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SHAFT REVIEW! – Oban Kiyoshi

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Introduction

By: Matt Saternus

Lots of companies talk about being proponents of custom fitting.  They have lists of authorized fitters on their website…right next to the button that says, “Or just buy it online without trying it first.”  Rare is the company that puts their money where their mouth is, but Oban is one such company.  Try to find a place online (other than eBay) to buy an Oban shaft.  You can’t do it.  That’s because Oban only sells their shafts through qualified custom fitters.  So check out this review, then book an appointment with a certified fitter to see if Kiyoshi is what you need to start hitting it pure.

Specs, Price, and Manufacturer Notes

  • The Kiyoshi line was launched with the PRP in 2010.  It features Oban’s Emersion Wrapped Frequency Technology.
  • The Kiyoshi BLK offers low spin similar to the PRP but with a higher kick point for lower ball flight.
  • The Kiyoshi WHT is the newest Kiyoshi.  It features proprietary Multiplex Design Technology to combine a softer butt section with a stiff tip and mid-section.
  • Oban uses numbers to represent the flex of the shaft: 01 (Ladies), 02 (Senior), 03(Regular), 04 (Stiff), and 05 (X).  Each shaft is available in 55, 65, 75, and 85 grams.  The PRP is also available in 45 grams.
  • All of the Oban Kiyoshi shafts are offered as both .335 tip shafts for drivers and fairway woods as well as .370 tip for hybrids.  The hybrid shafts range from 90 to 100 grams.
  • The Oban Kiyoshi line can be purchased through authorized club fitters.  The MSRP for the PRP and BLK is $360.  The MSRP for the WHT is $400.

Looks, Feel, and Miscellaneous

One of the things that I like best about the Kiyoshi series is that each shaft has a very distinct feel. The purple Kiyoshi kicks like mule with a black belt.  Of all the shafts I’ve tested, I can’t remember one with this much pop; it’s almost enough to make you feel bad for the golf ball.  Where the purple Kiyoshi is a pure mid-kick point shaft, the white has a mid-high kick point and thus a little less snap.  The black Kiyoshi has the highest kick point which gives it the least amount of “kick feel.”

A “side effect” of these three very distinct feels is that the difference between stiff and X (04 and 05, in Oban terms) can be very big or very small.  In the purple, the difference is very pronounced – the 04 has the big kick, the 05 is much smaller.  In the white, the difference is noticeable but not enormous.  The difference between stiff and X in the black Kiyoshi is only slightly noticeable.

Just as the feel of the Kiyoshi varies greatly from one model to the next, so do the looks.  The graphics are identical in all colors: gold bands wrapping the “Oban” name and angry-looking faces above the branding.  The colors, however, are what give the shafts their personality.  The white is good looking, very trendy.  The black is refreshingly black (not so many black shafts these days…I’ll call that the Fowler Effect).  And the purple may be the single best color since Ozik’s candy lime. It’s pure awesome.  It’s one of a handful of shafts I want to play simply because it looks great.

And a final bit of nonsense: Kiyoshi is a great name because it’s fun to yell after you smash a drive.  Try it.  “KIYOSHI!!!”  Wasn’t that fun?

Performance

For the Performance testing, I hit each of the shafts in a Callaway RAZR Fit Extreme 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.  All shafts were gripped with PURE Grips.

Testing was done at Golf Nation in Palatine, IL, one of the best indoor golf facilities in the country.

*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.

DATA

oban kiyoshi purple

oban kiyoshi black

oban kiyoshi white

ANALYSIS

When I first looked at the final Dispersion display, I did a double-take.  I could not believe that three shafts that felt so unique could produce results that were so similar.  From the “Dispersion” to “Launch Angle” to “Spin”, the differences, for me, were not huge.  Personally, I like the idea that I can pick my favorite feel and get similar, excellent performance no matter what.

Please keep in mind when viewing these results that they are unique to me on the day of the testing.  Others might find very large differences between the different models.  As we always say, fitting is key.

Conclusion

While the lack of “retail” availability might be a turn off to some, we at MyGolfSpy applaud Oban for their commitment to real custom fitting and for making a series of shafts with exceptional performance.  And for the “Try-Buy-Sell-Repeat” crowd, there’s always eBay.

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{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

hckymeyer March 20, 2013 at 8:50 am

Great write up. I’ve been playing the purple in driver, 4w and hybrid for two seasons now and i still love them. The only negative was the sticker shock when my fitter told me the price. But now that I know that shaft works well for me it’s not terribly hard to find pulls at a decent price.

