For those who don’t consider
designing golf equipment akin to rocket science, Element 21 Golf Company (EGLF.OB) begs to differ. The Toronto-based company is at the vanguard of the most significant technological advance in the golf equipment industry in more than a decade. That advance is called Scandium. And while it’s relatively new to the golf industry, Scandium is well known in the scientific community as the 21st element in the Periodic Table of the Elements.
Taking its name from the 21st element, Element 21 Golf Company is introducing new advancements to the United States from Russian aerospace research programs. The result is a material called E21, which Element 21 Golf said provides the highest strength-to-weight ratio of any material used in golf equipment today. That strength-to-weight ratio, according to Element 21 Chief Executive Officer Dr. Nataliya Hearn, has a 36 percent advantage over titanium and a 40 percent advantage over graphite.
The E21 Scandium shaft design, according to Hearn, allows the shaft to recover from the initiation of a swing where the moment of inertia, resisted by the head’s weight, imposes a backward bend in the shaft. Element 21 Golf, Hearn said, has tuned the shaft design for maximum performance through its proprietary E21 Metal System chemistry.
Scandium is mined from the earth’s crust in the Ukraine. Scandium alloys were first used in the Soviet Union for military applications, such a MIG fighters and ballistic missiles, but when the USSR broke apart in the early 1990s, Scandium became more readily available on the world market. One of the first uses of Scandium alloys in the U.S. sports market came in 1997 when Easton Sports introduced its “Redline’’ line of baseball and softball bats with Scandium alloys.
Scandium alloys then quickly found their way into others pieces of sports equipment, including mountain and road bicycle frames and lacrosse sticks.
In 2006, Element 21 Golf took a major step toward revolutionizing the equipment industry with the introduction of its new Scandium Eagle One shafts, as well as a Scandium “Shock” driver designed by noted club engineer Howard Butler.
Recently Scandium found its way onto the PGA Tour as well. A former PGA Champion, under contract to a major equipment company, used the shafts this past October at the Chrysler Championship in Palm Harbor, Fla., and again at the Tour Championship in Atlanta.
“Having a highly respected international star playing our product on an unendorsed basis is a true testament to our new Scandium shafts and provides Element 21 with the industry credibility we deserve,” said Dr. Hearn. “The interest we have generated and the success we have had on Tour has exceeded our initial expectations.’’
To continue that success, E21 Director of Tour Operations Andy Harris has worked in the off season to help Tour players become familiar and comfortable with Scandium shafts.
“What hits everybody right away is that the shafts feel better,’’ than standard steel or graphite shafts, Harris said. “The vibration (on impact) is reduced so players equate that to mean they feel good.
Not only do players like how they feel, Harris said, they like what they see when the ball leaves the club face. Today’s club face technology and launch monitors enable players to zero in precisely on club, shaft and ball performance. One of the things players are searching for is a good ball flight trajectory. Scandium shafts, Harris said, have players seeing and believing.
“You just hit it and look up and (the ball) goes where you’re aimed,’’ Harris said. “And if the ball flight is good, you’re going to revert back to how good it feels.’’
“The scandium material and manufacturing process enables us to have more control of the flexural rigidity of the shaft thereby providing maximum control of ball trajectory with different heads,’’ said Butler, president of Golf Science Consultants Inc. in Knoxville, Tenn., and lead designer for Element 21 Golf. “This results in better consistency in ball flight from club to club in the set.”
PGA Tours players, Harris said, “are all looking for ways to get better, and that pursuit requires you to take advantage of the technology that is available in the modern era of golf. With the use of Element 21 Scandium golf shafts, they’re seeing a better ball flight with tighter dispersion...and also realizing that the ShockBlok™ vibration dampening effect of each hit should pay huge dividends over the length of a career with regards to physical wear and tear.”
In the automotive industry, Scandium’s performance characteristics, higher strength and weldability, allow for weight reduction on important moving parts. But while U.S. Golf Association rules prohibit golf clubs with moving parts, those characteristics are basically the same.
In addition to high tech Scandium shafts, Butler, a former vice president of research and development at True Temper Sports, developed a 440cc-plus driver club head based on Scandium’s superior strength-to-weight capabilities.
The new “Shock” driver is instantly recognizable because of its design features that include a louvered effect on the crown plate of the club. Butler said this creates a corrugated effect providing additional strength to the club head design and, when coupled with Scandium’s superior strength-to-weight ratios versus steel and titanium, allows more freedom to move weight to strategic points within the sole of the club head for improved distance and accuracy. The face of the club head is Scandium and the alloy reinforces the club head’s crown as well as hosel.
“The Scandium face is what we needed because we can get a thinner face and move the weight where we need it to get bulges and rolls,’’ Butler said. “With the Scandium head, on heel or toes shots we are seeing the ball come back to the middle of the target area, with dispersion rates of less than a yard. What that means is, less hazards, less OB’s and lower scores. . . the reason we play the game.”
A big difference between the E21 driver and other titanium or steel drivers, Butler said, is that the club’s face curvature (bulge and roll) is set precisely by a computer.
“It’s a four-hour (process) that gets the correct curvature on the face so that based on aerodynamic codes for ball flight, the ball will come back to the center of the fairway,’’ Butler said. “This is a huge step forward. If you hit on the club face the ball is going to stay in the fairway. It’s going to take mid-handicap players and higher to a whole other level of play’’
And combined with Scandium shafts, take Element 21 Golf to new heights. For more information on E21 Scandium equipment you can visit www.E21Golf.com