My history with hybrids is a bit different than most. I still carry a 3-iron and can't see giving it up any time soon. I generate enough swing speed and hit with the right amount of downward and sweeping action that I can hit a 3-iron just fine. This same swing tends to produce some poor results when I put a hybrid intended to replace the 3-iron in play.
As such, for years, I've relegated the hybrid to a spot between my 3-iron and my 3-wood. Hybrids from various makers, from about 16 to 18 degrees in loft, have occupied this slot at various times. The Titleist 503.H, more like a 2-iron than a hybrid, held the role until I moved onto the much-adored TaylorMade Rescue Dual TP. After realizing that I had a hard time keeping the ball down, I switched back to Titleist's PT 585.H.
The 585.H was a great hybrid: it looked great, it felt great, and most importantly to me, I could adjust the trajectory to suit my needs. If it had a down-side, it's that it was prone to the occasional snapper, as I often discovered on my home course's long par-three seventh hole.
So when Titleist introduced the 909H, I was intrigued. As I stated in our widely read Sneak Peek, the 909H improves on the 585.H by offering progressive head sizes, shapes, offset, and CG to further optimize launch conditions across the range. A little birdie told me, too, that the tendency of the club to go left fast was reduced. I was pumped.Construction and Esthetics
The 909H, like the 585.H before it, borrows heavily from from Titleist's fairway wood and driver lines, but takes the visual integration even further. If I'm not mistaken, the 909 line is the first Titleist line to share a visual style, name, and technology.
On the technology side, the 909H improves on the 585.H by being "progressively" better. Unlike - or at least to a greater extent - the 585.H, the 909H features a progressive head size, shape, offset, and center of gravity (CG) throughout the available lofts. The progressive features optimize the launch angle, spin, workability, and trajectory control throughout the offerings much better than with 585.H.
That sounds like Titleist marketing talk, so what's it mean to you? Lower lofted hybrids (like my 17° model) have a larger profile and less offset so that they match up with fairway woods. Higher lofted clubs have a smaller profile and a bit more offset to better match irons. This eases the transition into your other clubs at both ends. Every 909H has a deeper CG for added stability (and bye bye snap hooks!) and increased MOI. The head size across the lineup is slightly larger, with a longer face and a squarer, "Tour-approved profile for a more confident appearance at setup."
The 909H's body is made of 1704 cast stainless steel - a change from the 585.H's softer 431 stainless steel body. The face is built with the same 455 carpenter steel. Titleist reportedly spent a fair amount of effort improving the the construction so that the ball felt as if it stayed on the face a bit longer with 909H over 585.H.
Righties and lefties can pick up 909H in lofts of 15, 17, 19, 21, and 24 degrees (lie angles 58, 58.25, 58.5, 59, and 59.5 degrees). All have a 0.5° open face and silver paint highlights. Stock shafts include the Aldila Voodoo Hybrid and the Diamana Blue 85 Hybrid. I tested a 17° model with both the Aldila Voodoo Hybrid shaft as well as the UST ProForce v2 (104g) that I had in my 585.H.
Of course, the most startling change is to the appearance of the club. The new shiny, silver-pronged sole matches that of the sister fairway and driver models. Though I'm sure this will be seen as a positive move, I greatly preferred the more understated satin appearance of the 585.H.
Fans of the 585.H will notice that Titleist has moved away from the bore-thru design found on the prior generation. This should make things a bit easier for club tinkerers, and results in the little black circle on the sole.
The changes continue on the crown, where Titleist has gone part of the way back towards the silver flecked appearance found on older drivers. It's several shades darker than that, but at the same time noticeably lighter than the 585.H or 907/906 metals. In bright sunlight, the finish sparkles. It doesn't distract, fortunately, and the lines remain clean.
At address, the 909H retains the clean lines typically found on Titleist clubs. Like the 585.H, the 909H remains easier to align than the curved, two-tone TaylorMade hybrids. The head is noticeably longer and a bit more square. The slightly open (0.5°) clubface looks square, unlike many hybrids that present themselves awkwardly. The rolled leading edge and slightly wider face do look a bit less equipped at picking the ball off a tight lie, but my observational opinion was quickly overruled by experience.
If the 909H did nothing but offer the same performance characteristics minus a bit less of the lefts, I'd have been happy. It turns out the 909H improves - subtly, mind you - on a whole heap of things.
In my test round, I didn't have a hybrid shot for quite awhile, and the first time I faced one was from the tee of a long par three. I found that the squarer, larger clubhead improved confidence. Some hybrids perform terribly from the tee, but the 909H performs well whether you need to tee it high and carry it or tee it down and fire a bullet.
