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2011-2012 Shaft of the Year- Pics and tech story on some hot picks

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Shaft technology is complicated to most. Kick points, tip section, torque, high modulus materials, single walled carbon nanotubes and the like make you wonder if we are reading the ingredients of Fishy Crackers or the specs of golf equipment. At the end of the day a fitting that will put all of this to the test and is in order. Until then we can look and talk about what is hot and what is not.

<<< To see more pics and discussion  in the forums click here >>>

We have asked shaft companies to submit one of their shafts to be showcased in the best of show for 2011 and 2012. We have added pics and a short description of the tech story for each. Looking to add robot testing from an 3rd party or OEM. If any of you know where I can find that please post!

Per Titleist on their website… http://www.titleist….tom_Options.pdf

Through extensive testing and research, the Titleist R&D team has developed three powerful shaft performance charts which provide an accurate comparison and positioning of shafts with various launch and spin characteristics for drivers, fairways, hybrids and irons. Using these charts as a guide, a fitter can quickly and easily narrow down the available shaft options and focus on those models most likely to be a good match for the player's ball flight requirements.

Here are our favorites in random order…

Aldila RIP NV- RIP Technology Reverse Interlaminar Placement Technology™ (RIP) transforms the shaft from the inside out providing players with shot control. The RIP provides golfers with lower torque, increased tip stability and better tip stiffness control. "The new RIP'd NV incorporates the best performance attributes from two of Aldila's most innovative shaft designs," said Stewart Bahl, Aldila's Marketing Manager. "The 'perfect feel' and slim, stable shaft profile of the Aldila NV and the unprecedented control and accuracy of the Aldila RIP

Fujikura Motore Speeder 6.2 Tour Spec- The design concept was to keep the same unique feel of the VC.2 Motore Speeder but increase tip strength for lower spin plus eliminate the left with high ball speeds. The S flex design will have almost the same tip stiffness as the X flex but the butt will be 7-10 CPM's weaker to accommodate the high swing speed player who needs the tip strength but needs the handle a bit softer for smoother transitions. We expect this shaft to accommodate the better golfer that wants to keep the spin low and not loose control of their shots. Each Motore Speeder is equipped with our Proprietary Quadra Axis Composite and Triax Woven material creating a revolutionary 7-Axis Technology. This uniformity throughout the shaft assists with eliminating deformation (ovaling) yet provides the maximum amount of feel through the entire swing increasing overall performance and stability.

Graphite Design Premium Tour AD DI – Deep Impact Shaft is designed to provide more power and stability, the Tour AD DI shaft, manufactured exclusively at Graphite Design Japan, has been integrated with Toray Company's new Nanotechnology material in the tip section of the shaft. This unique tip technology creates optimal launch and spin conditions to produce increased accuracy and distance. Tour players have been impressed by the fact that when using the Tour AD DI shaft they can increase ball speed and accuracy without giving up distance. The mid bend profile of the Tour AD DI allows the player to load the shaft properly, yet maintains a firm enough tip section through impact, producing optimal spin and launch conditions. Golfers using the shaft will experience the feel of the ball leaving the club head with a lot of speed while maintaining exceptional feel and control. Players are giving it a try in their drivers and then using it in their fairway woods as well. We designed this shaft to deliver players to the next level in shaft performance and create an impressive impact on their games and we feel we have succeeded in that mission."

Project X Driver- The new Project X driver shafts feature Zonal Design Theory- (ZDT) which divides the shaft into three zones–butt, mid and tip sections. Each zone is optimized for performance using a specific design technology. Tip & Butt SectionButt 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. Tour Launch and Spin- Project X Like the Project X iron shafts, Project X driver and hybrid shafts provide penetrating launch conditions with ultra low spin. The stiff butt, soft mid-section combine with the double reinforced tip section to maintain a strong angle of attack and greatly reduce spin, even in higher loft drivers.

