Golf News


Ryoma and Basileus Install Part 1

I’ve decided to take the plunge and try a new Basileus shaft in one of my Ryoma drivers. Basileus is a brand brought to us by Triphas, a new high modulus shaft maker based out of Akihabara in Tokyo. Basileus has not only decided to use high carbon materials but to also use a more complex fitting and shaft profile system to make sure golfers get the right shaft. I’ve talked about high modulus/high grade carbon many times here on the blog but to those new readers and to refresh everyone’s memories:  Shafts are created with carbon fibers weaved together, and these fibers are measured by their modulus of elasticity in tension. Typical golf shafts are around 24t or 30t, the measurement of tensile strength. These lower grade shafts are more flexible and because of this the shaft is slow to regain its original shape on the downswing creating inconsistent impact where a player must rely heavily on timing due to the flexibility of the shaft.

As the tensile strength increases, the carbon weaves are more dense, more rigid and return more quickly to their original shape. The flex and rebound of the shaft becomes more predictable equaling more consistent shots and much tighter dispersion. The higher tensile ratings ratings in golf shafts are also related to the higher grades containing more glass and metal particles which are more rigid while lower grades containing more flexible rubber particles. Higher grade carbon shafts provide more feel and explosiveness, even though they use those tightly weaved, denser carbon weaves, typically high grade carbon shafts have very active and thinner wall sections which lead to very high but controlled elasticity. While the typical shaft on the market is 20t or 30t grade carbon, Baslieus shafts are all 40t and higher, much like Crazy Shafts.

Many golfers and brands focus on shaft flex and CPMs when choosing a shaft, but the truth is that isn’t the whole story on how a shaft performs.  Looking at a shaft’s rigidity distribution gives golfers a far more understanding of the way a shaft bends and flexes rather than just looking at CPM.  The Japanese have always been very technical, and these kind of measurements, looking at the tip, center and butt stiffness, as well as their ratios in relation to each other, have been available for many JDM brand shafts for many years and some of you probably see a smilar style of flex information being used by Miyazaki Shaft outside of Japan as well (they use 4 points on the shaft and follow IFC Flex code).

These numbers can also be used to interpret how a shaft feels ie whippy or boardy. Too many people immediately associate a shaft that feels “whippy” as too soft but many shafts are designed this way for a purpose and depending on their distribution of rigidity.  Fitters here in Japan use these numbers religiously especially the tip , center and butt numbers which are used to fit a lot of golfers here depending on the swing styles ie smooth and easy or hard and aggressive swingers. Hard hitters who need more control and stability are better suited with a shaft that has a bigger C/B ratio vs a slicer who needs the head to square and release who would do better with a lower C/B ratio. C/B is of course center over butt flex and the larger the C/B number meaning the stiffer the center area of the shaft is in relation to the butt and in turn the smaller the number meaning the softer the center is in relation to the butt.  It’s also good to look at the actual flex at the butt point as this is the section of the shaft that is directly connected to our body and thus relays the most feel (or lack of depending on the butt flex). So in the end picking up a shaft and wobbling and declaring it whippy could only mean the butt is pretty darn stiff and the tip is soft so it creates that wobbly feeling.

Shaft fitters also look at the T/C number or tip over center flex which can dictate the ball flight of a shaft. The smaller the T/C number usually the higher the launch and the bigger the T/C number usually the stiffer the tip and the lower the launch as well as more control.  Simply looking at things like R flex or S flex or even 250cpm in the end don’t really say how a shaft feels or performs, its a combination of all these numers including CPM. Basileus realized golfers and even fitters have a hard time understanding how different shaft models flex so they used these T/C and C/B numbers to create their own fitting chart with all their shaft models.

