As some of you may know, R&A and USGA both have strict regulations against ball performance. Balls deemed as confirming will essentially perform within the ranges specified by the rules. In other words, no matter which conforming ball you play with, they should fly similar distances under regulated impact conditions.
Enter the "Kiwami Premium" golf balls by Idea Japan. Click read more to continue...
Pro Gears Longest Distance & Length Driver - The 2016 PRGR Super Egg Long-Spec. By combining a high rebound head that has a cor rating over 0.85 with a 46.75" length shaft and the already super long PRGR Egg design Pro Gear is touting this as the longest driver in golf. Ready for more? Follow the Jump...
For those who demand the best, there is no shortage of premium boutique style brands that produce top of the line drivers when it comes to design, materials and performance. From Epon to Crazy, and Kamui, and Baldo and most recently the new king of them all Ryoma, there are plenty to throw our money at. They all boast intricate designs, meticulous workmanship and most of all unparalleled performance when it comes to feel, ease of use and distance. We recently added Romaro Sports to our stable of high end brands and so far they have not disappointed. I have already briefly looked at their forged irons and wedges which were very impressive as well as their wonderful Titanium Ray UT. I just finished spending a week with their all new 460cc Ray 460HX Black and 460HX Gold drivers and I have to say, Ryoma has a challenge on its hands.
Looks wise, the Romaro Ray 460HX models blow the Ryoma out of the water (at least in my opinion). Smooth black IP finish, clean lines and very nice aesthetics with simple but stylish graphics provide a very premium look. Much better in my opinion than the D-1 you find on the sole of the Ryoma. Romaro prides itself in quality and finish which is why on the 460HX Black they even stamp the words GRAND QUALiTY near the heel. I really like the way the drivers look. As the title and images suggest, there are two models. A Ray 460HX Black which is the conforming model and a Ray 460HX Gold which is a 0.88 Hi Cor Model.
As you can see from the image of the 460HX Gold above, it looks pretty much like the 460HX Black save for the Gold Ray HX badge and gold paintfill. They share the same materials and design basis with the differences being, a higher spring effect or Hi COR face and more closed face angle as well as a slightly lighter head meant for longer club builds. So while they have distinguishing names in 460HX Black and 460HX Gold, they are in fact visually both Black heads with different accents.
Both models utilize a beta titanium called SAT2041. The faces are forged and them chemically milled to produce variable thickness which expands the sweet area and minimizes distance loss on miss hits whether it be high or low or towards the toe or heel. SAT2041 is reasonably rigid which allows for thinner face areas without sacrificing strength and rebound. This does not however reduce the feel in anyway. The SAT2041 is soft but crisp a feel we all like in drivers like the Ryoma. Speaking of Ryoma, one of the reasons why it is so popular is its massive levels of forgiveness. I am happy to say that the Romaro 460HX models feel just as forgiving as their faces are huge with huge sweet spots to match.
The Ray 460HX models use back weighting like the Ryoma but no where near the same weight nor is it placed as far back. Because of its placment, the CG is not as low in the Romaro's which actually create a lower spin flight and a stronger trajectory results in both optimal carry and run. The nice Ray HX badge you see on each head is in fact the back weight. On top of the back weight, Romaro designed what is called a Harmonized Fin System. The fin system sits in the center of that groove you see crossing through the badge. That groove is called a power ridge which increases the rigidity of the bottom of the drivers face. The HFS system uses 6 fins in a circular design which help absorb vibrations and stabilize the head at impact for maximum energy transfer.
Unlike many distance and easy to use average golfer models today, the head is not flat and shallow. But rather deep faced and high back. Again this is a sign that the CG is not simply placed as low as possible. This driver launches strong and this has been a characteristic of all Romaro drivers. In tests that I have read and seen in Japan, many users and pro testers have noted, that Romaro drivers will not lose out to a head wind and are probably one of the strongest flying drivers out there.
