May 02, 2018
- Tiger Woods is one of the TOUR players who uses a counter-balanced driver shaft. (Photo courtesy of Jonathan Wall)
Each week, PGATOUR.COM Equipment Insider Jonathan Wall (@jonathanrwall) answers one popular gear question being asked on social media. With the rise in popularity of Mitsubishi Chemical's Tensei Orange driver shaft in recent weeks, we look into the benefits behind counter-balance technology, and how it could benefit the recreational player.
I've seen a bunch of players using Mitsubishi's Tensei Orange shaft recently. Is it worth trying out? — Paul Toone
Equipment trends on the PGA TOUR tend to go in waves. What's popular for three or four months is usually replaced by another hot product down the road. But every so often, a design has the staying power to hang around longer than anticipated.
When Aldila's Rogue shaft was introduced at the 2013 U.S. Open, many pointed to the aerospace-grade materials as a game-changer in the industry. While the materials were a significant part of the equation, the counter-balance profile made it possible for players to add weight to the head to increase club head/ball speed.
"In my opinion, the shafts that have done well over the last four years are counter-balance parts," said Aldila Tour rep Rusty Estes. "I've always felt that way. You see the numbers those shafts produce and it's no wonder so many guys are using something with at least a counter-balance profile."
Rogue continues to have a presence on TOUR nearly five years later — an updated 130MSI version was launched earlier this year — but the latest model taking the TOUR by storm is without question Mitsubishi's Tensei Orange model, a counter-balanced part currently used by Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy, Ian Poulter and Thomas Pieters.
What's interesting about Tensei Orange — Mitsubishi's first high balance point profile with low launch and spin characteristics — is that it was actually introduced back in 2016.
So why is Tensei Orange suddenly the hot shaft on TOUR two years later?
Woods and McIlroy have no doubt played a huge role in the shaft's rise in popularity. McIlroy won the same week he put Tensei Orange in his driver — and picked up 5 mph ball speed. Then there's Tiger, who always gives equipment a bump when he tries something new.
As far as trying it out, I'm all for giving something different a chance. As my mom used to say about new foods, you'll never know if you like it until you've given it a try.
With more weight in the handle (grip area) of the club, the balance point of the shaft is shifted significantly in Tensei Orange. Assuming you know the swing weight of your driver — and you should if you're serious about your game — you'll need to add more weight to the driver head to balance out the shift in mass.
"If you're hitting a stationary object with more mass, you're inflicting more damage," Estes said. "Your inertia numbers are going to go up, ball speed is going to increase. Biomechanically, if you can swing a counter-balance part as fast as a non-counter-balance part, which you should, and match face to the path, you should hit it further."
In other words, if you can handle the extra weight, there's a very good chance you could beneift greatly from the counter-balance design. It might not be Rory numbers, but squeezing a few more yards out of the big stick is always a welcomed sight.