Review: Titleist 716 AP1 Irons
Despite being aimed at higher handicap players who want to gain distance and forgiveness, the 716 AP1s have qualities that make them not unfit for better players who want to solidify their iron game. Using a large undercut cavity to give a flexible head, these oversize clubs have a lot to offer for anyone who wishes to take their game to the next level. While they are developed from the previous 714 line, these new models have a very different proposition, using a larger cavity in combination with more tungsten to keep the weight low and retain the right balance.
The 716 AP1s’ look is dominated by the extreme 360-degree cavity back, a clear, open cavity that has lost the strengthening bare of the previous generation. However, their thick topline means that all that technology is hidden from view when addressing the ball, and what you see when looking down is a clean look that is very appealing. The oversize heads manage to avoid the overly bulky look of some game-improvement clubs, keeping the technology out of sight. In short, they are quality clubs that would not look out of place in any golf bag.
The 716 AP1s, despite being made of cast stainless steel, give an extremely solid feel that may make people mistaken them for forged irons. They produce a nice, even sound at impact, with plenty of feedback to let you know when your swing is a little off. While they are large, they carry a moderate weight that makes them an easy swing. They remain untroubled by rough lies and always push through the impact smoothly.
With 50% more tungsten in the construction than the previous generation, the 714s, it is thus not surprising that the 716 AP1s provide more forgiveness. With the addition of an even larger cavity back, the flex in the head does forgive most issues. The ball pings off the face from the middle, but also off-center, and flies high and long, while still retaining plenty of control for those looking for finesse and movement in their strikes.
The 716 AP1s may have cavity backs with tungsten weight low down, but they are not a one-trick pony like some other game-improvement irons. They can give the ball speed advantage that players look for from improvers, but they are also nimble irons that respond to a lighter touch. The flexible face delivers good ball speed, even off-center, and the clubs produce a consistent performance that can help any golfer. These clubs provide skilled iron players the finesse that they are looking for and any player the assistance that allows them to try anything.
Hit that sweet spot, and all the distance you want is there, with plenty of loft and high ball speed from the snappy face. For off-center shots, the clubs deliver constant distance and direction, making it easy to replicate shots and inspiring confidence. The clubs allow plenty of control as well, with regular check-ups of shots providing accurate green position whenever you need it. Height obtained throughout the range is impressive, with the low center of gravity and extra tungsten toe weight helping to deliver reliable flight and excellent control.
Some golfers may be put off by the oversized look of the 716 AP1s, although I do like them myself. While they are forgiving, they do not offer the ease of use that some game-improvement models do. The balance between assistance and control may be a little biased towards control, which makes them fall behind other game-improvement clubs regarding real assistance. Although there is plenty of distance when you hit the middle, those looking for the maximum distance, even off-center, will have to find it elsewhere.
Undoubtedly a standout in the game-improvement category, the 716 AP1s target better players, rather than new ones. They provide a level of control that many game-improvement irons lack, although they do so without matching the amount of help that other game-improvement clubs offer. With the assistance around the middle and their fine feel that the clubs offer, they are certainly an attractive option to their target customers.