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GolfWRX Interview Fujikura Golf

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GolfWRX is proud to present an interview with Fujikura Golf’s Chad Embry, National Accounts Manager and Alex Dee, Engineering Manager.

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GolfWRX: Okay we’re here today with Chad Embry and Alex Dee from Fujikura Golf. Guys, how are you doing today?

Both: Excellent, thanks.

GolfWRX: Great. Can you give us a little background about your history in golf and with Fujikura?

Chad Embry: I started in the golf business fifteen years ago. I started as a first assistant at a country club out here in Southern California. I worked there for several years but have always been a salesman at heart. So I got involved with some of the other shaft companies and one of the other OEM’s and a couple of the head companies. I kind of bounced around until I found a home here at Fujikura and that was about eight years ago. I started basically the aftermarket program, we had about twenty accounts and basically did a lot of OEM work at that time. Now we’ve expanded this to over 800 Charter Dealers. I am the National Sales Rep for Fujikura aftermarket and handle all those dealers along with some of the OEM’s. That’s how I personally got started and where I stand today.

GolfWRX: Excellent, Alex, how about yourself?

Alex Dee: I have a mechanical engineering background from the University of California here in San Diego. I took a course in composites back then as an undergraduate. It was a graduate level course and it got me into the nuances of what composite material can do in terms of customizing a structure. When I finished my undergrad, I got into a shaft design and manufacturing company in San Diego and got my feet we there for a year and a half before I decided to go to grad school. I went to grad school at the University of Delaware which had one of the oldest schools for composite materials and I got my masters degree there. After finishing that up, I got brought back to San Diego to work with Fujikura and that was ten years ago today and it’s been a fun ride.

GolfWRX: Congratulations I didn’t know we caught you on your ten year anniversary.

Alex Dee: Time goes by fast, I’ll tell you.

Chad Embry: We got him a Timex. Now as far as Fujikura, I’d like to give you a little background about Fujikura. Fujikura is obviously a Japanese based company started well over a hundred years ago as a rubber company. Fujikura got into the automotive side of rubber, making car parts. They have done, and correct me if I’m wrong, fiber optics, life rafts, print blankets, there are I believe currently eleven different companies dealing with different products throughout the globe dealing with Fujikura. So Fujikura has been around for a long time. We personally started making shafts in 1973 in Japan only. We came across into the U.S. in 1994 and started making shafts in Vista, California which is where we make them today. We primarily came out as kind of a support vehicle for the OEM’s. We helped co-develop the Bubble shaft for TaylorMade and we did a lot of work with Callaway when we first came out to the U.S. Again, we started basically as a support team for those OEM’s and procuring more OEM business. It morphed itself, we actually started the aftermarket side of Fujikura in 2000 and again started a new concept with a shaft that was a little bit higher end at the time. Most shaft companies were selling installs for $40 a piece. We took these materials that cost three times as much to make as standard graphite, only three places in the world could make it with our Triax, and we introduced more high-end, high-performance graphite on the market and you see where that has taken us today.

GolfWRX: Now I wanted to know if you guys could give us a little info about how you design graphite shafts?

Alex Dee: It really starts with two engineering teams, one in Japan and one in the U.S. Japan we are fortunate enough to work with because they have a lot of unique access to advanced technology and different technologies. For the U.S. we have access to the U.S. market and the professional golfers here. The two meld really well together to make the best products for the PGA Tour and the everyday user. We really understand how the shaft behaves, how it works in the golf club, and how it works for a variety of players. So when we design, it really starts with two R&D teams working together and it goes down to looking at some unique materials and how those materials can benefit how we make a golf shaft and how it can best perform. Then from there we’ll characterize some of those unique materials. For example we use a Triax material we use in our Speeder, that Triax material is also in our Rombax which includes a different type of material, we call it a Box Weave – it’s a very tightly woven material and a very low tow fiber, a very expensive and high grade material. What we do is we try to look at those materials and see how they will perform best in a golf shaft, how they will deliver the best performance and the best feel. I could go on because there’s so much about the design of a golf shaft. To answer a question as you posed, it’s very open. There are so many different levels to how we design – I could talk about the materials, I could talk about the engineering groups. It goes beyond that in terms of how we model the golf shafts. We use computers to simulate that. We characterize the materials. We can design the shaft in a simulation on the computer and know its stiffness profile, know its twisting profile and that doesn’t mean an overall twist for example a shaft we say is 3.5 degrees – we may market it that way so it’s easier for the consumer to see that number – but from our point of view we see a distribution of twisting from the tip to the butt end. We’ll design a part for a twisting distribution and we’ll design a part for a stiffness distribution. Commonly right now you’ll hear a lot about EI. We’re looking at that EI Profile. We’re looking at the mass distribution of that part and where that balance point is. All those things will tie into how that part will behave for a specific type of swing.

GolfWRX: I know material technology is one of the things people think about when they think about Fujikura. We want you guys to go more into detail about that in just a little bit. But before that, can you tell us a little bit about how graphite shafts are constructed?

