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GolfWRX Insider: The real story of Tiger’s Titleist 681T irons

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The speculation around these irons (and every Tiger Woods iron thereafter) has been just shy of comical. Anything from “Mizunos stamped with different OEM logos” to “Miura secretly forging them in a cave full of kryptonite and fairy dust.”

It’s all entertaining, but in the end, a good conspiracy theory is typically just that: a theory.

I thought it was a good time to set the record straight—beyond doing it on my podcast over a year ago—with the man who was in the middle of it: Larry Bobka, VP of Golf Club Promotion during that time.


JW: How did the process begin, and specifically what was Tiger looking for?

LB: I was just finishing up my project with Davis and was asked if I could lend a hand with Tiger. Terry McCabe, VP of R&D, had few prototypes going, so there had been some conversations with Tiger before me. I went down to Isleworth, met with Butch and Tiger, and we discussed his current set…what he liked, didn’t like, and what would make a Titleist set better.

JW: What inspirations did you take from older clubs and how much did the design of his Mizuno irons influence the design?

LB: Having worked with players at Wilson (mentored by Bob Mendralla), I felt confident that we could make him a great set of clubs. His Mizuno set was important from a standpoint of watching ball flight and turf interaction. They make really good irons. Tiger had sent me a set of old Hogan Apex 1973 irons, as well, that had a lot more camber in the sole. I added a bit more…one of the tweaks added to the 681 forgings.

JW: How many different prototypes were made until you landed on the 681?

LB: Terry had made Tiger a couple of 5-iron prototypes. I left Isleworth with a simple plan: make Tiger three identical sets and let him choose the best 2, 3, 4-iron, etc. down through the bag—old school club making I learned from Bob Mendrella

JW: Like his P7TW, the 681 had a phase 1 that he put into play. The 1998/1999 model was a touch different than the 681, can you explain those a bit?

LB: His original sets were made from old Titleist forgings made by Hoffman Products (McCabe Design pictured below) and some blank forgings from Endo. After he liked the irons, we tooled up the 681’s at Endo.

 

JW: How much bounce did he like in his irons?

LB: If you look at the stock 681’s, they have a fair amount of bounce. His long irons are weaker than standard loft, which gave him more bounce in the 2- 5-irons.

JW: What older Titleist blades closest resemble the Tiger Iron?

LB: Titleist Tour Model (Box Blade). That’s what inspired his 5-PW.

JW: What was testing like—with no launch data?

LB: Old school club making. As Toney Penna told me once: look, listen, and copy—look at ball flight, turf interaction, listen to what the player says and doesn’t say, copy what’s in your head. We did have the Titleist Launch Monitor later when he came to Oceanside just confirm ball flight.

JW: Once and for all, who forged the Tiger Titleist irons?

LB: We did in Carlsbad from Hoffman and Endo forgings. Miura made a limited edition (pictured below) for Titleist Japan, but he never used them.

JW: Did he ever consider cavity backs at all?

LB: No, he hit Davis’ cavity forgings (below) a couple of times on the range at events.

681T (retail) specs below. All with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts tipped 1/4 inch.

Topic closed. If Larry Bobka doesn’t know, nobody does.

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Johnny Wunder is the Director of Original Content, Instagram Manager and Host of “The Gear Dive” Podcast for GolfWRX.com. He was born in Seattle, Wash., and grew up playing at Rainier G&CC. John is also a partner with The Traveling Picture Show Company having most recently produced JOSIE with Game of Thrones star Sophie Turner. In 1997 Johnny had the rare opportunity of being a clubhouse attendant for the Anaheim Angels. He now resides in Toronto, On with his wife and two sons. @johnny_wunder on IG

17 Comments

17 Comments

  1. stanley

    May 1, 2020 at 10:44 pm

    sometimes you wonder if tiger is going to spill all the beans after he retires or something. endo? miura? what is it?

  2. Steve

    Apr 22, 2020 at 10:21 pm

    So who made the production 681’s? Endo? I’ve got some Custom Grinds that I rather enjoy.

  3. Cory

    Apr 19, 2020 at 10:15 am

    Looking at the lofts he is playing, they are the same loft set up that guys on tour are still playing. Just will different numbers stamped on the heads.

  4. Randy Ball

    Apr 18, 2020 at 1:10 pm

    Titleist put out some beauties in early 2000’s. They had Phil 731pm, 681,690,680’s. Not bad when your staff was Tiger, Phil, Duval, Love, Adam Scott, and Ernie Els.

  5. Paul

    Apr 18, 2020 at 8:39 am

    So it’s mock conspiracy theories and then admit to conspiracies? Got it.

  6. the dude

    Apr 17, 2020 at 3:16 pm

    uhhh…kinda breezed over those cavity back’s….like to see them!

    • The Lefty

      Apr 17, 2020 at 11:54 pm

      Ummm yeah. Can we get the next topic on those Davis cavity backs, never heard of nor seen those. Where they been my whole life? Titleist put out some sneaky good iron sets for Phil (Titleist PM731) and Tiger in early 2000’s. At one point they had Tiger, Phil, Ernie, Davis, Duval all gaming their irons and winning tournaments.

