Gear Sneak Peaks

September Tidbits from the World of JDM

It’d hard to believe how time flies and we’re more than halfway through September already. Many Japanese brands are already preparing or in the process of announcing Fall releases and some even building up for 2012 models already. Fourteen Golf has announced their RM-11 Forged Wedge which has already been talked about for months. The RM-11 has grooves with 15% more volume to increase back spin and stopping power.  The head shapes of the RM-11 will vary depending on loft and intended usage for that loft.  Its interesting to note that Fourteen has done away with the MT-28 moniker which has seen five generations since its original design by Grind Studio Master Masahiro Tomaru. The Nicke Chrome Finish model will release in Japan on October 14th with the Black finish following about a month later.

On the what’s hot side, we’ve got several products that are in huge demand resulting in manufacturers struggling to keep up with supply. The very surprising PRGR egg i+ Utility which I reviewed a month back is back ordered quite heavily depending on loft and flex as golfers have come to realize how easy it is to hit and the great distance it provides. Crazy has several products that are making golfers wait such as the new CRZ-435II which is back ordered until October along with the Crazy Target Tour shafts in Dark Chrome. Crazy has also announced that all models of Crazy shafts except for Royal Decoration and graphite iron/wedge shafts, are now available in a pearl white color for a limited time. If you’re ordering a Crazy shaft and want it white just let us know but it will take a bit of extra time to make.

Epon golf has seen a successful launch of their new AF-902 utility and even at its higher price, pre orders sold out the first manufacturing batch and Endo is now playing catch up though the wait won’t be long as they are an experienced manufacturer when it comes to volume.  For the average golfer with an unlimited budget, there is no other utility that can match its manufacturing and materials and may even its performance.

This year has seen a comeback in the release of non-conforming and High COR drivers. With Ryoma about to launch their much anticipated Special Tuning 0.88 HI-COR driver and new max COR Ryoma F woods, Geotech Golf has also released two new Hi COR drivers featuring springy over the limit SP700 faces, the GT 45N SWS Alpha Spec Pearl and the all Black RF700 Prototype, both of which I will be reviewing later this week.

Good news from Iomic who earlier this year began offering Jumbo Sticky grips which are oversized grips. They have now officially added mid sized grips to their line up with the Sticky Mid and Mid Evolution grips. Many customers know there is a lack of mid sized grip offerings since Asian hands just seem so small! Now I wonder if Nowon and other Japanese makers will follow suit since maybe there is a market for bigger hands after all. On the smaller hand side, Iomic has also released X-Grip Sticky and Art Series Sticky grips for ladies and juniors!

Many customers always ask is it worthwhile upgrading to a new release model. Well Kamui Works thinks so and they were out to prove their new Ray driver is a longer driver than the Silver 456. The sent me data using Fujikura Shafts robot testing pitting the 456 against the new Ray and the results were quite interesting. I’ll have a writeup on the numbers later this week.  Up ahead this week I’ll also be testing Bridgestone’s NEW Super Newing ball which is the replacement for the best distance ball two years running the Newing Brill. I’ll also be taking a look at an alternative to Bridgestone’s Science Eye swing speed monitor by testing out a similar offering (but no magnets needed) from PRGR. This will be a fun week as we get closer to October! As always we are here to help so drop us a message anytime!

Royal Collection New SFD Black First Impressions

A huge box arrived today from Royal Collection containing their all new SFD Black demo clubs for me to try out. The new SFD Black just launched on the weekend here in Japan and is considered their new average golfer offering replacing the 2 year old SFD III line. While RC’s BBD’s line caters to the athlete and better golfer, SFD models are typically known for their ease of use and high launch distance performance characteristics which make them very attractive for the average to improving golfer.  RC compared to most brands is a very small company with only 20 or so employees dedicated to designing and producing golf clubs that look great and perform great. The SFD Black looks to live up to that commitment of performance and quality.

