First Look: Mantis B Putter

First Look: Mantis B Putter

Post image for First Look: Mantis B Putter

More Green For The Green

By Dave Wolfe

I think that it’s safe to say that the Mantis Mallet was one of the more unique and interesting putters to hit the market in 2013. Love it or hate it, there was no way that a golfer could miss the Mantis Mallet’s bright green color and atypical shape.

I witnessed quite a few golfers pick up the Mantis Mallet for the first time last year. Many were a little skeptical about the looks, but warmed to the putter once they rolled some balls with it.

While placing 14th in the 2014 Golf’s Most Wanted Mallet competition was probably lower than the folks at Mantis would have liked, I think their finish was a solid one. 14th looks pretty good when you are a new, small putter shop going up against the older and much larger companies.

I spent more than a few enjoyable rounds with the Mantis Mallet in my bag last year (full review HERE), so it really comes as no surprise to me that the mallet was successful enough in the golf market last year to allow Mantis to release a new putter model for 2014, the Mantis B.

B is for Blade

Mantis B-05

C may be for “cookie” on Sesame Street, but at Mantis, B is for “blade”. Now don’t immediately rush to the comments section to tell me that the Mantis B is not a blade putter. The simple truth is that the days of the term “blade” being restricted to bulls-eyes and 8802s is long past. If Mantis wants to call this new putter the blade in their catalog, I’m OK with it. I don’t think that anyone can argue that the Mantis B is more blade-like than the Mantis Mallet.

Regardless, of the “B” designation, the name Mantis carries with it some expectations based upon its mallet sibling. Let’s take a quick look at the features common to the Mantis putters, while looking at what separates the Mantis B from its more bulbous brother.

Mantis B Features:

  • Material: 304 Stainless Steel
  • Weight: 355g
  • Toe Hang: 4:00 (though the Mantis Site says Face Balanced)
  • Length Tested: 34?
  • Finish: Matte Green
  • Insert: Polyurethane
  • Grip: Custom Winn

Feel

Mantis B-07

The Mantis B has the same polyurethane insert as the Mantis Mallet. This is a good thing. I think that the feel of the insert in the mallet was the first thing that won over those skeptical about the putter’s unusual appearance.

The insert in the Mantis B is soft, yet responsive. Missing from the Mantis B though is the mallet’s ringing tone that came with impact. The tone with the Mantis B is more of a click, maybe even more like a clack. It is a very firm tone with the soft insert. A bit contradictory, true, but overall I find the feel quite nice.

 

Looks

Mantis B-04

The looks of the Mantis Mallet were very love/hate for most people, and I expect the Mantis B to evoke the same feelings. The green color is definitely still here, providing a stealth profile against the putting surface and excellent contrast against the white alignment scheme.

I was am a big fan of the looks of the Mantis Mallet, but I am much more lukewarm on the looks of the Mantis B. There is quite a bit of Ping B60 in this heel-toe weighted blade. I know that the B60 shape is a favorite for many of you, and so you may see my looks rating as being a bit low. That’s the beauty of subjective opinions.

For my eye, I want my blades square at the back edge. It’s just my personal preference. I do, however, really like the square line of the face at address, as well as how the neck helps frame the ball by essentially disappearing into the green base.

LOOKS-ave-1

Alignment

Mantis B-15

The Mantis B has the same high-contrast alignment aid as the Mantis Mallet. The whole idea behind the alignment of the Mantis is to keep your eye one the ball. The color of the putter blends into the green so that all you really pay attention to is the white ball and the white alignment “T”.

While the putting surface is not quite Mantis green, blending in definitely happens. No, the Mantis does not vanish into the background like the Predator, but it blends in better than a traditional black or silver putter. As I mentioned in the Mantis Mallet review, I do think that Mantis does a better job at this compared to when Nike tried it with their IC putter line.

Overall, I think that Mantis’s alignment scheme works as intended, as the white alignment aid makes more of a visual impact at address compared to the body of the putter.

 

FIT FOR STROKE™

Mantis B-08

Don’t change your stroke. Change your putter.

The (FIT FOR STROKE™) concept was developed by PING, yet another genius fitting system they have developed for golfers. It works hand-in-hand with the iPING Putter App which is highly suggest everyone getting (IT’S FREE!). You might be surprised to find out that the stroke you think you have isn’t the stroke you actually have.

This addition to the MGS reviews will allow you to become a more consistent putter by matching you with models that better fit your stroke type. They will be broken down into three categories: (1) Straight – for face balance putters (2) Slight Arc – for mid toe hang putters (3) Strong Arc – for toe down putters

“Results from hundreds of player and robot tests at PING offer overwhelming scientific support for the effectiveness of fitting for stroke. In recent years more diagnostic tools and testing equipment have become available, and the results prove that a golfer’s consistency improves when their putter balance matches their stroke type. It was interesting to observe that golfers putt more consistently with stroke-appropriate models, but they also show a personal preference for these models, too. Prior to putting with them, golfers are drawn to models that fit their eye, even before they fit their stroke.” says PING.

The Mantis B: Slight Arc

Performance

Mantis B-06

How does the Mantis B perform? Does it crush all of the other 2014 blades? We will have the answers for you as soon as the 2014 MyGolfSpy Golf’s Most Wanted Blade putter competition is completed. The Mantis B is in the mix, along with thirty-one other putters! Stay tuned.

 

Welcome to the putter corral Mantis B

Mantis B-10

Congratulations to Mantis Golf for being able to bring another putter model to market. Many putter companies don’t survive that initial foray into the very competitive putter marketplace. With the Mantis B, Mantis has kept the features of the Mantis Mallet that separated it from its competition, while incorporating a new design that should appeal to those who like a smaller putter. We will have more about the performance of the Mantis B in our blade test, but feel free to grab one of these at your shop or a local demo day and give it a roll. I’m curious to hear what you think.

 

Mantis B-23
Mantis B-22
Mantis B-21
Mantis B-20
Mantis B-19
Mantis B-17
Mantis B-18
Mantis B-16
Mantis B-14
Mantis B-13
Mantis B-12
Mantis B-11
Mantis B-09
Mantis B-04
Mantis B-24
Mantis B-03
Mantis B-02
Mantis B-01

For More Information visit the Mantis Website.

Golf Forum – Golf Blog (MyGolfSpy.com)

2014 Golf’s Most Wanted Mallet-Beyond the Numbers

2014 Golf’s Most Wanted Mallet-Beyond the Numbers

Post image for 2014 Golf’s Most Wanted Mallet-Beyond the Numbers

(by Dave Wolfe)

Welcome to the third day of the 2014 MyGolfSpy’s Golf’s Most Wanted Test.

On Day 1, we introduced the 2014 competitors, and Day 2 saw the crowning of the Ping Ketsch as the 2014 Golf’s Most Wanted Mallet.

ketsch badge

Today, we are going to break down the data a bit more to see if we can’t identify some of the factors that played a role in this year’s testing. Naturally, we will be looking into the massive dominance of the Ketsch, but we will also take some time to explore the other contestants, hopefully shedding some light on the underlying factors that affected their performances relative to the others in the field.

