Titleist TSi woods and hybrids: Terminate the golf ball

Remember the Terminator movies? Skynet was the artificial neural network-based conscious group mind and artificial general super-intelligence system that built the Terminators. And the Terminators were nigh-indestructible metal killing machines.

Imagine if Skynet made golf clubs instead of cybernetic monsters, and the only killing was the murdering of golf balls.

Oh, what a wonderful (future) world it would be.

Titleist’s TSi drivers, fairway metals, and hybrids (TSi1, TSi2, TSi3, and TSi4) all feature faces forged from Allegheny Technologies Incorporated (ATI) 425 titanium alloy. This alloy is made in the US near Pittsburgh originally for use in ballistic armor and then in aerospace, including the Mars rover. It’s light, strong, and has tighter tolerances than typical titanium. The crown is also titanium, combining with the face to be arguably the strongest, lightest, fastest, and best-sounding driver on the market.

The TSi models differ with respect to specs and the players they target. The TSi2 is sort of the “standard”: more forgiving, with a higher, straighter “stock” trajectory than the TSi3 or TSi4, and sole weights that can be adjusted. The TSi3 has a more compact head (though still 460cc) and a lower trajectory and features sole weighting adjustment capabilities (both drivers have adjustable hosels). The TSi1 is ultra-light for slower swingspeeds, and the TSi4 is played by several Tour players.

This said, the TSi2 is still—like all Titleist offerings in my experience—“playable” and “workable” for even semi-skilled players like me, assuming the shaft and specs fit your game.

The metal woods and hybrids are equally well-built and powerful. Without getting too far ahead of myself, I will say that the TSi2 3-wood is the first 3-wood I have hit regularly and without trepidation on the course in over 5 years. My swing is regaining some old form…and the TSi3 is both easy enough to hit and long enough to make it both a reliable AND powerful weapon. Like when the original Terminator started protecting John Connor.

Playing the Titleist TSi2 line

I normally play a 9.5- or 10.5-degree lofted driver. The TSi series comes in whole number lofts. So 10-degree it was. The reason for these lofts is the weighting and spin characteristics add approximately .5 degrees of loft. Despite the TSi2 ($549) being the “higher launching” model, it would be completely wrong to say that you can’t hit lower, boring drives with it. Just put the ball back in your stance a bit. Move the ball up a titch, and you get towering shots. Speaking of lower drives, the first time out with the TSi2 driver, my son and I both semi-topped drives – and then watched as both balls seared the turf all the way out to where many folks hit their regular drives.

“That face is hot,” said my son after he stopped complaining about his “bad” drive that rolled out 230 yards, dead straight.

The face of the TSi line is composed, as mentioned, of a novel material in the golf world. And the ATI 425 titanium is sort of pebbled in texture, too. This might strike some as weird. But the important thing is that it strikes the ball with other-worldly power. The head of the TSi2 is somewhat flattened and sort of flared at the back compared to the TSi3—a shape that some purists may object to. Frankly, until reading about it in the press release, I didn’t even notice. What I did notice is that in four rounds playing and testing it, I have hit more fairways and have driven the ball consistently farther than I have in any round during the past few years.

When I mentioned to a clubfitter colleague at Club Champion that I was testing the TSi2, his reply was, “That is one hell of a driver!” I can’t disagree.

The TSi2 3-wood ($299), as noted above, performs like a smaller carbon-copy – or rather titanium-copy – of the driver. The low profile and consistent launch of the 15-degree metalwood imbues even this shell-shocked fairway wood player with confidence.

Rounding out my testing set is the TSi2 23-degree hybrid ($279), and it has has truly become the workhorse of my bag. In one fell swoop it replaced a 21-degree hybrid and a 24-degree hybrid, which were the two longest-tenured clubs in my bag (8 years and 7 years, respectively). With the ATI 425 construction of the TSi2 hybrid face, I can hit it as far as the old 21-degree with the control of the old 24-degree (and just choke down a hair if I need to play shorter).

Best of all, I have three spectacular matching clubs to use on the tee on nearly any length or design par-4 or par-5 I can imagine. All three are decked out with Tensei AV Blue Raw (stiff) shafts—one of a handful of featured shafts. The Tensei AV was my choice (absent a personalized fitting) as a fairly straightforward mid-launch, mid-spin shaft, excellent for most recreational players.

The Verdict

There are sort of “flashbulb” moments with any club—both good and bad. Iconic shots that stick in your head. For me, the TSi2 line’s moment came on the 508-yard 3rd hole of Lake of the Woods Golf Course in Mahomet, Illinois (my home course). OB runs from tee to green on the right, and trees line the left side of the fairway. Starting 110 yards into the green are two ponds, right and left. I haven’t hit driver here regularly for 10 years, as it will invariably be the one hole where I hit a slice OB, or protect from the slice and pull it into the trees. And hell, I’m too old to go for it in two these days, anyway.

But the third time out with the TSi2, there was a bit of a tailwind, and I’d hit the fairways of Holes 1 and 2 already. After a good swing, I watched my ball sail high and straight over the hill in the fairway. When I crested that hill to see where my ball ended up, I was 190 yards from the green, dead center of the short grass. I put an easy, choked-down swing on my TSi2 hybrid and ended up pin-high, just right of the green. As easy as any par 4.

As I slid the hybrid cover back on, put it in my bag, and looped the straps over my shoulders, I swear I heard the trio of TSi2 clubs say to me, “Play us if you want to live.” Indeed, these three clubs are going to serve as my personal golf ball-killing machines well into the future.

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