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Show Stoppers from Demo Day: 2016 PGA Merchandise Show

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Demo Day kicks off the PGA Merchandise Show each year, with golfers testing the latest golf gear at the 360-degree range at Orange County National in Winter Park, Fla.

Enjoy our list of “Show Stoppers” from Demo Day below, as well as our general galleries from the event.

Ping TR 1966 putters

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You could say that Ping celebrates the anniversary of its Anser putters every year. The classic, heel-toe weighted blade putters are still some of Ping’s best selling models, and nearly every major putter company sells a putter inspired by Karsten Solheim’s legendary design.

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Anser, however, Ping did something special. Using 3D scans of the original Anser and Anser 2, the company was able to recreate the subtle contours and radius details Solheim shaped using his mills and hand files.

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The Anser, which has a manganese bronze PVD finish, has no alignment aids, as well as a more rounded shape and a thicker topline than the Anser 2.

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The Anser 2, which has a stainless steel blast finish, has a more angular shape and a white alignment aid on its flange.

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There’s also a bit of new technology in the putters – Ping’s TR (True Roll) grooves, which are milled into the faces of the putters to create more consistent distance on putts contacted off center.

Both putters, available in March, have an MSRP of $162.50. Their head weights are 340 grams, roughly 50 grams heavier than the originals. They use stepped steel shafts that were also re-engineered from the original Anser designs.

Toulon Design putters

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Most golfers would be interested in a putter that feels better and rolls putters better than what they currently have. As TaylorMade’s Executive Vice President of Product Creation from 1999-2015, Sean Toulon knows that better than most.

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Now at the helm of his own golf equipment company, Toulon Designs, Toulon says he’s created putters that do just that. They use a crosshatched face pattern that creates a softer feel at impact, as well as smaller, horizontal grooves that he says gets putts rolling faster.

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Toulon putters officially launched at Demo Day, and are available in four models that start at $400.

Ben Hogan VKTR hybrid, PTx irons

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Last year, the newly formed Ben Hogan Golf Company made a splash at the PGA Merchandise show with its line of Ft. Worth 15 blade irons and TK 15 wedges. This year, the company broadened its lineup with the release of its VKTR hybrids and PTx irons.

The VKTR hybrids ($249) aren’t promising golfers more distance. Rather, their high-spin design places a premium on trajectory control. Four adjustable weights allow golfers to tweak their ball flight, with three 2-gram weights and an 18-gram weight that give golfers the ability to adjust spin rate and trajectory bias.

Like the Ft. Worth 15 irons, the company’s new PTx irons are forged, but they blend a titanium core with a 1025 Carbon Steel frame to give golfers a higher trajectory and more forgiveness. They’re offered in lofts of 20-47 degrees to allow golfers to choose the distance gaps that work best for their game.

Like Hogan’s other irons, the PTx irons use the company’s V-Sole design that helps them resist digging at impact. They’ll sell for $169 each with KBS Tour-V or Tour 90 shafts, and will start shipping April.

Cobra King Utility 

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Golfers are used to adjusting the loft of their drivers with the turn of a wrench. Cobra’s new King Utility clubs bring that technology to irons.

Although the clubs won’t be released until May, they already have a following on Tour. Rickie Fowler used a King Utility to win last week’s Abu Dhabi Championship.

According to Cobra, the King Utility irons use a 17-4 stainless steel face insert that’s added to the club with an L-Weld to increase ball speed and forgiveness. They’ll be adjustable from 18-21 degrees, with three draw settings that make the club slightly more upright.

Aldila Rogue iron shafts

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Graphite iron shafts have been around for decades, but only in recent years have they started to gain traction with better golfers. One of the reasons why? Advanced construction methods have given shaft makers more freedom in their designs, allowing them to create profiles that weren’t possible in the past.

Aldila’s new Rogue iron shafts take that precision to a new level with what the company calls a “Hyperbolic Flex Progression.” It alters stiffness for each individual iron shaft to improve trajectory control.

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Most shafts get between 6-8 CPM (cycles per minute) stiffer per club, according to Aldila, but the Rogue iron shafts are different. Take the Pro 105-S shafts, for example, which use a 2-4-6 design. The 3-5 iron shafts get two CPM stiffer between shafts, while the 6-8 iron shafts irons get four CPM stiffer between shafts. The 9-W shafts get six CPM stiffer between shafts.

