For the first time in nearly six years, Mitsubishi has unveiled a new family of shafts. The surname, Kai’li, is meant to evoke a sense of “deep power” associated with the consistent ebb and flow of the tides.
If you want to go a bit deeper, I suppose “predictable power juxtaposed with a blue ocean of yet-to-be discovered advancements” works as well. If you’ve kept track of Mitsubishi shafts over the years, Kai’li likely sounds familiar. Over a decade ago, it was the model name of the Blue Board (mid-launch/mid-spin) shaft in the Diamana family. This Kai’li isn’t that Kai’li but, yes, it’s the exact same name. Something like when Run D.M.C. quipped “not ‘bad’ meaning ‘bad’ but ‘bad’ meaning ‘good.’”
All that aside, this is a pretty big deal for Mitsubishi Chemical. Its Tensei line launched in late 2015. And though the brand generally ranks in the top two in PGA TOUR weekly shaft counts, it’s still a “What have you released to me lately?” sort of industry.
KAI’LI DESIGN OBJECTIVE
Every product is a solution to a problem. Put another way: an opportunity to give golfers a better answer to an existing question. In this case, the design objectives were twofold.
First, create a low-torque shaft that meets the standards of the modern Tour player. Translation: The current crop of competitive amateur and professional golfers is more athletic and swings crazy fast. Secondly, address the opportunity cost that often exists between stability and feel. That is, it’s not that difficult to make a very stiff shaft. However, it’s an onerous task to generate the required strength without having the final product feel like a piece of rebar.
To the degree the shaft industry remains somewhat consistent on anything, it’s this. Within a shaft family, colors mean something. Specifically, the basic launch/spin characteristics. Going back to the original Diamana line, a White Board profile is low/low. Blue Board is mid-mid and Red Board is mid-high/high. It’s not a universal truth but it’s not far off.
With that, the first Kai’li shaft (Kai’li White) is, as expected, a low-launch, low-spin profile. With a twist. To achieve the desired feel, Mitsubishi incorporated a tapered butt section (as opposed to parallel) profile which is a key characteristic of Blue Board series shafts.
If you want the simplest description, the new Kai’li White is Blue Board feel with White Board performance.
Given the recent success of several competitors in this space, Mitsubishi needed a keystone offering with updated technology. And if early adoption is a worthy harbinger, Danny Willet’s recent win at the Dunhill Links Championship with Kai’li White in the bag is a positive start.
Mitsubishi is, fundamentally, a materials company. As such, it produces the raw composite materials used to construct its shafts. More than that, many of Mitsubishi’s competitors also use its raw materials. In this case, the featured material is MR70, a high-strength, low-resin content prepreg.
The Mitsubishi Kai’li White features Mitsubishi’s strongest tip design ever. This is commensurate with low torque values that indicate a more stable shaft profile. And while it’s impressive to tout a sub-20-percent resin content, the average golfer likely has no idea what that means.
So, here it is. Building a shaft designed to stand up to golfers who exert an extreme amount of force is one thing. Creating a shaft that achieves the performance in a lightweight package that retains some sense of the desired feel is far more challenging. And costly.
Materials with a greater weight-to-strength ratio are comparatively expensive. But these materials are necessary to reinforce specific areas of the shaft without introducing significantly more weight.
TAPERED BUTT SECTION
The difference between parallel and tapered butt sections is likely exactly what you’re thinking it is. One maintains a constant diameter (parallel) in the handle portion of the shaft. The other (tapered) is incrementally reduced.
That aside, Mitsubishi’s reasoning for a tapered butt design is worth a closer look. Feel is inherently subjective. Absent labels such as “good” or “bad”, golfers do tend to articulate a preference for quantifiably different shaft constructions.
For Mitsubishi, that deals with the vibrations caused at impact. The trick regarding feel isn’t to eliminate vibration entirely. It’s to pass on only the desirable vibrations at an optimal frequency. According to Mitsubishi, that’s the functional difference of a tapered butt design.
It’s all about good vibrations. Cue up some Beach Boys. Or maybe Kevin Nealon’s character (Gary Potter) in Happy Gilmore said it best, “Harness in the good energy; block out the bad.”
Mitsubishi is a leader in the shaft industry, both on professional tours and in the consumer retail environment. And given this position in a competitive environment, it needed a strong counterpunch to competitor shafts such as the Fujikura Ventus. This isn’t to suggest that its current low-lauch/low-spin offerings like Tensei 1K Pro White, AV RAW and CK Pro White aren’t capable, high-performance designs. But if we are to believe that technology evolves—and shaft companies continue to tell consumers this is the case—it’s incumbent on the manufacturers to show some evidence.
Moreover, when you read some language Mitsubishi uses in describing benefits noticed during Kai’li White testing, it read a lot like what I’ve experienced with the Ventus Black 6X.
Phrases such as “increased centeredness of contact,” “lower relative spin deviation” and “better dispersion” suggest Mitsubishi understands why certain shafts like Ventus have been successful. Also, some of it is simple yet vague shaft marketing speak.
Regardless, with the Kai’li line, Mitsubishi seems intent on crafting a series of shafts dedicated to the stronger, faster player by leveraging its most advanced materials and designs.
If so, game on.
KAI’LI WHITE PRICING & AVAILABILITY
The Mitsubishi Kai’li White will be available at retail in early 2022. It will be offered in three weights/flexes: 60 (R, S, X, TX), 70 (S, X, TX), and 80 (X, TX).
MSRP is $300.
For additional information, visit Mitsubishi Chemical.