One thing I’ve always been curious about. How do you think these compare to GD-DI series of shafts? I’ve never hit the GD, but everyone raves about it. I’m just not sure if it’s that good or if it’s just the Tiger effect.

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Golfspy Matt March 20, 2013 at 8:52 am

Thanks.

I tested the DI a while back, maybe as much as 2 years ago. At the time, I didn’t get along with it at all. Based on the number of people who seem to love it, I have no doubt that it’s a quality product, but I didn’t care for it.

Best,

Matt

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Super Tuna March 20, 2013 at 9:51 am

Very comparable between the Kiyoshi Purple and the Tour AD DI. Infact, the DI6s and Kiyoshi Purple 75 03 flex, aside from weight, are within 2.5% of the same bend profile.

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Chris Cutler March 20, 2013 at 8:58 am

Really surprised the purple launched lower than the black. I thought the black was the lowest launch/spin of the three.

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Golfspy Matt March 20, 2013 at 9:11 am

Chris,

Couple thoughts:

1) If you’re looking for a technical reason, I hit the Purple slightly more left – little more draw, little more pull – so that was partly responsible for the lower launch.

2) More importantly, it’s all about the human element. That’s why we preach fitting. Things that are “supposed” to do ____ will do ____ for some people, but not all.

Thanks for the comment.

Best,

Mat

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Eric March 20, 2013 at 9:42 am

I’ve played the Oban Devotion for the past two years and loved every bit of that shaft. Have always wanted to hit the Purple, for the feel and see what kind of stats I can get in regards to spin and launch. Love all your reviews you guys do and happy to see Oban is getting the props it deserves. Keep it up MyGolfSpy and if you need another tester one day, Hey I’m intrested.

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Super Tuna March 20, 2013 at 9:53 am

Neat writeup Matt!

The one thing I might add, is for anyone looking to rush out and buy one off the Bay, they should be careful. The entire Kiyoshi line plays stout to flex and are very distinct in how they feel. Follow the path from Oban and go get fitted for one instead of shooting blindly.

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Golfspy Matt March 20, 2013 at 9:56 am

Tuna,

Thank you. And you’re 100% right about fitting. MGS does NOT endorse the blind self-fitting method; the eBay reference was more of a joke than anything. So hard to know if that comes across in writing.

I’m very interested to hear you say that the Oban line plays stout to flex. Is that based on CPMs or your personal feel? To me, they felt exactly like I would expect, but I have no numbers to go with that, only feel.

Best,

Matt

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Super Tuna March 20, 2013 at 11:38 am

By feel wise they felt firm to flex for me.

Depending on how one categorises a flex rating, the CPM’s can be on the high side. Most UST’s, GD and Matrix’s for example will roll in around 251 to 255 in a stiff. Kiyoshi’s stiff’s start at 259 and range up to 263. That’s a HUGE jump for someone who wants to go from say a Xcon/DI/Attas stiff to a Kiyoshi Purple stiff. Probably too much of a jump.

I’ve found that higher weight Kiyoshi’s in regular match up to the stiff’s in the weight class down from the above vendor’s (but not always) or a tipped R to match the S. That being said, I’m not a Oban fitter.

My wild guess is that the flexes felt spot on to you because you love the Speeder VC line. IMO, the Kiyoshi and Speeder line matches up well flex wise and both lines play a little stout to other premium offerings out there.

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Joe Golfer March 20, 2013 at 9:30 pm

It’s amazing how the CPM’s have changed for the Stiff designation over time.
I can recall when a Stiff shaft was 265 cpm, and a Regular was 255. Obviously, we’re talking about 20 years ago.
Still, your note that UST/GD/Matrix Stiff flex comes in at 251 to 255 really surprises me. A Regular flex must feel like a buggy whip.

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Super Tuna March 21, 2013 at 9:05 am

Well, not every company subscribes to that and CPM’s are really a true measurement anymore. For example a stiff Matrix 6M3 is going to spec out at around 254CPM, but the design is a butt soft, mid stiff, tip stiff design and thus it’s going to play much firmer then the 254cpm indicates.

That’s why I’d really like someone who wants a Kiyoshi to get fit. Say for example they want a Kiyoshi White 65. Well, just like the M3, it follows the same profile but the softer butt section might still be 5 to 8CPM’s higher or just about a full flex rating over the M3. It might feel smoother, but one will likely be quickly wondering why everything is fading away pretty hard.

Also keep in mind that a lot of shaft companies are from the JDM market, and usually play a little softer to flex then shafts from a North American company like say Aldila.

As a final note, make sure to check how someone is getting a CPM rating. I’m sure someone looked at my note above, went to UST’s site and saw an Attas specing out at 270CPM and thought I was a looney. UST measures like other JDM companies like Quadra in that they use a different size chuck then others might for those measurements.

