Top 10 Takeaways: A Look Inside Fujikura’s R&D Process
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Top 10 Takeaways: A Look Inside Fujikura’s R&D Process

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Top 10 Takeaways: A Look Inside Fujikura’s R&D Process

MyGolfSpy recently visited the North American HQ and R&D laboratory of shaft manufacturer Fujikura. The objective was simple: take a peek behind the curtain and get an unvarnished look at how the brand creates a shaft, from ideation to the final, consumer-ready version. It’s difficult to capture everything in a single piece of content, so we didn’t. However, what we did discover is that while the shaft industry has plenty of smoke and mirrors, clear differences exist between brands.

For Fujikura, a good bit of that distinction starts with ENSO, its proprietary 3D motion capture system. We’ll take a deeper dive into ENSO in a separate article. In addition, keep an eye on social media for our video segments featuring Fujikura’s “Torture Rack” and the various steps in the shaft production process.

Then, there are always tidbits of useful information that come up in casual conversation which merit some additional attention.

With that, here is a collection of 10 such items to keep in mind when buying or getting fitted for a new shaft.

1. GETTING FITTED

Getting fitted into the correct shaft requires that you understand the role each component plays in the process. That is, as much as you might focus on the shaft in a shaft fitting (which makes sense), the shaft is one component of a larger system.

What this means is that the best shaft for you is a function of the mass properties of the head as well as the weight, length, face angle, etc. If you change any of these variables, it can impact how well that shaft will perform.

2. SWING SPEED

Swing speed is an integral data point in any shaft fitting. But be careful with any fitting catch-all guidelines such as “slower swingers need softer shafts and faster swingers need stiffer shafts.”

Certain commonly held fitting beliefs exist because there is some measure of truth in them. However, that doesn’t mean they should be treated as universal facts.

Tempo, speed, athleticism and physical traits are all unique to each golfer. Case in point: Two golfers, both of whom swing a driver at 100 mph. One has a quick tempo, shorter swing and casts the club very early in the downswing, effectively dragging the club through impact. The other has a longer swing, smoother transition and late release. I’d bet a fancy steak dinner that a single shaft isn’t optimal for both golfers. In fact, it’s nearly as certain as the sun rising in the east.

3. STOCK SHAFTS

You don’t have a $400 shaft in a driver that you just bought for $449. The math doesn’t work that way. It’s one of the reasons Matrix Shafts is no longer in business. That said, the stock shaft might look almost exactly like the more expensive aftermarket version but the two are not the same.

In fact, if the shaft in your driver wasn’t subject to an upcharge, one of two possible scenarios is likely in play. The first, and most common, is that the shaft manufacturer won the bid to produce a metric shit ton of shafts for the club manufacturer. And. generally speaking, “winning” means an ability to work within narrow price constraints. The second possibility is a volume-based arrangement where the shaft manufacturer agrees to a reduced cost (less than wholesale) on a shaft made from higher-quality materials in exchange for some level of exclusivity in the club manufacturer’s shaft lineup.

With that, “stock” shafts are NOT inherently bad. It simply means they were designed as a  “one size fits most” solution that worked within the price requirements of the OEM. This isn’t to throw shade at any specific shaft manufacturers as they’ve all dabbled in the dubious duplicity of passing off stock shafts as something far more similar to the expensive aftermarket counterpart than is objectively true.

4. TO “PURE” or NOT TO “PURE”? 

The topic here is a divisive one. SST PURE is a proprietary process that “identifies the most stable bending plane” of each shaft to optimize performance. But, for an additional $40+/shaft, is it worth it?

That answer is much less clear.

SST Pure proponents will tell you internal studies show clear results of improved consistency and distance. That said, they likely won’t disclose the exceptionally friendly profit margins of what amounts to a rather minimal “per use” licensing fee.

Conversely, I get that it’s uncomfortable for a shaft manufacturer to tell customers that even though they just dropped $400 on a shaft, that to really optimize performance, they should invest an additional $40. That’s a tough sell if you want golfers to also believe your manufacturing technologies are industry-leading.

I can’t speak for all shaft companies. However, Fujikura doesn’t believe that SST Pure improves the performance of its shafts. Anecdotally, one industry insider confirmed that when he runs Fujikura shafts through the SST Pure machine, the sticker ends up in pretty much the exact same place. Does this hold true for steel shafts? Graphite shafts from other companies? Now, that’s a rabbit hole inside Pandora’s Box.