We have a bunch of numbers to look at, and a bunch of conclusions to discuss, but first let’s reset the testing conditions.

How We Tested

scoring-graph-mwm-2014

SCORING SYSTEM RECAP

To assess accuracy, we had each tester take five putts at distances of 5, 10, and 20 feet, recording the distance that each putt ended up from the edge of the cup. That means measurements were taken for 15 putts per putter with each tester, totaling 150 putts per putter!Once the distances from the edge of the cup were adjusted for the five and ten foot putts, the scores from all of the testers were combined to generate a total accuracy score for each putter.  Accuracy was assessed for the group of testers, not the individual testers.

“Golf’s Most Wanted!” Mallet Putter, should be the most accurate, regardless of the person swinging the stick.

Based upon our years of testing & data, we selected a total miss distance of 127.5 inches from the cup as the ideal accuracy value that a putter could achieve for a given tester. This number represents the total adjusted miss score for all fifteen putts for a given tester and equates to an average miss of 8.5 inches per putt.  Individual putters were then scored against this ideal accuracy value, with the final score representing a percentage of that ideal.  All numbers were rounded off to the nearest whole number. Here is an example of how the final accuracy score is calculated:

EXAMPLE: Accuracy Score Calculation
:: Total Miss Distance (all testers, adjusted for distance)= 1686 inches
:: Average Miss Distance Per Tester (Total/10)= 168.6 inches
:: Percentage of Accuracy Ideal Value (127.5/Average Miss Per Tester x 100)= 76%

Average Accuracy Values

avg-dist-miss

After all of the data was crunched and adjusted, the above breakdown was calculated on a per putt basis. What that means is that, on average, each 5-foot putt was missed by 5.8 inches, each 10-foot putt by 10.8 inches, and each 20-foot putt by 13.4. Were some putts closer to the hole than the average value, and some more distant? Of course, that’s how averages work.

What that average value gives us though is a baseline for comparison. By setting a reference point for average accuracy performance, we now have a point to which we can compare the performance of each individual putter.

We have also broken the total accuracy data out for the three putt distances so that we can further analyze where a given putter excelled, or struggled versus the rest of the pack. Overall, this will tell a more complete story for each individual putter and for the test in its entirety.

Close Is Not In!

We all understand the game of golf enough to know that a 3″ putt after a close miss still counts as a full stroke on the card. With this in mind, total putts made for each putter from each distance was also recorded. When we look at the combination of putts made and the accuracy values, we can get an even more complete picture about putter performance, and a very clear picture regarding the Ping Ketsch’s total domination of the field.

Here are the Made Putt Percentages for our test cohort broken down by distance:
avg-made-putt-percentage
For context, let’s take a look at some 2013 PGA Tour make percentages:

avg-made-putt-pga-tour

Now I’m not going to sit here and tell you that my testers are putting under the same conditions at the PGA guys. Last time I checked, there was no huge dollar loss or gain associated with our test putts, and that probably reduces putting stress a touch. Our test green was definitely flatter, and not as fast as the tour greens, but I think that the testers’ make percentages are pretty darn good for a group of amateur golfers.

Our testers ran the range of handicaps, and overall, I feel like they represent the caliber of guys that many of you probably play with at your home course each week. The testers’ putting abilities definitely varied, but as a group, they had some skill on the green. Our data comes from real golfers who take the game seriously.

Let’s Dig Deeper into Data

Keeping the above averages in mind, let’s look at the performances of the individual putters. For sake of comparison, we have calculated the average accuracy for each putter, from each distance, relative to the overall accuracy of the putter field. We have also included the relative make percentage versus the make percentage of the field.

Here are our twenty-four mallets in order of finish:

1st:  Ping Ketsch

Ping Ketsch

Ping Ketsch

5
Foot

10
Foot

20
Foot

Accuracy vs. Ave

+352%

+38%

+57%

Putts Made vs. Ave

+19%

+11%

+4%

The Ping Ketsch didn’t just beat the competition, it slaughtered them. The runner-up Wilson Vizor Level 2 M3 carded a score that would have won the 2013 competition going away. But this is 2014, and the Ketsch was a force to be reckoned with.

How amazing was the Ketsch’s accuracy?

From 5-feet, the Ketsch was 352% more accurate than the field average. No, I didn’t forget a decimal there. It is three hundred and fifty-two percent more accurate!

That’s a crazy number. When we look at the 5-foot make percentage, it gets even scarier. If the field average was 77%, and the Ketsch was 19% above that, that means that it’s overall make percentage was 96%. Ten testers, five putts each for a total of fifty putts. To score 96% that means…

Only two of the five foot putts were missed by our testers with the Ping Ketsch.

No other putter could top that. It was as close to automatic from up close as I have seen during testing. Numbers from 10-feet and 20-feet were also well above average, but that 5-foot mark was astounding. If you want a putter that takes the knock out of the short knee-knocker, the Ping Ketsch is it.

Don’t be surprised if gaming the Ketsch causes your buddies to extend your gimmie range by a few feet, or if they are all bagging one after the Ketsch hits the market in April.

We will dissect this putter at great length in an upcoming article. It really deserves a spotlight of its own.

2nd:  Wilson Staff Vizor Level 2 #3

Wilson Vizor Level2-3

Wilson Staff Vizor Level 2 M3

5
Foot

10
Foot

20
Foot

Accuracy vs. Ave

+126%

+43%

-3%

Putts Made vs. Ave

-6%

+52%

-4%

As I mentioned above, were it not for the inhuman numbers of the Ketsch, the Wilson Staff Vizor Level2 M3 would have snatched the top honors. When I wrote the Club Report article on the Wilson Staff Vizor Level 2 putters a few months back, I knew that Wilson had definitely improved on the pervious incarnation of the Vizor, but I had no idea that those improvements would translate to this level of performance.

Multiple testers commented on how easy it was to line up the putts using the I-Lock technology, and also how they liked the feel of the new insert. The Wilson M3 put the ball close from all distances, and also made more than the field, including the winning Ketsch, by a bunch at 10-feet.

If the new equipment from Wilson Staff is not on your golf gear radar for 2014, it really should be.

2nd:  Ping Nome TR

Ping Nome TR

Ping Nome TR

5
Foot

10
Foot

20
Foot

Accuracy vs. Ave

+22%

+25%

+25%

Putts Made vs. Ave

-14%

0%

+4%

The first version of the Ping Nome was a tour-tested winner. Remember that Hunter Mahan won the Accenture Matchplay Tournament with the original Nome. The Nome TR definitely upholds the accuracy pedigree of the original, surpassing it when we compare the finish of the Nome TR to the finish of the aluminum Nome in the 2013 Most Wanted Mallet competition.

This year, the Nome TR’s tie-for-second finish comes from being accurate from all distances, perhaps only faltering a bit when we look at the 5-foot makes. If the Nome TR missed the hole, it didn’t miss by much.

Overall, testers had very positive comments about the alignment and feel of the Nome TR, though none were inspired enough to write a poem about it.

4th:  Ping Scottsdale TR Senita B

Ping Scottsdale TR Sentia B

Ping Senita B

5
Foot

10
Foot

20
Foot

Accuracy vs. Ave

+17%

+50%

+11%

Putts Made vs. Ave

-8%

+4%

+4%

Did you notice that the Scottsdale TR Senita B is the third Ping putter that placed in the Top 5? Could there be something going on down there in Arizona these days? It would seem so.

