Nippon N.S. Pro Zelos 7
Nippon changed the lightweight steel shaft landscape in 1999 by introducing the revolutionary 95-gram N.S. Pro 950GH steel shaft. And in 2013, Henrik Stenson dominated professional golf with Nippon N.S. Pro Modus steel shafts in his irons.
The world of golf went crazy over Stenson, but not necessarily his shafts.
Meanwhile, Nippon kept plugging away. Maybe now, with the introduction of an new shaft, the company will reap more recognition.
The new shaft is called N.S. Pro Zelos 7, and it is a lightweight steel shaft that may address the desires of many amateur golfers.
What do amateurs want? Many want to swing easy, to feel in control of the club throughout the backswing and downswing, and still hit solid shots that approach the maximum distance potential for each golfer.
The target audience is players whose swing speeds with a 7-iron measure 75 mph or less. This translates into a driver swing speed of roughly 93 MPH or less.
Such a group is estimated to be 80 percent or more of the world's golfers.
The Zelos 7 is available in 3-iron through wedge lengths. It features a low kick point. The regular-flex shaft weighs 74 grams, and the stiff shaft weighs 76 grams.
Yes, it is a constant weight shaft, meaning each shaft in the set has the exact same weight. There are advantages here in feel and consistency, bolstering the Zelos 7 theme that the golf swing doesn't need to be an act of ferocity.
Those best suited to this shaft probably are smooth swingers who rely on timing and tempo. For most golfers, the Zelos 7 will create a higher trajectory, which provides a definite advantage on iron shots into small or firm greens.
What is the design philosophy behind the Zelos 7?
It is a full-flexing shaft. It has a softer profile than typical steel shafts. It has no significant firmness to it and doesn't need to be loaded like most steel shafts.
To draw a comparison, it plays more like a soft graphite iron shaft. Moreover, it offers the stability commonly associated with steel.
Hiro Fukuda, head of U.S. sales and marketing for Nippon, said confidently, "We believe we have a game changer here. It is lightweight and plays very soft. It has incredible feel.
"Basically it is flexible throughout the whole structure. You feel the whole shaft flexing at impact. You feel the shaft whip a little bit. There is a snap."
The Zelos7 is a child of modern technology. "This shaft would not be possible without this new material we developed," Fukuda said.
That material is a high-tensile, automotive-style spring steel. This allowed Nippon to design and manufacture what is often being called "a graphite shaft made out of steel."
The shaft is currently available at many retail outlets, with a cost of about $34 per shaft.