Titleist 716 irons: Behind the tech with Steve Pelisek

The Scoop

Steve Pelisek is the main man when it comes to Titleist golf clubs. He gives us the lowdown on the 716 irons

At the launch of the Titleist 716 irons we had the opportunity to chat with Steve Pelisek, product manger for Titleist golf clubs.

Steve is very passionate about his golf clubs and it’s always a pleasure to pick his brains about a new release.

There’s a lot of new technology in the 716 AP1, AP2, CB, MB and T-MB irons and there’s no one better to explain it.

What’s the philosophy behind the new irons? Forgiveness, distance or both?

The critical element of irons is a combination of distance but also consistent distance so we try to achieve both of those.

WATCH: Titleist 716 AP1 review

The player who is interested in AP1, that player may be more distance concerned. The AP2 player may tend to realise that distance control and accuracy is maybe what they need to improve their scoring.

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Those are two major elements that go into the design of each iron.

When you are trying to get distance out of an iron you’ve got to maintain the objective of every iron shot that is being hit and virtually every iron shot is being hit at a pin.

You’ve got to respect trajectory so when trying to get distance that’s got to come at a playable and stoppable trajectory. That’s where the engineering goal becomes that if I can get the CG as low as possible then I can get it to launch very high.

These are common elements of AP1 and AP2.

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You get 14 friends to take with you on your journey and you probably want to take 14 that do something unique" What’s the theory behind strengthening the lofts on the 716 AP1s?

With AP1 you can drive the CG down as low as you can to get it to launch as high as you can then you can strengthen lofts where you are not strengthening them to the point that you lose playable trajectory. 

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The key thing is that if you strengthen loft then ball speed goes up – all things being equal, a 21Ëš lofted golf club will generate greater speed than a 23 or 24Ëš lofted golf club – it’s less of a glancing blow and more of a direct blow.

WATCH: Titleist 716 AP1 review

When you lengthen the shaft the broaden the dispersion. We didn’t want to go there. 

“We thought if we could use technology to generate the speed at a playable trajectory then that’s even better because you get more speed, more distance, maintain trajectory and you don’t widen the dispersion. 

“So if you do a comparison with the way we’ve designed AP1 as a game-improvement iron you start to realise there are some distinct advantages as you can generate that speed. 

If you just compare lofts, you’re not looking at the whole story.

What kind of trajectory do you get from that loft? We think we get a nice, high soft-landing trajectory still. We can also create that speed without having the lengthen the club. It’s easy to hit a shorter club than a longer club.

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You’ve used a lot of Tungsten in these new clubs, what’s the theory behind that?

The technology is clear. You’ve got to lower the centre of gravity so you need to have dense materials low in the centre of the golf club. 

WATCH: Titleist 716 AP2 review

We use Tungsten because it’s very heavy – the only thing heavier than that you get into some very precious metals like gold or platinum or uranium – that kind of thing. 

Tungsten is a very dense material, it drives the centre of gravity down. Also, because we can put it exactly where we want we can maximise the MOI. 

With moment of inertia in an iron it’s really not so much about directional accuracy it’s about distance accuracy because what moment of inertia does is it gives you consistent speeds across the face of the club.

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“So that combination of low CG creates high launch which we can then neutralise a little bit when we strengthen the lofts and then this high moment of inertia gives you the consistent speed then gives you a very long, very playable, consistently playable golf shot. It’s pretty cool.

Do you still expect to make irons that go further each year?

We haven’t reached the ceiling yet in terms of distance. 

We still think there’s technology which we can put into golf clubs that makes them go further. 

“For example with 712 AP1, 714 AP1, 716 AP1 you see in each iteration a better, more refined execution of the same objective. 

Some of that comes from learning to use new materials and from learning new sophisticated manufacturing processes. 

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You’ve heard about the co-forging process – two generations ago you couldn’t have done that because it wasn’t makable from a manufacturing standpoint. We could design it, we could dream it, but we couldn’t make it.

WATCH: Titleist 716 AP2 review

It’s clear that even the best players in the world like forgiveness in their irons. How to you get the balance right throughout the 716 range?

One of the more important distinctions here is that we try to understand and appreciate – who is the player that is going to be playing this club? 

“Lowest score wins. So you try and make sure the set at the end is a set you can use regardless of the conditions you are in and the shot you’ve got to hit and in the case of irons that means I want distance but I also want the thing to stop.

“We have platforms. We like Tungsten, we like heavy metals and we like chassis sizes that we know certain player types are going to like. Then we have variations on how we apply those technologies based on the player profile that we think is going to want that iron.

“Any player, all players like forgiveness. Whether you’re a tour player or you’re a 30-handicap golfer. 

“Give me a golf club that’s more forgiving and I’ll take it – unless there are trade-offs that certain players aren’t going to make. 

“In the case of irons that usually bills down to blade length. So a player of any skill, I’ll take maximum forgiveness unless I’m playing a golf course with a lot of rough you get a long blade it’s more difficult to use than a more compact blade – there’s your trade off.

“That’s basically what keeps a tour player between and AP2 and an AP1 – they like the distance and forgiveness of the AP1 but it’s just that bigger golf club, I end up in the rough  and that long blade length gets caught in the grass, that golf ball is going left.”

Zach Johnson opted for an AP1 4 iron in his Open Championship win though?

It’s situational. He carried an AP1 4-iron and a T-MB 3-iron. 

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He’s an example of a guy who almost on a week-by-week basis is looking to play to the situation. 

We get it with Jordan Spieth too. Anybody can take a look at the course they are playing and make a decision based on that. 

The classic is the long par-3 that perhaps falls in a gap that you struggle with. 

If that’s your home course then you should take the time to get fit for a golf club that hits the ball that distance. That’s very common practice among players who know their game well.

You get 14 friends to take with you on your journey and you probably want to take 14 that do something unique.

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