Most will use the 909H from the fairway, of course, and again the squarer, larger clubhead is a welcome confidence booster. The wider face framed the ball a little bit and the finish, again now slightly lighter and more flecked, probably did their parts to make the clubhead appear larger than the matte black 585.H.
My earlier concerns about the seemingly more rolled leading edge were proven silly: the 909H is every bit as good at lifting the ball off a tight lie as the 585.H. Given Titleist's demand for PGA Tour testing, it's a safe bet they'll never release a club that can't pick a ball from tight lies.
I described the feel and sound of the 585.H as "simply divine," so I was prepared to be disappointed by the 909H. Turns out I was. While the 585.H had a perfect blend of "forged iron" and "solid steel fairway metal" feel, the 909H leans a bit more towards the fairway wood feel. Feel is mostly sound, and the 909H has a higher pitched sound at impact that, though not bad at all, simply didn't match the near perfect "crack" the 585.H delivered.
Initially, I tested the vaunted Voodoo shaft. It's a 92 gram shaft that should perform admirably in a hybrid. I'm sure that for many, it will, but the shaft wasn't for me. I had trouble keeping the ball down when I wanted - every shot wanted to get up in the air rather quickly. Once there, they carried nicely and without even a slight hint of ballooning - it's just not the trajectory I prefer. No matter what I tried, every shot seemed to come off within a very narrow window.
I switched back to the heavier (104g) UST ProForce v2 - not a stock shaft this time around - and found the club performed quite a bit better. I could hit keep the ball down when I wanted or put a floater up in the air to carry greenside ponds or bunkers. I didn't have quite as much variation in height as I did with the 585.H, likely due to the deeper CG, but I had more than with the Voodoo shaft.
As a brief aside, if I may… the ProForce v2 is probably one of the most overplayed shafts in recreational golf. It suits my game, but based on the golfers I see regularly, I believe Titleist has made good choices with their stock shaft offerings. Regardless, Titleist would encourage you, as I do, to get fit.
It took me awhile to realize it, but after ten rounds or so I grinned from ear to ear as I realized one key thing: I hadn't faced a quick snap with the 909H. I'd hit one maybe once every 20 or 25 shots with the 585.H, but I'd yet to experience anything more than a small tug with the 909H. Given that my only real complaints are with the sole graphics and the sound, I'll gladly trade those to lose that once-in-awhile poor shot.
As with the 585.H, workability exists in both dimensions. The curvature is softened just a bit - you'll have to work a bit harder to hit the same fade or draw as you did with 585.H - but that has its upside as well in terms of helping you to avoid unintentional draws and fades. Again, the deeper CG and higher MOI are likely factors here.
With either shaft, mis-hits still felt like mis-hits, but the 909H improves on previous generations in terms of both distance and direction: the ball flies farther and straighter thanks to the improvements in 909H. For better players, you can still tell where you caught the ball on the face. The club can dig the ball out of trouble or be played with a sweeping swing equally as easily. Like most hybrids, the face seems extremely hot even with half and three-quarter swings. I've punched out from beneath trees and still had the ball carry 150+ yards. A three-quarter swing produces a ballflight that just bores through even a stiff headwind, which comes in handy on the longer par threes we often see these days.
Righties and lefties can pick up 909H in lofts of 15, 17, 19, 21, and 24 degrees (lie angles 58, 58.25, 58.5, 59, and 59.5 degrees). All have a 0.5° open face and silver paint highlights. Stock shafts include the Aldila Voodoo Hybrid and the Diamana Blue 85 Hybrid. I tested a 17° model with both the Aldila Voodoo Hybrid shaft as well as the UST ProForce v2 (104g) that I had in my 585.H. The standard grip is the Titleist Tour Velvet Rubber (with the logo underneath).
As with all Titleist clubs, a wealth of shaft options are available, including various weights of the Aldila NV Hybrid, the VS Proto, the Fujikura Sppeeder, the Graphite Design YS-Hybrid, Project X steel shafts, the NS Pros by Nippon, the UST iRod, and the UST ProForce V2 Hybrid.
MSRP is $208, but the street price is $189 for graphite only. For more information, please listen to our special edition podcast.
I thought the 585.H was the best hybrid on the market two years ago, and the 909H tops it. It's not a huge step, but it addresses enough for me to make the upgrade worthy.
If you're at all like me, a mid- to low-handicapper who is looking to replace either some shorter fairway woods or some longer irons, the 909H deserves a serious look. Unlike many of the more "game improvement" hybrids, Titleist - true to form - strikes a blend of providing enough help without taking away all of your shotmaking capability.