at right angles to the face, rather than reacting at all to the direction of the putter head path.

My point of sharing all this is to encourage you to relax your focus on hitting putts perfect and get more focused on the hole . . . or rather your intended starting line. As long as the putter face is square to that line at impact, the ball will go pretty much where you are looking, regardless of whether your impact is perfect or your stroke flawless.

I expect this to generate interesting responses, and I look forward to seeing all of you chime in.

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GolfWRX Members Choice: Best fairway wood of 2021

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What is the best fairway wood in 2021? At GolfWRX, we take great pride in our online community and the cumulative knowledge and experience of our members. Needless to say, that extends to their GolfWRXers views on the best driver of 2021.

The bedrock of GolfWRX.com is the community of passionate and knowledgable golfers in our forums, and we put endless trust in the opinions of our GolfWRX members—the most knowledgeable community of golfers on the internet. No other group of golfers in the world tests golf clubs as frequently or as extensively, nor is armed with such in-depth information about the latest technology.

You can see the full results for the best fairway wood of 2021, as well as additional comments, in the forums.

Best fairway wood of 2021: The top 5

1. Titleist TSi2

What Titleist says: “For players seeking incredible speed and accuracy across the entire face. A deeper, lower CG pairs with the new Active Recoil Channel 4.0 to produce a consistently higher, faster launch.”

Here’s what GolfWRX members are saying

  • @MPAndreassi: “I have a TSi2 7 wood on the way. The launch and flight of them is unbelievable for me.”
  • @XanderSingh: “I’m gaming the TSi2 4w and 7w. still messing around with shafts for both, but they are great performers and very easy to hit off the tee and the ground.”

You can read what other golfers are saying about the TSi2 fairway wood in the GolfWRX forums, and see our launch piece here.

2. Ping G425 Max

What Ping says: “In the G425 fairways and hybrids, two shared PING innovations known as Facewrap and Spinsistency combine to deliver more distance and spin predictability for carrying trouble and hitting greens. A tungsten sole weight increases the MOI in the stainless steel heads for added forgiveness. ”

Here’s what GolfWRX members are saying

  • @monkeyboy: “Added Ping G425 max 3 and 5 woods with stock shafts about 4 months ago. After many range sessions and rounds, I can accurately say that these are the best fairways woods I have owned. I think the main difference for me is how flat they sit at address; it just works well for me. I make better contact, more often with these clubs – from tee and deck. In the end, I really think that I could have gotten away with just the 5 wood – it is a powerhouse, many time distance is as good as the 3 wood, easier to control.”
  • @quizzylish: “It’s a very nice fairway wood, and it took me a little bit to get used to the very shallow face and head shape; the sound is very different too. It is very straight and maybe even draw-biased; I had a hard time trying to hit fades unless I feel like I make a ridiculous swing, like holding off my release. “
  • @uglande: “And don’t sleep on the 7 wood. It’s so handy and does not balloon like I thought it might. Really nice high but powerful trajectory.”

You can read what other golfers are saying about the G425 Max fairway wood in the GolfWRX forums, and see our launch piece here.

3. TaylorMade SIM2 Ti

What TaylorMade says: “When we brought back V Steel and combined it with SIM, our goal was simple. The lowest CG of any fairway we’ve ever created. In 2021, we’ve taken it low again. With a low CG, you can launch it higher with SIM2 Titanium.”

Here’s what GolfWRX members are saying

  • @heavy_hitter: “They are lower spinning fairways, and they hit BOMBS!!”@bjno1300: “I’ve only had one quick session with mine, but on the monitor before I bought it, the numbers were great. Bought one off the shelf so didn’t have to wait, but now I’ve gotta dial it in with a shaft.”

You can read what other golfers are saying about the SIM2 Titanium fairway wood in the GolfWRX forums, and see our launch piece here.

4. TaylorMade SIM2 Max 

What TaylorMade says: “Multi-material construction and efficient weight distribution on the sole of the club deliver ultra-low CG for explosive distance, high launch and low spin.”

Here’s what GolfWRX members are saying

  • @platgolf: “Played the Sim Max 5 wood with a regular flex Ventus shaft. This is one amazing club. It is long and straight! Unless something happens, it is in the bag. The sound off the face means business. No wonder these clubs have such a high rating here. Forgot to add, hitting off the turf is so easy!”
  • @buckethat72: “I have hit both (TSi2 and SIM2 MAX) and feel the same way, can’t go wrong with either. I have been a TM woods guys for many years and sticking with the SIM Max2.”

You can read what other golfers are saying about the SIM2 Max fairway wood in the GolfWRX forums, and see our launch piece here.

5. Titleist TSi3

What Titleist says: “TSi3 fairways feature a new SureFit CG track technology, offering three unique positions to adjust club head CG to fine-tune ball flight with neutral, fade or draw flight.”

Here’s what GolfWRX members are saying

  • @ak90: “I’m a high-speed player and, as mentioned above, love the TSi3 as a second tee club, but it is nearly worthless hitting into any green. Spin is very low, and flight is super penetrating. I really like the TSi2 for hitting into longer greens but don’t find myself hitting it off the tee very often. I’m still working that section of my bag out… I have a tsi3 18 degrees with a 10TX Ventus black that I use for a “driving iron” and interchange that with the TSi2 18 degrees.”
  • @MH2: “I have found the tsi3 fairway very forgiving and easy to launch off the deck and an absolute beast from the tee.”

You can read what other golfers are saying about the TSi3 fairway wood in the GolfWRX forums, and see our launch piece here.

See the full results for the best fairway wood of 2021, as well as additional comments, in the forums.

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