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5. SO-CALLED “HAND-CRAFTED” SHAFTS

Any language alluding to bespoke, bench-made, hand-crafted, artisan-style products lends itself to a marketing approach rooted in authenticity. Simply, merchandise made by hand is in some fashion better than whatever a machine can do. At least, that’s what some companies would like you to believe.

The reality is that nearly every high-end shaft is hand-rolled. More correctly, the manufacturing process is always a combination of human and machine labor. So, beyond some fancy graphics, is it fair for golfers to question what real value is in any such limited edition or tailor-made shaft?

6. GRAPHITE VERSUS STEEL IRON SHAFTS

Steel is isometric. Carbon composites aren’t. To clarify, steel can be more or less “one thing.” That said, steel shafts have noticeably advanced in the last several decades, particularly uber lightweight steel shafts. However, graphite allows for larger variations in flex, torque and performance throughout a single shaft. Think of it this way: steel is an ice cream shop with three flavors. Graphite is Baskin Robins. One isn’t inherently better but it does offer more options.

7. ONE-WAY STREET?

We often focus on the design intentions of a shaft (EI profile). Basically, this determines how stiff (or soft) each section of the shaft is.  And, based on these differences, we believe shaft performance follows logical cause-effect thinking. If a shaft is constructed to be low-launch/low-spin, then it will be low-launch, low-spin for all golfers.

But every golfer is unique. Therefore, every swing is different. Because of this, the shaft can impact the mechanics of a golfer’s swing. The challenge is quantifying all the variables in a way that produces actionable information.

ENSO, a 3-D motion capture system, gathers this type of information. There are three ENSO systems in the world. Shaft company Fujikura has two and PING owns one.

With this information, shaft engineers can examine and isolate the role of shaft specifications in individual swing characteristics. Basically, a shaft can alter the golfer’s path, angle of attack, tempo, etc., of the swing.

Therefore, a golf shaft, like the mass properties of club heads, can induce different launch conditions and shot shapes.

So, can a shaft be draw-biased? Yep. Help alter angle-of-attack? You betcha.

8. SHAFT FAILURE

Shafts break. It happens. However, failure is exceedingly uncommon in the mid and grip regions. If a graphite shaft breaks during the course of normal play, it’s almost always in the tip section. This is the thinnest portion of the shaft, which is also subject to the most force during the swing.

So, if you have a defective shaft that didn’t survive your latest tomahawk flip or Bo Jackson impersonation circa 1989 and the manufacture was kind enough to replace it, they did you a solid. Maybe send them a “thank you” card.

9. IS TORQUE MISLEADING?

By strict definition, the torque of a golf shaft is how much the shaft twists when subjected to a certain amount of force, measured in degrees. In simple terms, torque is a shaft’s resistance to twisting.

However, the measurements can be misleading. The standard industry practice is to measure the torque by applying force only to the tip section of the shaft. But what about the rest of the shaft?

Low torque is often a characteristic of expensive (exotic) shafts. I won’t get into all the specifics of tensile strength, pitch versus pan fibers and bias layers. But plenty of shaft manufacturers use premium materials in the tip section to produce desirable torque ratings and cheaper materials in the mid/butt sections.

It’s something like only studying the answers to questions you know will be on the test.

10. THE RECIPE AND CHEF MATTER.

Golf shafts aren’t that different from golf balls. Consumers generally focus on a single result—performance. To a degree, that makes sense. But, like golf balls, the final product is a function of myriad factors—design, materials, R&D, quality control and manufacturing processes.

For each step or element that is outsourced, the company loses a bit of control. Many shaft manufacturers source raw materials from several major vendors. That’s to be expected.

But before you invest several hundred dollars in a shaft, it’s worth knowing who the chef is and where they got the recipe. Unfortunately, it’s easy to toss some killer graphics on a generic shaft with middle-of-the-mall materials and the consumer is none the wiser.

What questions do you have? Where can we dig deeper? What else would you like to know?

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Chris Nickel

Chris Nickel

Chris Nickel

Chris is a self-diagnosed equipment and golf junkie with a penchant for top-shelf ice cream. When he's not coaching the local high school team, he's probably on the range or trying to keep up with his wife and seven beautiful daughters. Chris is based out of Fort Collins, CO and his neighbors believe long brown boxes are simply part of his porch decor. "Isn't it funny? The truth just sounds different."