So this chart is very useful for a guy like me who likes numbers and specs. Without trying the shaft I decided on getting the Fiamma 50 shaft as my natural bad shot is a slice (though I can hook the ball but that is more due to trying to over adjust and avoid the slice). The more flex or active tip of the Fiamma wil help the shaft square to the ball and hit that nice draw I want. Its made for distance, with a stiffer center to butt section allowing for the player to feel the head kick and provide a nice launch for max carry.  Its a good replacement for the stock Ryoma FS-1 shaft. Now flexes aside, I wish Basileus and all other manufacturers for that matter would provide actual numbers at each tip, center and butt point (ie as I said above, how many kg it takes to bend that point 2mm). These numbers would give me a better idea of how stiff the Fiamma actually is. For example by looking at these numbers for the following shafts:

Butt: 28.9 Center: 19.3 Tip: 8.9 Crazy Black TJ-80 Stiff
Butt: 24.4 Center: 16.2 Tip: 7.5 Fubuki K Stiff

We can determine that the TJ-80 is stiffer all through its range than the Fubuki K in the same stiff flex. We can also use these numbers to calculate the T/C and C/B numbers. So while I have the actual T/C and C/B ration for the Basileus shafts, I don’t know what flex numbers were used to arrive at those ratios. So in this case I could choose the right shaft characteristics but without knowing how stiff the shaft plays.  I assumed being high modulus carbon it would play on the stiffer side as Crazy shafts do but I didn’t know until I installed it today.

So I checked the CPM and specs of the Ryoma D-1 with its stock shaft before pulling it and it came out to 45.25″, 290g D1 and 226CPM.  This is very a very typical reading for a stock shaft in Regular flex. On the soft side which helps players square up and provide lots of feel. I decided to install the Fiamma 50 Regular with the same 45.25″ length since I’m comfortable with it and it’d be a good comparison for performance.  The shaft is a tad heavier than the stock shaft by about 4 grams so I used a slightly lighter grip by about 2 grams and the final specs were the same 45.25″ length, 292g and D1 with a CPM of 228!! Now this surprised me, I thought for sure the CPM would come out higher with the Fiamma using tightly wound 40t high modulus carbon which should flex and return to shape faster creating higher CPM. However it turns out it is just as soft as the stock shaft (keep in mind that this is for the Fiamma 50, we have not yet confirmed how the other models CPM).  Now once again remember CPM is only a guide to general stiffness, it still won’t say how the shaft performs.  An interesting thing is I used to play an a Crazy LY01 Nero R2 flex (soft Regular) and it came out at around 236CPM with the LY01 regular around 244cpm. CPM aside, if the shaft is stable and strong, I’ll be very happy! We’ll find that out Monday when I take the driver for 18 holes at Katsuura.

From a first impressions standpoint, the shafts are very pretty, Basileus says they use real silver plating (which surely drives up the cost).  I like the look but some may find it too reflective. In the long run we’ll see how this finish holds up to scratches and marks. Stay tuned for Part 2 in a few days but in the mean time you can check out more Basileus shafts in the pro shop!


Taylormade ATV Carbon Steel Forged Wedge Review

Most big US brands spoil the Japanese golfer by providing not only the same models the rest of the world gets, but also Japan market specific models.  Every brand does it to some extent, including Titleist, Callaway, Nike, Ping and probably most of all in the last decade, Taylormade. Recently though, we’ve seen a bit of a reduction in Japan market only forged irons and wedges from TM, though this year has seen TM Japan release a forged Driver. Enter the all new Taylormade ATV wedge, a well thought out and radical departure from traditional wedge designs, which creates a whole new versatility level of performance. Taylormade decided to release a cast stainless steel ATV globally (including Japan) and a Japan only ATV forged Carbon Steel model.

I had already seen and previewed the forged ATV wedge at the Japan Golf Fair back in February. But with its release last week, I decided to get a pair to test out. I won’t go into extreme detail about the features of the ATV as the design is essentially the same as the global stainless steel model.  The main differences are of course that the Japan model is forged carbon steel and features a plated IP finish.

Usually different wedges have different grinds depending on the players type of swing as well varying soles for the different conditions or course types and intended shots. The ATV aims to do it all, with an ultra versatile sole that works in all conditions and for all kinds of shots. The ATV achieves this with a wider more forgiving sole that has a very advanced multi grind. The bottom of the sole which they call the ATV channel is convex (rounded inwards rather than outwards like most wedges) which reduces friction and contact with the turf and trailing and leading edge relief allow for clean entry and exit from any condition. The large amount of heel relief allow for the wedge to be opened up in any lie, whether it be in the bunkers or for a lob shot.  Because of this multi grind versatility, there in fact is only one bounce, which is 8 degrees, for all the lofts.

