Here you have it, Ako-san’s latest creation the DST utility wood also known as the Type-D. For those of you who are not familiar with A-Grind it is the vision of Yusuke Ako, Ako-san has been a part of the Japan Tour for over a decade and the designer at Royal Collection from 2004 till 2013 yes and he is the man who created the majority of the fairway woods including every Original Sonartec model that went to the states. In other words this man can design fairways and hybrids like no other and the early adopters of A-Grind’s products couldn’t agree more. The customer feedback is most often that A-Grinds products are shaped great, feel awesome and easier to hit that most. The Type-D (DST) series is the most forgiving fairway and utility wood in the brands entire line up. Ready for more? Follow the Jump!
Years back Kamui Works was one of our best selling drivers, they make fully custom woods by hand in Japan which is not something many or any brands really do, this has allowed us to cater to golfers who need extreme specs like 5* open face angles, custom black IP’s soles, ultra heavy or light head weights and adjustments of bias and CG locations internally, I mean what brand does this?
I wanted to make something a little flashy and unique while also fitting the needs of a request we get quite often, that is the need for a driving wood off the tee box that can also handle fairway’s like a fairway wood. The end result is a jaw dropper a 210g head with 12.5* loft and a 1* open face angle, black IP sole with Ferrari yellow paint.. yum!
I’m not hitting this one, it’s really just to remind our members what Kamui can do with drivers and fairway woods. For those who want to Jump at this we have only 2pcs ready made and able to ship in a day or two so get in touch with [email protected] if you want to avoid the wait or you want a custom order to spec a unique driving wood for yourself. Lexus Blue or Ferrari Red anyone?
It’s been a great first 6 months of 2013 for S-Yard golf, with the releases of the T.388 driver, Bold Wedge, XV Driver and now the XV fairway woods. At TSG we have seen the FW segment really dominated by the Ryoma fairway woods and PRGR egg Spoon plus a splattering of other brands like Royal Collection, Yamaha, ONOFF, Romaro and Tourstage rounding up the popular choices. The new XV Fairway wood from S-Yard aims to leave its mark firmly in the midst of all these great fairway woods thanks to Kobayashi-san’s vision of how the XV FW will compliment the XV Driver. For those of you who read the introduction and review of the XV Driver here, you will obviously see the resemblance between the driver and fairway wood.
The new XV Fairway wood could pass for a mini XV Driver based on its aesthetics. However the XV is designed to focus on performance as a fairway wood and not a driver replacement (though I’m sure some players could use it as such). Kobayashi-san knows that less and less people seem to be using fairway woods these days so he sought to create a club that would not only satisfy the better player but still be reasonably easy to use. While the head sizes of the 3W and 5W are actually considered to be on the large side at 190cc and 175cc respectively, again through Kobayashi-san’s carefully thought out designs, the heads in no way appear that large. The slightly larger volumes allow for more flexibility in CG placement as well as increased MOI. Kobayashi-san focused on the head shape of the XV to compliment and be just as eye pleasing as the driver. He also decided on slightly flatter lie angles which will appeal to the better player (57* for the 15* and 57.5* for the 18*).
I finally got around to comparing all three generations of the ever popular PRGR egg Spoons. As I had mentioned during the new egg Spoon HD announcment, we all know that the Pro Gear’s egg Spoon is one of the best ever fairway woods to come out of Japan. Deadly forgiving with monster type distance, may flock to it for its amazing performance. However, it wasn’t perfect by any means. Many better players found the face and profile too shallow making it scary to tee off with. Stronger players and faster swingers also found the club simply too light resulting in a lack of stability and topping of the ball in the fairway.
PRGR decided to address this issue by releasing a new egg Spoon HD – which stands for Heavy and Deep Spec. At first glance one might be hard pressed to notice any differences besides the slight changes in color accents and model markings however shape aside there are quite a few changes (yes even subtly in the shape). With the deeper face comes an all new ES475 maraging steel material for higher strength and more ball repulsion at impact from higher swing speeds. The deeper face and slightly more compact (158cc) hollow head has also allowed for realigned CG point for lower spin and a strong and penetrating trajectory also thank to a deeper hosel insertion.
