ShaftWorks 2019

Historically ignored, the putter shaft became a hot topic in 2019. While Breakthrough Golf Technology launched the original Stability Shaft in 2018, it wasn’t until earlier this year – in part due to the release of Odyssey’s Stroke Lab offering – that golfers became aware of alternatives to the steel putter shaft. Initial tests by MyGolfSpy suggested that while the Stability Shaft wasn’t a cure-all, it could be beneficial for some golfers.

The putter shaft market is ripe for innovation. Consider that there aren’t many golfers who believe the driver shaft doesn’t matter. And while the difference in the impact speed between a driver and a putter is significant, it’s probably worth noting that the putter shaft hasn’t changed much in decades, even though putter head weights have increased significantly. It’s also true that the shaft that’s in your putter almost certainly isn’t there for performance reasons. Whatever the manufacturer could get for the lowest price is what has traditionally gone in your putter. That particular paradigm is shifting, albeit slowly.

Though circumstantial, the fact that Breakthrough Golf Technologies has launched an alternative version of its Stability Shaft suggests some measure of success with the original version.

Stability vs. Stability Tour

“Introducing a tour model is just a natural progression of the brand. Stability clearly has filled a void in the putter category and now golfers who want to play exactly what the pros play will have that option with Stability Tour.”

Barney Adams, Breakthrough Golf CEO

So how does the new Stability Tour differ from the original Stability Shaft? We don’t have a data-heavy, head to head comparison of the original vs. tour model yet, so for now, we’ll concern ourselves with how the shafts differ on paper.

To refresh your memories, the original Stability Shaft was designed to be ultra-stable, and more able to resist flex and torque, and ultimately, provide more consistent putting characteristics. A few bits of engineering and details of the multi-material construction aside, the functional talking points of the original Stability Shaft were that it was stiffer and heavier than conventional putter shafts. With that came claims of lower dynamic loft, a more consistent stroke, and tighter dispersion with more putts falling in the hole. The results of our test didn’t suggest unilateral improvement with the Stability Shaft, but we did see a modest improvement at five and ten feet, as well as indicators of a stroke that was generally more consistent. For some, installing the Stability Shaft led to quantifiable improvement, and while that wasn’t true for all, nobody suffered for using it either.

So what does the Tour shaft bring as compared to the original? Let’s take a look at the new aesthetics, the reported performance qualities, and a little bit of Dave Rolls Balls insight.

Improved Aesthetics

With the Stability Tour, we see a much more subdued appearance. The original Stability Shaft has a much more ornate appearance, in my opinion, with the aluminum connector and steel shaft tip detracting from the overall look. It sounds trivial, but visual distractions can influence the golfer. Case in point, a few years ago, PING reduced and repositioned their shaft band after an eye-tracking test saw golfers’ eyes moving from the ball to the shaft band during the stroke. Frankly, I didn’t much care for the multi-material look.

That being said, I love the look of the new Stability Tour. It’s all black, from the bottom of the grip to the attachment point on the putter. Additionally, all of the graphics are on the underside of the shaft, making for a clean, and likely non-distracting look at address. Simply put, the new Stability Tour shaft looks like an upgraded shaft. While you can argue that this doesn’t matter, if I’m spending money to upgrade my putter shaft, I want it to look like an upgrade.

As it relates to performance, the overall diameter of the shaft has been reduced by 13%, and the total weight has dropped by 10-grams. The balance point has been raised as well, so the swing weight is much closer to what golfers are accustomed to with standard steel shafts.

But What Does It Do?

Size Matters

Perhaps the most significant do of the Stability Tour compared to the original is what I just said above – it feels more like a traditional shaft. By resizing the shaft, BGT now has a shaft that has a diameter and balance point closer to conventional steel. While I interpret feels different as an indicator of doing something different, I also know that there is a point where it feels too different.

Most of us have tried putters in the shop, with some of them only lasting a couple of balls before being designated to the nope pile because they felt too weird. Perhaps the redesigned geometries of the Stability Tour shaft put it in a place where it feels different, but not too different.

