ORLANDO, Fla. – The quest for the high-performance, sub-40 driver shaft has fascinated golfers and shaft manufacturers in the era of lightweight graphite.
Sub-40, meaning less than 40 grams. For years, it has been golf’s version of the Holy Grail. It has been a dream but not a reality.
Such a shaft not only would have to meet the weight requirement, but also would have to be durable. It would have to produce penetrating drives that don’t balloon up in the air.
At the PGA Merchandise Show, which concluded Jan. 26, True Temper made a proclamation: “We have the lightest golf shaft that’s ever been introduced,” said Chad Hall, True Temper’s director of global tour operations. “It weighs 39.5 grams at 46 inches raw length.”
The shaft is the Project X PXv 39, which tips the scales at 39.5 grams. “Go ahead and weigh it,” Hall said as a challenge.
This is not your grandfather’s shaft, because original steel driver shafts weighed about 140 grams each. Over the years, these shafts grew only marginally lighter. At 39.5 grams, this True Temper shaft is less than one third the weight of the driver shafts used by golfers such as Sam Snead, Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus in their primes.
This is not your father’s shaft, either. Although the weight of graphite driver shafts has gone steadily downward, ducking under 40 grams with a durable shaft has presented an enigma. Even the highly regarded Bassara W-Series 33 from Mitsubishi Rayon weighs 41 grams.
True Temper says the PXv 39 can withstand the stress of high swing speeds. How did it eclipse the 40-gram barrier? One explanation: The shaft has no paint. It is a raw shaft, with a decal and protective clear coat.
Don Brown, Project X product development manager and designer, told a paint story: “If we painted it, the total weight would have gone up to about 42 grams, and we are committed to staying under 40 grams.”
Said Hall, about the shaft’s genesis: “In the beginning, it seemed likely the shaft was going to be a game-improvement design, with a lot of high-shot tendencies. And then, as the shaft became a reality, we realized this is a better player’s golf shaft. It’s incredible how stable it is.”
Thank modern carbon-fiber materials and advanced construction – and no paint – for the new shaft. (A 52-gram version of the shaft also is available for golfers who prefer a heavier driver shaft or want to use it as a fairway wood shaft.)
“We created a core in the shaft that is extremely rigid,” Brown said. “This prevents the shaft from ovalizing (taking an oval shape). When they ovalize, they snap.”
The 39- and 52-gram versions are available immediately. The suggested retail price is $350 for each. The PXv 52 can be purchased through retailers, but the PXv 39 is available only through True Temper’s Performance Fitting Center clubfitters.
At the Demo Day that preceded the PGA Show, a demonstration on the range at Orange County National Golf Club revealed the resiliency of True Temper’s new product. Part of the Krank long-drive team (Krank is known as a manufacturer of driver heads used in long-drive competition) took on the PXv 39 shaft.
Many observers were betting the shaft would break, though “break” was not the word that was commonly used. “Explode” was a popular choice, “disintegrate” was heard several times, and “snap” was often uttered.
However, the shaft withstood the long-drive assault.
“Originally the shaft was going to be a Grafalloy shaft (another True Temper brand),” Hall said. “But after testing and testing, we said, ‘This is a Project X shaft. Holy smoke, this is a very high-performance shaft.’ “
Sub-40. Some might call it a scientific breakthrough.