I have tried everything when it comes to golf equipment, I’m a full fledge equipment junkie in fact. Every year when spring rolls around and all the manufacturers start rolling out their new products I’m constantly taking trips to the golf shop in my city. They know me, they also know that I’m not real likely to even buy anything, more than likely I’m just there to day dream and play with all the new toys. Imagine if a 5 year old could drive, they’d drive themselves to the Toys R Us store and they’d keep themselves occupied for hours on end, yep, that’s me in my local golf store. Usually thanks to the internet I’m more informed of the equipment coming in the doors than those who are selling it, believe me, I know it all….or so at least I thought I did. Irons, putters, wedges, drivers, hybrids, fairway woods, and well basically everything that you can put in a golf bag I’ve shopped, demoed, and tinkered. I figured I was covering every base, but man was I missing something huge.
Here in the Midwest winter finally gave way to spring and just as you’d expect I was more than ready to hit the links, I’ve been stewing all winter long waiting to jump back in and help THP with articles and reviews. My season was barely underway when the opportunity for a review came my way; little did I know it would change everything I thought I knew about golf equipment. See there is one piece that continually just got overlooked by me, the shaft I was using. Sure I knew enough to grab a stiff flex, but other than looking for that “S” on the shaft I didn’t spend 2 seconds thinking about it, whatever the OEM decided on was good enough for me. Obviously they knew what shaft was going to work for me right? I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that the vast majority of you reading reviews here on THP are just like me, you hear that Cobra, Cleveland, Titleist, TaylorMade, or any other manufacturer you can name comes out with a new driver you think about 2 things, loft and shaft flex and that’s it. I could never have pictured myself playing anything other than the shaft that Cobra decided on for my lovely 9.5 degree S9-1 driver. For this review I was asked to change out both my driver and my hybrid stock shafts with the Project X graphite driver and hybrid shaft respectively.
A couple of years ago shaft giant True Temper bought out Royal Precision, Royal Precision is the company credited with manufacturing the Project X shaft, long known for their quality steel iron shafts, in fact Phil Mickelson was using PX shafts in his irons at the Masters. Last summer Project X was expanded into the graphite shaft market and the effects were felt rather quick as Stewart Cink had the Project X Graphite shaft in his driver on his way to winning the 138th Open Championship. Before I go into what I noticed let me give you some technical info from the company:
The new Project X driver shaft has a similar bend profile to Project X iron shafts. The driver shaft’s firm tip design yields a penetrating launch and low spin while its low torque and reinforced cross section provide the most stable shaft performance on tour.
The new Project X hybrid shaft’s stiffness profile matches Project X iron shafts and its weight provides perfect transition from iron shafts to woods shafts. The hybrid shaft’s bend profile and stability enhancements was designed to reduce both directional and distance dispersion.
Zonal Design Theory
Project X driver and hybrid shafts are engineered using True Temper’s proprietary Zonal Design Theory (ZDT) which divides the shaft into three zones—butt, mid and tip sections. Each zone is optimized for performance using a specific design technology.
Butt section: Hex-Axial Reinforcement Technology provides unmatched cross sectional stability minimizing energy lost to ovalization.
Mid section: Constant Taper Design eliminates localized bending and creates even loading and unloading for maximum energy transfer.
Tip section: Elongated Double Wrapped 55 MSI Reinforcement for a firmer tip section which minimizes droop and lag and reduces back spin.
Tour Launch and Spin: The Project X iron shafts, Project X driver and hybrid shafts provide penetrating launch conditions with ultra low spin. The stiff butt, soft mid-section combine with the double reinforced tip section to maintain a strong angle of attack and greatly reduce spin, even in higher loft drivers.
