Just over a month has passed since Titleist first introduced the new family of prototype 718 irons at the PGA Tour's Quicken Loans National and the European Tour's HNA Open de France in June. Players also got their first looks at the new Titleist prototype 818 hybrids at the PGA Tour's John Deere Classic and the European Tour's Scottish Open.
The buzz has continued to build each week, as more and more players have had a chance to work with the new prototypes and put them to the test in tournament competition. And those players who have made the switch into new prototype 718s and 818s are already seeing the results and enjoying the rewards in the form of tour success.
At the 99th PGA Championship, Titleist Brand Ambassador Justin Thomas captured his first major just weeks after putting the prototype 718 MB irons (5-9) into play. Justin’s final round comeback was capped off by a stunning 217-yard 7-iron shot into the 71st green, setting up a final birdie on his way to a two-shot victory.
Justin commented on the switch sharing, "It was an easy transition. Just hit some balls with them and I liked them right away. They are very similar to what I have now, but I liked the updates. They were more forgiving and I was able to hit the shots I wanted and the shot shapes I like to see."
At the 146th Open Championship, Titleist Brand Ambassador Jordan Spieth (Pro V1x) gave golf fans a performance for the ages, rallying with a collection of clutch shots down the stretch at Royal Birkdale for his third career major. Spieth played his final five holes in 5-under-par, a run that was set up by a remarkable recovery shot he played a hole earlier, from the practice grounds bordering the 13th hole.
Spieth had driven the ball right on No. 13, into a gnarly lie on the side of a steep sand dune. Reviewing his options, he took an unplayable lie and dropped with a one-shot penalty on the practice range, right next to the Titleist Tour Support Van. Spieth faced a blind shot of some 230 yards that had get up quickly to clear the high sand dunes and land safely near the well-guarded green. He chose his new prototype 718 T-MB 3-iron, a club he was trusting for the first time under tournament pressure.
Spieth flew the dunes and his Pro V1x came to rest just in front of a greenside pot bunker. He was then able to play a delicate pitch and deftly converted a six-foot putt for bogey, a momentum-turning save that fueled his closing surge to the Claret Jug.
One week earlier, Titleist Brand Ambassador Rafa Cabrera Bello (Pro V1x) staged a championship charge of his own at the Scottish Open, where the Spaniard was relying upon new prototype 718 MB irons for the first time in competition. Cabrera Bello fired a course-record 8-under-par 64 in the final round to equal the lead in the clubhouse. In the ensuing playoff, he went on to win with a birdie on the first extra hole.
The Scottish Open was one of two worldwide tour stops where Titleist first introduced the new prototype 818H1 and 818H2 hybrids (prototype 818 hybrids debuted at the same time at the PGA Tour's John Deere Classic). One player who put a new prototype 818 H2 (21°) in the bag straight away was Titleist Brand Ambassador Ian Poulter (Pro V1x). Poulter had also put a new set of protoype 718 AP2 (5-PW) irons in the bag as soon as they were available. The Englishman relied on the new clubs to post a 9th place finish in Scotland. He followed up that effort with a T14 finish at the Open Championship and a third-place showing at the RBC Canadian Open with a total score of 20-under-par 268.
In the few weeks since they first arrived on the PGA and European Tours, Titleist prototype 718 irons and prototype 818 hybrids have been quickly embraced by the world's best players. Most recently at the RBC Canadian Open, Titleist was the top choice among players in both the irons (49) and hybrids (32) categories. Of those iron sets in play, 19 (39%) were new prototype 718 models. Of the Titleist hybrids in play at the event, nine (28%) were new prototype 818 models.
This year's tour seeding and performance validation effort is also notable because it marks the introduction of a brand new prototype iron model from Titleist - the 718 AP3. Titleist Brand Ambassador Jason Bohn is currently playing a full set of prototype AP3 irons (4-PW) and several players have added AP3 long irons to their setups, including Titleist Brand Ambassador Jimmy Walker (AP3 3-iron ), Titleist Brand Ambassador Ben An (AP3 3-iron ) and Titleist Brand Ambassador Bobby Wyatt (AP3 4-iron).
Let's take a look at some initial reactions to the new prototype 718 irons and prototype 818 hybrids, as shared by players and golf writers on social media.
Early in the week at the Quicken Loans National, the front-page story was the launch of the new Titleist prototype 718 irons.
Titleist Brand Ambassador Justin Thomas was one of many players who have already put the new prototype 718’s straight in the bag.
Seeding for the new prototypes also commenced at the Open de France on the European Tour. Titleist Brand Ambassador Ian Poulter (Pro V1x) bonded quickly with his new prototype 718 irons.
Titleist Brand Ambassador Peter Uihlein (Pro V1x) also weighed in on the new prototypes from France.
Back in the States, Titleist Brand Ambassador Russell Henley (Pro V1x) shared a photo of his new prototype 718 T-MB.
Kevin Harms, who caddies for Titleist Brand Ambassador Kevin Na (Pro V1), snagged one of Kevin’s new prototype 718 AP2 irons and shared this photo.
Team Titleist was on-site at the Quicken Loans National, taking in all the action as Tour Reps and the Titleist Golf Club R&D team fit players into the new prototype 718 irons, tested them out on the practice range and collected player feedback. Click here for more coverage of the seeding process.
Titleist Brand Ambassador Jimmy Walker showed off his new prototype 718 MBs.
Titleist Brand Ambassador Kevin Na gave a few new prototype 718 models a test drive, including the AP2, AP3 and T-MB irons he shared in this post.
Titleist Brand Ambassador Ben An also put some shiny new prototype 718 MBs in the bag at Quicken.
Tour seeding is like Christmas morning for Tour pros like Titleist Brand Ambassador Zac Blair.
Across the Atlantic at the Open de France, Titleist Brand Ambassador Andrew Johnston shared an early positive review of his new prototype 718 MB irons.
In France, Ian Poulter employed a hands-on approach with his new prototype AP2s on the Titleist Tour Support Vehicle.
A closer look at Rafa Cabrera Bello's winning prototype 718 irons from golf writer Jonathan Wall.
Titleist Brand Ambassador Bobby Wyatt unveiled the 818 hybrid that he put in the bag at the John Deere Classic.
Titleist Brand Ambassador Richy Werenski added a new prototype 818H2 hybrid to go with his new prototype 718 CB and T-MB irons.
Team Titleist was also on-site at the John Deere Classic, sharing some inside-the-ropes action as players tested and shared their feedback on the new prototype 818 hybrids.
Some early feedback on the new prototype 818 hybrids from Titleist Brand Ambassador J.T. Poston…
… and Titleist Brand Ambassador Patton Kizzire.
The best players in the world will continue to play a vital role in our performance validation process as they work with our Tour Reps and R&D teams to put new prototypes 718 irons and 818 hybrids through their paces. This is a critical step in our launch process and it is on these proving grounds where we ensure every Titleist club is delivering on our brand promise of innovation, performance, and quality excellence.
Once a prototype has passed this vital test it is one step closer to receiving a final stamp of approval. In the coming weeks, we’ll also start working with our network of fitters, product specialists and trade partners to make sure they can provide you with the best possible fitting and trial experiences once these new products are ready for launch.
In the meantime, stay tuned to Titleist.com (sign up for special 718 and 818 product alerts by clicking this link) and our social channels (follow us on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook) as we share more Titleist 718 and 818 product details and take you inside the technology and under the hood.