Most golf clubs that make it to market are the result of trade-offs. Be it in materials, technology, cost or engineering capability, decisions are made that allow the manufacturers to put the club on sale at a price point that is acceptable to the consumer.
So what happens when these constraints are removed and the Research & Development teams are given free range to explore new materials and techniques challenge the frontiers of golf club technology and performance?
Titleist has opened the lid on this process with the release of the Titleist Concept Clubs initiative that showcases the highly innovative technologies, ultra-premium materials, advanced construction methods and cosmetic treatments that result from the continuous R&D process that underpins golf club production.
For golf equipment fans this opens a window into technology that may transition into future Titleist products. By their nature the Concept Clubs are super premium and will be available in limited quantities in the USA only, closely linked to a specialised Titleist fitting process that will feed back vital information to the R&D teams and their continuous cycle of development.
Titleist C16 Concept Driver
The C16 Concept driver delivers more distance and forgiveness than any previous Titleist driver with premium materials and technology packed into the 445cc head.
Three types of titanium have been used in the construction of the head. A 0.35mm ultra-thin ATI-425 Titanium crown has been laser welded to an ultra-lightweight Ti 811 Cast Body construction that has allowed more discretionary mass to be moved to create a low and deep CG for forgiveness.
The face is made from SP700 titanium that Titleist has forged to form a cup face that maximises face flexibility to deliver faster ball speed across the face. This works with the Active Recoil Channel in the sole, a piece of technology introduced with the 915 D2 and D3 drivers, to create more ball speed and lower spin for increased distance.
Something else you will recognise is the tried and trusted SureFit hosel. This is not surprising as it continues to lead the way in adjustability offering 16 independent loft and lie settings, creating a more consistent and optimized ball flight through precision fitting.
In the C16 driver the hosel is joined by two further SureFit elements designed to allow players to dial in the best set up for their games, which is why these clubs are so closely aligned with trial and fitting by dedicated Titleist club experts.
The first new element is the SureFit CG which is Titleist's first move into moveable weight technology. The C16 driver comes with two 10g weights that can be inserted diagonally into the sole of the driver.
The weights offer either a neutral setting with one balanced with 5 grams at either end or the option of influencing flight with an alternative weight that has 9 grams at one end and 1 gram at the other. Positioning the latter with the heavy end towards the toe will promote a fade and flipping it to put the heavier end towards the heel will create a draw.
The second new adjustable feature is the SureFit grip that allows the fitters to precisely locate weight under the grip to help promote a fade or draw depending on the profile of the player, thereby increasing accuracy and control.
Available in 9° and 10.5° lofts the C16 Concept driver is yours for a RRP of $999.
Titleist C16 Concept Irons
With the C16 Concept irons the Titleist R&D team set about harnessing state-of-the art technologies to create their highest-launching, longest and most forgiving iron.
The irons have also pushed the boundary in terms of materials with a forged, high strength Steel (K301) Cup Face in the longer 4-7 irons producing a stronger and thinner face that delivers maximum carry distance and increased ball speed. In the shorter irons they use a 1RK95 High-Strength Steel Face insert
These are then added to the thin cast 17-4 welded body of the head that has a hollow construction to work with these different faces to increase speed.
Extreme high-density tungsten weighting 98 grams is almost twice that used in the 716 AP1 and moves the mass to the perimeter of the head to create a low and deep CG for a higher launch with more forgiveness.
Like the driver, the C16 Concept irons also come with the SureFit grip to move weight within the grip to promote accuracy and control.
The C16 Concept Irons come in sets of 4 to PW with a price of $2,699 for steel shafts and $2,999 for graphite.
Why Has Titleist Created The C16 Concept Line?
Having spoken exclusively to Titleist, they say that the C16 Concept range is a way for them to continue their Research & Development process to the next stage by creating small production runs and then using their custom fitting program to review the products and their fitting processes. The feedback that the R&D teams will receive from the Titleist specialist fitters and the location of these core teams is a key reason for the C16 clubs only being available in the United States.
Titleist's R&D department in the USA under Dan Stone has increased fivefold in size over the last few years and this includes teams working specifically on areas such as woods, irons, materials and manufacturing processes. The Concept range gives these teams the chance to explore all the options for product performance and production in a way they can't do with in-line product that is constrained by price.
The vast majority of modern golf club design is done on a computer. Computer Aided Design (CAD) is a key component in the process, but the Concept initiative allows Titleist to bring these ideas to reality in sufficient numbers that not only prove the performance theory, but also the manufacturing.
Although recent Titleist releases have shown more visible technology, such as the Active Recoil Channel in the 915 driver and the muscle back of the Vokey SM6 wedges, Titleist has traditionally deployed its technology under the hood.
By releasing the C16 Concept models and showcasing the ideas they have in the pipeline, Titleist believes it will raise their profile as a technological leader. The driver isn’t designed for the world’s best players and neither are the irons. Both are designed for the vast majority of golfers who will benefit most from the C16 materials and technologies.
Some of the ideas in the Concept products, such as cup faces and moveable weights, are things we have already seen in the market. However, Titleist's philosophy is to only bring new technologies and products to market when they lead to significant improvements in performance and the C16 Concept driver and irons exist to demonstrate what is technically possible.
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