By Jonathan Wall, PGATOUR.COM Equipment Insider
After opening the season with a Mitsubishi Diamana prototype shaft in his Nike VR_S Covert Tour driver, Rory McIlroy made a shaft change at the U.S. Open, swapping out his Mitsubishi prototype for another prototype -- Mitsubishi's Kuro Kage Silver 70TX.
The Kuro Kage prototype McIlroy used at Merion had identical graphics and a similar bend profile -- stiff tip and mid section, and softer butt section -- to the current Kuro Kage model, but as Mark Gunther, Mitsubishi Rayon's director of sales, confirmed recently, the new version has TiNi Fiber Technology in the tip section, a unique Titanium and Nickel alloy that was added to reinforce the graphite.
"The titanium-nickel wires in the shaft are one of a group of super-elastic alloys, so when you stretch it, it wants to return to its previous state," Gunther said. "The wires are located in the tip section of the shaft and extend up about 12 inches. What they do is further stabilize the tip of the shaft. This is already a tip-stiff profile, but the wires placed down there keep it from twisting and bending as much as possible to create a tighter more consistent shaft."
According to Gunther, when the fibers are stressed on the downswing, they deform and then immediately recover to their original state at impact. The technology promotes consistent launch and clubhead speed, as well as the ability to square the club face up at impact. The shaft should benefit a golfer who's looking to reduce spin off the tee.
Mitsubishi has been working on the TiNi technology in Kuro Kage for the last two years and brought two prototype versions to the PGA TOUR, including the shaft McIlroy put in play at the U.S. Open.
While TiNi may be new to the Kuro Kage line, it's been used in Mitsubishi's lighter weight shafts, like the Bassara G-Series and W-Series, for the past few years.
"When we started putting it in our lighter weight shafts, it was done in a way where we were trying to capitalize on the elasticity of the fiber to generate more of a snapping for slow swing speeds," Gunther said. "Guys on TOUR don't need help with ball speed and swing speed. The wires in Kuro Kage are tighter, longer and positioned lower in the tip to benefit players with max swing speeds."
Mitsubishi's Kuro Kage Silver TiNi shaft will be available in 60, 70 and 80-gram options in August for $300.