I’m going to be hitting each club and reviewing them individually but as always its exciting to get a bunch of demos at once so I thought I would provide some first impressions. The clubs look great with a Black IP and Silver finish. Black finishes are certainly a big fad now with golf clubs and not all black finishes are created equal. I’m glad to say as you can see in the pictures the finish of the RC clubs is very pretty and while not jet black, the IP finish is more of a smoked black reflective finish. It’s pretty classy looking. One thing I did notice about the new SFD Black line which may catch people’s attention is that while parts of the clubs are made in Japan, RC is saving costs by assembling the clubs in Taiwan (it says Assembled in Taiwan on the stickers). Because of this, the SFD Black is priced lower than usual compared to other JDM brands ie the driver has a Japanese MSRP of  620.00 which is on the low side for Japan.

I received the driver, fairway wood, utility and forged iron. All the clubs are on the larger side and all the woods feature slightly closed faces. They are all high launch designs that are meant to minimize slices and maximize distance. The iron looks uncannily similar to Royal Collections older FD Forged and original SFI forged iron from about 5 years ago. All four clubs are shafted with Fubuki shafts specially made for Royal Collection by Mitsubishi Rayon. I’ll start tomorrow by testing out the woods at the range and recording some impact videos (RC typically always sounds good which is reflective of their feel). Stay tuned for the reviews!

Ryoma Update on New Driver and Fairway Wood!

I received more detailed information today from Ryoma on their new Hi-Cor driver model as well as the much anticipated new fairway woods. Due to an NDA however I cannot post pictures of the fairway woods until October but I will provide info and feedback on the design.  First with the new Hi-Cor driver which looks just like the current D-1, V-Spec and Premia models. The new Hi-Cor Model is dubbed the Ryoma D-1 Special Tuning model and Ryoma is boasting target distance gains of up to 30 yards. While visually the heads appear the same as current models, Ryoma has fine tuned the face and body of the driver to increase COR of the Special Tuning models to over 0.88.  Their key focus with the increased COR as well as structural changes are simply as they put it “to crush the ball at impact” and create as much initial ball speed as possible.

The new D-1 Special Tuning models feature an all new premium forged TTX face material (the current D-1 and V-Spec are TDW and the Premia TDX) which utilizes variable face thickness to create a much more spring like effect. The sweet spot of the face is 2.6mm thick and the outer parts of the face a mere 1.3mm thin! I don’t think I know of any driver in golf that has a face section as thin as that. The face is laser welded to its monocoque unibody which features industry leading 0.3mm wall thiness (is there such a word as thiness?) all around.  Now here is the bad news… with an unprecedented thin walled face, Ryoma has set a swing speed limit on the Ryoma Special Tuning Hi-Cor heads. They do not suggest that players swinging over 47m/s or 108mph use this head. Due to the thinner walls, the Special Tuning models also have a extended 2 year warranty and should the face crack, Ryoma will replace the driver with an identical model. Should the driver crack a second time, Ryoma will still replace it but with the standard thicker faced conforming model. There will be two Special Tuning models. a Gold Version and  a Black Version. The Gold Version will be available in 9.5 10.5 and 11.5* lofts while the Black Version in 9.5 and 10.5* lofts.  Both models will be available shafted with Ryoma stock shafts or as heads only.

Now on to the fairway woods. I must say they look better than I expected.  They border on the larger side at 220cc for the F2 to 140cc for the F9.  All of the D-1 F heads as they are called have square face angles.  The D-1 F will be available in 13 15 18 21 and 24* lofts. The F2, F3 and F5 models all fall right below 0.83 COR and share the same all titanium construction as Ryoma’s D-1 Drivers. Yes Ryoma is able to fit a 60g Power Booster weight on the back of all the FW models.  Not only that but they also add an additional 60g weight on the front sole called the Spin Control Unit. Considering the 13* weighs 209g, and uses 120g worth of weights, it means the 0.4mm walled body is a mere 89g in weight! Ryoma then plasma welds on their premium forged TDW face for maximum ball speeds and feel.  The F7 and f9 shorter woods have a similar design except use a maraging face and stainless steel body.

