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jBeam KZ-5 Driver - Initial Review


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Finally tipped a shaft for the KZ-5, so putting 'fingers to keyboard' for an initial review.

Disclaimers:

1) I've only been playing golf for about 18 months, so really don't know what I'm talking about! I.e. take all this with a grain of salt. 😀

2) Thanks Hutchy! 😎

Set-up:

jBeam KZ-5 9.5* shafted with a Project X HZDRUS Green 70 6.0. 

Looks:

This thing is beautiful! Normally not a fan of glossy crowns, but with the carbon shimmering through... I'm sold. It's clean and easy with no top alignment (I'm used to playing with USDM big OEM drivers) and it's the first time I've played a more traditional shape with this must confidence at address. Just wanted to keep swinging it.

In standard 9.5* it appeared to be a little closed so I think I'll try going down to 8.5* (I'm a high hitter) and see what the face does. More to come on that after I put it in play.

jbeam.thumb.jpg.27ad6c13999b80bde6f4ed2a6f852fb8.jpg

Feel/Sound:

Putting these together because for me, they go hand in hand. What more can I say other than... THWACK! I'm a huge fan of muted drivers, so the carbon crown will always be a winner for me. Centre face strikes are really dead, and I mean that in a good way. Super solid 'thick' feeling, and you know it's going a looooong way! Off-centre will give you a bit more of a crack, as you would expect, but no ting like you would get with some full Ti heads.

Performance:

As mentioned, range only so far and having only been playing for such a short period of time I don't have a great grasp of my data. However, being a bit of a range rat I do know what distance signs I normally land near! On solid strikes I'll carry somewhere between the 200 and 230 metre signs, and a good trajectory will see the ball bounce past the 230 metre mark. Longest measured drive on my home course is ~260 metres total distance.

On solid strikes this thing is a rocket! I saw it roll past 230 metres a lot, which is good for me. However, let's not forget about the other major part of a driver... the shaft. The HRZDUS 70 6.0 has worked well for me in the past (TM M1, M2, SIM, SIM Max) so I got the adapters swapped out for the jBeam. I'm not 100% sold on this combo. The KZ-5 is a slightly lighter head so I'm feeling a lot of shaft in the swing, and think I'm missing a bit of the head. Don't get me wrong, it works/I can make it work, but it doesn't feel natural. I'll continue the hunt for a better matched shaft and when I find one... look out!

Flight was low-mid on most shots. This is unusual for me as I'm a high hitter. Hard to tell what level of spin I was putting on the ball, but it was carrying well. I'd say the shaft took a fair bit of height off the ball, so will be keen to see what happens when I find a better match. Having said that... on a windy day this would be close to perfect!

Forgiveness:

I'm a pretty typical newbie at golf... inconsistent. My most common miss is a high fade to slice (OK, more slice than fade), however I can also hook it with the best of them! I.e. Heel and toe misses are common for me. I was a little worried about the deeper face, thinking the heel/toe misses would be punished more than usual... I was wrong. This thing is straight. Credit again to Hutchy for his guidance on this. The only 'hook' I hit was when I hit the ground before the ball (something we refer to as a drop-kick here in Aus)! 

I don't think I put any side spin on any shot! Everything was dead straight. Yes, I pushed and pulled a few, but the ball was on a rope from the direction off the tee. This is pretty incredible for me. Forgiveness is a very subjective... well, subject... however, I'm comfortable calling this a forgiving head!

Conclusion (update with on course review below):

It's in the bag! Yes, I want to work on the shaft match... but it's not enough to keep playing my TM M2. I love the way it looks, sounds and feels. With a slightly lighter shaft (weight and flex) this thing will be an even bigger monster than it already is. Hmm, I could also look into a bigger weight for the head.

PS. If anyone knows how to rotate pictures in the forum... let me know! They aren't landscape on my Mac, but are when uploaded.

jbeam1.thumb.jpg.43bd016ac5171dd1a77baf6600899688.jpg

jbeam2.thumb.jpg.8b0ac843f311420d29b84ba95fc71559.jpg

Update - On course review:

Now with two rounds under my belt I can provide a bit of an update on this driver review. I would still see this as an initial review, as I want a lot more time to dial this beast in. One round at my home course (http://northhavengc.com.au/about/course/) and another at possibly Adelaide's finest course (https://www.royaladelaidegolf.com.au/cms/golf/course-tour/). I'll combine my comments as I saw very similar results both rounds.

Firstly, this thing is loooong. I've seen my longest drives ever with the KZ-5. Home course I had just over 260 metres and at Royal Adelaide I had 280 (both total distance). This was measured with my Garmin watch, so +/- a few I'd say. Now, that's breaking 300 yards... something I thought was a long way off in my golf. Yes, conditions were perfect... but I can comfortably say that I'm consistently longer with this driver, on both clean strikes and mis-hits.