Taylormade Japan is a brand that always provides Japan market only models to satisfy the demanding Japanese golfer ready to spend his or her Yen on premium quality. Instead of offering a similar lower cost, 17-4 stainless steel model fairway wood, (well they actually do in the standard R11 and RBZ), TM decided to release an all Ti R11 fairway wood as well the Gloire all Ti Fairway wood. Before I get out and hit the two, I thought I would do a side by side comparison so that potential buyers can understand the differences.
The R11 Ti is similar in shape to the standard R11 fairway wood but sports different colors and a different IP smoked finish. Besides its physical looks, the Japan market R11 Ti also features a larger volume head with Titanium body, crown and face. Overall the club is about 16g lighter than the standard R11 which along with the Ti material increases swing speed and distance. The R11 Ti is aimed at the improving golfer and average golfer who wants an easy high launch in a mid to smaller sized head.
The Gloire Ti FW is part of the premium Japan Only Gloire line. Made for max performance, ease of use and distance, the Gloire FW is even bigger and lighter than the R11 Ti and the 5 wood tester I have rivals some of the bigger 3 woods. While like the R11 Ti, it sports a full Ti head, it uses a more expensive Alpha/Beta Titanium mix for the body and a beta Ti for the face. The Gloire is aimed at the average golfer and senior wanting a premium light weight performance club.
Because the Gloire has a bigger head at 195cc vs 160cc (both 5 woods), it actually has the deeper and larger face of the two heads. Both are more than adequate for teeing off and of course both feature adjustable sleeves which alter loft.
From the side you can see that the Gloire is quite a bit longer from front to back vs the R11 Ti. Both are high launch models but the Gloire with its long head really allows the CG to be placed deep in the head. However as you can see from the sole picture above, it has a pair of tungsten weights placed forward on the head to control spin and launch by balancing the CG low and forward.
At address again, you can really see the size of the Gloire vs the R11 Ti. The Gloire head is rounder and while it is spec’ed on Taylormade’s website as being 1* closed face, it looked very square to me and just as square as the R11 Ti which is spec’ed as 0* face angle. Both heads with their white crowns and black faces frame the ball well. I was not a fan of the white heads when TM first introduced them but I’ve admittedly grown to liking them. So both the R11 Ti and Gloire are high quality all Ti fairway woods aimed at easy launch, big forgiveness and big distance. The Gloire can be considered on the large side and ultralight side as it offers two shafts, and with the lighter shaft borders right around 300g!
In the next week I will try and find some time to hit both side by side against the Ryoma FW and the egg Spoon, two very highly regarded fairway woods here in Japan. In the meantime you can already find both these fairway woods in the pro shop!
Most people outside of Japan know Srixon as the main brand under the Sri Sports/Dunlop umbrella, however in Japan, Srixon shares the spotlight with XXIO (pronounced zeh-ku-shi-oh). Both brands receive equal attention but focus on different market segments. While Srixon is mostly know for the better player and athlete golfer, XXIO in fact caters to the largest market in Japan, that being the average golfer and senior player (there are many golfers well in their 80’s here). Japan is a country full of golfers who are willing to pay for technology and premium materials and XXIO casters to these golfers by always offering cutting edge designs and automatic style performance for the recreational player and older more experienced senior golfer. Because of this the XXIO lineup is year in and year out one of the top lineups when it comes to not only sales but also performance. I’m going to review both the driver and fairway wood in two parts starting with the driver in this post.
Every two years XXIO releases a new line of XXIO clubs and this year we are on to XXIO7 which as you guessed is the 7th generation. Every year, XXIO tweaks its designs, to incorporate new technology and new materials, all for the sake of improved performance and feel. The XXIO7 driver is a departure from the previous XXIO model. While many average golfer models were moving towards bigger yet lighter heads built at longer lengths to try and gain more distance, the new XXIO7 has actually decreased the footprint of its 460cc head and increased the weight of the head while shortening the length to 45.5″. These are the kinds of changes I like to see manufacturers do.
I have always believed a longer driver, while it can produce more club head speed, is also a lot harder to hit squarely consistently. Also with a longer length club, comes a lighter head and overall club weight which may work for some but for others can simply be too light, sacrificing both feel and stability. The XXIO7 with its shorter length increases consistency at striking the sweet spot and with a heavier head and D1-D2 swing weight, creates more ball speed at impact thanks to increased kinetic energy from the heads increased motion and mass. The shorter length of the club has allowed the head to become heavier but the overall club weight is still rather light at just over 280g meaning its still quite easy to swing though for some this could be too light.