This Senita B was interesting for a couple of reasons. First the “B” in Senita B indicates that it is the counterbalanced version of the Scottsdale TR Senita. We have had discussions before about the impact of counterbalanced putters in the golf market once the anchoring ban goes into place. The high placing of the Senita B, and the BB55-CB right behind it, gives some credence to the anchoring replacement hypothesis.

The other interesting feature about this Senita B is that it has the Slight-Arc shaft option. Ping has always been known for their colored dot fitting/customization program. What they have done for mallets with the fitted shaft options, as well as adjustable length shafts just adds to the depth of customization. There was a time when Ping was the name in putters. Maybe that time is here again.

5th:  Bettinardi BB55-CB

Bettinardi BB55

Bettinardi BB55-CB

5
Foot

10
Foot

20
Foot

Accuracy vs. Ave

+49%

+27%

+8%

Putts Made vs. Ave

-2%

0%

-2%

Most of the testers made what I would call “broccoli face” when they looked at the BB55-CB. The vast majority of the testers were not fans of how the putter looked, and had real doubts about its performance until they rolled a ball with it.

Truth be told, the testers never really warmed to the looks of the BB55-CB, or to it’s shorter-shafted brother the BB-55, but they loved the feel and the alignment. Their opinions on the looks warmed after making lots of solid putts.

Looking at the accuracy, the liking of feel and alignment probably matters more than not liking the looks when it comes to making putts. We will have more on the aesthetic to performance correlation in a bit, but the Bettinardi B55-CB scored 5th for accuracy, with an aesthetic ranking of 16th.

You can make putts with an “ugly” putter.

6th:  Odyssey Tank 2-Ball

Tank 2-Ball

Odyssey Tank 2-Ball

5
Foot

10
Foot

20
Foot

Accuracy vs. Ave

+70%

+30%

-1%

Putts Made vs. Ave

+8%

+4%

-4%

If any putter had an unfair advantage in the competition, it was probably this 2-Ball. I would estimate that seven or eight of the testers told me a story about how they used to game a Odyssey 2-ball at some point in the past. Lining up the two balls with the ball to be putted was not a new concept.

The TANK 2-Ball did very well from in close, but its heavy weight got a bit more unruly at distance. Most testers thought that it would take some time to get the feel for it at long range.

This TANK 2-Ball is, of course, another counterbalanced putter. That makes 4th, 5th, and 6th place so far going to counterbalanced putters. Hmmmm.

7th:  Nike  MOD-00

Nike MOD-00

Nike MOD-00

5
Foot

10
Foot

20
Foot

Accuracy vs. Ave

+35%

-6%

+17%

Putts Made vs. Ave

+14%

+6%

+2%

The Nike MOD-00 was right there with the pack leaders, putting up solid numbers, just not ones epic enough to crack the Top 5.

Testers liked the alignment scheme, and the feel. The consensus was definitely “I’ll be taking this home” with many of them.

I know that I just made a little commercial for Wilson Staff above, but Nike Golf’s equipment improvements definitely warrant further consumer investigation as well. Their putters have been exceptional for the past few years now. Remember that it was a Nike putter that won Golf’s Most Wanted Blade Putter last year.

7th:  Bettinardi BB55

BB55

Bettinardi BB55

5
Foot

10
Foot

20
Foot

Accuracy vs. Ave

+98%

0%

0%

Putts Made vs. Ave

+8%

-6%

-2%

The short-shafted sibling of the BB55-CB also cracks the Top 10. While watching the testers putt, I knew that both BB55 versions were scoring well, but I would have though that this standard length version was scoring higher than the counterbalanced one.

This BB55 was definitely stronger in close than the BB55-CB, but the data suggests that the counterbalance provides an edge from distance.

Look for a further dissection of the counterbalanced versus standard performance in a future MyGolfSpy article.

9th:  Ping Craz-E

Ping Craz-E

PING CRAZ-E TR

5
Foot

10
Foot

20
Foot

Accuracy vs. Ave

+81%

-9%

+2%

Putts Made vs. Ave

+14%

-2%

-4%

The Ping Craz-E TR brings our Pings in the Top 10 count up to four. The Craz-E did not score as well as the other three from mid-distance, but as you can see, it was exceptional in close.

The fact that there are four putters in the top ten that share the same insert is definitely worth looking into. While Ping may not have invented the concept of the off-center correcting insert, it does seem that with these mallets, they have developed that insert concept to a new level.

I’ve sent some inquires to Ping about the TR insert and its design process. Hopefully I can sit down with their putter people and get a more complete story on it to share with you soon.

10th:  Odyssey Jailbird

Jailbird

Odyssey Jailbird

5
Foot

10
Foot

20
Foot

Accuracy vs. Ave

+17%

+1%

+3%

Putts Made vs. Ave

-4%

-8%

+2%

I’ll hand it to the Odyssey guys, when they come up with a concept, they push it to its boundaries. The Odyssey Versa Jailbird takes the black-white-black, perpendicular to the target line, alignment system and adds a more common siteline. Visually, the Jailbird is very distinct.

The familiarity of the White Hot insert in the Jailbird provided the testers with decent distance control, but they generally were not fans of the alignment system. Even from 5-feet, our testers were not confident that they were on the right line. The insert got it close, but knocking it in the cup consistently was another story.

10th:  SeeMore PTM3

PTM3

SeeMore PTM3

5
Foot

10
Foot

20
Foot

Accuracy vs. Ave

+17

-4%

+5%

Putts Made vs. Ave

+12%

-6%

+2%

Tied for 10th is the highest placement for a SeeMore putter in any of the Golf’s Most Wanted competitions. I have always thought that SeeMore’s greatest weapon, the Riflescope Technology alignment system, could also be their greatest liability if the person using the putter does not understand how it works.

Regardless, the SeeMore PTM3 put up very respectable scores, especially when you compare them to the other compact, round mallets coming later down the list. Maybe the testers were a little more clued in to the RST workings this time, or maybe the PTM3 was more forgiving for the SeeMore uninitiated.

Regardless, the performance of the PTM3 shows that SeeMore can be right there with the big companies.

12th:  Odyssey Havoc

Havok

Odyssey Havok

5
Foot

10
Foot

20
Foot

Accuracy vs. Ave

-24%

+13%

+11%

Putts Made vs. Ave

-8%

+12%

+12%

The Odyssey White Hot Pro Havok was a “cold dead hand” putter for one of our testers. I am sure that he will ask me about it when we are testing blades. He should want the Havok, because he just ruled the green with it. However, others did not find it so welcoming.

Testers commented about alignment issues when in close with the Havok, and the numbers show this confusion. One tester said that the straight alignment lines made for confusing optics when coupled with the curved body. Compare the Havok shape and scoring to the everything is straight BB55 and maybe we can see the impact.

Accuracy and makes may have improved from distance because the testers were not as worried about pointing the face of the Havok at the cup.