The design helps golfers better dial in the appropriate trajectories and distances for each iron, according to Aldila. They’re available in two models, Standard (about $40 each, 65-A, 75-R, 85-S flexes) and Pro (about $100 each: 105-S, 115-X flexes).

Nippon N.S. Pro Regio Formula shafts

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Despite the abundance of graphite shafts currently available, many golfers still have a hard time deciphering what type of shaft will work best in their driver or fairway wood. Leave it up to a company known for its steel iron shafts to help solve the riddle.

Nippon’s N.S. Pro Regio Formula shafts use profiles that are similar to the company’s popular N.S. Pro Modus iron shafts, so if you know what Modus is best for your iron game then you know what Reggio Formula is best for your tee game.

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The Formula M is based on the Modus 130 iron shaft, with a firm butt section, firm mid section and a softer tip section that creates a stable feel and a high trajectory.

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The Formula B is based on the Modus 120 iron shaft, with a soft butt section, firm mid section and a firm tip section that creates a lower trajectory.

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The Formula MB falls in between. It’s based on the Modus 105 and Modus 125 iron shafts, and has a balanced profile.

All three shafts sell for about $400.

SuperStroke S-Tech

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SuperStroke, known primarily as a putter grip company, has expanded its club grip line. And two of golf’s biggest names — Jordan Spieth and Sergio Garcia — are using the company’s new S-Tech grips on the 13 other clubs in their bag.

The new grips are both softer and less expensive than the previously released TXi models, and will be available to the public in three colors (black, grey and blue). They’ll sell for $6.99 each (standard and midsize) and will start shipping in April.

Yonex N1-MB irons and Triprinciple hybrid

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Yonex’s new N1-MB irons, forged from S25 Carbon Steel, add a touch of feel to the muscle-back heads with a graphite plate placed behind the face, which helps to dampen vibrations at impact, according to the company. The irons heads are made with a low and deep center of gravity (CG) for a higher launch, making them more forgiving than the blade irons you may be used to.

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The Tripricinple hybrid, with one of the most awe-inspiring new designs at the PGA Show, has a cavity cut into its crown and grooves that run diagonally instead of horizontally. The grooves provide more consistent spin from various lies – especially wet grass, according to Yonex – while the crown’s cavity lowers CG for a higher launch.

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The new Yonex hybrids also have a reverse-flow shaft matching system that’s lighter in the longer lofts and heavier in the shorter lofts (the hybrids are offered in lofts of 20, 23.5 and 27 degrees). Their bodies are made from SUS630 Stainless Steel, while their faces are made from 455 Maraging Steel.

Bubba hits a drone from mid-air, and a look at his driver swing in Slo-Mo

Two-time Masters champion and Florida-native Bubba Watson blessed the PGA Show with an appearance at Oakley’s Prizm booth, and he didn’t disappoint. He put on a display of shots; a reenactment of his famous rope-hook wedge shot on hole No. 10 at Augusta to ice the 2012 Masters, nearly knocking a flying drone from mid-air — he clipped the propellers, but it didn’t fall — and of course, a slew of driver swings producing different ball flights.

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“Normally when you think of golf you don’t think of ‘cool and fun’… you think of action sports,” Bubba said. “But my swing, at 120 mph, is an action sport.”

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There to promote Oakley sunglasses, Bubba told the crowd he doesn’t wear sunglasses to play golf because it affects his feel, but he never goes anywhere without at least five pairs of Oakley Turbine sunglasses in all different colors. Oakley released a new frame (pictured above) to house their popular Prizm-style lenses — which work well for a sport such as golf because the lenses amplify tones and increase definition.

FootJoy FreeStyle

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These aren’t the “Classics” that you’ve seen from FootJoy in years past, but the new FreeStyle shoes move the company toward a more athletic and modern style aimed at comfort and performance, much like the HyperFlex shoes released by the company in 2015.

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The new FreeStyle shoes are made with a mesh upper for lightweight breathability, and come with a two-year waterproof warranty. A slip-resistant heel pad and extra cushioning under the tongue and in the back-inner portion of the shoe where the Achilles rests was added to make the shoes more comfortable.

