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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 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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Whats in the Bag

Michael Gligic WITB 2022 (January)

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Driver: Ping G425 LST (9 degrees)
Shaft: Mitsubishi Kaili White 70 TX

Driver: TaylorMade Stealth Plus (8 degrees)
Shaft: Mitsubishi Kuro Kage XD 70 TX

Driver: Ping G425 LST (9 degrees)
Shaft: Mitsubishi Kuro Kage XD 70 TX

3-wood: TaylorMade SIM2 Titanium (15 degrees)
Shaft: Project X HZRDUS Black Handcrafted 75 6.5 X

Utility irons: PXG Gen4 0311 X (2 in bag with same shaft)
Shaft: KBS Tour Hybrid Prototype 105 X

Irons: PXG Gen4 o311 ST (4-PW)
Shafts: KBS C-Taper 130 X

Wedges: Titleist Vokey Design SM9 (50-12F, 54-10S, 58-08M)
Shafts: KBS C-Taper 130 X (50), KBS Hi-Rev 2.0 125 S+ (54), KBS Hi-Rev 2.0 125 S (60)

Putter: Scotty Cameron Select SB+ Prototype

 

 

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Whats in the Bag

Francesco Molinari WITB 2022 (January)

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Driver: Callaway Rogue ST Triple Diamond Proto (8.5 degrees)
Shaft: Fujikura Ventus Red 6 X

3-wood: Callaway Rogue ST LS (15 degrees)
Shaft: Fujikura Ventus Red 7 X

Hybrid: Callaway Apex Pro (20 degrees)
Shaft: Mitsubishi Tensei CK Pro Blue HY 90 TX

Irons: Callaway Apex TCB (4-PW)
Shafts: True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue X100

Wedges: Callaway MD5 Jaws (50-10S, 56-10S, 60-08C)
Shafts: True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue X100, Nippon Modus Tour 120 S (60)

Putter: Odyssey Tri-Hot 5K One
Grip: Lamkin Deep-Etched Toulon Design

Francesco Molinari’s what’s in the bag accurate as of 2022 The American Express. More photos from the event here

More Francesco Molinari WITBs

 

 

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Whats in the Bag

Greyson Sigg WITB 2022 (January)

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Driver: Mizuno ST-Z 220 (10.5 degrees)
Shaft: Project X Smoke Black RDX 60TX

Fairway: Callaway Epic 3+ (13.5 degrees)
Shaft: Graphite Design Tour AD TP 8x

Hybrid: PXG Gen4 0317 X (19 degrees)
Shaft: Project X Smoke Black RDX 100 6.5 (X-Stiff)

Iron: Mizuno JPX 919 Hot Metal Pro (4), Mizuno JPX 921 Tour (5-PW)
Shaft: True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue S400 Black Onyx

Wedges: Vokey Design SM9 (52-08F, 56-08M), Vokey Design Wedgeworks 2022 Proto (58-T)
Shafts: True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue S400 Black Onyx

Putter: Scotty Select Cameron GoLo 5
Grip: Lamkin Deep-Etched

Greyson Sigg’s what’s in the bag accurate as of 2022 The American Express. More photos from the event here

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