There are valuable lessons to be learned from PGA Championship winner Y.E. Yang and his choice of hybrid shafts used at Hazeltine National.
Yang carried two TaylorMade Rescue TP hybrids, 2007 models (19 and 21 degree). Although the lofts were close together, the shafts were dramatically different.
The 19-degree Rescue had an Aldila NVS hybrid shaft, while the 21-degree Rescue had an Aldila NV hybrid shaft. Both shafts weighed 105 grams. Although the weights were identical and NV and NVS sound similar, these two shafts are very different.
NV was designed as a driver shaft. Yang, in fact, used a 75-gram NV in his TaylorMade R7 Limited driver. This is a stout, tip-stiff shaft.
Its distinctive green color can be attributed to David Wilson, manager of tour operations for Aldila. Wilson saw an edgy-looking green hockey stick manufactured by Aldila and asked for NV prototypes in the same color.
That was 2002. The NV would become the biggest selling shaft in the history of Aldila, which was founded by Jim Flood in 1972.
Following the success of the NV, Aldila shaft designers decided to add an NVS shaft. They thought the name sounded clever (en-vi-ous, get it?).
“The NVS will definitely launch the ball a little higher with a little more spin,” said John Oldenburg, Aldila’s chief designer. “Some golfers with a lot of clubhead speed will hit the NVS a lot higher. The NVS is quite a bit softer, particularly in the tip.”
What was Yang thinking? Simple enough: With his moderate clubhead speed, he wanted help getting the 19-degree hybrid up in the air. With the 21-degree hybrid, though, he didn’t need any assistance from the shaft. Yang hit the decisive shot on the 72nd hole of the PGA with this club.
The NV wood shaft, used in drivers and fairway woods before the hybrid version was invented, initially was sold in 10-gram increments from 55 grams to 105 grams. The 95 and 105 shafts still are supplied to tour players, while consumers must choose between 55, 65, 75 and 85 models. The NVS wood shaft is available in the same four weights.
The NV and NVS hybrid shafts were introduced in both 85-gram and 105-gram models. The 105s continue to be provided to touring pros, but were withdrawn from the consumer market because of the noticeably greater popularity of the 85-gram shaft.
The NV is made with extremely thin layers (plies) of graphite material. This proved costly and time consuming, but Aldila pursued it nonetheless. “Most of the really good shafts out there had a very boardy feel at the time, and we were determined to improve on that.”
A final word of caution: Not all golfers can use the NV shaft successfully. The best candidates are aggressive golfers with strong swings. Driver swing speeds exceeding 100 mph are recommended.
For many of us, the NVS is a more suitable choice. Even the winner of the PGA Championship had the NVS in one of his hybrids.