By Alex Gallemore
I don’t know about many of you but I’m coming across too many shots these days where I’m needing 215+ yards and having to hold the green. Long gone are those enticing par-3s of 160 yards and I’m struggling to force an iron anywhere close to 215 yards. Recently, I’ve been playing that distance with a hybrid but the problem I’m getting with the courses in the UAE is run- offs. It’s easy to make the distance but the trajectory is too low and they just fire off the back of the green. Take 17 at the Faldo Course at Emirates Golf Club – 218 yards off the blue tee with a slight gradient. With my draw and a low flighted hybrid there’s no chance I could knock it close to a pin on this hole that was cut at the front or even centre.
So Titleist’s new 818 Hybrid’s marketing campaign caught my eye with the slogan: ‘When was the last time you were thinking up and down from 215 yards out?’
The answer was simple – NEVER! But I had to call the guys at Titleist out on this one. The brief was to get me knocking it tight from 215 yards with minimal roll out. The problem they faced was my low draw. Great for run-out on a dry links fairway. Not so great on a dry green in Dubai surrounded by bunkers and the odd lake.
Active Recoil Channel™ 2.0 generates faster ball speeds through its improved channel and flexing polymer insert, producing a significant advantage in carry distance and making these our longest, most consistent hybrids ever.
With a 10% average increase in MOI from its predecessor, 818 hybrids offer more forgiveness and stability through an optimally positioned, deep centre of gravity.
SureFit Hosel provides 16 independent loft and lie settings to optimise consistent centre-face contact, complemented by the shot-shaping accuracy of SureFit CG.
Head to Head
Having the H1 dialled in, it was time to see how it stood up to the H2. The H2 has a smaller head and feels like a cross over between a hybrid and muscle-backed long iron. The toe is much squarer than the H1, which visually helped me square the club up at address and before I hit a ball I felt more confident. The smash factor was more consistent compared to the H1 and the grouping was even tighter.
I’m Pete Cowen’s worst nightmare. I’m a manipulator, ‘handsy’ player through impact. That’s why it’s essential for me to feel where the clubhead/ face is in relation to my hands throughout the swing.
Starting off we tried the 89 gram MCA Tensei PRO WHITE high tick point stiff shaft. My club speed was just over 100mph and carry was 203 yards with 14 yards of run.
Strong numbers, but the dispersion wasn’t great as the heavy shaft meant I’d lost the feeling of the clubhead at impact. Switching to the lighter ProjectX Even Flow Blue 85 HY stiff shaft with a mid kick point brought the feeling back but dispersion and drop angle were not consisent. Time to play around with the heads.
EvenFlow’s revolutionary “even” bend profile transfers shaft load more efficiently throughout the swing to create maximum energy release at impact.
Ditching the hook and tightening the dispersion
The 818 Hybrids come with Titleist’s SureFit Hosel and give the fitter 16 independent loft and lie settings plus the SureFit CG technology weights the club to shape the shot. I’d seen this technology in the 917 driver but it was interesting to see the benefit in a hybrid.
By giving the Titleist fitter feedback and being honest about my game, it took him no time to dial me. Moving more weight to the toe using the SureFit CG, 12grams to be accurate, it prevented the toe from closing in as fast at impact. Paired with the SureFit Hosel position of B1 for a slightly reduced loft and open-face angle to drop the spin a fraction and keep the toe open to fight the draw.
Verdict | Head: 818 H2 Loft: 21 degrees SureFit Hosel: B-1 SureFit CG: 12g Fade weight Shaft: Project X Evenflow Blue 85 Stiff
Well, I’ve ordered an H2. Considering I’m fortunate enough to get test clubs this is the first I’ve openly gone out and bought in a while. This is where new technology is helping the weekend golfer, as we don’t want to get slammed for distance when we fail to strike the sweet spot. The H1 with the heavier shaft gave slightly more distance but the added feel and confidence of the H2 was more consistent for my game. There is no self-doubt now of what to hit when I need to carry just over 200 yards and with a run-out of a further 10. I could hit the club all day close to those numbers. I just need to sort the rest of my bag out!