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John Letters Trilogy TXD on test
I had heard good things about the John Letters Trilogy TXD driver and wanted to try one for myself, having used the same company's Trilogy 2000 model for some time.

Coincidentally, my son-in-law is based at the parent company of ScottishGolf and they had received a full set of TXD irons and woods for testing so I volunteered to be a guinea pig.

The first distinction I noticed is that the TXD woods and irons have steel shafts, whereas my own woods have graphite (but steel in the irons) and, being 65-years-old and not having Tiger Woods' swing speed, I wondered if I would notice the difference. I did. The first time out it was immediately apparent that my habitual power fade, or 'slice' as some of my unforgiving playing partners like to call it, was dramatically reduced. Whether because of this or some other factor, I also could see that the ball was going further.

Over the subsequent two rounds as my confidence grew this 'longer and straighter' blueprint repeated itself with gratifying regularity. In round two I didn't hit one banana ball and in round three I even tried deliberately to hit a fade but without success. This pattern was repeated with the other woods from the set, which I found easy to hit off both turf and tee - so much so that in one case I mistakenly hit the 3 instead of the 5-wood from the fairway and comfortably flew the green.

The irons feel heavier than my own Browning Classic models but in use this was neither a help nor a hindrance, with the exception of the pitching wedge. Both it and the sand iron have a particular feeling of weight, and they look quite cumbersome and, it has to be said, unattractive. For a couple of rounds the extra clubhead weight in the pitching wedge meant I had a few problems, especially trying to extricate the ball from longer grass but once I learned to wait and let the clubhead do the work without me forcing the issue, it became easy to use.

And in the interests of research, a few times I hit my ball deliberately into greenside bunkers and had no problems extricating it again.

And now for the best news of all, the Trilogy Tramline putter, which I think is a superb club. It feels as if there is a lot of clubhead weight but that's partly an illusion created by the fact that there's virtually no weight in the butt end of the club - the grip end has been reduced to just a few grams. It feels well balanced and is designed in such a way that you can stand it behind the ball and walk away - it remains in place. It's an excellent idea to allow you to move behind the club and check your alignment, although you wouldn't want to do it on a breezy day in case the club toppled onto your ball, incurring you a penalty.

I adapted to this putter after only a few holes and used it willingly, and with considerable success, for three happy rounds. I found it extremely easy to line up square to my target line, and consequently my percentage of on-line (and therefore holed) putts rose.

These TXD clubs represent quite a radical departure for me, as I am accustomed to playing with small-headed, graphite-shafted woods and light irons but I will find it difficult to go back. Because of the larger clubheads on the TXD woods, and heavier heads on the irons, I have found it much easier - and considerably more rewarding - to let the club do the work. In consequence I have been swinging easier but hitting the ball further. This even extends to the putting green, where I now find myself stroking through, rather than hitting at, the ball.

In short, I have stopped trying to 'murder' the ball and have therefore escaped a life sentence of sliced drives and approach shots not reaching the target. I have enjoyed immensely playing with these clubs and have no hesitation in recommending them.

Thomas McCann
22 handicap


Second opinion
Having also played three rounds with these clubs, I would endorse everything Tom says about them. John Letters pioneered the 'three-in-one' concept of club design (hence the Trilogy name), where increased peripheral weighting in the longer irons, and a greater mass of weight behind the sweet spot, gradually decreases as you move through the set. The idea is to offer forgiveness and playability in longer clubs, consistency with the middle irons and greater feel with the 'scoring' irons - both wedges and the 9-iron.

The shaft option we were given is the True Temper Dynamic Gold, which has, for quite a few years now, been the benchmark by which all steel shafts are judged - and rightly so, it's a great bit of kit - but the irons are also available with the graphite that is the only option for the woods.

Visually they look clean and uncluttered and in this regard John Letters is a bit of a traditionalist company, no bad thing in our opinion, and not one to add fancy badges, labels, colours or bits unless there's a very good reason. However, the wedges do look ugly and cumbersome in comparison to many and frankly have a look that only a mother could love. Nevertheless, the most important judgement is about playability and on this criterion they score well - both literally and metaphorically.

At £399 RRP for a full set of irons they're not cheap but they are extremely competitively priced, bearing in mind that many irons nowadays start at £500 or more. The driver is £149 and fairway woods come out at £79.99 each. For solid, well-made clubs that don't cost the earth and which offer all the playability you could want, these Trilogy TXDs are difficult to ignore and easy to recommend.

Martin Vousden
11 handicap


©    8 - AUGUST 2003



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