Thanks to the 60g backweight, the sweet spot of the Ryoma  fairway woods is huge. So huge that Ryoma claims there is very little difference in direction and distance on off center hits vs shots off the center of the club.  In order to counter the huge weight in the back which in a smaller fairway wood head would push the CG too far back and low, Ryoma uses that Spin Control Unit I mentioned earlier, another 60g right below the leading edge of the head. Ryoma says this weight drastically reduces spin and creates a strong and powerful trajectory that will not lose out to the wind.  Yes folks, Ryoma has designed their FW to be a pure distance club that will rival the Egg Spoon.

Ryoma has designed the CG Point of their fairway woods to match the ball exactly at impact whereas on some deeper fairway woods the CG point on the face is in fact higher than the point of impact. Ryoma’s design features maximizing distance through perfect impact in turn maximizing energy transfer through its power booster. Another key point of the Ryoma FW is that its COR is right below the USGA allowed 0.83. Considering how much smaller a fairway wood face is than a driver face makes this number quite staggering as many fairway woods on the market feature COR of around 0.70 to 0.75. Ryoma believes their FW will create more ball speed than any other FW in golf. All the FW’s will be available with stock shafts from Ryoma or as heads only with the F2 F3 and F5 Ti models costing nearly twice as much as the F7 and F9 heads.

Now I have to admit this all sounds very exciting but at this point its just some specs and a product description sitting in front of me.  However, if the new Ryoma FW plays anywhere as long and as easy as the driver, it could be a huge game changer in the Japanese market where the Egg and other driving type spoons have dominated distance wise. I can’t wait to find out in mid October!

Geotech GT 420 Forged Tour Driver Review!

Getoech Golf has really been going all out at producing a wide variety of club heads to suit many different target audiences of golfers, all without breaking the players wallet. Their latest driver offerings include the new GT420 Forged Tour driver which they sent me to review. With the new GTForged 420, Geotech’s goal was to create a premium titanium forged head in a smaller package that would appeal to athlete and improving golfers both in feel and in performance. Couple that with a sexy black finish and the GT 420 Forged has the looks to match its performance as well.

CNC Variable Forged Face…

As you probably guessed, the GT420 Forged Tour is 420cc and is USGA Conforming. Besides using a forged titanium face, Geotech wanted to further enhance the drivers feel and ability to maximize energy transfer by using a CNC machined face with variable thickness. A thicker 3.1mm sweet spot area surrounded by slightly thinner 2.8mm top and bottom portions which stretch from the leading edge all the way up to the crown. The outer edges of the face are its thinnest at 2.4mm  equaling a slingshot like face that captures the ball at impact and spits it back out with minimal energy loss. The GT420 Forged has  a nice looking face profile and is on the deeper side. Geotech likes to use a flat black satin finish on their black drivers which is a very nice touch and much preferred over other brands that sometimes use a shiny mirrored black face.

Eye pleasing at address…

At address the 420cc head has a nice pear shaped too it and still provides confidence as its not overly small.  The square face angle which is on all lofts sets up nicely and its clear at address that there is less bulge in the face allowing for more workability. Its a very attractive setup.

High Back Head design

The GT420 Forged uses a high back design and Geotech reinforces the back of the head with what they call “muscled” walls. These braces are meant to optimize energy transfer going forward and to stabilize the head at impact. Thanks to the high back head, the CG position is optimally located for a strong penetrating trajectory which should provide low spin and good run. The CG height is at 41mm and its depth 35.2mm. The internal head bias is neutral towards a fade with just over a 20* gravity angle.  The sweet spot area is also more towards the center of the face meaning with the GT420’s deeper face, the ball can be tee’d up lower for that strong and penetrating trajectory.

Square face angle for all lofts…

Another key feature of the GT420 Forged is that the driver design varies slightly between lofts. Geotech recognizes that as the loft a head progresses from 8.5* to 11.5*, the shape and design of the head is altered due to the change in loft. Geotech changes the lie of the head progressively more upright as the loft increases but is able to keep the face angle at 0* square for all lofts. This allows the GT420 Forged to produce an optimal launch for whatever loft is chosen without altering the trajectory due to face angle.

