After the one year gap when Titleist re-aligned the 816 Hybrid launch with their irons, we are now back on the 2 year cycle as the 818 hybrid joins the 718 iron launch.
We still have the same H1 and H2 versions of the Titleist 818 Hybrid that have their own characteristics and both come with the same new features and changes.
The first of these is the Active Recoil Channel 2.0 (ARC) which is now a closed slot rather than an open channel.
The ARC first appeared in the 915 hybrid before the edges of it were smoothed off in the 816 hybrid to enable it to get through the turf more easily as the channel did tend to grab a little.
Now the channel is more of a cut through slot that is filled with a polymer insert that can also flex and this enables the face to flex a little bit more and increase ball speed as you should all know by now. It certainly looks a lot cleaner and I found that the turf interaction is a lot better.
What also looks cleaner is the head colour that adopts the Slate Grey of the 917 woods. I get that they had to differentiate the 816 hybrids a little more as they were moving them to the irons category with the silver head, but I think the darker look is classier and more in tune with the look golfers expect from non-iron clubs.
The final change will not be much of a surprise to regular Titleist followers, but is probably the biggest one and that is the addition of the changeable weight known as SureFit CG.
First seen on the Titleist 917 driver and 917 fairway last year, this is cylindrical weight that slides into a tube in the sole to enable you to vary the weight balance and the absolute weight of the club head.
There is a choice of five weights from 10g to 18g with 14g as the standard. For each weight there is a neutral version and an unbalanced version with one end heavier than the other. Insert the heavy end towards the toe and it will create a fade bias of up to 4 yards each way and vice versa for a draw.
What is more beneficial is varying the absolute weight of the club by up to 4 grams either way to take account of different shaft lengths or weight. This will also vary the MOI of the club for your swing and you might be surprised if you go for a fitting that one weight might outperform all the others for this reason.
The custom fitting element continues with the tried and trusted SureFit Tour hosel which is still the standout adjustable hosel in the market as it allows you to change loft and lie independently of each other. You can vary each loft by 1° down or 2° up in 1° increments and with all the 818 heads having 2° gaps then pretty much any loft, lie and weight can be achieved.
This all requires a fair amount of custom fitting to get the right head for your game and then to set it up correctly so I went through the process with Titleist as part of the review.
Titleist 818 H1 Hybrid Review
The Titleist 818 H1 hybrid is the larger of the two models and is aimed at those who sweep their hybrids and are looking for maximum forgiveness with a higher launch.
At address the shape is a little deeper and more rounded than the 816, yet is still subtly pear shaped and fractionally toe heavy.
It has more of a wood feel and sound to it, but the extra head size does give you a greater feeling of confidence without it going over the edge and ballooning the ball high. The forgiveness is also very good and Titleist say the larger head increases the MOI by 13% over the previous 816 H1.
The flight was still strong and high enough to ensure that the ball will stop if it lands on the green, a point Titleist were keen to make as they regard hybrids as scoring clubs rather than distance clubs. This is certainly borne out by the wide range of five lofts from 19° to 27°.
For my set I would be looking for a 200-210 yards hybrid and the 19° H1 came out as the best. After much toing and froing with the weights and shafts, all that adjustability confirmed that the standard A1 lie and 14g neutral weight was best. Maybe not the best use of the flexibility, but it's good to know that I am a regular guy.
The shaft chosen is the Mitsubishi Tensei that comes in 4 versions and is an excellent stock addition to the range that also includes the Fujikura ATMOS HB and Project X Even Flow plus all the usual other options.
The H1 will be the backbone of the 818 range as it will suit the vast majority of players and whilst the larger head shape may imply that it leans to mid to high handicappers, it is more dependent on how you attack the ball and therefore single figure players who sweep the ball should try it too.
Titleist 818 H2 Hybrid Review
The Titleist 818 H2 hybrid has undergone a more radical makeover with a different shape that will be familiar to better player hybrid players.
The head is a lot narrower front to back than the H1 and this means that the MOI increase over 816 H2 is less at 7%, but it is still a gain.
From the front you can see the squarer toe and to me this is more what an 'iron' style hybrid should look like.
It is really for those players who hit down on the ball more and play hybrids like an iron and now that the ARC is filled in, it goes through the turf a lot better than models with the open channel.
The sound was solid and a little more muted like an iron than H1 and given the choice I would have preferred the H2 on looks and sound alone.
However this is why you need custom fitting as on the launch monitor the same 19° head in the same set up was 6 to 8 yards shorter than the equivalent H1, because I was not getting as high a launch with my 100mph driver swing speed and therefore the ball would be landing too flat.
This does not make it a bad club and in fact with some of the higher H2 lofts of 21° and 23° could be ideal long iron replacements. The 23° option was very tempting as a 4-iron replacement, but it probably went a little too high for most better players.
The H2 almost has 'tour player' written all over it, or probably more accurately 'high swing speed player' so if the H2 is equal or better than the H1 for you then I would go for it, as I think it is more what these players would expect a hybrid to play like.
Titleist 818 Hybrid Review Summary
As you can see, you have to keep an open mind when going for a Titleist 818 hybrid fitting as the right club and set up will find you rather than the other way around.
Ideally I would want something that looked and sounded like H2 and went like the H1, but that's like wanting a 200mph supercar that does 50 miles to the gallon and can fit your clubs and trolley in the boot.
You may need to sell the supercar though as the 818 hybrid is pretty pricey for a club you may only use a couple of times a round, but given the amount of adjustability and the quality of the performance it is just about worth it. However check the performance against the T-MB, AP3 and AP1 long irons as you may find something doing the same job for half the price.
The 818 H1 is the 50mpg/clubs-in-the-boot option as it will suit the majority of players and with the SureFit CG weight and SureFit Tour hosel it is the surest fit you can get in the market.
The 818 H2 is one of the best high speed player's hybrids around and can be set up as an 'anti-left' club very easily.
Whichever way you go, the option of being able to vary the absolute weight of the head using the SureFit CG is the key selling point of this club and could make the difference to your game.