I lie the dark IP finish and he contrasting face and the head while not compact is not oversized either, its face is handsome and the lines flow well. Viewing the face from its profile you can see the slightly rounded leading edge which again adds ease of use and allows the wedge to properly get under the ball for more pure impact. The feel of a wedge or iron after all not only depends on its materials but also how well a player can strike the ball consistently in the sweet spot to achieve that pure feel we all want. The design of a wedge plays a bit role here and the ATV does its part.

At address you can see how well the contrasting face and head frames the ball. The neck is rather straight and the roundness of the face you see in its profile actually appears teardrop like at address though the top line is not complete straight. This slight curvature actually flows well with the neck, toe and rounded leading edge. The ATV sets up well and indeed very eye pleasing and that is the first step to hitting a good shot.

There are certainly tons of great wedges, especially forged ones here in Japan, to choose from. I really liked hitting the ATV Forged, it gave me a sense of confidence and its versatility allowed me to put my focus on aim and distance control rather than my swing and the conditions of the course. With the wide sole and almost pocket like back face, the CG seems to be quite low on the ATV and this allows the ball to easily get up in the air. The trajectory matched with the milled face and soft forged carbon steel allow for very good bite. I need all the help I can get usually to create back spin but I was stopping shots on a dime with the ATV. Up and straight down and stop. Chipping, bunker shots, lob shots all worked with the one single 56* I was testing, as the multi sole proved its worth in various lies and shot types.  I’ve decided to bag a 50 and 56 combo for a few rounds to see how they fit in on the lush and tricky courses here in Chiba. If there was a negative to be picky about it would probably be price. Compared to the stainless model, its quite a bit more expensive which is typical for a forged wedge here in Japan (see Vokey Forged).  For many paying the premium for a forged club is worth every penny but for others it may not be.  As always it will come down to each individuals budget.  If cost is not an objective for top notch versatile wedge, the the Taylormade Japan ATV Carbon Steel forged wedge is certainly worth considering. Its here in the pro shop and shipping now!


Maruman Shuttle i4000AR – The Shallowest FW in golf?

Maruman’s Shuttle lineup of fairway woods have always featured some pretty shallow faces and heads but when the new demos of the i4000AR for 2012 showed up, the face height simply blew me away. I know shallow faces are popular nowadays to help average golfers launch the ball in the air but the Shuttle is beyond shallow. I had to get out and do some testing with the Shuttle i4000AR just to see the effectiveness of its design.

The Shuttle line is available from a 2 wood all the way up to a 13 wood! That is quite a broad offering. The 2W is a 13* 210cc head designed for maximum distance and to reach par 5’s in 2. The “smallest” head is the 30* 160cc 13W.  All the Shuttles are made of maraging steel bodies with honeycomb variable thickness Custom 465 steel face and an ultra thin 0.3mm CH-1 steel crown. This makes for a very hot but soft feel at impact as Maraging is strong but elastic and Custom 465 steel has very high tensile strength for maximum ball speeds off the face. The head is quite advanced and as you can see from the picture above the face profile is like no other fairway wood.

Now because the head is so shallow, at address it looks absolutely huge. 210cc is big for a fairway wood but at setup it could pass for a 360cc or more driver. The good news is that with its ultra shallow design, its MOI actually exceeds many drivers on the market today at over 4000gcm2! This equals a huge amount of forgiveness across the face – most of the area is the length from heel to toe. Now the question is with all this MOI, is the ultra shallow face a benefit or a detriment to its performance?

With the huge head, there is a lot of sole area that can come into contact with the turf at or even before impact. All that friction could easily slow down the head and create less than square impact so Maruman implemented what they call Razor Furrows (the definition of a furrow is a long shallow trench or groove) which are essentially channels in the sole that reduce friction with the ground. These furrows allow the turf to pass through and to maintain head speed and direction of the head before impact. So how does this all come together when I actually tried to play it? I must admit, I was concerned about the shallow face and the larger head can be a bit distracting though it is comforting as it looks like you can’t miss. But with a head design like this you CAN indeed miss. Teeing off is quite scary. You pretty much push your tee all the way into the ground and sit the ball on it and even then, the fear of coming under the ball is still a real possibility. Off the deck it is very easy to launch the ball in the air. If you can square the face up, you are pretty much guaranteed to hit it dead center and boy it launches high.  However if the ball is in any kind of taller rough, players again have a very big possibility of coming under and skying the ball.

