View large image | More photos
|Akira's white-shafted UI is the sharpest-looking hybrid on the market. (Courtesy Akira)|
The Akira UI golf club looks like nothing else on the golf-equipment market, but more than just good looks distinguish this Japanese-made hybrid club. The UI offers workability, height, respectable distance and very solid club feel, albeit at a premium price.
I have not always been a fan of hybrids. A year ago in fact, I figured I'd never carry one.
Then a pair of silver-headed, white-shafted clubs arrived in the mail from a company I'd never heard of before, Akira Products. The eye-catching sticks - a 21-degree 3-iron replacement and a 24-degree 4-iron replacement - came to me all the way from Japan. Even the spec labels were written in Japanese.
Luckily for me, four years living in the Land of the Rising Sun had equipped me with enough Japanese to decipher them. And knowing how seriously they take their golf and their golf clubs over there, I was more excited about trying out these hybrids than with any I've tested.
The first thing you notice about the Akira UI Hybrid is the incredibly sharp look. With its pearly shaft, brushed platinum finish and curved shining line from toe to heel, this hybrid, unlike most, does not look like atrophied fairway woods.
Standing over the UI, I felt as if I could move the ball any direction I wanted, not just high and straight like with most hybrids. Happily, looks did not deceive. The compact head combined with dual tungsten sole plates and back plug provide workability and height, all with respectable distance.
Even more notable is the extremely solid feel at contact, lent by an invisible engineering innovation: a vibration-dampening bar inside the clubhead.
But what about that white shaft? Would "the guys" think it looked too girly?
After a long weekend golf trip with 31 other guys, I can report that not one commented on the color of the shaft - only on the impressive length, control and feel of the UI.
As they are just now coming on to the U.S. market, the Akira UIs are not easy to find here. And if you do spot one, prepare for a little sticker shock. Good as these clubs are, it might be tough to bring yourself to lay down the MSRP of $265-$275.
At least, it would be tough to bring myself. Although in club-mad Japan, that's a relatively good deal.
For more information, visit www.akira-products.co.jp
July 17, 2007
Kiel Christianson has lived, worked, traveled and golfed extensively on three continents. As senior writer and equipment editor for WorldGolf.com, he has reviewed courses, resorts, and golf academies from California to Ireland, including his home course, Lake of the Woods G.C. in Mahomet, Illinois. Read his golf blog here.
One of the first companies to bring hybrids to market was Tour Edge, whose high-end Exotics line is quietly building a loyal following at all levels of play. The new Exotics CB Pro U Limited Edition Hybrid line combines the unique Slip Stream sole with a compact, warclub-like head for remarkable power.
... full article »