Interested in golf shafts, this site is a comprehensive collection of golf shaft reviews. It contains both objective measurements and subjective opinions of fitters and club testers. The reviewers are full time golf club fitters, most rated by Golf Digest in 2015 as the top 100 Clubfitters in the USA.

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Golf Digest 2013 Americas 100 Best ClubFittersRuss Ryden, A Golf Digest America’s 100 Best Clubfitter
Fit2Score, Dallas Fort Worth, Texas

Mitsubishi Grand Bassara Driver Shaft Review

Ultra Light Driver Shafts – Mitsubishi Grand Bassara

By Jim Achenbach

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The new ultra-light Grand Bassara metalwood shafts from Mitsubishi Rayon are aimed at amateurs looking for increased club speed along with a definitive shaft kick in the impact zone. The key word here is amateurs. Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: Many prominent golf shafts are designed primarily for touring pros, then are lightened or softened or modified in one fashion or another for amateurs.

Sometimes this strategy works, sometimes it doesn’t. With the Grand Bassara, shaft giant Mitsubishi Rayon turned the tables. The project clearly began with the ordinary golfer and not the touring pro. This was to be everyman’s premium golf shaft.

As many of us have discovered, the best shafts for amateurs often are those that start life with more modest goals. If these shafts could talk, they might say things like this: “I always wanted to be recognized as a superlative R or S shaft, but I never took steroids and I never wanted to be confused with an X or XX guy.”

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There are two different Grand Bassara weight designations — 29 and 39 — but there are no X or XX flex shafts in the newest addition to the Bassara family. Shaft numbers are not always what they seem. The golfing public often associates these numbers with gram weights, but this can be misleading. True, the Lite flex version of the Grand Bassara 29 weighs 32 grams at its 46-inch raw length. Moreover, the Regular flex Grand Bassara 29 tips the scales at 35 grams. The 29 has no Stiff flex, providing a big clue as to which golfers are best-suited for the shaft. The 29 is designed for relatively slow, rhythmic swingers of the golf club. Trust me, they will feel the shaft working for them.

During informal testing at Willamette Valley Country Club, a much-admired family club in Canby, Ore., the strongest players waggled the driver and immediately said something like, “Too whippy for me.” On the other hand, players with more moderate swing speeds were highly complimentary after hitting balls. The typical comment: “I feel the shaft helping me, and I love that.”

In recent years, shafts intended for amateurs have proliferated in the lightweight shaft arena. These shafts have moved quickly from the sub-70 category (less than 70 grams) to the sub-60, sub-50 and now the sub-40 classification. Touring pros largely remain skeptical of lightweight shafts. They associate shaft stability with heavier weights. It is the senior golfers of the world, along with women, who have been most vocal in their desire for lighter weights.

A short time after watching Rocco Mediate lose a 19-hole playoff to Tiger Woods in the 2008 U.S. Open, I approached Mediate and asked if the rumor was true. Did he really switch to a sub-60 driver shaft? “No way,” he said. “I’m strong enough to handle a heavier shaft, and most of the drivers with lightweight shafts feel to me like they’re moving and twisting all over the place.” That being said, Mediate has stayed with driver shafts in the 70s. His PGA Tour Champions victory earlier this year came with a 70-gram Aldila Rogue 60 Black X flex driver shaft.

Woods, before his prolonged absence from the PGA Tour, switched from a 93-gram Mitsubishi Rayon Diamana Blue Board to a 78-gram Matrix Ozik TP7HDe. The Matrix shaft has a suggested retail price of $1,250. Why so expensive? It is a carbon fiber shaft featuring additional materials: boron, Zylon and GMAT fiber. Although the shaft is round, it has an internal 16-sided section (called HD) that extends all the way from the butt down to the top of the parallel tip. A lot has changed in the eight years since Woods outlasted Mediate, the Grand Bassara being a prime example. It is light yet stable, especially the 39. The first thing most golfers will feel is that the shaft — and its metalwood head — are easily controllable. This usually translates into no jerking or lurching during the swing.

