"I had no idea a hybrid could feel this good. The feel at impact on well-struck balls (and even on slight mis-hits) is nothing less than superb."
Titleist 910H Review
I mentioned in the forums shortly after our samples of the Titleist 910H hybrids arrived that they were near the top (if not at the top) of the list of clubs I was most looking forward to reviewing. I could probably come up with a handful of reasons why I find the 910H a compelling offering. They are of course Titleists, and they're adjustable (which isn't as uncommon as it used to be in a hybrid), and they come with some pretty sweet stock shafts. All of the above are perfectly valid reasons why one might at least want to demo the new 910Hs, but...if I'm being perfectly honest, my motivations are somewhat more selfish.
I have since late 2006 carried a Titleist 585 hybrid. In my mind it's the closest I've seen to hybrid perfection, and yet, with the inexplicable logic only a golf gearhead could truly understand, I keep trying to get rid of it. I've probably tried close to two dozen alternatives over the last 5 years, in my comically fruitless attempt to find something better. With the exception of my putter, my 585H is, by 3 years, the oldest club in my bag. In case you're wondering, yes...I did try the 909H, and although I liked it, I didn't like it quite enough.
So while this review, like all of our others is about having 6 golfers test a club, and tell us what they think about it, and crunching all that information into an overall score, for me, it's it's become more than that as I look to discover if this is the hybrid that can finally displace the 585.
The Marketing Angle
We covered most of the features of Titleist's 910 Series in our review of the 910D2 driver. Most of that holds true for the hybrids as well. As with the drivers, the hyrid's SureFit Tour Hosel allows for 16 potential, configurations, the short of which is that you can, using the 21 degree (3 hybrid) as an example, increase the loft up to 22.25 degrees, or deloft it down to 20.25 degrees. The standard 58.5 degrees of lie can also be toed up to 60 degrees or flattened to 57.75 degrees. While the exact details of the loft options vary depending on which loft you're starting with, all of the available 910H lofts offer the same degree of adjustability.
As with the drivers, "Made for Titleist" variants of the Mitsubishi Diamana 'Ahina and Kai'Li shafts are offered stock. Unlike the driver, the Project X offering is custom only. Additional custom shafts (too numerous to mention) are also available for an upcharge.
Although we don't deduct points for what's not included, we definitely considered docking Titliest for not including the wrench necessary to make those 16 adjustments with each hybrids (or fairway woods for that matter) purchase. I'm completely on board with charging customers extra for the optional weight kit, but when your hybrid is already one of the most expensive on the market ($230), hitting golfers up for another twenty bucks for for a wrench, is, in a word, lame.
How We Tested
The 6 golfers for whom we collected detailed performance data were asked to hit a series of shots on our 3Track Equipped simulators from aboutGolf. As usual, testing was done at Tark's Indoor Golf, a state of the art indoor golf facility located in Saratoga Springs, NY. Detailed data for each and every shot for which we collected data is now viewable in the interactive portion of this review. This data serves as the foundation for our final performance score. As a supplement to our 6 performance testers, a subset of additional golfers were given the opportunity to test the Titleist 910 hybrids and provide feedback in our subjective categories (looks, feel, perceived distance, perceived accuracy, perceived forgiveness, and likelihood of purchase). This information, which we also collected from our performance testers, is used as the foundation for our total subjective score. Although several rounds were played with19°, 21°, and 24° degree hybrids in their bags, formal testing for the purpose of data collection was done with the 21° hybrid in the tester's choice of regular or stiff flex.
As much as I had hoped to use the same radius-based scoring we use for irons and wedges for hybrid testing, those of you who responded to our recent survey overwhelmingly voted to have us test hybrids in the same fashion we test fairway woods and drivers. I'm hoping by next year you'll change your minds.
I will not mislead you in the least. We have absolutely no idea if this distance score will prove to be great, good, average, or otherwise. This is the first hybrid we've tested this year, so it does remain to be seen how it will stack up to the competition. So with that disclosure out of the way, I'm going to go ahead and take a leap of faith and suggest that these numbers will probably be among the very best we see this year.
Our lowest handicap testers achieved perfect distance scores (which basically means that based on their swing speeds, they hit it a slight bit farther than expected). Most of our other testers achieved scores in the low 90s, with a single tester maxing out in the mid-high 80s (87.00 if I'm being specific).
Overall, the perfect scores were more than enough to offset the low end of things and completely convince us that the 910H is plenty long enough to get the job done.
MGS Distance Score: 94.53
While radius-based scoring forces our testers to be deadly accurate to produce the best scores, our standard protocols separate distance from accuracy, and view accuracy solely on where the ball settles in relation to the center line. Generally speaking, with drivers we often see accuracy scores in the mid-90s, and while our scoring formulas are more generous with drivers than with fairway woods or hybrids, I was somewhat shocked to find that most of our testers were only slightly more accurate with a hybrid than they are with a driver, and some are actually less so.
