Titleist 712 AP2: A Duffer's Testimony

Accepting an invite to complete a foursome, I headed out to the Chalet Hill Golf Club for an round of golf with one question in mind, "Did I make a smart investment, shifting from Game Improvement to Player clubs".  On this gloomy, cool, and lite-rainy March morning in Cary IL, I prepared to face the challenges rendered by an unfamiliar course, narrow splashy fairways, and soaked greens (which proved to be EXTREMELY slow and brutal to putt on). 

18-Holes, a few 3-putts, and several missed up-and-down opportunities later, I concluded today's outing posting a modest 89 (+16) - breaking 90 for the very first time.  To rid any speculation, this is a legitimate score - absent some of the amateur favorites: mulligans, do-overs, and/or gimmes.  Although this is somewhat a high score, it's a massive improvement of my best recorded score since I began playing 3 seasons ago 93 (+21).  Not to mention, today's conditions weren't very favorable, severely impacting the short-game and punishing putting.

Considering this is merely the first round of the season, I still find myself at odds with the notion that beginners, duffers, amateurs, etc. should only play with "Game Improvement" clubs as "Player" clubs are designed with the scratch or single-digit handicapper in mind.  To me, that's suggestion is the biggest load of nonsense, plagued by elitism and misconception.

I wrote this to say, if you are a mid/high handicapper considering a shift toward a "Player" club, the only feedback you need to consider is that of your game.  No one can tell you if will or will not have a pleasurable experience with them, especially those whom have never seen you play nor intimately understand your strengths and weaknesses.  Instead of pursuing the feedback of others, rely on the one real test - your game.  Be honest with yourself and if you find that you can consistently strike your irons, you should be able to move toward player clubs and take your game to the next level.

By-the-way, it also helps that Titleist makes a superior product.  I am elated about my decision to toss the X-18 iron and X-series hybrids, replacing them with AP2 and 910 woods/hybrids.  I think I made a good decision despite feedback received from other "low-handicappers" (including the Titleist fitter).

I too made the change from game improvement irons to Titleist Ap2's and I agree with you 100 percent.  These irons are absolutely awesome.  I was worried about making the same decision and the Pings were very good to me.  I switched my whole bag over to all Titleist.  I wish I would have made this decision a couple of years ago!!!  In my opinion you can't go wrong with Titleist and it was well worth the investment (My wife didn't really like the idea of the switch).

Couldn't agree more.  It's not the dog in the fight, it's the fight in the dog.  Not espousing MB irons for 120 handicap, but if you want to move your handicap down, are willing to commit more that 2 casual rounds a month, you don't have to look at sets that are all hybrids or are super game improvement irons with a cavity base you can see from your setup.  AP1/AP2 won't stop your slice or hitting thin/fat, but if you are working on eliminating them, you can think about it.

If you are improving your swing mechanics, and you bought your current set off the rack, you can consider the   commitment to better set.  In my case, I had 2 sets of game improvement irons, neither fitted.  I never took the 4I on the course from either set, and had the 5 for punching out from under trees.  I went to a fitter I had used for a driver and trusted.  Neither set was the right lie, and in trying a G20, the stock length didn't work as well as as +1/4 (same length as the Titleist AP irons).  Both G20 and AP1 were a club and a half longer that the G10s I had bought off the internet.  I trust my 5I and 4H equally.

Love the response on the course.  A consistent driver and better distance control from under 100 yards will greatly improve my handicap.  But my mid-range game with the Titleist irons (....properly fitted!)  is just fine.  Maybe I should have worked on the ends of my game instead of admiring my irons shots on the ranges this winter.  At 62 and not great swing speed, I would have been walked down to the senior sets at the box stores.  The only thing that saved me was also being left-handed - and they didn't stock the club they thought would suit my game.

Marc

I got a question, I do you think AP2's are NOT game improvement irons?

Quintin H

Marc

I got a question, I do you think AP2's are NOT game improvement irons?

I had constantly heard the AP2s regarded as "Player" clubs.  Given the characteristics (compact profile, forged, small sweet-spot, workability, reduced forgiveness, etc) , I would tend to agree.  However, I feel use of such irons ultimately improves your game, as the AP2s and other similar irons demands consistent striking.