Alex Dee: I sure can. Graphite Shafts are constructed by hand. At least in what we consider in high-performance and high quality they are hand constructed. There are cheaper shafts that can be filament wound. Those are basically done with a tool and more automated equipment that will put the fiber down in the orientations they want. There are some limitations to that in terms of the quality of how the filaments are laid down and how the resin impregnates it. So those are have been delegated more to low cost products. They’ve seen market popularity in OEM and very low cost products. In what we do, everything is by hand so we’ll take pre-preg which is our composite material. It is generally provided by aerospace companies who supply it to major manufacturers of aircraft in the U.S. and abroad. We take these materials and we cut them, and we cut them usually using CNC type of equipment so it is computer controlled so we get the right geometry for those pieces. Those are hand rolled onto a steel tool. That steel tool is also designed specifically for that part so we get the right performance out of it. So we’re basically rolling on, by hand, layers of carbon fiber and resin to build up the golf shaft and putting it through a cure process that hardens the epoxy, then extracting the tool out of it so it is basically a hardened shell. From then on it might go through some grinding and cosmetic decorations as well. There is a lot of quality control involved as well to make sure we’re hitting the right specifications.

GolfWRX: I know anytime somebody thinks of the name Fujikura the name Triax comes to mind as well. Can you tell us what Triax material is and how it benefits graphite shaft performance?

Alex Dee: I sure can, Triax is something exclusive to Fujikura. We have really enjoyed a relationship with a partner in Japan that makes that material for us. What Triax is, is a woven material. Woven materials are much like your shirt or a blanket where you see criss-crosses that tie the material together. What Triax is, what makes it unique and by the word tri, it is a three-axis system so the fibers are woven in three directions rather than just two. There are some unique playing properties to that. First of all in that one layer of material, we could load the shaft in different directions and that loading would be absorbed by different fibers in different orientations. You’ve got to see that in that space – that as you pull on it in different directions there is always a fiber that is always able to take some of that loading. There is also a certain feel you get when you have that kind of material wrapped around a shaft. I liken it to a cage wrapped around the part and it really gives it a solid feel and one thing it does is keep the shaft from ovalizing during the bending. So we get a lot of energy transfer, people say that shaft feels fast because it reacts quickly and hence the name speeder.

Chad Embry: What the Triax does as well is prevent toe droop which steadies the head through the impact area which obviously center contact is the key in maximizing distance and control. So the Triax helps prevent that toe droop, keeps the head steady through impact and results in longer, straighter shots.

Alex Dee: That’s a good point. We talked about the material taking loads in different directions. When you have that off-center impact, the head has a tendency to cause off-center dispersion on the ball. So that shaft keeps it stable and we’ve seen the dispersion on off-center hits using Triax material is very minimal.

GolfWRX: Excellent, I know Triax is just the tip of the ice berg for you guys and you have used other materials such as titanium and Kevlar to improve graphite shaft performance. What do those materials do for you in improving graphite shaft performance?

Alex Dee: Off the top of my head I can’t imagine that we’ve used titanium yet. I do think though that titanium has some benefits and we may be experimenting with that but I can’t really tell you at this point if we are. But there is opportunity for titanium metal. It has a high stiffness and a relatively low weight. But there are penalties for that, the weight is still about two and a half times heavier than carbon fiber. So there are some penalties for using it but there are other attractive means for titanium we may try in the future. As far as Kevlar we have used that and we’ve taken Kevlar and woven it in a Triax form and what Kevlar does for us is it’s a different feel – it’s a softer feel. We use it more for its feel characteristics. It is a ballistics material, it can take high impacts but what I think we’re using it more for is a different feel.

GolfWRX: Now what sort of effect does Tour use and Tour player feed back have for you guys at Fujikura?

Chad Embry: I’ll take that one. We use the Tour almost as a testing ground in conjunction with our Fit-On! Academy here, and obviously better players throughout the country. So there is no doubt we use Tour players as a testing ground for all of our products we introduce. In fact, I would say up to 90% of our products are first launched on Tour with our Tour Reps, Pat McCoy, John Hovis, and our new Tour Rep Mike Sposa a former PGA Tour player. We get a lot of good feedback and sometimes conversely negative feedback from PGA Tour players. We’ll take that back in our house and readjust our designs, or readjust material placement and come up with products that are first Tour proven. We’ll take those designs and either soften them up a little bit, introduce them to the aftermarket or change those a little bit to what suits the aftermarket. So we work very closely with the PGA Tour and they do help us design some of our best shafts.

Alex Dee: There are times where we will take product from Tour straight to the public as well. The X and sometimes some of the XX products could be available to the consumer.

GolfWRX: Now is there one shaft on Tour that dominates Tour use for you guys?

Chad Embry: The beautiful thing about our company is we have a multitude of products that are Tour proven. We’re not a one hit wonder shaft company with a product that gets hot for a couple of years and then phases out. We have in any given week, up to twenty-five different products in play on the PGA Tour. Now some of those are used more extensively than others, but even in the case of the Rombax which is the hottest shaft on the PGA Tour with the inclusion of the TaylorMade Rombax shaft and our aftermarket Rombax shafts. We have several different products out there that are doing well for us. So even with the Rombax shaft being popular, there still is no one product, no one gram weight, no one Z, or X, or W that does well. It’s a wide range of weight categories and a wide range of branded products that are doing well for us. So to answer your question simply, it is a lot of products that do very well out there and not one in particular that steals the show out there.

