The last five years have seem some extreme ups and downs for the ever popular Crazy Shaft brand. Since introducing Crazy to the global market, TSG and golf enthusiasts have witnessed their spectacular climb to success in just a few years. We’ve also witnessed their quite unspectacular decline due to mismanagement and some poor decision making by their original owner. There is no doubt Crazy has made some cool and amazing products and will continue to do so but for much of last year and early this year, there was a huge cloud of uncertainty over what would happen to the brand. For those who were not aware of what happened, here’s a bit of a recap since none of what happened is a secret in any way.
Many things can be attributed Crazy’s success including fantastic brand image and marketing as well as solid, premium quality products. Crazy not only made golf shafts but created an image and a lifestyle. Their influence was not only prevalent in Japan but also overseas where Crazy enjoyed tons of success. Early in 2013, several key staff, designers and craftsmen suddenly left the company to form TRPX, and in a way this was a prelude to things to come. In June of last year, Crazy’s charismatic president and primary owner and founder, Tachibana-san, was arrested for insurance fraud. Tachibana-san’s personal wrong doings began the decline what had become a very good company with great staff and great products. Here in Japan (and probably every where else in the world but especially here) pride, honor, respect and image is everything. Japanese shops and businesses began cutting ties with Crazy even though Tachibana-san who acted on his own had been removed from the company, and the Crazy brand and it’s staff had done nothing wrong. Domestically sales began to decline, putting huge pressure on the companies ability to financially sustain their operations. This lead to layoffs and a stagnation in new product development. A reduction in Crazy’s staff from 50 hard working golf enthusiasts to less than half that number put a huge strain on their efficiency which hurt them even further.
Crazy began to look at options as to how to save the brand. Staff members could have easily given up and let the company go under but speaking with many of the staff last year who were riding out the tough times, not a single one wanted to jump ship and abandon Crazy. They all had hope that the company would pull through and rise from those dark days. Crazy began looking for suitors but it wasn’t that easy finding not only an investor who was financially sound, but one who had genuine interest in Crazy’s development and growth as a golf company. Crazy after all was not just looking for a quick buyout for their problems but rather a road to it’s previous glory and beyond. They met with many possible buyers and investors, from banks, to other golf brands and shaft brands, and even spread their search overseas, and yes Crazy even suggested TSG take the helm of Crazy but unfortunately it was not the right fit for us, as we wouldn’t have been able to give a brand like Crazy the true focus it deserved.
Earlier this year around the golf fair time, rumors began circulating that Crazy was on the verge of being taken over by a new investor who was ready and willing to guide Crazy to new heights. The name Red Wall Japan and the All Japan Pro Wrestling group came up as the potential buyer but in the end a well off entrepreneur with family relations to Red Wall Japan ended up taking over Crazy. The new president Shiraishi-san is a stark contrast to the former president. Shiraishi-san is focused and serious unlike Tachibana-san who was far more laid back with a whatever goes style. He himself is a former Japan amateur champion so takes his approach to the company is both from the perspective of an owner and as a golfer and customer. Shiraishi-san’s initial focus was to get Crazy back on track here in Japan and in order to do that a new corporation was formed called Single B. Single B would give the company a new clean corporate slate to deal with domestic businesses. At the same time the image and growth of the Crazy “brand” was far too much to simply give up. So Crazy has become a “line” under Single B. When I stopped by the Crazy Factory last month to talk to staff about the changes, I was surprised to see that the exterior of their flagship shop had been changed to White from it’s previous Black. The color change very much represents an image change for Crazy while, still cool and fashionable, more serious and corporate. I was very happy to see many familiar faces and to be able to sit down with staff and talk about new products and future products.
It had been over a year since any new Crazy shafts had been released and at one point the factory next to their flagship store had even ceased production as they waited to see the company’s fate. I’m glad to report though that the staff at Crazy are very up beat and excited about new products in the pipeline as well as their first two releases under the new Single B corporation. The key feature of new Crazy shafts under Single B will of course be the use of high modulus carbon to produce unparalleled shaft performance just as it has always been, however new designs, new ways of manufacturing shafts and improved materials are all part of the new Crazy’s game plan. Their first new release in over a year is the new Crazy Sports Type A and B shafts. Two types to cover a wide range of golfers and swing types.
The Crazy Sports Type A and B are both made from full length 46t high modulus carbon. While I have discussed carbon grading many times on the blog in the past, it can be said that 46t is probably Crazy’s favorite choice of material thanks to it’s all around performance characteristics. While most will assume that the higher the grade of carbon the better the shaft, that is not always the case as one must put design and manufacturing into consideration when judging how good a shaft is or might be. As I’ve learned from visiting various high end shaft factories around Japan where virtually all shafts are hand rolled, it takes more than just slapping a few sheets of carbon together and rolling that into a tube. Careful planning as to which parts of a shaft are reinforced and as well what kinds of carbon weaves/directional patterns are placed where, are all carefully planned out and then executed by hand.