At address the Ray 460HX models are neither compact nor large. They are after all 460cc. I would say they look very comfortable at address. As you can see above, the 460HX Black 10* which is spec'ed as a square face angle pretty much looks that way. The 460HX Gold on the other hand is spec'ed as closed and it surely looks close to a 1* closed. The closed face angle on the Gold is to compensate for the slightly longer club length it is intended to have (46.25"). The longer the club gets, the harder can be for an average golfer to square the face. I hit both all week and the while I can pull shots, the slightly closed face of the 460HX Gold did not cause me many issues. It actually produce mostly soft draws which is a good thing.
So the bottom line is how do these good looking heads perform. Lets say if this were a race, Ryoma, Epon, Crazy et al had better get use to seeing the back of the Romaro head as its a keeper. I firmly believe that Ryoma finally has a rival on its hands especially because the Ray 460HX also comes in a Non Conforming Hi Cor model. I had just shafted up my conforming Ryoma D-1 driver with Basileus Fiamma 50 R last week so I had the chance to hit it against both Ray 460HX heads which were sporting ordinary Romaro stock shafts. The Ray460HX Black which again is conforming, matched the Ryoma in overall distance but provided a much more favorable trajectory at least one I liked more. Given the 460HX Black tester is 10* and my Ryoma 10.5* it will naturally launch lower especially since these high end brands are always true to spec. However as I noted above, the trajectory was very strong. My Ryoma sometimes gets higher than I would like and runs less than I would like. The 460HX Black carried a touch less with its more penetrating trajectory but ran right up to similar spots as the Ryoma and sometimes even a tad more (reminder this is with the stock shaft).
The Ray 460HX Gold on the other hand carried at least as far as the Ryoma if not more, and ran more out distancing the Ryoma by about 10 yards. What this means is the Romaro Ray 460HX Gold is already a challenger to the yet to be released Ryoma Special Tuning Hi Cor head (if it ever comes out). Forgiveness is very good as I miss towards the toe and shots were traveling straight or with a slight draw and still going pretty much just as far. I am planning on getting a 460HX Gold and building it with a Crazy Royal Decoration shaft at 46" as my new gamer. The heads are now available but we are finalizing specs and options (ie head weight, face angles -I hope so) with Romaro so you should be seeing the Ray 460HX Black and Gold in the shop in the next few days. They will be available as heads only, or custom made with any shaft available in Japan. I think this will look pretty good in my bag, what about yours?
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.
It'd hard to believe how time flies and we're more than halfway through September already. Many Japanese brands are already preparing or in the process of announcing Fall releases and some even building up for 2012 models already. Fourteen Golf has announced their RM-11 Forged Wedge which has already been talked about for months. The RM-11 has grooves with 15% more volume to increase back spin and stopping power. The head shapes of the RM-11 will vary depending on loft and intended usage for that loft. Its interesting to note that Fourteen has done away with the MT-28 moniker which has seen five generations since its original design by Grind Studio Master Masahiro Tomaru. The Nicke Chrome Finish model will release in Japan on October 14th with the Black finish following about a month later.
On the what's hot side, we've got several products that are in huge demand resulting in manufacturers struggling to keep up with supply. The very surprising PRGR egg i+ Utility which I reviewed a month back is back ordered quite heavily depending on loft and flex as golfers have come to realize how easy it is to hit and the great distance it provides. Crazy has several products that are making golfers wait such as the new CRZ-435II which is back ordered until October along with the Crazy Target Tour shafts in Dark Chrome. Crazy has also announced that all models of Crazy shafts except for Royal Decoration and graphite iron/wedge shafts, are now available in a pearl white color for a limited time. If you're ordering a Crazy shaft and want it white just let us know but it will take a bit of extra time to make.
Epon golf has seen a successful launch of their new AF-902 utility and even at its higher price, pre orders sold out the first manufacturing batch and Endo is now playing catch up though the wait won't be long as they are an experienced manufacturer when it comes to volume. For the average golfer with an unlimited budget, there is no other utility that can match its manufacturing and materials and may even its performance.