Play

According to Breakthrough Golf Technologies, the Stability Tour shaft is still significantly stiffer than steel. The company puts the number at 97% stiffer, which leads to better control and less twisting. Bear in mind, a good bit of this comes down to the relationship between head weight and shaft flex. As head weight increases (as has been the trend in the putter category for more than a decade), the effective flex of the shaft becomes weaker. Putter head weights have increased, but the weight of putter shafts hasn’t changed in any appreciable way. What that means is that golfers are putting with shafts that play softer than ever before.

This is why the increased stiffness of the Stability Tour (and the Odyssey Stroke Lab) actually matters. BGT says the added stiffness equates to an 82% improvement in returning the face square at impact, and a 54% increase in forgiveness on off-center hits because a stiffer shaft twists less). Again, we haven’t yet gathered any data, but the logic is sound.

Dave Rolls Balls: Testing The Stability Tour

As I mentioned above, I don’t have any hard data to share with you, so keep in mind we’re working exclusively from observation here. These are my thoughts after BGT shafted my trusty Bettinardi Queen B5 with the Stability Tour shaft.

The most foundational, and maybe most significant observation is that the QB5 shafted with the Stability Tour shaft feels different than the stock shaft but still familiar. Though perhaps not unexpected, it’s not a small detail. If you are looking to make a change in your putting, something that dramatically alters feel may not be desirable.

While it’s not apples to apples, I spent a good deal of time on the practice green, and a couple of rounds on the course, comparing a steel-shafted QB10 with the Stability Tour shafted QB5. These are my initial take-homes.

It Feels Stiffer

Kind of the point, I know, but I was surprised at just how much stiffer the Stability Tour shaft felt. Comparatively, the steel shaft feels like it wanders all over the place. Again, purely subjective, with no supporting CPM measurement. I would just say that side by side, the steel shaft delivered more wiggle.

Side note on this, I went and rolled balls before reading the Stability Tour claims. It was validating to see that what I was experiencing was what they were promoting.

I did notice that I struggled at a distance more with the Stability Shaft when compared to steel, with my putts typically coming up short. On a positive note, although they were short, the grouping of the putts was noticeably better than steel.

I know, 95% of the putts you leave short never go in, but as with most anything that changes how the ball comes off the putter, as I hit more putts, distance control improved. If I can keep the tight grouping, and figure out the touch from a distance, putts should start falling in the cup.

In close, putts were dropping with shocking regularity. From about 5-7’ putts were closer automatic. I’d hit one and think it would miss, and it wouldn’t. This was not the case with the previously steel shafted version of the QB5 putter, with struggles in close being one of the reasons it got relegated to the garage last summer in favor of the QB10.

As I said, I don’t have percentages or any numbers to back up these claims. All I have are my honest impressions, and I will say that the Stability Tour shaft impressed me.

Should you Spend the $250

I suppose the answer to that question depends upon the current state of your putting.

If putting is the strength of your game, stop looking at anything that has to do with new putting gear, not even headcovers. Seriously, if it’s working, no tinkering allowed.

If your putting is circling the drain, though, fixing it for $250 is a bargain. Lots of the stock putters that you’ll find in your local golf shop will cost you at least that, and in some cases, a whole lot more. Let’s face it, chasing putters doesn’t always work, and it can be an expensive pursuit.

Since the above testing data is a bit nebulous and subjective, it’s tough to give this a hard yes or no. What are my leanings based upon rolling lots of balls with lots of putters? I’m leaning toward believing what the Stability Tour shaft is selling.

Before you spend another $400 on another random putter from your shop, you should consider the Stability Tour as another option. It’ll enhance the looks of your current putter, and maybe your putting will improve as well.

Availability and Pricing

The BGT Stability Tour Shaft is available now through the company website and authorized resellers. Retail price is $250.

For more information, visit, Breakthroughgolftech.com..