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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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Here’s why Dustin Johnson is using a 9-wood at the 2022 PGA Championship

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If you tuned into Friday’s coverage of the 2022 PGA Championship, you may have noticed that Dustin Johnson hit a 9-wood at the par-3 8th hole at Southern Hills Country Club.

Wait, a 9-wood?

Yes, a 9-wood. And he made birdie on the hole after hitting his tee shot to 33 feet 5 inches.

While Johnson has been using a TaylorMade Stealth 21-degree 7-wood throughout this season, he typically transitions into either a TaylorMade Stealth Rescue 22-degree club or a TaylorMade DJ Proto 3-iron. This week, however, at the lengthy Southern Hills setup, Johnson opted to put a TaylorMade Stealth 24-degree 9 wood in the bag.

A TaylorMade rep commented on Johnson’s switch this week:

“In our testing, DJ consistently hit his 9-wood 245 yards, which is nearly the exact same distance he produces with his 3-iron. With the 9 wood, however, he hits it much higher and gets more spin, living around 4200 rpm.”

Below are the specs for Johnson’s new club:

Model: TaylorMade Stealth (24 degrees)
Lie angle: 60 degrees
Shaft: LA Golf prototype (tipped 2 inches)
Swing weight: D4

In case you missed it, Johnson also switched into a new TaylorMade Spider GT Splitback putter this week. For more on that switch, click here!

Check out all of our photos from the 2022 PGA Championship this week.

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TOUR REPORT: John Daly’s bizarre irons, Tiger’s surprising equipment changes

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Major championships aren’t always the best place to find interesting gear news. By the time it’s the week of a major, players are typically dialed into their equipment and focused on performance and preparation.

This week was different.

An abnormal amount of gear changes happened this week, and GolfWRX was live at Southern Hills Country Club in Tulsa, Oklahoma, to cover them all.

Yes, Tiger Woods made significant equipment switches this week, but he wasn’t the only one.

In this week’s Tour Report, we highlight the noteworthy equipment news and coolest gear photos from on site at the 2022 PGA Championship.

Let’s dive right in.

Check out all of our photos from the 2022 PGA Championship

1) Tiger Woods makes big changes

Tiger Woods is the undisputed King of the 2-iron stinger. I don’t think I’ll get too many arguments there.

Most golf fans know Woods historically hit his patented stingers with a forged blade long iron. This week, however, Woods surprised us all by switching into TaylorMade’s P-770 2 and 3-irons to replace his usual 5-wood and P-7TW 3-iron setup.

As highlighted in our report for PGATOUR.com, Woods has found greater forgiveness, height and length from the hollow-bodied irons. Both of his new P-770 long irons are also equipped with True Temper’s new Dynamic Gold MID Tour Issue X100 shafts, which are designed for higher spin and launch.

The new irons weren’t the only changes Woods made to his bag setup, though. He also switched from TaylorMade’s MG2 (Milled Grind 2) wedges into the new MG3 wedges this week. His versions have a raw finish, come with his familiarly intricate TW sole grinds, and have more bounce than you may expect.

Any changes that Tiger makes are noteworthy, since he rarely switches his gear up, but he added four new clubs to the bag this week. Check out his entire new gear setup in the link below.

Tiger Woods’ full WITB at the 2022 PGA Championship

2) Webb Simpson ditches his blades

For essentially his entire career, Webb Simpson has been an old-school blade iron user.

Well, not anymore.

Simpson switched from Titleist’s 620 MB irons into the company’s new T100 irons this week. He spoke to the media on Thursday following his first-round 69 regarding the switch:

“I’ve had a couple of short stints with non-blades in my career but not many.”

“I haven’t been hitting my irons great. Approach to the green is typically a strength for me; this year it’s been a weakness, and I’ve struggled out of the rough. I keep getting told that these the irons I’m playing are better out of the rough, better with distance control, better with mis-hits, and so I guess I was being stubborn but finally listened and I really like them.”

“They’re not a whole lot different than mine the way they look, but we’ve had good results with them so far.”

According to Simpson, his caddie Paul Tesori played a role in Simpson’s intrigue in the new T100 irons.

“Yeah, honestly I hadn’t considered it that much at all. Paul  mentioned it at Wells Fargo after that first round or maybe after I missed the cut on Friday. Then he came to Charlotte last Wednesday and we were doing some testing, and we were seeing some crazy numbers out of the rough with my blades.”

“Thankfully I live on the golf course, so we drove to my garage, picked up this other set — honestly I didn’t know if I had this other set still. I don’t know if Titleist will like this or not, but if I don’t use a set I give it to a friend. I’m trying to spread the word for Titleist, you know. So I might have given to a friend, but I see them in there, we bring them out, and all the numbers we tested were way better.”

“So I still wasn’t certain that I was going to put them in this week so I have both, but yeah, the biggest thing for me is when I look down I want to make sure it looks good, and then after that all I care about is the numbers and how it’s going to perform out of the rough, and so far they’ve passed the test.”

