The Big Review – Project X Graphite Shafts
Project X iron shafts have been one of the biggest success stories of recent years. True Temper, owners of the Project X brand, are now looking to take this success into the graphite shaft arena with the new Project X graphite shaft.
True Temper are no stranger to graphite shafts as they also own Grafalloy, makers of the fantastically successful Prolaunch and Blue range of shafts. While the premium range of the market is more associated with the likes of Diamana and Matrix, True Temper/Grafalloy is seen more often as a blue-collar line but are no stranger to the exotic end of the market with their Axis and Epic shafts.
Tour acceptance is the benchmark for any equipment release. These shafts have been in the bags of over 70 players, with up to 40 in play at recent events and victory on the PGA Tour at U.S. Bank Championship and on the European Tour at the Italian Open. Very positive to say the least, so how did Bag Chatter find them?
An understated dark blue, it’s actually the same blue as you find on the Project X steel shaft labels, with a silvered Project X logo. Closer inspection shows that the shaft is has a nice sheen of metallic flecks.
There are some nice subtle calligraphic markings along the butt section which are reminiscent of the Epic but at address there is nothing to disturb you and they look like they mean business.
The Project X graphite shaft is all about the technology. It’s based around a Zonal Design Theory where the shaft is divided into 3 sections, Butt/Mid/Tip, and different technologies are used in each section to produce optimal performance. Here’s what they have to say about the relevant sections:
Butt section: Hex-Axial Reinforcement Technology provides unmatched cross sectional stability minimizing energy lost to ovalization.
Mid section: Constant Taper Design eliminates localized bending and creates even loading and unloading for maximum energy transfer.
Tip section: Elongated Double Wrapped 55 MSI Reinforcement for a firmer tip section which minimizes droop and lag and reduces back spin.
Both the driver shafts and the hybrids are seriously tight shafts and probably among the most stable shaft I’ve ever hit. You can feel this from just holding a club fitted with this shaft. The real achievement is that they have achieved this without the shaft being overly boardy given the obviously low torque.The graphite version of Project X has an obvious similarity to the steel versions in the bend profile – it’s exceptionally stable throughout the swing and you can practically feel the technology at work. Like the steel version, this shaft is unlikely to win smoothest shaft of the year award but it’s far from the harsh beast that some might fear. Now I know that not everyone is a fan but I happen to love the way that Project X feels, especially the way that it unloads at impact and the graphite version is just the same in that regard – there’s no sense of hinging or looseness, just the sensation that the shaft can take anything you can throw at it.
For those with a higher swingspeed or just an aggressive transition, the driver shaft is superb and it performs beautifully. The launch is mid-low and the spin is low, low, low. Put this in a decent driver head and you can unleash some thunderbolts down the middle of the fairway as the distance and dispersion is a good as the spin control.
The spin control means that you won’t see ballooning even with the lighter weights and flexes and you had better be bringing some heat if you are thinking of trying the heavier and stiffer versions. This low spin sees the ball land hot and roll out. The anti-ovalling technology means that this shaft is at the sharp end of minimizing energy loss to maximize distance and the stability means that dispersion is as good as you will find.
The hybrid shaft is another spin control monster. This has clearly been designed to smooth the transition from PX shafts in their irons to the hybrids. Launching on a similar trajectory to the PX steel versions, it is equally adapt in hybrids whether or not you take a divot. One point to note is that as the shaft weighs in at over 90g you will end up with a fairly hefty swingweight in lower lofted hybrids (2H and below).
Project X are obivously going after the higher-end golfer that enjoys the performance of PX in their irons and could benefit from the sort of spin control offered by these shafts. I do wonder if a certain young Spaniard was involved in their development. Given the early sucess that they have enjoyed on Tour, there will be a lot of interested people when they cross into the more general arena later this year as plans are to release versions going down to 5.0 by the end of 2009 . Given the popularity of both steel Project X and low spin driver shafts like the Diamana Whiteboard, Aldila Voodoo or the Fujikura Rombax, this looks like a very competitive entry into this arena.
With the shaft being so stable, you need to think about which to choose. The majority of golfers play with driver shafts that are stiffer than the shafts in the rest of the bag. The temptation is to go straight to the stiffest one available. Given that these are the Tour Spec versions, which start at 69 grams/6.5 flex/mid tip and top out at 83 grams/7.0 flex/extra-stiff flex you might want to reconsider. And don’t be misled by the tip definition either, the reinforcement of the tip means that even the mid version is serious business.
All in all these give the better player another top quality option in the very top end of the shaft market.