2012 Buyer’s Guide Shafts

It's the club's engine. Are you in need of a tune-up?

STORM DOWN By Jon Paupore, PGA

To hit longer drives, you have to get aggressive. And more importantly, you have to get aggressive in the right way. In the example here, let's look at the first move you ought to make as you descend from the top of your swing and into the golf ball. The longer hitters on Tour (just about all of them these days) know that the greatest way to generate power is to leverage the upper body against the ground. This means, the first move they make as they initiate the downswing is to squat into the ground and push the legs against it. Specifically, you want to apply more force into your left leg than the right to aid in making a better pivot onto your forward side on the downswing. In the photo here, you can see how my head is lower at the onset of my downswing, as compared to the very top of my backswing. This force, both downward and into my left leg, allows my upper body to build torque and, as a result, make a faster, more aggressive rotation through the hit.

A great way to practice this is to make a series of practice swings where you take the club to the top of your backswing, and pump your leg into the ground. You should feel more weight applied to your left leg than to your right one. As you do this, it's likely your arms will automatically start pumping downward too, indicating you're on the right track toward creating a powerful strike into the golf ball. After a few tries, hit some balls, and I bet you'll start hitting longer more aggressive shots immediately.

Even after years of preaching it in the pages of Golf Tips, it seems many golfers still ignore the most critical component of the golf club. Really, once you find the right head to your liking, what shaft you put in it makes all the difference in how well it will work for you. Pay attention to not only flex, but factors such as torque, length, weight and length. All these variables need to be considered if you want to make the most of any club in your golf bag.

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Aldila NV 44 Magnum

Key Feature: This new shaft from Aldila weighs a measely 44 grams (which is insanely light), however, it retains the strength and flexibility golfers have come to love in the NV series from Aldila (which is the company's best seller, by the way). Slightly heavier versions also are available. Who It's For: Golfers who want to go with the complete lightweight package. It's ideal for clubs with light clubheads and also with light grips. Look for that coveted high-launch, moderate-spin flight with this lightweight wonder. Specs: 44-48 grams, in R, S or X flex. aldila.com | $249 Aldila RIP Phenom

Key Feature: The mean, pirate-looking graphics on the new RIP Phenom hide a ton of new technology geared for added stability and power. The Hyperbolic Flex Zone provides a stiff tip section and a firm butt section, meaning the shaft flexes in the center. Thus, you have a penetrating launch and a very fast swing speed, thanks to some serious tech under the hood. It's our favorite Aldila shaft! Who It's For: Golfers who want maximum power and control without a ballooning ballflight. Specs: Comes in 50g or 70g in R, S, or X flex. aldila.com | $249 Fujikura Blur

Key Feature: The popular Blur shaft from Fujikura has a higher balance point (closer to the grip), helping golfers instantly increase their swing speed for longer hits. And yes, the feel and stability of the Blur is superb, as always with every shaft we've tried from Fujikura. Who It's For: There's a profile for everyone: 004 for mid/mid-high launch; 005 for a midlaunch; TS-95 for fast swingers who want a light shaft that's stable and consistent through the swing. Specs: A variety of flexes in aforementioned profiles. fujikuragolf.com | $299 Fujikura Motore Speeder VC.2 TS

Key Feature: The Motore Speeder VC.2 Tour Spec uses Fuji's proprietary Triax Woven material along with Quadra Axis Composite, together forming a unique 7-Axis Technology. Okay, what's that mean? This shaft is primed for the better player who wants extraordinary consis-tency, distance and control. Hello, PGA Tour... Who It's For: Tour players are gobbling it up. Specs: Comes in S or X flex in 65g, 69g or 74g models. (Non-Tour Spec models also available.) fujikuragolf.com | $399 Fujikura Rombax Type-X

Key Feature: Kevlar Triax and Vectran...yeah, sounds over our heads, too. Here's what you need to know: This hot new shaft reduces ovaling and keeps the head stable as heck through impact. The result is more hits off the sweet spot and longer, straighter shots. Who It's For: It'll work well for anyone who wants a strong, long-hitting and stable shaft that absorbs vibration like a sponge. We love those graphics, too. Specs: Comes in 65-75g models in S or X flex. fujikuragolf.com | $325 Grafalloy BooYah

