Gravity Golf was originally part of a celebrity management agency. The division’s main business was to manage Pro Golfers and celebrity golf coaches. Maintaining a steady revenue stream from those professionals depended on how they performed on tours. In pursuit of a more consistent business, they made the decision to enter the golf equipment market. Click read more to continue…
Introducing the new Limtied Edition L01 Shaft by Seven Dreamers, It is the companies very first limited series hence it’s name L01. It’s special due to it’s new carbon textile material and more attractive and complicated to produce weave, the result is a better feeling “more smooth” sensation yet without any widening of dispersion or a higher launch.
Seven Dreamers considers the L01 the ultimate shaft solution derived from their enormous fitting and design data based on the Seven Dreamers Fitting Bank, 7D has also allowed customers to select one of their 24 BEST shaft designs without a fitting or question form… BUT TSG is taking the L01 to the next level by highly suggesting you fill out the 16 question form anyway for Seven Dreamers to double check providing you with the absolute best fit possible.
So you choose your model, fill out the form, Seven Dreamers will say if they think your selected design is a good choice and if it’s not sometimes they slightly tweak the design or choose a different one for you. All bases covered :) or you can simply opt out of the question form and have the model you want shipped in about 4 weeks to you as shaft only or assembled by TSG’s top club maker.
Ready to see it in it’s beautiful pattern in hand? Follow the Jump to read on…
The PHYZ line is something we’ve rarely touched on in the blog but, with the brand restructuring at Bridgestone, PHYZ has come more into the spotlight, as the Bridgestone lineup targeting Japan’s largest segment of golfers, the average golfer. PHYZ has only been around since it’s introduction in 2011, so barely over 3 years. However it’s stock has continued to rise since that time. It was introduced at a time when Bridgestone was of course still Tourstage, and initially for many it was just another lineup in Tourstage’s pocket buried beneath X-Drive, GR and ViQ. There was so much overlap among the lines that they competed amongst themselves for market share. So with Bridgestone’s restructuring and rebranding here in Japan, there are now only two lines, the new J715 series targeting the better player and the PHYZ line which is aimed at the more average golfer. The average golfer should be thankful that PHYZ is still around as it does a far more focused job at making golf more enjoyable versus the ViQ line which was originally slated as Tourstage’s average golfer line.
I actually happened upon reviewing the PHYZ irons and originally had no intention of doing so. 2014 has been a tough year for me in golf as I battled shoulder issues which kept me from enjoying the game for much of the last 16 months. I went stretches of months where I didn’t play at all which to say the least, really sucked. In the past few months however, I’ve built back enough shoulder strength to start practicing again and I’ve been able to get a few rounds under my belt. Naturally that meant finding new clubs and I went searching for irons with very specific requirements. Those of you who know me know that I do consider myself an average golfer, someone who loves golf clubs and their designs and who loves the game of golf but doesn’t get out there nearly enough to become “very good”. Taking all that time off didn’t help as well so my search called for “forgiving” clubs which translates into 3 things in my mind: 1. Easy to use, 2. Covers up mistakes and miss hits well 3. Automatic distance and accuracy. Adding to the forgiveness aspect, I also wanted something lightweight due to my shoulder issues. Irons are probably a weak spot for me so I decided I would try everything out there to see what would work.
One of the driving ranges I frequent out in Sakura happens to have a lot of demo clubs so every time I went to practice I would grab a few, and this was not limited to JDM models only as I tried TM Speedblade, the new RSi 1, Callaway BB Beta’s, X2 Hot’s, Titleist VG3 Type E, ONOFF Red, XXIO 8, PRGR Super Egg, Epon AF-703 and the list goes on. After trying out all these irons, I had to change my criteria a bit to include “FEEL”. Golf is very much about feel and my years of testing top flight irons for TSG have spoiled me thanks to being able to hit many of the most pure forged irons in Japan. Sadly some or should I say many of the average golfer (you may call them GI) irons lack feel or come across as simply hard. The TM and Callaway irons, while I liked there performance, I hated their feel (and before you jump on me about the feel, please keep in mind feel is subjective and we all perceive feel differently). A lot of this can of course be because of comparing cast irons to forged carbon steel but it’s more than just that. Feel of a club not only comes down to materials, but also the design, the manufacturing, the shaft, an even how the sole interacts with the turf, which all equal what kind of impact you get. That said, I have hit Ti Face as well as Maraging irons that feel very close to forged as well as irons with AS Rolled Faces or Super Spring Steel as they call it.
