Titleist 718 AP3 Irons Review

Titleist designed its all new AP3 to combine the best of the company’s popular AP1 and AP2 irons. Making an iron as long and forgiving as the AP1 that is also as workable and great feeling as the AP2 would create one great club. Is the AP3 all that? Well, I truly enjoyed finding out.

Titleist AP3 ironsThe Titleist iron line has traditionally skewed toward the “better” player. With the exception of the AP1, the brand’s irons favored workability and distance control over forgiveness. Previously, there was a pretty big jump from the everyman’s AP1 to the tour-popular AP2. Now Titleist has added a true “mid-AP” iron with the AP3, a “better players’ distance iron.”

Irons in this category are expected to deliver extra distance while still providing the feel and consistency that mid- to low-handicappers need.

Titleist bills the new AP3 iron as its longest and fastest player’s iron ever. The AP3, which fits between the AP1 and AP2, is intended to provide some of the forgiveness of the former with some of the shotmaking ability of the latter for players wanting more distance and forgiveness without sacrificing feel. Add one and two and you get three. Now the name makes sense!

AP3 truly represents the best of both worlds. We’re giving you the distance and forgiveness of a game improvement iron packed into the look and feel of a player’s iron.

Josh Talge, VP Marketing, Titleist Golf Clubs

That’s a pretty tall order. The AP1 is very popular among mid- and higher-handicap players (though the long irons sometimes find their way into the bags of better players). The AP1s strong suit is forgiveness and ease of getting the ball in the air. The AP2 is widely played on professional tours and by a sizable number of lower handicap players, where its feel and consistent distance pays dividends. Can the AP3 really combine the best of both worlds?

Volume Five Hundred Twelve

Justin Thomas wins the Honda Classic.

Hittin the Links Welcome back to another week of Hittin’ the Links!

This week was a fun one. Although Justin Thomas left with the hardware, Tiger Woods played his best golf in quite a long time, fishing T12 at PGA National. Thomas, not to be outshined, won the event under fading daylight on the first playoffs hole.

We’ll have plenty of Honda Classic coverage, plus a check-in on the LPGA Tour, a few bits of USGA news, and a little Ryder Cup coverage.

Let’s hit the links.

A New Twist: TaylorMade rolls out M3/M4

TaylorMade has released its M3 and M4 families of woods and irons. Twist Face Technology in the woods promises to help correct for off center contact, while RIBCOR is aimed at helping you get more distance with your irons.

Bag DropNow available in U.S. golf shops, TaylorMade’s M3 and M4 families feature technology packed woods, Rescues, and irons. Here is a slightly shortened version of the TaylorMade media release on the launch, starting with the drivers.

TaylorMade’s Twist Face technology, featured in both the new M3 & M4 drivers, is TaylorMade’s solution to counteract golfers’ most common misses, more specifically, those resulting from the high toe and low heel impacts.

To counteract the high-toe miss (a hook), the driver face has been “twisted” open (loft increased and face opened) on the high-toe to help straighten ball flight. Similarly, to counteract the low-heel miss (a slice) the driver face has been twisted closed to de-loft and close the face in the low heel area. Ultimately, TaylorMade’s Twist Face technology delivers a corrective face angle when hit off-center for longer, straighter shots.

Volume Five Hundred Eleven

Bubba Watson wins at Riviera.

Hittin the LinksWelcome back to another edition of Hittin’ the Links! This week we’ve got stories from all across the world.

Starting in Southern California, we’ll take a look at Bubba Watson’s win at Riviera, his 10th on Tour. We’ll also journey east to Florida, where Tiger Woods has entered another tournament, spin by Georgia where Augusta is planning a course change, and finish with a pair of tournaments in Oman and Australia.

Let’s hit the links!

Callaway Apex MB (2018) Irons Review

Rumor has it Sergio Garcia’s switch to Callaway played a role in the company’s introduction of these irons. If so… Thank you, Sergio!

Callaway Apex MB 2018 HeroWhen Callaway acquired the Ben Hogan brand all those years ago, better players were curious what would come of the Hogan designs, names, and ethos. Callaway was, at the time, producing great clubs but was seemingly focused much more on game-improvement and super-game-improveement irons, while the Hogan brand targeted primarily better players with simple, austere designs that evoked a sense of history and longevity over fanciful new technology and flash. Would Callaway use the Hogan IP to bolster their better player lineup, or did they just want the Apex name and the Hogan designs, patents, etc.?

For a few years, many feared it was the latter, as few clubs Hogan-like clubs were introduced, and even as recently as 2016 the “Apex” name was stamped onto clubs that didn’t resemble the old Hogans very closely. But, over the past several years, Callaway has seemingly boosted their stable of PGA and LPGA Tour pros. They’ve continued to introduce irons aimed at the game-improvement and super-game-improvement segments, but they’ve also strengthened their commitment to players clubs with wider releases of clubs designed for the better player.

