With the focus of SirShanksAlot.com primarily based on new golf clubs, I felt it was time to shed some light on what is new with the engine of the golf club: the shaft. The shaft is one of the most important yet most overlooked components of the golf club. It can be the difference between hitting the golf ball high or low; down the fairway or in the rough; a long way or not. It can also drastically alter the feel and sound of a golf club.
With recent advances in graphite shaft technology, golf club manufacturers have started to use stock shafts of a much higher quality. Fujikura has been a popular brand that makes proprietary shafts for companies like Taylor Made, Adams, and Cleveland. Aldila and UST are a couple other companies who design shafts specifically for major club manufacturers. With this recent development, the quality of stock graphite shafts is better than ever before.
Even with this in mind it is important to make sure you are using the right shaft. While spending the money to get the right shaft might not be an appreciable benefit for the mid to high handicap player, it can pay huge dividends for the stronger player.
Picking the right shaft can be a bit of a crapshoot but a good club-fitter should be able to point you in the right direction and give you several options to choose from. With that in mind here are some of the newer and hotter shafts on the market.
Aldila came out with unquestionably the hottest shaft available last year with the NV. The NV is the green shaft that you can see almost everywhere now; it is available in a number of different weights and for woods and hybrids. The shaft is designed with the better player in mind and produces a consistent performing shaft with a low launch angle.
The NVS shaft is the counterpart to the NV. It is designed with a slightly softer tip and higher ball-flight which make it more accommodating for the average player.
Aldila is also working on prototype shafts that are constructed with carbon nanotubes. These allow the shaft to be built incredibly strong yet lighter than an average graphite shaft. Nanotechnology is the big buzzword in golf right now and you can expect these shafts to be the rage for 2006.
For the past three years Fujikura has been the number one shaft on the PGA Tour. The biggest reason for their success is the Speeder 757. There have been a number of additions to the Speeder family in the last couple of years. All are quite expensive and all are designed with the better player in mind. The Speeder shafts are made with more graphite wraps meaning less resin and a better performing shaft.
Fujikura has some new shafts for 2005 that should also make some noise. For the better players with a high tempo swing, the new ZCOM shaft should work nicely. For the average player who doesn't mind spending a little cash and wants to play Fujikura, the new Tour Platform 26.3 or the tried and true Vista Pro are ideal options.
The Grafalloy Blue was no doubt the hottest shaft of 2003. Well it's still around and still doing quite well. For those who like the Blue but want something a little easier to hit, the Blue ProLaunch was introduced last year to great success. The ProLaunch is a low-torque shaft that produces a higher ball-flight and is better suited for the average player. There is now a ProLaunch HY for hybrid clubs that should sell well in 2005.
Grafalloy is the other major shaft company working with nanotechnology right now. The Grafalloy Comp NT shaft is still in prototype stages but uses carbon nanotubes in the resin to produce a stronger shaft that they say will give you the longest, straightest, most consistent drives of your life.
Harrison is a company whose name was built basically around the Long Drive Championship. They have been producing shafts for average golfers for several years now and have found a great deal of success with the Striper line. The Striper features titanium reinforcement to strengthen the tip section. With some new additions to the Striper line, it is now suitable for most calibers of players although you do have to watch quite closely to make sure you don't get into a shaft that is too stiff.
Matrix Carbon Composites are a lesser known player in the shaft industry but they do make a great product. The MFS is their flagship line of shafts and features a number of different spec shafts for the better player. They have a number of other shaft offerings for all styles of player.
K.J. Choi is one of the more notable players using these shafts but they do have a strong tour presence. Choi uses the MFS line which should be strong in 2005. For the average players the Apache line offers some great shafts at more reasonable prices.
Penley has two new shafts out for 2005; the Caliente and the Hybrid Heater. Both feature a new look for Penley with grey and red coloring. The Caliente is a shaft that is creating a lot of excitement. The weight, torque, and kick-point all vary depending on the flex to make it a playable shaft for all swing speeds. The Caliente is my pick as the hot shaft for 2005. The Hybrid Heater is designed specifically for hybrid clubs. It comes in two different weights and torques so you should be able to find one that works for you.
One thing I wish is that everyone would stop playing the ProForce. The shaft was good in its day but it is dead now. The ProForce ATR shaft introduced last year was a way better shaft.
UST has had a good run with the Harmon Tour Design shafts. There is some tour presence with these shafts but they make a good shaft for the low to mid handicap player as well. There is a variety of different specs to look at.
The UST Irod shaft is the hottest hybrid shaft on the market right now. It has great tour presence and is a good shaft for the majority of golfers.
Better players looking at UST should consider the Accra. It is also among the top shafts on the PGA Tour although the steep price tag will scare away most consumers.
The Bottom Line
So there you go; a number of different brands with a number of different shafts. Hopefully this will give you a little more insight into the shaft industry and what is hot right now. Keep in mind there is something for every caliber of player but it will help you out greatly to speak with a local club fitter. And remember before you talk to him you should have a good idea of where your game is at and where you want it to go.
Until next week,