Gear surprise turns into a one-off creation for Cameron Young | Wall-to-Wall
Welcome to Wall-to-Wall Equipment, the weekly gear wrap-up in which GOLF equipment editor Jonathan Wall takes you through the latest trends, rumors and breaking news.
With the 2023 Masters in the rearview, Titleist Tour rep J.J. Van Wezenbeeck decided the time was right to surprise Cameron Young with something special at the RBC Heritage.
Two years prior at the same event, Van Wezenbeeck started adding pre-wear to Young’s irons (a process Vokey Tour rep Aaron Dill performed in the truck) to improve turf interaction. The modification was minor, but Young felt it kept his irons from digging into the turf through impact — so it stuck.
Titleist’s Tour team didn’t mind adding pre-wear to Young’s sticks, but with the introduction of one-off irons sets for Justin Thomas and Webb Simpson that were tailor-made for their every want and need, the conversation eventually turned to whether Young could benefit from a similar treatment.
Van Wezenbeeck figured it couldn’t hurt to go down the rabbit hole. With a big assist from Marni Ines, Titleist’s director of product development, and Scott Knudson, Titleist’s R&D manager, the trio proceeded to whip up a prototype 9-iron for Young to test without his knowledge.
“Cameron is high speed with lots of shaft lean, so we knew things needed to start with the sole,” said Van Wezenbeeck. “I brought the iron to Cameron in Hilton Head to get some initials feedback to see if we were close, and he immediately loved the spin consistency and how it kept the ball on part of the club face he wanted.
“At that point, I asked him, ‘If there was anything else you could change, what would it be?’ The one thing he mentioned was possibly getting the 6-iron to launch a little higher, because of the transition into T100 at the top of the set, but he still wanted the look of a blade 6-iron.”
Young was all-in on the idea of creating a one-off blade. What made the process incredibly easy for Titleist’s iron team was the list of wants from Young, which wound up being only a handful of alterations.
“From the start, Cameron was excited to make an iron with things he wanted,” Van Wezenbeeck said. “He still loved the offset and profile of 620 MB, so we didn’t need to start completely from scratch. In the short irons, it was turf interaction and having more bounce on the leading edge, which is what we brought him to test in a full-on prototype 9-iron.”
In fact, the 9-iron was so good, Young didn’t request a single change after initial testing. To get the 6-iron in a similar place, Ines lowered the center of gravity by widening the sole and removing weight from the pocket to induce a higher launch (roughly 1 to 1.5 degrees higher than Young’s 620 MB’s).
Young wound up testing the 6-iron for the first time at the Memorial Tournament and found himself in a nearly identical situation — flushing shot after shot with nary a quibble about the design.
“We got very lucky,” Van Wezenbeeck said. “Both prototypes we brought out at Hilton Head and Memorial required zero changes. Once you have the bookend irons, it’s easier to fill in the rest of the set. Marni’s team is getting pretty good at creating these irons, and Cameron provided great feedback. They knocked it out of the park on the first swings.”
With both irons in a good spot, Ines added a slightly wider sole and more bounce to the 7- and 8-iron as well to keep the center of gravity, launch and turf interaction consistent throughout the rest of the set. According to Van Wezenbeeck, it took Scott Knudson about a day-and-a-half to cut and mill each head in Young’s 631.CY set, or about two weeks for a full set.
Titleist T100 Custom Irons
Young opted to debut the irons last week at the World Wide Technology Championship, where he went a perfect 18-for-18 greens in regulation during the first round. At that time, Young was playing the only set in existence, but the performance did enough to convince Van Wezenbeeck to move Young “up the line a little bit” for backup sets that will be cut this week.
With Thomas, Simpson and Young now playing custom iron sets, the obvious question is whether the rest of Titleist’s Tour staff will follow suit. Van Wezenbeeck was quick to point out that Jordan Spieth and Tom Kim are completely content paying the in-line T100 and don’t see a reason to shake things up.
In other words, not everyone needs their own personal set.
“We’re always listening and trying to find the best fit for each player,” said Van Wezenbeeck. “In some cases, that might mean trying something different like we have with JT, Webb and Cameron. What we never want to do is force things. We certainly feel like we’re on the right track.”
Want to overhaul your bag for 2023? Find a fitting location near you at True Spec Golf.