UST Mamiya Proforce VTS- Proforce VTS shaft is the first shaft ever developed that emphasizes Torque in the fitting process. Historically, most players have been fit traditionally only using weight and flex. Although this has worked well in the past, Proforce VTS with 3-D fitting technology brings shaft fitting to an entirely different level. Over the past 4 years, UST Mamiya engineers spent hundreds of hours designing shafts, and testing hundreds of golfers in order to find out what aspects of shafts are the most important to performance. The results led to the development of the Proforce VTS. UST Mamiya engineers developed a matrix of shafts of different weights (57-97 grams), and flexes (A, R, S, X) that are typically found in shaft product lines. But UST Mamiya went one step further by adding torque as the third dimension in the shaft matrix. Within a given weight and flex (e.g. 67 gram S-flex), there are 3 separate torque shafts that allow you to fine tune the shaft performance to each golfers unique Swing DNA. UST Mamiya has found that through the unique 3-D fitting process, golfers can realize an increase in ball speed of 2 mph, with some golfers seeing up to 6 mph increase in ball speed. That is significant in terms of increasing distance. But they have also found that shot dispersion can be reduced by up to 25% when fit into the proper Proforce VTS shaft.

Harrison Mugen Black- features Active Response Technology ART design manipulates the contrast of fiber tension between the tip and butt sections of a golf shaft. It focuses down-swing energy, like a cross bow pulled taut, to generate exceptional shaft recovery. Single Walled Carbon Nanotubes (SWNTs)- SWNTs are known as one of the lightest and strongest materials available today. In this implementation, light weight SWNTs are positioned near the tip to provide enhanced strength and stability. Ultra Thin Ply Graphite (UTP). At one third the weight of typical graphite, UTP is used to build a golf shaft with 3 times more layers than a typical graphite shaft. The end product is highly consistent and accurate. Dynamic Flex Profile (DFP)- Most golf shafts maintain a similar flex profile throughout various flexes. Our patented DFP remedies this dilemma. As the overall stiffness of the shaft increases, its tip section stiffens and its resistance to torque increases to generate a more boring ball flight and a tighter shot dispersion.

FUBUKI K-Series – The Next Generation FUBUKI Series Wood Shafts. The K-Series profile utilizes the same Modulus Differential Technology (M.D.T.) found in the FUBUKI Tour and FUBUKI α (alpha) profiles in addition to Mitsubishi Rayon's latest innovation; the Power "Ninja" Core. This new technology allows Mitsubishi Rayon to incorporate a thin layer of metal into the butt section of the shaft to increase stability and maximize the power stored during the loading of a shaft, unleashing maximum potential energy to the ball at impact. Designed utilizing Mitsubishi Rayon's propriety swing analysis software, the FUBUKI K-Series bend profile delivers smooth acceleration, increased butt section stability, and a slightly lower launch and spin than the FUBUKI α profile. The difference is the material in the butt section. Its an actual metal band in the butt section. MRC impregnates it into our prepreg. Thin but wide 6-7" to reinforce the butt section. This process adds strength and stability to the shaft and stabilizes the butt section.

Matrix OZIK "Black Tie" M3- The OZIK M3 series represents the culmination of what Matrix has learned in recent years regarding what the young, aggressive power players on the PGA Tour demand. Designed on the industry leading and patented HD platform, the OZIK M3 features a flat, lower spinning ball flight often preferred by players with higher ball speed. The genesis of the M3 resonates from the flight model of the highly successful M2 series, a winner of numerous PGA Tour events including 2 Majors. Better players preferring additional stability in the tip section will benefit from the tightest design construct ever released by

Miyazaki C Kua 59- The C Kua 59 Series is a 59 gram shaft and is the most accepted shaft for professionals in our ultralight series. The International Flex Code is unique with the first 10 inches, butt section, is a X stiff section the second 10 inches is the same as the butt the mid tip or next 10 inches being 1/2 flex stiffer than the butt and the tip as the softest section being 1/2 flex softer than a stiff. The 59 X Code is 7785. This shaft profile produces optimum launch for low launch players and reduced spin for high spin players. The spin reduction has been proven to give players an increase in distance. The distance also comes from the lighter weight shaft and the improvement in the combination of higher launch and lower spin to hit the correct descent angle for total distance gains.

Oban Kiyoshi- Utilizes Oban's breakthrough Emersion Wrapped Frequency Technology – offering high launch and low spin ball flight characteristics. Ultra premium, high modulus composite materials supplied by the leading pre-preg manufacturers in the world provide better feel and performance. Structural Design- Oban's revolutionary Emersion Wrapped Frequency (EWF) Technology combines high modulus and ultra-thin carbon fiber sheets using a proprietary new design process. This results in multi-directional shaft strength enabling significantly improved torque control, bend points, and stability with less ovalization. Performance- The Kiyoshi, utilizing EWF Technology, reveals design properties ideal for creating high launch and low spin performance for longer distance and tight dispersion.