After a series of irons like the Apex Pro and the 2014 Apex MB, the 2018 Callaway Apex MB fully returns to the Ben Hogan roots. Easily the best looking irons Callaway has released within the last decade (hey, this is my review, after all!), the Apex MB unabashedly says “I’m not giving you a ton of help, but if you can handle me, I’m going to be your new best buddy.”

Another Jailbreak: Callaway Launches Rogue

Jailbreak is back. Callaway’s Rogue drivers and fairway woods feature the technology. And the Rogue line doesn’t stop there… you can also get Rogue irons and hybrids to fill out your bag.

Bag DropBuilding on the success of its Epic line, Callaway is giving its new line of Rogue clubs an enhanced version of Jailbreak Technology in both the driver and, for the first time, the fairway woods. Plus, there are new irons and hybrids to accompany the line.

Miura ICL-601 Driving Iron Review

Miura, the mystical Japanese brand with a samurai sword-making background, has released a new driving iron with a typical Miura price tag. Is it worth a spot in your bag? Does it feel like a Miura? Read on to find out…

Miura ICL-601 HeroMiura has an almost mythical background. The company, once upon a time, forged the blades carried by Japan’s respected samurai. Nowadays, the company forges blades (and cavity backs) for players who look to defend their honor against Old Man Par rather than those who would do harm against Japanese nobility.

I still play primarily with a set of Miura Tournament Blades I reviewed back in 2011. In fact, I still carry a 3-iron in that set (it passes the modern-day “butter knife lookalike” test). The 3-iron is nice, but it doesn’t see a lot of action: it’s not the most forgiving 3-iron ever made (understatement!), and I generally only pull it from the bag when I need a 230-yard shot that won’t get up into the wind like a hybrid would.

So, when I heard about the ICL-601, I was excited to see if I might be able to replace my 3-iron with a “driving iron” style iron to offer more forgiveness and an ability to hit it from a wider variety of lies. And, of course, I was looking forward to see whether the “Miura feel” carried over into a polymer-filled, hollow-body “iron.”

Read on to see what I thought after putting it through its rigorous paces.

Review: SynLawn Synthetic Putting Greens

This isn’t your typical review, but I wanted to formalize my feelings toward a product we’ve used at our indoor training facility for years.

SynLawn LogoMany years ago, when this site was in its infancy, I wrote an article about how you could build your own 8′ x 8′ putting green relatively inexpensively. That putting green served me well for the few months before I bought my house. It was not worth moving, so I left it (with permission) for the next owner(s). For years afterward, I went without a home putting green (the carpet in my living room stimps at about 8, so it could be used in a pinch).

Then, in late 2011, we opened Golf Evolution in downtown Erie, PA. GE included a 2000 square foot putting green, and after exhaustive research, we partnered with a company called SynLawn for the putting surface.

Last winter, we finished our basement. With a competitive junior golfer in the house, I again felt the urge to build a putting green that she (and I) could use to work on our games when we couldn’t (or didn’t want to) drive the eight miles to Golf Evolution. So, I built a frame out of some 80/20 aluminum slot rails and flattened and glued down some of the remaining Wittek turf I had from years ago. It had been safely kept in good conditions, rolled up lengthwise, in the meantime.

SynLawn Closeup

The Wittek putting surface was never great. Despite flattening the carpet for weeks, random bumps would pop up. The surface was eventually glued, but bumps still appeared, and then migrated. Balls could roll over the same area and go left or right seemingly on the whims of fate, and often dramatically. The surface was hard and crunchy and even a little bit “prickly” beneath your feet (it’s our house, so we’d often putt in socks or barefoot). It was an “okay” surface – better than nothing and slightly better than our living room carpet – but it wasn’t what we wanted.

So, I ripped it off, sanded down the glue spots (probably unnecessarily), and installed some SynLawn turf. The instant we put it down, we knew we’d made the right choice.

Volume Five Hundred Ten

Tiger’s back, Day wins in SoCal, and Rory falls short.

Hittin the Links Welcome once again to this week’s Hittin’ the Links!

The PGA Tour paid a visit this week to southern California’s Torrey Pines Golf Course, where Jason Day pulled out a playoff victory over Alex Noren in the Farmers Insurance Open.

Tiger Woods also made his return this week to the Tour, posting a solid, scramble-filled T23 finish, which rocketed him up the world golf rankings. We’ll also check in on Rory McIlroy on the PGA Tour, and take note of this week’s LPGA Tour winner.

Let’s hit the links!