Considering the cost of the GT420 Forged Tour driver and its forged nature and the fact its available as head only, its very attractive for those who want to build a high quality driver at a budget price. Users can choose their shaft of choice thus controlling the amount they spend on this driver. While there are those golfers who are willing to spend anything on golf clubs, the truth is cost factor is huge consideration for most. At the same time, the club has to perform. The GT420 Forged Tour has very nice feel at impact and is not tingy sounding in any way. Its feel is rather solid and the sound a more subtle thwock.  The ball flight of my tester which came with a Geotech stock shaft called the GT Tour Burnish, which is one of Geotech’s better shafts, produced a mid and very strong trajectory with a lot of run. The GT Tour Burnish is a low to mid launching shaft coupled with the GT420 Forged head equals low spin and very stable ball flight.

Optimal Trajectory Optimal Spin…

Recently I’ve actually preferred a mid trajectory and more penetrating flight flight as it seems like high launch max carry type performance does not seem to get as much attention these days.  I like hitting a strong penetrating drive that runs 40 yards especially on days when there is wind. In the past as an average golfer I’d have to say I hit many of my drives too high resulting in not getting the distance gains I wanted. Manufacturers in Japan have also changed their wording to things like Optimal Launch, Optimal trajectory rather than High Launch and High Trajectory. For each player its about get the right numbers to create the right distance, ball speed, launch angle and the right amount of back spin. For some people the GT420 may launch too low but a lot of that will have to do with the chosen shaft as well. For the better player wanting a balanced driver that provides good feel and stable control, the GT420 Forged Tour is a pretty good choice especially compared to drivers that cost 3 to 4 times as much. I’d highly recommend the driver for those players 15 handicap or better who are on a budget and want to build their own driver to spec.

Here’s the sound at impact video so you can all get an idea of how the driver sounds.

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A Look at the Tourstage X-jD Tour Distance Ball

Bridgestone Tourstage has long been a dominant force on the Japanese tour when it comes to golf balls. They rank right up there with Titleist and Srixon in the battle for tour supremacy.   Tourstage’s X Series of balls have always been very popular with not only tour players but better athlete golfers and improving players as well. Their X01 Solid and Mild are among the most popular balls in Japan. Tourstage however wanted to take the performance of the Solid and Mild a step further by altering the ball designs to create a tour level distance ball without sacrificing control and spin.

Three Basics of Distance…

Tourstage decided that average golfers are not the only players trying to gain distance. Tour pros also want as much distance as possible of the tee while still having great feel and spin and feel with shorter clubs. They went back to the drawing board and decided to start with the basics… the 3 main factors that create distance in a ball.

Ball Speed

Launch Angle

Back Spin

By changing the aerodynamics and designs of the dimples and swapping out the inner cover for a higher resistance inner cover, Tourstage created the new X-jD distance ball for Pros and higher swing speeds. The X-jD’s design and 326 SHALLOW dimples create more lift but less spin off the tee for a higher launch and much more carry. The new high resistance Ionomer inner cover as well as a firmer more durable high rebound urethane outer cover create more energy transfer and increase initial ball speeds and help reduce back spin as well.

Very manageable 86 Compression…

Even though the X-jD has a firmer outer cover and inner cover for a more crisp feel, the compression of the X-jD is still rated as 86 which is very playable by a wide variety of golfers. Tourstage recommends that the X-jD be used by players with swing speeds between 90 and 110mph.  It is these firmer and high resistance inner and high rebound outer covers that creates a reverse action at impact when using the driver. This reverse action drastically reduces back spin and allows the X-jD which launches higher and carries further than its tour counterparts the X01 Solid and Mild, to even out run them as well when it hits the ground.

Soft But Crisp Feel = Impact Feedback

As swing speed decreases with irons and wedges, the resistance decreases as well allowing the ball to spin higher and land softer around the greens. The X-jD uses a very large NeoG Core which acts almost like a superball at impact. In the past I was a very big fan of soft balls, and I’m probably not alone. Everyone wants soft feeling drivers, soft feeling irons, wedges and putters and ultimately soft feeling balls that come of the face of these clubs. Recently though, I personally find some balls too soft to the point they lack impact feedback. The X-jD is NOT one of these balls. Off the woods and irons and even putter, the X-jD is soft enough to feel the ball compress but firm enough to get some nice crisp feedback which I really do like. I feel this way even though Tourstage ranks the X-jD as firmer on their firmness scale (the lower compression certainly helps).  I find the X-jD to be as long as the average golfer champion ball the Newing Brill and as good feeling if not better.  It has similar launch characteristics and looks to spin even lower.

