Handmade Stix LB-1 Irons With UST Mamyia Dart Shafts Review
The Bobka Project powered by UST MAMIYA DART
Spyzinger got an early start to his 2023 golf season with a little trip to Amelia Island, FL. He hit his newly created Handmade Stix LB-1 Irons with UST Mamyia Dart Shafts. After lots of good shots and a few rounds of golf he shares his thoughts on the new clubs in his bag.
This is Spyzinger’s definitive review for 2023 of the Handmade Stix LB-1 irons with UST Mamyia Dart Shafts.
It all started with a podcast by one of the long time good guys in golf, Mr. Brian Knudson. Knudson is the host of @clubjunkiepod. On December 9, 2022, he interviewed Larry Bobka, the legendary club designer for Titleist Golf. Bobka has a long and storied career in club design. He found himself retired and living in Minnesota. He now works for 2nd Swing Golf mostly out of the Minnetonka, Minnesota location. 2nd Swing has organized a conglomerate of independent brands and club designers under the name Handmade Stix. Knudson revealed that its under this collective name that Bobka introduced his own design of irons. To say this had me intrigued is an understatement. I began texting my friends, “Hey, did you hear Bobka designed a set of irons, and is releasing them under the Handmade Stix brand?”
If you have been a scholar of golf equipment, Larry Bobka is a household name in club design and was responsible for getting Tiger into the mystical Titleist 681 irons earlier in his career. The golf industry has many stories, Bobka is a legend. I am still trying to wrap my head around how it is possible the average hack can be fit by him over at 2nd Swing. But that is a story for another day.
After listening to Knutson’s podcast no less that five times, I drove over to 2nd Swing Minneapolis and placed an order with our own, Tyler Fitzel. I ordered a heads only set of the Handmade Stix LB-1 irons. Bobka describes them as investment cast carbon steel heads that are inspired by a combination of Wilson Staff, Titleist 681, and Mizuno MP-33 irons. Wow! I had to have them, even though as a 12 handicap, I probably have no business playing them. They’re the ultimate set of players blades designed for feel and workability. Nonetheless, I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to play this limited run set of heads regardless if I could hit them.
So I had the heads, I just needed the right shaft to install in the LB-1 heads. After some research, I landed on the UST MAMIYA Recoil DART iron shaft. Would you believe that Bobka was employee number five at UST MAMIYA back in the day? But again, another story of many for another day.
UST MAMIYA Recoil DART Iron Shafts
As a chop with a hook-fade-draw-slice as my go to shot, if the heads weren’t offering forgiveness, I would need them in my shafts. I wanted something that would return the feel of a crisply struck blade on the off chance I would hit the center of the face. More likely, I wanted a shaft that would dampen the feedback of harsh feeling when a blade is struck anywhere by the center of the face.
I was also intrigued by the technology build into the DART shafts. As UST MAMIYA so eloquently describes: “Recoil DART has been designed after years of research, testing and development to precisely optimize shaft hoop stiffness in the critical areas of the golf shaft. To achieve maximum distance, optimum hoop stiffness is designed into the energy transfer section of the shaft. In the tip section, the hoop stiffness is increased to maintain feel while also stabilizing the tip section for maximum consistency and optimum ball flight.”
In everyday hacker-speak, these shafts would offer the feel of graphite with the stability of an iron shaft. Feel and stability, I liked the sounds of that in heads I shouldn’t be playing right? DART is a play on words and is also an acronym which stands for: Dual Action Recoil Technology. By design, this is said to eliminate inconsistencies in the shaft. This, combined with the legacy Recoil technology of providing greater consistency with distance and trajectory control. Again, a graphite shaft that is designed to perform like an iron shaft.
Previously, the DART shafts were only offered in 65 and 75 gram offerings. However, UST MAMIYA recently began offering them in both 95 and 105 gram offerings. For my build, I elected to install the 105 gram shafts. The DART is also designed with metal ions being embedded into the paint for a better looking finish and added durability.
The Marriage of LB-1 Heads and DART Shafts
Since we find ourselves buried in snow in Minnesota, I loaded by newly minted clubs onto a Delta jet and took off for Jacksonville. From there, I drove 30 miles north for three days at The Golf Club of Amelia Island. I was able to get in three practice sessions along with two 18 hole rounds of golf under the high 80 degree sunshine of northern Florida. My first swing was destiny:
After three days in paradise with the Handmade Stix LB-1 heads the results were grossly different from my expectations. I could actually play these heads and it was made possible by the DART shafts. The performance characteristics of this shaft actually lived up to the marketing of the shaft provided by UST MAMIYA.
First the feel and stability. Obviously, these heads are not designed for forgiveness. My heart is, my irons are not. So on off center hits commonly hit by yours truly, the shaft performance was stable like an iron shaft yet the feel was dampened and not in the least bit harsh. I could hit these low and toe side with very similar feel to my previous gamers, the Mizuno JPX Forged. The distance and dispersion of these off center hits were shorter and more offline than normal, but the feel was about the same. I found that to be remarkable for carbon steel blades. As someone that suffers from tennis elbow in both arms, the DART was a necessary shaft for both the feel and performance it provided with this head. It felt and performed like a game improvement head in a steel shaft. Dampened stability. Just what I needed.
Second, another performance characteristic of this shaft was found in the trajectory control. Shot after shot, even on off-center hits, this shaft flew the ball at or about the same trajectory I am used to seeing in well struck shots with my JPX forged heads.I found the heads to be about a half club shorter on good shots than I am used to. They were found to be about a full club to a club and a half on poor shots. However, the yardage gap was negligible to the trajectory control which again was remarkably consistent in the DART shafts.
The Xperimental Conclusions
This was a remarkably fun project. I really did not know what to expect playing a set of blades, as this was the first and only set I have had. It was intriguing to me having a set designed by Larry Bobka. It was almost as if a nobody like me had a set of experimental tour prototypes to test. The Handmade Stix LB-1 Iron heads combined with the DART shafts were actually playable for a 12 handicap when combined with the stable forgiveness these shafts provide. Of course, I play better or more consistent with my normal gamers. But like Bobka himself declared, these may not be your everyday set. They are certainly his everyday set, but certainly will not be mine based solely on skill. But it was a fun project and I was able to perform because of the DART technology. If you would be remiss not to give these shafts a look no matter the heads you’re playing. They are every bit as consistent as steel yet have remarkable feel with forgiving attributes.
For more Handmade Stix LB-1 information check out: https://www.2ndswing.com/lb-1-sts
For more UST Mamyia Dart information check out: https://www.ustmamiya.com/golf-shafts/brands/recoil/recoil-dart-6575/
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