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FreeStyles ($190) will be available February 15 in three colorways (white/grey/charcoal), (navy/orange/lime) and (black/white/gray). They will also be offered with the BOA closure system for $210.

The companies that weren’t there 

Demo Day at the PGA Merchandise Show provides golfers, media and PGA professionals an opportunity to see the newest equipment and test products in an outdoor environment. Most major equipment companies attend the event, but this year there were several notable absences.

Companies that didn’t attend include Nike, which recently launched its line of Vapor Fly clubs, PXG, one of the talked-about new golf companies in recent memory and Mizuno, which launched its new equipment line last fall.

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23 Comments

23 Comments

  1. Mat

    Jan 28, 2016 at 5:18 pm

    The iron head is the future. It won’t be long until entire sets are manufactured that way.

  2. steve

    Jan 28, 2016 at 9:37 am

    Why would Toulon get in at that price range for their putters? They needed to undercut Betti’s and Camerons by a lot, under $200 should have been their starting point

  3. Parisgood

    Jan 27, 2016 at 6:29 pm

    Nobody has mentioned what the manufactures are doing with the loft. The new Taylor Made M2 irons 5 iron has a loft of 23 deg. My 1970 set of Wilson Staffs 5 iron had a 32 deg loft. So which one am I going to hit further? Also Taylor Made released the M1 driver this fall, now what did they introduce at the show, the NEW and improved M2. Will there be a new and even better M3 by springtime?

    • JP

      Jan 27, 2016 at 8:45 pm

      I agree with you on the lofts of the M2 irons. There are YouTube videos out already that show the M2 irons on a launch monitor in which the shot height and distance of the M2 6 iron was the same as a standard 5 iron tested side by side. They stamped a 6 on a 5 head and claim it’s longer… Ridiculous. But the M2 driver is not an upgraded or new M1. It is the replacement for the Aeroburner. They incorporated the carbon fiber crown for it, but it is not the “new” M1. I think Taylormade made a big mistake in naming it M2. It should have been more aptly named M1 Speed, or M1 Burner….. M2 is very misleading.

      • Parisgood

        Jan 27, 2016 at 10:12 pm

        Didn’t know that about the M2, thanks that’s interesting.

      • Tim

        Jan 27, 2016 at 10:59 pm

        While I appreciate your attempt here. Wouldn’t the club launch and fly lower if it was lower lofted?

        • Clay

          Jan 27, 2016 at 11:21 pm

          Launch and flight are impacted by center of gravity. A blade with a high cg will launch lower and spin more where an ski club launches high and spins less despite the lower loft.

    • Joe Golfer

      Jan 28, 2016 at 1:43 am

      TM did introduce the M2, but it isn’t supposed to be a New and Improved version of the M1.
      They are two completely different clubs, and you are supposed to choose which one would benefit you the most based on your skill level, swing speed, style of play, what you need most from a driver…
      As far as mentioning the strengthening of the lofts, it probably did not get mentioned because it is nothing new.
      TM has had models with 23* five irons for several years now. It’s old hat.
      If you’re expecting a bunch of comments about how strong the lofts are compared to clubs from years ago, you’re late to the party. That’s been happening for years, and it includes numerous brands of clubs. There are now PW’s that are 43* and 44*, so one may need two gap wedges to fill the blanks between the PW and the SW.

  4. DFence

    Jan 27, 2016 at 3:39 pm

    “BETTER TO SPEND YOUR MONEY ON LESSONS AND KEEP YOUR OLD CLUBS.”

    Says every golf instructor. Misses the point. This is equipment.

    A golf instructor won’t fix a slice, the golfer fixes the slice. Equipment and Instruction are both tools to help a golfer, they work hand-in-hand. I have had golf instructors that teach the newest fad, some that are old school. Clubs are the same way, and in both categories, some are great and others aren’t worth a damn.

    Here’s what you do: Spend your money however you want, on whatever you value, because neither an instructor or equipment will make you any better. You need to play as often as you can, and be open to recommendations when playing with people better than you. An ugly swing / ugly club will look pretty if you have repeated “golfing” enough that you’ve learned how to put that ball near the hole in a real golf setting. It’s that simple. And if a club/instructor makes you want to go out and play more, then you’ve made yourself better. But there is no blueprint, or else every here would be featured in the tournament pictures.