This year has seen a comeback in the release of non-conforming and High COR drivers. With Ryoma about to launch their much anticipated Special Tuning 0.88 HI-COR driver and new max COR Ryoma F woods, Geotech Golf has also released two new Hi COR drivers featuring springy over the limit SP700 faces, the GT 45N SWS Alpha Spec Pearl and the all Black RF700 Prototype, both of which I will be reviewing later this week.
Good news from Iomic who earlier this year began offering Jumbo Sticky grips which are oversized grips. They have now officially added mid sized grips to their line up with the Sticky Mid and Mid Evolution grips. Many customers know there is a lack of mid sized grip offerings since Asian hands just seem so small! Now I wonder if Nowon and other Japanese makers will follow suit since maybe there is a market for bigger hands after all. On the smaller hand side, Iomic has also released X-Grip Sticky and Art Series Sticky grips for ladies and juniors!
Many customers always ask is it worthwhile upgrading to a new release model. Well Kamui Works thinks so and they were out to prove their new Ray driver is a longer driver than the Silver 456. The sent me data using Fujikura Shafts robot testing pitting the 456 against the new Ray and the results were quite interesting. I'll have a writeup on the numbers later this week. Up ahead this week I'll also be testing Bridgestone's NEW Super Newing ball which is the replacement for the best distance ball two years running the Newing Brill. I'll also be taking a look at an alternative to Bridgestone's Science Eye swing speed monitor by testing out a similar offering (but no magnets needed) from PRGR. This will be a fun week as we get closer to October! As always we are here to help so drop us a message anytime!
About 2 years ago when we first introduced Kamui works to our readers and customers, their Silver 456 driver became quite the hit thanks to its unrivaled custom options, superb manufacturing and workmanship and of course its great feel and performance. However in recent months, Ryoma's D-1 Driver has not only taken the crown as one of the best performing drivers ever, it has also run circles around ALL other Japanese drivers when it comes to sales. Honestly when I first introduced Ryoma earlier this year, I would have never predicted it's current success and demand especially considering how high end a product it is and its comes to cost. This goes to show that people are certainly willing to pay if a club performs which the Ryoma consistently does for most customers.
Since the release of the 456, Kamui has released a smaller 420 model which is aimed at the better player wanting a compact head. In this new year, Kamui knew, in order to compete with Ryoma - or simply make improvements for that matter, it would have to release a head that could match up with Ryoma in the ease of use and forgiveness category. The Ryoma gets its big distance gains not only from its hot face and superb design but also simply because it is very easy to hit and unbelievably forgiving, meaning even off center hits produce just as straight and long shots as those hit right in the sweet spot. Overall Ryoma players see more distance because of this.
I've been gaming the Ryoma for nearly 6 months with no desire to change to any other driver. I used to game a Kamui 456 which I loved the feel of, however I find the Ryoma easier to hit than the older 456. When Kamui Works announced the new Ray driver which I have already introduced in several blog posts, I looked foward to having one custom made for myself and to compare head to head with the Kamui.
(the following pictures all show the Kamui Ray on the left and the Ryoma D-1 on the right)
Firstly looking at the design of the driver head can usually tell us a lot about the drivers target audience and playing style. Side by side, the new Kamui Works Ray has the shallower face and shallower head of the two. This is usually the sign of a lower and deeper CG and a more forgiving head favoring misses towards the toe and heel. The Ryoma which we all know is as forgiving as a driver gets, kind of bucks this conception by featuring a slightly deeper face and a higher back design. They both feature back weighting with the Kamui using a pair of 5g weights, one in the heel and one in the toe and the Ryoma with that monster 60g power booster weight right in the back. So even with the higher back head, the CG is in fact lower and deeper in the Ryoma thanks to the weighting and monocoque body with the thinnest walls in golf. Loft wise the Kamui is a 10* and the Ryoma is 10.5*, both feature real lots and on measurement are pretty much right on.
