Fairway woods & Utilities

Royal Collection 2012 BBD 305V Fairway Wood Review!

Royal Collection has released their all new Next Generation BBD 305V fairway wood. Today I received 4 demo clubs and headed out right away to test them as they simply looked awesome. Unlike the SFD lineup, the BBD line like the TRC line, is made for the better golfer who wants max performance and feel in a more compact and stable club. The BBD 305V come in 14, 15, 18 and 21* lofts and are dubbed the Next Generation by RC thanks to a change in design compared to traditional RC fairway woods with its new V Sole.

Year in and year out, even though Royal Collection is a very small company, they continue to produce top notch fairway woods and utilities. It is this segment of clubs that they excel in and are best known for thanks to their driving cavity and twin rail cavities. The new BBD 305V’s main design points are a new V sole which helps the club cut through the turf at impact, reducing friction and lost swing speed resulting in better impact and better performance.

The sole of the 305V still features RC’s driving Cavity which is now a weighted  part of the club extending deep into the back of the head. While big back weighting is nothing new (see Ryoma) I like the way RC incorporated the weight into its driving cavity hence the name driving cavity weight.  More weight in the back of the head of a club typically creates higher launch but to keep trajectory down, RC shortens the CG in the 305V. This results in an easy and higher launch but strong and penetrating overall trajectory for more distance and control.

The back weighting on the 305V also increase MOI and the sweet spot of the club which I am glad to say is quite big and noticeable.  The face and head is a slight departure from past BBD models in that it is not quite as deep and more of a mid height or semi shallow face. This allows the 305V to make more consistent center impact off the deck but still allows for it to be tee’ed of with.

There really isn’t anything I do not like about the head visually. The face shape and head shape are great as is the straight face angle which is on every loft. Even though the face is shallower than past models the heads are still compact and traditional. We see a lot of modern shallow faced FW’s with very large heads as they get flattened out and to create very very low CG points.  The 305V sets up wonderfully and the better player will like how the smaller head frames the ball for a draw or fade.

In my morning session here at Kiminomori, I tested all 4 lofts which vary in size from 160cc to 146cc. 160cc is not tiny by any means but because of the 305V’s shape it makes my 165cc egg Spoon look quite large. For an average golfer like myself that can be quite intimidating but I am please to report, that the 305V is not hard to hit. With advances in design and manufacturing, the line separating clubs for the average golfer and athlete/better golfer has become more and more blurred in recent years. Even better player models are becoming more and more forgiving which is a good thing. One can never have too much forgiveness. The great thing about the 305V is it still maintains all its athlete qualities, a compact square faced head, strong trajectory, workable stable shots with very very good feel.

Royal Collection’s move to a custom 455 stainless face a few years ago was a superb choice and while the same materials are used on this years TRC models, the face of the 305V feels even hotter most likely due to the back weighting.  The 14 and 15* produce very strong trajectories with ample run and even the 18 and 21* while they are easy to launch, do not go overly high which is a good thing. The stock shaft is as usual made for RC by Graphite Design and is a Tour AD designated model meaning high quality and stable performance. Once again, RC offers shafts in various weights and flexes depending on the players swing style with 50 60 and 70g stock shafts available. The stock shafts (I had all 60g models here), have pretty good feel and are easy to load. For the very aggressive or faster swinger, RC also offers the 305V with all the latest shafts including the Tour AD BB DI DJ SF series, Fubuki K ahina FW,  ATTAS3 and Motore Speeder FW.

I have to tell you I am torn, I’m in the midst of testing the Ryoma F and I also finished testing the ONOFF Fairway Arms. Now throw in this new BBD 305V and we have some very amazing choices here for a wide variety of golfers in the coming season.  I honestly can’t make up my mind which to bag for the new season and my egg Spoon probably is not happy that I am thinking this way! I hgihtly recommend the 305V to the better player wanting a compact square faced head and very good feel with a penetrating trajectory.  For the mid capper and improving player, this club is certainly forgiving enough and can definitely be an option if you prefer a smaller head.

I hope to add the new BBD 305V in the Pro Shop this weekend so make sure you check for it!