    And if someone writes in all Caps, then they are extra full of 5h!t.

    • Brandon

      Jan 27, 2016 at 5:03 pm

      “because neither an instructor or equipment will make you any better.” This is completely false, a great instructor will absolutely change your game and its not even close in comparison to new equipment.

      • DFence

        Jan 28, 2016 at 12:07 am

        Are you an instructor? Why do you care?

        Since you care so much, prove it, show how. You disparage clubs for their math, show yours.

        • Bill

          Jan 28, 2016 at 1:18 pm

          The point is if you have a bad swing and are a 36 handicap, buying an M1 isn’t going to make you a 26 handicap. The old adage, “it’s not the arrow it’s the indian” holds true. Most golfers would get more benefit by spending $500 on short game lessons than buying the latest greatest driver.

          • Matto

            Jan 29, 2016 at 4:23 am

            But people enjoy buying & having new things!! I don’t know why people keep pushing the “spend the money on lessons” line.
            I find it bizzare that people continue to try and protect complete strangers from spending their hard earned cash!!!
            I work hard, make good money, then in turn enjoy spending it on trivial sh*t like golf clubs!!!
            I’m gonna be dead for so much longer than I’m alive. Blowing cash to keep me happy is the least of my worries. But thank you for your concern, sincerely.

  5. golfraven

    Jan 27, 2016 at 3:15 pm

    Oh boy, Ben Hogan hybrids are back! Best news as I was looking at the Callaway Apex but why would I buy anything else then the real deal. My first hybrid was a Ben Hogan and if this baby is performing as it looks it will be in the bag for a loooong time. Cannot wait to hit it.

  6. Josh

    Jan 27, 2016 at 2:43 pm

    Diagonal grooves… funky!

  7. Chuck

    Jan 27, 2016 at 1:45 pm

    About that Triprincipal hybrid…

    Anybody remember the old Sonartec/Royal Collection woods and hybrids? They had the deep cavity in the sole. And they were (especially the fairway woods) fantastic little low-flying balloon-preventing hammers. David Duval had one in the bag for years; presumably for no pay. So did Luke Donald. And many others.

    That cavity/cutout really seemed to work. There was nothing quite like a Sonartec fw.

  8. SouthbayZ

    Jan 27, 2016 at 12:18 pm

    Sometimes I wonder if all the people that complain about new models of clubs, high-end Anser style putter lines, and hyperbolic performance claims have the same issue with all the new cars that come out every year. Do they lose sleep over new brands of clothing and different styles of jeans? Maybe this option induced insomnia is what keeps them on these threads whining late into the night. Oh shoot, theres a new ripped off Ferrari coming out this year that’s $400,000.00 a pop. Just what the world needs. Better get some Ambien and crying towel.

    • Cliff

      Jan 27, 2016 at 1:01 pm

      You can stop wondering, the answer is yes! No need to read the comments if you don’t like what they say.

    • Fahgdat

      Jan 27, 2016 at 1:21 pm

      No, SouthbayZ you numbnut, they don’t complain about the cars because they don’t have to compete against other people with them in a game, or look stupid and embarrassed that they couldn’t hit the ball straight even with the best equipment. All they do is drive down the road with their cars. Not like they take their expensive flashy cars to the race track and play bumper cars against other people to see if the new car that just came about really is 0.2 seconds faster than the last one. >face palm<

  9. Dave

    Jan 27, 2016 at 11:14 am

    Thanks for all the pics!

  10. ooffa

    Jan 27, 2016 at 10:15 am

    Toulon putters. Just what the golf world needs. Another ripped off putter design for $400.00 a pop.

  11. Nolanski

    Jan 27, 2016 at 8:18 am

    Regarding those new Hogan PTx irons… Lofts start at 32*?

    • Matt

      Jan 27, 2016 at 10:02 am

      the hogans are 20-47. Just construction is different from 32-47….

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Equipment

TaylorMade P Series irons: Talking tour integration

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Now that the cat has been let out of the bag on the new 2020 TaylorMade P Series irons, I wanted to get some intel on how these new sticks will start to infiltrate the major tours and what that might look like.