Key Feature: Using high-modulus carbon fiber, the BooYah has a low bend point for a higher trajectory. And really, it's our favorite shaft name out there... Who It's For: Golfers who want to hit higher, longer shots, thanks to a high energy transfer into the golf ball. It's a great shaft for mid- to high-handicappers. Expect high tee shots with maximum carry, even if your swing speed isn't as fast as a Tour player's. Nice price, too. Specs: Available in 45g, 48g and 50g in a variety of flexes. grafalloy.com | $99 Grafalloy ProLaunch AMP

Key Feature: Advanced Material Performance (AMP) translates to a unique lay-up pattern that powers tee shots. The reduced torque combined with better overall shaft stability in the grip and mid sections mean this shaft is stable enough to swing hard without losing control. Who It's For: This shaft was made to swing hard (fast), so we suspect better players who want some more lift in their tee balls will fall in love with this shaft. Specs: More flexible shafts (A/R) have softer tips for higher launches than the stiffer shafts (S/X). Four weights avail. grafalloy.com | $125 Graphite Design G Series

Key Feature: The G-Series performance characteristics favor a low- to midlaunch trajectory and a midball spin. The new X-Directional Technology uses the already proven GD MSI (Material Stiffness Integration) design method and a new application for graphite alignment. All this means? This shaft has remarkable control, feel and distance. Who It's For: Golfers with average swing speeds who want to play things safe and choose a shaft that's awesome for midlaunch, midspin performance. Specs: Low or Low/Mid kickpoints in a variety of models. gdintl.com | $169 Graphite Design G Series Hybrid

Key Feature: Sporting the same performance characteristics found in the G Series, this hybrid shaft is ideal for golfers looking to fine-tune their hybrid shotmaking. Who It's For: Whether you're looking for more distance, a higher/lower launch or more control (or all the above), there's a G Series hybrid shaft that will get you there. Specs: Comes in 85g or 95g models in R, S or X flex. gdintl.com | $89 Graphite Design Tour AD DI

Key Feature: The "Deep Impact" Tour AD shaft is geared to help golfers do what so many of us want to do: Hit higher tee shots with lower spin. If you can do that, you can hit bombing drives that carry and roll farther. Who It's For: The Nanomaterial tech in the tip section in this shaft is the real deal, and will help all players looking for a boost in trajectory with their drivers, woods and now hybrids, too. Specs: Four classes (Di-5, -6, -7, -8) in a variety of flex/weight combinations. gdintl.com | $380 Graphite Design Tour AD DJ

Key Feature: The popular DJ shaft is a huge hit with Tour players (including some very recognizable ones), thanks to its incredible stability and consistency. The mid kickpoint produces a midspin launch and a high ballflight, resulting in just the right amount of feel, power and control that faster swingers prefer. "Accuracy and distance," folks. Who It's For: Golfers with 100+ swing speeds and those who want to hit it longer and find the fairways more often. Specs: Four model classes in a variety of weights (depending on flexes). gdintl.com | $380 KBS C-Taper

Key Feature: The new KBS C-Taper steel shaft has a Stiff Tip design for a lower ballflight, all while retaining a smoother feel through impact. This shaft also incorporates much of the same design and tech found in the popular KBS Tour shaft, hence, the buttery feel and Tour-preferred trajectory (low-launch, low-spin) these shafts create. We dig that satin chrome finish as well. Who It's For: Golfers who want to shallow out their iron trajectories while retaining feel and performance. Specs: Five flexes in progressive weight/flex profiles. kbsshafts.com | $280/set of 8 Mitsubishi Rayon Fubuki K-Series

Key Feature: The K-Series utilize the same Modulus Differential Technology found in the Fubuki Tour and Fubuki profiles in addition to MRC's latest innovation: the Power "Ninja" Core. This allows for a thin layer of metal in the butt section to increase stability and maximize power and speed through the hit. Who It's For: Golfers who want a shaft that has a firm tip for a more penetrating flight, albeit without a harsh feel. Specs: Comes in 3 weight classes in a variety of flexes. mitsubishirayongolf.com | $360 Miyazaki C.Kua

