The concept behind the Nunchuk golf shaft invariably raises questions.
After all, Nunchuk advocates one weight and one flex for all golfers. “That’s right,” said PGA professional Bryan Nicholson. “I will give you the same shaft whether you are a Tour player or a senior lady or senior man.”
And how can this possibly work?
Nicholson, head professional at Northwood Club in Dallas, Texas, has heard this question probably 1,000 times. “Flex is not a necessary element to get the golf ball in the air,” he explained. “Flex is not necessary to gain distance. I realize that other manufacturers are going to tell you a different story. What I am saying is an outside-the-box idea. But all I ask from any golfer – regardless of their age, strength, swing speed or ability – is that they try the shaft.”
The Nunchuk concept originated with Australian golf instructor Gerry Hogan. Nicholson met Hogan several years ago and was fascinated by his pursuit of the perfect golf shaft. Eventually Nicholson put together a group of three investors (his title is chairman of the golf advisory board) to bring the shaft to market.
The shaft is made of graphite, and it weighs 104 grams. Is this too heavy for some golfers? No, according to Nicholson.
“Over and over, I’ve seen what it can do,” Nicholson added. “I am confident in the shaft. It took a very long time to get it right, to get the balance points correct, to make it feel good in a player’s hands, to provide the feedback we wanted. But we did it.”
The design of the shaft includes three distinct sections. “It is based on a three-piece design,” Nicholson said. “There is a stiffer butt, a softer midsection and a stiffer tip. The midsection allows the shaft to load. The way these three sections work together, the shaft realigns itself during the swing. It is directly in line with the intended target. It stays that way all the way to impact. What we offer, we believe, is the maximum ability to stabilize the clubface and return the head square at impact.”
Nicholson has been helped by shaftmaker UST, which makes the Nunchuk shaft. At first, Nicholson worked extensively with designer Jamie Pipes at UST. Now he works with engineer Mike Guerrette on the evolving line of shafts.
“Quality control to us is very, very important,” Nicholson said. “We have an instrument that needs to be precisely built – the way the fibers are laid, the way the patterns are coordinated. UST has helped us tremendously.”
There is no tip trimming of Nunchuk shafts. The shafts are butt-cut to length, and that’s it.
At the PGA Merchandise Show in late January, Nunchuk introduced the xi iron shaft. Previously it had released a wood shaft and hybrid shaft. All these shafts weigh 104 grams. The Nunchuk driver and fairway wood shaft costs $275, while the hybrid shaft costs $175 and the iron shaft sells for $75.
Touring pros who have used the shaft in various metalwoods and hybrids include Jhonattan Vegas and Jeff Sluman.
“These two guys are from different planets,” Nicholson joked. “One (Vegas) is tall, one (Sluman) is short. One is big, one isn’t. Yet they both use the same shaft. A lot of people think you have to be a big boy to hit this shaft, and it just isn’t true. Old-school thinking would tell you that an older golfer needs a lighter shaft, but I’m telling you this isn’t true, either.
“When we get older golfers on the range, they are amazed at what they feel and what they see. The shaft does not feel heavy. Accuracy and straight shots are what we talk about all the time, but many golfers get a little extra distance as well. If you think that sounds too good to be true, I just ask you to try the shaft. Experiment with it, do a comparison test.”
So says this man of conviction. Nicholson is so serious about golf that already, at 31, he has earned all six certifications offered by the PGA of America.
Art Sellinger is founder of Long Drivers of America and a two-time world long drive champion, and he has plenty of experience with the Nunchuk shaft.
“I think a lot of stock golf shafts have way too much torque and way too much flex,” Sellinger said. “I see people hit the ball with way too much shaft movement. It’s like watching somebody with a fishing rod. A golf shaft should be totally for stability.
“I’m a big fan of the Nunchuk shaft, because I’m a big fan of stability,” Sellinger added. “People like to blame bad shots on a shaft that is too stiff, but that’s usually not the way it works. The problem is not the shaft. The problem is the delivery system. The problem is the golfer’s swing. If I give an ordinary golfer an X shaft, he may freak out. But, if he has the correct loft, I can teach him to use that shaft effectively.”
Although some observers continue to label the Nunchuk as too stiff, Nicholson rejects this notion, along with the necessity of flex designations.
“Everybody in the golf industry is telling you that you have to have flex,” he said. “If you follow that advice, you have to match your swing with the profile of that shaft. We stand completely on the other side of that. We have a way that golfers of all swing speeds and all abilities can swing the same golf club.”