This club is definitely aimed at the less powerful player who needs help getting the ball in the air and is looking for distance. I would not recommend it for the faster swinger and physically strong player as the club is very light (the 2W static weight is 293g – less than many drivers!!) meaning besides skying the ball its also very easy to top the ball without that added weight to feel the club head coming down. The good news is I am a slower swinger and it gave me added distance. The face is quite hot, though not the greatest feeling and sounds and feels very much like a driver thwack.  It is right up there with the Ryoma and egg distance wise and launches even higher than both.  The difference is it may not be as versatile as the other two, especially the Ryoma which can be tee’ed off with and hit in rough with its deeper face. The egg has better feel and looks in my opinion but it also shares some of the negatives of the Shuttle which is a shallow face (though not as shallow as the Shuttle) and weight on the light side.

One thing to note is that as the clubs progress to higher lofts, not only do the heads get a tad smaller but the faces also a bit deeper. The sound is also less menacing a hitting the 5W was not as loud as the 2W, or maybe its just my imagination. The Shuttle can definitely work for the right player but its not for everyone. For those who rely on shallow faces, ultra light weight and only care for distance and forgiveness, the Shuttle is worth a try. For anyone who wants to tee off with their 3W or the don’t like big heads or ultra light clubs, they best look elsewhere.  If you are willing to give it a shot, its here in the pro shop! 


Gold’s Factory Featured in Choice Magazine!

Here in Japan we have Golf Digest Magazine just like the West but of course in Japanese covering Japanese golf gear and news about the Japanese golf market, tour and Japanese golfers. Golf Digest Japan also has a spin off magazine called Choice, a truly premium golf lifestyle magazine for enthusiasts who appreciate not only the philosophies behind golf but also intricate looks into golf club design, development and manufacturing. Detailed looks at forging, multi piece design, massive amounts of club performance data and scientific data are always present in Choice for hardcore readers who appreciate the finer details. Its probably my favorite magazine, and one that has taught me so much about golf in Japan.

Today I found out that in the April issue of Choice, Gold’s Factory was showcased as part of that issues feature article on golfers obtaining their best scores through getting the right equipment. Part 3 of the feature talks about putters how important they are for better scores and how Gold’s Factory specializes in making unique putters and tuning up putters to suit each specific golfer, thus helping improve scores. The article has some great pictures, a lot of what we’ve already showed here at the blog, with center shafted long Kombi putters, weighting of all kinds, shapes and sizes, as well as premium zone type milling which can make a difference over stock milling when it comes to forward roll, reducing side spin and making a putter feel even softer. Here are scans of the pages below!


A Brief Intro to Romaro Forged Irons

Over the next few weeks we will begin introducing clubs for a new brand we will be carrying called Romaro Sports. Romaro is a smaller golf club maker who specializes in making premium forged irons and wedges as well as top quality woods for the demanding and better golfer. They also have some very cool accessories which you will be seeing in the pro shop. Today I’m do a brief introduction to their iron lineup before actually reviewing each iron one by one.

There are currently 4 models in Romaro’s lineup as you can see in the above picture.  All 4 models are forged and aimed at the better golfer to low handicap and pro player. Romaro prides itself on its original designs and quality materials and workmanship which really shows in its product line.  Here is a short description of each iron and I have listed them from smallest/most advanced to largest/most forgiving.

Romaro Pro Forged: The Romoro Pro Forged iron is the flagship muscle back and aimed at the better player and low handicapper who wants the ultimate in soft feel and control. Premium forged from S25C then CNC machined and finished in a satin plating, the Pro Forged is clean and compact with very little offset and a straight and thin top blade. The Pro Forged has a slightly killed leading edge and a subtle amount of trailing edge relief. With its thick muscle back, the CG is higher which creates a more penetrating and stable ball with more spin.  More traditional lofts for the player who wants control when attacking the pin.

Romaro Ray H: The Romaro Ray H is what we call a half cavity (hence the H) or some may also refer to it as a Neo Blade. Almost as small and compact as the Pro Forged, the Ray H sets up like a blade but provides cavity back like performance and ease of use.  Like the Pro Forged it is premium forged from S25C, CNC machined and then plated in a durable satin finish.  It is one great looking iron and can easily pass for a blade at address but the half cavity brings the CG down to aid launch. Because of this, the Ray H has 1* stronger lofts for the 6 7 8 9 and PW vs the Pro Forged. The Ray H is for the better player who wants a blade like sized iron and setup with cavity back like forgiveness.