The lesson here for amateurs is to test a range of different irons to figure out exactly what suits your game best. Even the world’s best ball strikers sometimes opt for more forgiveness.

See more photos of Webb’s new Titleist T100 irons here

3) Dustin Johnson switches to a new putter

Dustin Johnson tests multiple different putters every week leading up to just about every single tournament he plays in. While he typically ends up back into his blacked-out TaylorMade Tour Limited Spider, this week he called up a new Spider GT Splitback putter into his starting lineup.

Here’s what TaylorMade Tour rep Bucky Coe had to say about the switch:

“It’s all about the aesthetics. From the feedback I got from him, he grabbed it off the putting green because he liked the longer shape in the back and felt it was more forgiving with the CG placement. The combination of a white cavity and the single sight line allows him to set it up square and align the ball easily.”

TaylorMade also provided the full specs below.

Model: Spider GT Splitback
Loft: 2 degrees
Lie angle: 69 degrees
Length: 35.75 inches, end of grip
Swing weight: E7
Grip: SuperStroke Pistol GT 1.0
Shaft: LA Golf prototype

4) Custom PGA Championship gear

It goes without saying, but major championships are a big deal in the golf world. Adding to the hype and intrigue, golf manufacturers and apparel companies typically create custom gear that’s special to each of the major events.

With Tulsa, Oklahoma, as the artistic inspiration, golf companies developed their best tributes to the city’s culture and colorways. Which company do you think did it best?

(For reference, in the photo above, Callaway’s staff bag is on the left, Odyssey’s putter covers are top middle, Scotty Cameron’s “Golden Driller Statue” covers are in the middle, Axis1’s putter covers are bottom middle, and TaylorMade’s staff bags are on the right.)

See all of the custom PGA Championship gear

5) John Daly’s wild equipment setup

As we covered in our report for PGATOUR.com this week, 56-year-old John Daly came to the 2022 PGA Championship with a stunning gear setup.

Daly has so much lead tape on his TaylorMade P-770 irons that, honestly, it was difficult to immediately decipher what brand and model he was using.

After speaking with Scott “Scott E.G.” Garrison – his club builder – Daly needed the excessive lead tape because his oversized SuperStroke grips (with 6 wraps underneath) weigh in at 82 grams, which is about 30 grams heavier than standard. In order to offset the grip weight, Daly needed significantly more weight on the heads. Thus, his irons are absolutely caked in lead tape.

Daly also revealed a new PXG “TD” prototype driver; PXG is yet to comment on the driver design, but we’ll update you on GolfWRX.com’s front page as soon as we know more.

John Daly’s full WITB from the 2022 PGA Championship

6) Xander’s new Callaway wedge

The world is waiting on five-time PGA Tour winner Xander Schauffele to win his first major championship. Golf equipment fans are also waiting on more information about his new Callaway Jaws Raw 52-degree wedge. Unfortunately, we don’t know much yet, but we do have photos in his full WITB below from this week.

Xander’s full WITB from the 2022 PGA Championship

8) Patrick Reed’s new Grindworks driver

Patrick Reed, the 2018 Masters Champion, has been playing a bag full of Grindworks irons since the end of 2019. The limited edition “PR-101A” irons are forged from S20C soft carbon, and they’re made to his exact look and feel preferences.

The Grindworks connection hasn’t stopped at just the irons, though. Earlier in 2022, Reed revealed a set of custom Grindworks “Barrett” wedges. Now, at the 2022 PGA Championship, Reed put a new Grindworks “Equinox X420” driver in the bag (at least, as of Wednesday ahead of the event).

Reed is a prolific gear tester, so it’s uncertain how long the driver will stay in the bag come competition time, but either way, he helped most of the golf world see the Grindworks driver for the first time.

Patrick Reed’s full WITB from the 2022 PGA Championship

And with that, we say goodbye to Tulsa and the 2022 PGA Championship. We’ll see you next week in Fort Worth, Texas for the 2022 Charles Schwab Challenge at the classic Colonial Country Club.

Check out all of our photos from the 2022 PGA Championship

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Coolest thing for sale in the GolfWRX Classifieds (5/20/22): Mint Cobra LTDx LS 9 degree driver head

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At GolfWRX, we are a community of like-minded individuals that all experience and express our enjoyment of 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 we all love – buying and selling equipment.

Currently, in our GolfWRX buy/sell/trade (BST) forum, there is a listing for a Mint Cobra LTDx LS 9 degree driver head

From the seller (@Rosco1216): “Mint cobra LTDx LS 9* head. 5g of neutral melt. Weighs 201g. Do not have head cover but will ship fully protected. Can include adapter if needed. Asking $360 obo. I do have a couple shaft options in the 75x range I could put in if interested. DM me if interested.”

To check out the full listing in our BST forum, head through the link: Mint Cobra LTDx LS 9 degree driver head

This is the most impressive current listing 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

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