Behind The Scenes: Titleist U500 Iron Tour Seeding
We’re arrive at the range at the Irish Open in Lahinch early on the Tuesday morning and Liam McDougall, Titleist’s main European Tour fitter, is already hard at work.
It will be a very busy week for him, seeding Titleist’s new U500 and U510 utility irons in the first of a three-week stretch of links golf where this type of club is often the preferred choice over a hybrid because of the lower, hotter ball flight they provide.
He’s just started with Bernd Wiesberger, who at the time played a Titleist 818H2 hybrid as well as a 716 T-MB 2- or 3-iron to add in depending on the course.
Liam has his work cut out as Bernd admits his trusty hybrid is his favourite club in the bag. His caddie is also vocal during the fitting, quite forcefully insisting that the hybrid stays in because of how reliable it has proven to be.
Bernd hits a few shots with his 716 T-MB irons and checks the numbers on Liam’s Trackman and they’re hitting the distances he wants.
He then takes a first look at the new U500 models, up close and down behind the ball. It’s clear he prefers the more compact look of the U500 over the U510 and even knocks it with his knuckle to listen to the sound.
Looks play a big part in the confidence you get and Bernd admits he likes what he sees in the U500. It’s similar to his 716 T-MB he currently plays, a little beefier perhaps, and after he strikes a few away, the fast feel and ball flight clearly impress to.
I was surprised at how few shots it took for Wiesberger to gain a grasp of how the new club performs but that said, with the instant feedback from Trackman and his precise ball striking, you can understand how in a handful of shots he gained a sharp enough picture in his mind as to what it could do for him.
Manipulation of the flight was key. Yes Bernd wanted to hit it far, but he also needs to be able to flight it down into the wind, hit a draw to get the ball running and hit a high cut into par fives. The U500 ticked the boxes here.
Distance was also a factor, but not in the way you might expect. Us mere mortals would justify a new club if it promised extra distance, but Wiesberger wasn’t looking to hit the ball further with this club. He just wants it to hit his ideal carry number more consistently, something his caddie is also keen to see, and the U500 delivered here too.
After about 15 minutes, the decision was made. The U500 was going straight in his bag to replace his 716 T-MB 3-iron and he used it to devastating effect that week, finishing second behind Jon Rahm before going one better the following week to win the Scottish Open.