TLDR version: Go get fit please!

Super Tuna March 21, 2013 at 9:06 am

I meant to say CPM aren’t a true measurement in that post.
Curse the lack of editing!

Golfspy Matt March 21, 2013 at 6:46 am

Makes a lot of sense. I tend to be more comfortable in a stiff with Fuji, and now Oban, whereas I prefer an X in those other brands.

Always learning…

Appreciative,

Matt

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Yohanan March 20, 2013 at 12:43 pm

For another 40 the Tour Proto is on the menu as well. So I am surprised it didn’t make review. I am sure the fitter would be happy to help by taking a swing or three to find out on LM.

I guess after reaching the 300+ level – I/you would be as dead as you would be at 400 or 440 – if my/your wife found out.

Undoubtly the defense would be “but i dont loose ss many $3 balls with this shaft”

Which is probably true! And worth the extra benni and half!

Nearest and only fitter is Haggin Oaks here in Sactown.

Cheers!

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peter deem March 21, 2013 at 8:09 am

Matt,
Did you write an article a little while ago about your experience with a club fitter in Indiana where he put the Oban Devotion into your driver? I have a friend in Indianapolis who would like to get fitted (no, not me, I live in Denver) and I would like to get the club fitter’s name and address for him. Thanks very much.

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Golfspy Matt March 21, 2013 at 8:19 am

Peter,

Sorry, that wasn’t me. One of our regular forum contributors did a write up about his recent fitting in Indiana. Hopefully that will help:

http://forum.mygolfspy.com/topic/8048-my-driver-fitting-experience/

Best,

Matt

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GIO ZANNIN March 21, 2013 at 5:00 pm

I test drove the OBAN white shaft, stiff, I believe a 65gram with a PowerBilt 10.5 Airforce One head. I have to admit I was sceptical at first, but when i saw the ball flight and the #’s on the flightscope, I was blown away.

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Darrin March 24, 2013 at 7:35 pm

I read your review of the Speeder shafts. So am i correct that you hit the speeder tour spec about 30 yards longer than the kiyoshi? Just want to verify my cross referene of the reviews written.

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GolfSpy Matt March 26, 2013 at 8:47 am

Darrin.

Thanks for the question. The short answer is: “No.” For a wide variety of reason (you can see some of them in the “How We Tested” section), you can’t really compare the numbers apples to apples.

Best,

Matt

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Mike Hartley April 27, 2013 at 8:33 pm

I recently (Feb/March 2012) did some fairly extensive review of the Kiyoshi Purple 04 shaft with a Titleist 913, 10.5d head. I was allowed to use this for about three weeks by Von’s golf in Seattle. At first I was not considering buying the shaft as outside temperatures were in the high 30s and low 40s. I found at this temperature the shaft felt very stiff with a lack of feel and launched low with little carry. The stock shaft was actually getting about 15-20 yards more distance with a better launch angle (Diamana 62g stiff shaft) and frankly felt better. Since the course was wet there was little roll-out.

However, once the temperatures warmed up to the 50s and 60s there was a remarkable change. Feel dramatically increased with a definite “pop” as described in the review. Launch angle increased, carry increased and roll increased. I have a swing speed in the low 100s and was getting around 210 to 215 yards at the lower temperatures. Once the temperature warmed up I found a dramatically different shaft that I fell in love with and now have used on the courses for about three weeks and in several tournaments. My yardage has increased to around 255 to 255 yards with around 20 to 25 yards roll and occaissionally longer. I have tried hitting multiple balls several times on the same hole and on two out of three instances found both drives within about 10 yards of each other. I also tried the original Diamana shaft and found not a lot of difference from the colder temperatures (still getting around 215 yards at warmer temperatures and virtually no roll).

This is a sweet combination that feels great! I plan on using my Diamana blue shaft in the winter when course conditions are soft and roll is 0. I plan to use the Kiyoshi Purple shaft in the spring, summer and fall. Considering courses in Seattle have been fairly wet with not a lot of roll yet I can’t wait until my home course dries out more to see how much additional roll I can get!

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Jim Birdsong August 27, 2013 at 12:40 pm

I found your info very straight forward and helpful In Alabama this shaft appears to be perfect . Thanks for your help.

Jim

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dunn2500 May 7, 2014 at 1:53 am

Felt opposite…their flex feels soft to me, I normally play a stiif and even then. Some can be stout….hit a purple and white kiyoshi and white was an x flex and it did not feel like an x….felt perfect actually…..softer butt section I think makes it feel softer imo…

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