First Look: Titleist T-Series irons unleash faster faces, once again with the forgiving power of tungsten
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: Titleist launches four complete updates of its T-series irons, including the tour-preferred T100 and its stronger lofted twin (T•100S), the players-sized T200 with its high-flexing face insert and the high-launching, game-improvement T300. Each design benefits from the company’s signature multimaterial focus on improving stability on off-center hits and optimizing launch through the use of higher density tungsten, as much as 100 grams in the T200.
PRICE: T100, T•100S, T200 ($186 per club); T300 ($143 per club). Available for fittings now and in stores Aug. 26.
THE DEEP DIVE: When Titleist makes its biennial family-wide T-series iron launch (there are four new models to replace the irons of the same name T100, T•100S, T200 and T300), the message and the mission across the board takes a familiar, albeit challenging tone: boost forgiveness through the use of industry-leading amounts of high-density tungsten, build distance where necessary by stretching the material limits, and yet mostly maintain the size, shape and especially the feel that its loyal and large tour staff and customer base have come to expect.
Trouble is, feel and looks and high-speed performance can be a hard match. That’s why the 2021 T-Series irons reflect new approaches to those elements, including the use of a higher density tungsten and selectively thinner face designs. Even subtle changes (brazing elements within the multi-piece designs, rather than welding them) or building a stronger, thicker back bar to frame impact allows all those performance enhancements to take shape in a form and feel that the best players recognize.
Case in point, said Marni Ines, Titleist’s director of irons development, is the T100. Sure, it’s upgraded the amount of tungsten in the heel and toe to 80 grams for better forgiveness. The real story is getting that forgiveness while re-upping the focus on feel for the most widely-played tour iron.
“We asked ourselves how do we improve feel, and we know that structure is a big part of feel,” he said. So the T100’s distinctive back bar, which in recent models had been thinned to create more weight that can be redistributed elsewhere, is once again thicker. But that structural change isn’t a step backwards, rather the Titleist R&D team rethought how that bar could be thicker and still allow them to use more tungsten to improve forgiveness so mishits continue to more closely approach center hits.
Since the T100 has a specific, compact shape limitation, it’s not possible to pack larger and larger piece of tungsten onto the design. Instead, Titleist now uses a more dense “D18” version of tungsten. Again, though, that move also required a manufacturing change so the tungsten is braised to the body rather than welded, as much as 70 grams in a single iron.
“When you weld something together, you’re welding the edges together, and you create weld beads and weld material and that takes up weight,” Ines said. “For brazing, you’re using a much thinner surface, you’re not connecting edges, you’re really connecting surfaces so you can be more efficient in the way they are attached.”
Making the T100 even more appealing and effective for the better player is a new sole design that came courtesy of Titleist’s in house knowledge gleaned from VOkey Design wedges. Titleist wedge guru Bob Vokey and his team have developed dozens of sole grinds over the years in their work with tour players and the iron R&D team learned specific thins from the lower-lofted Vokey wedges to incorporate into the 9-iron and then continue those ideas through the set. The T100’s sole now features less relief in the heel and more in the toe for better transition through the turf to better maintain clubhead speed through the hitting area.
The T100 features a dual cavity design on the 3- through 7-iron (top and bottom cavities separated by the aforementioned bar), with a one-piece forged 1025 carbon steel construction in the 8-iron through gap (“W”) wedge.
The new T100•S mirrors the T100 aesthetic, as well as the forgiveness benefits of tungsten, but is fully reconceived with both stronger lofts (two degrees throughout) and most compellingly, an added channel in the back on the 3- through 7-iron that aims to improve both the ball speed and launch.
“We wanted to give back some of the launch that was lost in the previous version,” Ines said. “It’s basically a through-slot that allows the face to have a little bit of flex, which really is a double does of height from the slot itself through the increased speed.
Ines also said the use of tungsten on the T•100S (some 90 grams per head distributed in the heel and toe) also helps to lower the center of gravity for increased launch, as well. As an example, he said testing with Max Homa showed that changing only the head between his Titleist MB irons and T100•S showed an increase of 20 feet in height and 15 yards of distance on a 7-iron.
Of the new T-series family the T200 might exhibit the biggest change. Slightly more sleek in size and shape than its predecessor and now with less offset than before to fall more in line with that of the T100 irons, the T200 features more heavy tungsten than any iron in the family (approximately 100 grams spread between heel and toe sections) and an aggressively thin, high-strength SUP 10 steel in the L-shaped face design for faster ball speeds. The hollow design supports the thin face with an internal polymer core centered behind the face and a lightweight back plate made of a unique polymer used in the automotive industry to absorb and redistribute energy. It also saves significant weight over steel while featuring internal ribbing to help improve sound in the hollow design.
“You have a structural change, which affects feel, and you have a material change, which affects feel, so the combination of the two, along with the tungsten, and the face design and the polymer core, allowed us to arrive at this feel that’s already been well received by players on tour,” Ines said. “If guys on tour are playing it, I don’t think I need to say much more.”
The upgrade to the game-improvement T300 irons not surprisingly focuses on forgiveness, keyed again by a huge investment in the dense tungsten used in the rest of the T-series irons. The new T300 features 40 percent more tungsten than the previous model, or an average of 70 grams per head in the 4- through 7-iron. That mass is added to the toe and heel through the same brazing technique used in the other T-series irons for more stability on off-center hits.
The T300 adds horsepower with a new variable thickness face design for better deflection and faster ball speeds both on- and off-center. It also incorporates the polymer core technology in the past and current T-series irons for better feel and face resilience.
The ultimate goal is again a slightly slimmed down iron for its category but one that not only makes more distance possible but more height as well. That way shots come into the green at a steeper angle to keep rollout to a minimum. Not an easy achievement with the typical strong lofts of the game-improvement iron category. Ines said the key is how the structure, including the polymer core behind the face, is lower than the 2019 T300.
“That attachment point is now on the lower portion of the sole behind the face, compared to being on the back side of the iron,” he said. “That helps the face work more efficiently, especially on low impacts.”
Ines said that the face gets thinner toward the heel to improve face deflection in an area where there’s naturally less room to get the face to flex. “That just gives us more balanced face deflection from heel to toe,” he said.
The T-Series irons get additional support with the introduction of the latest U-Series utility iron, the U•505. Like the others, it incorporates a hollow design, the polymer core support structure and, of course, plenty of head-stabilizing tungsten. In simplest of terms, the U•505 is a souped-up, wider-soled T200 (a graphite-shafted T200 2-iron also will be offered), and it includes the same polymer back cap and the same high-strength SUP 10 L-shaped face design.
“This iron is all about getting the ball up in the air, especially if you don’t naturally have the most speed in the world,” Ines said.
The T-series irons are available for fitting now and are expected to be in stores by Aug. 26. The T100, T100•S and T200 will retail for $186 per club. The T300 starts at $143 per club. The stock shaft is the True Temper AMT White in the T100, the Project X LZ in the T100•S and the AMT Red in the T300. The U•505 comes in four lofts (16, 18, 20 and 22 degrees). Its standard shaft is the HZRDUS Smoke Black RDX for $250, and it is also offered with special custom Graphite Design Tour AD DI and IZ shafts ($370).