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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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Equipment

Zozo Championship Tour Truck Report: Phil’s new driver and 2-wood, Tiger testing a new 3-wood

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Slower week than most at Sherwood but still a couple of nuggets—and who doesn’t love a Tiger/Phil equipment update?

Callaway

Phil Mickelson: After his (two drivers in the bag) win on the PGA Tour Champions, Lefty went full gearhead and continued to test not only the new Apex MB ’21 irons (6-PW) but also put a 47.5-inch Callaway Mavrik Sub Zero in the bag. The (low-lofted) 9-degree head, set now at 8 degrees (swing weight at D7) will be equipped with either a Project X HZURDUS Smoke Green 60 6.5 or a KBS TD 60G C5 TX.

In addition, Phil is bringing back the 2-wood having put a 43.5-inch, 12.5-degree “old school” X Hot 3 Deep. The idea with both is distance gain (non-shocker) for example on Tour there are a number of bunkers, forced carries at the 300+ clip and to be able to fly by those on command is a huge advantage. Dispersion will suffer a bit in this scenario, but that’s what the 2-wood is for. The new driver set up got Phil about 8 mph of additional ball speed and on avg a 310 carry. The 2 wood is to fill the larger gap created by the driver—this new fairway metal gives Phil about 280-285 carry.

Ping 

Tony Finau: Ping G425 LST (9 @7.5 Big-) with Diamana D+ 70TX tipped 1.5

Andrew Landry: Ping G425 LST (9 @8.75, flat) with Fujikura Ventus Blue 6X (46 Inches)

Joaquin Niemann: New Ping G425 7-wood (20.5 @20) in the bag with Graphite Design Tour AD DI 8X (20.5, 40.5 inches).

Titleist

Slow week, no major updates to report beyond Aaron Dill making 9,000 wedges for the players in early Augusta prep…

TaylorMade

Tiger Woods is testing a SIM Ti 3-wood with a Mitsubishi Chemical Diamana D+ 70 TX shaft. The 15-degree 3-wood is set at 14.25 and is on the upright setting. (42.5, D4, Golf Pride BCT 58R). Won’t know if it goes in play until tomorrow tee off…

 

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Whats in the Bag

Tiger Woods WITB 2020 Zozo Championship (new 3-wood?)

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  • We spotted Woods with a TaylorMade SIM 3-wood in his bag, along with the TaylorMade M5 he’s had in play for more than two years. We’re told it will be a game-time decision as to which one he puts in play.

Driver: TaylorMade SIM (9 degrees)
Shaft: Mitsubishi Diamana D+ Limited 60 TX

tiger woods witb

3-wood: TaylorMade M5 (15  @14.25 degrees)
Shaft: Mitsubishi Diamana D+ Limited 70 TX

3-wood: TaylorMade SIM Titanium (15 degrees)
Shaft: Mitsubishi Diamana D+ Limited 70 TX

5-wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 @18.25 degrees)
Shaft: Mitsubishi Diamana D+ Limited 80 TX

Irons: TaylorMade P7TW (3-PW)
Shaft: True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue X100

Wedges: TaylorMade MG2 TW/MT Grind (56-12, 60-11)
Shafts: True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue S400

Putter: Scotty Cameron GSS Newport 2
Grip: Lamkin Deep-Etched cord

Grips: Golf Pride Tour Velvet Cord 58R

Ball: Bridgestone Tour B XS

 

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Equipment

GolfWRX Classifieds (10/21/20): Cameron cover, Ping Hoofer tour bag, SIM Rocket 3-wood

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At GolfWRX, we love golf equipment plain and simple.

We are a community of like-minded individuals that all experience and express our enjoyment for 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 – the equipment itself.

One of the best ways to enjoy equipment is to experiment and whether you are looking to buy-sell-or trade (as the name suggests) you can find almost anything in the GolfWRX BST Forum. From one-off custom Scotty Cameron Circle T putters, to iron sets, wedges, and barely hit drivers, you can find it all in our constantly updated marketplace.

These are some of the latest cool finds 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

Member Tourseeking – Rare Cameron Maiden America cover

There are rare, and then there are really rare covers and this falls squarely in the really rare category. It’s priced according but would make a great addition to any collection.

To see the full listing and additional pictures check out the link here: Rare Cameron cover

Member slalomdude – Ping Hoofer Tour bag

Were used to seeing rare and hard to find, but it’s not often Ping releases something that captures attention like this. The bag is new with tags and is being offered at a great deal!

To see the full listing and additional pictures check out the link here: Hoofer Tour 

Member awtryau89 – TaylorMade SIM Rocket 3-wood

This is truly one of the fastest little “rocket ship” fairway woods on the market, and this is your chance to get your hands on one for a great deal with a Graphite Design BB.

To see the full listing and additional pictures check out the link here: Rocket 3 wood 

Remember that you can always browse the GolfWRX Classifieds any time here in our forums: GolfWRX Classifieds

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