Romaro Ray V: The Romaro Ray V is a smaller cavity back featuring a V Cut sole (hence the V).  The Ray V is an advanced forged iron made made to perform with technology. Forged from S20C steel, the Ray V features not only an undercut cavity but also a TPU or Thermoplastic Urethane insert behind the face which helps dampen vibrations and control impact sound. The CG is placed lower thanks to the weight moving into the undercut cavity which features something Romaro calls a Power Frame which is the internally ribbed portion of the undercut cavity. Romaro designed the cavity this way to increase ball speeds and create more distance. With stronger lofts and lots of technology the Ray V will help the improving better golfer hit purer shots and gain more distance.

Romaro CX Forged: The new Romaro CX Forged is the largest head of all the models but player target wise its similar to the Ray V. This premium forged S25C iron features a wide sweet area thanks to a cavity featuring toe heel weighting using a hexagonal design. The iron is CNC machined and finished with a satin plating. The head is slightly rounder and taller than all the other Romaro irons and some may consider it midsized but interestingly the lofts are more traditional and the same as the Ray H.  For those players wanting a pure forged iron but with forgiveness and easy launch as well as overall balanced performance, the CX forged is a great choice.

I will be testing and giving more detailed feedback on each iron but in the meantime here are pictures of the Romaro irons at address which give you a good idea of top line and offset. Look for Romaro in the pro shop this coming week as heads only or custom made to your specs!


XXIO 2012 Driver Review

Most people outside of Japan know Srixon as the main brand under the Sri Sports/Dunlop umbrella, however in Japan, Srixon shares the spotlight with XXIO  (pronounced zeh-ku-shi-oh). Both brands receive equal attention but focus on different market segments. While Srixon is mostly know for the better player and athlete golfer, XXIO in fact caters to the largest market in Japan, that being the average golfer and senior player (there are many golfers well in their 80’s here). Japan is a country full of golfers who are willing to pay for technology and premium materials and XXIO casters to these golfers by always offering cutting edge designs and automatic style performance for the recreational player and older more experienced senior golfer.  Because of this the XXIO lineup is year in and year out one of the top lineups when it comes to not only sales but also performance. I’m going to review both the driver and fairway wood in two parts starting with the driver in this post.

Every two years XXIO releases a new line of XXIO clubs and this year we are on to XXIO7 which as you guessed is the 7th generation. Every year, XXIO tweaks its designs, to incorporate new technology and new materials, all for the sake of improved performance and feel. The XXIO7 driver is a departure from the previous XXIO model. While many average golfer models were moving towards bigger yet lighter heads built at longer lengths to try and gain more distance, the new XXIO7 has actually decreased the footprint of its 460cc head and increased the weight of the head while shortening the length to 45.5″.  These are the kinds of changes I like to see manufacturers do.

I have always believed a longer driver, while it can produce more club head speed, is also a lot harder to hit squarely consistently. Also with a longer length club, comes a lighter head and overall club weight which may work for some but for others can simply be too light, sacrificing both feel and stability. The XXIO7 with its shorter length increases consistency at striking the sweet spot and with a heavier head and D1-D2 swing weight, creates more ball speed at impact thanks to increased kinetic energy from the heads increased motion and mass. The shorter length of the club has allowed the head to become heavier but the overall club weight is still rather light at just over 280g meaning its still quite easy to swing though for some this could be too light.

While the head dimensions have change, one thing that has not, is the bias of the XXIO7 and the face angle. XXIO drivers have long been the favorites of average golfers who battle a slice due to there draw biased heads and closed face angles. To help these average golfers straighten out their ball and create more distance, XXIO has introduced a new lightweight Ti body using a material they call T9S.  Even though the head is not nearly as long from face to back the MOI has increased thanks to the lighter body, allowing for more weight to be placed in the sole of the head.  The increased MOI paired with the forged Super TIX titanium cup face (Super TIX isdeveloped by Sri Sports themselves) widens the sweet spot which really aid distance on miss hits towards the toe and heel, the typical misses of average golfers.

The Super TIX face feels great. It is very springy (this driver is conforming) and the ball seems to jump off the face. As you can see from the photo I took above, the face is on the shallow side and rather long from heel to toe.  It has a crisp but higher pitched sound at impact.  Impact sound is very subjective and some may like it and some may not. Please click on the blue play button below to hear the sound at impact.

