Most JDM golf club enthusiasts are very familiar with the brand Epon and it’s parent company Endo Manufacturing, the largest forging house in the world. You will also know that Epon has always maintained a premium image when it comes to manufacturing, materials, performance and ultimately cost. Endo has came to realize that focusing solely on the high end and boutique market is very challenging for growth and profitability. With Endo juggling and rethinking some of its business strategies this past year, they decided to come up with an entirely new “brand” separate from their treasured Epon brand. Thus Endo Golf Lab was born.
Some of you may wonder why Epon would not just create new models under the Epon brand. Endo decided that Epon and Endo Golf Lab would essentially focus on different target audiences. Epon would continue to be the top premium brand which focuses on all golfer levels from pro/scratch to mid cappers to average golfers. On the other hand Endo Golf Lab is to focus on more average golfers, especially those with a focus on distance performance. The pricing structure would also be lower than Epon models (though not by much) and materials and of course designs would also be different. Even both showrooms are separate but both located at the Endo factory in Niigata as seen in the photo above.
Endo Golf Lab has begun it’s life by releasing it’s first clubs here in the Japanese market. The new line is dubbed LFD which may or may not stand for “Looking For Distance” or “Long Flying Distance”. LFD’s focus is creating premium HI COR (NON Conforming) clubs that focus on maximum distance and ease of use. The flagship model is the LFD Red driver (I call it red because last week they released Blue which is conforming) which is a 5 piece forged head designed by Endo’s top engineers. The LFD focuses on 3 key points to create maximum distance, maximum ball speed, optimal back spin and optimal launch angle. For the first time, Endo is using a DAT55 Beta Titanium face matched with 15-3-3-3 Beta Titanium crown and sole. A titanium neck and power weight make up the other two pieces which are then all seamlessly plasma welded together.
The final product is a driver packing all of Endo’s technology and design expertise which tops 0.89 COR. In today’s current market of JDM non conforming drivers, this is most likely the highest COR rating of any model (most other brands range from 0.86 to 0.88 max). Endo claims that the sweet area of the new LFD is 2 times larger than other or previous model Hi Cor drivers. The deflection in the crown at impact is also up by over 10% which creates more rebound. These upgraded characteristics help increase ball speeds at impact.
To help control and create optimal backspin for maximum carry PLUS run, Endo implements what it calls the Power Arc Sole and the use of a Power Weight. None of these are new ideas but Endo has given their own take and design on these technologies. While the Power Arc Sole acts similarly to a Speed Slot or Pocket as Taylormade calls it, Endo’s version spans the entire sole from heel to toe and is widest at the edges. This helps create that large sweet spot and really minimizes lost distances on off center strikes towards the toe or heel. A Power Weight is located right behind the Arc to help balance spin and launch.
The LFD features probably one of the thinnest crown walls in golf at only 0.3mm thick at it’s thinnest point. The chemically milled web like design creates strength with flexibility and the light weight of the crown allows for more weight to be spread evenly through the lower regions of the head. With the weight balancing design used in the LFD, the CG is very close to being right in the center of the head. Not too low, not too forward, not too deep. Just right for a optimal and powerful low spin launch. The LFD is being offered by Endo Golf Lab with 3 standard shafts but of course as with all Endo products you can be fit for a customized build. The LFD stock shafts are the Fubuki J series, Bassara P Series and Fujikura Air Speeder. Lofts available are 9.5, 10.5, 11.5 and a High Launch model. The 9.5 and 10.5* feature square face angles while the 11.5 and HL are closed 1.0*. Interestingly, all 4 lofts are over the 460cc limit as well being 465cc, 468cc, 471cc and 471cc respectively for each loft.
Endo Golf Lab realizes distance is not only about the driver shot so it has also released LFD HI COR (NON Conforming) fairway woods. The LFD FW comes in 3 lofts, 15, 18 and 21*, all with square faces and all well over the 0.83 COR limit. The design is very similar to the driver but I guess you could say in a mini version. There is also a HI Cor LFD ladies driver with baby blue crown and last week, Endo Golf Lab just released the LFD Blue version which is USGA Conforming but with the same design aspects (minus the larger head and springier face). With the ultra thin faces of HI Cor drivers these days there always comes a catch and in the case of the LFD they have put a limit on the max swing speed at 45m/s or about 102mph. Those who swing more than that will have to consider the LFD Blue. I actually have a test session scheduled tomorrow with the LFD and will report back with live pics and hitting impressions so stay tuned! In the meantime a few shots of the showroom in Niigata as well as the LFD Blue conforming driver!