Previously on the Japanese tour, the X01 Mild was probably the most popular ball with a very good balance of distance and spin and feel, the X-jD looks to have overtaken its place in the bags of many top Tourstage pros giving them more distance plus the same spin control the X01 series balls do.  I’d recommend these balls for players who swing 95mph or more and who need more launch and lower spin off the tee but don’t want to give up feel and spin control. I’ll be adding the X-jD to the pro shop later this afternoon.

Epon AF-902 Utility – First Impressions

We introduced the all new Epon AF-902 a few weeks ago and today (it is the 9th here in Japan) is the official launch of this wonderful utility.  The AF-902 is a true one of a kind utility. While most utilities these days are made from cast stainless steel bodies and faces with some manufacturers also using maraging steel, Epon’s new AF-902 takes manufacturing for a utility to an all new level. The AF-902 is a four piece super precision forged all titanium utility and the most advanced of its kind. Using high intensity titanium, KS120 Forged for the crown and sole, 15-3-3-3 Forged for the face and a pure Titanium forged neck, the plasma welded AF-902 provides the ultimate feel and maximum COR distance performance.

Our demo head arrived today and I thought I would snap some pictures and give some initial impressions on the head. Workmanship and finish is quite flawless as you would expect from Epon and the head is a beauty. Its hard to imagine this is a 4 piece head as the plasma welds are invisible to the eye and perfectly smooth. I had expected it to be on the larger side due to its spec’ed cc size of around 126cc which is larger than the typical utility, however its not visually big by any means. The face is certainly on the shallower side and this is expected from a utility that targets average golfers and mid handicappers.

Seeing the head in real life, the double stepped sole stands out more especially when you look at the head from its heel side like the picture below. The back of the head is raised to create trailing edge relief which reduces friction and contact with the turf or rough for much more pure contact. The AF-902 is not as stubby from front to back like many utilities and from this same heel angle could pass for a small fairway wood which in fact may be part of Epon’s thinking. Fairway wood like performance but the versatility of a utility or rescue.

At address you can see what I mean by the head does NOT look overly large. It’s rounded shape actually looks quite compact a la TRC but the length of the face from heel to toe is quite noticeable. This creates a wider sweet spot as typical average golfer misses are towards the heel or toe. At setup the look inspires confidence and you can clearly see the AF-902’s face which allows you to focus on impact. The CG is positioned for an optimal and easy launch from any lie and designed for big carry with maximum distance performance. The AF-902 is really a great replacement for the long irons or short woods especially for those wanting ease of use and vesatility.

There are many great utilities and rescues out on the market right now, many with features and looks similar to the AF-902. But, what makes the AF-902 stand out from the crowd is its unique manufacturing and premium materials for a utility. As far as I know, no other utility or fairway wood for that matter in golf is made from completely forged titanium. As a matter of a fact, there are even many drivers who cannot make the same claim. While many brands try and cut cost and mass produce cast woods, Epon goes the opposite direction both in quality and in price.  The AF-902 is made to rival even the most premium drivers in quality and its priced accordingly.

So far its reception has been more positive than I imagined. Honestly my first reaction was a double take at the price of the club, however that has not stopped customers who appreciate Epon’s quality and performance from ordering.  Customers are not only pre-ordering the club but even choosing more expensive upgrade shafts with the Crazy Black Utility so far being the most popular. It is certainly a shaft we are considering putting in this head for actual testing.  Based on first impressions alone, quality is superb, its design and looks very appealing especially for the average golfer or anyone who wants an easy to hit utility looking for maximum distance. The Epon AF-902 Utility begins shipping today, please contact us as always if you are interested or need more information! You can also find the specs for the new club here in our pro shop.

Srixon New Z-TX Tour P-420 Driver Review!