The Grand Bassara 39 probably will appeal to more golfers than the 29. The overall weights are 43, 45 and 48 grams for the Lite, Regular and Stiff flexes. It is the Stiff 48-gram Grand Bassara 39 that should continue to generate considerable interest among skilled older players whose swing speeds have slowed down. One more observation about club speeds: The more erratic the swing, the more erratic the speeds. Thus it is advisable to determine driver swing speeds by focusing on the best swings and discarding the results from the worst swings. Swing speeds can easily vary, depending on the quality of the swing, as much as 5 or 6 miles per hour.

The great divider between the 29 and 39 is torque. Get ready for some eye-popping high numbers for the 29. Torque ratings for the Grand Bassara 29: Lite 11.8, Regular 10.8. Torque ratings for the Grand Bassara 39: Lite 4.9, Regular 4.8, Stiff 4.7.

it always intrigues me to read what shaft manufacturers say about their own shafts. For Mitsubishi’s Grand Bassara, the theme is “Pushing the limits of lightweight (shafts) without compromising performance.” Nothing new there, but the shafts do accentuate a higher trajectory with a mid-spin profile. All the Grand Bassara shafts are made in Japan with a new proprietary carbon fiber material invented by Mitsubishi engineers. It is called MR70. According to the company, MR70 provides a 20-percent gain in strength over other fibers and a 10-percent increase in elasticity. This helps explain why the shaft is costly — the suggested retail is $450.

Grand Bassara was first earmarked for the Asian market, but is being sold worldwide. “I want to say the shaft is designed for the more classic, more traditional person,” said Mitsubishi Rayon vice-president Mark Gunther, “but many golfers can benefit from lightweight clubs. With the benefits provided by MR70, this shaft will help a lot of players.” Two fascinating developments are associated with Mitsubishi’s Grand Bassara. One, the company is working on an X flex version of the Grand Bassara 39. It is expected to be very attractive to many LPGA players. Two, the Grand Bassara is being used in Japan for fitting junior golfers and allowing them to experience what a world-class shaft feels like. I remember how excited I felt when I first played the original Bassara 43 and then went down to the Bassara 33. These were revolutionary shafts and signaled the upcoming lightweight age of golf shafts.

Many golfers have been enthralled by Mitsubishi’s multiple shaft families — the legendary Diamana, as well as Bassara, Fubuki, Kuro Kage and others. One lesson I have learned from using lightweight driver shafts: Fitting a driver with a ultra-light shaft can be tricky, and many golfers like the feel of a slightly heavier shaft. Picking a driver can be a golfer’s most difficult — yet most important — decision.

Senior golfers are leading the lightweight driver campaign. “The vast majority of our sales are lightweight, Senior flex or Regular flex driver shafts,” said Gawain Robertson, a former player on the Canadian PGA Tour and co-owner of shaft manufacturer Accra. “The average customer for many top fitters is that 65-year-old guy who wants something good and want it fitted exactly for him. That’s why we’re about to come out with a J Spec shaft with a softer tip.”  This market is important enough that Mitsubishi is making all the Grand Bassara shafts in its high-end Japanese facility, where weights and frequencies must meet plus-or-minus tolerances of 1 gram or 1 CPM.

It is easy to understand why so many Asian players have gravitated to lighter shafts. “Just look at all the Asian golfers,” observed Allen Gobeski, a master fitter at Cool Clubs in Scottsdale, Ariz. “They tend to be so smooth. Their timing stays the same.” Looking at Mitsubishi Rayon, Gobeski was enthusiastic. “They are near the top of the food chain. it helps that they make their own (graphite) material.” On modern shafts in general, Gobeski remained straightforward: “There are so many good shafts out there, particularly lightweight shafts. It’s a good time to be a golfer.”

Mitsubishi Tensei CK Pro Blue Golf Shaft Review

Mitsubishi Tensei CK Pro Blue Driver Shafts

By Russ Ryden, A Golf Digest America’s 100 Best Clubfitter
Fit2Score, Dallas Fort Worth, Texas

It is no longer appropriate to use the word graphite to describe a golf shaft material. In fact, the term carbon fiber does not work either. Many of today’s golf shafts must be referred to a composites. They are blends of carbon fiber strands, carbon fiber weaves, metal wire, metal mesh, metal powder, kevlar, boron and resin. These exotic combinations are increasing strength at reduced weight. This creates a wider range of properties that can be created in the composite tapered tube we call a golf shaft. The Mitsubishi Tensei is a new blend of materials woven into a driver shaft.

