Toy Box: Shafts gain in technology, exposure

At the 2012 PGA Merchandise Show, golf shafts were everywhere. For golf equipment fanatics, shafts could have been proclaimed the star of the show.

Of course, it wasn’t always this way. There was a time, not that long ago, when shafts received little fanfare.

It was the U.S. Golf Association that helped turn the attention of golfers in the United States to their golf shafts.

Back in the era before graphite shafts, life was relatively simple for golfers. There were iron heads, wood heads and steel shafts. No big deal.

Then the USGA gave its blessing to graphite shafts, and life on the equipment front got a little more complex.

Frank Thomas, who later would become technical director of the USGA, was experimenting with several shaft materials in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

One of those materials was carbon fiber, or graphite, which increasingly was being used in airplane construction. Gradually a few crude graphite golf shafts appeared on the PGA Tour, thanks mostly to Jim Flood from a fledgling graphite shaft manufacturer called Aldila.

Thomas, as an experimenter in exotic materials and an inventor of golf shafts, wasn’t about to stop this parade of new shafts after he joined the USGA, where he served for 26 years. He had seen the road to the future, and it was paved with graphite.

Thomas was at the USGA in 1998 when performance limitations for drivers were introduced. Those limitations covered clubheads but not shafts, so it became a no-brainer for the industry to become more heavily involved in shaft research and development.

To this day, shafts are mostly unregulated. The shaft rules that exist have everything to do with symmetry and basic construction, while having nothing to do with performance.

Light or heavy, stiff or flexible, today’s shafts are a collection of brilliant achievements by scientists and engineers who may have started in the defense or aerospace industries but ended up in golf.

Following are some of the shafts receiving major attention at the PGA Show. Two are iron shafts made of steel, while the others are driver and fairway wood shafts made of graphite. Because graphite shaft weights vary significantly according to flex, the weights listed for all graphite shafts are approximate.

• • •

KBS C-Taper steel

photo

The skinny: This steel shaft was designed by Kim Braly, who along with his father, Joe Braly, was responsible for the Rifle shaft. The C-Taper is a strong shaft with low-launch, low-spin characteristics. Weights are 110, 115, 120, 125 and 130 grams. Several Tour players use an S-plus flex rather than an X flex.

Cost: $35

Available: Immediate

• • •

Nippon N.S. Pro Modus3 steel

photo

The skinny: This steel iron shaft started life as a tour prototype, but quickly made its way to the open market. A constant-weight shaft, it is available in weights from 111 grams through 126 grams, depending on the flex.

Cost: $35

Available: Immediate

• • •

True Temper Project X Black

photo

The skinny: This shaft drew a crowd at the PGA Show. Designed by Don Brown, the Project X Black weighs 56 to 62 grams (depending on flex) and is 10 percent lighter than the original Project X graphite. True Temper says it maintains the Project X tip stability and low spin.

Cost: $275

Available: Immediate

• • •

Aldila RIP Phenom

photo

The skinny: This shaft has a stiff tip section and very firm butt section, aimed at providing a stable feel. The Phenom’s center section is softer to promote more kick through impact. Weights are 60, 70 and 80 grams.

Cost: $199.99

Available: Immediate

• • •

Fujikura Motore Speeder VC.2 Tour Spec

photo

The skinny: There are two versions of this shaft: VC.2 and VC.2 Tour Spec. Both are stiff in the butt. The Tour Spec is stiffer in the tip; the other, being used by Nick Watney, provides enhanced feel. This is a low-launch, low-spin driver shaft intended for skilled players. The weight range is 65 to 75 grams, based on flex.

Cost: $300

Available: Immediate

• • •

Mitsubishi Rayon Fubuki K

photo

The skinny: Phil Mickelson has used Fubuki for more than two years, and the K is the most recent addition. It has the lowest launch in the Fubuki series. For a strong player, this shaft is all about speed and distance. Weights are 50, 60 and 70 grams.

Cost: $360

Available: Immediate

• • •

UST Mamiya Proforce VTS

photo

The skinny: UST engineers have introduced torque as a shaft-fitting criterion. For each weight from 55 to 95 grams, golfers can choose different torque values. Most low-handicap players seek low torque, although high torque is valuable for many players because it provides more feel and promotes a higher flight.

Cost: $149.99

Available: Immediate

• • •

Matrix Ozik M3 Black Tie

photo

The skinny: Tour launch and tour spin characteristics describe this shaft. Thus, it appeals primarily to golfers with high swing speeds. Available in 60-, 70- and 80-gram options. A sister shaft from Matrix, the M3 RUL, is a mid-launch, mid-spin shaft.

Cost: $375

Available: Immediate

• • •

Miyazaki Kusala White

photo

The skinny: This shaft is extremely stiff in the top three-quarters and very soft at the tip. However, engineers have taken the torque out of the tip, a design intended to provide kick without twist. It is a high-launching shaft, and many players have lowered driver loft in order to use the Kusala. Weights are 56, 61, 72 and 83 grams.

Cost: $250

Available: Immediate

• • •

Oban Kiyoshi Black

photo

The skinny: Engineers concentrated on making a stable shaft without a harsh, boardy feel. Kiyoshi Black is a mid-launch, low-spin shaft. The launch is slightly higher than the Oban Devotion but slightly lower than the Kiyoshi Purple. The Black is bolstered by extra stiffness in the butt. Weights are 55, 65, 75 and 85 grams.

Cost: $360

Available: Immediate

• • •

nVentix Nunchuk

photo

The skinny: If not for Jhonattan Vegas, who won on the PGA Tour with Nunchuk shafts, the world might know little about this shaft. It comes in one unmarked flex (stiff), one weight (about 100 grams) with one torque rating (3.5). Yet, devotees say it works for diverse swing speeds. Why? Because, the company says, the shaft stabilizes the head at impact and controls lag. Because of that, it is designed to produce greater acceleration.

Cost: $275

Available: Immediate

Welcome to Golfweek.com's comments section.
Please review the posting guidlines here: Golfweek.com Community Guidelines.
All accounts must be verified using Disqus email verification

  • PGA
  • CHMP
  • WEB
[[PGAtourn]] Full Leaderboard >
Prev
  • [[player._CurPos]]
  • [[player._Lname]], [[player._Fname]]
  • [[player._TournParRel]]
  • [[player._Thru]]
Next
[[CHMPtourn]] Full Leaderboard >
Prev
  • [[player._CurPos]]
  • [[player._Lname]], [[player._Fname]]
  • [[player._TournParRel]]
  • [[player._Thru]]
Next
[[NWIDtourn]] Full Leaderboard >
Prev
  • [[player._CurPos]]
  • [[player._Lname]], [[player._Fname]]
  • [[player._TournParRel]]
  • [[player._Thru]]
Next