Both drivers have very nice looking faces and very clean top lines. The Ryoma face on the right is very symmetrical and has a rounded top and bottom. The Kamui Ray is shallower and based on its shape works to minimize lower heel misses and higher toe misses. You can also see that the hosel lengths are different with the Kamui sporting a shorter hosel. The longer hosel also shifts the CG slightly higher up in the head which the Kamui probably needs to do in order to balance its launch. The Kamui features a nice satin top secret Titanium (they still won't tell me what it is but we will find out soon enough) vs the champagne colored forged TDW titanium face of the Ryoma.
What surprised me was at address both heads look rather similar shape wise. I'm hard pressed to say one is bigger looking than the other at address which is interesting considering that the Kamui is shallow back vs the higher back of the Ryoma which would have led me to believe the head is not stretched back as far as the Kamui. Face angle wise both drivers are supposed to be 0.5* closed. The Kamui looks almost square while the Ryoma does appear closed. We've discussed the Ryoma face angle in the past with some noting its almost an optical illusion with the Ryoma created by the way it sits on the ground, unevenly due to that huge hump of a weight in the back. When swung or hovered in the ai it does not appear nearly as closed. Kamui specs are always right on thanks to being hand built and constantly measured through the manufacturing process and if anything they are too exact, I could have probably used a bit more closed in reality since my bad shot is right.
Both drivers are nicely finished and while they are not necessarily my cup of tea when it comes to looks ie graphics, logos etc, that is very subjective and depends on the person. One thing most people can agree on is that they don't really like the zippered Ryoma head cover which features the model D-1 surrounded by what looks like some sort of molecular structure out of biology. The Kamui head cover is a nice more classy artificial leather looking sock cover.
Now to the important part. Hitting the drivers side by side. I should note as I had in earlier Kamui Install posts that this Kamui Ray built for me features a 0.88 COR non conforming head - while all Ryoma's are only available in conforming heads. Both drivers offer quite different feel and trajectory. I should note the shaft will have some affect on the trajectory. The Kamui was a very stable low to mid launch versus the Ryoma which launched mid to higher (with Crazy Black 46 6.2). There is a 0.5* loft difference plus the lower launching Axiv V 5058 shaft I have in the Kamui but I could clearly see the two different ball flights. This is not to say the Kamui launched too low or the Ryoma too high. The Ryoma carries more by probably 10-15 yards (for me) due to a combination of an optimal trajectory, plus it rolls well at the end. The Kamui and its very strong trajectory hits the ground and runs... a lot. Total distance between both drivers is very comparable, both spin low and I would consider playing the Kamui on windy days to keep the ball down or on harder fairways where I can generate tons of run, but on wide open courses and those that don't produce a lot of run, I'd go with the Ryoma.
Feel is very subjective and so many factors will affect the feel of a driver, including, materials, design, shaft and even how the player swings. The Kamui at impact is more subdued and has more of a soft thud or thwock and while the Ryoma is also soft, it has a higher crispier tink sound at impact. Because of the Ryoma's sound, it feels hotter off the face even though the Kamui is non conforming. One thing to note about Kamui, is that they have long been a brand that have focused on designing and manufacturing clubs for the better player and athlete golfer. I've always believed that the face of the Kamui feels better at higher swing speeds as its design is thicker. Yes that can equal a softer feel but at lower swing speeds its hard to reap the benefits of the Kamui and its feel. My guess is that at 95mph or above the Kamui feel improves. The Ryoma on the other hand has been designed to create maximum ball compression off the face and you can feel it no matter what the swing speed. This is a key design of the Ryoma to increase energy transfer. Ryoma believes that the longer hang time on the face creates more energy transfer to the ball thus faster ball speeds.