TaylorMade’s Adrian Rietveld is one of the individuals that players like Rory, Rahm, and a number of the European staff trust to transition into new product.

I had a chance to chat with him this week on all things P Series, and this is what he had to say.

JW: In a general sense, what is the process for you when integrating a new product on Tour?

AR: I never like to do [more than] one product at a time, unless I’m at the Kingdom or off-site. On tour, it’s essential the focus stays in a bubble and we deal with one thing at a time. We typically will speak before any testing is done and I’ll get a sense from them what is looking to be gained or if there are any glaring issues.

The main place to start is going apples-to-apples spec-wise—old product vs new product. At that point we can see what the new product is offering, i.e. where it’s good and also identify what we need to do to get dialed across the board.

JW: Of the main Tour staff, who is testing now, and who will be testing after the season is over?

AR: Can’t answer exactly who is currently testing because all players test at different times, but I know our U.S. and European core staff players all have sets including non-staff players that also have our equipment in play.

The cool thing is the players who have had the time to test put them in play quickly which is a good sign.

JW: Rory put the P7MB in play quickly. What did he respond to on the P7MB that encouraged the switch?

AR: He did, but by the time, he got them he had been testing with us for a good while. When he got the set he has now, he was already quite familiar with them, so the transition was easy. This iron was designed with a lot of his input (as well as DJ) and both players had very nuanced but similar preferences, so it’s safe to say he was comfortable with them when they came outta the box.

It’s not a huge switch from his 730’s. He liked that he picked up marginal improvements across the board and was particularly pleased of the simplicity of the set—especially in the longer irons with less offset.

JW: What improvements are you seeing so far vs old models?

AR: For MB, using Charley Hull as an example, the 730 for her seemed to turn over a bit and was a bit less forgiving. With the 7MB, she neutralized her ball flight all while keeping her spec identical to her old set.

In the MC the long irons seem to launch a touch higher with a fraction more speed. Every player who has tested has made the switch, and that’s with no pressure to do so. We are patient when players irons hit in regards to player switches. I believe in the next 6-9 months you will see a ton of MC’s in bags, whether its staff or non-staff.

JW: Do you think you will see more combo sets than before?

AR: To be honest most setups these days are combo sets in some way shape or form. What I think we will see are players having the P7MB play further down into the set. For example, the player that was 4, 5, 6 750 and 7-P in 730 will now start to have the MB in the 5 and 6. That little addition of forgiveness will give players enough confidence and performance to make them comfortable.

JW: Using Rahm as an example, what is his process when he is getting into a new product?

AR: He spends a lot of time at The Kingdom and does any major switching there. He’s not a player who tends to tinker at a tournament site. As with most of our staff, his process is about making sure any switch in the bag is a step forward in performance. Since he lives in Arizona, getting to Keith and me in Carlsbad isn’t a long trip and that gives us ample quiet time to focus, test, and experiment.

*according to TaylorMade, eight sets P Series irons have been built for players on the European Tour with seven going into play immediately.

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Best tips for shopping for used golf clubs

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We’re in the middle of the golf season, and there is still lots of time left to lower your handicap, post a personal best score, and have some more fun along the way—but it might require some news clubs to get there. The best part is today, new doesn’t have to mean brand new—it can just be “new” to you.

Before spending any money shopping for used golf clubs, it’s important to pay close attention to a number of small details to save you time—and prevent you from having to spend more money down the road to correct for purchasing mistakes.

Here is our how-to guide to shop for used clubs

Shop the big sellers: Unless you are buying locally and have the opportunity to inspect clubs and know their source, the safest and easiest way to shop is from the big online sellers that inspect and verify the clubs they sell are legit.

Although thanks to a very concerted effort by OEMs to mostly eliminate counterfeit gear, it can still find its way into the marketplace and big sellers help stop the spread and prevent you from wasting your money. Also, most of the big sellers use photos of the actual clubs you are buying – not representative photos so you know exactly what you are getting.
**(We also have a great Buy/Sell/Trade board here on GolfWRX too)**

The telltale signs of counterfeit clubs are

  • Badge and brand colors slightly off
  • Poorly installed shaft bands (the stickers on steel shafts)
  • Awful smelling grips – they can feel thin and smell like very cheap rubber or solvents
  • Club weight seems very off – for irons and wedges they might feel extremely light and for drivers and woods they can feel a lot heavier because of the extremely poor quality graphite shafts being used.