Chris Nickel

Chris Nickel

Chris Nickel

Chris Nickel

Chris Nickel

Chris Nickel

Chris Nickel

Chris Nickel

Chris Nickel





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      David

      3 years ago

      While I realize all of the data supports fitting, my personal experiences with shaft fitting have been less than stellar. Finding the right fitter has been a challenge. The local club fitters in my area are disappointing because of their high pressure sales techniques, which I have experienced, and my swing is really terrible indoors – clearly psychological. Outdoors, no problem. Since I do not belong to a private club, I don’t have access to outdoor fitting. So, while I believe that fitting is important, and likely beneficial, it really is a process reserved for those with access and money to spend on expensive golf products and services. It’s not necessarily the fault of the industry, it’s just an inherent limitation.

      Reply

      Colin Northcott

      3 years ago

      I’ve just fitted a OZIX Matrix Whitetie.MFS X5 45A graphite shaft in my recently acquired Taylormade R15 430cc head, I tipped it 2 inches and I’m hitting it 21 metres longer on CARRY distance… yeah carry distance!!! The R15 feels like it has some guts and I can feel the head, I had M3 and Epic rogue before this R15. I’m a mug when it comes to understanding golf fitting even though I’ve watched alot of video on utube because I can’t afford to pay the pro to fiddle with my clubs, I buy heads and shafts on eBay to amuse myself so I think I got lucky and didn’t spend alot of money…

      Reply

      Robert King

      3 years ago

      A big deal was made for Cobra using the “real deal” Motore shafts in their clubs. Are you saying they aren’t using the same Motore I was fit into at Club Champion as a non stock option in a Titleist.

      How can there be no recourse for consumers with false advertising?

      Reply

      Nick Richardson

      3 years ago

      Yes they are the same shaft, there is no “aftermarket” version of the new Motore X shafts. It’s just not a “stock” offering from Titleist.
      Same as with the Tensei AV raw that Titleist offer, there is NO “aftermarket” version of this either.

      Reply

      Chris Nickel

      3 years ago

      Robert – This is one place where the shaft conversation takes an interesting turn and it’s because there are a number of shaft categories, which often lack clear defintion….All the following categories exist…

      1. “Made For” shafts that are essentially produced with as inexpensive materials/processes as possible in order to meet the OEM’s price requirement.

      2. ” “Made For” shafts that are produced with as inexpensive materials/processes as possible in order to meet the OEM’s price requirement, but finished cosmetically to look like the more expensive aftermarket version.

      3. “Same as” stock shafts. The example of Motore X is a good one, where Cobra used a shaft (Motore X) which is the same as the aftermarket version.

      4. Quasi “same as” shafts. On the surface, the situation looks exactly like #3, but upon further review, it’s clear that some specs (typically weight/torque) are slightly different when comparing the stock vs. aftermarket version. These could be shafts that are tweaked ever so slightly from other versions of the same shaft and therefore have different finished specs. It could be that a company is using up surplus materials, scraping/repainting existing stock, etc. Or, it could be two entirely different shafts. But shaft companies generally don’t have much to say on this one…

      5. “No upcharge” – Titleist has dropped the “stock” language in favor of “featured” shafts. Historically, Titleist has pretty strict QC processes for any shaft it offers (stock/upcharge/no-upcharge, etc). So, if Titleist offers

      6. Up Charge/Real Deal – In some ways, this is the simplest category – If you purchase a driver and pay a significant upcharge for a Graphite Design Tour AD, Fujikura Ventus/VeloCore, Mitsubishi Tensei 1K Pro White, etc. Then you’re likely $800+ deep for a new driver, but you know every component is top shelf.

      Reply

      Nick

      3 years ago

      Hey Chris

      Great article. Thank you.

      Given that a shaft performs differently based on the specifics of the club-head at the bottom of it, in an ideal world, should a fitting start with a single, specific shaft to which different brands of club-head are fitted to give comparability in the results or should you hit each brand of club with multiple shafts to find the ideal combination?

      In my experience, you get handed one 7-iron from a brand, then handed the next one from another brand so there is no consistency in the test (such as using the same shaft).

      I’d be interested to hear what best practice suggests.