ONOFF 2012 Fairway Wings Utility Review

ONOFF has always prided itself in creating well designed golf clubs that not only look good but make golf easier and more fun. The Fairway Wings has been their utility model over the last half decade and while in the past there was only one Wings model, for 2012 there are two. In 2011, in addition to its standard Fairway Wings model, we saw ONOFF release a limited edition Pro Spec Fairway Wings which was the choice utility of top ONOFF Pro Shingo Katayama. The club was a hit for not only better players but players of all levels. Because of this, 2012 now sees a Type-D or Red Fairway Wings model made for the average golfer as well as the new Type-S or Black Fairway Wings made for the better and athlete golfer. I was very excited to test these two new demos as over the last 4 years I have always at one time or another had at least one ONOFF Fairway Wings in my bag.

At first glance, the new Type-D and Type-S are not all that different from one another. A quick look at the specs show their head volumes are in fact very similar (the 21* D or Red is 120cc and the 21* S or Black is 122cc). Both feature multi level soles to minimize friction and increase versatility in various lies and both feature tungsten weighting to control CG placement, spin and trajectory. The Type-D Red has a V sole to help the average golfer from loosing too much speed at impact when the sole hits the ground. The V sole also brings the CG a tad lower for a easy strong launch.  The Type-S Black sole is rounded which increases its versatility in deep rough and uneven lies, maintaining stability and control.

Both Type-D and Type-S feature variable thickness faces for better feel, more forgiveness and higher ball speeds at impact.  What many will like about both models is that they are not very shallow faced like many modern clubs are these days. Lots of clubs are shallow in order to push the CG as low as possible and to make it easy to pick the ball off the fairway right in the center of the face but aren’t always friendly for use off the tee. The Type-S Black is a tad deeper than the Type-D Red but both excel off the tee for longer par 3’s or if you just need to be straight and in the fairway. The feel of both faces is quite crisp but soft, with the Type-S Black being a tad softer due to a thicker center and thicker face areas above and below the sweet spot. The Type-D Red is thick in the middle as well but the walls surrounding the sweet spot are thinner for more spring action benefiting the average swing speed player and golfer.

As I mentioned earlier, both head sizes are very similar in volume and the face depth is also very similar? So whats different besides the sole shape, face thickness and aesthetics? If you look at the clubs from the heel you can see that the while both taper to a shallower crown, the Type-S Black is shorter and more tall through the crown while the Type-D Red is flatter and overall shallower.  The shape of their heads alters the CG length and position with the Type-D producing a strong mid trajectory ball which is very stable and controlled for the better player and faster swinger thanks to its shorter CG. The Type-D Red has a longer CG producing a strong but higher launch helping average golfers with more distance through a higher trajectory and more carry.

At address we continue to see more differences. Carried over from the Pro Spec model, the Type-S Black has an iron like look at setup due to the two tone crown. It’s longer ferrule and neck create more of a flow like an iron. The Type-S also features a 0* square face angle. The Type-D on the other hand sets up like a wood and features a 1.0* closed face on all lofts. Its hard to see the visual size difference but the the Type-S Red “appears” bigger due to its shallower crown.

It’s not uncommon for an average golfer like myself to rely heavily on a utility. When the woods are not going well and you still need that distance on a second shot, or in a tough lie,  the right utility can have you go from saving par to making double bogey. Because of this, when I look at a utility, first and foremost it has to be easy to hit. It is after all the “rescue” club in your bag. I am happy to report that both Red and Black models of the Fairway Arms are pretty easy to hit even with their deeper faces.  Their soles are versatile allowing for good contact resulting in great distance. Another factor in making good contact is the length of the club. Both the Type-D Red and Type-S Black do NOT have a loft where the club length is over 40.00″ and that is a good thing. The shorter length club allows for more control and consistency which in turn leads to better impact and more overall distance. I swung both clubs very confidently due to their length. For comparisons sake, my Royal Collection TRC 20* is 40.50″ in length and the ONOFF Type-D Red 21* is 39.00″, however I did not see much difference in distance as I was able to strike the ONOFF so well.  The ONOFF clubs also use maraging  faces but are a tad more high pitched at impact which I call crisp.  Maraging face feel is very good and you can easily tell when you pured it which is most of the time as the sweet spots are quite large.

The Type-S Red is available in 18 21 24 and 27* lofts with ONOFF’s in house MP-512U graphite shaft. ONOFF’s graphite shafts are typically very good and considered in Japan a step up on most OEM shafts thanks to Daiwa’s expertise in carbon and graphite (see Roddio as well as Daiwa fishing rods).  Both the 24* and 27* are surprisingly useful and great for those average golfers who don’t get along with their long-mid irons. In a strong lofted iron set, they replace the 5 and 6 iron very admirably.