As I’ve explained before 80t, the highest grade of carbon found in retail production golf shafts has more glass particles in it’s carbon makeup. On the other hand, 20t and 30t carbon which are found in most mainstream brands, contain more rubber particles. The more rubber content generally equals more ovaling and shape deformation as well as more of a reliance on individual golfer timing since the the shafts are not as consistent or predictable and slower to regain original shape. This makes 80t sound fantastic as there is far less deformation and there is much more predictable performance since the shaft loads and releases the same every time thanks to it’s ability to return to original shape very quickly and consistently. Thus a golfer relies far less on trying to time the shaft and can just swing away.
However, 80t has its disadvantages as well. Firstly, most obvious to most is cost, 80t carbon is not cheap. Secondly is the delicacy of a shaft using 80t. The denser but finer weaves containing more glass particles make the shaft more fragile which is the trade off for it’s premium performance. Because of it’s delicacy, the third disadvantage is limited weight range. In order to strengthen an 80t shaft, more materials must be used (again raising the price) which also increases the overall weight. This is one reason why we don’t see any ultra light 80t shafts from Crazy (or at least not yet). The final disadvantage is because of the weight and typically stiffer but more fragile shaft, Crazy has always recommended it’s 80t shafts for the better player and ball striker. Finally one comment we get from users of Crazy 80t shafts is how “smooth” the shafts feel though a swing. Feel is subjective, and you and I and every other golfer will perceive “feel” differently but for many that “smoothness” can also translate into less feel of the shaft bending though the swing. You won’t find a whippy 80t shaft anywhere.
Many of those disadvantages is why Crazy went with 46t for their initial shaft release under the new Single B corporation. With a better price point being more attractive, and a wider range of weights, it’s intended audience is much broader. The choice of 46t allows Crazy to make a shaft with tremendous feel but still retain key aspects of high modulus carbon. Because it’s stronger than 80t it can be made very light weight as well. The Type A and Type B are 2 rather different shafts even though they share the same materials. Their internal design serves different purposes. The Type A is a max distance shaft, ultra light and made for those wanting to build longer length clubs (ie 45.5 to 46.5″) which come in under 300g total weight. It’s a higher launch, mid to low spin shaft with higher torque. The higher torque translates to a lot of feel during the swing, one can feel the shaft load up and release quickly through the impact zone. The Type A shaft is for those who want a shaft to help generate more speed and power but still maintain direction thanks to a semi stiff tip.. The first thing that may come to mind for many is a comparison to the very popular Royal Decoration model which is something I also brought up with Crazy. They were quick to note that this is not another RoyDeco but more stable and more powerful with a completely different carbon layout.
The Type B is for the better player and faster and more aggressive swinger. It’s for the golfer who wants to swing away and not worry about stability or ballooning, yet without sacrificing feel. Crazy designed the Type B with specific rigidity distribution that maintains firmness throughout the swing but yet still gives the golfer a sense of a powerful and fast release. At impact the shaft has fully regained shape with minimal twisting for more consistent sweet spot strikes. At around 70g for a stiff, the Type B helps keep tempos in check and can be used for driver builds 44.5 to 45.5″ in length. It has a mid to high kick (in the case of the Stiff a high kick) which keeps the ball flight down and a stiff mid section and tip helps reduce spin.
Crazy has also just announced a new Longest Yard 03 Regenesis shaft. The Longest Yard series has always been my favorite Crazy line offering the best all around performance in my opinion. This is coming from a user of many LY-01, LY-01 NERO, LY-01 Hot and LY-02 shafts in the past. I’ve got a few LY-03 test shafts on the way and I can’t wait to try them and post a review. On the club and accessories front, Crazy has several new products in the works including new irons, wedges and woods. We’re also looking at new accessories in the new year. Overall it seems the market here in Japan is warming up once again to the shaft company that dared to stand out and is embracing it’s new focus and more serious attitude. Being serious though hasn’t taken away the passion and enjoyment of the staff at Crazy as evidenced by their upbeat and excited moods when telling me how thrilled they are to finally move ahead again and make products that golfers love without having to worry about the company’s survival. I for one am glad Crazy survived as the Japanese golfing world (and those globally) are better with Crazy, even as Single B rather than no Crazy at all. We’ll all be keeping a close eye on how “crazy” Single B will get in 2015.