      Reply

      boydenit

      3 years ago

      Great article, Always liked my Speeder 757 shaft and found the tech-info in this article interesting. Now that we have seen Candy-land factory when will you venture over to the Dhaka or Rangoon factory to see how they really make a $400 shaft?

      Reply

      mark smith

      3 years ago

      Mizuno has a swing analyzer which gives recommends a series of shafts, based on three swings. A device measures your swing speed, how you load the club, the release etc…. This can help when deciding flex, weight, kick point, specific shafts. I wish all manufacturers used this technology. I know this adds an extra cost to the clubs, but if there were two shaft choices and various flex options available, more people would get a better shaft for their swing. You wouldn’t have so many people selling their clubs after part of a season.

      Reply

      shortside

      3 years ago

      Explains why I’ve been so comfortable swinging Fujikura’s.

      Reply

      john Smith

      3 years ago

      I agree that shaft failures in the tip are most common. I would add that new lighter shaft options reduce the strentgh of the mid section walls creating a risk of failure. When you combine ultra light, thin wall shafts with common counter balancing weighs, inserted in the internal shaft, the chance of failure increases.
      Inserting internal weights in a thin wall 40 gram shaft greatly increased the risk of mid shaft failure in my opinion

      Reply

      Chris Nickel

      3 years ago

      This happens if the design is poor and the OEM skimps on materials. But I agree that pushing boundaries comes with some risks, but the best companies figure this out during R&D and don’t have to course correct once the shaft hits retail.

      Reply

      Carolyn

      3 years ago

      Oh Yea a big name OEM is going to spend a half million on R&D of a driver head and Not put a shaft in it that works with their head be it a $4 dollar or $30 dollar wholesale shaft…..OEM’s have two jobs, take care of the Pro;s that help sell their product out on the Tour and taking care of the customers who they want back every chance they can get……the 20 handicap needs a shaft that works for that head just as much as the tour pro needs a $400 dollar version.

      Reply

      Peter

      3 years ago

      Anyone ever think that ignorance is bliss when it comes to golf? There are people like myself that are nowhere near good enough to be worrying about things like this but will inevitably go down this rabbit hole “just because”.
      The beginning of this article should have a disclaimer saying “only read this if you are a single digit handicapper or better because that is the only people who this will truly make a difference.”

      Reply

      Adam

      3 years ago

      Believing only good golfers should worry about their shaft is foolish.

      No, you probably don’t need an expensive one, but if you have a setup ill-suited to your swing, you’re setting yourself up to fail. Why battle the equipment as well as your own shortcomings?

      Same way 20hcp players shouldn’t be playing super high end players iroms, you also shouldn’t be swinging a shaft designed for someone who swings much faster/slower or aggressive than you.

      Reply

      Pat

      3 years ago

      I fit a guy 4 months ago. I make $0 on anything I fit him into. He was going to buy from his club. I was just helping. I had him hit a couple stock offerings to get some patterns then I took the exact heads and mixed in a couple ventus shafts. He literally couldn’t believe how much it changed his mishits. Yes…you absolutely are good enough to see a difference. He did. A crazy noticeable one. I am experienced but I had nothing to gain. Just helping him get the best club for himself.

      Reply

      Peter

      3 years ago

      I stand corrected.
      How do you as a fitter know which shafts to even try? From the consumer side, it would be difficult for me to even know where to start. Also, depending on the shaft, wouldn’t it make it so the cost of each club becomes very pricey depending on the shaft?

      shortside

      3 years ago

      You might be quite surprised. The right shaft could very well improve the consistency of your swing mechanics.

      Ever notice how you swing some of your irons more consistently than others? It’s very common among higher handicap players that play off the rack sticks.

      Reply

      Tim

      3 years ago

      Can you only get fitted with the Fujikura Enso system in Carlsbad or are there locations throughout the U..S..?

      Reply

      Chris Nickel

      3 years ago

      ENSO is more like a shaft fitting on steroids. It’s primary purpose is as an R&D tool to help generate data that can ultimately be used to create new shafts, expand fitting platforms, etc.

      Reply

      Donn Rutkoff

      3 years ago

      Does Fujikura, or anybody, make dedicated 3 wood or 5 wood shafts? Or are driver shafts made with long tips, 4 or even 5 inches long, and the tip is trimmed down a lot to a 3 wood or 5 wood length?

      Same for irons. Is my 9 iron shaft the same as the 3 iron, with 3 inches of tip missing? Does a long iron and a driver really have that much tip in the hosel?