The driver trend this year has seen the re-emergence of smaller more compact heads. The sub 425cc head has grown in popularity on the Japanese tour and manufacturers have obliged with heads as small as the Tourstage Limited 365cc head and of course Yonex’s Ryo Ishikawa 380cc model. Srixon which has the second largest number of touring pros behind Tourstage here in Japan has listed to their pros in releasing the New Z-TX Tour P-420, a limited 420cc compact driver.

P-420 is a looker…

The first thing I noticed when I pulled the headcover off the driver was how good looking it is. It’ finish is more subtle in colors than the standard Z-TX (probably thanks to the lack of yellow color 0r any colors for that matter) and the head’s lines and shape shouts out all business. Smaller heads of the past lacked the technology and materials of today’s drivers meaning, manufacturers can now go back to creating even better compact head drivers packed with design, technology and top notch materials.  The Srixon New Z-TX Tour P-420 looks to be a result of all these points.

Quick Tune System…

The head shape is pear like thanks to a high back design. The sole of the driver is muscular looking thanks to its lines and finish. The P-420 does feature Srixon’s Quick Tune system which allows for the weighting of the head as well as trajectory to be changed. Two standard 7 gram weights are placed in the toe and heel for a neutral setting. The P-420 also comes with a nifty wrench which also houses the two extra weights. an 11g and a 3g weight that can be swapped in and out with the 7 grammers for a variety of trajectories.  With the weight placed more towards the face and with the heads high back design, the P-420 is made for feel, control and stability.

Pleasing look at address…

The weight placements and design of the head also allow for a shorter and shallower CG positioning which will promote a stronger more penetrating trajectory preferred by better players who want to combat the wind and produce drives with more direction and run.  At address, the head size is very pleasing and features a square to slightly open face angle. There also appears to be less bulge in the face of the P-420 compared to larger sized Srixon drivers which again will allow the better player to work the ball more and still benefit from good distance performance.

Awesome Super TIX Forged face…

The face profile of the Z-TX Tour P-420 is clean and has a very nice look to it. A slight bulge in the crown not only gives the head sharper looking lines but also helps increase the face area for a larger sweet spot and higher ball speeds. Srixon faces have always had a very nice shape and the P-420 is no exception. The Srixon face has a sticky feel to it meaning that when the ball impacts the face it seems to hang on the face for a split second longer than most other drivers then shoot the ball forward with maximum energy transfer. The P-420 features Srixon and XXIO’s proprietary Super TIX®51AF forged in Japan Titanium mix which provides a soft but crisp feel at impact.  I have to say I really like this feel unlike some drivers these days that are so muted and have no feel or feedback.

Stanadard are Miyazaki Shafts…

My 9.5* tester came with the new Tour AD DJ-6 shaft which is actually a special order (along with Diamana and Fujikura Motore shafts). The standard offerings with the 8.5 9.5 and 10.5* loft New Z-TX Tour P-420 are Miyazaki shafts including the Kusala, Blue, Silver and new Indigo models. The Z-TX Tour P-420 features a flatter lie of 57.5* which better players will like since it helps reduce shots left. Clubs are made standard to 45.25″ which is  a very manageable length and a good balance between distance and control (you can also special order different lengths).  With the standard 2 x 7g weights in the head and standard Miyazaki shafts, the swing weight is at D3 and can easily be increased to D5 by swapping in the 11g for one of the 7g weights.

Definitely for the better player…

I spent a day at the range yesterday testing a few new drivers I have on hand here and the Z-TX Tour P-420 was one of my favorites when it came to looks and feel. For me its a bit too heavy at 318g and a bit too stiff producing fades with most drives (I would love to stick a slightly lighter and softer shaft in this head to try). The trajectory is penetrating with a lot of run and when I had a few faster swingers around me try the driver they hit very strong drives with a lot of run out. They all told me the loved the way the driver set up and felt. One of my neighbors who came with me to the range uses a very similar offering from Tourstage, the 703 Limited in 9.5* and Tour AD DI-6 Stiff (though the 703 Limited is a bigger head) and he preferred the look or the smaller head of the P-420 and he thought it was just as forgiving as his larger 703. When hitting the driver side by side with the Tourstage, the Srixon had a more muted thwok at impact and with the 2 x 7g weights naturally fades. With a heavier weight configuration in the sole, the P-420 produces a nice draw. The players who tried the Z-TX P-420 all liked the heavier feel and noted they could really feel the head through the swing.  The New Z-TX Tour P-420 is highly recommended for any faster swinger and better player wanting a more compact head driver, especially one with great feel and some technology to boot. Its not really for the average golfer as its design and shaft options really due suit the stronger player.  Srixon has produced only a limited run of the P-420 for all of Japan so once sold out, there will be no more. Look for the new driver in the shop later this week!

