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.

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.

Mitsubishi KuroKage XM Driver Shaft Review

Mitsubishi KuroKage XM Driver

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

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Some shafts are simply too good to change. The Mitsubishi KuroKage Proto TiNi is one such shaft. The new KuroKage XM is the KuroKage Proto with new graphics and a wider range of weights. It is promoted as a mid launch – mid spin shaft. I view launch and spin as a propensity not an absolute. Your angle of attack, the club head loft,  where you strike and how the shaft, interacting with your loading and release, deliver the head are all part of the launch and spin equation. The XM, in the right hands, is not what I would define as mid launch / mid spin. But, shaft companies have to fill in those words for the golfing public.

The Mitsubishi website has always presented shaft EI graphics alongside their verbal descriptions. If you spend years looking at those charts and testing them on a wide range of golfers they being to have meaning. I view the difference between the KuroKage XM and the KuroKage XT as more feel related than launch. The XT has a stiffness bump low mid. That bump does contribute to a lower launch, but more important, gives a better sense of tip stability to a hard swinging late release golfer.

the KuroKage XM shaft has a Blue Diamana like profile, but it is stiffer in the midsection. It looses stiffness at a uniform rate down to about 12 inches where it then stiffens into the tip. The tip torque is consistent with the third generation Diamana’s. The shaft to shaft consistency and radial quality are typical of Japanese made Mitsubishi shafts, excellent. This shaft is made with high density material and has Titanium Nickel wire wrapped into the tip section. The TiNi wire creates tip stability that translates into tight dispersion. When you watch the number 1 player in the world hit fairway after fairway of the tee, look at the shaft he is playing.

KKXM_ChartsThis version of the KuroKage XM comes in more weights and stiffness than the original model. The 50 gram shafts are unique in the Mitsubishi model families. They have much the same stiffness as the 60 gram versions however they have softer torques. That brings an interesting fitting possibility to the table. A smooth early release often likes the feel of higher torque. We will be looking into using this variable to see if it can lessen the rotation of the head on players that are still twisting the shaft through impact.

The numbers below are from a fitting I did this morning. They are consistent with what those of us that have been fitting with the MRC dealer only KuroKage Proto TiNi have been seeing for years. There is not a lot that needs to be said for this shaft, it speaks for itself.
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Mitsubishi Diamana Thump Fairway Review

Mitsubishi Diamana Thump Fairway

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


The Diamana Thump name has been used before in a line of iron shafts and in a hybrid shaft. The irons have been discontinued. The Diamana Thump Hybrid is still available, now a special order item. It is my all time favorite Hybrid shaft and has been in my bag for a very, very long time. When I saw the name thump applied to a fairway shaft I had high expectations, and the measurements of this shaft met them. Mitsubishi discontinued the Fubuki AX Fairway shaft in 2014. It occupied a unique niche, a fairway only shaft, 43″ long uncut, at $250 MSRP, with all the unique qualities of the premium Mitsubishi $400 driver shafts. The Diamana Thump Fairway once again fills this niche. At $250 it puts delivers premium quality at a more approachable price point.

As I worked my way through the measurement of this shaft I left torque for last. Everything looked very good, would the torque be low enough to compete with the premium Diamana’s I have been using in custom fitted fairways. The answer, yes. Tip zone torques of 2.3 in the 70 and 80 gram versions put it into that special class of shafts that can comfortably control the extra weight of a fairway and maintain club head alignment during a preimpact brush with the turf.

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Radial quality of the review samples was 99.6% with a 0.4% standard deviation. Translation: shafts don’t get any rounder, don’t bother with alignment and use this shaft without reservation in a rotating hosel fairway head. Look again at those torque numbers. This is a high launch design, something most of us want in our fairways. The typical shaft that delivers high launch is also high torque. If the stock shaft in your fairway has a tendency to create hooks when you lean on it, you should consider replacing it with the Diamana Thump Fairway. Replacing your stock fairway shaft with the Diamana Thump will create a club you can trust.Fairway_Diamana_MyFavorites

I have built countless numbers of custom fit fairway metals with the Diamama Red and the KuroKage Proto TiNi driver shafts. They launch high, with adequate spin to deliver drop and stop shots. The Diamama Thump Fairway, at about 60% of the price, has a very similar design. It is a bit stiffer in the butt section which for those with an abrupt transition is a good thing. The profile of these shaft from high mid to tip is hard to tell apart. And they all sit in the same torque range. The Thump Fairway and the KuroKage Tour Proto TiNi have much the same hoop strength.

Here is feedback from my first sale, “Went away to Atlanta for a golf weekend with the new Thump shaft in my 3 wood. I was embarrassed hitting it consistently 250 yards in the fairway and 10 yards past my partners’ driver tee shots. Didn’t bother pulling out my driver the last 36 holes. Too bad it can’t help my putting!”  Robert V.