The Equipment Insider

Titleist revolutionizes irons with rare supermetal

A supermetal alloy allows Titleist to forge club faces that are stronger and more resilient — and thinner. The result in the manufacturer's CNCPT iron line — CP-02, CP-03 and CP-04 — is greater ball speed and launch

The pristinely manicured driving range at Titleist’s test facility in southeastern Massachusetts almost shimmers in the mid-morning sunshine. It’s one of those quintessential days during golf’s offseason in New England, which means it only looks warm.

The mercury is expected to peak at 46 degrees, but it’s decidedly cooler as I address the Pro V1 at my feet. Just before I start my backswing, a strong gust of wind kicks up and the flagstick out ahead of me on the range bows at a 60-degree angle.

While not the most comfortable conditions in which to test new clubs, the day’s weather, in some ways, is ideal. The irons in Titleist’s CNCPT series — clubs touted for their “supreme ball speed with ideal launch and unparalleled forgiveness” — are what brought me to the company’s gated facility. A blustery morning will unequivocally put their performance to the test.

Titleist — CNCPT Irons
Titleist's CNCPT irons feature a hollow-body design and a forged supermetal L-face insert to create the reportedly "thinnest unsupported, constant-thickness face in golf." This helps in producing greater ball speeds and launch angles.

As someone who’s played PXG’s GEN3 players irons for more than a year, I’ve grown accustomed to a soft feel at impact, especially when I make near-perfect, center-face contact. Those irons have not only served me well on the course, they’ve also served as a discerning measuring stick when I’ve tested clubs made by other manufacturers. Up until now, I’ve been impressed any time another iron merely gets close to delivering a similar performance or complementary feel.

A couple of swings into my introduction to Titleist’s CP-03 model and I’m impressed for an altogether different reason. These CNCPT irons don’t just get close to delivering the same feel as my PXGs, they surpass them. In conditions that have me contemplating the use of winter golf gloves, such performance is all the more impressive.

RELATED: Titleist's Tour Speed fills golf ball gap
RELATED: Titleist's T400 line targets traditionalists

The irons’ soft feel can be attributed to copious amounts of high-density tungsten weighting, which increases clubhead stability and dials in the clubs’ sweet spot calibration. (In the mid to low irons, at least 100 grams of tungsten is used to increase forgiveness and improve impact response.)

“The amount of tungsten that we use in our head provides an unbelievable amount of forgiveness in the size of the clubs that you’re hitting,” said Marni Ines, the director of irons development for Titleist golf club R&D. “That forgiveness reduces the amount of twisting and increases the stability of the club at impact.”

While the tungsten weighting is a noteworthy aspect of the irons’ design, it’s not the headlining feature. That distinction belongs to the club’s forged supermetal L-face insert — to date the thinnest, unsupported, constant-thickness clubface that utilizes a rare, aerospace metal alloy. In fact, according to Ines, Titleist’s CNCPT irons mark the first time that the metal has been utilized in golf club construction.

The material has allowed Titleist engineers to design clubs that produce the fastest ball speeds of any irons that they’ve created, while also increasing launch capability, especially in the low to mid irons. That performance is keenly on display during my demo. Well-struck shots produce piercing ball flights, even in a challenging crosswind, while carry distances appear as long — or even longer — than the shots that I hit with my PXGs at the start of this session.

Data captured by TrackMan supports these observations, too. On average, 7-iron shots that I hit with the midsize muscleback CP-03 produced ball speeds more than 1.5 mph faster than my everyday irons. While the CP-04 — a game-improvement model with moderate offset and a progressive midsize profile — delivered slightly more than 3 mph of increased speed.

Titleist — CP02 Irons
Each club in Titleist's CNCPT lineup retails for $500, the high sticker price partly attributed to a rare alloy being used in the irons' creation. It can take up to eight months for Titleist to source the supermetal.

Such game-changing performance comes at a hefty price. Titleist’s CNCPT irons, which are custom fit to each player (available in both right-hand and left-hand configurations), retail for $500 per club. That big sticker price is defined partly by the lineup’s small production run, but also by the cost of the requisite materials needed to build the clubs and the challenges associated with acquiring those limited materials in the first place. It takes at least six months for Titleist to receive a shipment of the trade-secret supermetal, for example, and that aerospace alloy costs more than $100 per pound. “It is the most expensive material for a face that we’ve ever used,” Ines said.

The CNCPT irons, themselves, were born from a program that offers the brand’s engineers the freedom to experiment with materials and manufacturing technologies, regardless of their cost. As brand manager Kelley Moser Jr. explains, the venture was sparked by a singular question.

“What if our R&D engineers could bring their dreams to reality, using materials and processes never before used in golf?” he said. “CNCPT is our answer to ‘What if?’”

Through the successful implementation of this aerospace alloy in the CNCPT irons’ clubface, Titleist’s team of engineers discovered that certain material properties had greater impact on club performance than they previously thought or understood. Not surprisingly, Ines and his team remains tight-lipped on the details of that discovery.

On the topic of the industry-advancing supermetal, however, Ines acknowledges that he and his team have only scratched the surface of its potential. “We’re still trying to explore the possibilities of this material,” he said. “We’ve used it in this iron face insert for the CNCPT line, but I don’t think that we’ve fully tapped it out by any means.”

Sign up to receive the Morning Read newsletter, along with Where To Golf Next and The Equipment Insider.


Related Stories
|