Titleist does it again with TSR2 woods

Golf equipment companies introduce “new” clubs two or even three times a year. Every time, without fail, these new clubs are “longer,” “more forgiving,” “better performing.” Heck, they’re regularly trumpeted as “the best ever!”

I’ve been writing about golf equipment for over two decades now, and I am not the only person in the industry who is skeptical of this never-ending train of improvement. Over the years, I have reviewed a number of “best ever” clubs from putters to drivers that performed no better—and sometimes worse—than the model that had debuted just six months earlier.

Less than a year ago, I reviewed the Titleist TSi2 driver, and I kept it in my bag throughout last season. In all honestly, I enjoyed more confidence, control, and power off the tee this past year than I had for many, many years. Forgive me, then, for allowing that old skepticism to creep in: Could Titleist do even better with the TSR2 such a short time after the TSi line debuted?

I communicated this to Titleist. They were glad to hear of my satisfaction with the TSi2, but were confident some model of TSR—TSR2, TSR3, or TSR4—could convince me. They wanted me to get custom fit, though, so an appointment was arranged. Preceding that fitting, I had played The Pfau Course in Bloomington, Indiana, where I had driven the ball quite well most of the round. Then I drove five hours to just make the fitting appointment. I hopped out of the car, hit a few wedges, and then proceeded to make the most confounding, inconsistent collection of swings—and lots of them. I felt bad for the expert fitter, who was sure he had me figured out until I changed my swing again (and again, and again). He finally settled on an R-flex shaft for both a TSR2 driver and 3-wood, which surprised me, as I’ve always played an S-flex. But to be fair, the only balls I hit straight during the fitting session were when I slowed my swing down toward the end because I got tired after 50-some balls. But maybe…

Playing the Titleist TSR

My TSR2 driver and 3-wood arrived with just a couple of outdoor rounds left in the season: windy, cold, swing out of sorts. They both looked sleek and felt solid. The TSR2 is the “max” performance driver that offers optimized distance across the entire clubface. And if my fitting taught us anything, it’s that I make contact all over the clubface.

Rather than just tweak the TSi2 driver clubhead, though, Titleist redesigned the TSR2. A “boat tail” weight port at the very back of the sole calls to mind the SIM2 driver by TaylorMade. (The TSR3 has a sliding weight port in the back of the clubhead for maximal adjustability.) The sound and feel at impact do as well. The 9.5-degree TSR2 launches as high or higher than my 10.5-degree TSi2, but with less spin. A few shots on the course with the 3-wood were respectable, but the driver felt hard to control and not as long as the previous version.

Enter simulator golf weather. I tested the TSR2 on the new Quad Pro launch monitor at Lake of the Woods Golf Course with my son, a former high school golfer who routinely launches 300-yard drives, and the local high school girls’ golf coach, who plays off a low single-digit handicap and also rips 300+ yard drives more often than not.

My son noticed the radical change from the TSi2 clubhead design, as well as the difference in sound. The TSR2 sounds more muted than its predecessor. We both noticed that purely-struck balls didn’t feel like we’d hit them at all, a feature shared by the TSi2. We swapped out the R-flex shaft for the S-flex of my TSi2, and my son especially noticed better control. (The R-flex resulted in several hooks for both of us, actually.)

The local golf coach was fitted a couple years ago for a TaylorMade SIM2. “I feel like I could look around for a new driver this year,” he said. His first drive with the TSR2 (S-flex) carried 280+ yards and rolled out to 304. After three more drives, all dead straight and all over 300 yards on the simulator, he turned to me and asked, “How much do you want for this?” I believe he would have gone to the ATM right then. (He’s still asking me about it.)

Even I, the old man of the group who doesn’t really like simulators or launch monitors, noticed lower spin and slightly higher ball speed. Eventually, I banged out some 270-280 yard drives. Titleist touts the TSR2’s and TSR4’s “Multi-Plateau Face Thickness Technology” as accounting for the hotness and forgiveness of the face. Essentially, there are concentric donut-like layers stacked inward towards the center to provide maximum ball speed across the entire clubface. The TSR3 boasts “Speed Ring Variable Face Thickness Technology,” which basically focuses the maximum power on the sweetspot—for those annoying players that hit the sweetspot consistently.

The verdict on the Titleist TSR2 woods

Honestly, I thought the TSi2 would be in my bag for the long haul. Then along comes the TSR2 driver to usurp the role as go-to. And it brought along its 3-wood sidekick, even – which, by the way, consistently delivers straight, 225-250 yard shots. The R-flex in a fairway wood actually seems helpful, as in order to make solid contact off the turf, I really do need to slow my swing down.

The TSR2 driver, though, matched with my older stock S-flex shaft, is—miraculously—an improvement over its predecessor. Titleist, somehow, has done it again.

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