Interestingly the Type-S Black which is a Labospec model aimed at the better player comes only in 21* 24* and 27*. It would have been great to see an 18* as well here. The Type-S is offered with a steel shaft only in its stock form, either the 850GH Regular or 950GH Stiff. This is kind of too bad as I can see many players wanting the Type-S with a graphite shaft. The good news is it can be custom ordered with Labospec high modulus shafts or Roddio shafts though there will be a reasonably long wait on those.

I liked both models very much but as a player who uses his utility off the tee and sometimes battles a hook with shorter clubs, the Type-S was my choice of the two. I also like the way it sets up with the two tone crown. I could play both as they both are easy to hit and with good distance but the closed face would only help me if I sliced. I wish however the Type-S also came with a stock graphite shaft as not everyone will fit an iron shafted utility into their set.  For the average golfer who needs more distance, ease of use and battles the left side, the ONOFF Type-D Red is a premier choice. Look for the new ONOFF Fairway Wings to be in the pro shop in coming days!

Ryoma F and PRGR egg Spoon Comparison Part 1

The weather sucks, its cold and raining. I can’t really get out and test these two wonderful fairway woods but I had a break in the rain today so snapped pics of the newly arrived Ryoma F3 15* to compare it with the PRGR egg Spoon 15* I also have here. As most of you know, the egg Spoon has been a top choice among JDM fairway woods for the last 3 years and all for good reason. It is unique, very easy to hit and best of all very very long. On the other hand Ryoma has been the dominant driver of 2011, outselling almost all our other driver models COMBINED. For many the Ryoma is the longest driver ever, and for others the most consistent, but without a doubt it is one of the most forgiving if not the most forgiving of drivers. So it was only natural when Ryoma announced a new fairway wood back in late August, there were many excited Ryoma owners as well as current egg owners.  Today I will take a look at both fairway woods and their specs as well as compare them side by side visually and design wise. I will get out to hit both side by side later this week.

The Ryoma F looks very much like the D-1 driver with a similar color scheme and a similar design concept. Key features include:

– 15* Real Loft
– An all Titanium construction
– Monocoque one piece body
– Forged DAT next generation Ti Face featuring an unheard of for an FW 0.82 COR
– DSI or Deep Strong Impact design featuring a 60g power booster weight right in the back
– A 60g spin control unit weight on the front of the head to manage launch and spin
– Large confidence inspiring head size (215cc for the F3)
– Square 0* Face Angle

The egg Spoon needs no real introduction as it has been Japans longest fairway wood for 3 years running and probably the most popular FW among TSG customers over that same time span.

– 15* Loft
– Scooped out back design is aerodynamic and frames the ball at address
– Ultra shallow face
– SUS 630 Stainless Body
– ES230 Maraging Face
– Multi level U sole
– Confidence inspiring size at address (165cc but looks bigger due to the scooped out back)

Looking at the above specs and the clubs themselves, the egg Spoon is the more unique looking club with its razor thin sole thanks to its scooped out back. While it does not have the huge 60g weight in the back, because it technically has no crown, the weight is all positioned low on the sole for a higher launch. The Ryoma F is also designed to be a high launch low spin FW thanks to its weighting. If there is one complaint about the egg Spoon, its that it is almost too shallow faced making it less than ideal for teeing off. The shallow face excels off the deck and picks the ball off the turf with a high launch but one has to tee the ball VERY low for the Spoon or risk coming under the ball. The new Ryoma F has a marginally taller face but as you can see from the picture above, the Ryoma F on the left has quite a bit longer face from heel to toe. Ryoma’s thinking is that average golfers tend to miss horizontally with fairway woods ie towards the toe or heel. The faces are so shallow on fairway woods today that missing up and down is virtually eliminated. They created the Ryoma F so that shots off center towards the toe and heel would lose very little distance and still go straight, thanks to the huge MOI created by the heavy back weighting and spin control unit on the sole.

Both heads are very shallow back, well if you think about it, the egg has no back but comes to a thin tapered point thanks to its scooped out back. In the image above you can also see how the Ryoma F, like its big brother driver, also has a longer neck raising the tip of the shaft from the sole of the club creating a more active launch. Both fairway woods are meant for easy off the deck usage and easy high launch. The feedback I have gotten so far from users is that the Ryoma F does just that. It launches the ball nice and high and best of all effortlessly.