Round one I kept the loft at 9.5* and while the trajectory was mid-high (remember I'm a high hitter) the face appeared a touch too closed at address. Round two I went down to 8.5* which did seem to square up the face a bit and it felt better looking down on it. While I don't think this made much of a technical difference, it helped my mental game. Flights in round two were a hair more penetrating and straighter on clean strikes. However the first 9 holes on both rounds were some of the best drives I've ever hit. Back 9 for both weren't so hot... but I've now worked out that when I get tired I'm all arms which produces some wicked hooks (can't blame the driver for those).

Touching on forgiveness again as this is a big deal for me. Again, the KZ-5 is amazing. After looking at some of my strike locations via a tee mark on the sole, or visible dimple marks on the face, I was blown away at where my drives ended up! One that will stick in my memory was a shot very low on the face, just toward the toe. Yes, it flew very low but it was dead straight and with roll out ended up being the longest drive out of the group! Also, obvious toe strikes (which I could feel) produced little baby draws... and one of these produced the 280 metre bomb I mentioned earlier.

With all that said there are two things I need to do:

1. Keep on the hunt for a better shaft match. Again, the current combo is definitely not bad and obviously can work for me... but I'm going to chase a slightly better 'feel' through the swing. I'm not in a hurry though.

2. Remain flexible for the whole 18! If I can drive as well on the back 9 as I do on the front... my score is going to drop significantly!

Thanks for reading...

DMG

Edited by DMG
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cheers -- I enjoy reading reviews from people who aren't pro's because this is the true marketplace.  But i n general all of us need to try gear before buying because how things feel and work is so subjective.  I don't have this driver, but I buy many and have at least a dozen right now from the past 6-8 years and for what it's worth, nothing feels better or works easier than my new Callaway BB21. Apologies to all the JDM fans - and I'm one. The more muted sound is a preference for me also - loud tings do not float my boat. 

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15 hours ago, d**kyfowler said:

cheers -- I enjoy reading reviews from people who aren't pro's because this is the true marketplace.  But i n general all of us need to try gear before buying because how things feel and work is so subjective.  I don't have this driver, but I buy many and have at least a dozen right now from the past 6-8 years and for what it's worth, nothing feels better or works easier than my new Callaway BB21. Apologies to all the JDM fans - and I'm one. The more muted sound is a preference for me also - loud tings do not float my boat. 

Thanks mate. One thing I do enjoy is reading or watching reviews from people that aren't all that great at the game... it's more realistic for me as a comparison, so I appreciate you calling that out. There aren't too many though... mainly pro's that call it a miss when they strike it 2mm off centre!

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Thats  great write up Dave.....I find your enthusiasm infectious mate. I especially liked your range video. I think your description catches exactly how that head plays/sounds/feels....I wish we could see more of this kind of review with new gear.

It looks like you have progressed in 18 months, it seems like you make good contact/ball striking. I think a Velcore black in 60s J speck would work very well with that head, weight of the shaft is closer to 70g which you like. So many to try. Looking forward to how this goes in play.

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I think all of the best Japan companies should give DMG, Hutchy and myself all of their new releases to review ..... we promise to send back the stuff we don't like! 

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All of the stuff? How about sending just a little to me? 🙄

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OK - all of the good folks on this forum then....

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10 hours ago, hutchy said:

Thats  great write up Dave.....I find your enthusiasm infectious mate. I especially liked your range video. I think your description catches exactly how that head plays/sounds/feels....I wish we could see more of this kind of review with new gear.

It looks like you have progressed in 18 months, it seems like you make good contact/ball striking. I think a Velcore black in 60s J speck would work very well with that head, weight of the shaft is closer to 70g which you like. So many to try. Looking forward to how this goes in play.

Cheers buddy! I've got another one incoming for an old-school review of an Epon AF-103 shafted with a Crazy Noir... no spoilers but... WOW!

Thanks for the shaft suggestion, and yes... there are way too many! It's like having to wear a uniform to your job, the uniform may suck, but at least you don't have to decide what you're going to wear everyday! Pretty loose analogy, but worked in my head. 😁

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3 hours ago, d**kyfowler said:

I think all of the best Japan companies should give DMG, Hutchy and myself all of their new releases to review ..... we promise to send back the stuff we don't like! 

Pick me, pick me! 

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shame the Crazy shafts are so expensive because I have some in my Epon 702's and really enjoy the kick they give you.....

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18 minutes ago, d**kyfowler said:

shame the Crazy shafts are so expensive because I have some in my Epon 702's and really enjoy the kick they give you.....

When I first picked it up I thought to myself... "Oh no, another noodle!" However, it's far from it when swinging. It's also reg flex which I don't usually go for, and in the little time I've used it... it felt great!

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Crazy Noir are a good series of shafts. Good pick up David.

