I say “Manchester Lane” and most golfers stand there with an understandable lack of recognition. But add in “testing facility for Titleist” and expect the eyeballs of most golf geeks to pop out of their heads.
That was about my own reaction when I had an opportunity to visit the place for the very first time this past Tuesday alongside Mitch Dawson of Titleist Canada and fellow scribes Bob Weeks and Rick Young of ScoreGolf.
Now Fairhaven, Massachusetts – not far from Cape Cod, is a wonderful enough place to hang out in the summertime but throw in a chance to see and test golf products coming in the months ahead, even if it was a scheduled 28-hour trip, and you have my full attention.
Unfortunately I cannot talk about everything we saw just yet but I will share that the tweaked iron line-up for Titleist in 2012 is something worth keeping an eye out for. In fact, two of the four models, the already successful AP1 and AP2 models, should help the company keep their strong position in the iron marketplace, if not enhance it. And you don’t need to hear that from me – their tour staff validated that after many put the new irons in their bags (most playing AP2, CB, and MB models) as soon as they were available at the AT&T National Tournament a few weeks back. Last week alone almost the entire top ten at the Greenbrier Classic had new Titleist 712 irons in their golf bags – including the winner – Scott Stallings. For a more regional flavour – Kingston’s Matt McQuillan put the new 712 CB’s in play and immediately had his best finish ever on the PGA Tour, a tie for 3rd at the John Deere Classic.
Even as an amateur golfer, I can see why they like the new sticks.
With Titleist VP Chris McGinley, accompanied by company men Joe Gomes and Rick Veitch, guiding us through the program, it took more than an hour to delve through the line-up changes for Titleist hard goods for the coming season and some time after to put the actual clubs through their paces on the finely manicured surfaces at Manchester Lane, a small-acreage bit of golf heaven tucked behind a residential community in a quaint New England town.
And just to make sure our suspicions about the strength of the clubs based on our range experiences was correct, we even got a chance to try them out in a real-world situation, during 13 holes of golf at the Rhode Island Country Club. (We ran out of time before having to head off to catch a flight home).
Without getting into too many specifics, look for enhanced use of multi-materials in the new irons, refined appearances and head shapes that improve playability while still enhancing forgiveness, and in the case of the CB and MB models, a non-glare satin finish that is a killer look.
Exciting enough? That’s without telling you details of the new Bob Vokey SM4 wedges and Scotty Cameron California putters along with additions to the 910 drivers and hybrids to address the needs of more “moderate speed” players.
In short time, I’ll share more but for now be assured that what Titleist has brewing for the next generation of their golf clubs will make some golf fans very, very happy.
You can find more on the 712 irons, including more sneak peek photos, at Team Titleist Canada.