Talkin' Shafts

What's new in shaft technology

nVentix: While the concept has appeal, it would be difficult to implement. For example, while much of the industry believes that golfers of higher handicaps and slower swing speeds should be fitted with shafts with greater flex, twist and consequently droop, we believe that those shaft designs introduce greater variability and, therefore, actually make the game more difficult for these golfers.

Nippon: Different shaft specifications/characteristics are key points to separate shaft manufacturers from each other. By standardizing specifications, shaft manufacturers will be limited in design and production. Instead, standardizing shaft measurement scales and techniques would be more beneficial for consumers.

Fujikura: We're 100% on board with the standardization of shaft specifications, in order to better educate golfers and keep shaft labeling ethical. We've introduced three technologies—Enso fitting system, RACK, which measure's a shaft's endurance, and Shaft Scan to measure bending stiffness.

Graphite Design: Each shaft manufacturer has it own unique way of identifying flex. However, from the consumer standpoint, it would be nice to be able to compare apples to apples, when it comes to flex and frequency. On the other hand, taking advantage of today's fitting technologies (i.e., launch monitors and fitting carts) is the best advice we can offer a player wanting to identify the proper flex requirement and optimize shaft performance.

GOLF TIPS: Do you think we'll eventually see graphite become the norm in iron shafts?

Miyazaki Golf: No. Steel is still well respected, and there's so much unused capacity that it will stay around as long as the cost of raw steel stays comparably low. Remember, a good graphite-shaft raw cost is 15 to 20 times more than steel.

TT/Grafalloy: No, because steel shafts offer significantly greater consistency throughout the set compared to even the best-made graphite shafts. This is the overwhelming reason why 98 percent of PGA Tour players play steel in their irons. They want to know that shot trajectory and distance control are going to be consistent, shot after shot. Within the past six years, we have advanced our steel-iron-shaft development with the GS 75, 85 and 95 series to where we're now producing steel shafts at the historical weights of graphite. Since distance is primarily due to weight reduction, why would a golfer want to sacrifice accuracy and consistency by playing a graphite shaft that weighs the same as superlight steel?

Matrix: I have no doubt that it will take over the lion's share of the performance-based product of the future. Look at what has happened in tennis over the last 20 years. Wooden rackets were phased out in favor of steel, then aluminum and finally graphite. The best players in the world don't give steel a second thought. In golf, the more price-sensitive products of the future will probably continue to utilize steel. The highest-performing products will undoubtedly be equipped with graphite.

nVentix: We think steel iron shafts will continue to have a place for the foreseeable future. However, as shaft manufacturers begin to produce high-quality graphite iron shafts, we expect that the transition from steel to graphite iron shafts will accelerate.

Nippon: PGA Tour pros are trendsetters in the golf world. Since they continue to play steel iron shafts, despite the technology and performance advances in graphite iron shafts, steel will remain the norm for iron shafts.


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