A Fujikura golf shaft played a large part in one of the longest – if not, the longest – drives hit last year.
Tim Burke, 26, used Fujikura’s FlyWire shaft to blast a 427-yard drive to win the Re/Max World Long Drive Championship in Las Vegas.
There was no wind, so the winning drive was totally legitimate. Burke, a former pitcher at the University of Miami, was swinging a Krank Formula 5 driver with 3 degrees of loft. Krank, headquartered in Tempe, Ariz., specializes in long-drive driver heads. Burke’s FlyWire shaft, which weighed 54 grams, is made specifically for Krank and designed for golfers with high swing speeds.
Most golfers are not strong enough or fast enough to swing the FlyWire, but another Fujikura development has the potential to catch golfers’ attention.
Fujikura’s MCI (Metal Composite Iron) shaft recently became widely available through the certified network of Fujikura dealers. This iron shaft is a blend of graphite and steel. The objective is better balance, feel and stability.
Fujikura will bring a new MCH shaft for hybrids to the PGA Merchandise Show this week in Orlando, Fla. This shaft also mixes graphite and steel.
Steel and aluminum have been mixed with graphite, or composite material, for more than 20 years in golf, but Fujikura possesses a process patent for its method of combining graphite and steel. This is not simply a procedure of adding steel strands to graphite shafts. It is a complicated operation.
Other companies with successful products that combine graphite and steel include Aerotech and Callaway.
Aerotech’s SteelFiber shaft employs steel mesh over a graphite core. Matt Kuchar and Brandt Snedeker have won with this shaft on the PGA Tour.
Callaway, with its Fusion process, has accomplished cutting-edge design in joining graphite with titanium in its driver heads.
At the same time, it needs to be recognized that all-graphite iron shafts have improved dramatically in the past few years. Aldila’s RIP shaft was used by two tour winners in 2013 (Boo Weekley and Ken Duke), and UST Mamiya’s Recoil shaft has captured the attention of several touring pros, most notably Ernie Els.
Manufacturers have overcome two longstanding concerns with graphite iron shafts: One, old designs often felt so light that skilled players had a difficult time sensing the clubhead during the swing; two, graphite shafts, despite their legendary ability to dampen vibration, often felt clunky or boardy at impact.
Welcome to a new era of graphite iron shafts and graphite/steel combo iron shafts. For Fujikura, the Metal Composite story is one of weight distribution and balance. Weight has been moved from the butt end of the shaft to the tip end.
“MCI has the balance (point) down in the lower end of the shaft,” said Dave Schnider, Fujikura chief operating officer and president. “That way there is no feel issue. Nobody is going to say the shaft feels too light, which has been a common complaint about graphite iron shafts.”
MCI is not a shaft that promises more distance. As mentioned earlier, it’s about balance, feel and trajectory. Because graphite can be adjusted easily and manipulated in the design process, emphasis can be placed on getting the ball up in the air with long irons.
MCI is available in four weight categories: 60, 80, 100 and 120 grams. Swingweights will end up in same range as steel. The suggested retail price is $100 apiece for the 60 and 80 models, $115 for the 100 and $150 for the 120.