      Reply

      Bryan

      3 years ago

      Accra makes the FX family of shafts that differ between driver, fairway and hybrid. Usually have to go through a fitter to get them, but that is the best course anyway if you are gonna drop a bunch of coin on a shaft. Hope it helps. Cheers.

      Reply

      Chris Nickel

      3 years ago

      Great question. The quick answer is “yes..” The longer answer is that “it depends.”

      Wood shafts have a parallel tip section that allows for tipping to increase stiffness (bit of a generalization, but you get the point). You’ll also see stock tip trimming instructions such as 0.5″ for a 3 wood and 1.0″ for a 5 wood, generally to account for the shorter length and heavier headweights of fairway woods as compared to drivers.

      The longer part of the “it depends” answer is that it really depends on what you need out of a specific shaft to optimize performance.. Every major shaft company has a variety of weights, flexes and EI profiles – So it really comes down to what fits you best.

      Reply

      John Muir

      3 years ago

      Donn:
      Graphite Design makes a fairway wood specific shaft.

      Reply

      Clayton Petree

      3 years ago

      Tough Topic. I’ve seen a talented employee of one formerly local shaft manufacturer launch 300+ yard drives time over time scoring in the 60s… with a regular flex shaft he liked in their lineup. Same person also asked me to test their heavy super stiff irons shafts. But I think he could “see” the difference in how we play golf. This is probably one of the most difficult parts of golf – the fitting of iron and wood shafts. You can happen upon a wonderful setup or search all year for something that works for you. Then tee it up next season and it’s all wrong… or all right. This is why golf is a four letter word!!!!!

      Reply

      Curt

      3 years ago

      Excellent information! I’ve always heard and believed that the shaft is the engine in the club. Got fit for the first time ever on irons and the driver. Learned that the irons were too light and not stiff enough. The driver was fit for extra stiff upgraded shaft (would have never guessed or bought). Results are there and have paid off with much higher satisfaction and enjoyable golf; although expensive. More skins money :)

      Reply

      Greg

      3 years ago

      A very good article ,this is engineering not quess work.
      I am so happy that the Bullshit will now be put to rest on graphite shafts.
      Nippon brought in EI profiling and now if you find a shaft with a spine in it you were the one at .1% unlucky . Manufacturing to six standard deviations is supreme quality. It supports engineering know how. The best design is no good if the quality is lousy. I have just fitted a ventus to my tsi4 driver . This has been a blessing as every graphite I tried I ended up going back to steel.
      Some get lucky but when it comes to replacing it the design it is gone forever.
      Congratulations to all manufactures that can repeat a process.

      Reply

      Doug Hart

      3 years ago

      This has great information and I would like to know more.
      Thank you
      Doug Hart

      Reply

      Chris Nickel

      3 years ago

      Thanks, Doug.

      Please let us know if you have specific questions!

      Reply

      Jay

      3 years ago

      Chris, whoa, you’ve just opened the Pandora’s box of golf. Are you sure you want to do this? Did somebody put you up to this? How did you get my email address?

      This is one area that is forever perplexing. It’s an impossible subject because every swing is different and as the manufacturers have figured out, there are infinite ways to make a silly stick bend and twist—just like they have me doing—and they will continue to prey on my kind because we are weak, fragile minded, vulnerable, golfers who have come to believe that the perfect shaft exists somewhere in the universe.

      I would say 99% of the people I play with have no idea that these conundrums exist. They simply play the OEM shaft that came with the club, and that’s complicated enough for them. As you mentioned, the single beginning point is swing speed, and that’s where most people end their search. They are more fixated on the club head that they purchased. The only thing they can tell me about the shaft is the color and that “Um, it’s a regular, I think.” And that’s as far as they go. Really?

      But for the rest of us junkies (remaining 1%), it’s just the start for defining which shafts may be a candidate out of the hundreds now available. And let’s face it, even the best fitting studio can’t have you try all of the shafts on their walls, and if you tried, you’d be exhausted after only a few shafts, and you might find you wear out the fitters patience in your insane pursuit of the perfect shaft (I speak for myself here.). “We have it but we don’t have it with the Titleist tip on it. You’re welcome to try it on this Taylormade head, but we’ve been closed for an hour already.”