While we could blast the 910H as being difficult to hit, the picture that's starting to emerge as a result of other hybrid tests currently underway is that although we've all been told that hybrids are easier to hit that comparable long irons, in no way should suggest that the average golfer will find hybrids easy to hit.
When the dust settled, the accuracy score was overall very solid, however; not a single tester scored as high as 91 (very unusual), and 5 of our 6 testers were within two points of each other, which suggests that even reasonably low handicap players can struggle to hit hybrids straight.
MGS Accuracy Score: 89.63
Consistency as a category is as close to a gimmie as we have around here. We generally expect scores will range from the low 90s to the mid-high 90s (remember, it's all relative). Once again, we still don't know what it means from a comparative standpoint, but the forgiveness scores posted for the 910H are probably on the low end. Half of our testers failed to crack 90 (for once I wasn't one of them). Jon, who posted the lowest consistency score, managed only a 71.75. While hitting the Titleist in all directions he basically told us that the results were actually better than what he normally does with his hybrid. Mark had similar issues in failing to post a score much above 80.
On the high-end, I personally managed a little over 96 (what can I say, Titleist hybrids work for me...most of the time), but no one else cracked 95.
This is just a guess about future trends, but my guess is hybrid forgiveness numbers will likely be the lowest overall, and I suspect these Titleist hybrids will probably not prove to be one of the most forgiving hybrids we test this season.
MGS Consistency Score: 89.67
My take away from the performance testing is simply that the Titleist 910H plays very nicely to Titleist's reputation of being more of a player's club. While our testers saw what I expect will be above average distance numbers, some struggled a bit to hit it straight, and weren't always able to achieve similar results from swing to swing. That said, for those with more consistent swings, it's probably everything you could want, and then some.
MGS OVERALL PERFORMANCE SCORE: 91.59
If there's one thing that golfers have almost grown to take for granted it's that almost everything Titleist produces is going to look very good, and perhaps feel even better. With that in mind, we weren't the least bit surprised at the results of the top half of our subjective survey. As you'll see, however; as we started asking about forgiveness and likelihood of purchase, our testers had mixed opinions.
Though I can't say I'm the least bit surprised given the high marks the 910 D2 driver received, the looks of 910 Hybrid were also a big hit with our testers. It seems that with few exceptions, in 2011, if it's not white, it's black, and without exception, all black, or almost all black finishes have traditionally gone over well with our testers. The 910 is certainly no exception, as the majority of our testers scored in 9 or better. There was, as there often is, a single 4 on the low end.
While our testing suggests many of our tester's did pay particular notice, the head shape of the 910H is worth discussing here. Like some others in the industry, Titleist has cooked in to the hybrid design what it calls "Flighted Performance". Basically, as you transition between lofts, the head shape, offset, and Center of Gravity locations change. The goal is to create optimum trajectory and spin for each club. While I personally like the premise, I can't say I'm thrilled with the practical result. I'm not one to complain about offset (so long as it's reasonable), and I don't get too wrapped up in center of gravity locations, but what I'm not thrilled with, as far as the end result is concerned, is that as the lofts get weaker, the profile of the head becomes noticeably larger. What that means to me is that while the 19° model is reasonably iron-like in appearance, by the time you get to the 24°, the hybrids start to become just a tiny bit more fairway-like in design.
It is nothing beyond personal preference, but if you're like me and do prefer hybrids with compact heads; in weaker lofted clubs, the 910H might not fit the bill.
As I said, however; most of our testers didn't notice, or if they did, they didn't care. Overall, as we expected, the 910H scored extremely well in the looks category.
MGS Looks Score: 87.79
Just as with looks, when it comes to feel, the 910H is a two-headed monster of sorts. The feel at impact on well-struck balls (and even on slight mis-hits) is nothing less than superb. It was, in fact, a similar feel that led me to purchase my beloved 585H over a model with more forgiveness. Our testers largely agreed as 9s and 10s littered our ratings scale. On the low end was a 5, which came from the only tester who told us he didn't really care for the club. Another tester, Jon, however, was simply blown away by the feel. He's apparently not nearly as thrilled with his current gamer telling us, "I had no idea a hybrid could feel this good".
On a less positive note, while only a single tester disputes feel from the impact perspective, we had several testers comment about the weight at address. The phrase we heard several times was "head heavy". It made us curious enough to pop the 910 on a swing weight scale to see where perception intersects with reality. The number we got back was roughly D4 which is heavier than some of the other hybrids we have and stock and 3 points heavier than my 585.H, which came in around D1. Thankfully, Titleist does allow you to custom order whatever swing weight you prefer.