GolfWRX: Definitely, as you mentioned, one product that has been gaining a lot of momentum out there has been the RE*AX shaft. Can you tell us why that has been so popular on the Tour?

Chad Embry: Well, the RE*AX TP product – and there is a difference there is a RE*AX that comes standard with the TaylorMade equipment and the RE*AX TP which is upgraded in the TP heads. It’s done well for us in the fact – two fold, one it is a fantastic product. It is full length Rombax material. When we started to develop the Rombax material we partnered up with TaylorMade to come up with a product for them in particular, for their aftermarket products, as well as for Tour. So it is a full length Rombax Shaft and it comes in a multitude of weight categories from 55-105 grams. When TaylorMade first introduced this product with their equipment asked in no uncertain polite terms that their players who are sponsored by them play that product. That was a one year cycle, and that was a couple of years ago that it happened. The benefit of that was it worked so well that players continued playing it after there was no mandate to playing that product. So even to this day we have several of those Rombax RE*AX TP shafts out on Tour and it is a fantastic product. So the popularity of it is quite simple, it produces and does quite well for these Tour players and with the Rombax technology and its benefits, it’s a sought out product for the PGA Tour.

Alex Dee: And it’s a validation of Rombax technology for TaylorMade products used extensively on Tour.

GolfWRX: Now I know for the folks on GolfWRX, a few of the shafts like the 660TR and VTLT which were previously Tour only have a big time cult following. So a lot of the members were wondering why these shafts have never been released to the public?

Chad Embry: That’s a fair question. In part, these products are either, mirrored by a product that we did release in terms of its playability and its profiles and / or the percentage of the golfing public that can actually play a shaft such as the VTLT is very small. The VTLT is an extremely tip stiff product, low torque, has a very low ball flight, and a very low spin rate. We had products in our lineup that were a touch more playable for a wider range of golfers in the Vista Tour 60 and 70 which basically could cover the player profile we wanted to cover. To have too many product SKU’s is confusing. Obviously we are limited by space here in our warehouse. So to come out with some of these products doubled up on other products and in other instances there just wasn’t a broad enough player base to warrant bringing these products to market. Also, a lot of times also you’ll have products that get popular only because of the fact that they are very rare and very hard to get. That doesn’t mean that they’re products we currently offer, but it adds a little more allure and attractiveness for a discerning player to have that in his club.

GolfWRX: That’s a very valid explanation. Now can you tell us a little bit about your relationship with OEM’s? Are they typically sending you a head and asking you design something around it, or do they have a list of specifications they want you to meet?

Alex Dee: I would say that depends on the OEM. We have customers that send us specifications they would like us to hit and customers who do provide us with a head and say, “Please make us something that would play best for this.” A lot of times regardless of whether it is a spec driven initiation of a product or just a blank sheet, it still goes down to player testing and some field testing, some additional modification to make sure we’re hitting the audience they want us to hit.

GolfWRX: Now getting into the product line a little bit, can you tell us about the E series and how the lineup progresses from the E100 all the way to the E300?

Chad Embry: The E is the product line in a price point category that covers pretty much every single golfer on the market. It starts with our E100 series which is more of a higher ball flight, higher spin rate shaft. Obviously I don’t want to pin point any particular golfers that fit into these because there are no rules to fitting players. But if it had to be mentioned, the E100 series is more for your mid-handicap, ladies, seniors, slower swing tempo that’s looking to get some air under their shots and a little more spin rate for maximum carry. The E200 which is our brand new product offering which is a club maker exclusive product line is the replacement for the Tour Platform. It is more of a mid ball flight, mid spin shaft that comes in a multitude of weights and fits a wide range of players. At least that was our history with the Tour Platform. We had the Tour Platform on the PGA Tour and we had it in 36 handicappers hands getting good benefits out of it. We added a 50 gram range, changed the design a little bit using new materials and technology, and now we’ve added that to the lineup in 50, 60, and 70. The E300 is the lower ball flight, lower spin rate, better golfer, harder swinger, quicker tempo player. We have that in a 50, 60, 70, and 80 gram weight category. So now our line is clean, you have a shaft you can easily explain to a consumer why it fits his needs and how he will benefit from that shaft. We’ve also come out with hybrid shafts and iron shafts in each of those categories. So we’ll have an E-160 iron and hybrid, an E-270 iron and hybrid, and an E-380 iron and hybrid which mimic the playing characteristics of their wood shafts. So the will 100 be a little bit higher a little easier to swing, 200 being more of that mid ball flight, mid spin rate, and that 300 being a little bit lower spin rate and a little bit lower ball flight.

GolfWRX: Could you tell us a little bit about Rombax technology, the Box weave, and how it exactly works?

Chad Embry: Alex Dee obviously touched on this a little earlier but Triax technology came out and was introduced with the Speeder series of shafts. Again, like Alex mentioned, it deflects force in more directions than standard unidirectional graphite shafts. It has got the tri- three different directional graphite. And so again it can deflect the force, steady the head through impact, creating longer and straighter shots by getting more center contact. Some of our dealers throughout the country like to refer to our Rombax as a Speeder on steroids. We’ve taken it and given greater added stability with the Braided Box weave on the outside of the Triax weave. So even though my engineering partner here would probably disagree, it almost gives you a fourth and fifth directionality to it –

Alex Dee: It does, you take two and add three and you get five.