      I have a studio and garage full of shafts for every type of club (my wife is a saint, god bless her), except putters, which is a rabbit hole I’m not about to go down…yet. I subscribe to technical websites that review shafts and provide EI characteristics, and find the EI is only a start point for shaft candidacy. It’s all theory until you put a grip and head on the ends of it and take it outside (not in those ridiculous fitting booths), and swing it for a couple hours in the practice field (grass, not plastic), then take it out on the course. Sometimes, the numbers look great on the trackman, and even swings well on the practice range, but you may find “that dog don’t hunt” on the golf course—which, in my world, is the most important feature, wouldn’t you agree? and by now you’ve already spent $500 on that shaft…ugh…look on eBay you’ll find it there for half the price.

      Let’s put it this way, the shaft manufactures know they have fools like me who chase after the perfect shaft every year. They count on it, and I fall for it. I obsess over these shafts. It’s absolute insanity, truly. These shaft engineers either have to be as obsessive compulsive as I am, or they are demonic sadists who take pleasure watching people like me squirm—and I’m not even a fitter (poor buggers).

      The stupidest part of this, is that I take my hundred year old hickory shafted, leather grip, clubs out for a round—all seven of them—or my circa 1960 Hogan blades with persimmon woods with 60 year old steel shafts, and I still shoot par or better. Ridiculous game. Just absurd.

      Truth is, I’m just a sucker for new toys. I especially like the Oban and Graphite Design toys, or the Ventus Blue with Velocore toys. YES!

      Can we talk? Is there a group meeting in some church basement for my condition? Shaftanon? I can’t be alone in this. Somebody? Chris? :::crickets::: I know you’re out there. It’s ok, we’re all friends here. Nothing leaves this room.

      Reply

      LoPro

      3 years ago

      ???? absolutely !!!

      Reply

      Counselor Mike

      3 years ago

      The first step is admitting you have a problem.

      Reply

      steve scaffa

      3 years ago

      Very well written Chris! I will use this information in my fitting for new clubs. TY

      Reply

      Luis Iturrieta

      3 years ago

      You mentioned…”chef” & “recipe”
      I don’t think most of Us know anything about those topics when It comes to golf shaft…and I would LOVE TO KNOW MORE..

      Reply

      Deadeye

      3 years ago

      Is there any way to know if a used shaft is after market or not?

      Reply

      Adam

      3 years ago

      It’s probably almost always not.

      If anybody was selling a used club with a $400 shaft, they’d make sure to mention it

      Reply

      WYBob

      3 years ago

      Chris: Excellent article as a starting point regarding shafts. As you mentioned in the article, shafts are an area that requires much more attention and an area that I wish MGS would spend a lot more energy helping us with. There are no standards between shaft manufacturers. If MGS set up a “Shaft Lab” similar to your Ball Lab, that could be a game-changer. Measuring the frequency of shafts, testing for torque, confirming bend profiles, material construction, tipping guidelines, etc., and then putting that information in a comparative database (like Ball Lab does), would be incredibly valuable. It would help your loyal readers cut through all the marketing BS and be better informed before and during a fitting. The equipment is available to do something like this, the key is having someone who understands shafts run the MGS Shaft Lab. Next to the golf ball, golf shafts may be the most important performance component and one that needs a lot more inspection due to the lack of clear standards in the industry and between manufacturers. IMHO this is a place where MGS could make a huge difference, and be a tremendous value add to your readers.

      Reply

      Chris Nickel

      3 years ago

      Thanks for the feedback and no doubt, the concept of MGS Labs (ball, shaft, etc) is something we’ve tossed around a fair bit.

      Reply

      RonTR

      3 years ago

      What I hear you say is – it ain’t good unless it is good for you!

      Reply

      Chris Nickel

      3 years ago

      Probably a couple variations on this theme, but essentially, yes. The best product out there is always the one that’s best for you.

      There isn’t a ball, shaft, head, etc. that’s “best for everyone.”

      Reply

      Antonio Posca

      3 years ago

      Still a fan of the Wishon Zone frequency stuff and always wished as a hobbyist I could have got the software. Used to be so much in the forums around asking people for specific shafts and their profiles….was very helpful.

      Reply

      Jay

      3 years ago

      Whoa, Chris, you’ve opened the Pandora’s box of golf, and I don’t know if you’ll ever be able to put it back in. This is probably the one area of my greatest puzzlement. I have a studio and garage full of golf shafts for every iron, wood, hybrid and driver. The only area I haven’t ventured into is putter shafts, which I’m certain will only lead me down another rabbit hole.

