One could argue Nippon wrote the book on lightweight steel iron shafts. It’s an audacious claim, but one to which Nippon has every right.
Consider that in the 20 years since Nippon launched the N.S. PRO 950GH in 1999 (the first sub-100 gram constant weight steel iron shaft), it has sold in excess of 40-million units and been in the bag for over 200 global tour wins. The N.S. PRO 950 GH the best-selling and most successful lightweight steel iron shaft in tour history.
To celebrate the historical significance and sustained success of the original N.S. PRO 950GH, Nippon is releasing a special anniversary edition, N.S PRO 950GH neo. Though you’ve likely already made the linguistic leap, neo constitutes new or revived.
The appeal of the original 950GH is that it offered both the benefits of a lighter-weight shaft (more playable for a broader range of swing speeds) without compromising some of the inherent benefits of steel (tighter dispersion) in a mid-high launch, mid-spin profile. What Nippon discovered is the 950GH gave both recreational and professional golfers an option neither really knew it needed, but from which both could benefit.
The N.S. PRO 950GH neo retains the bulk the signature profile of the original but features a slightly more responsive tip section and firmer midsection. Additionally, the butt diameter has been reduced from .610” to .600” to enhance what Nippon terms the “NS” feel. The net result is a marginally higher launching (1°-2°), higher spinning shaft with a firmer mid-section to maintain clubhead stability through impact. Aesthetically, green graphics replace the traditional silver/chrome labels to give anniversary edition a little extra flair.
Sales figures are a single metric and tour wins provide validation, but from a historical perspective, the response from competing shaft manufacturers is perhaps the ultimate compliment. Every major steel shaft OEM offers a lightweight (sub 115 grams) option, and it’s fair to suggest that if lightweight steel shafts had a family tree, Nippon would be the unquestioned patriarch. As further evidence, during the N.S. Pro GH’s tenure, one competitor has released no fewer than 15 models in the 90-115 gram weight range, with nine remaining as legacy options. That speaks to the ongoing need for this particular weight class of shafts.
To offer the perhaps overused car analogy; a lightweight steel iron shaft is the SUV of the shaft industry. At one point it was an outlier, and now it’s a staple offering for every major OEM.
There’s a tremendous amount of utility for the middle of the bell curve player, and because it’s a one-size-fits-many product, it targets a demographic which is relatively constant in the marketplace.
How light can steel shafts go?
Nippon’s Zelos line leverages a proprietary NZNS material and serves as evidence it continues to push past conventional thinking. Zelos7 gave players a steel option in the 70-80-gram range, and recently Zelos6 broached entirely new territory coming in at a feathery 68.5 grams. What’s clear is that Nippon continues to lead the lightweight steel shaft conversation, and just as it did 20 years ago, it’s pacing the industry while giving golfers of all swing speeds and abilities a comprehensive lineup of shafts from which to choose.
Being first to market is an achievement. Staying there for several decades is reason enough to throw yourself a party.
PRICING AND AVAILABILITY
Weight/Flex – The N.S. PRO 950GH neo is offered in R (94.5 gm), SR (97 gm), S (98 gr) and X (104 gm) flex.
Retail Availability/Pricing – September 5th, 2019 ( MAP – $35/shaft)
For more information, visit nipponshaft.com.