FORT WORTH, Texas – Why do so many golfers talk incessantly about shaft flex but never seem to talk about shaft torque? It’s a good question because torque is so important in the choice of a shaft.
Shaftmaker UST Mamiya, headquartered in Fort Worth, is trying to do something about this. It’s a scholarly response. Call it Golf Shaft 101.
Torque reflects the extent to which a shaft twists during the golf swing. With its Proforce VTS line of shafts, UST Mamiya has become the first shaft manufacturer to sell an entire line of graphite shafts based on torque. UST is offering three torque categories in these VTS shafts: low, mid and high.
Other shaft manufacturers also are concentrating on torque. In Aldila’s new RIP Phenom driver shaft, for example, torque measurements go from 2.5 degrees (low) to 5.4 degrees (high).
UST, though, has organized an entire educational campaign around torque.
“To fit golfers correctly, it is necessary to consider torque,” said Robb Schikner, UST’s director of engineering design and technical sales. “We will see the day when players talk about shaft torque just like they talk about shaft flex.”
The graphite shaft landscape has changed dramatically because of new materials and new construction techniques. Here is Tom Stites, director of product creation for Nike Golf:
“The way we look at torque is totally different than it was a few years ago. Players today can use torque to their advantage. In the past you needed aggressive acceleration to use super-low-torque shafts. Otherwise, they didn’t feel very good and didn’t work very well.
“With the shafts we have now, we see that all great shafts don’t necessarily have to have super low torque. It’s not as big a deal as it used to be. Now a player can get tip flexibility and lower torque in the same shaft.”
In other words, torque is one of the crucial factors in the never-ending quest for longer and straighter drives.
As UST has learned from working with PGA Tour players, some golfers with high swing speeds actually will benefit from more torque. So UST offers higher torque variations in even the strongest of its Proforce VTS shafts.
Increased torque means increased feel for many golfers. During testing, a qualified fitter will provide shafts with different torque readings. Choosing a shaft then becomes a process of generating optimal launch monitor numbers without sacrificing feel.
UST calls this 3D Fitting Technology, and torque plays a major role in the evaluation of any shaft for any golfer. This represents a major change from two dimensional shaft fitting, focusing primarily on weight and flex.
“It is wise to make no assumptions when you fit someone for a driver shaft,” said Pat Dempsey, UST’s PGA Tour rep. Dempsey knows a lot about driver shafts. He is a three-time RE/MAX World Long Drive champion. In 2011 at the age of 55, he qualified for the world finals in four age divisions and won two of them — senior (50) and grand champion (55). He also became the oldest golfer to qualify for the Open Division finals.
“You have to try everything. You have to be open to all the possibilities. I’ve seen ordinary senior golfers who drive the ball better with an X-flex than any other shaft. Torque is a very important consideration.”
Proforce VTS driver shafts are available in 55-, 65-, 75-, 85- and 95-gram versions. Within each weight category there are different torque profiles.
These Proforce shafts also can be purchased in hybrid versions. Weights are 75, 85 and 100 grams.
The bottom line, according to UST, is that all golfers should try different combinations of weight, flex and torque. This is not your father’s shaft fitting method. It is designed as a contemporary, high-tech, science-based examination of each golfer’s individual swing.
Proforce VTS driver shafts cost approximately $150 at retail.