The brand new Nippon Neo compared to GH
Nippon is one of our favourite manufacturers of steel shafts and is used by us almost daily. Besides the well known Modus and GH shafts there is also a much lighter alternative with the Zelos shafts. With the Neo shaft Nippon closes the gap between Zelos and GH. The GH is in the weight range of 85-105g and Zelos is aimed at players who need lighter shafts with 70 and 80g. But the weight alone is not the decisive factor. The Zelos shafts have a different profile and play much softer than the GH shafts. The GH series is more on the hard side and therefore Nippon identified a gap that should now be filled with the Neo shaft.
The Nippon 950 Neo differs from the GH series in both flex and bend profile. The Neo has its kickpoint much further down the shaft and is also softer than the GH. So don't make the mistake of comparing the 950 GH with the 950 Neo. In the following test, we would like to take a look at both shafts and compare them with identical club head, shaft lengths and swing weight. The shaft weights for both shafts are 94.5g in Regular Flex.
Our player had the task to hit a target 145m away. The differences are not too big, but confirm our assumptions:
The clubhead speed is 0.7mph higher with the Neo, which is not much and can only be attributed to the slightly softer flex. The Smash Factor was 1.32 on average for both, but the variance with the Neo was significantly lower. The bottom line is that our test player hit the Neo much more consistently. This results in a 3m more carry length and 2m more in total length. The spin was minimally but insignificantly higher with the Neo.
The comparison at the launch is interesting, because there is a difference of 1.7°. But that's not surprising, because the kickpoint is much lower with the Neo and therefore favours the launch considerably.
Nippon closes the gap between the GH series and the Zelos with the Neo shafts. The Neo is more comparable to the Zelos in terms of profile and bend profile, but is also available in the 95g version and therefore a bit heavier. We would recommend the Neo to players who need the same flex profile as the Zelos, but need a slightly heavier shaft. Although the GH shafts are relatively light steel shafts, they are not near as light and soft as Zelos in terms of weight and flex. Therefore it makes a lot of sense that Nippon fills this gap with the Neo shaft.
But what you also have to say: The Nippon Neo is unfortunately relatively expensive. However, the Nippon Neo is available in all club heads of the new Honma TR20 at no extra charge - this is also the original and not a Made for shaft. Honma offers a very good possibility to have a high quality and expensive shaft like the Neo built into your new irons without extra charge.