13th:  TaylorMade Daddy Long Legs

DDL

TaylorMade Daddy Long Legs

5
Foot

10
Foot

20
Foot

Accuracy vs. Ave

+29

+22%

-17%

Putts Made vs. Ave

+8%

-2%

-8%

The TaylorMade Daddy Long Legs was similar to the TANK 2-Ball in performance. Testers loved it in close, but felt that the swing was a bit more unreliable at twenty feet. Like the TANK, the DLL is also counterbalanced, though this one was the short version of the counterbalanced models, measuring 35″.

More than one of our testers commented that they liked this length, as opposed to the longer counterbalanced putters, because it was easier to keep the grip end clear of the belly. If you played a belly putter at 38″ and now you have a not-to-be-anchored 38″ counterbalanced putter, you are in for some adjustment.

One tester suggested sit-ups to increase belly to putter grip clearance.

14th:  Mantis Mallet

Mantis Mallet

Mantis Mallet

5
Foot

10
Foot

20
Foot

Accuracy vs. Ave

-14%

-16%

+4%

Putts Made vs. Ave

-4%

+6%

-4%

Mantis Golf emerging into the golf market was one of the feel good putter stories of 2013. I’m definitely a fan of this green alien ship-esq design,  but this test is all about the numbers.

Testers liked the feel, liked the looks more than I expected them too, but just didn’t really put up stellar numbers with the Mantis Mallet. Most of the testers were even familiar with the Mantis putter, having rolled it at the huge local demo day last year.

Some were put off by the looks of the Mantis Mallet. It is different. Just wait until you see the Mantis B blade. That new Mantis will take its shot at being Golf’s Most Wanted in the coming months.

15th:  Cleveland Smart Square

SmartSquare

Cleveland Smart Square

5
Foot

10
Foot

20
Foot

Accuracy vs. Ave

-37%

-3%

+8%

Putts Made vs. Ave

-8%

-6%

-2%

Let’s start with a big high five to Cleveland Golf for their participation. At the time the invitations went out, Cleveland was not that happy with MyGolfSpy’s views on the Smart Square. However, rather than deciding not to participate, they believed in this putter and sent the stick to do the talking. Regardless of where the Smart Square placed, I tip my hat to Cleveland Golf and I wish that all of our non-participating companies shared your product confidence.

Unfortunately, the dual squares did not seem to assist our testers, especially in close. A couple of guys suggested independently that the alignment would improve if the lines parallel to the face were blacked out, leaving two long lines down the length of the putter. I may give that a shot and see what happens, I’ll let you know.

15th:  Tour Edge v3.2

DSC_0004

Tour Edge DG Proto v3.2

5
Foot

10
Foot

20
Foot

Accuracy vs. Ave

+27%

-20%

-10%

Putts Made vs. Ave

+8%

-24%

+4%

The Tour Edge Exotics DG Tour Proto v3.2 did very well in close, but accuracy fell off dramatically outside of five feet. I would be willing to bet that this represents the influence of design on the required stroke at these distances.

At 5 feet, you can overpower the natural flow of the putter, driving the ball into the hole almost by sheer force of will. However, this gets less likely when the putt is longer. The heel shaft and deep toe hang of this putter really suits a strong arcing stroke, one very different from the other mallets in the test. Maybe the testers were really grooved in on a shallower arc swing by the testing, and this one suffered as a result, but that’s just speculation.

The DG Proto v3.2 was well received for looks by the cohort, scoring 7th overall, but they just couldn’t putt well from distance with it.

17th:  Bellum Winmore Midi Proto

Bellum Winmore Midi

Bellum Winmore Midi Pro

5
Foot

10
Foot

20
Foot

Accuracy vs. Ave

-28%

-5%

-2%

Putts Made vs. Ave

+2%

-2%

+2%

I am sure that the guys at Bellum Winmore wanted their putter to place a bit better than it did, and maybe that’s true for most of the putters outside of the top slots. Personally, I see their middle of the pack finish as a strong one.

You may not realize it, but this Midi is the first mallet, ok maybe mallet-ish, putter from Bellum Winmore. I don’t mean first mallet design, I mean first mallet produced. Maybe it did struggle versus the pack from 5 feet, but it held its own at distance.

If Bellum Winmore can come out the gate with a competitive putter, just imagine what the Bellum Winmore guys will be producing down the road. I’ll be keeping a close eye on them.

17th:  Wilson Staff Vizor 2 M4

Wilson Vizor Level 2 M41

Wilson Staff Vizor Level 2 M4

5
Foot

10
Foot

20
Foot

Accuracy vs. Ave

-15%

+2%

-15%

Putts Made vs. Ave

-4%

-6%

-2%

The Wilson Staff Vizor Level 2 M4 did not live up to the standard set by the M3. What can we pin this on? Maybe it’s the traditional versus atypical head shape. Could be the center-shaft versus heel-shaft design. The M3′s and M4′s DNA are definitely similar, but I think that the M4′s design fits a narrower subset of golfers and as such, just won’t perform as well in the hands of a broad test pool.

If this design looks like something you would normally play, I would bet that your numbers would be higher. I have confidence in the performance of the I-Lock alignment system and the playability of the Vizor 2 insert, but this design may just be too out there for our test pool.

19th:  TaylorMade Spider Mallet

SpiderBlade

TaylorMade Spider Mallet

5
Foot

10
Foot

20
Foot

Accuracy vs. Ave

-30%

-16%

-2%

Putts Made vs. Ave

-2%

+2%

-2%

When one looks at the bottom ranking end of this year’s Golf’s Most Wanted field, it is easy to spot a design trend. The small, round mallets did not do very well. With the exception of the Odyssey Metal X MIlled #7, all of the other low scoring mallets are small, round mallets.

The TaylorMade Spider Mallet scored the best of these maligned mallets, but nobody at TaylorMade is throwing high fives for a tied-for-19th finish. Testers really liked the looks of the Spider Mallet, but that, once again, demonstrates the disconnect between looks and performance. Were opinions on looks as important as we all once thought, the Spider Mallet placing 3rd in aesthetics should have produced something better than 19th.

19th:  Piretti Bosa

Bosa

Piretti Bosa

5
Foot

10
Foot

20
Foot

Accuracy vs. Ave

-25%

-6%

-14%

Putts Made vs. Ave

-4%

+2%

+4%

I was very excited when we added Piretti to our testing pool this year. What a great year they had with Stenson on tour last year, except for the part when he took the big paycheck at Callaway. Stenson rocking a Piretti Cottonwood II to the PGA Championship gave small putter companies everywhere hope, and something to shoot for.

Unfortunately, Piretti is welcomed to the Golf’s Most Wanted mallet competition with a tie for 19th. That’s not a nice way to treat a new friend, but when data dictates decisions, we need to go with what the data says.

Based on our data, the only thing that hurt tester performance than being a small mallet was being a small mallet with a plumbers neck. Our testers just didn’t sync with that design.

21st:  Bettinardi BB32

BB32

Bettinardi BB32

5
Foot

10
Foot

20
Foot

Accuracy vs. Ave

-40%

-2%

-9%

Putts Made vs. Ave

-6%

-6%

+2%

As I just mentioned for the Piretti Bosa, the compact, round mallets had a rough time in the competition. With the BB32, the majority of the problem from 5 feet was a combination of distance and line. Misses were typically long, both to the left and the right.

