Grueling research on new shaft technology

I've been out doing research the last few days. You might call it playing golf, but I call it research. (That looks so much better on an expense report, trust me.)
I've wanted to follow up on what I thought was the most exciting innovation at this year's PGA Merchandise Show -- interchangeable shafts. TaylorMade sent me their Tour Van in a Box to try out. It came with the new r7 CGB Max driver head (9 degrees), three different shafts and a valuables pouch that includes assorted movable weights and a tool that is used to change the weights and shafts.
We've seen some pretty garish driver heads in the last two years, but the CGB Max isn't one of them. It does have a stretched triangular look, which doesn't seem nearly as outlandish now as it did a year ago, and the head is painted in a sparkling burgundy color -- really good looking.
I haven't been a big fan of the wave of big-headed, big-MOI drivers that came out in '07. At least, I haven't found anything I liked better than what I had been using. And club evaluation, of course, is all about how it affects me and my game. Now I have to change my mind. It's a loaner that I have to send back, otherwise the CGB Max would likely be finding a permanent home in my bag. I was surprised how well I hit it (all those bad memories from last year's big-headed driver show still lingered).
I was also surprised by the shafts. The three choices are a 65-gram Mitsubishi Diamana, a 55-gram Matrix Ozik and a 75-gram Fujikura Rombax. The different shafts are supposed to produce different ball flights for different playing conditions or courses.
I was really looking forward to trying them out on the range at my home course near Pittsburgh, Treesdale. The funny thing was, I didn't see much difference in my shots. I hit all three shafts well and with more or less similar flight trajectories. FYI, I'm close to a scratch golfer but I do it with what could best be called a caddie-yard swing. My point is, I was expecting to see dramatic differences between the three and I didn't.
I'm not even sure which shaft I hit the best. They were all pretty good. The shaft on my previous driver was a 55-gram model, and the one I'm using right now has a 65-gram shaft. I could use any of these three shafts and be happy. Now, I'm sure if I'd been hooked up to a launch monitor, the numbers would be different and it would be easier to figure out which shaft is optimal for my game.
But I didn't have a chance to do that, and it's time to put it all in the box and send it back to TaylorMade. I still love the concept, and just so you know, I'll be going back to Treesdale, bumming a demo model off my pro and doing further, ahem, research for you.

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by Kevin Cunningham