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.”

The technical discussion and measurements are available only to registered readers

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.”

Matrix SpeedRulz Driver Shaft Review

Matrix SpeedRulz Driver Shaft

By Russ Ryden & Jim Achenbach

Russ Ryden, Fit2Score, A Dallas Fort Worth Club Fitter & Club Maker
The Golf Center at the Highlands, Carrollton Texas

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For more than 20 years, the graphite golf shaft manufacturer known as Matrix has retained something of a cult following among touring professionals and highly skilled amateurs. Many ordinary golfers, though, know more about Matrix the movie than they do Matrix the golf shaft.
But that is changing, thanks in large part to the new Matrix SpeedRulz driver shaft and PGA Tour players Rickie Fowler and Fabian Gomez. In the last 10 months, Fowler has won three tournaments (Players Championship, Scottish Open, Deutsche Bank Championship) and Gomez two (FedEx St. Jude, Sony Open in Hawaii) — all with the SpeedRulz shaft.

To be honest, some of the consumer confusion came from the name of the shaftmaker, which originally was Apache but later was changed to Matrix. K.J. Choi created a buzz in 2004-2005 when he used bright orange Apache shafts on the PGA Tour. Choi later switched back to steel iron shafts, but the Apache/Matrix name was starting to slowly building a following in the graphite shaft universe. Most Tour players, including Choi, Fowler and Gomez, are not paid to use a particular shaft brand. It is simply a matter of individual preference.

Following Choi, the next big assist for Matrix came from TaylorMade, which designated the shaftmaker as one of its primary suppliers.

Now, 23 years after Apache was founded in 1993, Matrix sometimes is cited incorrectly as a new shaftmaker that came out of nowhere. Golf equipment historians know better.

The long-range goal of SpeedRulz is to appeal to amateur golfers of various abilities. To accomplish this goal, three variations of the shaft were devised by chief designer Daniel You. The SpeedRulz A-Type, with weights of 50, 60 and 70 grams, is aimed at golfers with somewhat slower swing speeds. Generally these players would exhibit a swing profile that appears smooth and balanced. B-Type is backweighted — or counter balanced — for a golfer who prefers a longer club or a heavier head. It is slightly firmer in the butt and mid sections and a little softer in the tip. Available in weights of 60, 70 and 80 grams. The low-spinning, low-launching C-Type, used by Fowler and Gomez, is firmer in the tip and slightly softer in the handle. The two weights are 60 and 70 grams. The hallmark of these shafts, according to Matrix president Chris Elson: “All three feel stable, but not boardy. Golfers can go after it without the shaft feeling loose or soft.” Each of the three is widely available for $275 at retail.

multimatchingMatrix has always focused on shaft technology. At Apache golf a unique shaft measuring instrument, the MultiMatch was created and sold to club fitters. It was long regarded as one of the best instruments available to the club making community for understand golf shafts. It was never that popular because of the cost, but those club fitters that own them still use them. It was revised a few years ago, but once again the expense is outside the budget of most club fitters.

Matrix is one of a very few golf shaft companies that make their own prepreg. That gives them the ability to create unique properties. They consistently produce round shafts, a property they call “Circumferential Flexural Integrity”, CFI. For me, consistency around the shaft is one of those go / no go properties. If a shaft is not round, no amount of ‘spining’, ‘puring’ or alignment is going to make it better. If it is round, none of these things matter. The SpeedRulz are round, the average hard to soft side difference was 99.5% with a 0.4% standard deviation. That’s as good as it gets.

The three designs, A, B and C are available in two color schemes, Black and Red. There is no difference between the two paint colors other than color. Here are the numbers and profiles

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Enjoy and Good Golf,
Russ

The design targets of the SpeedRulz are eloquently described in the video by Chris Elson, president of Matrix Golf Shafts.

Matrix is making its own Prepreg. In southern China, Matrix has built an entire manufacturing headquarters and campus from the ground up. The new facility allows Matrix to make not only shafts, but also prepreg. What is prepreg? It is the material — containing carbon fibers impregnated with resin — used to make graphite shafts. It is manufactured in sheet form and is molded, using a variety of patterns, into graphite shafts.

The new plant is the result of a strategic alliance between Matrix and Toray, the largest manufacturer of prepreg in the world. Matrix, according to Elson, is expecting to have access to unique fiber types for future graphite shafts.

The technical discussion, measurements and testing results are available only to registered readers