I actually found this data very interesting as it was opposite to what we saw with some of the other putters that were muscled into the hole up close, but veered off at distance. The BB32 also reenforces the disconnect between looks and performance as it was ranked aesthetically highest among the four Bettinardi entrants, but finished well behind both of the BB55s in performance.

22nd:  SeeMore X3

X3

SeeMore X3

5
Foot

10
Foot

20
Foot

Accuracy vs. Ave

-27%

-21%

-9%

Putts Made vs. Ave

-2%

-6%

+4%

While the PTM3 suggested that the testers were becoming clued in to the SeeMore system, the X3 results suggest otherwise. In light of the PTM3′s performance though, it is tough to blame the X3′s score on tester ignorance of the SeeMore system. Like the others down at this end, alignment and distance were the culprits.

The insert was in the X3 was not a tester favorite. They felt that the feedback from the insert was sub-par, and more than one wished that it was an insert-free milled head.

23rd:  Bettinardi BB32-CB

BB32-CB

Bettinardi BB32-CB

5
Foot

10
Foot

20
Foot

Accuracy vs. Ave

-24%

-17%

-17%

Putts Made vs. Ave

-6%

+2%

-6%

Most of what I said above for the BB32 holds true for the BB32-CB. The extra bit of story on this one is that it seems to put a wrench in the counterbalanced is better theory. The admittedly small sample size of the putters in this test suggests that counterbalancing is worth pursuing for those looking for a bit of putting assistance, but benefits of counterbalancing may be on a per model basis.

Just because a putter is counterbalanced, it may not always be more accurate compared to a non-counterbalanced version. As I said before, the counterbalanced discussion is far from finished.

24th:  Odyssey Metal X Milled #7

MxM7

Odyssey Metal X Milled #7

5
Foot

10
Foot

20
Foot

Accuracy vs. Ave

-36%

-29%

-4%

Putts Made vs. Ave

-2%

-2%

+2%

For many of you out there, the last in class performance of the first fully milled Odyssey #7 is tough to swallow. How could this mallet, with its tour presence and overall player love finish in the cellar? One of you even commented about how different the results were for the Metal X Milled #7 compared to the Metal X #7 from last year’s competition. Great observation and question there.

The simple answer is that this #7 is not the same as the other #7 models. While year to year versions of the Odyssey “Fang” share the same #7 denotation, they are not the same in construction. Some are physically larger or smaller, and obviously, there are different inserts in the equation.

For this #7, the milled Metal X face and the larger size proved a fatal combination. While I personally do not participate as a tester in the Most Wanted Mallet process, I did spend some time with this #7. I like the #7, gaming a Versa 90° BWB #7 for a good portion of last season. I enjoy playing with that putter, and based on my love of milled putters, I was excited to roll the MXM #7.

To put it simply, the two #7′s didn’t feel the same at all. Something just felt off with the Metal X Milled version. Maybe it’s the weight, maybe it’s the way that the size effects the optics and stroke. Whatever it is, it was off for me, and for the testers as well.

I’ve read that some have had increased success with the MXM #7 after adjusting the weights, even trying different mass weights in the heel and toe positions. I’m going to experiment with the weights before dismissing this one outright. As with the entire test though, data is data and I can only report to you the numbers that the testers generate.

Group Collage

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And We Are Just Getting Started

You may be finishing this read, longing for more. Rest assured, more is definitely on the way. In this article, I have mentioned a couple of the putter things that we have cooking, but the most significant thing on the horizon is the 2014 MyGolfSpy Golf’s Most Wanted Blade Putter Competition. For that one, we have 32 blade putters from a variety of companies competing to be Golf’s Most Wanted.

Is there one in that batch that can touch the performance of the Ping Ketsch? I doubt it, but I also would have doubted that what the Ketsch did was even possible. Stay tuned flatstick fans, stay tuned.

More Most Wanted Mallet Coverage

2014 Most Wanted Mallet: The Contenders
2014 Golfs Most Wanted Mallet – The Results
2014 Golf’s Most Wanted Mallet – Beyond the Data (This Post)

Golf Forum – Golf Blog (MyGolfSpy.com)

Cobra Golf Brand Survey – The Results

Cobra Golf Brand Survey – The Results

Post image for Cobra Golf Brand Survey – The Results

For whatever it’s worth, Cobra is (for me anyway) one of the most intriguing brands in all of golf. Granted, I’m a guy who loves color – and I know that some of you don’t. I’m also a guy who happens to love performance (and I don’t know many of you who don’t), and while they haven’t always fared well in our head to head tests, with just a little bit of tuning Cobra’s products have proven to be some of the most exceptional I’ve ever had in my bag.

Hell, I spent most of last year with a Cobra driver and irons in my  bag. In early fall I added their wedges. And then it snowed and I’ve spent that last several months being miserable, but I digress.

For all the crap you guys give me about being a TaylorMade guy, those who know me best would probably tell you I’m a Cobra-PUMA guy at heart, and for the life of me I can’t figure out why more of you aren’t giving the brand a chance.

Of course, if the moves Cobra has made in the last year – things like bringing in Tom Olsavsky from TaylorMade to head their R&D team, and the rollout of a state of the art new fitting system (that’s selling the capabilities short) – pan out the way I think they will, the future of Cobra could be an exciting one.

You won’t be able to ignore them. My 2 cents…Cobra is one of two brands I think has the most potential for growth in the coming years.

That said, my record at predicting the future is spotty at best, and our survey wasn’t about what the future holds, it’s about what’s happening right here and now.

To that end, here’s what you think about Cobra Golf.

1 - postive differntiate attribute
If you’re Cobra you probably want to be known more for performance than marketing, but both the innovation and performance numbers are solid. From top to bottom this chart really isn’t that different than what we’ve seen in our surveys of other companies. Thus far only Titleist is shown to have created the perception that Quality and Performance are the greatest differentiators. What’s perhaps more telling is the responses from the Other field.

Far and away Color (in one form or another) was the most popular response. Some suggested they like the bold colors. Others…umm…not so much. What it tells us is that, for now anyway, Cobra is inextricably linked with the same colors they feature on the their clubs.

Cobra is color. Color is Cobra.

When Cobra was acquired by PUMA the introduction of color into the lineup was a simple (and effective) way to differentiate themselves from the rest of the industry, while infusing part of the PUMA identity into the Cobra lineup. To achieve wider acceptance (growth) in the market, they’re probably going to need to come back to the middle a bit, and with the reintroduction of black into the lineup, and refinements to PUMA’s golf offerings, we’re starting to see just that.
2-1
To a large extent, the responses to this question mirror what you guys wrote in the Other field. The top responses are all image-related. It suggests you see Cobra as a colorful, trendy company that targets a younger demographic. Yeah…I am Captain Obvious.

The good news is that shows that Cobra has emerged from Titleist’s shadow and firmly established its own identity. The bad news is that it’s a somewhat exclusionary identity. We know that there is a segment of golfers who won’t consider products because of the color. We also know that part of that same segment doesn’t believe Cobra is serious about performance.