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Driver looks nice. I'm with you on glossy crowns.

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2 hours ago, hutchy said:

Crazy Noir are a good series of shafts. Good pick up David.

I recall it being one you've suggested to me to check out... so again... good call mate! It's one of the main reason's I picked up the driver. 🤪

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2 hours ago, Ian-500 said:

Driver looks nice. I'm with you on glossy crowns.

I'm a fan of anything matte! The gloss is growing on me as I check out more traditional JDM drivers... but that's gloss metal, not plastic!

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Very nice review!!   If you are not feeling much of the head,  I suggest getting additional heavier weight screws to increase the swing weight.   Having tried the HZRDUS smoke green myself,  those 6.0 flex models especially in 70g are more or less extra stiff territory in my opinion.  
Have fun tweaking further!!   

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28 minutes ago, nobmontana said:

Very nice review!!   If you are not feeling much of the head,  I suggest getting additional heavier weight screws to increase the swing weight.   Having tried the HZRDUS smoke green myself,  those 6.0 flex models especially in 70g are more or less extra stiff territory in my opinion.  
Have fun tweaking further!!   

Thanks Nobs. Might experiment with some lead tape before investing in the weight kit. Hopefully then I can fine tune before spending too much coin!

Having not done this before... would you (or others) have any thoughts on how much difference a few grams can make it feel? It doesn't sound like much to a gym junkie like myself, but have heard it can actually have quite an impact. I haven't studied swing weights yet... but may need to start looking into it a bit more.

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There are online calculators to approximate the swing weight if you don’t have a swing scale.  Over time, you will start to get a sense of what swing weight works / feels best for you.   D2 has been considered the normal swing weight for a long time but these days D3 to D5 seem to be the norm especially with USDM drivers.  If you are stronger physically,  you would likely end up best fit to a heavier swing weight like D5 but it varies from person to person on what the preference is and what works best.   

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1 hour ago, nobmontana said:

There are online calculators to approximate the swing weight if you don’t have a swing scale.  Over time, you will start to get a sense of what swing weight works / feels best for you.   D2 has been considered the normal swing weight for a long time but these days D3 to D5 seem to be the norm especially with USDM drivers.  If you are stronger physically,  you would likely end up best fit to a heavier swing weight like D5 but it varies from person to person on what the preference is and what works best.   

Thanks Nobs. Sounds like some cheap experiments with lead tape is the way to go!

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COG

Increasing and decreasing the back weight may also change the properties and performance. The following article is a good read on how that all works mate.

 

Before we dig deeper into the specifics of how CG location impacts both performance and feel, there are a few things we need to make sure everybody understands.

1. It’s Called Center Of Gravity For A Reason.

As you might expect given its label, the center of gravity is always located very near the center of the clubhead. The CG of every driver measured for this series of articles is located within a box that’s 14mm front to back and 12mm top to bottom.

To put that into perspective, we’re talking about a box just a little bigger than your average Micro SD Card. It’s that small.

CG-micro-sd-1

You’ve probably seen some of the marketing/advertising graphics where golf companies claim to move the center of gravity from the extreme rear of the clubhead so far forward that it’s practically pressing against the face.

That’s total nonsense…outright shenanigans. Using our SD card (see the image above) as the example, while those OEM graphics convey a CG shift significantly more impressive than the equivalent of moving the CG from the ‘U’ to the ‘G’, in Samsung, actual reality is much closer to our example than theirs.
The reason it’s called center of gravity is because it’s near the center of the clubhead. Always.

Now that said, the CG location of a driver head has a slight forward bias because:

  • The face is much thicker and heavier than the rest of the body
  • The hosel (and all of its weight) is near the front of the club

 

2. Your Driver Is Stuck in the Box…Sorry.

We can talk physics and materials all day long, but the reality is that, with what engineers have to work with right now, it’s basically impossible to move center of gravity outside of that 12mm x 14mm box (SD card) we talked about before. Kind of amazing, right? Front CG, back CG…your driver, my driver, the center of gravity is always somewhere within that little box.

golf-geeks-1

 

3. How Millimeters Make Drivers Go Farther.

Small CG movements within our little box can have a significant impact on performance.

Despite having CG locations that are only millimeters apart, a Ping G30 plays very differently from a Callaway Big Bertha Alpha Double Black Diamond. Why? CG location.For those clubs with movable weight (adjustable CG technology), moving those weights around can alter performance significantly. For confirmation of that statement, try comparing numbers on an R15 with the weights in the middle to an R15 with the weights in the perimeter (MOI) position. Do the same with a FLY-Z+ with the weight in the front compared to the weight in the back. Grab a Callaway Alpha series driver and flip the core. Again…we’re talking about millimeters here, but those millimeters matter.

Changing the CG location changes performance.

