The Loomis graphite iron shaft is back.
That’s the word from Jeff Meyer, president of Meyer Performance Composites, and his brother, Robert Meyer, MPC vice president of marketing and tour relations. They anticipate the storied shaft will make a return appearance on the PGA Tour, and they plan to sell the shaft to consumers beginning in September.
Back in the 1990s, Jeff Meyer was vice president of engineering for G. Loomis, designer of the Loomis shaft, and he has “always had really good feelings about this shaft and its performance.”
Robert Meyer has been traveling the PGA Tour with samples of the new shaft, and he said, “We’ve had many, many requests for the shaft…. The Loomis name has a great reputation.”
In 1994, 1995 and 1996, the G. Loomis graphite iron shaft sparked interest on the PGA Tour. Greg Norman and Davis Love III won with the shaft, and more than three dozen players used it at one time or another.
In 1996, ownership of the Loomis golf shaft was acquired by Aldila. Eventually, though, the iron shaft disappeared as Aldila concentrated on shafts for drivers, fairway woods and hybrids rather than irons.
As the Loomis iron ...
In January, Brian Gay won the Humana Challenge with an Oban Kiyoshi Purple driver shaft in his TaylorMade R1 driver (set to 9 degrees) and an Oban Kiyoshi Purple fairway wood shaft in his Adams Super LS 3-wood (13).
Any amateur can buy the exact same setup, because Oban never makes a shaft that is tour-only. All of the company’s shafts are available to both pros and amateurs in just one grade – premium. As Oban officials are fond of saying, the shafts are premium in performance and premium in price.
Gay’s R1 driver and Kiyoshi shaft? $399 for the driver, $360 for the shaft replacement. That’s a total of $759 for a driver.
And the price is never reduced by golf equipment manufacturers such as TaylorMade or by clubmakers in the Oban dealer network. The retail price of the Kiyoshi Purple is $360. Its brother, the Kiyoshi White, is $400.
“Because we use premium materials and proprietary designs, we are able to produce some spectacular shafts,” said Oban president Victor Afable. “Many golfers will pay for a shaft that works really well. Most of our sales are for shafts that cost $360 to $400.”
That being said ...
For many golfers, understanding the science of golf shafts is just too complicated.
These golfers may not fully understand flex, frequency, torque, kick point and other terminologies that make shafts the most mysterious part of the golf club.
Welcome to Golf Shaft 101. Shaftmaker Matrix has taken a giant step toward simplifying the shaft picture. The company’s new Flight System contains three designations for shafts – Black Tie (low trajectory), Red Tie (mid trajectory) and White Tie (high trajectory).
Low, mid, high. It doesn’t get much simpler than that. It makes sense from a player’s perspective, because most golfers know instinctively whether they want to hit the ball higher or lower or in-between.
Black Tie is painted black, Red Tie is red, and White Tie is white. The Matrix Flight System became widely available in early February.
To make it sound something like a spy game, Matrix uses the designation M3 for Black Tie, Q3 for Red Tie, and X3 for White Tie. But golfers don’t have to know that. They just have to identify their intended flight pattern.
How does Matrix provide three contrasting trajectories in its Flight System? The company uses three very different shaft ...
Steel iron shafts have dominated the golf marketplace for 75 years. The reason: Consistency and stability.
The process for manufacturing steel shafts is easily repeatable, and the performance from one shaft to another is highly predictable.
Who are the obvious candidates to use steel iron shafts? Everybody, says Kim Braly, creator of the KBS steel shaft and a man with a long pedigree in golf shafts. Braly’s father, Joe Braly, invented frequency matching of shafts. Following in his father’s footsteps, Braly designed and patented the Rifle shaft and then the Project X shaft.
“KBS is sold in 5-gram increments from 90 grams all the way up to 130 grams,” Braly said. “We can fit any golfer.”
Steel shafts from True Temper and Nippon are available down to the 75-gram range, although individual golfers must decide how light is too light.
“There is a point of diminishing returns,” Braly said, “where many golfers feel the shafts are too light, and they don’t get any more performance benefits.”
On the PGA Tour, where swing speeds are among the fastest in the world, more than 95 percent of players use steel iron shafts. Traditionally, skilled players have favored heavier weights ...
John Merrick, winner of the Northern Trust Open, is 100 percent southern California. He was born there, grew up there, learned to play golf there, went to college there (UCLA), still lives there (Long Beach), works with an instructor there (Jamie Mulligan at Virginia Country Club), and now he has won his first PGA Tour title there.
In capturing the Northern Trust title at Riviera Country Club, Merrick also relied on a graphite shaft manufacturer that has long been identified with southern California. That would be Aldila, which was founded in San Diego in 1972 and became the first shaftmaker to concentrate solely on graphite shafts.
At Riviera, Merrick played an Aldila NV 75X shaft in his Titleist 913D2 driver (8.5 degree), an Aldila NV 85X in his Titleist 913F 3-wood (13.5 degree), and an Aldila NV 105X shaft in his Titleist 913H hybrid (19 degree). He is a longtime user of the NV shaft and serves as a vivid example of the old “If it ain’t broken, don’t fix it” adage.
The NV, which is painted green for the consumer market, is one of the most legendary graphite shafts ever produced. It was introduced to ...
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 ...
