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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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Equipment

Drake teams up with Nike for new golf apparel collection: Nocta Golf

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Canadian rapper Drake has unveiled, alongside Nike, his first-ever golf collection – Nocta Golf – which has already made its debut on the PGA Tour.

The Nocta Golf collection features anoraks, logo crewnecks, and Dri-Fit polos in black, white, gray, and hunter green, with Brooks Koepka showcasing a mock-neck from the line earlier this month.

The collection doubles up as streetwear as well as apparel for the course, and Drake announced it on his Instagram this week, where he paid tribute to the inspiration for the line, his uncle Stephen Sher.

“A collection dedicated to one of my idols. A man who took me under his wing and showed me much of what life had to offer and even more so what your own life can become when you are dedicated and loyal. My grandmother Evelyn Sher has a resting place close to the King Valley Golf Club and our drives and visits to that course hold some of my most valuable life lessons and will forever be cherished.” – Drake

The Drake Nike Nocta golf collection is available now at Nocta.com, with prices ranging from $34 to $500. 

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Best shallow/low to the ground hybrid – GolfWRXers discuss

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In our forums, our members have been talking shallow hybrids. WRXer ‘Bunta’ is on the hunt for a low to the ground hybrid and is open to new or older options, and our members have been sharing their picks in our forum.

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.

  • A-A-Roncc: “I think shallow faced hybrids and fairway woods is synonymous with Ping. Not sure what other modern hybrids would be significantly shallow compared to others though… As far as older models go, Tight Lies commercials come to mind.”
  • SwingMan: “Ping G425, and don’t worry… hopefully. Or Tour Edge Exotic. The Ping, though, is very consistent.”
  • PanchiCab: “As you said before, any ping would be great as they are designed with shallow faces, I recommend you to try also Titleist tsi2/ts2/h1 and TaylorMade m2/4/6/sim max, but take care of the shaft, most come stock with high launch offerings that have soft tips and that can end up in ‘fore left’.”

Entire Thread: “Best shallow/low to the ground hybrid”

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Whats in the Bag

Ryder Cup WITBs: U.S. team

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Collin Morikawa

Driver: TaylorMade SIM (8 degrees)
Shaft: Mitsubishi Diamana D+ Limited 60 TX

3-wood: TaylorMade SIM Titanium (14 degrees)
Shaft: Mitsubishi Diamana D+ Limited 80 TX

5-wood: TaylorMade SIM2 (19 degrees)
Shaft: Mitsubishi Diamana D+ Limited 80 TX

Irons: TaylorMade P770 (4), P7MC (5-7), TaylorMade P730 (8-PW)
Shafts: True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue X100

Wedges: TaylorMade MG2 (50 degrees), Titleist Vokey Design SM8 (56-14F), TaylorMade MG2 Hi-Toe (60 degrees)
Shafts: True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue S400

(Photo courtesy of SMS on Tour)

Putter: TaylorMade TP Juno

Ball: TaylorMade TP5 (2021)

Grips: Golf Pride Z-Grip Cord

 

Dustin Johnson

(Image c/o TaylorMade)

Driver: TaylorMade SIM2 Max (10.5 degrees)
Shaft: Fujikura Speeder 661 X

3-wood: TaylorMade SIM2 Max (15 degrees)
Shaft: Fujikura Ventus Black 8 X

7-wood: TaylorMade SIM Max (21 degrees)
Shaft: Project X HZURDUS Black 95 6.5

Irons: TaylorMade P730 DJ Proto (3-PW)
Shafts: True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue X100 (soft-stepped)

Wedges: TaylorMade MG (52 @54 degrees, 60-10)
Shafts: KBS Tour Custom Black 120 S

Putter: TaylorMade Spider Limited Itsy Bitsy
Grip: SuperStroke Traxion Pistol GT 1.0

Ball: TaylorMade TP5x ’19 (#1)

Grips: Golf Pride Tour Velvet 58R (1 wrap 2-way tape + 2 wraps left hand, 3 right hand)

 

Bryson DeChambeau

Driver: Cobra King LTD Pro (7.5 degrees)
Shaft: LA Golf Tour AXS Blue 6 X

3-wood: Cobra King Prototype B (10.5 degrees)
Shaft: LA Golf BAD Prototype 70 TX

3-wood: Cobra King SZ Tour (14.5 degrees @13.5)
Shaft: LA Golf BAD Prototype 80 TX