If you’re sitting there with a blank stare wondering what in the world I’m talking about don’t worry, that is exactly the way I am when it comes to all this technical information concerning shafts, I think that’s why a lot of us just grab the driver and/or hybrid and whatever it comes with is the shaft we get. Well stick with me here and I’m pretty sure you’ll be thinking a little more about it next time you think you’re due for a new driver. As I said earlier, I have a Cobra S9-1 driver, yes I know it came out well over a year ago and by driver standards it makes it nearly a fossil. I like the driver, but I’ll admit, late this winter when THP did their Driver Shoot-out I was really starting to picture myself with a new big stick by now. Man am I glad I didn’t do that, after doing some research on their website I determined that a 6.5 flex would be just right for me and my swing.
So my 6.5 driver and hybrid shafts show up, I immediately head for the club fitter nearby and had these beauties installed. Before I even hit a ball I knew I liked them just based on looks alone. The very next day I was off to the driving range and was extremely excited, I don’t know if it was the fact that I had something entirely new to learn or what it was exactly, but I was pumped for this range testing to begin. After working my way through my bag to warm up I was ready, now something you should know is that I started 2010 absolutely killing my driver. I don’t think I’ve ever started a season hitting that club as well as I was early on this year, so I was a little nervous, I mean a change like this is pretty substantial and if it didn’t work out I’d back to square one. Well my fears were almost immediately put to rest, it’s the same driver I’ve known and loved for a while, but it’s certainly much different now. I usually swing fairly hard when pulling the driver, I once read some advice from John Daly of all people that if you’re going to commit to hitting driver, you may as well commit and hit that baby hard. Hitting it hard and swinging hard are certainly two different animals, with this PX shaft in my driver I feel as if I’m actually able to hit the ball harder than before, why is this? Well without paying for an engineering degree from MIT I’m thinking it’s because of the construction of this shaft compared to what I had before, the low torque of the PX allows me to swing the club more aggressively without worrying about everything getting all twisted up and not having a square club face at impact.
I’m an 11 handicap and my ball flight varies from controlled fade to wicked hook in a moment’s notice, and always without my approval, might I add. Now I’m not just saying this because I’m writing about this product, but I have not had that nasty hook show up since I changed shafts, I’ll repeat that statement under oath if you’d like. I don’t believe I’m about to type this, but my ball flight has been a steady and consistent controlled fade since putting this shaft in play. I purposely did not research the promises of the Project X shaft before putting it in play, I did not want to know if my launch was supposed to be higher or lower, I wanted to see the results for myself and then come back and see if it matched up with the claims. Well, the penetrating launch claim is spot on; I literally could have pointed this change out after hitting just one single ball on the driving range. This ball flight is outstanding, especially for me here in the upper Midwest where we have nothing blocking the wind so days like today (20+ mph wind steady) are very common so we just learn to deal with it and play golf.
The characteristics of the Project X driver and hybrid shafts are very similar, I will say that some of the penetrating ball flight business in my hybrid is taking some getting used to, I have a 21 degree and use it a lot for shots that need to be hit high in an attempt to land soft without too much forward kick and roll. I’m still working on that part of it, but the added performance I’m realizing are leading me to believe this is going to be a very fair trade. Eventually I hope to be able to still manage to hit the high flight/land soft shots with my hybrid, but I’ll be honest, I’m an 11 handicap and couldn’t really do that how I wanted to all the time before anyway.
If you’re wondering if your shafts are really the best for your game, the advice I would give you is this, get the spring issue of THP The Magazine and read the article called “Shafts for Newbies” it is a very informative article that can really change the way you approach your golf equipment needs in the future. In January I was this close to going out and buying a new driver for 2010, well I am now happy to report that I will not be needing to as I could not be more pleased with my Cobra S9-1 with the Project X graphite shaft. Word of caution, these babies are not cheap, the driver shaft goes for $275 with the hybrid shaft selling for $150 but when you consider this option saved me from a $400 driver purchase they really don’t sound too bad. If you have a driver/hybrid that you know aren’t fossils yet you’re just not hitting them the way you’d like, do me a favor, don’t just go out and pick up a new driver hoping it’ll fix your woes. Go to your local club fitter and spend some time getting properly fit for a shaft that will perform how you need to. The difference will amaze you, just like it did me.
Stay Tuned as THP will have a follow up to this review coming next month.
Here’s To Keeping It In The Short Grass