While the head dimensions have change, one thing that has not, is the bias of the XXIO7 and the face angle. XXIO drivers have long been the favorites of average golfers who battle a slice due to there draw biased heads and closed face angles. To help these average golfers straighten out their ball and create more distance, XXIO has introduced a new lightweight Ti body using a material they call T9S. Even though the head is not nearly as long from face to back the MOI has increased thanks to the lighter body, allowing for more weight to be placed in the sole of the head. The increased MOI paired with the forged Super TIX titanium cup face (Super TIX isdeveloped by Sri Sports themselves) widens the sweet spot which really aid distance on miss hits towards the toe and heel, the typical misses of average golfers.
The Super TIX face feels great. It is very springy (this driver is conforming) and the ball seems to jump off the face. As you can see from the photo I took above, the face is on the shallow side and rather long from heel to toe. It has a crisp but higher pitched sound at impact. Impact sound is very subjective and some may like it and some may not. Please click on the blue play button below to hear the sound at impact.
I actually like the wat it sounds but there are those players who prefer a more muted solid sound. The XXIO7 produces a nice soft draw. With its closed face and 3g stainless steel weight in the heel, the head rotates well for a square impact. If you are the kind of player who leaves the face open, the XXIO really does come around quite well, eliminating those weak cuts and open pushes. The driver is very automatic something older players and average golfers who struggle with consistency can appreciate. Now even though I say, the XXIO7 is aimed at the average golfer, its not to say the improving or more serious and better player cannot benefit from the XXIO7. Interestingly XXIO offers the driver with a VERY broad range of lofts from 8.5* which is a special order up to 12.5*. The stock shaft is an ultralight at under 50g and does have torque over 5* for all flexes which is meant to produce feel and help players sqaure the face. Because of this, I still would not recommend the XXIO7 for any aggressive player or a player who battles a hook and pull, especially since static club weight is still on the light side which can be a negative for those who rely on heavier clubs to manage tempo.
In closing, this driver is very automatic, it produces a higher launch, big carry and has very good feel. The average golfer and senior player will appreciate its ease of use and easy to swing nature, though harder hitters might want to opt for a stiffer Miyazaki shaft which is an option, though they would still have to take the drivers bias and closed face into consideration. If you are not as consistent as you would like to be, battle a slice and need more distance, the XXIO7 is one of your top choices. Tomorrow I will look at XXIO7 fairway wood which is a great compliment to the driver.
There has been a lot of hype for the new Ryoma F fairway woods. It has the reputation of its driver counterpart the Ryoma D-1 to live up to. The D-1 Driver as everyone knows is probably one of the most forgiving drivers to ever come out of Japan. It was easily Tourspecgolf’s most popular driver of 2011. So when Ryoma announced a fairway wood that would perform like the driver, people jumped at it right away. So after more than a month of testing, does the Ryoma F deserve all the attention its been getting?
As I had noted before the fairway woods looked better than I had originally expected. I was not the biggest fan of the look of the driver though its performance far out weighs its aesthetics. The fairway wood is on the larger side at 220cc for the F2 to 140cc for the F9. If you want to see a physical comparison, I did one earlier with the egg Spoon here. All of the D-1 F heads are spec’ed to have square face angles. Like the driver it appears to have a slightly closed face which many have said is an illusion caused but the slight onset/face forward and the way the sole sits. Even if the face is closed, its not by much and for many average golfers who will consider the Ryoma F, a tad closed may not be a bad thing. At address, the head does make the ball look small and could pass for a 350cc compact driver. For some the head may seem to big but for others, its size may inspire a can’t miss image. At first I did think the head was too large however I quickly got used to it.
The F2, F3 and F5 models all fall right below 0.83 COR and share the same all titanium monocoque (unibody) construction as Ryoma’s D-1 Drivers. 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 that 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. I certainly liked the trajectory and for me it was more of a mid ball flight.
