Aldila’s R.I.P. Shaft Additions
A year ago, Hireko introduced the new Aldila R.I.P.™ shaft and explained it’s technology and construction in what made it different from other shafts on the market. Back then it was known only as the R.I.P., but it should have been labeled the Alpha version. Hireko has now added the two latest versions to their R.I.P. line – Beta and Gamma – which I want to explain their differences and who they are for.
At first glance
I had an opportunity to shaft of each of the 60g S-flex shafts into identical heads and head to the range. Before I did, I made sure to measure the information for our annual Shaft Fitting Addendum as I do any shaft I get my hands on.
As you can see, the frequency (stiffness) of these were all fairly close. But upon closer inspection, you can understand the differences between these shafts. Let’s first start with the Beta version. According to Aldila, this is a slightly higher launching and higher spinning shaft than the original Alpha. Most of the specifications are identical to one another except for the torque, with the Beta a degree higher according to how we measure torque (which is always a higher reading than the manufactures publish as we measure a greater beam length.) If the higher torque attributes to the greater spin rate, that would explain a slightly higher ball flight.
The Gamma has two key specifications which makes this shaft different. First of all it is the heaviest of the three versions, however that is offset by a higher balance point (BP1 uncut shaft / BP2 cut shaft / BP3 assembled club from the tip). What this does is it places more mass toward the player’s hands. The Serrano, Wasabi and Habanera are also counter-balanced shafts in the Aldila line. This was designed to allow more head weight to be used so it doesn’t become head heavy if you are striving for more distance although this amount is marginal. Aldila also states this is a lower launching shaft closer to the Alpha version than the Beta.
Another excuse to go to the range
There are few things I would like to say about shafts. First, no one shaft will ever fit all golfers. This is why shaft manufacturers will make different versions of their shaft using their latest technology. Typically I do not fare well with tip stiff, low torque shafts as I have more of an early release than I should. As a little background, the Alpha version was designed for tour players. These players are strong, typically have a late release and hit the ball a long way, so accuracy is extremely important for them. Let me be frank, I will never be confused as having a tour player’s swing.
Secondly, not every golfer responds to a shaft or parameter the same way. Case in point is bend point. The Alpha version is listed as a low-mid launching shaft as it has a firm tip section and low torque. Using heads with the exact same loft, face angle, etc., I found myself hitting the ball the highest of the three. But there is a reason for that. The stiff tip and low torque are designed to prevent the head from closing and snapping into the ball. As a result I experienced a high fade unless I could hang my weight back on my right side. The Alpha did feel good and I will put it into another head with a more closed face and/or draw biased and try it again.
The Beta shaft I tested was the black version with the green eyes rather than the white version that is also available. I should also tell you this, the graphics on the R.I.P. Shafts are phenomenal all the way down to the R.I.P in raised lettering. I hit this shaft better than the Alpha. Even though the tip and overall stiffness of the shaft were the same as the Alpha version, the additional torque was a godsend for someone like me. Remember, low torque inhibits the clubhead from rotating or closing at impact. The ball flight was straighter, although misses were still a fade they were not nearly as much. As a result the ball trajectory was not noticeably any higher and if there was any additional spin it did not create any problems. From a feel standpoint, I honestly could not tell a difference between it and the Alpha. I now have a head picked out for the Beta that should produced my desired ball flight.
The Gamma – what is the best way to describe it? OMG, it was the bomb! Even though this shaft was a little heavier, this was by far for me not only the straightest, but the looooongest too. I have dabbled in counterbalancing clubs for over 20 years and know it’s value. When a club is properly balanced, it gives the golfer that perfect timing where no adjustment are necessary to go after the ball with confidence and sometimes reckless abandon. That ball seemed liked it climbed forever without dropping out the sky.
There is something about these high end shafts that gives players an advantage. Is it those subtle differences in trajectory and spin versus other shafts that might similar specifications at least on paper? Or could it be how the impact marks on the face are clustered so much closer together? Or the feel? All I know is the R.I.P. Family had three distinct shafts that will produce different results. If you are a stronger golfer, get a chance to hit one of these models to see if it can improve your game like it did mine.