[Accra Pic coming soon]

Accra Tour Z- In 2010, ACCRA began testing a new product, code named "Tour Prototype", designed specifically for several PGA Tour players looking for an overall stable shaft with the "feel" that ACCRA shafts have always been known for. We began with a 65 and 75 gram version, incorporating a constant taper design from butt to tip to add tremendous stability yet, increased energy transfer. We added high modulus materials that ACCRA to incorporate the thinnest wall thickness in the industry, thus maximizing weight distribution and offering smooth playability. The unique aspect of this shaft is that the tip section is extremely stable yet the torque is not too low, again offering stability without the harsh feel that other tip firm shafts exhibit. This is achieved by inserting a Kevlar wrap deep inside the core of the tip section. As you move from a ACCRA Tour Z+ 55 M4 to an ACCRA Tour Z+ 65 M4, you can be assured that the flex will remain exactly the same. The new ACCRA Tour Z+ offers a stable tip section, designed for those with quick transitions and higher club head speeds. We have also designed the Tour Z with identical specifications except for a more responsive tip section. This is where our design team became creative. Similar flex, weight, frequency, mid stiffness, butt stiffness and torque….. the only difference between the Tour Z and the Tour Z+ is the stability and responsiveness of the tip section.

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<<< To see more pics and discussion  in the forums click here >>>

 

 

<<< To see more pics and discussion  in the forums click here >>>

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Apparel Reviews

Golf polos with bold patterns: A quick chat with Bad Birdie golf

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Founded in 2017, Los Angeles-based Bad Birdie golf produces some of the most eye-popping polos ever seen on a fairway.

The company’s brazen ambition to “make the most savage golf polos in the world” and its boisterous presence on social media belies an attention to detail and careful pattern curation. It’s easy to make loud, obnoxious clothing. It’s more challenging to produce something that’s at once bold, stylish, appropriately fitted and of high quality. But that is what Jason Richardson’s company has tried to do since entering the market.

I spoke with Richardson about his eye-catching wares.

Before we get into your Bad Birdie offerings, tell me your take on the state of golf wear when you decided to enter the market?

JR: I went shopping for a polo for an upcoming tournament and was hoping to find something a little flashier/fun. I got bummed out when I realized most of the golf polos were generally the same colors/patterns. Solid pastels or stripes weren’t necessarily what I was going for, so I did some research online.

After looking at anything I could find, I realized that most golf polos are almost identical to each other. The only thing that’s really different is the branding or tech fabric. There’s a couple brands making a few edgier patterns but they still have a middle-aged, Tommy Bahama feel that’s not necessarily relevant to the younger golfer.

So building on that, what was the opportunity you saw?

JR: I saw an opportunity to make polos for the younger/trendier/bolder golfer whose style doesn’t fit into the traditional golf trends of pastels and stripes. We have a saying we use on some of our ads: “Your dad called and wants his polo back.” Most young/millennial guys who love golf are having to get their apparel from the same place their dad does. Bad Birdie sees an opportunity to fix that.

Cool. What’s your background in golf?

JR: I’ve worked in golf for a lot of my life. I started caddying when I was 12 at Forest Highlands in Flagstaff, AZ, during the summers, so learned the game while working. During high school, I worked for an eBay store that sold golf shafts that were left over from all the club fitters in Scottsdale. After college and before starting Bad Birdie I worked in advertising.

What’s Bad Birdie’s competitive advantage?

JR: There’s no other brands making performance golf polos with styles like we do. Our team is in their 20s and early 30s so we’re right in our target demographic and have a great network of friends/golfers we can bounce ideas off of. Being based in Los Angeles doesn’t hurt either, as we see a lot of the new fashion trends first.

Who’s your target consumer, and what has the response been like?

JR: 18-35-year-old males (and their significant others who buy Bad Birdie as gifts). The number one customer email we get is guys telling us how surprised they were by the number of compliments they got while wearing their Bad Birdie. Love getting those.