Occasionally I am asked to speak to groups of golfers about golf equipment.
My opening comment is always the same: Do not compare your R shaft to somebody else’s R shaft; do not compare S shafts or X shafts or any shafts.
Why? Because the golf industry has no standards. Because one company’s R flex is another company’s S flex. Because the method of measuring shaft flex is different from one shaft manufacturer to another and one golf club manufacturer to another.
Don’t look to the U.S. Golf Association and R&A for help. Golf equipment is defined by the Rules of Golf. Plain and simple, the USGA and R&A can tell us which clubs, balls, shafts and grips are conforming and which are not. Legal or not – that’s about it for the ruling bodies.
In the early 1990s, I watched the golf industry wrestle with the proposed implementation of standards that would be submitted for approval to the American Society of Testing and Materials (ASTM). Mike Bennett, a serious man who was one of the founders of shaft manufacturer Aerotech Golf, devoted two years of his life to this project in a ...
Chris Hilleary is owner and president of Aerotech Golf, maker of composite SteelFiber golf shafts. These shafts are composed of separate layers of carbon fiber (graphite) and steel fiber. Hilleary, an engineer, ran Aerotech’s golf division before he bought the division nearly eight years ago.
For Shaft Month, he talked with Golfweek's James Achenbach and shared his thoughts on the evolution of composite shafts and their impact on the marketplace.
• • •
As the story goes, you bought Aerotech Golf on your own without help from any investors.
Hilleary: Yes, I leveraged everything I own. I refinanced our house. I refinanced some property we own. I made it happen without investors.
• • •
Aerotech is located in Bellingham, Washington?
Hilleary: It’s close to Seattle. It’s a wonderful part of the world. It’s where we want to raise our kids. In today’s world, you don’t necessarily have to be next door to Carlsbad (California, home of several major golf equipment companies).
• • •
Are we about to witness the dawning of the age of graphite iron shafts?
Hilleary: I would call it the age of composite iron shafts. Some touring pros are slowly moving away from steel iron shafts. What ...
ORLANDO, Fla. -- Manufacturers of graphite iron shafts, citing exceptional feel and improved performance, are conspicuously bullish as they head into a new season.
Shaftmaker UST Mamiya showed up at last month’s Demo Day before the PGA Merchandise Show with 40 irons. That was it – 40 UST Recoil graphite shafts attached to a variety of 6-iron heads from major club manufacturers.
The point: UST is placing major emphasis this year on its new Recoil shaft for irons. The company believes it already has proved itself in the metalwood and hybrid arenas, and irons represent the last battleground between graphite and steel.
UST is focusing on better players – touring pros and low-handicap amateurs – and several other shaftmakers are doing the same. Fujikura and Aldila, for example, actively will promote their graphite iron shafts on the PGA Tour and other worldwide tours.
All these graphite shaft manufacturers are trying to duplicate the success of Aerotech, a small shaftmaker in Bellingham, Wash. With Matt Kuchar and Brandt Snedeker using Aerotech’s SteelFiber graphite shafts, the company has been able to claim a No. 1 finish on the money list (Kuchar in 2010), a Players Championship victory (Kuchar in 2012) and Tour Championship and ...
Gawain Robertson, co-owner of shaftmaker Accra Premium Golf Shafts in Kingston, Ontario, Canada, may be the most straightforward person in the entire golf shaft industry.
Robertson was a touring pro for 16 years and a club pro for 9 years. In 2008, he and partner Dave Makarucha bought the Accra name from shaft manufacturer UST. Robertson is widely known as the man who makes driver and 3-wood shafts for former world No. 1 Luke Donald, although he appears to be just as concerned about amateur golfers as he is touring professionals.
And he is the first to tell amateur golfers that what they don’t know about shaft torque and flex can hurt them.
Robertson is a loud and insistent spokesman for professional golf club fitters, those individuals who understand how to put together a proper set of golf clubs for each golfer. Getting the right shaft torque and flex is a big part of that process.
The Accra business is based on intelligent, informed fitting, and Accra shafts are available only through a network of some 350 club fitters around the world. Accra shafts belong to two primary families: DyMatch ($199) and Tour Z ($299). Besides Donald, touring pros ...
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 ...
Editor's note: Often regarded as the engine of the golf club, modern shafts are marvels of science and technology. During Golfweek's Shaft Month, which begins today, we'll take an in-depth look at the category, including the latest innovations, the quest for "sub-40" and the battle of steel vs. graphite.
• • •
ORLANDO, Fla. -- Dave Schnider is president and chief operating officer of golf shaft manufacturer Fujikura Composites America.
In addition to his business skills, Schnider is an excellent golfer who has qualified for the U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship.
For Shaft Month, he sat down with Golfweek's James Achenbach and shared his thoughts on graphite performance and the latest trends affecting product development.
• • •
Are graphite shafts better than ever?
Schnider: The materials have improved tremendously. They are better, stronger, lighter and more efficient. We have airplanes that essentially are made of composite (graphite) materials. So you can imagine how good the modern composite golf shaft really is.
• • •
Question: Do graphite shafts wear out, or does the flex change?
Schnider: No, there is no fatigue factor. If you get something (a crack or fracture) inside the shaft (because of, say, airline travel), you will know it very quickly.
• • •