One area where the Ryoma stands above everyone else is ease of use and forgiveness. Miss hits result in very lost distance and even shots off the toe straighten themselves out. So how is the Kamui in this respect? Pretty good and it certainly provides more forgiveness than the former Kamui 456 and 420 models. The sweet spot is not as large as the Ryoma, then again no driver has a sweet spot as large as the Ryoma. Kamui has done a great job to still create a new stable, workable driver with increased forgiveness. Toe miss hits are not nearly as punished as before but heel miss hits still suffer. The Ryoma wants to go very straight or draw but the Kamui seems much more workable with draw and fade available to the player, at least this was the case for me (actually seemed to naturally fade more thanks to the smaller gravity angle compared to the Ryoma). In the end how forgiving a driver is depends very much on each individual and can take a lot of time to assess. I will be able to tell better as time goes by and I get to try the Kamui on courses I play regularly. Still if I am swinging the driver poorly, the Ryoma has the advantage. For those who always hit the sweet spot then that advantage might for some be considered a moot point.
If you are looking at these two drivers and are wondering which you should choose, here are reasons that you might consider the Ryoma (not necessarily over the Kamui but in general the Ryoma's strong points).
- superb workmanship and finish
- real specs
- can specify headweights
- stock shaft is pretty good
- know to work very well with the right Crazy shaft
- unrivaled forgiveness and ease of use
- quite possibly the hugest sweet spot in golf
- mid to deeper face
- wonderful feel
- low spin with mid to higher penetrating trajectory (but not very high)
- wants to go very straight
- huge gravity angle which helps square the face - good for anti slice
- available in 3 different models which all have equally good performance
- can be custom built with any shaft
- appeals to all level of players and all swing speeds from slower 80mph players to 135mph long drivers
Here are reasons that you might consider the Kamui Ray(not necessarily over the Ryoma but in general the Kamui's strong points).
- superb workmanship and finish - meticulously hand made
- real specs
- choice of actual specs including head weight, real loft, real lie, real face angle, crown finish, paint fill colors
- sold as head only
- available in both non conforming and conforming
- higher quality head cover
- more penetrating trajectory
- low spin
- stable and controllable/workable ball flight
- smaller gravity angle will result in less pulls and hooks
- soft feel
- more subtle sound at impact
- an improvement over previous Kamui models when it comes to forgiveness
- appeals to players who swing 90mph or higher ideally 95-100mph or higher to produce best feel
- reasonable cost for a premium hand made to spec driver
So in the end we have two very high quality drivers that can satisfy a wide variety of players. I am not going to say one is longer than the other as it really depends on each individual player. Plus it is far to early to tell if the Kamui can live up to the legendary status the Ryoma has gained in only a few short months. The Ryoma's standard specs may fit a wide variety of players and give them the most distance and ease of use they have ever experienced however there are also players who are much more picky and need exact specs to fully benefit performance wise ie the right lie angle and the right face angle to match their swing. In the end its about finding the right driver for you and the right shaft to fit your swing. No matter what the driver is, careful research and proper fitting will allow any player to reap the rewards of great performance. The Kamui Ray and Ryoma D-1 just make those choices all a little bit easier (or harder if you can't make up your mind!)
I brought the Kamui to the range the other day and I had my D5100 with me so I took a short clip on the sound at impact of the Kamui Ray. Disappointingly I did not bring the Ryoma that day so no video for the Ryoma sound which I'll do next time.
As always if you need recommendations or fittings for either the Ryoma or Kamui (it is available for order now) or any other club for that matter, feel free to drop us a note.
I put together the new Kamui Ray last night . I really do like the looks of the driver without the paint fill. I did leave the KAMUI in black but I would even consider leaving that unfilled as well. The Pearl Black head matches well with the ION silver Axiv V shaft and I did finish the club as I had hoped at 45.25". At this length it came out to just a hair over D1 swing weight and a touch under 302g. The finished club CPM'ed a little softer than I would have liked at 236cpm on the Vibroscope. I would have hoped for around 242ish similar to my LY-01 R2 (The Axiv V is an R flex).
