Though models often lean toward one side of the spectrum or the other, hybrid clubs, by definition, sit somewhere between a traditional iron and a fairway wood. And much like the clubs themselves, hybrid shafts don’t exactly garner much attention, but that’s not for a lack of utility. In fact, hybrids are arguably the most serviceable club in the bag, which makes it all the more odd that golfers who choose to embark on a shaft-fitting expedition target the driver, irons, and possibly a 3-wood, but rarely ever the hybrid.
That said, if hybrids are part of your arsenal and you haven’t taken the time to explore the myriad shaft options, the impending off-season might be the perfect time to rework this part of your bag.
Conceptually, hybrid-specific shafts aren’t a new idea, and every major shaft OEM has something in its lineup to address the specific performance needs of hybrid clubs. With that, Japanese shaft company, Nippon, believes it’s N.S. PRO MODUS3 offers golfers an innovative shaft that brings with it a best of both worlds solution.
Nippon’s confidence in the N.S. PRO MODUS3 hybrid is due primarily to its proprietary G.O.S.T. (Graphite On Steel Technology) technology, which is a refreshingly apt and simple acronym. At the most basic level, it’s literally a shaft with steel on the inside and composite graphite on the outside.
Nippon states, “The key was our composite shaft manufacturing experience with the use of a patented special adhesive technology.” Nippon’s intention with this technology is to meld the primary benefits of steel (solid feel/dispersion) and carbon composites (launch/feel) into a single product. If it were a Taco Bell menu item, it would be the Chili-Cheese Burrito, where the simplicity accounts for a good bit of the beauty. I digress.
Going a bit deeper, steel is isometric, which limits what designers can engineer into each of the three primary sections (butt, mid, tip) of the shaft. Comparatively, carbon composites offer manufacturers vastly more latitude to manipulate weight, strength, and performance in each section. That creates significantly more design control, which results in significantly more fine-tuned performance outcomes.
To offer a simple analogy: Steel is the local county fair; Graphite composites are Disney World. Perhaps redundant, but the point here is Nippon believes it has gleaned the primary benefits of each material and combined those into a single product. Maybe it is possible to both have and eat one’s cake?
In terms of construction, the concept is simple; however, the process requires complex technology. The vast majority of graphite composite shafts in the market are created by wrapping thin sheets of pre-preg around a steel mandrel according to a specific set of instructions. From there, cellophane wrap is applied, and the shaft is baked and cured, activating the resin (glue) portion of the carbon composite. The rough shaft is sanded, painted, and spec-checked before it heads out the door. This is an oversimplification of what’s a much more convoluted process, but the salient steps are there.
In this case, instead of a mandrel, Nippon uses a 70-gram steel shaft as the core and wraps the carbon composite flags around it. The rest of the process, more or less, follows typical graphite shaft production steps, though getting the steel shaft core and carbon composite outer layer to bond correctly is an arduous task. It’s perhaps why we haven’t seen other shaft manufacturers go down this particularly multi-material road.
For those familiar with Nippon’s steel iron shafts, the MODUS3 Hybrid is characteristically most similar to the MODUS 3 Tour 105 iron shaft, which Nippon categorizes as mid-launch/mid-spin.
When comparing steel and graphite, the primary disadvantage of the later has been cost, and while that part of the equation is unlikely to change in the near future for consumers, the landscape appears to be shifting. Just several weeks ago at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open, Bryson DeChambeau finished T-4 with a graphite shaft in every club in his bag. Yes, it’s a single piece of evidence and granted, Bryson is an outlier in many respects, but he’s also willing to butt heads with conventional approaches in the name of finding better performance.
So moving forward, which will offer golfers better performance – graphite or steel? Maybe it’s both.
PRICING & AVAILABILITY
The Nippon MODUS3 Hybrid shaft is currently available at an MSRP of $250.
It is offered in four weight/flex options. Stiff – 92.5 gr, Tour Stiff – 92.5 gm, X-Stiff – 102.5 gm and Tour X – 112.5 gm
For more information visit nipponshaft.com