PRGR 2015 Egg Fairway Wood – Based on the famous PRGR Egg 2nd generation the now 4th iteration of this popular fairway wood has taken technology to an entirely different level. PRGR has adopted a new CFRP carbon crown to reduce weight and lower the CG point compared to metal this CFRP crown also flexes to help get the ball higher with less spin. Ready for more pics and our take on the new Egg Spoon? Please follow the jump…
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.
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
Taylormade announced their new 2015 R15 lineup today here in Tokyo. The mid December release includes 4 black IP soles with white crowns in the form of a high launch shallower face low spin 460 driver, a mid launch deeper face low spin 430 driver, a fairway wood and a rescue. Stock shafts will be made by Mitsubishi Rayon and all top end Japan market aftermarket shafts are also available for custom order directly from TM Japan. The drivers feature a new 25g adjustable slider which is split into two weights for more versatility. The adjustable sleeve will allow for 12 positions with a 2 degree range of adjustability. The fairway wood uses one adjustable 22g weight and also has 12 positions and a 2* range of adjustability. The Rescue has no slider weight but does feature the speed slot with a low forward design and 12 positions with 1.5* of adjustability.
This blog post is so we can get the announcement out quickly to all those who are interested in the R15 launch. We’ll continue updating specs and features through social media including our forum and facebook.
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!
It’s been a hectic and very busy month so I was glad to take some time away from sitting in front of my monitor to snap a few custom Mizuno Yoro orders. We had about 5-6 Yoro orders come in and 3 of them made their way here for some photos. The first set featured the MP-69 with a Nickel Chrome Satin finish instead of the standard mirror finish. Customer wanted the grind of the MP-69 to be similar to the JPX 825 Forged iron which has some leading edge and trailing edge relief. He kept the stampings the same but changed some of the color.
Customer also wanted 3 of the Japan only MP-R4 wedges with a 48* wedge acting as the PW. This time the customer opted for a beautiful Raw finish and custom stampings with own name. Grain flow forged was removed and tour 2010C etching was added to the neck.
The MP-R4 is turning out to be a very popular wedge. An eye pleasing shape, easy to use, nice and sharp quad cut grooves with full face micro milling, it is also in huge demand since its available with all Yoro options. Read More to see more pics and specs!
Romaro was holding its annual invitation only event to launch its new 2014 lineup so I took some time to visit and check out the new models. 2013 had seen the launch of a new Type R lineup, focused on ease of use and distance performance to compliment what had mostly been an athlete/better golfer type lineup in the past. At this years event the trend continued with the Type R line but saw only a few releases geared towards the better golfer. After snapping pics of all the new clubs and accessories I sat down with Ayumu Abe, Romaro’s main club designer to talk about the new 2014 line.
The long awaited Type R driver took center spotlight at their launch. Abe-san’s goal was to create a driver easier to use than any other driver Romaro had ever made. What Romaro had realized is that many average golfers ie the biggest market in Japan were passing over Romaro drivers due to the perception that they are difficult to hit and for better players. They designed the Type R to show average and recreational golfers that a Romaro driver could also be easy to launch and hit for max distance.
While aesthetically the Type R head is similar to all Romaro heads with it’s black IP finish, Romaroesque logos, the shape and internal design of the head has been radically changed with a focus allowing golfers to reach their max distance potential. Follow the read more to find out more!
Dr.H is one of Tourspecgolf’s most loyal customers and is the current owner of now 3 sets of Yoro Craft Mizuno irons. He appreciates the best in premium clubs and is also has great brands like Crazy and Kamui Works and Gold’s Factory in his bag. Today his 3rd set of Yoro Crafted clubs were delivered to me or some quick photos and I have to say this is one of the most amazing Yoro sets produced yet. A full combo set with the MP-H4 for a 3 iron followed by MP-54 4-6 Iron and Twilight MP-4 6-PW (yes he ordered two 6 irons due to loft differences – the JDM MP-54 is strong lofted). He then topped them off with RAW MP-R4 Japan model wedges. All the clubs have his name DR.H in Mizuno Blue paintfill on them (on the hosel for MP-54 and MP-H4. The offset was also reduced in all the clubs and all the irons had a W sole grind done on them as well.
Dr.H also had a 34″ Calfornia Del Mar modified by Gold’s Factory going up to 20g sole weights, 3 x arc reactors in the back cavity, original Premium Zone horizontal milling on the face and 3 sight lines. A G mark on the toe and Dr.H’s company logo on the toe face. All finished in Tour Teflon Black and done in Acid Green (which admittedly we had a hard time matching to the acid green brakes on his Porsche). Photos tell the whole story so I don’t really need to write much more. Just Read More to see the rest of the photos! Continue Reading
Mizuno has begun officially offering Yoro Craft options for the new MP-4 Muscle back. We’ve already received quite a few orders and the first set we ordered already came in as you can see in the image above in Double Nickel Bright. There are also some amazing options for the new Japan only MP R4 wedge including 11 different finishes and numerous stamping and grind options. For those of you looking for an idea of what kind of options are available for the MP-4, I created the table below. You can also take a look at some of the finishes done with previous TSG Yoro orders here.
Just click on the image below for a bigger picture and email us anytime for a quote!
Earlier this year Masakazu Abe also known as ABEX in Japan the lead shaft designer at Crazy left the company along with several top craftsmen. It has always been Abe-san’s dream to form his own shaft company so he began Triple X which goes by TRPX a high performance shaft company that uses only high modulus carbon. I first dropped by their head office in Shinjuku back in July to find out the scoop behind the company and it’s products. Abe-san was originally the one who Tourspecgolfer dealt with when we started dealing with Crazy a few years ago, so he was more than happy to talk about the possibility of working with TSG again.
The key behind TRPX is quality and design. Every shaft is of course designed by ABEX and made of high modulus carbon using a new design ABEX dubs HPI or high power impact (more on this later). TRPX is small so the focus is on lesser quantities with higher quality. The Factory consists of 4 craftsmen… thats right 4 people. One person doing each job in the creation of a shaft. One managing carbon prepreg, one doing hand rolling of the shafts, one doing a thorough quality control and spec check and one doing painting of the shaft.
Over the course of the summer I have met with the TRPX staff on numerous occasions both at their head office and factory to watch the shafts being made and tested as well as for some photography opportunities. It’s rare with most large golf companies in Japan to get to know the staff but with TRPX being so small, we thought it would be a good idea to put some faces to the people behind Japan’s newest high performance shaft company. They were all very cooperative in letting me take their photos so keep reading to learn more about TRPX and their shafts and driver!