Perceptions of head weight aside, overall, our testers rated the 910H highly.
MGS Feel Score: 86.00
While our performance numbers indicate that the Titleist 910 H is long (we suspect VERY long) by hybrid standards, our tester's perceptions didn't necessarily line up with our results. Todd, despite the fact that our formulas scored him out at 87 for distance, rated the the distance at only a 6. Whereas Jon, who we scored out at 93 and change, rated it a 10. It's worth noting that our subjective score scale always runs the risk of becoming a "relative to your current club" rating scale, and that may have played a part here.
Most of our other testers rated the club in the 8-9 range, which is probably about right for the majority of golfers.
Tester Perceived Distance Score: 93.17
Although there was a single 9 on the high end for accuracy, the majority of the scores fell in the 7-8 range. Interestingly, despiste some suspect results for a couple of testers, 7 was actually on the low end. What we think this means is that, despite all the reports of hybrids being easier to hit than the comparable long irons, many golfers still struggle, and mightily so, to hit their targets with the longer clubs (regardless of what type of head happens to be attached to the end of the shaft).
While these probably won't be the highest accuracy scores we see from hybrids this year, we think the ratings are more or less right on the money.
Tester Perceived Accuracy Score: 84.21
I actually expected the perceived forgiveness scores to be lower considering the number of wayward shots we observed during testing, but as I've said a few times now, testers will tend to remember their best shots, and conveniently forget about the worst. Pull hooks, slices, and pop-ups were somewhat overlooked as testers focused a bit more on the well struck balls the met their distance expectations and didn't stray too far from the center line.
When it came time to rate the forgiveness of the 910H, what we observed in the scoring patterns is that many of our testers rated forgiveness just a tick below accuracy. If they rated accuracy a 8, forgiveness was an 8. If accuracy was a 7, forgiveness was a 6. Of course not everyone followed this pattern. Some tester rated it the same, while others went as many as 4 full points below their accuracy rating. Not a single tester rated forgiveness higher than accuracy, although I suspect that has been true in most cases.
Tester Perceived Forgiveness Score: 75.25
Likelihood of Purchase
While it's not quite a love it or hate it result, individually it seems that our testers either loved the club (many telling us they would almost certainly purchase it), while others seemed luke-warm to cool with respect to the likelihood that they would ultimately purchase this club. From a numbers perspective, we saw several 9s and 10s, and a handful of scores in the 4-6 range. We didn't receive a single 7 or 8, which tells us that one way or the other, each of our testers had formed a concrete opinion about the club.
Tester Likelihood of Purchase: 82.42
As we've come to expect from any club stamped with the word Titleist, look and feel scores were above average. The same is true for perceived distance; an observation largely supported by our data . Not surprisingly, given the Titleist reputation for being geared towards better golfers, perceived accuracy and forgiveness scores weren't nearly as I high, and I suspect will be lower than some of the other hybrids we'll test this year. As we've already noted, the polarized results of our LOP surveys resulted in an average (probably slightly above average) LOP score.
When we crunched all the numbers, the LOP score actually proved to be as much as summary of everything else as it did a stand alone bit for our scoring. Although the final subjective score wasn't close to what we saw with the 910 Driver, however; if you were to poll each of our testers individually and ask them to give a blanket grade, what I think we'd see is half our testers would tell you 75, while the other half would say 95.
TOTAL SUBJECTIVE SCORE: 85.64
The conclusion to be drawn from our testing is that for some the Titleist 910H may prove to be the perfect hybrid, while others, particularly those who require more forgiveness in their hybrids, might be better served looking elsewhere. Personally, I love the look and feel of this club, and am nearly 100% certain that I could achieve even better results with something other than the 'Ahina shaft (just as with the driver, I don't hit the ball nearly as high as I would would like with it). Having said that, I still prefer the shape of the 585.h, and have decided to keep that in my bag for the foreseeable future.
Admittedly, my personal preference has little to do with actual performance. I'm one of the guys who hit the 910H reasonably well, however; visually the club doesn't completely work for me. The graphics and paint look great, but the "Flighted Performance" that Titleist bills as a performance advantage, makes for a head larger than what I like to see. For plenty of other golfers, however; I think it's safe to assume the slightly larger heads (when compared to the 585.h, or the Adams peanut), are going to be significant selling points.
While we can't say it will change your game (in fact the more we learn, the more suspicious we become of hybrids in general), for better ball strikers especially, we think the Titleist 910H is worth taking some swings with if you happen to find yourself in the market for a new hybrid.
MGS TOTAL SCORE: 91.00
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