Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Equipment Shocker: Adam Scott playing old irons

On Sunday, Adam Scott won the Australian Masters for a second win in two weeks. What caught my attention is that in carving out these two wins, he used a pretty old set of irons--the Titleist 680 model from circa 2003. A longtime Titleist guy, he was known to have played the clubs as far back as 2006, likely even earlier.

This is interesting news from a pure golf perspective, which might help explain why such a story would be completely passed over by the so-called golf press. Why bother with trivial fluff such as how an elite player is playing the best golf of a celebrated career using some old bargain bin specials. There are lists to be made, ranking the most beautiful women marginally involved with golf and so on.

And probably they generally don't want to report stories like this because manufacturers don't want them to. OEM's after all are all about getting people to look ahead to the latest models, not backwards at the old ones.

When they were released, the 680 irons represented the brand's most old-school muscleback design at the time. They are traditionally spec'd, compact, thin-topline blades with minimal offset, similar to the fabled Titleist 681s which were used to capture the "Tiger Slam" of 2000-2001, which adds an interesting wrinkle to the theory that Adam Scott is basically trying to reincarnate Tiger Woods 2.0: same swing, same coach, same caddy, and now, same kind of Titleist irons.

It's not exactly a radical change for Adam Scott when he looks down at the ball. He's been playing some sort of Titleist muscleback iron probably since way before anyone knew who Adam Scott was. But it is interesting that right now, playing the best golf of his life, for whatever odd reason he just felt like saying F IT--these old-ass clubs happen to feel real good at the moment, so I'm gonna stick with them, and I'm Adam Scott dammit.

Whatever the case, good for Adam Scott--this retrograde club change is probably an indication that he has now attained "do whatever I want" status. Now Adam Scott calls the shots. Adam Scott tells Titleist what goes in his golf bag, not the other way around. Good to see an elite player no longer bound to the exhausting, repeating cycle of product placement and promotion and any time a golfer of any level can free himself from the golf-industrial complex, hey--why not?

Eight years in the golf gear universe is a really long time. Consider how much club designs have evolved and transmogrified since then--drivers and woods in particular. Eight years ago the idea of making all driver and fairway wood heads bright white would be filed under crazy talk. "Rocketballz" wasn't even a glimmer in a TaylorMade marketing exec's eye. The whole square driver fad had not even come and gone yet.

But Adam Scott's 680's remind us that iron technology seems to be moving at a slow pace, if moving at all. And that is something we should all embrace. The design of many everyday objects, the basic claw hammer for example, seems to have been more or less perfected in our lifetime. If golf irons are also about as good as they will ever be, then great--one less thing to worry about.

I've been a supporter of the traditional muscleback iron since I started playing them a few years ago. Okay, so the long irons might not be for everyone, and my own'll probably be replaced with cavity-backs eventually, but I really believe that most people who take this thing seriously would probably benefit overall from playing blades in their middle and short irons at least.

Which is not to categorically poo-poo modern clubs; playing miniscule, pre-war era, no-offset blade irons is not good for anyone's game. (We've all encountered the weirdo out there who insists on shanking it around using irons that are older than he is.) There is probably a point after which being too traditional becomes self-defeating. With the exception of maybe putters, you are probably not going to help your game using any equipment that pre-dates the computer.

But still, that leaves us with an immense wealth of great, older golf clubs that, like Adam Scott's 680s, perhaps still merit some attention and maybe even outperform their newer, shrink-wrapped counterparts. And what's even better, a lot of these old clubs come with free shipping.


  1. If the big boys play the older stuff the golf industry is screwed. Wont happen much as they can tweek all new irons to fit their game. So they use em. My bag is filled with has been stuff.


  2. I'm not an Adam Scott, but I recently put a 1981 set of Ping Eye irons in my bag. I hit them better than anything newer I have. Even the 2-iron! Maltby gives them an 821 MPI--that's higher than most more-modern irons.


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