Chad Embry: There you go. So now we’ve not only taken the stability that made the Speeder series and particularly the Speeder 757 a home run, we’ve added a stabilizing material on the outside to even give it more directionality, basically more deflection of load through the entire swing and made that the Rombax series. So now the Rombax series really is a suped up Speeder and we’ve come out with three different lines of the Rombax series. So we’re starting to get more player coverage in the Rombax. We have a lot of players on the PGA Tour kicking around with that currently and a lot of them actually playing that product as we speak.

Alex Dee: I’d like to add a few things to that although Chad pretty much summed it all up, when you talk about composite materials, they are generally good in only direction and that’s in the direction of the fibers. That’s where your fibers are the strongest, that’s where you’re going to want your load to be. And in the opposite direction, you’re basically putting on plastic and it’s not reinforced in that direction and that’s where you’re going to get some of your weakness. The benefit of using unidirectional composites is that you can decrease the weight. You can put the fibers in the direction of the loading and reduce the overall weight of the structure. You can actually design that structure as you want by putting the fibers in different directions. What happens is during the golf swing, there are a lot more complicated forces going on than just bending and twisting. There are loads in various directions. We introduced the Triax together with that Box weave. We are able to reinforce the shaft in multiple directions without the penalty of weight as you would in steel. So we’re trying to get to that consistency of steel, the feeling that steel has. We’re getting to that without the penalty of weight.

GolfWRX: Now can you tell us how the X, W, and Z lines all vary in bend profile?

Chad Embry: Yeah, absolutely. In simplistic terms, the X series is a softer but section shaft, but still a pretty stable tip section. It’s meant to increase your launch but not your spin rate. So it’s all about a mid-high launch with low spin. The W series is a little bit firmer in the butt section, it’s got a little bit more whip in the mid section. Basically what it does is get you a mid ball flight with mid spin rate. Finally, the new entry we have in 2008 is the Z series which is a firmer profile from tip to but designed for a low, boring trajectory with little spin. More Tour driven than anything but again along the lines of our E series, we’re trying to simplify things with a mid-high, mid, and mid-low shaft with our Rombax line. I’m sure as it progresses here in the Rombax line in the U.S., we’ll come out with more and more options to address specific player needs. But as of now we have every player addressed with that Rombax line.

GolfWRX: Has the ZCOM series been rolled into that, or are they still going to be available?

Chad Embry: The ZCOM series has gone away. The ZCOM series with the exception of the ZCOM SIX, formerly known as the Fit-On-11 SIX, has been taken out of our lineup for 2008. It is a product that did well for us. It’s uniqueness was it had a 4.5” parallel tip section and could be adapted for any hosel size with similar playability. So if you had a Titelist and you wanted to put it all the way through with no tip cut and you had that same shaft into a TaylorMade in years past you would have difficulty duplicating the playability of that driver. With the ZCOM, you could tip that 2” and put it in and have the same playability and feel as you did. We didn’t get an amazing support for that product I terms of what we designed it for in terms of its playability and compatibility in different heads. So each year you come out with different product lines and the Rombax has been an absolute home run for us so we thought instead of expanding or even keeping the ZCOM in, we’ll expand the Rombax line to cover similar profile players the ZCOM actually had and go with that as our ticket moving forward as opposed to dragging on with the ZCOM line. The ZCOM again, was a successful product for us and is still played out on Tour by several different players. But again, it just didn’t fall into the niche and direction we wanted to move with the multidirectional fiber that we think is absolutely phenomenal.

GolfWRX: I’d like to ask a question about the Fujikura SIX. What has made the SIX such a popular shaft for so many years?

Chad Embry: That’s a really good question, sometimes we scratch our heads. The SIX, being light weight but very tip stable is a great distance shaft for better, harder swingers. As you alluded to in that question, it has been an extremely popular shaft on the PGA Tour, LPGA Tour, Nationwide, and Champions. Essentially the Tour players want to get a little higher ball flight but don’t want the increased spin which is typically found in lightweight shafts. The SIX puts, for a lightweight shaft, very little spin on the ball, but gets a nice mid-high ball flight. So obviously you’re looking at maximum carry distance and still getting plenty of roll out. As far as the design characteristics that make that such, again I think it’s just a little more stable tip section and doesn’t allow for a ballooning spin rate to occur with harder, quicker tempos.

GolfWRX: Now getting into the Speeder series, what has made them such a popular shaft for such a long period of time.

Chad Embry: I think we’ve touched on it a few times – that’s obviously the Triax technology. It really was what put Fujikura on the map. It was the first of the multi-directional fibers out there and still to this day the very best and the only proprietary material in the golf industry as far as I know. With that stabilization it’s all about accuracy and getting that accuracy is getting center contact. As a byproduct of center contact you end up with more distance because hitting the sweet spot of the club not only do you have more accuracy but it also translates into more yardage. So the Speeder is obviously Tour proven success and because of that those guys really want to find fairways more than anything. Most of those guys, with the exception of a few of them, hit it plenty far but they just want to be more down the middle so their second shots and their approach shots can be that much closer to the pin.