The club however feels good in the hands and even with the higher torque of the V-5058, it does not feel whippy at 236cpm. The head at 200g and D1 feel very good and with the shafts mid high kick I can feel the shaft load up and head release on the down swing. With the club finished its a lot easier to get a good look at address versus when I only have the Kamui head only. It is certainly bigger at address than the 456 model and rightfully so as its shallower face and shallow back design elongate the head and push CG further back. I had requested 0.5* closed for the 10* head and at address it in fact looks very close to that (if not almost square).
I measured loft of the head to be 10.1* so it was pretty much on with the requested real loft of 10*. As you can see from the above image, there is not a huge amount of bulge on the face. While I did order a 60* lie angle the design of the Ray features less heel on the driver which naturally allows you to flatten the the angle if you lay the driver on the ground. The toe area is taller than the heel area which favor misses high towards the toe, a typical miss for an average golfer.
I'll be comparing the Kamui Ray 10* directly with a Ryoma D-1 10.5* on Wednesday. They actually look very similar at address. I'm very excited to see how this Kamui will do (especially since its Hi-COR) against the Ryoma which is the longest, most forgiving driver I have hit to date. Stay tuned for the comparison!
Kamui Works sent me my hand made Ray driver today. It came spec'ed just as requested with 10* real loft, 60* real lie, 200g on the dot and a 0.5* closed face. I also requested that they send me a NON Confomring 0.88 Hi Cor model and no paint fill on the sole except the word KAMUI which is black. As always the workmanship is superb as expected from a driver that takes hours to finish and is put together by hand.
My original plan was to install a Crazy Black 46 6.2 Flex in the head but Crazy is out of that flex right now so instead of waiting around I took a peek in my closet to see what "old" shafts I had sitting around so I could build the club today. I found a Motore Speeder VC5.0, Roddio w5BA, and an Axiv V-Spec 5058. The Axiv was a legend of its time and it's mid to high kick coupled with 5.1* of torque result in wonderful feel but with a penetrating launch. Its been a long time since I played the Axiv so I decided to put the Axiv in the Kamui (I can always change it out when the CB46 in my flex comes my way). Paired with a 50g Iomic X-Evolution Grip I calculated that at 45.25" I'd have around D1-D2 swing weight. I've been playing my Ryomas at this same length and swing weight so it will make for a good comparison. I'll be back tomorrow with the finished build and specs and get on with some testing!
The Kamui Works 456 Silver has been one of the all time favorite drivers here at TSG. With a combination of unrivaled custom options, a traditional look, premium performance and feel, there weren't many drivers that could match it. While the original 456 Silver was a reasonably forgiving driver, they have gone a step further in designing their latest model the Kamui Works Ray. The idea of Ray is based on Raijin, god of thunder and lightning, in the Shinto religion and in Japanese mythology. His name is derived from the Japanese words rai (雷, meaning thunder) and shin (神, god). Raijin is typically depicted as a demon beating drums to create thunder and is engraved on the sole of the new Kamui Works Ray driver.
The new Ray has been designed to feature a slightly shallower face as well as a shallow back head with more weighting towards back. A double bulge sole further brings the weight down to create a mid to higher low spin trajectory. Once again like all Kamui works drivers, the Ray is completely made to customer spec by hand in a very time consuming and intricate process.
The new Ray features the following options:
Conforming (0.83) or Non Conforming (0.88) heads
Real lofts from 8* to 12* (8 and 12* are only available non conforming)
Real Lie Angles 58.5* to 61.5* (though they can probably go more)
Real face angles 1* open to 2* closed (though they can probably go more)
No paintfill sole
Headweight 190g to 210g
Head Bias - Fade, Neutral, Draw
Custom head finish
In the past all Kamui drivers were made using cold forged as roll titan faces utilizing DAT56, a next generation titanium steel from Daido Industries. This time however, they have opted for a new mix of Beta Titanium. They have told me that the material is top secret and will improve feel and spring (in other words they won't tell me what it is!) The titanium is still cold forged using pressure moulding with 400 tons of pressure.
The Ray like the 456 Silver also features a dimpled back face which creates variable thickness all across the face for feel and added ball speeds.