Do you feel differently?

The number 1 thing of a game improvement iron is the center of gravity helping get the ball airborne. From all the fitting stories I've read on this board, everyone has to have the clubs delofted 1-2* so the launch angle and spin rate match, and they are already a degree stronger than the cb's. Which is the reason other game improvement irons have a reduced loft.......which is why the PW's are 44-47* nowadays, because the cg is low, which launches the ball high, which you want less spin thus less loft. Low cg is most of the forgiveness of a game improvement iron.

Forged has nothing to do with game improvement. AP2's are not reduced forgiveness........I think they are saying they are 7% more forgiving, how they measure that I don't know, just guessing I'd say the MOI is 7% higher, but I don't know how that can be equated to 7% more forgiving. And if they are 7% more forgiving then they don't have a small sweet spot.

Now it is true the industry has labeled clubs as game improvement and players club.....it really doesn't have anything to do with your skill level, it is how you swing. There are pros that use AP2's, and there were pros using Callaway irons long before they started making blade type irons, but all those Callaway irons were still in the game improvement category.

Game improvement and players club are just labels that don't mean anything other than the style of swing they fit. Someone that fits MB's aren't going to play AP2's as good as they play the MB's, and that doesn't mean they are highly skilled.

Quintin H

The number 1 thing of a game improvement iron is the center of gravity helping get the ball airborne. From all the fitting stories I've read on this board, everyone has to have the clubs delofted 1-2* so the launch angle and spin rate match, and they are already a degree stronger than the cb's. Which is the reason other game improvement irons have a reduced loft.......which is why the PW's are 44-47* nowadays, because the cg is low, which launches the ball high, which you want less spin thus less loft. Low cg is most of the forgiveness of a game improvement iron.

Forged has nothing to do with game improvement. AP2's are not reduced forgiveness........I think they are saying they are 7% more forgiving, how they measure that I don't know, just guessing I'd say the MOI is 7% higher, but I don't know how that can be equated to 7% more forgiving. And if they are 7% more forgiving then they don't have a small sweet spot.

Now it is true the industry has labeled clubs as game improvement and players club.....it really doesn't have anything to do with your skill level, it is how you swing. There are pros that use AP2's, and there were pros using Callaway irons long before they started making blade type irons, but all those Callaway irons were still in the game improvement category.

Game improvement and players club are just labels that don't mean anything other than the style of swing they fit. Someone that fits MB's aren't going to play AP2's as good as they play the MB's, and that doesn't mean they are highly skilled.

Before responding and taking pride in my research prior to my investment in AP2s, I collect key data points from various references.  That said, I am in disagreement with your response, as there is a clear difference between the cast and forged irons, as well as the lack of forgiveness with the AP2s as compared to true "Game Improvement" clubs.  

That said, please read this excerpt, found here:

The real difference isn't as much in how the irons are made, however, as in how they are played. Forged irons are made with a less forgiving nature as a rule thanks to a relatively small sweet spot that requires good aim, steady swing, and controlled contact. The forged irons have long been considered an advanced iron for that reason. The unforgiving nature of the forged iron would seem at first thought to make them less desirable but when a golfer has learned how to get the most out of their own performance a club that offers them better control, and more feedback to help them understand the imperfections that still exist in their game can be a great benefit.

Even though forged irons are now often made with as many technological advanced in game improving techniques such as cavity backs, sling backs, and varying weight systems they still offer a lot of trouble for a high handicap golfer.

Cast irons have a much more forgiving nature and high handicap golfers can get better performance out of them when their own form is less than perfect. They also are more comfortable to use because they have less vibration when mishit and will often times still deliver a good flight no matter how the ball is hit. They have a much larger sweet spot so mishits are less common and usually have many game improvement qualities to help stabilize a player's swing and contact.

