There may not be a better known series of high end shafts than the Diamana series by Mitsubishi Rayon. Virtually every golfer (at least the ones who hang out on golf web sites) has hit a Blue Board or a White Board or their successors, the Kaili and the Ahina. This fall, Mitsubishi is introducing the newest iteration: the Diamana +PLUS Series. The names have changed again: the White Board is now known as the D+ and the Blue Board is called the S+. While it’s not technically the 3rd generation Diamana (that’s coming in early 2013), Mitsubishi claims that these new shafts combine the best of the past two models.
Can these new models fill the big shoes that they’re stepping into? Read on to find out.
The Story Behind the +PLUS Series
As I said, the +PLUS Series is not the third generation of the Diamana line; think of it as generation 2.5. The +PLUS Series combines the materials from the original Diamana with the manufacturing techniques from the 2nd generation. Mitsubishi claims that the result is a feel that is closer to the original (smoother) with the improved launch conditions (lower spin, tighter dispersion) of the 2nd generation.
One other technical note: the torque ratings on some of the +PLUS models are higher than some people are used to seeing. MRC explained to me that this is because they have incorporated a “progressive torque” system in these shafts. Basically, they’re saying that too many shafts have a torque that is too low. Too little torque can hurt performance just like too much torque can. Mitsubishi believes that in with this system, they have found that “just right” middle ground.
Notes, Feel, Price, and Miscellaneous
The first thing that stood out to me about the +PLUS Series was the look. It seems that 2012 is the year of matte finishes, and the +PLUS is riding that trend with matte blue and matte black. The look is very appealing without being overly loud (it’s hard to be loud with blue or black shafts in the current golf environment). The graphics are akin to those on the 2nd generation Diamana with Hawaiian-looking flowers near the grip and a simple Diamana logo.
Personally, I found the feel to be slightly disappointing. I’ve been a fan of the Diamana line in the past, and I currently play the Kaili in my 3W. In my hands, the +PLUS Series is not as smooth as the 2nd generation Diamana (I can’t speak too much about the original series because I never played any of those shafts extensively). Part of that might be the difference between playing the shaft in a 3W (heavier head) vs. a driver. In any case, “not smooth” by Diamana standards certainly doesn’t mean that these shafts feel harsh at all. They do feel stable and have a good kick where they should (lower in the S+, a bit closer to the butt in the D+). Regardless, feel is very subjective and others may have a very different sense of it.
The +PLUS Series is available in weights ranging from 64 grams to 102 grams, and flexes from regular to X-stiff. In addition to the wood shafts, Mitsubishi is offering hybrid version of both the S+ and D+, also in a variety of weights and flexes.
The Diamana +PLUS Series have an MSRP of $300.
For the Performance testing, I hit each of the shafts in a Callaway RAZR Fit 10.5 head on a FlightScope X2 launch monitor. I hit 20 “good” shots with each shaft, changing frequently so that fatigue was not an issue, nor did I get grooved with one shaft to the detriment of fairness. Testing was done at Golf Nation, in Palatine, IL.
*NOTE: Testing has moved back inside for the winter, and our FlightScope seems to be producing somewhat different numbers indoors compared to outdoors. To greater or lesser extents, ball speed, club head speed, and spin are all coming in lower than they did outdoors, hence the carry number is smaller. That said, it’s still an apples-to-apples comparison, so no attempt has been made to “normalize” the numbers: we’re publishing the numbers straight off the FlightScope, as always.
Overall, there was not a ton of variance in the launch and spin numbers between the two models or the two flexes, at least when looking at the averages. This is fairly normal for me since I tend to have lower-than-average spin. For other players, the gap between the S+ and the D+ could be much greater.
In comparison to other shafts, both models are relatively middle-of-the-pack in terms of both launch and spin. If anything, they launch a bit higher and spun a bit less than some other shafts I’ve been working with lately.
One of the more interesting trends in the testing was my ability to hit the stiff flex shafts straighter, on average, than the X-flex. This is something I’ve noticed before: if a shaft feels too stiff to me, I end up swinging too hard and having uglier misses. It also connects back to our often-referenced point about the lack of standards in shaft flex: I’ve been playing more X-flex shafts lately, but in these shafts, a stiff is clearly a better fit.
For those that are longtime fans of the Diamana line, I think the new +PLUS Series is worth a look. While not substantially different from past iterations (why would you scrap a formula that clearly works?), the three different generations do offer players the opportunity to fine tune feel and launch conditions.