Irons: Cobra King One Length Utility (4, 5), King Forged Tour One Length (6-PW)
Shafts: LA Golf Rebar Proto (37.5 inches)

Wedges: Artisan Prototype (47, 52, 58 degrees)
Shafts: LA Golf Rebar Proto shaft

Putter: SIK Pro C-Series Armlock

Ball: Bridgestone Tour B X

 

Brooks Koepka

Driver: TaylorMade SIM2 (10.5 degrees)
Shaft: Mitsubishi Diamana D+ 70 TX

3-wood: TaylorMade M2 Tour HL (16.5 degrees)
Shaft: Mitsubishi Diamana D+ 80 TX

Irons: Nike Vapor Pro (3), Srixon ZX7 (4-PW)
Shafts: Fujikura Pro Tour Spec 95 X (3), True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue X100 (4-PW)

Wedges: Titleist Vokey Design SM8 (52-12F, 56-10S), Vokey SM5 TVD (60-08ML)
Shafts: True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue S400

Putter: Scotty Cameron Teryllium TNP2

Grips: Golf Pride Tour Velvet Cord (Midsize) with one wrap of 2-way tape and one wrap of masking tape

Ball: Titleist Pro V1x

 

Justin Thomas

Driver: Titleist TSi2 (9 degrees)
Shaft: Mitsubishi Diamana ZF 60 TX

3-wood: Titleist TS3 (15 degrees)
Shaft: Mitsubishi Tensei AV Raw Blue 85 TX

5-wood: Titleist 915 Fd (18 degrees @18.75)
Shaft: Fujikura Motore Speeder VC 9.2 Tour Spec X

Irons: Titleist T100 (4), Titleist 620MB (5-9)
Shafts: True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue X100

Wedges: Titleist Vokey Design Raw SM7 (46-10F @47.5, 52-12F @52.5), Vokey SM8 (56-14F @57), Titleist Vokey Design WedgeWorks (60 @ 60.5)
Shafts: True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue X100 (46), True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue S400 (52-60)

Putter: Scotty Cameron X5 Tour Prototype
Grip: SuperStroke Pistol GT Tour

Ball: 2021 Titleist Pro V1x

Grips: Golf Pride Tour Velvet Cord

Patrick Cantlay

Driver: Titleist TS3 (9.5 degrees)
Shaft: Mitsubishi Diamana ZF 60 TX

3-wood: Titleist 915F (15 degrees)
Shaft: Mitsubishi Diamana ZF 70 TX

Hybrid: Titleist TS2 (21 degrees)
Shaft: Mitsubishi Diamana ZF 80 TX

Irons: Titleist 718 AP2 (4-9)
Shafts: True Temper Dynamic Gold 120 Tour Issue X100

Wedges: Titleist Vokey Design SM7 (46-10F @47, 52-08F), SM8 (56-08M @57), SM8 Prototype (61)
Shafts: True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue S300

Putter: Scotty Cameron Phantom X 5

Ball: Titleist Pro V1x

Grips: Golf Pride Tour Velvet

Tony Finau

Driver: Ping G425 LST (9 degrees @7, Big -)
Shaft: Mitsubishi Diamana D+ Limited 70 TX (45.25 inches, tipped 1.5 inch)

3-wood: Ping G400 Stretch (13 degrees @12.5) (D5+ swing weight)
Shaft: Mitsubishi Diamana D+ Limited 80 TX (42.5 inches, tipped 2 inches)

Irons: Nike Vapor Fly Pro (3), Ping Blueprint (4-PW)
Shafts: Graphite Design Tour AD DI Hybrid 105 X (3), Nippon N.S. Pro Modus3 Tour 120 X (4-PW)

Wedges: Ping Glide Forged (50-10, 56-10), Titleist Vokey Design SM8 WedgeWorks (60T)
Shafts: Nippon N.S. Pro Modus3 Tour 125 X (50, 56), Nippon N.S. Pro Modus3 125 Wedge (60)

Putter: Ping PLD Anser 2 Prototype

Ball: Titleist Pro V1

Grips: Lamkin UTX Mid (Green)