At address, you see the hugest difference between the two clubs and I do mean hugest.  The new Ryoma F looks like a little driver at address. Because its flat and shallow it could actually pass for a 300cc driver. The egg Spoon is not exactly small even though its volume is 165cc vs 215cc for the Ryoma. The egg is a big 165cc thanks to its volume being spread out in the head, but next to the Ryoma it certainly is a smaller club. Both clubs are spec’ed with 0* face angles but the Ryoma I have looks a tad closed. Its interesting because this goes for the driver as well. Many times a Ryoma driver looks closed but does not perform that way. We’ll see about the FW.  The Ryoma also has no alignment mark though the way the score lines are designed, you can clearly see the sweet spot on the face at address.

Both the Ryoma F and egg Spoon are rather high tech fairway woods. The egg has the sleek looks but the Ryoma has the sleek internals. The egg has proven that its not just looks and flat out performs. I’m looking forward to seeing and feeling how the new Ryoma F3 will perform. I actually have a hunch it may feel and sound like the original egg Spoon based on its materials.  Stay tuned for later this week when I report back on performance, feel and sound.

Both fairway woods are of course already available in the TSG Pro Shop if you want one or need to see more specs.

New Ryoma F Fairway Woods at TSG For Testing!

The new Ryoma F Fairway woods arrived this week for testing. We received a 15* F3 and and a 18* F5, both with stock shafts. Initial visual impressions are that the f3 is huge. At address it is like a mini driver and it inspires can’t miss confidence. For some athlete golfers however it may be too large. I will be first doing a comparison between the Ryoma F3 and the reigning champion of fairway woods the PRGR Egg Spoon. I am sure many Spoon owners want to know if their club can be dethroned and many others who are looking for the ultimate in distance and ease of use would like to see the differences between the two. Stay tuned for the comparison and club testing soon!

On a personal note, the weather has been crazy here in Japan, yesterday nearly 19C and today a very cold 8C. The temperatures have been up and down which is perfect for giving me a cold. My brother happens to be arriving in Japan tomorrow for a short visit from Toronto and we’ll be heading to Yokohama to spend the weekend at the Motorcycle and Hot Road Show (my brother’s hobby). I will be out of contact for a while but have packed up all my camera gear for some hardcore photo sessions of Yokohama and interesting machines at the show. Will report back next week when I return!

Royal Collection SFD Black Utility Review!

Royal Collection introduced a new SFD Black line which focuses on distance and stability. The clubs are all marked with the words “Super Fairway Drive” which stands for the objective of the SFD Black line of getting the ball in the fairway on every shot (hence the short form SFD). While RC is usually known for its athlete models like the BBD’s, Tour VS and TRC lines, the SFD line has always bridged the gap between the athlete golfer and more average golfer by providing more ease of use, higher launching type clubs.

As you may have guessed the new SFD Black utility is indeed black in finish. It features a slightly larger head size for a utility with the 3 lofts ranging from 135cc for the 19* to 125cc for the 25*. The SFD Black also uses RC’s U channel or as they call it the driving cavity sole.  The sole is not only used to create less friction at impact with the ground but also for optimal CG placement. Average golfers will appreciate the SFD Black’s shorter club lengths which allow for more consistent ball striking.

The SFD Black features a reasonably shallow face which allows the player to get the ball up in the air quickly from virtually any lie.  Interestingly while the head is larger and the supposedly more forgiving, I found the face firmer than the current RC New TRC UT which in fact shares the same 455 Stainless face.  Perhaps the difference in body materials, 17-4 for the TRC and SUS630 for the SFD Black, changes the overall feel. I found the TRC to be more crisp and better feeling on miss hits while the SFD Black quite firm feeling especially on hits towards the heel. Luckily the SFD Black is not difficult to hit so you can catch the sweet spot on a consistent basis.

One of the strong points of the SFD Black is that it hides its size well yet still provides confidence at address. The face is longer heel to toe and frames the ball well. While there is minimal offset, the face is slightly closed to aid average golfers in squaring up to the ball at impact and avoiding the right side.

I have to admit I was not blown away by the SFD Black. I still prefer the TRC Utility which I think has better feel and is even more versatile thanks to its twin rail cavity. The TRC is more workable with its square face angle and distance is already pretty darn good. With the SFD Black sporting shorter lengths it is reasonably easy to hit on the screws. The SFD Black is easy to launch high and actually has a pretty stable club weight which promotes better tempo and rhythm. The SFD Black comes with a special made for RC Fubuki shaft which is 58g for the R flex and 63g for the S flex. Its a mid kicking shaft and I found it quite stable with this head.