 

4. Moving Mass Doesn’t Always Bring Significant Change.

I know…I just said nearly the opposite, but it’s important to understand that not all adjustable mass systems are created equal. The significance and impact of flipping, sliding, or any other type of CG movement depends on three things:

1. The direction the weight is being moved
2. How much weight is being moved
3. How far the weight is being moved

The more weight you can move over a greater distance, the more the CG will shift. Moving heavy weights over a comparatively small distance, or comparatively light weights over a greater distance doesn’t actually accomplish much.

HOW CENTER OF GRAVITY AFFECTS PERFORMANCE

cg-quads-1

The above chart illustrates how changes in center of gravity impact performance. Here’s a quick summary.

 

CG FORWARD

Dynamic Loft: decreases
Spin: decreases
Closure Rate: decreases
MOI: decreases

CG UP

Dynamic Loft: decreases
Spin: increases

 

CG BACK

Dynamic Loft: increases
Spin: increases
Closure Rate: increases
MOI: increases

CG DOWN

Dynamic Loft: Increases
Spin: Decreases

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6 hours ago, hutchy said:

COG

Increasing and decreasing the back weight may also change the properties and performance. The following article is a good read on how that all works mate.

 

Before we dig deeper into the specifics of how CG location impacts both performance and feel, there are a few things we need to make sure everybody understands.

1. It’s Called Center Of Gravity For A Reason.

As you might expect given its label, the center of gravity is always located very near the center of the clubhead. The CG of every driver measured for this series of articles is located within a box that’s 14mm front to back and 12mm top to bottom.

To put that into perspective, we’re talking about a box just a little bigger than your average Micro SD Card. It’s that small.

CG-micro-sd-1

You’ve probably seen some of the marketing/advertising graphics where golf companies claim to move the center of gravity from the extreme rear of the clubhead so far forward that it’s practically pressing against the face.

That’s total nonsense…outright shenanigans. Using our SD card (see the image above) as the example, while those OEM graphics convey a CG shift significantly more impressive than the equivalent of moving the CG from the ‘U’ to the ‘G’, in Samsung, actual reality is much closer to our example than theirs.
The reason it’s called center of gravity is because it’s near the center of the clubhead. Always.

Now that said, the CG location of a driver head has a slight forward bias because:

  • The face is much thicker and heavier than the rest of the body
  • The hosel (and all of its weight) is near the front of the club

 

2. Your Driver Is Stuck in the Box…Sorry.

We can talk physics and materials all day long, but the reality is that, with what engineers have to work with right now, it’s basically impossible to move center of gravity outside of that 12mm x 14mm box (SD card) we talked about before. Kind of amazing, right? Front CG, back CG…your driver, my driver, the center of gravity is always somewhere within that little box.

golf-geeks-1

 

3. How Millimeters Make Drivers Go Farther.

Small CG movements within our little box can have a significant impact on performance.

Despite having CG locations that are only millimeters apart, a Ping G30 plays very differently from a Callaway Big Bertha Alpha Double Black Diamond. Why? CG location.For those clubs with movable weight (adjustable CG technology), moving those weights around can alter performance significantly. For confirmation of that statement, try comparing numbers on an R15 with the weights in the middle to an R15 with the weights in the perimeter (MOI) position. Do the same with a FLY-Z+ with the weight in the front compared to the weight in the back. Grab a Callaway Alpha series driver and flip the core. Again…we’re talking about millimeters here, but those millimeters matter.

Changing the CG location changes performance.

 

4. Moving Mass Doesn’t Always Bring Significant Change.

I know…I just said nearly the opposite, but it’s important to understand that not all adjustable mass systems are created equal. The significance and impact of flipping, sliding, or any other type of CG movement depends on three things:

1. The direction the weight is being moved
2. How much weight is being moved
3. How far the weight is being moved

The more weight you can move over a greater distance, the more the CG will shift. Moving heavy weights over a comparatively small distance, or comparatively light weights over a greater distance doesn’t actually accomplish much.

HOW CENTER OF GRAVITY AFFECTS PERFORMANCE

cg-quads-1

The above chart illustrates how changes in center of gravity impact performance. Here’s a quick summary.

 

CG FORWARD

Dynamic Loft: decreases
Spin: decreases
Closure Rate: decreases
MOI: decreases

CG UP

Dynamic Loft: decreases
Spin: increases

 

CG BACK

Dynamic Loft: increases
Spin: increases
Closure Rate: increases
MOI: increases

CG DOWN

Dynamic Loft: Increases
Spin: Decreases

Legend! Thanks for the info, will check it out.

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One round done... will update the review after tomorrow's round but early indication is that this thing is a beast. Saw my longest drives (~260m total) on course today.

This was at 9.5*. Links tomorrow so will drop it a bit and see how it goes.

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  • DMG changed the title to jBeam KZ-5 Driver - Initial Review

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