Mitsubishi is vertically integrated. they make most all of the materials the go into a golf shaft including monomer, acrylic fiber, carbon fiber, resin and prepreg. Mitsubishi’s latest PR releases tell us what that means: 276 PGA Tour wins on the major tours since 2004, 80 more than the next closest competitor. $137 million in prize money in 2015, $40 million more than the closest competitor. If that does not get your attention, the feel of their shafts will. They use the name Thump on a few products. It is fitting. The high density material they use dampens vibration up the shaft. What gets to your hands is a thump, not a click. When you strike your driver center face, that thump is an exquisite feeling. You can sense the ball getting crushed.

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The 2016 Tensei CK Pro Blue is a multi-material design combining 11 different prepreg materials. The profile is very much like a Diamana B. As shown below, the difference between the 60, 70 and 80 gram versions of the TX profile is weight and torque. The stiffness and bend profiles are identical. This is different from Mitsubishi models in the past. Typically the weight and stiffness must be considered together, the heavier shafts are stiffer with the same flex designation.

The shafts covered in this review are the Boron tipped Pro version. They are not to be confused with the shafts that will be offered in OEM off the rack drivers. Those lack the boron tips and are available in a wider range of weights and flex. The Boron tip weave adds tip stiffness to the Diamana B profile. And it is the Boron tip that makes these special. If you try a Diamana B and find the tip feels a little loose, this is the cure.

A carbon fiber / Kevlar weave is used in the butt section of the shaft. It can be seen through the clear finish. While the bend profile of the shaft is just slightly stiffer than the classic blue design, the hoop strength in this area is significantly increased. The result is a superior sense of what the shaft is doing during transition.

MRCTenseiProTXEiGjTbAs you can see in the chart, these are high balance point shafts, but not as high as the third generation Diamana B. We are seeing driver head weights come do a few grams and the shaft designers have moved the balance points accordingly. Radial consistency of the Tensei Pro averaged 99.3% with a 0.4% standard deviation. Great numbers for a shaft not made in Japan as are the other premium Mitsubishi shafts.

The Mistubishi Tensei was designed as Diamana B with new materials. What came to be from the new materials is a tighter tip and butt on a classic profile. Feedback from our testers is very positive. So positive in fact that one ordered a spare should something ever happen to his gamer.

Project X Iron Shaft Review

Rifle Project X Iron Shaft Review

By Russ Ryden, A Golf Digest America’s 100 Best Clubfitter
Fit2Score, Dallas Fort Worth, Texas

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The Precision Rifle Project X has been with us for a very long time. It somehow got missed when I was in the early days of measuring the vast number of shafts in the market. I noticed its absence when I measured the Project X LZ model. It was originally made by Royal Precision Shaft Company in Connecticut. They were acquired by TrueTemper and the production was moved to Tennessee.  You will see many of the best players in the world playing this shaft. Compared to a Dynamic Gold X100, it is slightly softer in the butt and stiffer in the Mid. Unlike the TrueTemper Dynamic Gold, the  Project X profile is the same for all weight/stiffness variations. The heavier the shaft the stiffer it gets. The profile remains the same for all flex designations.

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Shaft stiffness is expressed as a number, 5.0, 5.5, 6.0, 6.5, and 7.0. The numbering system was derived from the Royal Precision Rifle shaft. There was a formula that rated stiffness as a function of frequency and length. That formula and variations of it are still used by some club makers today. The radial consistency of all the review samples was excellent. The labels are placed on one of the stiffness planes. If you are concerned about shaft orientation, label up or label down will work as good as anything. However, the radial quality of all the shafts I measured indicated they could be installed in any orientation. The Project X is known to be easy to load and typically produces a low spin, piercing trajectory.

RifleProjectX_SSRIn the review of the Project X LZ shaft I introduced a new measurement metric, Set Stiffness Range. I developed the concept as a method of looking at the difference between “Flighted” and standard iron sets. I could see the differences in the charts of wedge and 3i shafts but the vision was hard to quantify.. Adding a number to express the ratio created a new method for understanding the shaft sets I work with. The larger the range, the greater the difference in the shafts contribution to launch variation throughout the set.