I was leaning towards XXIO or ONOFF both coming very close too all my criteria – I’m sorry I just could not get over the looks of the Super Eggs nor the feel, when I saw they had the new 2014 PHYZ III iron demo in the rack. I thought what the heck, I’ll give it a hit. I’m not going to beat around the bush. I BOUGHT THE PHYZ IRONS. So I guess I should tell you why.
It all started with a used and abused Miura Giken Japan putter… One of our top clients sent in 9 or so pretty beat up putters and asked us to mod them to our vision one per month or so, with only 3 putters remaining and 6 completed already in the clients hands I decided to go all out and produce something “special” for him. This client is extremely discerning he wants things a particular way and with all the options we could pull from and a no concern for price it could have been very easy to produce a tacky overly optioned putter that he wouldn’t of liked.
Good news is he and I share similar tastes, first it must be a heavy head, second it’s gotta have class with an understated approach to it’s design. I started with a drawing then a design and sent it to the master “Masayuki Sasaya-san” of Gold’s Factory who worked on this putter personally as if it was a M.A.C series and while this putter is still in the air on it’s way to the clients hands I still feel nervous that there is something he won’t like about it as it is my design and vision completed by Gold’s Factory to appeal to another persons preference, I guess those nerves are a good thing. Follow the Jump for more pics and the complete breakdown of what was done…
Here in Japan, Tourstage is as synonymous with golf as wasabi is with sushi. But as many of you who follow the Japanese golf scene know, Tourstage is no more after a global branding unification done by Bridgestone. What kind of impact this unification will have is yet to be fully realized except for perhaps the obvious marketing and brand image benefits of having one name globally. It has been common practice here for larger brands to keep their golf “wing” separate from their main business. It allowed the golf brands to develop their own unique identities, separate from the parent company. In other words, there was no mistaking Tourstage as a tire company, instead it stood out on its own as one of Japan’s premier golf brands. The same went for Srixon and XXIO who are wings of Dunlop and PRGR who are the golf wing of Yokohama Rubber. Tourstage has always been among the top JDM brands if not the top. With the most advanced designs and hugest product line offerings as well as what once was the largest Japanese tour staff which also boasted the likes of Ai Miyazato and Shigeki Maruyama in America, Tourstage excelled while Bridgestone Golf struggled outside of Japan “without” the Tourstage moniker.
Over the years this separation of brands at Bridgestone continued and there was reasoning for it as Japan is a very different market from the rest of the world. Some may say it’s the most demanding and most “enthusiast” based hence the extra effort and capital brands put into clubs released here (and this goes for US brands here as well like Taylormade, Callaway, Titleist etc who all create JDM specific lines). Tourstage’s use of the latest and greatest materials and technologies drew in Japanese golfers but at a price point that would never be fathomed out West. I’ve discussed this several times on the blog, 800.00 to 1200.00 for a driver is not out of the ordinary here (nor is 1500.00 and up it seems!) while in the U.S. it would be unthinkable as an average price, even for a top brand driver. Because of this Bridgestone was left with watered down designs and “older hand me downs” when it came to their club lineup. I don’t know for sure but it’s possible Bridgestone balls were more well known than its clubs.