In that lies the challenge for Cobra Golf. How do you maintain the identity you’ve built while getting your performance message out to the masses?

Performance needs to be at the top of this chart, and while I believe that internally at Cobra it is, convincing the consumer of that is no easy task.
3 - cobra in bag
Just over 53% of you reported that you don’t have a single Cobra club in the bag.

Why the hell not?

While the driver number is solid (somebody is playing Cobra drivers), it’s really the fairway (16.02%), hybrid (18.23%), and iron (18.23%) numbers that stand out. The origins of Cobra trace back to the fairway wood. Actually, the original Baffler was more of a hybrid, but whatever you want to call it, the legacy remains strong.

The irons are almost a curiosity. We’re talking about a company that offers a competitive product for every type of golfer, and more often than not, they do it for less money than any other serious player in golf. What’s the issue here?

As for the wedges…don’t get me started. The new(ish) Tour Trusty is probably the single most underappreciated product on store shelves right now. You owe it to yourself to at least try it.
4 - Cobra Perceptions
This particular question seems to always yield similar results. You definitely want to be seen as improving significantly, and that’s apparently how most of you see Cobra.

Here’s my follow-up question: why? What about Cobra has improved your perception of the brand.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m very much inclined to agree with you. What I see in terms of corporate structure, the people they’ve brought in, and the things they’re doing with products and services is exceptional, but most of that stuff hasn’t yet trickled down to the consumer.

There is tremendous potential with the brand, but I’m not convinced the last 3 years reflect that. Keep an eye on the next 3.
5 - true of cobra
63.66% of you said Cobra targets a wide-range of golfers. That next biggest chunk (54.41%) is for Invests Heavily in Marketing. You guys always think it’s about the marketing. You guys might be right.

The good news is that between 25%-30% of you said that 1)Product engineering is superior 2)Products are manufactured to tight tolerances and 3)Cobra invests heavily in research and development.

All of the negatives (products are mass-produced and cheaply made, does not respect the game, does not care about custom fitting, etc.) registered fairly low as well.
6 - cobras place
I’m going to let you in on a little secret. Everybody in golf cares about what other companies are doing. All of them. No exceptions.

That said, Cobra is certainly more willing to step out of the box than most, and I probably wouldn’t classify them as either a leader or a follower. They definitely march to their own drummer, the challenge is getting all of you to dance along.

7 - cobra vs. competetors clubs2
We already know that Cobra doesn’t make golf balls or putters. The former is a notorious money pit, while the latter Cobra insists they’ll only tackle if and when they have something of actual consequence to contribute. Basically they’re not going to make a putter just to have a putter.

While nothing really stands out, I suppose there is good news to be gleaned from the perception that some of you (55.44%) think that Cobra’s Metalwoods (drivers, fairways, and hybrids) are slightly better to far superior. It’s also encouraging that 33.26% of you think the same about the irons.

I can’t say this enough…you guys are missing the boat on the new wedges. More than 25% of you believe that Cobra’s wedges are slightly or significantly worse than its competitors. That’s insane. The original Trusty Rusty, with its game-improvement slant, wasn’t for everyone. And perhaps Cobra made a mistake by bringing it back for the sake of nostalgia (and for the sake of being able to offer something in the wedge category), but the new Tour Trusty…it’s totally different, and totally deserving of another look.
8  - cobra vs. concepts
With most companies, the average range (at, or above) is always going to dominate the responses. No surprises here.

Where I think several of you missed the boat is in the value category. Cobra consistently offers products (especially irons) and prices that are often $100-$200 less expensive than others in their class. Look no further than AMP Cell Pro Irons. The going rate for a forged muscleback from Titleist, Mizuno, and others is $999. Cobra offers you an iron that’s comparable in every respect for $799.

We’re not talking Wal-Mart here, we’re talking about a top quality product at a better price. Isn’t that what everyone says they want?

9 - cobra brand health
You guys more or less nailed it here. You’re not going to see any overnight game-changers, but Cobra is a company that’s taking steps to become more of a force in the industry. There’s absolutely no guarantee it’s going to work. I can’t promise you that in 3 years Cobra won’t be worse off than they are today, but I believe they’ve had some exceptional products over the last couple of years, and they’re certainly going to make every reasonable effort to build on those.

Cobra will never be TaylorMade, but it’s not content to be where it is right now either.

11 - do you follow cobra
Move along…probably not much to see here. Basically we’ve found that golfers who follow golf companies are 50%-60% likely to follow any particular brand.
12 why not follow cobra
Among those who do follow golf companies, but don’t follow Cobra, the Not a Fan number (33.33%) is perhaps a little on the low side. The more interesting info comes from the Other box where responses were things like:

“Marketing is annoying to me”
“Can’t follow everyone”
“I don’t think they market to people like me”
“Only follow companies whose equipment is in my bag”

13 - cobra social media engagement
The companies who excel at Social Media are generally the ones who execute a specific plan, and are most active on Social Media. Generally speaking, Cobra is more engaged than many other golf companies, but there’s is a lack of consistency (periods of absence or limited activity), and they don’t always give the impression there’s a cohesive Social Media plan beyond “let’s tweet something”.
14 - cobra social media influence brand perception
While I’m still not certain on the direct impact to the bottom line (see the next question), I do believe that Social Media can have a direct bearing on our perceptions of a company, and while that might not translate directly to sales, it can certainly work against sales.

Maybe I’m alone here, but Social Media efforts rarely improve my perception of any given brand, but poor Social Media, or Social Media that rubs me the wrong way has most certainly negatively impacted the way I view certain brands.

Invisible is better than bad. Fortunately for Cobra, not many of you see their efforts as negatively impacting perceptions.
15 - cobra social media buying decison
For just about every brand we’ve surveyed this result has been largely constant. 60% of you report that Social Media has had no impact on your buying decision. It raises two questions for which I don’t have solid answers.

Is it possible you’re being influenced without realizing it?

Is the 10% or so of the audience that tells us that Social Media has positively influenced the buying decision a big enough number to justify the efforts?

What’d We Miss?

Do you have anything else to add to our conversation about Cobra Golf? We’ve got a comment section below. Feel free to use it.

Golf Forum – Golf Blog (MyGolfSpy.com)

Gadget Review – Swing Caddie SC100 Personal Launch Monitor

Gadget Review – Swing Caddie SC100 Personal Launch Monitor

Post image for Gadget Review – Swing Caddie SC100 Personal Launch Monitor

Written By: Dan Mann

It’s pretty cool to think you can now have your own launch monitor roughly the size of a cell phone for less than the cost of…well…a cell phone. Sound impossible? The people at Voice Caddie believe they have created just such a device.

Like Trackman and FlightScope, the Swing Caddie SC100 is a hand-held, Doppler Radar-based launch monitor. Unlike those systems, which range in price from $10,000 – $22,000, the SC100 can be yours for under $300. Is that even possible?

Let’s find out.

swingcaddie-package

PRESENTATION

I’m a sucker for pomp & pizzazz.  I love products that reflect the passion and style of  the company behind them. Like with the Voice Caddie, Swing Caddie SC100 comes in a slick iPhone-esque box. The SC100 itself resembles a stylish, high-end mobile device and feels quite sturdy in the hands.