 

I actually like the wat it sounds but there are those players who prefer a more muted solid sound.  The XXIO7 produces a nice soft draw. With its closed face and 3g stainless steel weight in the heel, the head rotates well for a square impact. If you are the kind of player who leaves the face open, the XXIO really does come around quite well, eliminating those weak cuts and open pushes.  The driver is very automatic something older players and average golfers who struggle with consistency can appreciate. Now even though I say, the XXIO7 is aimed at the average golfer, its not to say the improving or more serious and better player cannot benefit from the XXIO7. Interestingly XXIO offers the driver with a VERY broad range of lofts from 8.5* which is a special order up to 12.5*.  The stock shaft is an ultralight at under 50g and does have torque over 5* for all flexes which is meant to produce feel and help players sqaure the face. Because of this, I still would not recommend the XXIO7 for any aggressive player or a player who battles a hook and pull, especially since static club weight is still on the light side which can be a negative for those who rely on heavier clubs to manage tempo.

In closing, this driver is very automatic, it produces a higher launch, big carry and has very good feel.  The average golfer and senior player will appreciate its ease of use and easy to swing nature, though harder hitters might want to opt for a stiffer Miyazaki shaft which is an option, though they would still have to take the drivers bias and closed face into consideration. If you are not as consistent as you would like to be, battle a slice and need more distance, the XXIO7 is one of your top choices. Tomorrow I will look at XXIO7 fairway wood which is a great compliment to the driver.

Look for the new XXIO7 lineup in both Right and Left handed models in the pro shop this week!


ONOFF Labospec Shingo Katayama Limited Wedge Review

One of the cool clubs that really caught our eye back at the Japan Golf Fair was the ONOFF Labospec wedge specially made for top Japanese pro Shingo Katayama.  Last week ONOFF sent me a sample for testing and I was able to spend some range time with it as well as a round out at Katsuura Country Club so here is a brief review. Katayama who played Ping Eye wedges early in his career requested a similar style wedge as homage to the Ping eye. Onoff created the new Limited Labospec wedge W358 and decided on ST22 steel as the material. ONOFF wanted a wedge with the durability of stainless steel but the soft feel of a forged club. ST22 is softer than typical cast stainless irons and wedges but it does not need to be forged. It can also be bent and adjusted like a forged club.  The W358 is a 59* wedge and named 358 due to featuring a 3.5mm height cavity and 8* of bounce. 

The 59* W358 in fact has 10* of bounce at its highest point but due to a multi grind sole, sits at address with 8* of bounce.  The two stand out characteristics of the W358 are the head’s unorthodox shape and its wider than normal sole. Katayama has always been a strong believer that one can never have enough forgiveness, as a pro or an average golfer. He was one of the first tour pros in Japan to play graphite shafts in his irons and while he has the choice of playing ONOFF’s athlete model Type S or Black driver, he always plays the Red driver or Type D.  The sole of the Labospec W358 while wide for easy bunker use and play on lusher fairways has a very versatile grind with multiple relief, allowing for the head to also excel in tighter lies and be opened up when necessary.
 

Its Ping Eye inspired shape may take getting used to for some but the design is rather effective. The very high toe creates a lot of real estate for the better player to work the ball thus creating more spin control. Yet again the rounded leading edge and offset create plenty of forgiveness and allow a player cleaner impact in various lies which result in more accurate shots and more spin.

 

Speaking of spin, the wedge performs admirably. The USGA conforming grooves are made to the limit allowed and the sand blasted face is micro milled for lots of additional friction and bite. I really appreciated its versatile sole. I used the wedge in bunkers of couse but also on short chips, approaches 75y or so in and even for a lob shot. In all cases, and no matter how I addressed the ball, the wedge kept its face and score lines squarely aimed at the target.  The wider sole excelled in the sand and I was in and out of bunkers without any stress including one bunker that was as deep as I am tall. Just opened up the face, swung away and out it came.