This addresses the claim of forged irons having nothing to do with forgiveness.  The next post will focus on the characteristics of the AP2s and not being "Game Improvement" clubs but more so "Player" clubs, to include the smaller sweet spot (inherit with forged clubs) as well as the difference between it's "Game Improvement" counterpart, the AP1s

Quintin H

The number 1 thing of a game improvement iron is the center of gravity helping get the ball airborne. From all the fitting stories I've read on this board, everyone has to have the clubs delofted 1-2* so the launch angle and spin rate match, and they are already a degree stronger than the cb's. Which is the reason other game improvement irons have a reduced loft.......which is why the PW's are 44-47* nowadays, because the cg is low, which launches the ball high, which you want less spin thus less loft. Low cg is most of the forgiveness of a game improvement iron.

Forged has nothing to do with game improvement. AP2's are not reduced forgiveness........I think they are saying they are 7% more forgiving, how they measure that I don't know, just guessing I'd say the MOI is 7% higher, but I don't know how that can be equated to 7% more forgiving. And if they are 7% more forgiving then they don't have a small sweet spot.

Now it is true the industry has labeled clubs as game improvement and players club.....it really doesn't have anything to do with your skill level, it is how you swing. There are pros that use AP2's, and there were pros using Callaway irons long before they started making blade type irons, but all those Callaway irons were still in the game improvement category.

Game improvement and players club are just labels that don't mean anything other than the style of swing they fit. Someone that fits MB's aren't going to play AP2's as good as they play the MB's, and that doesn't mean they are highly skilled.

Response 2 of 2

Center-of-Gravity/Moment-of-Inertia

The loft has no bearing on these factors, as these factors are manipulated via weighting of the clubs.  Both the AP1 and AP2 using tungsten weighting (positioned in different location within the sole) to drive down the center-of-gravity and increase the MOI.  If one compares the loft of the MBs and the AP2s, there is no difference between the two sets.  This similarity is also found when comparing each of the iron set (AP1, AP2, CB, and MB). As a side note, Titleist leverages more traditional lofts with their irons, stronger lofts are generally built into sets who are using distance as a marketing tool. 

7% More Forgiveness

You are correct, the AP2s are 7% more forgiving; however, this is related to its predecessor AP2 710.  It's my understanding that this does not apply to a comparison against the broad base of irons.  Additionally, the increase is MOI is again associated with the alterations made with the weighting system.

Smaller Sweet-Spot

In comparing cast and forged irons, "Game Improvement" irons and always cast iron.  This allows the manufacturer to not only create oversized heads, as seen with many "Game Improvement" clubs, but it also offers the ability to create cavity back with a wide range of design options - offering increased sweet spots.  The nature of the metals used with cast irons are also more forgiving on off-center hit, thereby reducing workability.  Forged on-the-other-hand, is absent such forgiving characteristics and as a result, have a smaller sweet spot and increased workability.  This can also be noticed with the more compact head and minimal offset.

 

For more details, review the following presentation conducted by Steve Pelisek (General Manager, Titleist Golf Clubs), here.  I believe he provides more intelligent insight into their products than myself.

I realized, after-the-fact, that I misspoke.  So in correcting myself, the AP1 lofts are strong per club.

I never said loft had anything to do with forgiveness.......so I'll say it now, it does. The higher the loft the less the impact on the club thus less twisting on off center hits.

I never said the loft had anything to do with causing the location of the center of gravity, I did say that with the low center of gravity the club hits the ball higher thus the loft has to be decreased to hold down the spin rate. And as I said the number 1 game improvement characteristic is low center of gravity.......which you have correctly pointed out that the AP2's have used every trick in the book to lower the center of gravity.

And if you have ever read any of the fitting stories on this board, about the AP2's then you would know that they all end with strengthening the lofts.

Marc, maybe you should read what I said in the first place.

I will account for my misinterpretation of your words.  Yet, we are still at odds - I do not agree with the notion that AP2s are game improvement clubs.  I honestly believe most other individuals may also disagree, given the aforementioned characteristics.

Hm, this may be a good poll question.  Let's reach out to the TT community and tally their views.

As I tried to point out before, why would you even care what label has been put on the clubs?

Do you think that if it has a particular label that means you are no good at the game?

Do you think a particular label means you are good?

MOST of the people I play with use game improvement irons, and MOST of them are pretty darn good.

Did you know it is nearly impossible to find a 24* 585.h with a stiff shaft, I gave up and ordered a component club. DO you know why? Because it is labeled that you must be a wimp to use a 24* hybrid......or it could be that everyone that has a 24* 585.h ain't gonna get rid of it.