Kamui Works then uses TIG Welding (by hand) to attach the face to the driver body. Because this is all done carefully by the hands of top Kamui Works craftsmen, there is very little margin of error when it comes to loft and face angle. You order 9.3* and that's what you get.
The driver heads spend a lot of time on the grinding belt and are worked thoroughly by hand to ensure uniform thickness all throughout the head. Kamui Works believes this is an important process in creating a maximum performance driver as uneven surface and walls of the driver would not only throw off the overall balance of the head but cause the performance to fall below optimal.
Moving from rougher belts to finer belts with many steps in between, Kamui Works ensures a perfect polish and shine with the final touch being done by hand and cloth buffing. This is pure hand made attention folks.
The head is then hand painted to color and finish of customers choice including black pearl metallic, Wine or Green metallic.
The new Ray with its shallow back head is created to produce more forgiveness and ease of use.
I've got a not conforming 10* head with no paintfill on the sole coming my way to be shafted with a Crazy Black 46 for some testing. I loved the 456 silver and if there was something I wish it had more of was forgiveness on miss hits. I'm hoping that this Kamui Ray can rival the ease of use of the Ryoma and give us all yet another great option to choose from. The Kamui's are just so attractive because of the ability to pretty much have your own driver made to spec. Look for the new Kamui Ray in the TSG pro shop later this week!
So with the very promising performance of the Quelot Royal Excellence drivers in my earlier testing, I decided to build myself an ultra light performance driver using the Quelot. Though it's hard to measure actual performance gain of a non conforming head, especially for average swing speed players like myself, I still decided to go for the non conforming Hi-Cor Alpha Spec model. If anything its psychological using a non conforming model.
The Quelot Gold Alpha Spec uses the SP700 Titanium face and features 0.87 COR. SP700 is said to be more springy at impact than the cheaper and more typical 6-4 titanium so it will be interesting to see if there is any feel or performance difference from the conforming models I tested earlier including the 6-4 ti Quelot Silver.
There were several things to consider when building this driver. These days drivers lengths are getting longer and longer with many at 46" or even 46.5 and 46.75" all for the sake of gaining some head speed and more distance. If I remember correctly an extra inch in length adds approximately 2 m/s or 4.5mph to ones swing so going from a 45" driver to a 46.5" driver theoretically would add 3m/s or nearly 7mph in swing speed. The catch is, the longer the driver is in length the hard it is to hit the sweet spot consistently on that driver. A shorter driver can provide more consistency and accuracy resulting in more net distance. A longer driver becomes harder to square up at impact resulting in lost control and lower smash factor which leads to ultimately less distance.
Its all about finding the right length for each individual. Surely there are those who have no problems hitting a 46" driver and reap the benefits of the extra speed and distance. Then there are those who simply need a short driver to keep it in the fairway thus use lengths between 44 and 45" or even shorter. I typically play a driver around 44.5" and can handle a 45" and maybe 45.25" driver and still remain consistent. As the driver gets longer than that, I lose distance as my smash factor decreases and I begin to go towards the right as I become late squaring the head. The Quelot Gold A-Spec is a very light head at 188g stock spec. It is meant to be built at 46" or longer lengths in order to keep an acceptable swing weight. I knew this would be a problem when I built this club so I asked Geotech to pick out the heaviest head they could find and they sent me a 192g head (which they told me is very rare as its usually plus or minus 2g at most). This helped a bit as for every 2g that the head weight increases, swing weight goes up 1 point. Still at this length if I wanted to build a driver at 44.5" the swing weight would be unacceptably low. Every half an inch equals 3 swing weight points so if at stock spec, the Gold Alpha at 46" is an approximate C8-D0, then dropping down to 44.5" would drop the swing weight 9 points or to around C0! So in the end I decided the target finished length would be 45.00" though there was still some work to do to get to an acceptable D0 swing weight which is what I was hoping for.