Feel wise, the wedge is softer than some cast models but not mushy soft. It provides soft (soft enough to feel the ball compress on full shots) but solid feedback and you know exactly where you are hitting it on the face, ie picking it low on the face to bring trajectory down or running it right up the face for more spin and stopping power.  I think its a good looking wedge, from the cavity side, its very slick, while at address it is shape may take getting used to but its gray matte finish is a plus. ONOFF is offering a very small amount of the Labospec Shingo Katayama W358 Wedges to the public and all custom built by their Labospec department for each customer who orders. It certainly is versatile enough and unique enough that I have ordered one for my bag. Get yours here while they last!


Tourstage 2012 X-Blade 707 Forged Iron Preview Video

A huge box of Tourstage demos arrived over the weekend for photos, testing and reviewing but the terrible weather kept me from getting anything done.  The sun broke through the clouds for a very short period of time today so I popped on the course and hit a few with the new X-Blade 707 Forged and then headed to my back yard to do a quick preview. All these years of watching Chris (Tourspecgolfer) make his great videos inspired me to give one a shot. In the past I had done a couple of low end video reviews as well as sound at impact at the driving range but today I decided to try and make something nicer.

Its hard filming oneself when one is alone so I had to set up a tripod. I used my Nikon D5100 which is quite capable for video and has reasonable manual control over the video settings. It was a bit overcast with the risk of rain any minute so I worked quickly to prepare and set the camera in manual mode at f2.8 with a 1/60 shutter speed, exposure is auto in the video mode which is fine with me, and I also set the white balance as cloudy. A tripod is a must when filming clubs alone as you already lose one hand to holding the club.  For sound I took my steel series PC microphone and clipped it to my jacket as a lapel mic to keep out unwanted sounds (dogs barking, kids screaming etc).

I proceeded to take the video below in 3 straight takes, one with me in front of the camera, one with the club only in front of the camera and and one with the club at address with a ball (no tripod for this one). I took each take only one and spoke off the top of my head. I’m pretty happy with the way it turned out but there is definitely  a lot of room for improvement in all areas including filming, speaking and what I cover. Please take this preview as my first experiment and hopefully it can only get better as I learn to edit and actually organize my thoughts rather that blurting out what ever comes to mind. (^_^)

So without further delay here is my first attempt at a preview!


2013 Lexus GS F-Sport Review

New Lexus GS Reviews

The all new 2013 Lexus GS F-Sport sedan was just released in the middle of February.  I saw the debut commercial during the superbowl and it really didn’t stand out to me all that much, but during our stay in Tokyo while covering the Japan Golf Fair I finally got to see it in person at Toyota Mega Web in Odaiba’s luxurious shopping area Venus Fort.  That’s when It started to grow on me big time and near the tails end of our trip to Japan Tario and his wife Koko were kind enough to take my wife shopping in Chiba then later me to a Lexus dealership to have a look.  That’s when I fell in love and just had to have it!

Black 2013 Lexus GS F-Sport Review

These pictures don’t do it justice, this thing is all business and reminds me of Darth Vader’s helmet but that’s not what sold me on it. I’ve owned many of the usual luxury brands from Mercedes to Porsche but how incongruent is that while I eat, breathe, and confess my love for all things Japanese.  I never even considered a Lexus as I was attached to the status european autos exude but something was always missing and that something was Japanese Technology & Quality.  It’s the interior that really caught my attention with it’s 12.3-inch high-resolution split-screen multimedia display. It provides immediate, simultaneous access to various systems and greets you with a customizable image when the ignition button is pressed.  The new GS  is packed with intuitive design and best of all everything makes sense and is stupid easy to figure out.  It’s like an apple product,  you don’t need to read the instruction manual to understand it,  It’s just there.  In my wife’s 2011 porsche I have to fiddle with the door locks, windows, not to mention the 3 visits to  service for strange little issues and irritating rattles.

2013 Reviews for the new Lexus GS Sedan

The F-Sport comes with a range of performance enhancements and exclusive styling,  Inside, 16-way sport seats with power side bolsters embrace you. And outside, a specially tuned suspension keeps your wheels glued to the road with very little body roll.  It feels almost like a sports coupe and sometimes you forget about the extra length the car has behind the drivers seat.  The cabernet red interior is an F-Sport exclusive along with the brushed silver accents and F-Sport steering wheel.  The car also has a more aggressive body kit and is the first lexus to come stock with 19″ forged ultra light wheels.  Just by looking at the way Lexus designed the styling  I can tell they had aftermarket tuners in mind.  Expect some pretty stunning body kits coming very soon.  Did I mention it’s made in Japan?