However, markets can evolve and change for both the better and worse, and in the case of Japan, the golf market has turned towards the latter. High prices plus an influx of too many brands have flooded the market with excess stock and product. One would think that choice is a good thing and for the consumer it is, but from a brand’s market standpoint, it creates too much competition. Larger Japanese brands like Tourstage have struggled over recent years and much of it could also be attributed to Tourstage’s product line strategy which saw no less, than 5 distinctively different lines in previous years (X-Drive, GR, ViQ, PHYZ, Premium, EXE just to name some off the top of my head), sometimes competing amongst themselves. Last summer Tourstage’s tour staff suddenly dwindled to mere minimal numbers and left many a Japanese pro trying to hitch rides with new brands and sponsors. This was a prelude of what was to come as it was announced shortly after that next release of Tourstage clubs, specifically the X-Drive line would fall under the Bridgestone name. This also saw the end of the GR and VIQ lines, two designs that focused on the more mid range golfer and two designs to more often than not, overlapped one another. The only original cast member who seems to have survived this brand realignment is PHYZ which interestingly enough didn’t even exist 3 years ago. The reason for PHYZ’s survival is that it has actually done quite well for the average golfer and can easily fill the shoes of VIQ as well and to some extent GR (as can the new Bridgestone J715 line). As the smoke clears what this gives us is a more focused Bridgestone brand in my opinion, one that can create two strong lines of clubs that cover golfers of all ranges.
That’s probably enough chatter about Tourstage’s transition to a unified global brand and while this post was supposed to talk about it’s new flagship driver, I felt it was a good opportunity to address the change and to give a little insight. So without further delay let’s take a look at the J715 driver which was released this summer. I received a B5 demo in 9.5* with the stock Tour AD shaft. The B5 is the 445cc model which is of course slightly more compact than the 460cc B5. The main differences between the two are the volume and a slight difference in head shape as well as the ball flight. The more forgiving B3 provides a higher launch and a bit more forgiveness while the B5 provides a more powerful trajectory and more stability and control. Both heads feature adjustable sleeves and new adjustable weight cartridges as Bridgestone calls them. The faces use pressed/forged 6AL-4V Ti and a precision cast Ti811 body. The J715 inherits Tourstage’s Turbo Rubber technology which aids in the spring effect of the head and contributes to feel.
New features include a power slit design which are flowing ribs spanning across the crown from heel to toe in 3 locations. These slits stabalize the head at impact and direct the energy forward by moving the deflection point towards the front of the crown at the face. I think this is a good idea as when I have looked at other driver designs over the past couple of years, many brands have tried to tweak the crown using variable thickness in order to maximize energy transfer (and this head does have variable thickness as one of the aspects of the crown). However, when you think of it, the amount of time a ball stays on the face is just mere milli-seconds meaning there isn’t exactly a lot of time for the crown to deflect and return the balls energy back to the ball at launch. Because of this the point of deflection is focused at the front so that it can instantaneously return the energy of the ball for increased ball speeds. If an entire crown has to flex, there most likely would be a loss of energy due to the amount of time it would take for it to return to it’s original shape. Continue Reading
In recent years Taylormade Japan has slowed it’s pace a tad when it comes to releasing Japan market only specific models but we are still lucky enough to get a taste here and there. Back in late spring several online golf communities and blogs noticed a new prototype putter being used on the PGA tour, a neo-mallet with a huge ring for a body. This putter was aptly named the arc1 by Taylormade and we all began to wonder at what point TM would release this putter to the public if ever. Fast forward to late summer when Taylormade announced that Japan would be he retail test market for the arc1 which is not surprising considering TM has been known to release more unorthodox and technology testing type of products here before anywhere else (or only here in many cases). It’s been nearly a month since the arc1 has come out and I was able to finally get a demo from TM Japan to try out.
You have to give TM credit for daring to be different in designing something they believe to make a functional difference in a golfer’s putter game. A more radical design can sometimes take the risk of being called ugly because it’s different and that certainly was the case earlier this years as photos of the tour prototypes began surfacing. Cries around the web proclaimed it to be ugly and something out of Star Trek along the lines of the Starship Enterprise – and that’s whatever one said when TM first showed off it’s spider putter years ago. (Though in my opinion, the arc1 is more deserving of the Starship Enterprise comparison.) Truth be told though, TM is not the first one to create a mallet putter that looks like a hole. Many years ago Mizuno created a line called the Draino putters in which the 100 model looks eerily similar. Even Odyssey’s Marxman putter has similar ring to it but looking at the arc1, the execution of TM’s design is probably the best of all.
