In Search of the Holy Grail
Each year shaft manufacturers bring us new and exciting shafts, each with specific attributes to match each golfer's specific desires. Advances in shaft materials technology as well as manufacturing processes continue to take fine-tuning a driver to a whole new level. While the shaft flex of your favorite tour professional may not be right for you, their shaft in the proper flex and length may be just what the doctor ordered.
We've listed some of the exciting new shaft offerings from leading manufacturers to help narrow your search. This list represents only the tip of the iceberg. However, don't be surprised if the shaft that came in your driver is best for you. After all the major OEM's understand what works best for the vast majority of players. But come on that's never stopped any true golf nut from searching for something that gives them that extra few yards right down the middle. As you set out to find the shaft that's right for you, keep the following tips close by and enjoy the process!
When getting fit - ball flight is king! Seeing ball flight, especially on a hole you're familiar with is the best feedback you can get. Watch not only how it launches but also how it descends. Remember "it's not how high it goes, it's how it goes high." You want to stay away from a shaft that shoots the ball up quickly only to drop out of the sky like a parachute. A shallow descent angle is ideal as it will stay in the air a bit longer but more important will maximize your distance with roll. If possible use a launch monitor to verify ball flight and launch conditions. This will give you empirical data on the performance of the shaft. Pay more attention to ball speed, spin rate and launch angle than clubhead speed and virtually discount distance on the launch monitor. Remember to test with your own golf balls before making a shaft purchase, as range balls are not what you play on the course.
The shaft flex is the indication of how much swing force is necessary to make the shaft perform properly. Flexes range from light sometimes called senior, soft regular, A shaft or M shaft, regular, stiff and extra stiff. Players with slower swing speeds will likely be better served using light or regular flexes for extra distance, while players with faster swing speeds or quicker tempo will prefer stiff or extra stiff for control and shaping ability. Fact: most players are using a shaft that is too stiff for their swing.
This is one of the most important aspects of a shaft to consider. Most golfers will get more benefit from lighter shafts, as they will be able to generate more power assuming on-center contact. Most golfers are not strong enough to swing a shaft in the high 70 or 80-gram range. Too heavy of a shaft may feel good initially, but over time will sacrifice feel and performance for most golfers leading to a breakdown in your swing mechanics.
Shaft Bend (Kickpoint or Bendpoint)
The bend point, i.e. the spot on the shaft that bends when it is swung, determines the ball's trajectory. A lower bend, or kickpoint as it is sometimes referred to as, will generate a higher ball flight, while a high bend point will create a low shot trajectory. If you are looking for something in between, go with a mid rating bend point for the best of both worlds. Note: most higher end shafts now give specific flex ratings at 3 points on the shaft, butt, mid-section and tip. Don't be overly concerned here, as the difference between high and low kickpoint is nominal to most golfers.
Be sure to experiment here. As a rule of thumb, the longer the length the less accurate you will be with your driver. But like all rules, this one is made to be broken. For years most touring professionals used drivers that were 43 to 44 inches long. Today the average length for a tour driver is almost 45 inches. The most important factor for optimal distance is the ability to contact the clubface in the center. While a longer club shaft will increase club head speed, making center contact will enable you to be more accurate and not sacrifice distance.
Experiment, Experiment, Experiment!
With interchangeable shafts and heads on fitting carts, experiment everything you can get your hands on and work with a fitting professional that also understands the golf swing to help you find the optimal shaft for your swing.
