2013 Buyer's Guide Shafts

Labels: ShaftsEquipment

With Michael Guerrette, VP of Product Research and Tour Development UST MAMIYA

1 Shafts are getting lighter and lighter. Do you think we'll hit a point where they're too light?

I think we already have, that is, unless we come up with new materials. Lighter shafts are very difficult to design from a durability perspective; although many talk about their lightweight shafts, they all lack good durability features relative to their heavier counterparts. Light shafts never really took off on Tour because players have a difficult time feeling where the club is during the swing; the average weight for drivers on the PGA and Web.com is 70 to 75 grams.

2 Let's talk a bit about length. Do longer shafts always equate to more distance? Or can some golfers benefit more from shorter-length shafts, thus hitting the sweet spot more often, leading to longer hits?

Most players don't swing from just the top of the swing like a robot; they start at address and have a backswing, transition and then downswing. The transition is usually the biggest issue with players using longer drivers; some do a good job of transitioning from backswing to downswing and can capture the energy a longer club would offer. Most players have a difficult time making the transition and keeping the club stable, so many players never really benefit from a longer club. We sometimes here of guys saying they can swing a shorter club faster, and that's usually because they can control or transition the club at the top more efficiently and capture the energy required in the downswing.

3 How resilient are today's graphite shafts? Do they last longer; are they more durable?

Graphite is much more durable than steel and has always been, which is why aerospace and industrial applications in many industries are moving to graphite—it's lighter, stronger and more durable than steel in most applications. Today's graphite shafts compared to graphite shafts 20 years ago are made with much more sophisticated material and with much more design knowledge or experience so, yes, they're much more durable and "resilient" if that's the word you're using to describe stronger and more durable.

4 Adjustable loft is popular these days. But can't you more accurately fine-tune your trajectory by using a better-fit shaft?

Yes, a shaft will always give you a better way of adjusting or fine-tuning your trajectory, which is launch angle and spin. You can give a player three drivers with the same loft and head, but by using three different shafts, he'll get a variation in spin and launch angle. But subtle variations aren't large ones—200 to 300 rpm and 1 degree of launch—but, again, this is fine-tuning. The shaft allows or doesn't allow a player to deliver the head to a square position at impact. The head and ball are designed to where, when the ball and head meet at the center of the clubface at square and the desired loft, the ball will project itself in the most efficient manner. The shaft will deliver the head or not deliver the head in that orientation based on how each player swings. That's why shaft fitting is so critical, but overlooked by so many inside and outside the golf industry. If a player can't deliver the high-tech head to a consistent orientation at impact, what good is the head or the ball?

5 UST Mamiya has some exciting graphite shafts for irons this year. Do you think more golfers will start seeing the benefits that come from graphite in their irons?
Yes, now that we've uncovered the key in graphite iron shafts—recoil, or spring effect, in a shaft—this will revolutionize the graphite iron shaft market.


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