Lexus GS 2013 Aftermarket Parts

It’s 400 pounds heavier than the smaller and more sporty Lexus IS yet quicker at 0-60 5.7sec and scores better on the slalom, in breaking and on the skid pad all while getting 28mpg on the highway which is much better than the beast I was driving which got me 11 miles per gallon.  Everything screams seamless quality you can totally tell it’s Japanese with it’s ambient LED lighting and a trunk that is specially designed for golfers with TOUR bags not those little carry bags.  Options, I picked up quite a few of them on top of the F-Sport package such as the navigation, blind spot monitor, Intuitive parking assist,  heated and air conditioned seats and a bunch of other cool little gadgets.  They offer the new GS some pretty cool options like a heads up display that shows your navigation & speed displayed on the windshield, a pre collision system that has camera’s to watch your eye’s to see if you doze off then guides the car back into the lane if you go adrift also night vision and dynamic rear steering.

2014 Lexus GSF Release Date

The big surprise was that while we were in Japan my wife Jacque aka (TourSpecGirl) secretly began putting calls into west coast dealerships after listening to me and Tario talk about what exterior, interior, and other options I wanted. Just several days ago she asked me to drive her to an appointment on the other side of town and on the way she said we should swing by lexus to see that car I liked in Japan. I said there is no way a black/red F-sport is available, and that’s when she told me “No pull into Lexus you never know what you’ll find”.  Ok and as I pull up there it is all clean and pretty,  I was still unaware that the car I’m standing in front of and drooling over already belonged to me,  until my wife put the keys in my hand and said happy early birthday…:o)  And here it is my new 2013 Lexus GS F-Sport,  Enjoy the Video!


Royal Collection – Japan Golf Fair 2012 Report

Royal Collection Fairway Woods 2012

Royal Collection had quite a few new products on display at this years Japan Golf Fair.  Last year we saw the released of the DB forged wedge line along with their Tour VS fairway woods and the popular TRC utility hybrid.  This year RC headlined with the release of their new ENDO produced BBD 105 V Forged Driver that features a 450cc head volume with an ultra thin 0.35mm crown produced via chemical milling along with Endo’s performance enhancing and top grade VL Titanium face.  The body is made of KS100 Ti similar to previous TourStage drivers.

RC’s newest release product is the BBD 505V Utility Hyrbid produced of SUS630 (body) + 455 stainless steel face which creates that satisfying semi crunchy impact we all know and love.  The V sole helps the club cut through the turf at impact, reducing friction and lost swing speed resulting in better impact and better performance.  Available in 3 lofts 18/21/24 with a stock graphite shaft the Tour AD RH produced by Graphite Design thats available in multiple weights from 50 grams to 77 grams.  An optional NSPRO hybrid 100 which is a 99 gram shaft is also available and brings the price of the club down a bit.  I would suggest steel for those who don’t require as much distance yet desire a straighter lower ball flight but most outside of that should go with the graphite.

We snuck a peak at a new Royal Collection wedge on the horizon called the DB Milled Wedge which isn’t even listed on their website yet.  Compared to the DB Forged the DB milled features a smaller more compact head shape and size and is also made of soft stainless steel instead of carbon steel.  There are two versions of DB milled wedges one is the straight face with nearly no offset and the other has a small amount of offset. The way to designate between the two types is by the letter T after the words TOUR GRIND.  One of the things I liked most about the DB Forged was how soft it felt and how easy it was to hit.  This new DB milled I have not hit but based on what we saw it is geared toward the better ball striker and tour player who usually requests a firmer feel and that may be why they chose stainless over carbon. As for most amateurs and normal players like myself we tend to gravitate toward softer feeling clubs.

There were several other new releases such as the Royal Collection PRO-TX Tour Trajectory fairway wood which is geared toward the better player as well as many mid to late 2011 releases were also on hand such as the SFD Black series aimed at the golfer seeking more forgiveness.  The Tour VS Driver and Fairway woods and even past models like the Endo Tour VS Forged irons and the RC Forged muscle backs.  Don’t forget to drop into our RC Forum thread to join the conversation (click here) and also check out the full image gallery featuring all of TSG’s high resolution images from Royal Collection at the 2012 Japan Golf Fair (click here).

Below we have a short Video of Tatsuro going over the highlights of RC’s newest clubs,  Enjoy!



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