Looks of any club is certainly subjective and a personal preference and many times we see clubs “grow on us”. I’ll be honest when I say that I didn’t mind the looks when I first got the putter. If one can get over the looks, the primary concern is of course does this design help make putts. Looks aside, one thing TM did get right with the arc1 is the head weight. The majority of golfers want a heavier head. In all the years I worked at TSG, I never once had a customer come to me to make or find a LIGHTER putter head. All the talk about head weight and it’s affect on greens of different speeds is certainly valid, but in the end, I’m a believer that a heavier head stabilizes my stroke and gives me a much more consistent feel and direction than a head I cannot feel. The combination of the arc1’s SUS304 ring and 220g aluminum body result in a very healthy 385g (give or take 2-3g for variance) head. I very much like the weight in my hands and with this heavy head, at all the lengths offered by TM 32″ 33″ 34″ 34.5″ 36.5″ you can expect a nice had heavy feeling swing weight. Keep in mind though to keep swing weight from going overboard in the 34.5″ and 36.5″ lengths, TM has countered the balance with heavier 130g TM Smart arc Grips. The 32″ 33″ and 34″ come with a 63g TM Winn arc Grip and the 33″ and 34″ also have an option of the 103 Super Stroke Mid Slim 2.0R. My demo is a 34″ with Winn arc Grip so the swing weight is right up there around E9.5.
We at TSG work hard to bring enthusiasts worldwide not only the biggest and most popular Japanese brands but also smaller up and coming brands that most people have never heard of. If it is available in Japan, TSG can or will eventually be able to get it (so don’t hesitate to ask us if you don’t see something in our shop). We introduced Modart and it’s founder, tour grinder Mitsuru Suda (pictured above) back in February at the Japan Golf Fair. It has taken some time to iron out the details of our partnership (people always expect products to appear instantly at TSG but we make sure things are done right) and Modart clubs are finally available at TSG!
I was actually in Tochigi last week at Modart headquarters ironing out the final details and got the chance to look over Modart’s beautiful products again and snap some photos of the clubs and Suda-san grinding and posing to help promote the brand. Besides having Suda-san’s wondeful custom grind wedges now available to all TSG followers, Modart’s entire lineup can be had through TSG with an custom shafts and custom made to specs. Just to recap what I had posted before, Modart launched last year but is really just picking up steam this year especially after their first appearance at the show in February. The key things that appeal about Modart which again stands for Modern + Art are that all clubs are made in Japan and a few of the iron and wedge models are completely CNC Machined from the block!!
Suda-san explained that this creates the most pure iron when it comes to materials. The pressure and heat from a forging press can create inconsistancies in the steel including cracking and weakening of the material ultimately degrading he feel. With each Modart iron and wedge being milled straight from the block, there is no contamination of the steel and you get S25C in its original and purest form. The mix of satin and chrome mirror plating really enhances the machine marks on the irons which make them stand out like no other brands irons.
It’s not possible to have grinding inconsistencies or unbalanced shapes as every head is machined to perfection. Every curve, every line. Not to forget those who also want a human touch, Suda-san will grind his custom wedges for any TSG order to whatever shape and offset and spec the customer wants. While the CNC machined irons are works of masterful technology and machinery, the Suda grind wedges are works of masterful hand art and his experience from grinding on both the PGA and Japanese tours.
One of the great things about the new Modart drivers is that unlike many Japanese drivers that are made to counter slicers, the Modart drivers are fade biases for those who fear the hook. The black IP finishes of all the woods look amazing and the key strengths are feel and performance. The new Modart putters are also CNC Machined and look fantastic. So be sure to check out the new clubs here in the pro shop. And as always if you need help choosing the right models or understanding options, just give us a shout!
Another year another Japan Golf Fair gone by. The impact of this years show was greatly subdued by Tokyo’s largest snowfall in over 60 years essentially shutting out tens of thousands of visitors from even reaching Tokyo Big Sight. My wife suggested I stay at a hotel in Tokyo the Thursday night before the show so I would not have to risk a killer commute through the snow from Kiminomori in Chiba to the Odaiba area and I am glad to say it was the right call as it was an easy ride into the show Friday morning. As always Tourspecgolfer and Tourspecgirl flew in from Las Vegas to cover the show.