Xander Schauffele

Driver: Callaway Epic Speed Triple Diamond LS (10.5 degrees @9 degrees)
Shaft: Graphite Design Tour AD BB 7 X (custom black, 45.5 inches, tipped 1 inch, D3)

3-wood: Callaway Epic Speed Triple Diamond (15 degrees @14)
Shaft: Graphite Design Tour AD DI 7 TX (43.25, tipped 1.5 inch, D3)

7-wood: Callaway Mavrik Sub Zero (20 degrees @18.8)
Shaft: Graphite Design Tour AD DI 9 X (41.5 inches, tipped 2 inches, D3)

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

(Photo via Callaway’s Johnny Wunder)

(Photo via Callaway’s Johnny Wunder)

Wedges: Callaway Jaws MD5 (52-10S), Titleist Vokey Design SM6 (56-10 @57), Titleist Vokey Design SM8 (60-06K)
Shafts: True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue X100

Putter: Odyssey O-Works #7 CH Red
Grip: SuperStroke Traxion 2.0 Tour (10 grams)

(Photo via Callaway’s Johnny Wunder)

Ball: Callaway Chrome Soft X LS Prototype

Grips: Golf Pride MCC (Black/White)

Jordan Spieth

Driver: Titleist TSi3 (10 degrees)
Shaft: Fujikura Ventus Blue 6 X

3-wood: Titleist TS2 (15 degrees)
Shaft: Fujikura Ventus Blue 7 X

Hybrid: Titleist 818H2
Shafts: Graphite Design Tour AD DI 95 X Hybrid

Irons: Titleist T100 (2021) (4-9)
Shafts: True Temper Project X 6.5 (4-9)

Jordan Spieth’s bag at The Open. (Courtesy of SMS on Tour)

Wedges: Titleist Vokey Design SM8 (46-10F @8, 52-08F, 56-10S), Vokey Proto (60-T)
Shafts: True Temper Project X 6.0 (6.5 in 46)

Putter: Scotty Cameron Circle T 009
Grip: SuperStroke Traxion Flatso 1.0

Grips: SuperStroke S-Tech

Ball: Titleist Pro V1x (2021)

Harris English

Driver: Ping G400 (9 @9.2 degrees)
Shaft: Mitsubishi Kuro Kage XT 70 X

3-wood: Ping G400 (14.5 degrees)
Shaft: Fujikura Atmos Blue Tour Spec 7 X

Irons: Ping i500 (3), Ping Blueprint (4-9)
Shafts: True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue X100 (3-9)

Wedges: Ping Glide 3.0 (46-SS, 52-SS, 56-SS), Ping Glide Forged (60-SS)
Shafts: True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue X100 (46, 52, 56), True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue S400 (60)

Putter: Ping Scottsdale Hohum

Ball: Titleist Pro V1

Grips: Golf Pride Tour Velvet Align

Daniel Berger

Driver: TaylorMade SIM (9 degrees)
Shaft: Fujikura Ventus Black 6 X

3-wood: TaylorMade M6 (15 degrees)
Shaft: UST Mamiya Elements Chrome 8F5

Irons: Callaway Apex Forged ’16 (3), TaylorMade TP MC ’11 (4-PW)
Shafts: Project X 6.5

Wedges: Callaway Mack Daddy Forged (50-10, 56-10), Callaway Mack Daddy 4 (60-12C)
Shafts: True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue S400

Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour (Chalk)

Ball: Titleist Pro V1 Left Dot

Grips: Golf Pride Tour Wrap

Scottie Scheffler

Driver: Ping G400 LST (8.5 degrees @7.75)
Shaft: Fujikura Atmos Black Tour Spec 7 X

3-wood: Nike VR Pro (13.5 degrees)
Shaft: Fujikura Atmos Black Tour Spec 8 X

Utility: Srixon Z U85 (3)
Shaft: Nippon Pro Modus3 Hybrid Tour X

Irons: Srixon ZX7 (4), TaylorMade P7TW (5-PW)
Shaft: True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue X100

Wedges: Titleist Vokey Design SM8 (50-12F, 56-14F, 60-A)
Shafts: True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue S400

Putter: Scotty Cameron Super Rat

Ball: Titleist Pro V1

  • Featured image c/o Aaron Dill on Instagram.  
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