Alex Dee: Speeder is noted for having that kind of material story that early on. Today you see a lot of people throwing materials out there that might look cool. They might put them on the outside where people can see them. That’s not necessarily that Tour proven or playable as a Speeder. Speeder when it came out, we didn’t really try to promote that three axis material at the time, that material was hidden under the paint. You couldn’t see it. You might see it under the grip area if you took off your grip. It was something we were after in terms of performance rather than the story. The story came from the playability rather than just having to see it.

GolfWRX: I know that’s one product that has stood the test of time better than most others. How do the 586 and 686 Speeders differ from the rest of the line?

Chad Embry: In today’s driver market, companies are getting held back by the USGA with limitations on COR, on head size, you name it. It’s hard to get an advantage over a competitor. So more and more companies are coming to us at Fujikura and asking us for front line shafts, top notch products, first release products and we try to draw a line between how much of the new technology and how much we give them and how much we hold back for the aftermarket and the consumer market. But with Callaway in particular they came to us and they have been great partners with us as well as TaylorMade and some of the other companies. They wanted a front line Speeder product that had not been released to the public. In terms of playability difference, it is hard to point to one or two things. They are actually similar to current offerings we have. The 686 and 652, although there are some slight playability differences and they are different designs, are pretty close in comparison to ball flight, spin rate, weights torques, the whole bit. Whereas the 586 is a little more tip firm than our 569. So described for particular player types the 586 is best for smoother, slower tempos, get a little height under the ball, get a little spin on it. Where the 686 is a little bit more of a players product, a little bit more of a mid ball flight, little bit lower spin rate, little bit heavier, little bit lower torque. But they both perform at an amazing high performance for the Callaway in particular and in aftermarket products.

GolfWRX: Now will we be seeing any new updates to the Speeder line in the future?

Alex Dee: I think you will.

Chad Embry: Obviously we need to walk carefully around this one, but absolutely. The Speeder material is too good and we touched on what made the Speeder so great, and you mentioned standing the test of time and it obviously have. In certain tournaments there are more 757’s in played in drivers than almost every shaft and sometimes gets the biggest count out there. Obviously we’ve never played any player on any Tour out there to play our products. The fact that we have won every single PGA Tournament on shaft counts this year speaks volume of what our engineers have done, what our Tour Reps have done, and you will definitely see a product coming out utilizing the Speeder. It might not be under the name Speeder, but we are definitely going to utilize that material because it is such a proven winner and continues to be to this day.

GolfWRX: The other big announcement you made a little while ago was your Fitting Center. Can you tell us a little about that and how it’s coming along?

Chad Embry: Yeah, in fact we’re really excited about our Fit-On Academy. We have a testing and R&D facility here at Fujikura now on site utilizing the latest in launch monitor technology and the interchangeable shaft technology. So we currently have the ability now to bring in consumers as well as our charter dealers, our club makers across the country into our facility and have them test the latest products. We set this up in conjunction with some of our Tour players to come in. We get data from them, we figure out new shaft models, we try out new materials. We do a lot back there from PGA Tour to OEM usage to consumer usage to fit and get people into the right playing products for them. That includes head, that includes shaft, grip, length the whole bit we can do it all in our Fit-On Academy. In fact, we have the ability now and are going to start marketing our ability to take consumers. So if a GolfWRX member wants to come in and get fit by our Tour Reps they are more than welcome to pay a fee – it is an ala carte menu type process where if they want to come in for a driver fitting they can pay and don’t quote me on this $150. If they want to come in for the driver and irons they can pay another fee, if they want to come in for the complete shebang it’s an entire day fitting which includes on course trial of the product which fits their entire bag and gets them some schwag if you were from Fujikura – bag, headcover, hats, shirts. It’s pretty exciting in terms of all those levels from consumer all the way up to our own testing internally to be able to have this on site and at our disposal at any time.

GolfWRX: Definitely, I’m sure quite a few GolfWRX members will be lining up ready to take advantage of that.

Chad Embry: You know we would love to have any of the guys that want to come down. In fact, GolfWRX has been very good to Fujikura in the past and we’d like to offer an invite to any of the GolfWRX guys that want to come down. Maybe we can even work out a discounted deal if a GolfWRX member wanted to come down to get fit through Pat McCoy our Tour Rep.

GolfWRX: Now with a world of shaft choices out there, it’s kind of tough for amateurs to find the right shaft for their game. How would you suggest people go about finding the perfect Fujikura shaft for them?

Chad Embry: At Fujikura we have over 800 Charter Dealers across the country which range from green grass to big box to custom club makers in their own area. On our website we have a dealer locator list and it’s pretty convenient. You go in, you type in your zip code, and it will list three or four guys in your area who will actually fit you for Fujikura products. You can go to that anytime. Obviously getting fit is essential in today’s marketplace with all the choices and the myriad of equipment out there to that get set up for you in your particular game. So absolutely go to one of our Charter Dealers and inquire about Fujikura.