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. The face of the Ryoma’s are considered shallow but not super shallow. They are shallow enough that make hitting off the deck and launching the ball rather easy. I had no problems teeing off with the Ryoma and I felt more confident doing so than with the ultra shallow egg Spoon. The egg Spoon which for me has always been the longest fairway wood, was coming short of the Ryoma by 10-15 yards on average. I also had a TRC FW and ONOFF Fairway Arms Plus as well as a Geotech GT SP and none of them could touch the Ryoma in distance. The testers I have here came with the stock Ryoma shaft. Its a good shaft but a bit on the soft side and the higher torque numbers especially in the softer flexes really do benefit the smoother swinger. I found that if I got aggressive with it, and I do have an aggressive transition and down swing, and if I released early, the soft shaft would cause me to go a bit left. Even so, thanks to the very forgiving nature of the head, I was still out hitting the egg. It made me think if I had put my preferred Crazy Black FW80 I would gain more control and even more distance.
When it comes to sound and feel, at first the Ryoma F reminded me very much of the first generation egg Spoon with that hollow thwock. Its not nearly as loud but the pitch is similar thanks to the heads size and all Titanium construction. It’s rather solid feeling and while it did not feel hot off the face, it IS hot off the face. There were several times I did not feel like I hit it right on the screws and the ball just kept going, much further than I expected and pretty straight. Much of the results I got are thanks to Ryoma’s huge forgiveness and near 0.83 COR. 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.
At the end of the day not everyone will like the looks of the Ryoma F. Not everyone will like its huge head size. Some people might get turned off by the sound. Others the price. But in the end you have to love the Ryoma F for what it is, and that is stupid easy to hit fairway wood that can probably rival your driver for distance AND forgiveness.
The stock shaft is a good fit for those who are smoother swingers, especially the softer flexes. The stiffer flexes do add some control thanks to lower torque and heavier weights. Many golfers will opt for an upgrade shaft and the Ryoma F is available with any shaft in Japan though more than 75% have gone out with Crazy shafts since they seem to be such good fits with Ryoma heads. If you need help with your selections as always just contact us. If you’d like to go ahead and get the stock shafted model, it can be found in the pro shop.
I took a quick video of the sound at impact. As you can hear its not terribly loud but its not that great sounding either. I also had my egg Spoon and TRC FW on hand and also an egg i+ utility so I thought I would throw that in as well.
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!
Sometimes, these smaller boutique brands can be hard to deal with. Because they are small they are sometimes inflexible and difficult. I’ve found out that Ryoma’s new Fairway Wood and Special Tuning model stock are already half accounted for and that we must pre-book all clubs before launch or risk not getting any. Of course Ryoma expects us to sell the club by booking pre-orders yet at the same time they won’t allow me to post pictures of the clubs.
So I am blogging to announce that we are officially taking orders now for the Ryoma Special Tuning Driver as well as the Ryoma-F FW. There are limited numbers and if they are not pre-ordered and reserved you most likely will not be able to get one come October.
As I’ve noted before, visually, the Special Tuning driver looks just like the current models except for a fine tuned body and different face material and design – and of course the fact it is HI COR over 0.88. If you are unsure of the differences please read this post I made earlier.
Pricing is the same regardless of whether you order a black or a gold head and whether they are D-1, V-Spec or Premia designs (yes it is confusing… I wish they would just offer black or gold special tuning heads but no, they are black or gold, D-1, V-Spec or Premia heads. MSRP is 1200.00 for the Special Tuning head including headcover.
For the Ryoma-F Fairway Wood, as I mentioned the 2, 3 and 5W (called F2 F3 F5) feature a forged Titanium construction while the 7 and 9W (F7 and F9) are maraging steel. The F2, F3 and F5 are 640.00 per head MSRP including headcover and the F7 and F9 are 375.00 per head MSRP. These can also be ordered with stock shafts or with any upgrade shaft like Crazy. Since I cannot post the picture on the blog, here is a graphic of its design.
So if you want a Special Tuning head or fairway wood, you must contact me directly to reserve now or honestly, you probably won’t get one as the drivers will have only one batch made and as I said, half are already sold. For the FW, if you don’t reserve now, please expect a several month wait after the first batch launches in mid October.
Please contact me at gocchin @ tourspecgolf.com (without the spaces) and I can help you with your order and personal quote/recommendations and answer any questions you may have.