First Look – Titleist 716 AP1, AP2, CB, MB, T-MB Irons

Titleist T-MB 716
The new Titleist AP1 - 716 Model (Photo: Scott MacLeod, Flagstick.com)
The new Titleist AP1 – 716 Model (Photo: Scott MacLeod, Flagstick.com)

The new Titleist 716 irons have been officially revealed. They will be available to the public at retail in late October.

The press releases for them are in my inbox…but I’ve yet to read them.  I’m sure it is oozing with plenty of facts about the new Titleist 716 irons (all 5 models) and I’ll be sure to share those…eventually. In the meantime I wanted to provide something different – an educated opinion based on first hand experience.

You’ll see a lot of media mention about the 716 irons starting today but, like you, I am a golfer, not a robot, I don’t want to read the same homogenized text drawn from a corporate release, over and over. I’m sure you don’t either.

The first question about new products we receive from readers is always “What is the new XXX like?”  I can’t, and won’t answer that, until I’ve truly hit the product for myself. Then I can provide an opinion based on 35 years as golfer, 30 seasons in the industry, 20 years writing about golf equipment, and plenty of homework on the technical aspects of golf clubs and fitting as someone who pays dues to the PGA of Canada.

To that end I will share my main observation about the new Titleist 716’s – the company has taken a very solid product from the 714 generation and made it better. It’s that simple.

This is not a story of bells and whistle, that’s not what you would expect from Titleist anyways. Consistent product cycles of a reasonable period and dependable designs are their modus operandi and it shakes out the same with the new irons.

Two weeks ago I spent some time with Chad Cole and Mitch Dawson of Titleist Canada. Over a period of hours they allowed me to hit all 5 of the 716 irons (MB, CB, AP1, AP2, and T-MB). Sure I asked questions and they provided the answers from the company perspective but mostly I was able to immerse myself in looking at the new clubs and hitting them to form an opinion that I could share with readers.

Here’s what I came up with:

Titleist AP1 – 716

This is the “big boy” among the AP irons – designed to be the most forgiving and provide the most distance. I can’t dispute that after testing them.

What I liked about the new AP1 is the slightly more refined look than previous generations of the club.  The head looks more compact,the top-line is thinner (or at least appears that way with more bevelling) , and offset, while present, does not seem as pronounced.

The odd part is that although the AP1 feels ” less hollow” than previous iterations, in fact I was told the face is actually thinner and the undercut cavity is actually larger.  I can only attribute the denser sound to the use of more tungsten weighting in the head over over the AP1 714.

A final note..the short irons seem to go a long way (likely partly due to strong lofts) but the long irons seem to have nice gapping due to a higher trajectory.  I’ll dig into that one a bit more.

Titleist AP2- 716 (Photo: Scott MacLeod, Flagstick.com)
Titleist AP2- 716 (Photo: Scott MacLeod, Flagstick.com)

Titleist AP2 – 716

The big seller among Titleist irons. The AP2 appeals to a wide range of players of various skill levels and is the cornerstone of the company’s irons.

As somebody who currently games the 714 version of this iron, testing the 716 model was something I was keying in on in my tests.

When you have an iron that is so versatile – one with a mid-size head shape and enough of a cavity design to provide a little help on off-centre hits it is hard to find blatant improvements but after a lengthy hitting session the upgrades starting to reveal themselves.

I could not see much difference in trajectory (overall and immediate launch) between the new model (716) and the old (714) with on-centre strikes but a trend emerged with those hit low on the face.(Working on TrackMan regularly the apex, or peak height, is a notable feature of ball flight that I always pay attention to) When testing four irons I noted that ball strikes low in the face tended to launch higher and result in marginally better shots than the comparative 714 model.

Again this was my personal experience but it seems that weighting has been controlled in the new AP2 in a way that provides better results on off-centre strikes.

As far as appearance is concerned the 716 AP2, like the 714 model, are a no-nonsense iron with a sleek but not abnormally thin top line, minimal offset and a clean leading edge that is easy to align.  There are no distractions at address and there is a enough mass in the clubhead to still inspire confidence in mid-index players.

Titleist CB - 716 (Photo: Scott MacLeod, Flagstick.com)
Titleist CB – 716 (Photo: Scott MacLeod, Flagstick.com)

Titleist CB 716

In my mind this is the iron that received the biggest upgrade in the 716 family.  Having bagged the 710 model for a number of years, eventually eschewing them for the more forgiving nature of the AP2, I can attest they while they looked beautiful they still required precise ball striking for really optimal results.

That seems to be less the case with the 716 version of the club.  The thin top-line, compact profile and soft feel of forging is still there but now you get a little extra.  Like the AP1 and AP2 models Tungsten weighting now makes an appearance in this cavity/blade. It is built into the 3 iron to 7 iron and the effect is noticeable.

It used to be a tougher proposition to hit the 3 and 4 iron in the previous CB models but this one seems more stable, specifically on toe strikes.  Dispersion and distance did not suffer as greatly away from the centre of the face as it may have in the past.  In fact, there seemed to be as much consistency in ball flight across the face in this CB as found in the 714 model of the AP2.

I can certainly see some players looking for the sweet feel of forging but wanting the forgiveness of an AP2 now considering the 716 CB as their club of choice.

Titleist MB - 716 (Photo: Scott MacLeod, Flagstick.com)
Titleist MB – 716 (Photo: Scott MacLeod, Flagstick.com)

Titleist MB 716

You one of those players who complains that every iron has too thick of a top line and is not “workable”?  Well, go ahead, this is your club.

The MB (Muscle Back) is a small part of sales for Titleist so it appears they have taken the approach that the model might as well be as extremely slanted towards the “demanding” player as possible.

Word is that they created the 716 MB with the look of the previous 680 MB model in mind. The 680 is still considered a cult favourite and club designers appear to have done did a fine job with their mission.  This is one scary looking iron for all but those who can hit the ball repeatedly in the centre of the club face.

Their beauty is undeniable – I might put a set on my wall as art, but the super thin, tiny profile and near lack of offset means you better be prepared to make a good swing.

Blade fans will love what they see though – the sharp toe comes to mind, and if you happen to see a player roll up with these clubs in their bag I’d reconsider playing them for cash.  If they can handle these functional pieces of art then chances are they are likely a hell of player.

Titleist T-MB 716 (Photo: Scott MacLeod, Flagstick.com)
Titleist T-MB 716 (Photo: Scott MacLeod, Flagstick.com)

Titleist T-MB 716

This is likely the club many Titleist iron fans have been waiting for the most.  An update to the previously released 712U, this a serious upgrade.  Offered in 2, 3, 4 and 5 models they are a nice choice for high speed players who want a utility type club to play off the tee but one that is still playable for the occasional use off the fairway.

I loved the concept of the 712U; it was perfect for tee shots on short par 4’s when I tested it. The downside was that unless you struck it perfectly and with enough clubhead speed it was tough to achieve a trajectory that could optimize distance.

That appears to be solved.  You need only look at the T-MB to see that Tungsten has been added to the sole in the heel and toe.

The effect is immediately noticeable to those with 712U experience.  The ball takes off higher and achieves a greater peak height more consistently. It is still noticeably lower than what you see in the new H1 and H2 816 hybrids but I think it provides a nice compromise.

The only difference in these clubs versus the 712U models?  The sound.  It seems less hollow and more like you hear and feel from a standard iron, even with an internal cavity present.

It’s a sweet update that should be welcomed positively.

Come to think of it that goes for all 5 of the new Titleist irons.

Watch for more content on these irons and the 816 Hybrids in the coming days on Flagstick.com.