GolfWRX: Along those same lines, there are so many great shaft companies out there, what sets Fujikura apart from the rest of the pack?

Alex Dee: I can’t say I focus too much on our competitors. I would say we are really after a quality material, quality performance. We are more than just a company that’s looking for what is the trend of the day. You don’t see us doing anything with nano right now. There doesn’t seem to be compelling argument to use nano in terms of our R&D and what we’ve seen here. So I don’t think we’re as gimmicky as others perhaps. We’re not into adding all the fancy colors to make the part play better. We’re really after the core graphite golfer who really wants the good performance and recognizes Fujikura as a good product and recognizes our reputation of high performance.

Chad Embry: There’s a lot of good shaft companies out there. There’s no doubt about it. I’d like to think that when Fujikura started many years ago, we’ve done a lot of right things for this business and increase playability of the golf shaft. I think a lot of companies saw that and saw the success we had early on and tried to mimic what we do. A few of the things which separate us is first and foremost our material – with that Triax and Rombax being proprietary you might see a lot of companies, even suggest they have a Speeder technology or a material that is similar to or like Triax and Rombax. But the beautiful thing about it is we have the rights to that product and the sole rights to that product. Again, looking at the Tour success of that product, there’s no debating or doubting that it works, it’s proven, and there’s something in that lineup for every golfer out there. Again, that’s to the success of our team here at Fujikura from the top on down. We make shafts for every golfer out there in a price range that can fit their budget. So as far as separation, there are a lot of good products out there. We’d like to think that because of the teamwork we have here and the materials we have at our disposal that we make a better golf shaft than other companies for particular players.

Alex Dee: We’re always looking to innovate. Our job is never done.

GolfWRX: Guys, we really appreciate your time. It means a lot you were willing to take the time to answer all of our questions and give us so much great information about your new products and all the great stuff you guys have been doing.

Alex Dee: We appreciate your time and we appreciate your membership being so supportive of our products. I am a member out there at GolfWRX and if there’s ever a question – I do answer questions from quite a few guys that have been e-mailing me but they’re more welcome to PM me here are Fujikura or e-mail me and we’ll give them all the information they need.

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3 Comments

  1. tak kawashima

    Dec 29, 2011 at 4:21 pm

    can you explain what the term 5×07 means?
    there are other numbers and letters too.

  2. Rod Welsh

    Dec 3, 2008 at 10:57 pm

    Excellent explanation of the Fujikura product line. It reinforces the positive experience I have had with Speeder and Rombax shafts.

  3. Pingback: You Can Golf » Blog Archive » Fujikura Golf Inteview

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Morning 9: Solheim Cup finish for the ages | Credit where it’s due | Will Tiger pick Tiger? continued

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By Ben Alberstadt (ben.alberstadt@golfwrx.com; @benalberstadt on Instagram)

September 16, 2019

Good Monday morning, golf fans.
1. For the ages!
Ron Sirak for LPGA.com says this year’s Solheim Cup was one of the best ever (and he’s not wrong!)…”Rarely in sports does reality match expectation. More often than not, the happening falls short of the hype. But the 14½-13½ Solheim Cup victory by Europe over the United States on Sunday at Gleneagles was better than advertised – almost better than imaginable.”
  • “You’d have to search far and wide to find a more dramatic finish anywhere in the history of sports. With the last shot of the day, Suzann Pettersen – a controversial captain’s pick – rolled in a 7-foot birdie putt on No. 18 to secure the victory. A miss and the U.S. would have won for the third consecutive time.”
  • “Like the Ryder Cup, this has just grown so hugely,” said Catriona Matthew, the Scottish woman who captained Europe to victory in her homeland. “It came down to the last putt on the last hole. You can’t get more exciting than that.”
  • “The victory by Europe denied Juli Inkster a chance to become the only captain with three victories and it stopped the Americans from winning three in a row for the third time in the competition. The Solheim Cup now stand 10-6 in favor of the United States.”

Full piece.

2. Credit where it’s due
Golf Digest’s Keely Levins says that while Pettersen will rightfully get the headlines, don’t forget the work of Celine Boutier and Georgia Hall at Gleneagles.
  • “But while all of this is going on, let’s not forget two other players who deserve a lot of the credit for Europe’s win: Celine Boutier and Georgia Hall. Each posted 4-0-0 records for the week, and together they earned five of Europe’s 14½ points at Gleneagles.”
  • “Like Pettersen, Catriona Matthew took Boutier with one of her captain’s picks. The 25-year-old from France won her first LPGA event in February, the ISPS Handa Vic Open. She then went on to top-10 finish in two major championships, making her a sensible choice.”

Full piece.

3. Bright spots for the U.S. 
Golfweek’s Roxanna Scott on the shining stars for the Stars & Stripes…”Rookie Nelly Korda joined her older sister Jessica as the leading players for the U.S., with both earning 3½ of four points. Friday they played together in morning foursomes, making history as the first sisters to be paired in a Solheim Cup match. It was also the first time their parents, Petr and Regina, watched their daughters play together. The sisters won their opening match 6 and 4, and went on to dominate Carlota Ciganda and Bronte Law 6 and 5 in Saturday’s foursomes.”
  • “Both Kordas were down early in their singles matches Sunday. Nelly Korda was down by three against Caroline Hedwall before the American made consecutive birdies on the 10 and 11th holes. Nelly Korda won the match 2 up.”
  • “Jessica Korda was down by two against Caroline Masson before she pulled it to all square on the 8th. Jessica Korda had three birdies in her last five holes to win 3 up.”