Today during my 3rd 9, I saw Timothy(of TT), hit his AP1 to a par 3(we were letting him play thru), hit the green and spun back about a foot, then made the 10ft putt. Everything about it looked good.

Now think about it, you use the clubs for the first time, first round of the year, and you break your own scoring record...........and these are clubs that you need precision impact(ok first round of the year and you have precision impact)..............or could it be they are game improvement irons, and they did a good job of taking care of your mishits.

If you want to call them non-game improvement irons go right ahead, when I get a set I'm going to call them game improvement irons.

Quintin -

While I appreciate the conversation as well as  respect your opinion, I think it's time to agree to disagree.  We are clearly viewing this from two different spectrums while attempting to make two different points.  

I do concur, my experience thus far is based on only one round - with an entire season left to play.  Over the course of the next few month, I am sure tI will encounter some ups-and-downs.  However, this experience was after many weeks of practice. In fact, the only club I unwrapped prior to that round of golf was my 3-iron and my PW.  I used my PW once to gauge my gap distance.  Once this process was complete, my PW was returned to my bag and never saw another ball until the day I played.

Prior to using the 3i, I practiced solely with my 56* (warm-up, 40-50 yd touch shots, and flop shots) and my PSP The Little One (pure ball striking).  Once I reached of a point of consistent striking with the The Little One, I included the next hardest iron to hit - my 3i.  At which time, I would practice with only my 56* and the 3i.  I encountered many mishits during the spent range time, that is how I know you play for mishit - loss of distance and loss of control.

In case it was missed, yes I was peeling off the plastic while walking to my ball.  Frankly, I still have the plastic on the 4i and 5i.  Anyway, I never said I didn't have mishits, in fact I admitted to them. I had a ~6 mishit in live play and YES, I felt each one.  In fact, the hole which I posted triple bogie on was one that I was over confident and began missing the sweet spot.  This hole started with a nice drive; followed by a fat shot; a shot of the heel; and a couple bladed shots.   That was a hole I had to fight thru then forget about at the next tee.

As one poster put it earlier in this thread - it's not the size of dog in the fight; it's the size of the fight in the dog. ;-)

Have a great weekend.

 

Marc

P.S.  Look up The Little One made by PSP.

I would say that the AP2 iron falls somewhere in the middle of the spectrum. 

The extreme Player end would be MBs because they are one piece clubs with thin soles.   The other extreme would be Adams OS where short irons have rounded inch and a half soles with all sorts of dampers, moveable weights, rounded soles and about 10 pieces. 

They consider an Eye 2 to b e a so-called GI iron but it is probably half the width of the super-duper GI irons these days and is only a one piece club.  It is pretty easy to shot shape with, almost impossible to hit fat and still can pick the ball off a tight lie. 

My two cents on someone who considers carrying a 24H or 9 wood "wimpy" is that individual needs to be schooled by some old guy with a 15 wood that plays to a single digit.  I got schooled  a bit myself in 2007 by an elderly gentleman that used a 4H on a 169 yard par 3; at the end of the round his score for 9 holes on a regulation golf course was +3. Now that I am close to "senior citizen" age (I'll be 55 this year), I believe in playing smarter and not harder.  If a 26 and 34H  sticks greens and gets on the par 3s in regulation, why bust your hiney with a 5-7 iron? (I just went back to using a 34H and I cut my score by 2 strokes for 9 holes the last two rounds I played).

I see that there is a lot of argument on wether the ap2 is indeed a players club. I would have to say no. I used to play ap2 irons (710 model) and that was when I was a 16 handicap. I think that the ap2 irons are a great transition set into players irons. I currently use an old beat up pair of mp-30 irons ( 1* flat, 1* strong in 8-pw, project x 5.5 with golf pride vdr grips) but I love them because they are even more a players club than the ap2's are but not they are not like mb's or mp 68's. In my opinion nothing beats a good set of forgings but if I had a second choice titleist is the way to go. What I would reccomend is keeping the ap2's and using them on a different course that chalet hills. Trust me that course can be brutal. Go to countryside golf course or Deerfield golf course, both of them are more manageable.