Titleist are rightly proud of their two year product life cycle and having launched the 915 range of woods last year, we can expect the replacement for the excellent Titleist 915H hybrid in 2016.
Either I have been transported through time or they have changed their mind as the replacement Titleist 816H hybrid is here already.
Sadly my Time Lord powers are still a dream because it is still 2015 and the Titleist sonic screwdriver has been going double quick time.
Why? Well, Titleist say that when they do their club fittings they are finding the hybrids are matched more often with the set of irons than the driver and fairway so they have decided to re-align the hybrid launches with the irons cycle.
To try and emphasise this point the code number in the name changes from 7 to 8 and the head colour has changed from traditional Titleist black to an iron coloured silver. To find out what else is new I went to the range with the two new 816 hybrids called the H1 and the H2.
Titleist 816H H1 Hybrid Review
As we are now on an iron theme, think back to the AP1 and AP2 irons. AP1 are the bigger easier to hit versions and AP2 are for the better player. In the 816 hybrids the same thing applies with the H1 being the easier of the two versions to hit.
Apart from the head colour the H1 is not far removed from the 915H and that is a good thing as that is one of the best in the market at present.
Despite the shorter turnaround Titleist has been working on the 816H since Spring 2014. They say it launches a whole 1° steeper with the same ball speed and spin rates and to the naked eye it was very hard to spot any real difference.
The only thing that got annoying with the 915H was that the Active Recoil Channel (ARC) on the sole used to get clogged up with dirt very easily, so on the 816H they have smoothed the edges of the ARC to reduce the amount of golf course you take with you.
The bevelling does do the job and it is better without eliminating the problem completely. However it is a small price to pay as the ARC enables the face to flex and this really comes into its own in the fairway and hybrids as the strikes lower on the face come off with much more ball speed than before.
The other difference is in the SureFit Tour hosel that is the best in the market because it allows you to vary loft and lie independently of each other. Irons usually go up in 3° or 4° gaps so the SureFit Tour hosel on the 816H goes up in 1° increments instead of 0.75° so that the five head lofts from 19° to 27° can easily be blended into a set of irons.
The shaft end of the 816H SureFit Tour will still fit into an old 915H head if you want to compare and it is good to see the 19° to 21° head lofts back rather than the 18° to 21° in the 915H.
At address the head looks very similar to 915H with a nice balanced shape that is not too toe heavy.
Apart from the cosmetics the other difference is the sole weight which is a little closer to the face and everything they have done with the head set up has increased the MOI by 7% in the H1.
The sound and feel were excellent and even in the 25° option the flight was strong enough that I was seriously tempted to bin the 4-iron for it, especially as you could tweak the loft further with the hosel to suit the course.
You should try and play hybrids like a long iron and put them further back in your stance from where is fairway is and then hit down and through it. Titleist claim the H1 is aimed more at sweeping swings, but I would not read too much into that as playing them like a long iron rather than a wood is still the right thing to do.
Overall I do like the 816H H1 hybrid as it gives you everything the 915H did with a slightly better set of loft options both through the set and with the SureFit Tour hosel.
I am still in two minds about the silver look and I miss the sock on the head cover but these are minor things as the performance of the club still makes it one of the standout hybrids in the market for single figure players and upwards.
Titleist 816H H2 Hybrid Review
The Titleist 816H H2 hybrid is the lower spinning version and akin to the 915Hd hybrid.
It as a smaller, more compact head than the 816 H1 with 2.5mm less offset in the hosel because this is predominantly aimed at those faster swing speed players.
If the H1 was aimed at sweepers then the H2 is supposed to be aimed at those who hit down on their hybrids more in an iron style.
Like before I feel it is more of a ball speed issue as the H2 was definitely harder work to get up in the air, even if it did offer you a little more control over the ball flight.
It looks and feels great and the bevelling on the ARC improves the turf interaction a touch as well as keeping the channel garden free.
The H2 comes in the same loft options as the H1 except that there is no 27° head and the more compact design may suit the eye better in some of the 21°, 23° and 25° models than the H1.
Again there is very little to fault with the Titleist 816 H2 hybrid and if you want to move into hybrids but find they balloon on you then the H2 is one of the best options out there for you.