It’s not only looks good, it’s also durable. The SC100 is bumper’d on all four corners which gives the impression it can take a serious impact or two. If they’d sent me a second unit I may have attempted a drop test for you, but seriously, I baby my cell phone. If I have my way the SC100 is never seeing the ground other than when I place it there.

Probably worth a mention, you’re also going to look cool with this thing set up behind you on the range.

swingcaddie-phones

swingcaddie-quarter

EASE OF SET UP/USE

In the box we get the Swing Caddie manual, written in fairly simple terms with easy to follow diagrams. I will admit there we a few things I had to read twice, but once you get a feel for things its smooth sailing from there on in.

Next you’ll want to pop in the supplied batteries, a simple flick of the power switch on the side and easy as pie we’re up and running.

The device itself has 5 buttons placed on its sides to allow the user to easily switch through modes, club settings, check yardage and flip between ball speeds & smash factors. And fear not my American neighbors, because you insist on being different, there’s even a fancy switch to toggle from Metric to Imperial.

Realizing how much of a hassle it can be to stop, pick up your already-placed device and toggle through things the SC100 also comes with a really easy to use remote control.

How easy?

There’s literally a button for every single option from driver to wedge, mode, ball speed etc.

Putting it to use is supposed  to be very simple as well. Pick a mode and place the unit roughly 1.5 meters directly behind your ball, and swing away. In practice, this aspect of the setup has been very hit or miss.

One range session I’ll put it down roughly 1.5 meters and it catches every shot, while in another session I’ll have to move it 5 or 6 times before it starts capturing every shot. I’m not talking missing the odd shot here, the Voice Caddie would miss 15-20 shots before I would get it situated in the “Sweet Spot”.

 

swing-caddie-vs-flightscope2

PERFORMANCE

Let’s cut right to the chase.  How does the SC100 fare against the big boys? We put it head-to-head against the FlightScope.

I had the opportunity to compare it outdoors to FlightScope. All in all, the Swing Caddie SC100 proved to be reasonably accurate.

Take a 7 iron for example. If a monitor like this is to be considered accurate you’d want it to be roughly within 1% of the big boys like a FlightScope or Trackman. Anyone with experience with either will tell you that it’s not unusual for even the industry leaders to totally miss an occasional shot, or sometimes provide data that doesn’t quite make sense.  It would be unreasonable to expect perfection from anything. With that said, I found the SC100 was consistently within 1.5% (low side) on average of FlightScope. That’s pretty damn impressive for a handheld device; especially one costs approximately $9,700  less..

We did experience some wild anomalies. It registered a 7 iron as traveling 30 yards further than I could ever hope to hit one. It missed a dead shank, and there were times I’d hit a decent 5 yard cut and it wouldn’t register at all.

They didn’t happen often, but the did happen. As I’ve said, every launch monitor (Trackman, FlightScope, Foresight), misses a shot every now and again.

 

swingcaddie-anomaly

PRACTICAL USE

The grand question of all is who and what is the SC100 for? First let’s consider what numbers the SC100 supplies us with.

• Carry Distance
• Swing Speed
• Ball Speed
• Smash Factor

For a club fitter, that’s almost certainly not going to get it done. The lack of spin rate and launch angle makes the SC100 a non-starter for those guys. Worth noting, FlightScope’s Xi, which runs in the area of $4000 ballpark, does not offer spin and launch angle either. If you want launch and spin, you’ll need to spend at least $300 more on the upcoming Ernest Sports ES14, or you can step up to professional solutions like FlightScope Xi+ ($5,000), ForeSight GC2 ($6,500) or Trackman ($22,000).

compare-lm

Certainly there are times when knowing launch angle and spin rates are critical. If you’re trying to optimize your driver, or measure small performance details between iron shafts, you’re going to need to know launch and spin rates (and shot height, and angle of descent). There’s no way around that.

If you need (or want) to know your angle of attack, swing path, or face angle, the SC100 isn’t going to give those to you either. For now, nothing is going to give you all that data, and do it accurately, reliably, and repeatedly for less than $5000.

So let’s just put it out there right now. The Swing Caddie SC100 isn’t really a fitting tool. It’s not designed to be. It has some practical application as a teaching tool, but it’s certainly not what you’d call an Enterprise-Class device designed to competed with Trackman, FlightScope, and ForeSight.

Swing Caddie is a not a tool for the professional, but for its audience…the average golfer looking for more (a lot more) info than the naked eye can provide, it’ represents a substantial leap forward in golf technology.

The SC100 is a “Personal” device that provides ample data for most of us to tune things up and get dialed in at the range. For those curious about tweaking lofts and even shafts on their own, having total carry distance on hand can be invaluable. You can try judging total distance by pacing it off or just eyeballing it. You’ll probably get it wrong, and isn’t it better to have immediate access to accurate data that can let you know whether or not that last 5 degree tweak added distance, or actually robbed you of 10 yards.

Here’s an example from my own life that illustrates how useful the Swing Caddie can be.

I have 2 identical wedge heads with two different shafts I wanted to compare since I’d been told they share very similar playing characteristics. The only difference is that one of the shafts is 20 grams lighter than the other. I found it extremely beneficial to be able to head down to the local range and hit a series of shots with each in order to determine whether or not one was measurably longer, produced or produced more ball speed than the other. For this type of situation, many will be able to eyeball their own launch and trajectory. So coupled with what Swing Caddie did give me, I was more than impressed.

 

swingcaddie-targetrandom

THE TRAINING AID

This to me is what the Swing Caddie is: a really good training aid. With mode options Target and Random the SC100 allows you to put your skills to the test and tune your personal yardages.

In Target Mode the user simply selects their club and is given an adjustable sets a distance and swings away trying to match that distance.

In Random Mode the SC100 will add randomization to Target Mode.

These modes come with a “game” where the user is rewarded points the closer they are to their yardage goal. This feature (similar to the Trackman Combine, or FlightScope Skills Challenge) is a valuable tool to force you to take the time to pause, and focus on what you’re doing during your practice sessions. It forces you to practice smarter.

 

swingcaddie-pocket

FINAL THOUGHTS

The Swing Caddie SC100 follows through with its promise as a “Personal Launch Monitor”. It supplies enough features in a minimalist, easy to understand package that most golfers should be able to put to practical use. It excels as a training aid and may have enough usable numbers to offer some value to instructors.

Certainly it can’t match Trackman and FlightScope feature for feature, but it’s not realistic to expect it will. Spin measurement in particular is protected by some seriously beefy patents. They’re tough to get around, and even where that’s possible, doing so for less than $300 would also be an unrealistic expectation. Worth a note, Ernest Sports claims their upcoming ES14 will accurately calculate spin. That unit retails for $550.

With the Swing Caddie SC100, we’re talking about a Doppler-based device that offers a subset of the capabilities of the professional solutions, for quite literally, pennies on the dollar.

As a golfer who likes to tinker and compare a lot of equipment, the SC100 a no-brainer product to have around, especially for Swing Caddie’s asking price of $269 USD. Combine those features with its value as a training tool and the SC100 easily warrants our stamp of approval.