Any upcoming releases, plans we should know about?

JR: We have some new polos dropping in July you’ll want to keep an eye out for.

Who’s the best-dressed golfer on the PGA Tour?

JR: Until someone is wearing a Bad Birdie it’s tough to say.

Touche.

Check out Bad Birdie’s wares here, or check them out @badbirdiegolf on Twitter.

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Accessory Reviews

I tried the great Golfboarding experiment… here’s how it went

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Corica Park Golf Course is not exactly the first place you’d expect to find one of the most experimental sports movements sweeping the nation. Sitting on a pristine swath of land along the southern rim of Alameda Island, deep in the heart of the San Francisco Bay, the course’s municipal roots and no-frills clubhouse give it an unpretentious air that seems to fit better with Sam Snead’s style of play than, say, Rickie Fowler’s.

Yet here I am, one perfectly sunny morning on a recent Saturday in December planning to try something that is about as unconventional as it gets for a 90-year-old golf course.

It’s called Golfboarding, and it’s pretty much exactly what it sounds like: an amalgam of golf and skateboarding, or maybe surfing. The brainchild of surfing legend Laird Hamilton — who can be assumed to have mastered, and has clearly grown bored of, all normal sports — Golfboarding is catching on at courses throughout the country, from local municipal courses like Corica Park to luxury country clubs like Cog Hill and TPC Las Colinas. Since winning Innovation Of the Year at the PGA Merchandising Show in 2014, Golfboards can now be found at 250 courses and have powered nearly a million rounds of golf already. Corica Park currently owns eight of them.

The man in pro shop gets a twinkle in his eyes when our foursome tells him we’d like to take them out. “Have you ridden them before?” he asks. When we admit that we are uninitiated, he grins and tells us we’re in for a treat.

But first, we need to sign a waiver and watch a seven-minute instructional video. A slow, lawyerly voice reads off pedantic warnings like “Stepping on the golfboard should be done slowly and carefully” and “Always hold onto the handlebars when the board is in motion.” When it cautions us to “operate the board a safe distance from all…other golfboarders,” we exchange glances, knowing that one of us will more than likely break this rule later on.

Then we venture outside, where one of the clubhouse attendants shows us the ropes. The controls are pretty simple. One switch sends it forward or in reverse, another toggles between low and high gear. To make it go, there’s a throttle on the thumb of the handle. The attendant explains that the only thing we have to worry about is our clubs banging against our knuckles.

“Don’t be afraid to really lean into the turns,” he offers. “You pretty much can’t roll it over.”

“That sounds like a challenge,” I joke. No one laughs.

On a test spin through the parking lot, the Golfboard feels strong and sturdy, even when I shift around on it. It starts and stops smoothly with only the slightest of jerks. In low gear its top speed is about 5 mph, so even at full throttle it never feels out of control.

The only challenge, as far as I can tell, is getting it to turn. For some reason, I’d expected the handlebar to offer at least some degree of steering, but it is purely for balance. The thing has the Ackerman angle of a Mack Truck, and you really do have to lean into the turns to get it to respond. For someone who is not particularly adept at either surfing or skateboarding, this comes a little unnaturally. I have to do a number of three-point turns in order to get back to where I started and make my way over to the first tee box.

We tee off and climb on. The fairway is flat and wide, and we shift into high gear as we speed off toward our balls. The engine had produced just the faintest of whirrs as it accelerated, but it is practically soundless as the board rolls along at full speed. The motor nevertheless feels surprisingly powerful under my feet (the drivetrain is literally located directly underneath the deck) as the board maintains a smooth, steady pace of 10 mph — about the same as a golf cart. I try making a couple of S curves like I’d seen in the video and realize that high-speed turning will take a little practice for me to get right, but that it doesn’t seem overly difficult.

Indeed, within a few holes I might as well be Laird himself, “surfing the earth” from shot to shot. I am able to hold the handlebar and lean way out, getting the board to turn, if not quite sharply, then at least closer to that of a large moving van than a full-sized semi. I take the hills aggressively (although the automatic speed control on the drivetrain enables it to keep a steady pace both up and down any hills, so this isn’t exactly dangerous), and I speed throughout the course like Mario Andretti on the freeway (the company claims increased pace-of-play as one of the Golfboard’s primary benefits, but on a Saturday in the Bay Area, it is impossible avoid a five-hour round anyway.)

