By Jonathan Wall, PGATOUR.COM Equipment Insider
BETHESDA, Md. -- When it comes to releasing new products on the PGA TOUR, Titleist is like a Swiss watch -- incredibly consistent and always on time. For the third straight year, the Fairhaven, Massachusetts-based company unveiled something new at AT&T National.
Sticking with its two-year cycle -- Titleist rolled out the AP 712 irons in 2011 and 913 woods in 2012 at AT&T National -- Titleist debuted its 714 iron lineup on Monday at Congressional Country Club.
The TOUR-only release is part of Titleist's tour seeding and performance validation process that gives tour players the opportunity to test the final product -- roughly 24 sets of irons were shipped to Congressional -- and potentially put the new irons in play.
Chris McGinley, Titleist's VP of Golf Club Marketing, declined to go into specifics about the new clubs with the launch still several months away. However, he did confirm the company made flight, forgiveness and feel top priority when trying to improve the AP1, AP2, CB and MB.
With regards to 714 AP1 and 714 AP2, the goal was to make both irons as forgiving as possible without having to increase the blade length. To achieve this goal, high-density tungsten was strategically added to both irons to improve forgiveness.
"The designs are also more progressive," McGinley said. "So as you go from the long irons to the short irons, the weighting changes, the structure changes, and that helps us improve the flight as well."
Other improvements include the addition of more camber to the sole to make the irons a little more playable for different angles of attack, and an improved hosel blend that goes down into the leading edge to reduce the visual offset. The heel height in the short irons, in all of the models, was also adjusted.
"We made some significant changes to [the AP] irons," McGinley. "How significant? I'd say this was the largest amount of change we've made since the franchise began."
The 714 AP1, which are cast from 431 stainless steel, and the 714 AP2, cast from the same 1025 carbon steel as the 714 MB and 714 CB, also feature updated looks to the back cavity.
With regards to the 714 MB and 714 CB, McGinley noted there wasn't a lot Titleist could do to improve the irons. With so many players currently playing both versions, only subtle changes were made to the shaping and sole.
"The one thing we kept hearing from TOUR players was, 'Don't screw them up," McGinley said. "We made some shaping and sole improvements. Those are the biggest things we did to the MB and CB. Those are classic, forged blade irons, so there's only so much you can do to them. Again, it because there are so many guys out here using them that they don't want us to radically change them."