  7. Odnamra

    Apr 17, 2020 at 3:07 pm

    LMAO so it was ENDO….mic drop.

    All yall mfs who have built up the MIURA mystique been lyin to everybody…

    I bet Miura-san is very grateful to all of you.

    • dat

      Apr 17, 2020 at 9:22 pm

      Preach!

    • Paulo

      Apr 18, 2020 at 4:08 am

      I’m pretty sure it’s been known / suspected for a while tigers irons were endo forgings. Miura does some other guys but tiger was always endo. What makes the debate pointless though is 99.9999999% of golfers couldn’t tell the difference between an iron forged by Miura v the same iron shape cast by some back yard club maker. I really think people just don’t grasp the level of feel the worlds best have. We are not the worlds best

  8. Rascal

    Apr 17, 2020 at 12:03 pm

    First story in a long time I clicked on something above “lol”!

  9. Dyson Bochambeau

    Apr 17, 2020 at 10:30 am

    The P790TI 7 iron has the same loft as tigers 5 iron

  10. Gunter Eisenberg

    Apr 17, 2020 at 9:56 am

    Please have this permanently pinned on the front page of golfwrx.com to end the speculation for now and for the future.

  11. Brandon

    Apr 17, 2020 at 9:41 am

    Is Hoffman still in business?

    • Charlie

      Apr 17, 2020 at 2:43 pm

      He closed his doors in early 2000’s. Made some great irons over the years though. Scratch were the last guys to do something similar in USA.

  12. MBA-J

    Apr 17, 2020 at 9:21 am

    Grand opening, grand closing. Great job getting down to the bottom of this. Top marks.

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Whats in the Bag

Nelly Korda WITB 2021 (August)

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Driver: Titleist TSi1 (10 degrees)
Shaft: Graphite Design Tour AD IZ 6 S

3-wood: Titleist TSi2 (16.5 degrees @17.25)
Shaft: Fujikura Ventus Red 70 S

Fairway wood: Titleist TSi2 (21 degrees @20.25)
Shaft: Mitsubishi Tensei AV Raw Blue 75 S

Irons: Titleist T200 (2021) (4), Titleist T100 (5-PW)
Shafts: Aerotech SteelFiber i80cw F4

Wedges: Vokey SM8 (50-08F, 54-14F, 58-10S)
Shafts: Aerotech SteelFiber i95cw S

Putter: Scotty Cameron Special Select Squareback 2 Prototype

Ball: Titleist Pro V1

Photos courtesy of SMS_on_Tour.

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Mitsubishi Chemical launches 5th generation Diamana PD shafts

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Mitsubishi Chemical is expanding on the range of options provided by Diamana TB by launching the new Diamana PD shafts designed to allow players to explore a lower-launching profile.

The new shafts feature a Consistent Feel Design, which is an engineering approach that aims to minimize any variation in butt OD, weight or balance point through an entire shaft series.

This Consistent Feel Design process seeks to remove any difference a player might feel as they hold a club, thereby removing any distraction when comparing different weights or flexes.

The new PD shafts contain Mitsubishi Chemical’s XLINK Tech Resin System: a unique, dual-phase application that utilizes epoxy and non-epoxy components to produce a carbon-rich structure with a stronger bond between resin and fiber.

The cross-linked phases are designed to create both high modulus and high elongation strength, yielding a lighter and universally stronger prepreg.

“Like TB shafts, Diamana PD are designed to maximize the modern dedicated fitting. Players can now see what a lower launching profile could add to their game while eliminating any distracting change in feel as they shift among weights and flexes.” – Mark Gunther, Vice President of Sales and Marketing for MCA Golf

The shafts also contain a Boron fiber that is equivalent in stiffness to high modulus carbon fiber, but with superior compression strength. Mitsubishi Chemical uses Boron fiber in combination with other proprietary materials in design to produce prepreg options that deliver unprecedented strength and stability.

Ion Plating completes the new shafts from MCA for a premium look.

Specs, Pricing & Availability

  • Weights and Flexes: Diamana PD 40 (R2, R, SR, S, X Flex), Diamana PD 50 (R, SR, S, X, TX Flex), Diamana PD 60 (R, SR, S, X, TX Flex), Diamana PD 70 (S, X, TX Flex), Diamana PD 80 (S, X, TX Flex).
  • Price: $400
  • Availability: Mid-September 2021
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Whats in the Bag

WITB Time Machine: Hunter Mahan’s 2014 The Barclays winning WITB

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Driver: Ping G25 (9.5 degrees)
Shaft: Aldila Rogue 70X

3 Wood: Titleist 913 F.d (15 degrees)
Shaft: Fujikura Motore Speeder 757X

 

Hybrid: Ping i25 (17 degrees with 18 degrees of actual loft)
Shaft: Mitsubishi Rayon Diamana White Board 90X

Irons: Ping S55 (3-PW)
Shafts: Nippon ST 120X

Wedges: Ping i25 (54 and 59 degrees)
Shafts: True Temper Dynamic Gold X100

Putter: Ping Scottsdale TR Anser 2

Ball: Titleist Pro V1x Prototype

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