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Matrix OZIK XCON Altus Hybrid Shaft Review

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Matrix OZIKMatrix 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.

Appearance

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.

Technical Specs

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.

Feel

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.

Performance

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.

Overall

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.’

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1 Comment

  1. philip

    Apr 16, 2009 at 7:35 am

    By up to 3 inches can be tipped, do you mean it can be cut shorter at the tip by 3 inches? Or what does that mean and the effect of tipping?
    Many thanks.

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Accessory Reviews

GolfWRX Spotlight: Motocaddy M7 Remote and M5 GPS DHC electric cart review

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I have been thinking about electric golf push carts, or trollies, ever since I started playing in my league seven years ago.

Motocaddy has been making high-quality electric, and non-electric, carts since 2004 and has a couple of great options for the golfer who loves to walk. Motocaddy was nice enough to get their M7 Remote and M5 GPS DHC in my hands to try out on the course for a few weeks.

I have had a lot of people stop me to ask about the carts, and the one thing I keep telling them is that these carts are just flat out fun to use on the course.

Motocaddy M7 Remote

The M7 Remote was very easy to get set up right out of the box. All you have to do is charge the battery, install the wheels, and you are pretty much ready to go. The M7 folds up pretty small, just a little larger than the 3-wheel pushcart that I had been using for years. Getting it to the course should be no problem with just about any trunk space. Now, the one downside to an electric cart is the weight when moving it around, and both carts come in at around 35 pounds each. Even with that extra weight, I didn’t have much trouble lifting them in and out of the back of a pickup.

The M7 unfolds quickly with the flick of two levers and extends the front wheels automatically. Once unfolded, you drop in the battery, plug it in, and secure your bag. If you own a Motocaddy bag, they have developed a really nice system called EasiLock that involves two metal studs that fit into the bottom of the cart. This system also includes a molded base that prevents the bag from rotating at all, even on the roughest terrain. You can still use the M7 with almost any other golf bag as it includes elastic straps that wrap around the top and bottom of the bag.

As soon as you plug in the battery the LCD screen comes to life and you are ready to go. You can use the M7 without the remote by using the dial on the handle to control the starting, stopping, and speed. But the M7 has a remote that is activated by a simple press of the power button to get going. The remote is very simple with just five buttons to control where the M7 goes.

Getting a feel for the M7 takes no time at all and by the time you drive it from your car to the 1st tee you will be in complete, and confident, control of the cart. You simply press the “+” button to start moving forward and the cart takes off gently without any rattling of your clubs, and you can press that same button again to increase the speed. The cart will go from a slow crawl, for bumpy or tight areas, too, as fast as I could run with just a few presses of the button. The big red “stop” button in the center stops the cart immediately, and when stopped it is locked in place, even on steep hills. You don’t have to worry about remembering to set the brakes or anything because it is done automatically.

Steering is just as easy: simply press the right or left button to turn the cart. Small, quick presses will just slightly adjust the cart as it moves down the fairway while a long hold of the button can make it turn on a dime to the right or left.

Almost everyone asked me how stable the cart was and if it would tip over. I can proudly say that it has stayed upright even on some unseen bumps at maximum speed. Side hills, ruts, and even curbs are handled with ease with the help of the small rear wheel.

I really enjoy strolling down the fairway with nothing but the M7’s remote in my hand — it just makes golfing more fun!

Motocaddy M5 GPS DHC

After using the M7 and its fancy remote, I was a little nervous that I wouldn’t like not having it. But to be honest the M5 was just as fun to use, but for a different reason.

As the name suggests, the M5 has a built-in GPS with 40,000 courses preloaded into it. The screen is a good size, pretty responsive to the touch, and easy to read in direct sunlight. Having the GPS directly on the cart is great, you drive up to your ball and immediately have yardage to the front, back, and center of the green as well as bunkers and hazards. You can easily toggle between screens on the GPS and it offers a couple of different views to help navigate the hole. The M5 can also keep score and let you know shot distances right on the screen. Motocaddy even includes nice little touches like a screen protecter kit to ensure durability.

Driving the M5 is just as easy as the M7 with using the dial on the handle. And speaking of the handle, the grips have a great tacky rubber that grips well even in hot and humid conditions. To start the M5 you just press the dial down and the cart will gently start down the fairway. You can turn the dial to increase or decrease the speed — I found between 5-6 to be the most comfortable for me. But the speed can go up to a very fast pace if you are looking to set a record for fastest round of the day.