I would recommend the SFD Black to those looking for an easy to launch confidence inspiring larger UT to replace their long irons with. Those who want a deeper face and even more versatility should look at the TRC which we’ve reviewed here before as well. Look for the new SFD Black in the Pro Shop soon!

Yamaha 2012 Inpres X V Series Clubs Intro

There are a lot of new 2012 Yamaha models to cover so I’m going to start today with the V Series, especially because it features the two limited tour models which always sell out very quickly. In fact the new V Forged Tour Model has already had all standard S200 shafted sets reserved at Yamaha within a day of the new product announcement. Yamaha has however put aside a few hundred sets for custom orders which is what we are ordering now (1200 sets in total made for all of Japan).

The V Series clubs in the Inpres X line are aimed at the pro player to better golfer or athlete golfer as we call it in Japan. The clubs are designed to not only provide distance but also control/workability and stability. All Yamaha clubs are forged at Endo which in turn equals great feel and quality as well as premium designs.  The new tour iron features a milled cross face for additional feel and bite resulting in improved spin control and performance. The Tour Model iron is compact and features a thin top line, sole and minimal offset. Some have even referred to the way the Tour Model sets up as neo blade like since the back cavity is almost like a small muscle, bringing the CG higher for a more stable and stronger trajectory.

Since the Tour Model with standard S200 has pretty much been snapped up by golf shops around Japan, we have to offer them with custom shafts directly from Yamaha which is not necessarily a bad thing 950GH and 1050GH from Yamaha are no charge upgrades while Modus3 and KBS Tour are +15.00 per iron. PX is +40.00 per iron and graphite is also available in Tour AD Iron and Diamana Thump iron shafts. There is of course also the standard V Forged model which also has the milled X face but with a slightly larger head and more offset. The standard V Forged is aimed at the better player to mid capper and is not a limited model so readily available.

The new V202 Tour Model and V202 Standard Model drivers are 415cc and 445cc heads aimed at pro to better golfers looking for a strong and stable trajectory from a driver that produces premium soft feel. Both V models feature a higher and shorter CG with the 445 since it is the bigger head actually having the slightly deeper face.  All Yamaha drivers are forged from ELF Titanium and feature Yamaha’s newly designed for 2012 Ultimate face, a variable thickness cup face design which provides maximum ball speeds and one of the softer feeling impacts in golf. A chemically milled variable thickness crown works to provide optimal energy transfer and the head is weight for Yamaha’s R.P.M. design which creates a powerful more penetrating trajectory that out runs most other competing drivers. Penetrating trajectories with low spin is nothing new however Yamaha designed its drivers to actually launch higher at initial impact but peak out lower and hit the ground running. Meanwhile other low spin drivers launch lower but peak higher reducing carry and run compared to the Yamaha.  Both drivers are available 9 and 10* lofts with the Tour Model sporting a new Tour AD BB shaft and the V202 445cc a Tour AD LVII shaft. Upgrades of all kinds are also available including Diamana, Fubuki, Motore Speeder, Tour AD and Roddio.

All Yamaha models will be available for pre order this week in the pro shop and please keep in mind the limited nature of the tour models.

Here are the Yamaha videos for the new V Series lineups (high speed connections seriously recommended). The first video is an overlook of the lineup including its technology and comments from top pros. It is of course in Japanese but you can see and hear the clubs in action and pretty much the pros love the new line especially for the the feel.

[flv:http://www.tourspecgolf.com/blog/videos/v.flv 640 427]

The first pro interview is with top Yamaha pro Hiroyuki Fujita which features initial testing on the trackman from earlier this year. Fujita is not known to be a long driver but his final drive of the day reached 308y.

[flv:http://www.tourspecgolf.com/blog/videos/fujita_intv.flv 640 427]

The final video here is top Yamaha Korean Pro Jay Choi (he plays on the Japan Tour) making comments on the new Inpres line (he plays the standard V202 445cc driver and the V Forged Tour Model irons).

[flv:http://www.tourspecgolf.com/blog/videos/j_intv.flv 640 427]

Ryoma Pre-order Window Closes this Sunday!

This is just a reminder to everyone that the window for pre ordering the new and Limited Edition Ryoma Special Tuning Hi COR heads closes this Sunday at midnight EST. We have to submit our official pre order list to Ryoma on Monday here in Japan (which is still Sunday in the West). Ryoma has already told us that the drivers will most likely sell out before launch and the first batch of new Ryoma Fairway woods (which are also part of the order window) will also be sold out on launch.

