Titleist R&D VP Dan Stone talks airplanes to clubs

Dan Stone, Titleist's VP of R&D, got his start in golf when he went from designing flight controls for the C-17 military transport plane to figuring out where to place tungsten in an iron head.

Dan Stone, vice president of Titleist golf club research and development, tells the story of how he made the transition from airplanes to golf clubs. One day he was designing mechanical flight controls for the C-17 military transport plane; the next he was figuring out where to place tungsten in an iron head.

A mechanical engineer (Pacific) with a supplementary masters degree in business (Pepperdine), Stone remembers the day he saw an employment ad: “French golf company looking for mechanical engineer.” That company was Cleveland Golf, owned at the time by French ski manufacturer Rossignol.

“I love golf, and my wife is French,” Stone said. “If you conceived the perfect job, this was it.”

Based in Carlsbad, Calif., with Titleist, his influence can be seen throughout the lineup of clubs, including the 2014 version of the popular AP1 and AP2 irons. Depending on the model and the specific iron, 13 percent to 30 percent of the total head weight is tungsten.

Although many touring pros use the AP2, the slightly larger AP1 is an excellent iron for many amateurs. Why?

“Because most amateurs don’t play courses with a lot of rough,” Stone said. “They’re not going to get the blade tangled in the rough. They can take full advantage of the AP1.”

(Titleist’s headquarters and golf ball manufacturing facility are located in Fairhaven, Mass.)

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