Full piece.

4. A late bid to flip his 2019 script
A year notable more for destroying courses in a literal sense sees Garcia get the better of a track…
SkySports report…”Sergio Garcia has won the KLM Open by one shot from Nicolai Hojgaard after finishing 18 under in Amsterdam to claim his 16th European Tour title.”
  • “Garcia went into the final day as joint-leader with Callum Shinkwin and seemed on course for a routine victory as he led by two shots at the fifth.”
  • “His playing partner Shinkwin then edged ahead by one shot at the seventh following successive bogeys on a mixed front nine at The International from the Spaniard.”
  • “But a double bogey at the 10th by Englishman Shinkwin offered Garcia some hope and the 2017 Masters champion looked to have sealed victory with a stunning approach from the rough at the 16th, despite having his feet in the bunker for the awkward second shot to dial in to five feet.”
5. Niemann breaks through
The first victory by a Chilean on the PGA Tour will no doubt be the first of many for Mr. Niemann.
  • AP report…”The 20-year-old cruised to a dominant six-stroke win on Sunday at A Military Tribute at The Greenbrier in West Virginia, picking up his first career win in the inaugural event of the 2019-20 season.”
  • “My game was feeling great, and mentally (it) was awesome,” Niemann said. “I was just feeling like I was going to win this tournament since the first day. I was in a really good mindset.”
  • “Niemann entered the final round with a comfortable two-shot lead over the field, and started the day steady – firing a 1-under 33 on the front nine.”
  • “That’s when he took off…”

Full piece.

6. 2 months, 2 Champions Tour wins
AP report…”Jerry Kelly played bogey-free Sunday at Warwick Hills and closed with a 4-under 68 for a two-shot victory in the Ally Challenge, his second victory this year on the PGA Tour Champions.”
  • “Kelly also won two months ago in his native Wisconsin at the American Insurance Family Championship.”
  • “He started the final round with a one-shot lead over Charles Schwab Cup leader Scott McCarron and Woody Austin. McCarron fell apart with a 75. Austin remained within one shot until a bogey on the par-4 15th, and Kelly stretched his lead to three with a birdie on the par-3 17th.”

Full piece. 

7. Tour pulls back curtain on POY voting process, says integrity is “not up for debate”
Golf.com’s Josh Berhow got in touch with the PGA Tour to discuss the…much remarked upon…2019 PGA Tour Player of the Year award given to Rory McIlroy…
  • “In a phone interview with GOLF.com, Laura Neal, the Tour’s senior vice president of communications, did not say how many players voted in 2019 but she did say that in any given year 45 to 60 percent of players participate. The Tour also provided GOLF.com with a copy of the ballot” [see in the link to “full piece”]
  • “…Neal said the ballot is delivered electronically to eligible voters – players who have played in at least 15 events. The completed ballots go directly to the Tour’s accounting firm, Grant Thornton. Employees there tabulate the votes without Tour supervision and send the results to the Tour. The process is broadly similar to how Academy Award votes are tabulated.”
  • “Feel free to debate whether the PGA Tour membership should have voted Rory or Brooks as Player of the Year,” Neal wrote in an email Friday. “What’s not up for debate is the Tour’s integrity – in this process or otherwise.”

Full piece.

8. Will Tiger pick Tiger, continued
Woods filed a captain’s blog for PGATour.com as he ponders his captains picks…
  • “While I was disappointed to not earn one of the top 8 spots, I’m hopeful to perform well at my next start in Japan. In the meantime, I’m going to rely on playing with some of the guys in Florida to stay sharp. I’ll practice hard, work on my game, and we’ll have some matches. It’s a lot of work, but it’s also always fun.”
  • “At the end of the day, the decision of who rounds out this team will ultimately be my call, but I’m going to lean heavily on the opinions of my captain’s assistants and the eight guys who have already earned a spot. My plan is to keep an open line of communication to ensure we find the four guys who best fit this team. We will be watching the fall events closely. There are so many guys who are world-class players who aren’t yet on the team like Rickie Fowler, Tony Finau, Phil Mickelson, Patrick Reed, Gary Woodland, Jordan Spieth and many more. The Fall events will also allow me to get extended looks at two young rookies, Matthew Wolff and Colin Morikawa, who both played well after turning pro late in the season.”

Full piece.

9. Niemann on Presidents Cup squad? 
From a piece by PGATour.com’s Helen Ross…

Els, who will announce his picks in early November along with U.S. Captain Tiger Woods, was well aware of what Niemann had done. The Chilean finished the automatic qualification period ranked 28th.