ALDILA RIP PHENOM
The Aldila RIP Phenom Wood Shaft incorporates Aldila's Tour proven RIP Technology with a unique composite construction. The Phenom's Hyperbolic Flex Zone provides a stiff tip section for optimal launch and spin control with a very firm butt section for an incredibly stable feel, while the center section of the shaft is softer to provide outstanding kick through impact to maximize ball speed. • $199 • www.Aldila.com
FUJIKURA MOTORE SPEEDER VC 6.2
The new Motore Speeder features Quadra Axis Composite and Triax Woven material creating their exclusive 7-Axis Technology. What does all this mean? The uniformity throughout the shaft assists with eliminating deformation yet provides the maximum amount of feel through the entire swing increasing overall performance and stability. • $299 • www.FujikuraGolf.com
FUJIKURA ROMBAX TYPE X
New for 2012, the next generation of Rombax shafts, the Rombax Type-X features Vectran in combination with Kevlar Triax. Vectran fibers suppress the immediate vibration of a shaft more efficiently. Kevlar Triax reduces ovaling and stabilizes the head at impact. The blend of these two technologies produces a strong and stable impact, resulting in greater power and control. $254 • www.FujikuraGolf.com
GRAFALLOY PROLAUNCH RED/BLUE WITH SPEED'
Speed Coat technology is a roughened texture on the exterior surface of the shaft that works in conjunction with the internal mechanical specifications to increase clubhead speed. The new ProLaunch Blue is 20% lighter and delivers improved launch and spin performance compared to the original ProLaunch Blue.The new ProLaunch Red delivers even lower launch angles and spin rates for stronger swingers seeking a flatter, penetrating trajectory with reduced spin rates. $80 • www.Grafalloy.com
GRAPHITE DESIGN BB-6, BB-7
The Tour AD BB design features an increased stiffness from the tip-to-middle section to provide the player with more stability. The end result is a tighter shot pattern and an increase in ball speed. Tour AD BB was designed with the appropriate amount of flex in the butt section allowing players the ability to load the shaft properly thus creating a sense of power. The new Tour AD BB shaft is available in 50, 60, 70, and 80 gram weights. $380 • www.GDIntl.com
Ozik MATRIX RUL 60
The RUL is the second in the line of three next-generation Ozik Shafts. The RUL is a mid launch/spin shaft, and incorporates Matrix's Asymmetric Cross Ply Technology to enhance the shaft's ability to recover prior to impact, while at the same time increasing tip velocity. The result is an incredibly stable feeing mid launching and mid spinning shaft. $320 • www.MatrixShafts.com
OZIK MATRIX HM3 BLACK TIE
Designed on the patented HD Platform, the OZIK M3 features a flat, lower spinning ball flight often preferred by players with higher ball speed. The genesis of the M3 resonates from the flight model of the highly successful M2 series. Better players preferring additional stability in the tip section will benefit for the tightest design construct ever released by the Matrix R&D team. $299 • www.MatrixShafts.com
This profile, with it's firm tip section and mid section, and soft butt section, allows golfers of all skill levels to generate the highly sought after high-launch, low spin shot shape needed to maximize both carry and roll. By incorporating their Power "Ninja" Core into this design, it has allowed Mitsubishi Rayon to rid the shaft of the harsh feel associated with traditional tip firm profiles. $360 • www.MitsubishiRayonGolf.com
MITISUBISHI KURO KAGE
The Kuro Kage features Mitsubishi Rayon's signature "smooth" bend profile, offering balanced stiffness along the entire length of the shaft. Its High Density Prepreg will be positioned in the lower third of the shaft for enhanced feel and stability. $175 • www.MitsubishiRayonGolf.com
TRUE TEMPER PROJECT X BLACK
The new Project X Black incorporates a composite material called TeXtreme that eliminates weight compared to the original design while maintaining the low torque, low spin properties of the original Project X. Its Dual Torsional Control utilizes TeXtreme fibers oriented at 45-degrees on the outermost layers of the shaft and Super High Modulus axial plies inside to reduce dynamic shaft twisting by as much as 25%.
The new Blackbird shaft is the company's ultimate in speed and distance. The shaft is long and light at 47" raw length, producing maximum peak trajectory and club head speed. The Blackbird also features Grafalloy's proprietary Speed Coat technology and is designed to deliver maximum trajectory for increased distance. $99 www.Grafalloy.com
UST MAMIYA PROFORCE VTS
The new Proforce VTS shafts were developed almost entirely through research and player feedback. The feedback revealed how players could control dispersion based on adjusting torque to their swing style. Their research showed the significant influence that torque has on distance, control and feel and confirmed the relationship that "feel" has to torque. Players who thought shafts were stiff or soft were not necessarily feeling the flex or weight, but were actually feeling torque. And when players are matched to the proper torque shaft, ball speed increases of up to 6 mph with dispersion reduced up to 30%. $149 • www.USTMamiya.com