We shifted out focus this year to more of a social networking approach as we covered the show through Facebook, Instagram and google+, many of the posts which you can see now up in our new Social link. The golf fair itself seemed to take a new marketing angle as well with less flashy than usual booths and displays but more hitting and test areas for visitors to get hands on with all the new gear. Taylormade went from one of the largest booths last year flanked by 20+ female models to a more toned down booth featuring its new motto Loft Up+ and with a hitting area taking up more than half the booth.
While the Japan Golf Fair is certainly the place to see new gear, truth is, there are few surprises as to what new products are coming out since TSG as well as our in the know members usually know well in advance of the show anyway. So the show is more about discovering up and coming brands and unknown products. Like for example Modart which we have already made a post on here. In coming weeks TSG will focus more on these “finds” as well as begin offering most of them for sale in our shop.
Being a technical golf fanatic, I was immediately drawn to a booth titled Seven Dreamers. This is a shaft brand unlike any other we have ever seen. It is of course high modulus carbon which is nothing new but it is the way they design and manufacture the shafts that set them apart from any shaft maker anywhere in the world. We will be going into more detail with a dedicated post on Seven Dreamers but to make a long story short, they manufacture each shaft based on EACH INDIVIDUAL. A fitting session done at their Tokyo Headquarters utilizing their own in house 3D swing analysis software allows Seven Dreamers to collect enough data about a players swing to be able to design a shaft from scratch for that player and even a specific head he/she is using. And it does not stop there. Seven Dreamers’s parent company is involved in the building of satellites from around the world, supplying the highest grade carbon used for space travel as well as other sports (ie formula 1 car racing) and will utilize the same manufacturing expertise and machinery to make the shafts (and the machines they use are nothing like what other golf shaft makers use – but more on that later.) Chris and I have already been to their Shiba Koen shop and were blown away by the mind boggling process and finished products.
While there were of course many new products we have come to expect from all the big brands (plus an influx of more shoes than ever!), it was Modart and Seven Dreamers that really got us excited especially now since we will soon be offering both brands at TSG. Stay tuned as we share more details in coming weeks!
As I had originally posted back almost a year ago when the first M.A.C. was created, Master Sasaya of Gold’s Factory is a man who appreciates the fine details in premium workmanship. In late 2012 we were casually chatting over some ramen noodles in Itabashi about how some high end cars have a single “Meister” defined as “a person expert in or renowned for a specific skill” who builds the engines in their high end models from start to finish. We all know that nobody can tweak or modify a putter like Master Sasaya does and he is very much in his own way a Meister. Using the word Meister he created his new line of one off, one of a kind putters under the banner Meister Absolute Crafting.
These new M.A.C. putters would use all of Gold’s Factory’s best design ideas, each be unique in its own way and have only one ever made. Master Sasaya takes each head, machined from JIS SUS303 and through hand machining, grinding, polishing, modifying and finishing create his usual beauty. He asked me what I thought about names for each putter as he wanted to give each unique putter a name, and I suggested why not pay homage to the Greek Gods? Their names as putters would sound very cool. Master Sasaya agreed since then we have had steady line of M.A.C. releases including Artemis, Prometheus, Apollo, Zeus, Chronos and Hades. Only one of each will ever be made so owning one will mean owning a one of a kind M.A.C. model.
The 2 latest M.A.C. putters have been created called Erebos and Athene, click on the read more to check them out!
Titleist’s first forged wedge for the Japan market, 2012’s Vokey Forged was perhaps one of the best selling wedges here at TSG. Buoyed by Titleist and Vokey users and enthusiasts all around the world, they jumped at what was a great wedge and forged from S20C at Endo.
The new 2014 Vokey Cold Forged models have even more lofts and more grind options and are now cold forged. Bob Vokey again worked with Titleist Japan and the many Titleist Tour pros here to create a wedge that would provide performance up to their specs. This time Vokey chose a cold forging process to help increase consistency in manufacturing and reduce thermal contaction during the cooling process from traditional forging processes. This create more consistency across the wedge head resulting in more consistent feel and performance.
When the Vokey Cold Forged were announced, I figured they were no longer Endo and asked our Acushnet rep where these were made. He immediately said, its a secret but… they are made in Japan. Follow the Read More to get more photos and specs and info!