 

 

swingcaddie-behind

Golf Forum – Golf Blog (MyGolfSpy.com)

Review – Matrix MFS (Black, Red, and White Tie) Hybrid Shafts

Review – Matrix MFS (Black, Red, and White Tie) Hybrid Shafts

Post image for Review – Matrix MFS (Black, Red, and White Tie) Hybrid Shafts

We obsess over our driver shafts. Which is the highest launching? Which is the lowest spinning?

We all have our favorites.

We all think we know what’s best.

We obsess over irons shafts too. What will give me tour trajectory? What’s going fly high and land soft?

Am I too much of a man for graphite in my irons?

(Yes).

These questions demand answers. We have to know. We have to get fit (or self fit). We need 10 more yards, or 5 yards better dispersion, or maybe just something with really cool graphics.

Some would say the shaft is EVERYTHING. No way you don’t put some serious thought into it.

Do you do the same with your hybrids?

I’ve got a sneaking suspicion that for most of you, a hybrid shaft is an afterthought, if it’s even a thought at all.

Full disclosure I’m actually playing the stock shaft in my hybrids right now, but that doesn’t mean I don’t often think about putting something else in there.

Matrix Makes it Easy

matrix-mfs

Fortunately, for those of you who are curious about the possibility of finding a better fitting hybrid shaft, or at least a shaft that delivers the performance you’re looking for, Matrix makes it easy.

By now most of you should be plenty familiar with the Matrix MFS (Matrix Flight System) series of shafts.

MFS originated with the m3. More commonly known as the Black Tie, the m3 was an immediate hit with aggressive swingers looking to take off some spin and lower their ball flight. Any rational discussion about the lowest spinning shaft on the market likely includes the black tie.

Next came the X3 (White Tie) which filled the high launch (and reportedly lowish spin) role within the expanding MFS lineup.

In early 2013 Matrix rounded out their MFS with the introduction of the Q3. Billed as mid-launch and mid-spin, the Red Tie, which Matrix says will fit the highest percentage of the bell curve, has become 2014’s Kuro Kage; an immensely popular shaft among OEMs as their stock offering (in both real and made for varieties).

According to Matrix, each MFS shaft is designed with a specific ball flight in mind (that low, mid, high thing we just talked about). With MFS it’s not necessarily about fitting a guy with a specific swing characteristic, instead MFS seeks to to modify the launch and spin characteristics of what the player already does in order to achieve the desired result.

The short of it…within MFS…low, middle, high, it’s all relative.

MFS for Hybrids

MATRIX MFS Hybrids-2

Last fall Matrix expanded their hybrid offerings, putting Q3 and X3 options alongside the existing M3 offerings. With the exception of the Black Tie, which is available in 85g, 95g, and 105g, Altus MFS Hybrid shafts are only available in 95 grams (a full selection of flexes is available in each).

Matrix already has a full compliment of hybrid shafts to choose from, so for now they feel like they’ve got the market well-covered. If, however, the demand arises, Matrix will consider adding additional weights for both the Q3 and X3.

As with the driver shafts, Matrix Flight System hybrid fitting is designed to be easy. While generally a guy who fits well into a particular MFS driver shaft will probably find similarly good results in the complementary hybrid model, it really boils down to your desired ball flight.

It’s entirely possible you might want to lower launch with your driver, but increase it with your hybrid. The MFS hybrid shaft that fits best depends on what flight characteristics you’re trying to achieve with a particular hybrid.

How We Tested

MATRIX MFS Hybrids-1

Apart from forming a general picture of how the Matrix MFS Hybrid shafts perform, we were most interested in finding out if our testers would get the launch conditions that Matrix suggests they we should.

To do that we rounded up a handful of testers who would generally fit well into stiff shafted clubs. We installed TaylorMade tips on each shaft, cut them to identical lengths, installed the same model grip on each shaft,  and popped them into a TaylorMade SLDR #3 hybrid for testing. During the testing itself we used the same protocols we use for our Most Wanted Testing.

To maintain consistency, we will use the same hybrid for any additional hybrid shaft tests.

Performance

mfs1

As you can see from the above, carry distances were relatively consistent between all 3 models, with barely 4 yards separating the shafts. Differences in total yards can likely be attributed to two factors.

Firstly, our testers produced the most spin with the Red Tie (see below), and more spin often means less distance. Secondly, if the shots hit with the Red Tie had been on average closer to the center line, those differences in distances would presumably be narrower.

As you might expect given the distance numbers, ball speeds were very close across the 3 MFS shafts, and while the extra pop of the X3 is intriguing, we’re likely within the margin of error here.

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For us this is really the most interesting (and important) part of this test. The beauty of MFS is that it’s supposed to greatly simplify shaft fitting. For that to actually work, the shafts need to basically perform as advertised. While each individual golfer is different, when it comes to the launch conditions, you really hope the shafts deliver what they’re supposed to.

As you can see from the chart above, the Matrix MFS Shafts did just that. As expected, the Black Tie produced the lowest launch angle. The White Tie launched highest, and just like it’s supposed to, the Red Tie produced the comparative mid launch condition.

As we usually do, we observed a correlation between launch angle and apex (height). The Black Tie produced the lowest ball flight, the X3 the highest, and as we’d expect, the Red Tie flew through a window between them.

Equally as reaffirming, the low spinning Black Tie did in fact produce the lowest spin rates for our testers. The high launch, low spin White Tie – while not as low spinning as the Black Tie, did spin less (421 RPM) than the mid-spin Red Tie.

Feel

MATRIX MFS Hybrids-7

My recommendation is that you take feel for what it is. Each of us is different, and consequently we each perceive feel differently. That said, the 3 shafts in the Matrix MFS gave our testers the full Goldilocks experience.

As you might expect given its performance characteristics, the Black Tie was rated as the firmest feeling of the bunch. Pick your adjective…stout, boardy; most of our testers told us that this shaft is too stiff.

While our testers generally liked the softer-tipped White Tie, it was described as “whippy, but in a good way”. I’m not sure what that really means (I like the boardy Black Tie), but for the sake of maintaining this Goldilocks analogy, let’s go with this shaft is too soft.

Overwhelmingly, on feel alone, the Red Tie was the favorite of our testers. Not too soft, not too hard…this shaft is just right.

Granted, that’s all pretty ambiguous stuff, but the takeaway is this: For most the black tie will feel the firmest (you’ll feel every bit of the flex), the white tie will feel the softest, and the red tie will occupy the smooth sweet spot right in the middle.

Final Thoughts

MATRIX MFS Hybrids-6

While we always recommend getting properly fit, we’re not delusional enough to think that most of you are going to do that…not with your hybrid shafts anyway. So with necessary deference to reality, we can appreciate the simplicity of the MFS Hybrid series.

Our test results suggest that if you know what it is you’re hoping to achieve from your hybrids, there’s very little guess work here. Relative launch characteristics are as advertised, which means between the Black, Red, and White Tie shafts, Matrix is going to be able to give you the ball flight you’re looking for from your hybrid.

Matrix MFS Hybrid Shafts retail for $150 each.

For more information visit the Matrix Shafts Website.

 

Golf Forum – Golf Blog (MyGolfSpy.com)

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