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ORKA Kii Driver Review
Hot on the heels of our interview with ORKA golf comes our first chance to review their products. The Kii is their driver aimed at the better player market and as such it competes in a market dominated by industry goliaths like TaylorMade, Callaway and Ping. Having only been around less than a year, how would their offering compare to those of the big boys?
Looking at the specifications, the Kii has all the hallmarks of a high end driver: maximum legal COR, 2 piece titanium head with a plasma welded face, a configurable weight system, CNC milled face lines and a low and deep centre of gravity. Pretty much everything you would look for in a driver.
Look and Setup
The whole idea of ORKA’s business model is that they custom fit you as much as is possible. You get a wide range of shafts including popular options like the Aldila NV, NVS, VS and the UST V2, that fit the whole spectrum of swing speeds and types with the option to have the length altered in ¼ inch increments from +2 inches to -1.5 inches. In this review club it was a Grafalloy Epic. A quick email to ORKA about the most appropriate shaft for a high swing speed with a medium tempo meant that they recommended this shaft and not only did it have a measurable effect on the performance but ORKA also managed to get this customised club to me within 5 days, an impressive achievement considering that earlier this summer another OEM quoted 5 weeks for a similar custom shaft upgrade.
At address it’s quite a handsome club, with the gloss black head setting up dead square and a neat and not too intrusive alignment aide (which is actually the K in ORKA). At 460cc it is the maximum legal size for a driver and with its traditional shape it manages to be reassuringly large when lined up next to the ball without giving the impression that it’s a balloon on a stick like some of the more exotically shaped drivers. It’s only when you turn the club over that you see the presence of the weight ports along with the silver, brushed satin and matt black colour scheme indicating that this club has a fair bit of technology on the inside.
Seriously impressive. That’s the first thing that you notice when you swing this club. The club has undoubtedly one of the hottest faces I’ve come across and the ball really does fire off it. A good swing is rewarded by a high soaring flight, a great swing is rewarded by the ball arcing across the sky like it has been fired from a howitzer. The high launch angle is achieved without producing excess spin as there is little evidence of ballooning, even into the wind. This in part is achieved by the choice of shaft as the Epic shaft is flat out superb. The stock shaft is the UST TX 55 which is a lightweight sub-60g shaft that produces a medium/high trajectory but the combination of the Kii and the Epic is an absolute killer producing the high flat straight bombs that everybody dreams off. While the Epic was also responsible for a startlingly tight dispersion (the Epic shaft series will be the subject of a future Bag Chatter review) it was the Kii head that was clearly responsible for the speed off the face and the high level of forgiveness. The moveable weight system has two weight ports allowing either a draw or neutral bias but this setup also produces a very forgiving face. Heel, toe or strikes low on the face produce shots that went almost as far as ones right out of the sweetspot. The manufacturer does not provide any MOI information but it must surely be up in the top tier judging by the results of any off centre hits.
Feedback is excellent with off centre hits easily distinguished from flushed strikes but without any undue harshness or vibration. This makes the Kii an easy driver to play as at no time do you feel punished for missing the sweetspot.
Fades and draws are easily achievable but there is definitely the impression that this club wants to go high and straight so this club might not suit someone looking to constantly work the ball both ways.
It’s also a fairly loud club with contact producing a high ringing crack. Thankfully it is not quite as loud as a Cobra driver nor anything like the tin can ‘clank’ sound made by some of the composite drivers but the noise could be an issue for those who prefer a driver to sound more muted.
The Kii comes with a durable and easy to use headcover, 2 head weights and a wrench. The wrench is not a torque wrench like the Taylormade one as the weights sit on rubber O-rings to ensure locking tight. In the several weeks that we had this club, the weights were never an issue even though they were regularly swapped. The custom shaft upgrades offer a wide array of options but anyone looking for any flex other than regular or stiff may be a little frustrated as they cannot be ordered directly off the website although they can be ordered via email as can other non-standard custom shafts.
ORKA are also currently only based in the UK and Australia although they will ship to the US.
Value for Money
In stock form, this driver retails at only £149 which is less than half the price of some of the larger OEMs. The performance that the Kii provides is fantastic at this price point especially considering the customisation options that are available which makes it quite possibly the best driver available in this price bracket.
For an unknown brand still in its infancy, ORKA has really laid down a marker with the Kii: customisable, phenomenal distance, great control and excellent forgiveness, expect to see this club in quite a few golf bags in the future.