As you look at this graphic you will see what I mentioned earlier. The bend profiles of all the models of the Project X do not change with stiffness. You simply find the weight and/or stiffness that feels and performs best for you. But another metric to observe is the increase in the set stiffness range of the 5.0 and 5.5 models. The long irons in these sets will launch higher than one can expect in the heavier, stiffer versions. The idea that irons shafts, which are in fact sets, can be compared by looking only at 6i profiles is shown once again to be lacking.

My friend and mentor, Dave Tutelman posted this comment in another discussion of the shaft stiffness range metric. I cannot express my thoughts about this new metric any better than he did. “A big advantage of “measuring” shaft stiffness by plotting the EI curve is that you can do mathematical operations like this. You chose a simple one, with simple arithmetic. But it isn’t that hard to use a butt-biased weighting function that will predict frequency, or a tip-biased weighting function to predict trajectory height. The combination of a known EI profile and spreadsheet capabilities means it’s just arithmetic. As we understand shafts better, EI will not become obsolete; just the way we use and display it will.”

Project X Loading Zone Iron Shafts

Project X LZ Iron Shaft Review

By Russ Ryden, A Golf Digest America’s 100 Best Clubfitter
Fit2Score, Dallas Fort Worth, Texas

I_PXLZ_ImageTrue Temper introduced the term “Loading Zone” with the Project X Loading Zone driver shaft a few years ago. I was skeptical at first, having seen other shafts with severe approaches to mid shaft stiffness that did not work for many of my clients. I put a Project X Loading Zone shaft in my own driver and it stayed there for several months. It comes back when I finish play testing a new design. It loads effortlessly and gives my unfixable negative angle of attack the launch I need to buy some distance. I was anxious to see how this approach would be implemented in an iron shaft.

The Project X Loading Zone irons shaft has a rapid loss of stiffness in the mid zone of the shaft. It then runs out in a long stable tip. We have seen some very successful implementations of this design over the last few years. Each with its own particular flavor. But overall in my fitting experience a very playable shaft for a wide range of golfers. This design is easy to load, creates a moderately higher flight but remains workable for the highly skilled golfer. I have seen this design add distance without adding dispersion. As of this writing, the Project X LZ has won 3 PGA events and is being played by close to 20 players between the PGA and Web tours.

I_PXLZ_Table The radial quality of the Project X LZ shafts I tested were all greater than 99%. That is a big number. Spining, aligning or puring these shafts is a waste of time and expense. Label up or label down is the only installation choice that you need to make. They are neutral balanced. I showed the hoop stiffness to illustrate its cofluence with the stiffness profile of steel shafts. To the degree that hoop stiffness adds ‘kick’ to a shaft, the Project X LZ shaft far exceeds any carbon fiber shaft I have seen. And it does so with a very similiar stiffness profile to some carbon fiber shaft designs.

I_PXLZ_ChartsThe Project X LZ comes in 4 different weights, with weight comes stiffness. The True Temper Project X iron shafts retain their EI profiles as they get stiffer. The same is true for the True Temper Project X shafts. This is much different from the Dyanamic Gold and XP designs. This gives True Temper fitters unique fitting option. Vary weight while retaining profile in the Project X designs. Or use a consistent weight and very flighting with flex in the Dynamic designs.

In my experience flex consistency in a set of iron shafts is critically important. It is this property that keeps me fitting steel over carbon fiber. Steel is a monolithic material. Its bend properties are determined by wall thickness and diameter. With conscience manufacturing and quality control most sets have consistent stiffness profiles. Meaning, the stiffness profiles from shaft to shaft within the set are much the same. If your fitter has one of the Fit2Score EI instruments they can validate the stiffness makeup of your iron set. This certification is far more important than spine finding or frequency matching. Quality shafts are spineless to start with. Frequency matching measures a single point near the butt of the shaft and ignores the consistency of bend points down the length of the shaft.
I_PXLZ_CertificationThis illustration is a composite taken from the Fit2Score iron set certification process. Each shaft is checked in 2″ increments for stiffness. What you see is a set that is consistent with a slightly stiffer tip in the 9i and wedge. The deflection profiles and EI area show a consistent increase in overall stiffness through out the set. The weights and balance points are indeed constant. Radial integrity is as stated earlier, as close to perfect as I have seen. This set of shafts will build out to as perfect a set of irons as can be made.