      I subscribe to golf shaft websites, where I study EI characteristics and read their technical reviews, but as much as I may learn about a shaft, there is nothing like locking it into a club and taking it out onto a practice field (with grass, not plastic) to feel what it does, then finally taking it out for several rounds on the course to see what it really does. Everything else seems to just be theory. After I play a shaft for awhile, then and only then, can look at the EI slopes and say, “oh, that makes sense”.

      And as you stated right up front, it’s all subjective to who’s swinging that club. Swing speed is only the start point. My swing is nothing like anyone else’s, it’s my swing and it’s subject to change from one month to the next, which is when I might switch out a driver shaft for a different one.

      Reply

      RC

      3 years ago

      This article blew my mind because I’ve been sticking a shaft I was fitted for into all kinds of different heads, thinking that the shaft was what fit my swing perfectly. I’ve been lucky I guess. Who knew a shaft could be draw biased? Not this guy! Thanks for the article, really making me think this morning…

      Reply

      joe

      3 years ago

      Great Stuff, once again you are the leading edge of golf information!

      Reply

      Harry P

      3 years ago

      Love my G400 driver and not even tempted to try anything newer. Maybe part of the reason it is so good it that Ping uses the ENSO system to match a shaft with the head. (Hit 7 different drivers on a monitor and then a few times on the range and the G400 had the trajectory, distance and consistency I wanted)

      Reply

      Chris Nickel

      3 years ago

      This probably won’t resonate with a lot of the non-gearhead readers, but PING also recently hired John Oldenburg.

      John had several decades in the shaft business with Aldila before helping LAGP get off the ground. Bottom line is that he has a wealth of shaft knowledge and ultimately, PING is a knowledge company. What they do with this type of asset will be interesting to watch.

      And as you mention, there’s likely something to the fact that PING also uses ENSO, which is not an inexpensive piece of equipment for a “non”
      shaft company to own.

      Reply

      Woz

      3 years ago

      Very good article.
      I read many people refer to the shaft as the engine. I think a better perspective is that the golfer is the engine and the shat is more of a drive shaft that transfers the “engine” power to the club head.

      ST3LTR0

      3 years ago

      Chris great work this was a good read. The ice cream analogy as always was…. Profound..

      Reply

      Chris Nickel

      3 years ago

      Always need to keep the references in check!

      Reply

      Steve S

      3 years ago

      I’ve said this before but the shaft “mumbo-jumbo” are problematic. From a physics stand point the ideal shaft would have zero weight and infinite stiffness. Then you could just adjust loft and face angle to accommodate different swings. It would also put all the club weight at the end of the shaft which would maximize kinetic energy and momentum into the ball. Since that is an impossibility it would be nice if someone would design the lightest, stiffest shaft possible with out charging $400.

      Reply

      Chris Nickel

      3 years ago

      No doubt there are always going to be opportunity costs when dealing with the realities of material limitations, costs, etc.

      Also probably worth mentioning that not everyone finds optimal performance in a lighter shaft – sometimes heavier = faster.

      Reply

      Steve S

      3 years ago

      I understand but from a pure physics standpoint putting all the weight at the end of the shaft will result in higher speeds and more energy. The fact that so folks PLAY better with a heavier shaft means that there are anomalies in their swing that a heavier shaft tunes out. IE an Iron Byron will hit the ball further with more weight at then end of the shaft because it’s “perfect” swing.

      RayP

      3 years ago

      I agree with your opinion on stock shafts.

      Reply

      Ralph Finaldi

      3 years ago

      As always, great information Chris. Thank you. I would LOVE to know which shafts would improve my driver angle of attack. The GIANT question is who do you visit / trust to give you the best possible fitting without brand bias? AND who has enough knowledge of the massive lineup of shafts to get you to the best possible setup? I went to Club Champion. Upfront I communicated with the fitter that I was completely brand agnostic and wanted the best possible results. Still not convinced I have the best driver setup after a LOT of combinations. I ended up with a ‘mixed’ bag of clubs (Mizuno irons, Ttileist driver, Taylormade fairway and Ping hybrid) which I am very satisfied with and can see improvement in my stats. Also, paid for PURE–which was $20/club.

      Reply

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