I decided in building this driver that it would also be a chance to try out the new XDB High Modulus shafts. I wanted to use the 90t XDB65 model but they were heavier than what I wanted (though that would have helped gain a touch of swing weight) and the softest flex was Stiff/Regular. I ended up going with the XDB55 Regular which is the 50t model. The raw uncut weight of the XDB55 was 57g. Working with lighter shafts also make reaching swing weight more challenging. The weight of a shaft also has an effect on swing weight. Every 8 to 9g equals 1 swing weight point so a heavier shaft helps increase swing weight. Once the XDB55 is cut to length, its weight will become even lighter. Just some info on the XDB55, unlike the XDB65 which uses a 4 Axis butt with 90t mid section and 50t tip section, the XDB55 has a 4 axis weave with a 50t mid and tip section. I think I've explained what carbon grading is many times already on the blog but just in case for those first time readers, I will copy and paste what I wrote before.
Shafts are created with carbon fibers weaved together, and these fibers are measured by their modulus of elasticity in tension. Typical golf shafts are around 24t or 30t, the measurement of tensile strength. These lower grade shafts are more flexible and because of this the shaft is slow to regain its original shape on the downswing creating inconsistent impact where a player must rely heavily on timing due to the flexibility of the shaft. As the tensile strength increases, the carbon weaves are more dense, more rigid and return more quickly to their original shape. The flex and rebound of the shaft becomes more predictable equaling more consistent shots and much tighter dispersion. The higher tensile ratings ratings in golf shafts are also related to the higher grades containing more glass and metal particles which are more rigid and lower grades containing more flexible rubber particles.
Finally the last part of the driver build that can have a large impact on the finished swing weight is the grip. Grips these days average around 48-52g and a lighter weight grip helps increase swing weight. Think of a seesaw where the less weight you put on one end the heavier the other end feels and gets and that side of the seesaw goes down. The same goes for the golf club as the grip side decreases by 4g you gain approximate 1 swing weight point (and the opposite if the grip weight increases by 4g). I previously resorted to Golf Pride DDM Light's which were around 37-38g and always helped me gain back approximately 3 points which in this case was not enough. I decided to find the lightest grip I could on the market which is the Winn Lite Xi5. Personally I don't use Winn Grips and I don't necessarily like the way they look of feel however nothing is as light as the Xi5's spec'ed 25g. Thanks to Winn Japan, they actually sent me a 23g one which certainly helped as it is 25-27g lighter than the average grip.
Butt trimming the shaft to length dropped about 4g off the shaft weight and dry installing it at 45" and taking a swing weight measure with the grip and ferrule and the measurement came out to approximately C8.8. I had 2g of tungsten powder mixed into the epoxy and installed the head with the nice dual gold band black ferrule. Once it dried the swing weight was checked again and it was right on D0.
I always have the CPM of every club I use checked as a reference and idea of how "stiff" that club might be. CPM is only one tell tale characteristic of a clubs perceived "stiffness". It does not tell you how a shaft will perform, feel or even how that stiffness is distributed within a club/shaft. It is however a useful reference for general comparison as there is no standards in flex and CPM's can wildly fluctuate from brand to brand. There are also many factors affecting CPM measurements like, machine used, clamp size, measured with grip without grip, head weight, shaft balance point etc, will all effect CPM. Measured as a fully finished club at 45" with a 7" clamp, the Quelot Alpha Spec with XDB55 Regular came out at a soft 227CPM. I will be frank and say this concerns me especially since a lighter head weight should actually increase CPM meaning that the XDB55, at least CPM WISE, is on the soft side. I won't jump to conclusions and say this shaft is too soft but for the moment the CPM of the club is lower than what I hoped (my Crazy LY-01 R2 Flex finished driver was around 242 CPM if I remember correctly). The bottom line will be real world testing and how the club performs. For the moment I have a nice looking non conforming 272g ultra lightweight driver that I hope will provide good distance for an average swing speed and average level player like myself. Now I just need it to warm up a bit so I can get out there and hit this driver for part 2.