2005: Features - Eagle Flight Golf soars as a leader in reshafting

Phoenix

Eldon Pipkin was trying to get ready for his assault on the Champions Tour.

“I worked on it solidly for two years,” he says. “I hit 500, 600, 700 balls every day.”

It didn’t help as much as he wanted.

Pipkin developed a health problem and did not compete on the Champions Tour, but his preoccupation with the golf swing never ebbed.

Eagle Flight Golf (www.eagleflightgolf.com) grew from this fascination. The company has become a major player in the reshafting market, although Pipkin offers his own brand of clubheads as well.

Pipkin the golfer eventually realized that a consistent set of clubs is just as important as a consistent golf swing. “There are a bunch of golfers out there,” he says, “who are getting killed by their clubs. They have confidence in some of their clubs, but some they don’t like, and some they hate, and they end up being confused and uncertain.”

So Pipkin, who started Eagle Flight 10 years ago, asked the obvious question: What is a perfect set of clubs?

Because all golfers have different swings and use different ball positions, Pipkin assumed their clubs have to be different as well. Today he is prescribing clubs with the use of a shaft principle – called Single Flex Matching – that addresses the individualities in all players.

Single Flex Matching is not the same thing as producing a set of clubs with a flat-line frequency (making clubs with identical frequencies), although Pipkin wants all the clubs to feel the same to the golfer.

The idea is to customize the shafts based on the swing characteristics and various ball positions used by the player. A set of irons could contain several different shaft frequencies, depending on the traits of the golfer.

In general, the short irons will contain softer shafts than conventional sets and the long irons will have stronger shafts than normal.

One of the most important components of Pipkin’s system is based purely on observation: He carefully watches a golfer’s ball position with clubs throughout the bag. If the golfer moves the ball back for short irons and up for long irons, Pipkin takes notice. If he or she plays every iron shot from the same position, Pipkin is aware of this.

Ball position usually is determined by a person’s swing philosophy or mechanics, plus anatomy and tempo.

“With our fitting program, we build clubs that allow golfers to be more effective with all their clubs,” Pipkin explains. “Based on their ball position, we know exactly where each club should release.”

The testing session is crucial in Pipkin’s method. Golfers are asked to hit enough shots on a range to identify what they do best, how they do it, and where they play the ball.

“Every individual doesn’t fit the same concept, and that’s one of the beauties of what we do,” he says. “We can get it right for all golfers, regardless of how they swing.”

Most manufacturers assemble irons with the use of a frequency slope. A baseline frequency is established with the mid irons (for testing, a 6-iron often is used). The long irons end up with softer shafts, the short irons have firmer shafts.

It has been done this way for many years, and golfers have learned to accept it. But Pipkin believes he has a better method.

“We’ve been told for years that the short irons will balloon (using a softer shaft),” Pipkin asserts. “It’s not true. It’s a lie.”

Some disagree with Pipkin’s theory.

Mitch Voges, the former U.S. Amateur champion and founder of Max Out Golf, a custom golf club business in Sherman Oaks, Calif., is a doubter. “What you’re looking for is control,” Voges maintains. “You need stiffer shafts for more control in the short irons.”

Pipkin’s retort: “All I can say is that anybody who says that has not used our clubs. In 10 years we have perfected our method, and we can build a great set of clubs for a tour player or for an average golfer. This is our expertise, and I believe we have learned to do it better than anyone.”

Former PGA Tour player Dwight Nevil, who works for Pipkin as a fitter, has become an enthusiastic convert. “I always felt my short irons were too strong,” says Nevil. “What I didn’t know was that my long irons were too weak. I’m a better long iron player right now at 60 than I ever was on the Tour, and that’s because I have the right shafts.”

Eagle Flight installs both steel and graphite shafts with its Single Flex Matching system. With either one, the company places the shaft spine in the same location on each club.

“We call it flex alignment,” Pipkin says. “We are very precise with it. We understand that an internal seam doesn’t run straight up and down the shaft. We must be doing something right. We’re in 35 states, and we’re growing.

“We’re not badmouthing anyone else’s products. We don’t do that. We’re just trying to build the best golf clubs on the planet.”

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