Confirm specs: You don’t need to have a shop worth of tools to quickly and easily take some simple measurements to make sure you and getting clubs that match the right spec you are looking for, although a very specific tool is needed to check lies and lofts.

Specs you can check without tools – irons and wedges

  • Lengths: If lengths arent stated and you are buying in person, just simply bring a few of your own clubs to compare.
  • Grips: A quick check that all of the grips match for size and style can save you money, and make sure they feel good when you go to use them. Don’t forget though, grips are an easy and affordable way to make used clubs feel new again.
  • Matching shafts: A quick visual inspection to make sure the shafts match up will make sure you are getting what you pay for. Along that same line, checking to also make sure the ferrules match will show whether any club in the set was potentially repaired at some point.

Shopping for used clubs can feel like a treasure hunt and is a lot of fun—it’s also a great way to save money on equipment. Just be sure to not get caught up in what might seem like a deal too good to be true and take your time when evaluating what you are buying.

Happy (used golf club) shopping!

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Korea’s AutoFlex Shaft: Challenging the conventional wisdom of golf

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We are creatures of habit, or so I’ve been told. And God knows old habits are hard to break. Just ask my right leg that simply refuses to stop reverse-pivoting, despite my best intentions.

Equally hard to break are pre-conceived notions and superstitions. There are hundreds of them to be sure, but I want to focus on one particular idea in golf that seems to be largely unchallenged for its conventional wisdom: The more flexible the shaft, the less accurate it is.

You may have heard a similar version of the same idea. Stiffer shafts offer straighter shots, faster swingers need stronger shafts, and whippier shafts result in more slice. But a recent find has caused me to challenge this well-established notion—that an ultralight, super flexible shaft (44 grams) is claiming to be not only straighter but longer as well.

My first reaction: “NO WAY”. The shaft would practically be a fishing rod. There’s no way that it would stand up to my normal swing speed of 98~100 mph.

But the kicker was that the makers of this ‘breakthrough’ shaft doubled down on me by claiming that their fishing rod-esque shaft can hold under swing speeds of up to 150mph! That’s up in the territory of world long drive champions-and they are practically inhuman! Now I was scoffing out loud—time to put the money where their mouth was.

(Jung-hwan MOON, member of Korean National long drive team, testing out the new AutoFlex FS505 shaft)

The new shaft is named AUTO FLEX. Sounds a little cheesy, until you realize that Dumina Inc., the South Korean shaft manufacturer, also makes AUTO POWER shafts that have caused a local sensation on the KLPGA and elite amateur circles over the past few years.

Autopower shafts have proven itself to be effective, largely due to a wide range of 50+ shafts offering a much smaller gapping of about 5-10 CPMs between shafts. It allowed golfers to dial into their particular swing speed more effectively. Its use of their proprietary weaving pattern and as-yet-undisclosed material KHT (Korea Hidden Technology!?) also did what it said it would. Smooth feel, mid-high launch, and great accuracy/forgiveness.

FLEXING SOME MUSCLE

Enter AUTO FLEX, the new generation of shafts that Dumina claims will make the game of golf easier and more enjoyable for all golfers. By allowing golfers to swing more easily and smoothly with a much lighter shaft, golfers will not only feel fewer aches and pains but that their scores will improve as well.

Oh, and did I mention that there are only 3 shafts that are supposed to fit all levels of swing speeds from 65 to 150mph?

“NO WAY”, you say? I told you so.

Autoflex SF305 shaft / 38 grams / approx. 170cpm / Ladies / SS 60~80mph
Autoflex SF405 shaft / 44 grams / approx. 180cpm / Men / SS 80~95mph
Autoflex SF505 shaft / 51 grams / approx. 210cpm / Pro / SS 95~120+mph

According to the specs provided, I was fit for the SF405 shaft. The SF stands for ‘Spec Free’ meaning that these shafts do not follow the conventional labeling system of R, S, X, and weight. The first few waggles and I was at a loss for words.

