When SirShanksAlot invited me to write a golf column for his website I jumped at the chance. Why you ask? Because this finally gives me an opportunity and a forum to vent about something that's been bothering me for a long, long time. After many years working in and around the golf business I can't count how many times I've heard the words "I can't hit graphite." Although the excuses may vary, the bottom line is the same: By not playing with graphite shafted clubs you are hurting your game.
The days are long gone where any graphite shaft could be considered to be a "wet noodle." Do me a favor. Take a look at your old golf clubs and compare your driver from 1990 with your current model. Chances are pretty good that new driver you are using is three times the size of what you were using back then, the head is probably made of titanium, and the face is a lot thinner. Yes drivers have come a long way since 1990. Well, graphite shafts have improved even more dramatically.
The time has arrived where one can honestly say that graphite shafts are better than steel shafts in nearly every regard. It has even gotten to the point where renowned steel shaft manufacturers such as True Temper and Royal Precision are beginning to use alloy metals to create shafts that will come closer to competing with graphite. The problem is that these shafts are a work in progress. They are brand new, and as with any new product, there are kinks to be worked out. This was certainly the case with graphite shafts too but they have been refined, and redesigned, and continually improved upon to get to where we are today. The biggest advantages of modern day graphite shafts include lighter weight, vibration dampening, more accurately controlled kick points, and flexes and torque ratings for all players.
One of the most common arguments I hear is "I swing too hard for graphite." This is probably the silliest of all arguments. Let's think about the PGA Tour for a moment because it is the home to the best golfers on the planet and every single player on the PGA Tour hits the golf ball further than you or me. Trust me. Of these superhuman golf ball crushing machines, the top five in terms of driving distance in 2004 are made up of Hank Kuehne (314.4 yards average), Scott Hend (312.6 yards), John Daly (306.4 yards), Mike Heinen (305.2 yards), and Chris Smith (304 yards). What do all five of these players have in common? That's right; every one of them uses a graphite shafted driver. In John Daly's case he uses a graphite shaft in his driver, fairway wood, wedges, and putter! Going even further (or longer) than this, every competitor in the 2004 World Long Drive Championship used a graphite shafted driver.
The most common counter to this is "Well I don't care about distance I just want to hit the ball straight." Consider this, the top five players on the PGA Tour in driving accuracy in 2004, measured as the percentage of fairways hit off the tee include Fred Funk, Scott Verplank, Craig Bowden, Joe Durant, and Tom Byrum. Again what do all five of these players have in common? If you said "They all use graphite shafted drivers" give yourself another prize. In fact, of the top 25 world ranked golfers the only players not using a graphite shafted driver are Adam Scott and Paul Casey. Several notable players have gone beyond this and are using graphite shafts in not only their driver but also fairway woods, hybrid clubs, and irons. Among these players are Scott Verplank (ranked 22nd in the world), K.J. Choi (ranked 26th in the world), Scott Hoch (18th on the tour in greens in regulation), Colin Montgomerie (the lovable Scot who continues to make the American Ryder Cup Team his personal whipping boys), and Craig Bowden (3rd on the tour in fairways hit). The more popular shafts among these players include shafts by Fujikura, Grafalloy, Aldila, Graphite Design, Harrison, and UST, many of which are readily available on-line or through retail and pro-shops around the continent.
Because of the vast array of shafts available it can be somewhat overwhelming to pick the â€œrightâ€ one but talk to your local pro or clubfitter and chances are you can work together to pick the shaft that will work for you. It may even be the manufacturer's stock graphite shaft that suits your swing best. If you still aren't convinced take out some demo drivers, take several not just one because you could end up with a club or shaft not suited to you, and give them an honest comparison. I think you will be pleasantly surprised to see your drives flying farther and straighter than ever before.
Coming up next time: I will take a look at the putter craze. What are those weird putters and do they work?