Many of you who play Titleist AP2 irons probably don't realise that you a playing with a tour iron, but you are.
The 716 AP2 was the number one iron model on Tour globally and therefore Titleist has officially badged the 718 AP2 as a tour iron and placed it in their tour category alongside the 718 MB and 718 CB irons rather than with the similarly named 718 AP1 and 718 AP3.
The fact that the chassis size, unchanged since the first model in 2008, is similar to the MB and CB blades probably makes this OK, although the nomenclature that puts AP1 and AP3 in the distance section of the 718 range would beg to differ.
Differing was something their tour players said not to do with the AP2 as they liked the looks and performance and the lofts are also the same as before, so what is new?
Well, the aim is for more forgiveness from more consistent ball speed across the face and Titleist say that they have done this in a couple of ways.
Firstly the SUP10 high strength steel face inserts in the 3 to 7 irons are now 0.3mm thinner at 2.1mm, which does not sound like much, but will increase the ball speeds, especially on the longer irons where there is a larger face.
Secondly they have also raided the high density tungsten jar again and used a co-forging process to bind it into the heel and toe of the head so that it does not need glued or welded in order to save a little weight.
Now there is an average of 57.4g in each head that needs it, which is a couple of grams up on the previous model. However the caps that are forged over the weights are now tungsten too instead of steel that enables more mass to be moved to the edges of the head.
This weight maneuvering improves the position of the CG as you go through the set so that it is lower and more centred in the long irons, which should improve launch.
It also increases the resistance to twisting and Titleist say that the 718 AP2 has a higher MOI than their 714 AP1 game improvement iron, which is pretty impressive.
There is now a pre-worn leading edge throughout the set which improves the turf interaction and this was very good out on the course.
The 8 to W continue to feature a forged 1025 carbon steel body and face and at 46° the P wedge is probably where you set should switch to specialist blade wedges.
This does give the shorter irons a more muted feel than a more bladed forged iron like the 718 CB, but in the mid to long irons it perks up as the cavity comes into play.
The stock shaft is the True Temper AMT Tour White that is an ascending mass shaft that is lighter in the long irons and gets heavier as you move to the short irons, but there are also many other options available through Titleist custom fitting.
At address you still get the same compact head shape as before.
It is longer than their other blades, but still on the compact size in the big scheme of things.
It is only when you put it next to the AP3 that is starts to look quite small and you realise why the AP2 is regarded principally as a tour iron, but one that most low single figure players could get away with.
For most of these players the mid to short irons give the combination of feel and forgiveness that they would be happy with. Get to the 3 and 4 iron and you will need some above average ball speed and striking to get more consistent results than you would from merging into the AP3 long irons.
That is what I found from my fitting session with Titleist. Maybe because the AP3 option was not there before, I am sure like most better players I would have defaulted to AP2 as AP1 was just too big. However if a great ball striker like Adam Scott is using AP3 then this is an option worth looking at.
And this is possibly the dilemma with the 718 AP2s. It is a very solid product and I really can't find much fault with it at all. It looks great and for what it is trying to achieve it does it very well.
It is really clear now that this is a tour iron for elite players who want a bit more forgiveness and launch than the CB offers. However the 718 CB feels better and has the same MOI as the 716 AP2, so I would probably give that the edge in the short irons.
The 718 T-MB now comes in a full set and is a hollow iron bracketed with AP3 and AP1 in their 'distance' category for reasons I am not 100% clear about as it looks like a blade, but admittedly goes like a game improvement iron. The T-MB is a viable option to AP2 in the long irons as Jordan Speith does, or you can opt for the AP3 as Mr Scott has demonstrated.
So it looks like the AP2 is being squeezed on both sides for tour players and for good amateurs. This does not make it a bad club, in fact it is a very clever piece of engineering to make a blade sized iron this forgiving and if you like AP2 then the 718 version will do a fine job. However, don't put your hand in your pocket for the fairly steep price until you have also tried the 718 AP3 under the guidance of a Titleist fitter as you may be able to get the best of both worlds for your next set.