Toy Box notes: Crane goes light in driver shaft

Ben Crane

Ben Crane

Ben Crane won the McGladrey Classic with a Titleist driver outfitted with a 53-gram Mitsubishi Rayon shaft, which is believed to be the lightest shaft ever used by a winner on the PGA Tour.

Golfweek contacted a half-dozen major shaft manufacturers, and all agreed that Crane was entering new territory. Even Rocco Mediate, widely known for using lightweight driver shafts, played a 70-gram ACCRA DyMatch S3 shaft in his Adams Speedline Fast 10 driver (8.5 degree) when he won the 2010 Frys.com Open.

According to Tom Olsavsky, director of product creation (metalwoods) for TaylorMade, “The average driver shaft on the PGA Tour this year is 71 grams and probably has been that for the last five or six years. The (general) range is from 60 to 90 grams.”

Crane, using a Titleist 910D2 driver (7.5 degree), switched to a new Mitsubishi Rayon Bassara W Series shaft (X flex) at the Justin Timberlake tournament two weeks before the McGladrey.

Inside the industry, the code name for the W Series shaft is Wyvern. Consumers should be aware that actually there are two versions of this shaft – closely related but different.

Titleist is featuring the lightweight Wyvern in an upcoming extension for the 910 family. The extension will be called Moderate Speed and will feature the Mitsubishi W Series shaft in drivers, fairway woods and hybrids.

The Titleist Moderate Speed version of the shaft – which is a graphite shaft with “elastic titanium” in the tip – is intended for golfers with ball speeds of 130 mph or less. Translating this to swing speed, any golfer with a driver swing speed of 95 mph or less might be a candidate for this shaft.

Crane, whose ball speed at the McGladrey was clocked at 169 mph, would not use this shaft.

Instead, Crane went with a beefed-up version of the Wyvern that is suitable for touring pros and amateurs who want to experiment. The raw length of this shaft is 47 inches, which makes it 1 inch longer than most shafts (before installation). The shaft retails for roughly $300.

Crane’s driver is 46 inches, 1 inch longer than the Titleist standard of 45 inches.

Elastic titanium, also known as elastic titanium nickel wire, is the material used in modern eyeglasses that snap back into place after being twisted. The theory behind both Mitsubishi W Series shafts is that the Wyvern will resist shaft deformation during the swing by providing extra snap, or kick, in the impact zone.

The pro version of the shaft can be ordered through Titleist for installation in its 910 drivers.

According to Titleist’s Larry Bobka, who constructed the driver for Crane, the 50X shaft weighed 53 grams. In an R flex, it weighs 50 grams.

After the driver was delivered, Bobka reported that he received a text message from Crane: “love it, bombing it baby.”

Also of interest in Crane’s bag configuration is the fact that he carries four wedges (including a pitching wedge matched to his iron set) and has no iron longer than a 5-iron. This makes Crane a reflection of a trend that is sweeping amateur golf – fewer long irons, more hybrids and fairway woods.

Crane’s bag: Titleist 910D2 driver (7.5 degree, Mitsubishi Rayon Bassara W Series 50X shaft; D5 swingweight with a B-2 adjustable setting); TaylorMade V Steel 3-wood (15 degree with Mitsubishi Diamana Blue Board 93 shaft); Titleist 910F 5-wood (17 degree with Mitsubishi Diamana Blue Board 93 shaft); Titleist 910H hybrid (21 degree with UST Mamiya Proforce AXIV Core 100 shaft); Titleist AP2 irons (5-PW with True Temper Dynamic Gold S400 shafts); Titleist Vokey Design wedges (51, 56 and 60 degree with True Temper Dynamic Gold S400 shafts); Odyssey White Hot XG No. 5 putter; Ball: Titleist Pro V1x ball; FootJoy DryJoys Tour shoes and FootJoy Pure Touch Limited glove.

Back-to-back wins for Mitsubishi: Crane’s victory makes two PGA Tour victories in a row for Mitsubishi driver shafts.

Bryce Molder captured the Frys.com Open with a Mitsubishi Diamana Kai’li 70X in his Titleist 909D3 driver (9.5 degree). Molder’s driver shaft was approximately 20 grams heavier than the Wyvern used by Crane.

Aldila wins shaft count: At the McGladrey Classic, Aldila won the wood shaft and hybrid shaft manufacturer counts. The company has swept both counts in 35 of the past 39 events on the PGA Tour, according to the Darrell Survey.

Putting for dough: Ben Crane, using an Odyssey XG No. 5 putter, was second in the field in putts per round for the week, averaging 28.5. He was also second in putts per GIR at 1.673.

Trevor Immelman, who finished fifth at the McGladrey, led the field in putts per round (with a 27.5 average) and putts per GIR (1.667 average). It was Immelman’s first week using the belly version of the White Hot 2-Ball putter. It was the third different Odyssey belly putter that he has tried in three weeks.

Short shots: Jerry Kelly and David Toms have been testing Cleveland’s new Tour Black driver. . . . John Daly switched to Cleveland CG Tour irons. . . . Paul Goydos is using a TaylorMade Ghost Spider belly putter. . . . Meanwhile, Josh Teater, who had been playing a TaylorMade Sting Ray Ghost belly putter, switched back to a conventional length Spider. . . . Jason Kokrak, who has won two of his last four Nationwide Tour starts, is gaining a reputation as something of a metalwood machine (as in long distance with his driver and 3-wood). Kokrak, 6-foot-4 and 225 pounds, uses a Cleveland Launcher SL290 driver (9 degree), along with a Cleveland Launcher FL 3-wood (14 degree). At Miccosukee Championship, he was ninth in driving distance (304.0 yards).

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