I’m one very lucky guy. I freely admit this. I’m paid to write, travel and enjoy golf. It is encouraged for me, as a prerequisite of my employment, to be invested in the state of my game.
Of all the people in need of a new set of irons, I’m likely one of the last. Twelve months ago, I underwent a full-bag fitting at GOLF’s sister company, True Spec Golf, where I was outfitted into a new set of clubs. I’ve yet to purchase most of that bag (custom clubs are pricey!), but irons were one area in which I simply couldn’t wait. In January, after months of consternation, I purchased my first-ever new set of irons.
I was off the market when Titleist reached out to me about attending a fitting for their new T-Series irons. I’m a loyal guy, and I was certainly loyal to the not-insignificant financial investment I’d made just months earlier. I had no skin in the game, but hey, it’s not often you’re asked to test clubs purely for the sake of testing them, and I certainly had no better plans on a Tuesday morning in August. So I woke up early, slung my bag over my shoulder and walked from my apartment in New York City’s West Village to Grand Central Terminal. I hopped on the first train bound for Darien, Conn., where I’d spend the first portion of the day “on assignment” at Wee Burn Golf Club … playing golf.
I arrived at the club a short while later, where I fumbled my way into the tent Titleist had set up on the range. A few minutes later, I matched with my fitter Chris Bellinger, who, as luck would have it, grew up in the town over from mine. We chatted for a bit and I explained my situation to him. I had come to test each of Titleist’s new iron offerings — the ultra game-improvement T300, the mid-tier T200, the players-distance T100S, and the blade-style T100. I was under no delusions that I’d end the day fitted with an iron I liked more than my current gamers, but I was sure willing to try.
I left with a deeper understanding of the technologies, specs and ideas that every golfer should be thinking about throughout their fitting — and with a considerable change of heart.
Here are three of the biggest things I learned.
1. I may finally have eclipsed the “game-improvement” category
The first thing that popped out to me when swinging the new T300 irons was the weighting. I’m not sure I’ve ever held a club in which I could physically feel the center-of-gravity (or, as the kids call it, CG) like I could with the T300. As Chris explained to me, the weight sits in the back of the club, which makes it easier for higher-handicappers to strike and launch their shots, and boosts the overall forgiveness.
Check and check for me. The face of the T300 felt about a mile wide, and it’s easy to see how higher-handicappers could fall in love. The ball seemed to bound off the face, and produced a high, arcing ball flight that, for players who struggle to get the ball in the air, would be intoxicating.
After a few swings with the T300, Chris recommended we move on. In his estimation, I was hitting it *too* well, launching my shots so high that my spin rate ballooned with it. He guessed I’d be a better fit with one of the “players” models. That came as a pleasant surprise to this lifelong high-handicapper.
2. Toplines … actually matter?
It’s time to share a secret. For years, I’ve read the insights of GOLF’s gear gurus — Jonathan Wall and Andrew Tursky — and wondered why they spent so much dang time discussing “toplines.” In my estimation, what a player saw at address was about as relevant as the color of the grip.
Well, when I picked up the T100S for the first time, I “got it.” The T100S is considered in the same club category as the T200 — players distance — but you quickly see the differences between the two clubs. Whereas the T200 has a touch of offset and a slightly thicker head, the T100S is blade-like all the way through. It’s evident nowhere more than in the topline, which is noticeably thinner in the T100S. Just check out the photos below.
Now, that’s not to say one club is better or worse. Toplines are typically a matter of subjectivity. But they certainly do matter when it comes to finding the right fit for your game. I realized I like slightly thinner toplines, which helped to push me in the direction of my eventual fit…
3. Sometimes, you can just FEEL it
Like I said, I wasn’t deluded into believing I’d find a better fit for my game than the irons I entered with … until I swung the T100. I certainly didn’t think Titleist’s top-tier players iron (the one you’ll see Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas swinging) would also work with my 13-handicap game. In fact, I spent the first five minutes I swung the club convincing myself that it wasn’t, in fact, a good fit for my game.
“Yeah, it’s sick, but I can’t play a blade,” I told Chris. “I’m an idiot, but I’m not that much of an idiot.”
Eventually, though, it was hard to argue with the results. My launch monitor numbers were comparable to my gamers in distance and spin rate, but my dispersion with the T100 was significantly tighter. More than that, I was taken by the purity of the strike. I noted to Chris that I wasn’t sure I’d ever understood what it meant for a club to feel “buttery” until I swung the T100s. I’m not a shot-shaper by any means, but I felt like I could understand where my shots were hitting the face of the club before I ever looked down.
I’m a firm believer that golfers are at their best when they’re well-informed, and it was hard not to feel as though the T100s were “telling” me more with every swing than Titleist’s other T-Series offerings.
I’d made up my mind. I was sold on the T100. The difference was subtle, sure, and not one I anticipated making a significant impact on my round-to-round performance. But for a player looking to drop from the 80s into the 70s, every green-in-regulation helps.
A little luck never hurts, either.
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Titleist T-Series T100 Irons