While Ryoma will continue to produce the fairway woods though customers will have to wait for the second batch if they do not pre order, the drivers are a one time deal and once sold out there will be no more. So contact us if you would like to book… time is running out!

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!

Royal Collection New TRC UT Utility of the Year!

Royal Collection has long dominated the fairway wood and utility market here in Japan especially for the better player and professional. Compact, wonderful feeling and top performing woods have been their for over a decade. This is no small feat for as compared to most brands, RC is a very small company with only 20 employees dedicated to designing and producing golf clubs that look great and perform great. Many golf enthusiasts in the West may be familiar with their Driving Cavity design which began in 1995 with the CV-1 head. Many of these designs were borrowed by the now defunct brand Sonartec. Sonartec has long been a popular choice of many PGA and LPGA professionals for their superbly designed and super performing fairway woods and utilities, most of which were passed down from Royal Collection years after their model release in Japan.

Twin Rail Cavity Design

The TRC design, or Twin Rail Cavity has been used by RC for many many years dating back to the first Super CV TRC in 2002.  The rails are designed to reduce friction with the turf to help maintain swing speed, and create more pure contact with the ball. This in fact is not a new design or technology and is used by many brands these days in golf. The TRC Utility is now in its second generation with the first TRC Utility having been released in early 2009 in Japan as the BBD’s TRC UT (this older model has been re-released as the JP104FH in the US).  The all New TRC Utility for 2011 like its predecessor is a cross between a fairway wood and a hybrid, with the distance and trajectory of an FW but the ease and versatility of a rescue/hybrid. The new model has improved its dual rail system along with a more rounded and blunt leading edge to produce even better contact and feel. The rails now actually look like a pair of rails which do a great job of minimizing friction with the ground at impact.

Great Feel and Versatility

The deeper face of the New TRC also make it a very popular option for those who want to tee off with a utility or hybrid on long par 3’s or on holes with tight fairways where accuracy and control are needed. Feel is superb with the New TRC with very nice pop at impact. The New TRC now uses 17-4 Stainless for the body vs SUS630 on the older model. The face utilizes a 455 stainless steel which matched with the new 17-4 body produces very soft but crisp feel.

Pleasing at address…

At address you can see why its called a cross between a fairway wood and utility. It’s rounded shape and square face angle provides a fairway like setup but its compact nature a more utility like presence. Another reason it has fairway wood like performance is that for a utility, its club length borders on the longer side.  The strongest lofted 17* UT is 41″ in length which is only slightly shorter than a 5 wood and similar to many short woods in length. This ranges all the way up to the 26* model which is 39.5″ in length.  This however, does not make the New TRC hard to hit and I think a lot of this can be attributed to the weight and balance of the club. The TRC head feels heavy and many better players will like this as you can feel the head through the swing and the weight helps bring the head down to the ball at impact with that added punch.

Utility of the Year…

I’ve talked about the TRC a few times in the past on the blog and those who know me will know that I gamed the 2009 BBD’s TRC for over a year. I decided to post again since this summer the 2011 New TRC UT was named utility of the year here in Japan, and for very good reason. Its simply performs and feels great.  The stock club already comes with a very good stock shaft and even choices of weight with the new Tour AD U-55, or U-65 or U-75 shafts. If a stock shaft is not enough, Royal Collection also offers the club custom built with many of Japan’s top aftermarket shafts including  the Tour AD DI and DJ Series as well as their SF and  UT series shafts.  Also available are Diamana’s ahina, Fubuki Alpha, Fubuki FW series and Fubuki Hybrid, as well as Fujikura’s Motore Speeder VC.1 and VC.2 and Motore FW. I decided to try a 20* with the ATTAS T2 6 in regular flex which is available along with the new ATTAS Hybrid shaft. At 40.5″, 340g and a D2 swing weight, the club has great feel in the hands. What the 20* TRC turns out to be is heavier and more versatile 7 wood.  I love this club and if I’m not hitting my fairway woods well or I end up in a tough spot and need distance I always feel confident pulling out the New TRC 20*.

While the TRC is typically aimed at the better player its more than forgiving enough for the average golfer. As a matter of a fact we still have many average golfers going to this club especially being available all the way up to 26* and with its ease of use and distance performance. On the other side of the scale, we have a lot of better players and faster swingers opting for the 17* as a fairway wood replacement thanks to its weight, feel and stable performance. In the end there is a TRC UT for everyone thanks to the variety of lofts and shaft choices. Its an all around great performer with great feel and I highly recommend it.  For more information on the TRC Specs please check out its pro shop listing.

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