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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. 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: 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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Accessory Reviews

GolfWRX Spotlight: Nikon Coolshot 20 GII and 20i GII

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Every golfer should have an accurate, reliable, easy-to-use rangefinder. With the new Nikon Coolshot 20 GII and 20i GII, you get all of that and more in one of the smallest, lightest packages on the market.

Not only do you get a ton of features, but when you consider these devices start at only $199.99 for the 20 G II and then $229.99 for the 20i GII ( slope adjusted version ), you get one of the best values in a rangefinder from one of the most well-known consumer optics companies in the world.

Review: Nikon CoolShot 20 GII and 20i GII

First Target Priority and 8-Second Continuous Measurement: “First Target Priority” is Nikon’s way of making sure you are picking up the flag and not a tree behind your intended target. There is nothing worse than thinking you have your distance dialed in to then have a shot fly over the green. With how quickly it lets you know the ranger finder is locked, getting that distance and double-checking can happen remarkably fast.

In the eight-second continuous measurement setting, the rangefinder will continuously measure the field of view as you scan the target area for approximately eight seconds. This setting is great when playing unfamiliar courses or trying to figure out the exact spot to a dogleg, tree, or hazard on your intended line.

Bright, 6x Monocular: Nikon is known for its glass and multi-coating technology, from telephoto camera lenses to rifle scopes, if it’s Nikon glass, it’s going to be clear, fog-resistant, and high-contrast for easy viewing. From a viewing experience perspective, the Coolshot 20 GII’s 6x monocular has an adjustable diopter for sharp focusing, along with long eye relief—meaning you can keep your glasses (or sunglasses) on when acquiring your target.

Slope-Adjusting ID Technology: With the 20i GII you have the option to get the slope-adjusted distance for any shot thanks to Nikon’s ID Technology. The mode can be turned on and off by the user to comply with USGA rules to make it legal for tournament rounds. Having tested it out on hilly terrain it’s easy to see why so many golfers mis-club going into greens when elevation changes become a lot more dramatic.

Review

The Nikon Coolshot 20 GII’s size and weight make it ideal for anyone who regularly carries and wants the benefit of knowing distances but without having to worry about weight—it weighs about the same as a sleeve of balls.

The size allows you to hold the units stable. However, I could see for those new to the rangefinder space, it could take some time getting used to when first getting acquainted with it. The best bet for this is to take it to a range or just step outside with it on your next walk and get used to hitting targets before you take it to the course—plus it makes for a fun game to see how good you really are at estimating distances.

Overall, for the price and size, it is one of the best rangefinders on the market. Plus, with a five-year warranty, you can be assured of years of use with the Nikon CoolShot 20 GII rangefinders.

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