Gliding along, my feet a few inches above the grass, the wind in my face as the fairways unfurl below my feet, it is easy to see Golfboards as the next evolution in mankind’s mastery of wheels; the same instincts to overcome inertia that brought us bicycles, rollerblades, scooters, skateboards, and more recent inventions such as Segways, Hoverboards and Onewheels are clearly manifest in Golfboards as well. They might not offer quite the same thrill as storming down a snowy mountainside or catching a giant wave, but they are definitely more fun than your standard golf cart.

Yet, there are obvious downsides as well. The attendant’s warning notwithstanding, my knuckles are in fact battered and sore by the time we make the turn, and even though I rearrange all my clubs into the front slots of my bag, they still rap my knuckles every time I hit a bump. Speaking of which, the board’s shock absorber system leaves something to be desired, as the ride is so bumpy that near the end I start to feel as if I’ve had my insides rattled. Then there is the unforgivable fact of its missing a cup holder for my beer.

But these are mere design flaws that might easily be fixed in the next generation of Golfboards. (A knuckle shield is a must!) My larger problem with Golfboards is what they do to the game itself. When walking or riding a traditional cart, the moments in between shots are a time to plan your next shot, or to chat about your last shot, or to simply find your zen out there among the trees and the birds and the spaciousness of the course. Instead, my focus is on staying upright.

Down the stretch, I start to fade. The muscles in my core have endured a pretty serious workout, and it’s becoming increasingly difficult to muster the strength for my golf swing. It is no coincidence that my game starts to unravel, and I am on the way to one of my worst rounds in recent memory.

Walking off the 18th green, our foursome agrees that the Golfboards were fun — definitely worth trying — but that we probably wouldn’t ride them again. Call me a purist, but as someone lacking Laird Hamilton’s physical gifts, I’m happy to stick to just one sport at a time.

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Accessory Reviews

Review: The QOD Electric Caddy

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If you want an electric golf caddy that doesn’t require that you wear a sensor or carry a remote — one that will be reliable and allow you to focus on your game, and not your cart — then the Australian-manufactured QOD is worth checking out.

The QOD (an acronym for Quality of Design and a nod to its four wheels) is powered by a 14.4-volt lithium battery, good for 36 holes or more on a single charge. It has nine different speeds (with the fastest settings moving closer to jogging velocity) so the QOD can handle your ideal pace, whether that be a casual stroll or a more rapid clip around the course.

The QOD is also built to last. Its injection-molded, aircraft-grade aluminum frame has no welded joints. Steel bolts and locking teeth take care of the hinging points. The battery and frame are both guaranteed for three full years. If you need a new battery after the three-year window, the folks at QOD will replace it at cost.

Its front-wheel suspension gives the QOD a smooth ride down the fairway, and the trolley is easy to navigate with a gentle nudge here and there. The QOD is always in free-wheel mode, so it is smooth and easy to maneuver manually in tight spaces and around the green.

The caddy also features three timed interval modes for situations where you might wish to send it up ahead on its own: when helping a friend find a lost ball or when you will be exiting on the far side of the green after putting, for example. The clip below includes a look at the caddy in timed mode.

When folded, the QOD measures a mere 17-inches wide, 15-inches deep and 12-inches tall.

Another area where the QOD excels is in its small size and portability. When folded, it measures a mere 17-inches wide, 15-inches deep and 12-inches tall, making it the smallest electric caddy on the market.

Folks Down Under have been enjoying the QOD for some time, but it wasn’t until a few years ago when Malachi McGlone was looking for a way to continue walking the course without putting undue strain on an injured wrist that the QOD found U.S. fairways. After first becoming a satisfied customer, McGlone convinced CEO Collin Hiss, who developed the product and oversees its production in Australia, to allow him to distribute and service the QOD here in the states.

The QOD has no self-balancing gyroscope, bluetooth sensor or remote control. Bells and whistles just aren’t its thing — though it does have a USB port for cell phone charging that can come in handy. However, if you are looking for a no-fuss workhorse to move your bag down the fairway, the QOD should be on your radar.

The 2018 model has begun shipping and will be on sale at $1,299 for a limited time. It normally retails at $1,499.

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