I heard these clubs were out of the roof expensive..like $1000 for the driver and $2700 more for the irons. That could be an exageration but who knows.
Other equipment manufacturers have given golfers a peek at what the future of equipment could look like, but for the most part, the large majority of these designs have remained behind closed doors — until now.
Titleist doesn't publicize its advance research groups, but inside the company's R&D wing, engineers are currently working on projects that will likely never see the light of day. The goal behind each design is simple: Create a product that exceeds anything currently on the market with the help of new materials and designs.
"On the R&D side, in the advance research groups, we have a lot of projects where our sole goal is one hundred percent performance," said Steve Pelisek, Titleist’s president of golf clubs. "There is no specific design or introduction date."
What came about through those discussions was a new line of Concept products. The new concept clubs, called C16 driver and irons, will only be available through the Titleist Performance Institute, the company's Manchester Lane testing facility and Titleist Tech reps.
Along with the limited locations to purchase the driver and irons, both will be available in small quantities. Only 1,500 Titleist Concept C16 drivers and 1,000 sets of Concept C16 irons will be produced for the U.S.-only launch.
"The stuff is pretty out there," said Pelisek. "We feel like we've started down a path to be able to make these and see what happens. We're doing this to learn new things and showcase our technology.
"This is kind of a cool way to take it to the next step instead of waiting years on how to execute it in a mass production venue. Now we have an area where we can carve out a small run and learn about the difficulties and challenges in the manufacturing process."
"We know we can make these products in that volume," Pelisek said. "But over and above that in mass volume, it's still a question. We'll learn more about it if we press forward and see what happens — in terms of absolute cost of the product and how easy it is to make."
With four different head designs currently in the 915 Series driver lineup, engineers modified the spin-to-launch ratio on the 445cc C16 to give it extremely low spin characteristics.
To shift the center of gravity (CG) deeper in the head, Titleist went outside the industry to locate an ultra-thin ATI-425 crown (Allegheny Technologies Incorporated) that's .35mm at a constant thickness.
In addition to producing discretionary weight, the new titanium crown in 20 percent stronger than 6-4 titanium, with better elongation and sound properties.
"We don't know anyone who's using something this thin in the crown in titanium," said Dan Stone, Titleist's Vice President of R&D. "The common thickness for most titanium crowns is between .45mm to .47mm with most increasing in thickness to 50mm. To have something that thin that's a constant thickness really changes the game."
With a new titanium crown in place, Titleist spent several months trying to figure out how to weld a .35mm crown to a Ti 8-1-1 body. As expected with a driver that retails for $1,000, the process was costly and time-consuming.
Also laser-welded to the Ti 8-1-1 body is a forged SP700 cup face that maximizes flexibility, improving ball speeds across the entire structure. The face works in combination with Titleist's Active Recoil Channel to deliver lower spin for an additional 6 yards, when compared to 915.
When the SureFit configuration is dialed in to the user's settings, Titleist said the number jumps to 9 yards.
The final piece of the equation is a new SureFit CG design that's featured prominently in the heel and toe of the sole. The new design allows the CG to be altered to produce a fade or draw, via a cylindrical cartridge that's inserted diagonally from the low-heel area and high-toe section.
"In terms of new technologies, we've been studying moveable CG and just felt like there was a better way to do it," Stone said. "And we think the cartridge is simple and better."
Depending on swing weight and shaft length, the cartridge weight can range from 8-12 grams. There are two cartridge designs: The first cartridge has equal weight — 5 grams on each side with the 10-gram cartridge — to produce a neutral CG position.
"Picture a trapeze artist where he has equal amounts of weight on either side of the pole he's holding," Stone said. "You don't want it in the middle, but you do want it neutral by having equal amounts of weight on the heel and toe. We just think that's a better way to do it."
The other cartridge has a majority of the weight on one side — with the 10-gram cartridge, the weight distribution is 9 grams on one side and 1 gram on the other — depending on if it's in the heel or toe position for a draw or fade. Placing the heavy side in the toe promotes a fade; shifting the weight to the heel encourages a draw.
The Concept C16 retails for $1,000 and comes in two lofts (9 and 10.5 degrees) with numerous shaft options. Only 1,500 were produced.
Long considered the most forgiving iron in the lineup, Titleist is taking the game-improvement 716 AP1 design to another level with Concept C16. But instead of concentrating on raw distance and faster ball speeds, engineers created a club that focuses on carry distance.
"We're firm believers that in pursuit of iron performance, the ball needs to stop on the green," Pelisek said. "That's why carry distance is the biggie for us. You can create an iron that goes far, but you need it to hit that number and not go flying off the back of the green.
"This is the most amazingly advanced, forged product we've ever made. It's all about ball speed. You can cheat by strengthening the lofts, but we firmly believe certain trajectories will allow you to stay on the front of the green, but not the back of it. Our goal here was to take the existing AP1 and see how we could improve upon it."
Using what they learned from AP1 and T-MB, C16 was created with the help of new processes. The multi-material, co-forged construction begins with a K301 cup face — in the long and mid irons (4-7) — that's 10 grams lighter than AP1 and produces a strong, thinner face for increased ball speeds and carry distance.
The face, which has an unsupported area that's 7-percent larger than AP1, is welded to a thin, cast 17-4 hollow-back design, creating discretionary mass that was repositioned in the heel and toe, pushing the CG low and deep in the head for a higher launch.
Due to the multi-material composition of the head, which includes a 1025 carbon steel hosel, a bi-material forging bar was friction-welded to the hosel and face. One half of the bar is made out of 1025 carbon steel (hosel material) while the other half is made out of K301 (face material). Forging the two materials together made it possible to create an iron with soft material properties and a high-strength 2mm face cup design.
With a COR (coefficient of restitution) that's right against the USGA's legal limit, the 4-iron generates 7.8 yards of additional carry when compared to the AP1 4-iron. Along with improving carry distance, the heads were made more compact with a thinner topline and blade length that's a "little under" AP1.
Instead of using K301 in the short irons (8-PW), a 1RK95 steel face insert was used for distance control and feel.
Similar to the co-forging process that was first introduced with AP2, extreme high-density tungsten weighting — Titleist doubled the amount of tungsten in mid and long irons to 98 grams — was inserted in the perimeter and deep into the hollow-body construction to produce a high trajectory with added forgiveness.
The Concept C16 retail for $2,700 (set of 8, steel) with Mitsubishi Rayon's Kuro Kage Limited Edition AMC (Ascending Mass Concept) and Nippon's N.S. Pro 880 AMC shafts. The design is similar to that of True Temper's Dynamic Gold AMT, where the weight gets progressively heavier (starting at 88 grams) throughout the set. The graphite shaft option is $3,000.