Matrix OZIK XCON Altus Hybrid Shaft Review
Matrix are certainly hitting the news at the moment. With both the world #1 and #4 seen testing their shafts and #6, #7 and #9 currently playing them, it may surprise many people that Matrix shafts are the most used shafts in the World top 10 as well as being tied for most used driver shaft. With Matrix about to launch two new hybrid shafts – the hM2 and the XCON 8 hybrid – Bag Chatter took a look at their current mainstay hybrid shaft, the OZIK XCON Altus Hybrid.
There is no doubt that this year is going to be big for Matrix. Having inked deals with both Callaway and TaylorMade to provide shafts for their respective changeable shaft clubs, Matrix are consolidating their position as a high end shaft manufacturer with new testing procedures and equipment and series of new patents that should ensure some amazing new developments on shaft technology.
Matrix say that due to their exclusivity and price point they are really able to ‘take the gloves off’ and explore technologies that their contemporaries do not have the freedom to based on other companies use of overseas middle-men factories or their commitment to being a bulk supplier of club brands. In fact this is the only way, along with a devotion to R&D, that Matrix can compete against their much larger competitors.
The Matrix OZIK XCON Altus hybrid shaft is the successor to the original OZIK Altus hybrid shaft which was re-engineered in 2007 with the addition of the XCON technology. Competing in a segment dominated by Aldila who have led the hybrid shaft count on the US Tour for the past 3 years with their NV and VS Proto hybrid shafts and UST with their V2 hybrid and IROD, it has been as high as number 2 in the hybrid shaft count (being in the bags of the aforementioned #6, #7 and #9 in the world as well many others) and has since won a total of 7 times on tours worldwide.
With the lustrous metallic red shaft and ‘raining’ Matrix graphics on the top portion of the shaft, it is a very striking. The logo is quite arresting but the standard installation for this shaft is logo down so at address all you see is the beautiful candy red. Some shafts own their colour in that they are instantly recognisable from a distance and the candy apple red seen on this shaft is one of them. The butt end of the shaft is clear lacquer which allows you to see just how precisely shaft is manufactured and it’s almost a pity when this clear section is covered by the grip.
|Shaft Flex Available||Length||Weight||Tip Size||Torque|
|R, F, S, SG, X, XX||42"||90g-93g||.370"||2.5|
This shaft is a little heavier than traditional hybrid shafts but that allows for usage in higher lofted hybrids as up to 3" can be tipped from this shaft while still retaining a decent weight. It also makes this shaft a smooth mid point between the heavier shafts used in long irons and the lighter ones used in fairway woods.
Rather than a being a tweaked iron profile shaft, this is true hybrid shaft and the XCON technology follows a "Bow and Arrow" principle where the fulcrum and lever design aims at maximising ball speed with less spin and higher MOI. With a stiffer tip the Altus hybrid walks a delicate line between maximising distance while still retaining sufficient control to hit, and just as importantly stay on, the green.
Very tight and smooth but with a definite powerful solidity. It has that sensation that you associated with high end shafts in that it feels like the whole thing loads and kicks through rather than one particular point in the shaft hinging . The high tip stiffness plays a large part in this and with the low torque stability is very noticeable. Playing true to flex, there’s no sensation of extra movement or ‘squirtiness’ here and this feedback comes through from short punch shots all the way up to full strikes. Matrix advise that this shaft is tipped 1/2 inch in a 16 degree club iron replacement and in 1/2 inch increments as you go up each 3 degrees loft but I could imagine being quite happy not tipping this shaft at all until you reach 19 degrees, especially in softer flexes. Even if you give the ball a full-blooded lash, this is not a shaft you are going to overpower which for playing out of the rough is a godsend.
While it is branded as the Altus and is high launch, it does not launch as high as the driver Altus shaft (which fires the ball so high that you are almost a danger to low flying aircraft!). It is not a super high trajectory shaft but what a trajectory it is – long and straight. This is no anti-left shaft as some people seem to think as it can be worked both ways but it certainly rewards a good swing. It is also possible to generate lower trajectory spinners with this shaft. Choking down on the club, moving the ball back in the stance and hooding the face slightly produce shots with a fair amount of spin which is great for control on blustery days. In better conditions it can deliver some quite prodigious distances as you can take full advantage of the shaft’s lower spin/high launch properties and fire some sky bound screamers that land with run and generate maximum roll. Distance is very consistent as you would expect, with the shaft performing well when either taking a divot or not. Mishits are not as punishing as you might think with unwanted vibration well damped without being completely hidden. The heavier weight and tip stiffness of the shaft mean that this shaft may suit a faster swing speed over a slower one but the combination of distance and control is superb.
Matrix has a large and passionate following of fans of their OZIK products, and quite right too as their products are generally excellent. Unfortunately they also have a swathe of fanboys unmatched in the golfing industry. It’s sometimes impossible to tell fact from hype and trying to get balanced opinions can be a nightmare as everyone appears to have an agenda. One group claims that these shafts are the best in the world and that there is one for everybody. The other group says that they are over-priced and that if they are so good, why Matrix seems to have difficulty getting Tour players who have trialled the shaft to stay with them.
What can often be lost in this debate is that Matrix makes some truly superb products and the OZIK XCON Altus Hybrid is no different. It is an excellent shaft that will only bring an improvement to anybody’s game. The high price point is a reflection of this company’s dedication to research and development but it may unfortunately put off some golfers, especially given the number of high quality hybrid shafts currently available in the marketplace. That said, I can’t think of another hybrid shaft that would suit so many people looking for that elusive combination of distance and control.
As a final note, Matrix have also told GolfWRX that they will be relaunching their corporate site (http://matrixshafts.com) in the coming weeks as well as launching at least 3 other sites including a Tour blog so that they can, as they put it, ‘display our passion to new Matrix users and to give the current Matrix player an inside look at the Matrix culture.’