Key Feature: These shafts are made to extraordinary precision in Japan, with varying degrees of midsection, midtip and tip flex profiles to accommodate different clubs and different swing types. The common thread? Longer, more controlled hits. Boom, these are solid shafts! Who It's For: There's a perfect C.Kua shaft out there for every type of player. Literally... Specs: Comes in a huge variety of driver, fairway-wood and hybrid flex/weight profiles. miyazakigolfshafts.com | $249 Miyazaki Dromos

Key Feature: Superior multi-axis consistency makes it an upgrade shaft for adjustable hosel drivers. The proprietary lay-up of composite fibers reduces the spin effect, resulting in a more even pattern for consistent feel, performance and power, no matter which direction the shaft is oriented in the hosel. Who It's For: Golfers who want to upgrade their shaft and who favor an adjustable hosel driver. Specs: Comes in 61g, 72g and 83g in various flexes. miyazakigolfshafts.com | $300 Miyazaki Kusala White/Indigo

Key Feature: The new Kusala White produces a soft yet stable feel in the hands, with a very active tip section for increased ball speed and a higher trajectory. The Indigo shaft has a constant-flex code, meaning it has a balanced flex through the shaft. Its stable feel and mid to low trajectory is ideal for aggressive golf swings. Who It's For: The White is perfect for modest swing speeds; the Indigo is mean enough for faster swings. Specs: When combined with the Silver, Blue and Black versions, there's a huge assortment to choose from. miyazakigolfshafts.com | $250 NVENTiX Nunchuk

Key Feature: The one-size-fits-all Nunchuk features Tri-Zonal Stability tech, which eliminates excessive twisting, flexing and droop, all factors that lead to inconsistent hits. Even at 103 grams, the counterbalanced Nunchuk performs exceptionally well for players of any skill. And new for 2012, the Nunchuk comes in a handy hybrid model. Who It's For: Golfers who want to take the hassle out of finding a powerful, inventive and rock-steady shaft. Specs: Simple–one weight (103g), one flex. nventix.com | $275 OBAN Tour Prototype

Key Feature: Designed with Tour players in mind, the Tour Prototype has a stable feel with a firm tip, butt and mid-section. Meaning, this shaft stays put during the swing and doesn't droop, resulting in solid hits more often. Who It's For: Better players for sure. It's made to promote a low-launch and low-spin flight, which is what Tour players want. Average folks? Stick with something softer. Specs: Comes in 55g, 65g and 75g models in R, S, X. obanshafts.com | $440 OBAN Kiyoshi Black

Key Feature: Golfers with quicker tempos and those who want the ball to fly with less spin and a midlaunch trajectory can't miss here. The Kiyoshi Black's Emersion Wrapped Frequency Technology delivers a shaft with a stiffer torque than the Kiyoshi Purple, which leads to the low-spin, mid-height launch angle. Who It's For: Golfers who want a premium, Japanese-made shaft that lends maximum distance in a low-spin, midlaunch design. Specs: Comes in S and X, in 70g and 71g, respectively. obanshafts.com | $360 Project X Black

Key Feature: The new Project X Black is a lighter version of the popular Project X graphite shaft. It too has the same low-spin, tip-stable performance that better players have come to love, as well as literal aerospace materials that ensure superconsistent, supersteady performance. Who It's For: Tour players who want a lighter version of the popular Project X shaft. Specs: Four frequencies (5.0, 6.0, 6.5, 7.0) in different weight profiles. Hybrid models also available ($199). truetemper.com | $349 Project X PXi

Key Feature: A Project X graphite iron shaft? Yes! The new PXi "incorporates the hallmarks of the Project X brand–Tour-caliber spin control and tip stability–in a lightweight package. Project X PXi's lighter weight produces greater distance and improved feel through an optimized butt to tip stiffness calibration." Couldn't have said it better... Who It's For: Golfers who want to try an awesome alternative to steel shafts. Specs: Comes in four frequencies (5.0, 5.5, 6.0, 6.5). truetemper.com | $70/each SK Fiber Superfly

Key Feature: Looking for an awesome value-minded shaft? The Superfly (what a great name!) is an ultralight (47-53g) shaft that will instantly add more clubhead speed to your golf swing. And in case you aren't familiar with SK Fiber, they've been making some of our favorite shafts in the last few years. You can go ahead and add this one to the list. A great buy. Who It's For: G

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