A couple of sets are going out to local pros for play testing, stay tuned.

Mitsubishi Fubuki J Golf Shaft

Mitsubishi Fubuki J Driver Shaft

By Russ Ryden, A Golf Digest America’s 100 Best Clubfitter
Fit2Score, Dallas Fort Worth, Texas

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The fourth generation Fubuki, the Fubuki J, released to Mitsubishi Golf Club Fitters in June of 2014. It is still in play, the unique pattern was hard to miss in the final round of the 2016 Open. The Fubuki J is an update of the second generation Fubuki, the Fubuki Alpha. I see the Fubuki family as two different profiles and discussed them in an earlier article. Here is a quick overview of the two profiles.

MRC_Fubuki_TourvsK The original Fubuki Tour and the Fubuki K,introduced a few years later, are very much like the Diamana White and the second generation White, the ‘ahina. The third generation White, the Diamana ‘W” series is a different profile. The Fubuki Tour was discontinued in 2014. The Fubuki K is still in the product line.
MRC_Fubuki_AvsJThe second generation Fubuki Alpha and the fourth generation Fubuki J are also the same profile. They similar yet subtly different than the Diamana ‘ilima and the KuroKage Proto TINI. The differences make these unique designs that must be tested to find your best fit.

 

MRC_Fubuki_J_EiGjTbOn yet another shaft, the radial quality is close to perfect, the soft plane average is 99.5% of the hard plane with a standard deviation in my sample of 0.2%. Alignment of this shaft is meaningless. And on another design, we see a section near the tip that gets stiffer to closer we get to the tip. Tipping this shaft would be cutting away some of the stiffness designed into the shaft. The bend profiles of the entire model line, from 50 gram to 80 gram are the same. Stiffness is a function of weight. Every Fubuki J shaft has the same bend profile.

FubukiJ_tsubaThe Fubuki J is counter balanced, the balance point is close to 3 inches above center. Mitsubishi tells us this is similar to the handle weight of a sword as illustrated. This is done by adding tungsten powder to the prepreg used in the handle of the shaft. While we see some additional stiffness in the handle, this is by design. It is not caused by adding wall thickness to create a counter weighted shaft. Adding wall thickness to the butt is a common design in high balance shafts resulting in handles with damped feel. The handle section is also reinforced with a metal mesh sheet, controlling deformation (ovaling) without affecting bending.

FubukiJ_tipThe really interesting technology of the Fubuki J is the tip. I am again going to share with you in illustration from the Mitsubishi dealer publication. The tip is a combination of low torque zone close to the hosel with a softer section just above it to create a hinge. I am going to repeat myself, don’t think you are going to stiffen this shaft by tipping it. You will be cutting away some of the engineered design. Get a stiffer shaft.

The first time I hit this shaft the tip stability got my attention. I felt stability during impact I have never felt before in a golf shaft. I do not hit the center of the face as consistently as our regular shaft testers. The Fubjki J gaves me head stability on my toe and heal strikes. It knocked the Diamana B out of my bag. Now after two weeks and multiple rounds of golf, unlike many other first loves, it is still in the bag. There are many shafts that claim high launch, low spin. The Fubuki J in my hands actually delivered on the promise. Here is a quick look at my FlightScope summary comparing the 50 gram X flex Fubuki J and the same weight and flex Diamana B in a 10.5 Adams XTD ti driver head set to 11.5 degrees.

FlightScopeReport_FJvsDBWhy would someone with a 93 MPH club head speed be concerned with spin. Not shown in this table is my -3.5 degree angle of attack. That negative angle of attack delofts my head at impact and adds spin. The Fubuki J added loft and reduced spin. The ball is up and the spin is down, keeping me from ballooning drives into the Texas breeze. When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. I have been struggling with that negative angle of attack and have not yet found my personal motion get to correct it. Until I do, the Fubuki J is my gamer.