Fergus has got his hands on a new set of Titleist clubs and the initial results are highly encouraging.
So, I’ve been in possession of my gleaming new Titleist clubs for a week and a half now and thought I would give a progress report at this early stage. For those who haven’t read the first three parts of this tale, you can find them here.
Basically I realised, and was subsequently totally convinced, that the clubs I had been using for nigh on 10 years were doing me absolutely no favours. Ben Hogan would have found the bladed irons with absurdly stiff shafts a touch unforgiving; my wedges were ancient and with the wrong lofts; and my hybrid – a club I picked up for £50 off a pro who couldn’t get to grips with it – was sold to me so cheaply for good reason.
Anyway, I’ve been through the full custom-fitting process with Titleist and it has been both enlightening and great fun. I’ve now played a few rounds with the new bats (including a medal) and I’m feeling very excited for the rest of the season.
Here’s a run-through of my initial thoughts:
AP2 Irons (4-PW, Dynamic Gold S300 shafts) – These are unquestionably massively more forgiving than my previous clubs and I’ve already gotten away with a number of shots that would definitely have seen me in all sorts of trouble with the old blades. In the first round with them, I was catching a number of shots thin – I think that was to do with the weighting of the club being slightly different to what I’m used to. But, almost all of those slightly thin shots ended roughly where I’d intended the ball to go. This was a good sign as that’s exactly what I’m looking for with these clubs. I’m not expecting great improvements on the very best shots; it’s the slight misses that I’m hoping to see better results from.
The thins quickly disappeared as I got used to the feel of the irons and I began to hit some superb shots. I played a round last Friday with Tartan Tour supremo Greig Hutcheon who, incidentally, has been trying to convince me to get a new set of irons for about five years. I hit a 7-iron to Banchory’s 6th hole that started out right of the pin, drew about three yards and landed softly some five feet from the hole. “That’s the best iron shot I’ve ever seen you hit,” he said. “Well, I don’t know about that,” I replied, although I couldn’t immediately recall a better one.
Then, playing a match against Stonehaven yesterday, I hit a five iron at the 2nd – 205 yards and slightly uphill. It flew arrow straight and high landing, again, softly on the putting surface. The long irons definitely go slightly higher than my old clubs. It’s because of the progressive centre of gravity – lower in the face of the long irons to encourage a higher flight, higher in the face of the short irons for more control. I’m a big fan of the flight I get with the short irons – more penetrating and less ballooning.
712U 3-iron – This thing is just brilliant. It’s very forgiving and extremely powerful. I reckon I’m hitting it about 225-230 (carrying maybe 215.) That’s precisely what I was after, and it’s a great go-to weapon on difficult tee-shots. There are a few holes at Banchory where I’ve always liked to hit 3-iron off the tee but have often felt it leaves a little too far in for the second shot. This club gives me an extra 10 yards and that makes all the difference.
SM5 Wedges – This is perhaps where I’ve noticed the biggest improvement so far. In the few rounds I’ve had them in the bag, I’ve made some up-and-downs that I could have only dreamed of pulling off with my old wedges. They produce exceptional spin when you get the contact right and the M-grind sole allows you to open or close the face of the club without altering the bounce.
In the medal on Saturday I went through the green on the 17th, short siding myself with the pin at the back. The green was firm and it’s raised about four feet from where my ball lay in pretty clingy rough. This would normally have double-bogey written all over it for me. But, opening the face of the 58 degree, I made a fullish swing and sent the ball high into the air, it landed just on the fringe and rolled gently down the slope to within a couple of feet of the hole. I held my follow through for about 10 seconds with my mouth wide open. “That can’t have been me who just played that shot,” I thought. “I must be having some sort of out of body experience.”
But no, it was me, and the up-and-down proved crucial as I went on to par the last and post a 72: Good enough for 0.2 off the handicap. That’s a pretty reasonable start with the new gear and very encouraging for the future. Now, if I can just find some semblance of sensibility on the putting green, I’ll be away!