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Crazy Target Tour Steel Shafts Initial Impressions

There has been a lot of excitement since Crazy announced the release of their newly designed Target Tour steel shafts. People wondered what a company like Crazy, who specializes in high modulus carbon shafts, would create when it comes to steel. As I had noted a few weeks ago when I posted about the introduction of the new shafts, Crazy is using a proprietary technique derived from ancient Japanese sword making to control the hardness and shape of each Target Tour steel shaft.  By controlling the hardness via high frequency heat, Crazy actually stops short of completely hardening the shaft. Like a Japanese Katana/sword, it gives the shaft the proper flexibility yet firmness for optimal feel and performance.  Crazy has designed the Target Tours to have the consistency of steel but the playability and feel of carbon. This tedious process involves much more work for each individual shaft but at the same time gives each shaft much more attention to detail, thus more consistent performance.

While I was at Crazy a couple of weeks ago I finally had a chance to check out the shafts and test them first hand. First to clarify a few things. There are two models of iron shafts 120 and 105 and two models of wedge shafts 120 and 110. The iron shafts are stepped while the wedge shafts are not. The iron shafts are also constant weight models meaning they keep a similar weight and feel across the set. They are all taper tip and each model is available in two finishes, a standard steel finish (silver chrome) and a darker tinted finish (dark chrome). The Dark Chrome finish is NOT black but more like a tinted smoke finish. It was very hard to capture the different shaft finishes under any light and I tell you now I tried as hard as I could, indoors and outdoors and with lights and without. So those expecting black shafts, the dark chrome is nothing like that and even in the pictures here they look darker than they actually are in real life.

Crazy sales described the Target Tour 120 as heaver and stiffer iron shaft made for the faster and harder swinger who still wants a stable shaft that provides maximum feel and distance in the form of a strong kick and penetrating launch.  I could not properly test the Tour 120’s as they were too heavy and stiff for me so I’ll leave that up to Chris when he gets his demo set. I did however try the Target Tour Lite 105 in Regular flex and the Target Tour Wedge 110. The Tour Lite 105 cut and installed weighs under 100g which compares favorably to the Crazy Black CB-02 graphite iron shaft. In fact hitting the two side by side, the Target Tour Lite 110 steel shaft has feel almost as good as its much more expensive graphite counterpart.  The 110 is made for the player who wants lighter weight steel that provides a slightly higher launch and trajectory but with plenty of feel and in my short testing it sure seems to fit those characteristics.  Years ago when lightweight steel began hitting the market, shafts like Nippon’s NS Pro 950GH were a revelation for those wanting easier to load steel shafts that gave easy launches. The Crazy Target Tour Lite takes that to the next level with superb feel and launch.

The Target Tour Wedge 110 was quite firm and even though Crazy marks all the wedge models as Wedge flex, Crazy says they are pretty much a stiff flex. Crazy explained to me the wedge shafts are designed to provide consistent feel and spin performance.  The mid kicking wedge shafts are meant to create a heavier spin ball by using a stronger mid trajectory ball. The strong trajectory also allows for better direction and stability around the greens. I’ll be shafting up a couple of wedges with the Wedge 110 for testing on the course later this month for a real review.

The new Crazy Target Tour shafts certainly look very good and sound very good. They also cost more than pretty much any other steel shaft. This however has not stopped people from ordering them. Crazy’s first batch of the dark chrome shafts have been long sold out and there are only a few of the standard silver finish shafts left. Are they worth the price tag they have? That is yet to be determined but their design and initial feel and performance (at least of the Lite 105) look to be very promising. Because stock is so low right now we have not listed them in the pro shop yet. If you are interested in a set of some wedge shafts please contact us directly for a quote.