As you walk down the fairway, or rough, stopping the cart is as simple as pressing he dial again. When stopped the M5 engages a parking brake automatically so you don’t have to worry about it running down a hill without your approval. The M5 has tons of power to go up just about any hill and the Down Hill Control (DHC) keeps the speed consistent even when going down a steep decent.

Since the M5 has so much power, and it is a little heavy, I thought steering would be a little bit of a challenge. It wasn’t, at all. Guiding the M5 took very little effort and slight adjustments going down the fairway were very easy. Really tight turns took a slight bit more effort as the torque can want to go forward a little more than turn. Again, once you get the M5 from the car to the first tee, you will be a master at driving it.

Overall, Motocaddy has created two great carts that provide additional enjoyment to walking your favorite 9 or 18. Having the ability to walk without carrying or pushing your bag, clubs, and whatever else goes with you. I like them so much that it is going to be hard to get the M7’s remote out of my hands when I go play!

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Accessory Reviews

GolfWRX Spotlight: Crossrope weighted jump rope & app

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An 18-hole round of golf averages out to just under five miles of walking, which on its own is a good workout. Once you throw in some potential uphill trekking you get some serious cardio too, but if you all looking for a quick workout between rounds of golf look no further than Crossrope.

Crossrope – The details

Crossrope is a system of the weighted jump rope that allows you to quickly switch the weight of the ropes you are using to boost your workout—they range from 1/4 lbs all the way up to 2 lbs depending on the kit you start out with. There is an accompanying app that helps you go through multiple workout routines and is available free, or you can upgrade to the entire library of workout routines along with more workout tracking options.

This is NOT your middle school jump rope

The handles are heavy duty and feature precision bearings to allow the rope to move smoothly around as you go through a routine. They are also ergonomic and fit into your hand naturally, which making gripping easy, something that is really nice when you’re swinging a 2 lbs coated steel cable around. The handles also come with a fast clip system to make changing cables depending on your selected workout easier too.

The ropes themselves are made from braided steel and are almost impossible to tangle, allowing them to be easily transported and stored when not in use. All in you are getting a premium piece of workout equipment that is effective and easy to store—hard to same the same thing about a treadmill.

When it comes to a workout, skipping rope is one of the most effective cardio workouts you can do, and with Crossrope, you can get both cardio and low impact weight training when using the heaviest ropes, and follow along with the guided workouts.

As someone that hadn’t used a jump rope in over a decade, starting out lighter was a nice way to ease in before moving up, and I was pleasantly surprised how easy and fun some of the workouts in the app were. If you are looking for a fun way to add something to your workouts, or you just want to try something new to get you into golf course walking shape, this could be right up your alley. To learn more check out crossrope.com

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Accessory Reviews

WRX Spotlight: Athalonz EnVe—The best golf shoes you’ve never heard of

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One of the coolest parts of being in this part of the golfing world is being able to shed light on smaller companies that typically get overshadowed by their bigger corporate brothers.

So, this post is about one of those products that is definitely competitive against top golf shoe companies, and it’s made by a company called Athalonz, which is based out west in Arizona. Typically known for its innovative baseball cleats and insole packages, Athlonz newest addition takes the patented design to the world of golf with the EnVe golf shoe.

These have started appearing on the world long drive circuit due to the amount of traction they get, allowing players to swing harder. So for the last few months, I have gotten to wear them and see if they are as good as the company claims.

Athalonz EnVe: Living up to claims

The main selling points of these shoes are focused on two things

  1. Design that delivers more power and stability
  2. Custom comfort that lasts all day

These are somewhat difficult to combine into one shoe, and though they are on the heavier side, Athlonz are completely worth it for the benefits. It is obvious that they made strides to hit each box on the list for a great shoe. The patented design has been adapted from their baseball cleat and introduces a spikeless golf shoe with a circular design that allows the player to gain traction through the golf swing. This gives a player the chance to swing harder and faster without losing their footing. They also offer insole packages that help with correct bodyweight placement to help add an extra layer of consistency.

Secondly, it’s very noticeable that there was plenty of thought given to comfort with a roomy toe and custom insoles to fit your style. Additionally, ankle padding helps to provide more stability and comfort.

On another note, they have a good sense of style with a more classic, casual take. In addition to the pictured white/brown color, there’s a black/grey colorway as well.

After multiple months of wear in all types of conditions, these shoes have performed great for me with all the traction I need and while feeling great throughout the round.

Verdict

I am a person who tends to support smaller companies when I can if they make good products. Any support for them goes a long way—especially in the golf business. Since these shoes will set you back about $150, I wanted to be sure they are worth it for the money and they absolutely are. Seriously, for anyone looking to boost their shoe game and help alleviate aching feet and ankles, give these a shot.

 

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