Golfing Magazine Online - http://www.publinksgolfer.net
The Evolution of Shaft Technology
http://www.publinksgolfer.net/articles/343/1/The-Evolution-of-Shaft-Technology/Page1.html
Tom Landers
 
By Tom Landers
Published on 06/18/2007
 

Scandium Shaft Technology Next In Line


Long gone are the days of wooden shafts. Steel and graphite have been used by golfers for several decades now. But for years the golf shaft has been seriously overlooked. Only recently, has the golf consumer been educated on the importance of the shaft, and recognized that the shaft is truly the “engine” of the golf club.  
Steel shafts were first introduced into the golf industry in 1926.  These were and still are made from a steel sheet that is rolled out and welded to create the shaft.  Currently, steel is the shaft of choice for irons, wedges and putters, but is considered too heavy to be used in driver applications.  In all current uses, however, steel has several draw backs.  Mainly, the weld that stretches from the butt to the tip of the shaft creates ovality and discontinuity on the shaft surface, which affects the accuracy of the club.  For this reason, steel shafts are “pured” to minimize this effect.  High performance, high strength steel shafts weigh less, but this weight reduction comes at a significant cost to the golfer.  The very thin steel walls transmit shock and vibration at impact which creates unpleasant and damaging vibrations to the golfer’s hands, elbows and shoulders, essentially causing injury.

Because of the weight issues and damaging impact caused by steel shafts, the golf industry began using an aerospace material for shaft construction, namely graphite in the mid to late 1970’s. Graphite shafts use several manufacturing techniques which optimize weight, torque and stiffness characteristics to achieve maximum accuracy.   While graphite provides significant advantages over steel in certain instances there are still several drawbacks. Graphite shafts are made from graphite yarn or cloth.  The stiffness of the woven yarn or wrapped cloth is achieved by soaking the graphite in epoxy, which hardens to produce a stiff material.  The combination of the two materials in one shaft creates microscopic discontinuities along the shaft length, which limit the “feel” of the contact with the ball. Also, because of the millions of graphite strands in one shaft, no two shafts are made identical. Every shaft has slight differences in playability and performance. PGA TOUR Professionals generally will not use graphite shafts in their irons, because their accuracy is considerably better with a homogeneous metal shaft, such as steel.

In the past, the cost perception of the golf shaft was that it should be only a minimal part of the overall cost of the assembled club. Today however, many golfers seeking increased performance are willing to pay upwards of $300 per shaft in order to add distance and improve accuracy.  The link between performance and shaft characteristics is now pushing the golf industry to customize golf clubs by adjusting shaft parameters according to the golfer’s ability.

In 2004, the golf industry was introduced to a brand new metal, developed originally for space applications, called Scandium (The 21st Element on the Periodic Table). Scandium has been introduced to the golf industry in shafts by the e21 Golf Company. Very light and very strong, with a 70% weight to strength advantage over steel and 40% over graphite, Scandium was considered to be a material of strategic importance and only recently has been de-classified for civilian use.

The strength and weight superiority of Scandium makes it a serious competitor to the steel and graphite shafts of the past.  This superior material uses space manufacturing techniques, creating perfectly round, seamless shafts. The ovality of the Scandium shaft is 99.5% as compared to some of the best steel shafts that average around 85%.  The torque of the Scandium shaft is 1.4, which is the lowest in the industry, and results in “bulls-eye” accuracy and phenomenal forgiveness on off center hits.  The advanced manufacturing techniques used to create Scandium shafts reduce the shock vibrations transmitted to the golfer’s hands by as much as 300% when compared to a standard steel shaft.  The internal steps in a Scandium shaft redirect the shock waves away from the golfer’s hands, elbows and shoulders and back into the club face for added distance.  Scandium seems to incorporate all the best features of steel and graphite into one shaft, and take distance and accuracy to a whole new level.

If this space-age technology sounds too good to be true, I can tell you first hand, it’s the real deal.  Having now played with Scandium shafts, I am converted.  The introduction of Scandium (e21) into golf shafts is a real technological breakthrough, and can be best paralleled to the introduction of Titanium to the golf industry back in the 1990’s. Considering that Scandium (e21) is 25% lighter and stronger than Titanium, when will it be in your shaft of choice ?

For more information on Scandium shafts and technology, visit www.e21golf.com