Epon Adds an AF-152 High Trajectory Model

Epon has added a high trajectory model to their already very forgiving AF-152 average golfer model.  The HT model sports 13* of loft which is quite an increase from 10.5* which was previously the highest lofted AF-152.  In their studies, Epon found that seniors and slower players could not generate enough carry to maximize distance.  They designed the HT as a high trajectory model to increase launch and carry and still have good run by keeping backspin in check which is always a challenge as lofts increase. Epon has done this by increasing the chemically milled area on the sole creating optimal CG positioning for balanced trajectory and backspin.

Epon tested the HT vs the 10.5* and found that while back spin increased due to the higher loft, overall distance increased due to a better launch angle and more overall carry. Average golfers also felt more confident with the HT because the higher loft allows the player to see more of the face at address.  Epon also designed the HT with a real face angle of 1.0* closed to promote better impact more of a draw and increased distance for the slower swinger.  Like the all other Epon drivers the AF-152 is a premium forged head using an ELF Titanium face plasma welded to a KS100 Ti sole and CATi KS100 crown and pure titanium hosel.  The Epon AF-152 HT model features a true loft of 13* and can be custom built with any shaft directly from the Epon factory. Please contact us for more details.

Geotech GT Forged Tour Issue CNC Iron Review

Geotech Golf sent me their new GT Forged Tour Issue CNC Iron to review (Tour Issue means the head sports conforming grooves). It’s a very nice looking iron forged from S25C steel with the back cavity CNC Machined based on Geotech’s own CAD design. Geotech sought to create an iron with a smaller head size and pleasing shape but forgiving enough that not only the low handicapper could play it but also the mid capper and improving golfer. They achieved this by creating a machined cavity placing the CG at an optimal point to create a strong and stable trajectory yet high spin ball with good stopping power on the greens.

Optimal CG and weight distribution…

The CG placement of the GT Forged Tour Issue as well as the weighting of the back cavity which increases the heads MOI, create a favorable sweet spot. Geotech decided on a rounder leading edge, providing relief in softer conditions and reducing missed impact due to steep swings and fat shots. The GT Forged features a dual finish which you can see in the above picture with mirror chrome outer edges and a pearl satin like inner cavity.  Its face profile is handsome sporting a straight and sharp looking thinner top line and reasonably long heel to toe hitting area which is in fact 3mm longer than the previous model.

Smaller head and minimal offset but strong distance…

At address the GT Forged sets up with very little offset. Better players will surely like the look of its straight neck and smaller head size. The GT Forged Tour Issue produces a nice strong trajectory thanks to its stronger lofts. A lot of better player irons these days including the ONOFF Forged and Yamaha Inpres X V Forged are sporting stronger lofts to create a stable lower trajectory ball with a lot of distance. Again this makes an iron more attractive to the improving golfer who wants a balanced performing forged iron. The GT Forged Tour Issue features a 25* 5 iron and is available from 3 iron to Gap wedge, allowing for various set make ups.

Good Feel and quite forgiving…

Feel wise the sweet spot is certainly a little lower than center which is a good thing for many players especially those who sweep and pick the ball. The soft forging feels great at impact and continues to feel good even slightly off center towards the heel and toe thanks to the wide cavity and weight distribution. Since the GT Forged Tour Issue can be purchased as heads only or custom made by Geotech golf with any shaft available in Japan, feel and trajectory may vary depending on the shaft used.  Even with the higher launching 950GH Pro on the demo, it launched mid to high and landed quite softly.

Great bang for the buck…

Geotech Golf is Japan’s leading components company and is well known for creating some of the best cost performance value clubs in Japan. The new GT Forged Tour Issue CNC is a quality forged iron with the type of CNC machining in the cavity you typically find on a club costing twice as much. It is a balanced club that will appeal to the lower handicapper and at the same time be forgiving enough for the mid capper and improving golfer or even the good ball striking average golfer. Its certainly pretty good bang for the buck and Geotech does a flawless job of building the irons to customer specs with any shaft and grip. Look for the irons in the pro shop later this week!

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