Titleist introduces new drivers in the odd number years and new irons in the even years. However in the biggest equipment story since the PGA Show has announced both a driver and irons “out of cycle” and they really are something different for the privately-held company who it is anticipated will have a public offering of stock in the next few months.
The Concept driver and irons are constructed with premium materials with the latest engineering in limited quantities and carry an ultra-premium price. The C16 driver lists for $1,125 with only 1,500 to be produced while the C16 irons (right hand only) are $375 each with steel shafts and $415 with graphite. 1,000 sets will be available.
Speculation centers on whether Titleist making a statement prior to going public to enhance sales of shares or are they staking out a position in the high end of the market competing with the clubs from PXG (also priced at more than double current popular brands) who announced their top end clubs last year. The company has said publically though that taking what they characterize as a giant step towards theoretically unparalleled performance not an aggressive answer to PXG was the motivation.
Using that reasoning the company seems to think they can give golfers more distance, more accuracy and more consistency if the constraints in materials and construction induced by the current industry price points are removed.
Reinforcing this “concept” buyers won’t be able to just walk into their local golf shop carrying Titleist clubs to purchase the C16s but must undergo a custom fitting at either of the Titleist Fitting Centers in Massachusetts and California.
The C16 Driver will come in only 9 and 10.5 degrees loft but has the first sliding track sole weight Titleist has ever produced and their familiar adjustable hosel with 16 loft and lie settings. To be able to have the weight available to incorporate the tracked weight system the crown is made from an ultra-thin ATI-425 titanium alloy plus the cup face is an SP700 titanium and also a cast body is made of high strength Ti 8-1-1. A sole slot, Titleist calls it an Active Recoil Channel, provides added face flex at impact.
C16 irons are a multi-material hollow head design that allows a large portion of the forged steel cup face to be unsupported to give more ball speed and therefore distance. Short irons have a very thin HT1770 face insert. The iron body is a light-weight design giving designers discretionary weight that could be repositioned towards the heel and toe with tungsten weights.
Interestingly when compared with the current 716 AP1 model iron played by many Titleist staff members on Tour the new C16s are more compact with a narrower sole, thinner top line and shorter blade length. This presumably means the irons are targeted for use by very low handicap amateurs and professionals. Also lofts of the C16s are in middle of the range that has become the modern standard. A C16 5-iron is 25 degrees and the pitching wedge is 43 degrees the exact same lofts as the 716 AP1s while the C16 five iron is two degrees stronger than the Titleist 716 MB while the pitching wedge is four degrees stronger.
WHAT'S YOUR REACTION?