Dumina claimed that after three rounds with the Autoflex, I would be well adjusted and that results would be prominent. I began by hitting a few shots with the 43-gram shaft and immediately noticed that the shaft had something much more than meets the eye.

Once I got over the initial doubt that a whippy shaft would not be able to square up to the ball at impact and started to swing normally, the shots flew straight with a bump up in launch angle. The higher launch (from 9º up to 13º) gave me more carry distance over my previous gamer, but I thought it might be increasing my backspin. But a quick check with a launch monitor showed an average of 2,000-2,100 RPM, which was about the same as before.

But the most noticeable numbers were from the total distance, which was about 5~7 yards farther than my usual average. This was surprising because I felt I was swinging a little slower and smoother than before (it may be from the fear that the whippy shaft may cause a duck hook), but the average ball speed increased from 62~63mph to about 65.

I venture that because the shaft is more flexible, it causes the head speed to increase, kind of like cracking a whip of sorts. This somewhat fits into my current belief that a more flexible shaft hits the ball longer (at the expense of accuracy).

Pretty darn good numbers for me, but ZERO side spin means a straight as an arrow shot and 1.50 smash factor.

 

The numbers on the launch monitor were impressive for my standards and usual play. But it needed to be tested out on the course.

At the time of this article, I have played some 10 rounds with the new AutoFlex shaft on my Cobra F9 driver (10.5°, 45.25 inches at D2) and I couldn’t be happier with my results. My driving accuracy has significantly improved over the conventional shaft (HZRDUS Smoke 6S).

I’ve played in both fair and very windy conditions, and the results were the same. I was finding a lot more fairway than ever before. That pesky little draw at the end that rolls the ball into the left rough has all but disappeared.

To be frank, I didn’t see much change in the overall distance as well-struck shots from both my old gamer and new shaft tended to go about the same distance. However, it was the frequency of how often I was able to hit the sweet spot with the new shaft that made me feel much more confident in swinging the driver on the tightest of fairways.

I am still searching for the right words to explain it, but the driver feels whippy on the backswing and yet it feels like the entire length of the shaft firms up on the downswing and at impact. At times, I was certain that the shot completely missed the center of the face and a quick check confirmed that I struck the ball on the heel or toe, well outside the center. But the resulting ball flight is either a slight push or pull with a small distance loss of about 10 yards. Yet, no bananas or duck hooks that I’ve come to associate with such mishits and feedback to the hands. What sorcery is this?

But the most beneficial factor for me was that I was swinging the club much easier and with less energy exertion than I would have done with a heavier, stiffer shaft. I had a lower back disc surgery five years ago that prevents me from making a full turn and a limited finish. Playing with longer-hitting friends invariably leads me to try to swing harder at a faster tempo, usually leading to ballooning scores.

With AutoFlex, once I dialed into the new reality with an adjusted belief about whippier shafts, I was able to maintain both accuracy and distance for the whole round and not feel as tired. And I was better able to maintain my balance with a smoother swing and not have to worry about losing distance. Perhaps this is what let me hit the face center more often. Just like the namesake, it was as if the shaft was automatically trying to help fix my swing flaws to provide maximum forgiveness.

Whatever it is, I was sold.

I now have the same spec AutoFlex shaft in my 3-wood as well. If I had trouble getting my fairway woods up in the air previously, no one would suspect that of me now.

I would love to replace all of my shafts, irons and all if I could afford it, but unfortunately, the shafts are quite expensive. The company tells me that the “hidden technology” material and the manufacturing process is quite costly (nearly seven times over regular shaft manufacturing cost), and they are available in limited quantities at 950,000 KRW (about $775) each.

For me, the proof was in my new-found fearlessness with the driver and wood. I get a kick out of waggling my driver on the first tee to the shock of my playing partners and then bust a drive down the middle. Some still can’t come to grips with the shaft despite trying for themselves. And the makers of the shaft are keeping their lips sealed on what makes the shaft behave differently than the commonly held perceptions. In fact, Dumina has not applied for a patent at all, stating that once their secret is out, it will change the way we play golf and limit their business from copycats. So whatever KHT is about, it will remain undisclosed for the time being.

What do you think? Do you have any ideas on how the AutoFlex shaft works or what are its component materials? I would be interested in hearing from other gear heads out there!

 

 

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