  • …”What a fantastic win for Joaquin at The Greenbrier,” Els told PGA TOUR officials via text message. “I’m really proud of him, and it’s a wonderful start to his season. I’m looking forward to more of his great play.”
  • Niemann may be a relative newbie as far as The Presidents Cup is concerned. But he’s clearly focused on playing for Els at Royal Melbourne in December, calling it a “dream” – not unlike his wide-ranging thoughts on Sunday morning.
  • “I know that there is a lot of good players fighting for the first spots,” Niemann said. “I know it’s going to be tough, and this win definitely helps to get a little — probably a little help to get in the first spots. But I don’t know yet.
  • “Just got to be patient and get a couple more tournaments to have good golf and hopefully get in that team.”

Full piece.

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Tour Rundown: Incredible Solheim Cup | Niemann, Garcia, Kelly

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In the northeast USA, where I live, the leaves are poised to change colors. There was a generational change in this week’s Solheim Cup where a young European team showed it could win at singles. There was a generational change in West Virginia, site of the first event of the 2019-20 PGA Tour. It wasn’t quite the dawning of the Age of Aquarius, but the second weekend of September gave us a glimpse of the exciting, young talent that inhabits all the world’s tours. And so, we are more than happy to offer a Tour Rundown for Monday, September 16th, 2019.

Solheim Cup won on home soil by Europe

Last weekend, a young USA team of amateurs left British soil with the Walker Cup, thanks to a singles-day rally. Team Europe made certain that the history did not repeat itself so promptly, albeit with a similar comeback of its own. The young European team was championed by Suzanne Pettersen but made a name for itself, Young promise in the guise of Georgia Hall, Bronte Law, Carlota Ciganda and Celine Boutier earned Sunday wins for the Blue team. Their efforts were supported by stalwarts like Pettersen and Nordqvist. The latter smoked Morgan Pressel in the day’s final match, ending it early at 4 & 3, giving Team Europe a boost in the day’s closing moments.

It was left to Pettersen, on the cusp of retirement, to knock down a 10-feet birdie putt on the final hole, outlasting the USA’s Marina Alex by 1-up and securing a Solheim Cup in her farewell appearance. Team golf isn’t always brilliant, but the Presidents Cup in December, and the Ryders and Curtises of 2020 would do well to emulate the spirit of Solheim Cup Gleneagles.

Niemann fulfills promise with first Tour title

The thing with prodigies is, they feel like they’ve been here forever. The trouble with golf prodigies is, if they don’t win enough, they never win enough as professionals. Joaquin Niemann won the 2018 Latin America Championship. That’s a big event, as it earned him invitations to the Masters, U.S. and Open championships of that year. He was the No. 1-ranked golfer as an amateur, but that was the only big win he ever had. Let’s be honest, it wasn’t an NCAA title, nor a USGA Junior, nor an Amateur championship from the isles nor the USA. Niemann looked good and played well, but he never threatened to win anything else, until Sunday.

Niemann turned pro after that 2018 Masters, giving up the chance to play in the twin Open championships. This week, he worked his way around the Greenbrier Resort’s Old White course like the conductor of a train, or a symphony. The young Chilean held a towo-shot advantage with 18 holes to play, but ceded the top spot to Tom Hoge after front-nine struggles. On the inward half, he was the Niemann of old (or should that be, of young?), posting six birdies for 31 and 64 on the day.

Hoge could not keep pace, and settled for second spot at 15 under, six shots behind the winner. Early in the week, the news belonged to Kevin Chappell, who posted 59 in round two. Curiously, the Californian never visited the 60s all week, with three rounds in the 70s, and a place in the middle of the pack. From on high, looking down, stood a young golfer, beginning to fulfill his promise.

Kelly locks up midwest for locals in Michigan

There have been a few events of note in the upper midwest of the USA on this season’s PGA Tour Champions. Jerry Kelly won the AFI in Wisconsin in June, and was followed by friendly rival Steve Stricker at the Senior Open in Indiana. In sort of a rubber match resolution, Kelly came back this week to claim the Ally Challenge in Michigan, posting a two-stroke victory over Woody Austin. Even if Stricker had entered this week, he would have been pressed to keep up with his fellow cheesehead.

Kelly was that little-bit better than everyone else during every round, this week. Beginning round three a shot off the pace, Scott McCarron inexplicably faded again, adding wood to the suggestion that he will never become the clutch player that his physical talents deserve. His 75 dropped him to a tie for 15th. Kelly never wavered, posting four birdies on the day for 68. His only bogey of the week came on Thursday’s ninth hole, and it was more than offset by a run of five consecutive birdies, mid-day Friday. With the victory, his second of the year, Kelly jumped into second spot on the season-long Schwab Cup list, just behind McCarron.

Garcia rehearses alphabet in march to KLM win

In the late 2000s, the Spanish Royal Academy eliminated the LL from its alphabet. That news was lost on golfers, until this week’s KLM Open in Holland. Sergio Garcia, clearly not worried about a KLLLM disparity, won by one slim stroke over Nicolai Hojgaard.

Absent this week from the Spaniard’s performance were the phlegm-filled, earthworm-seeking histrionics that have spotted an otherwise-memorable career. Garcia’s game was on, with birdies at 15 and 16 affording a cushion for a 17th-hole bogey. In fact, Garcia made seven birdies on the day, most of any, on the week, for the Iberian. The unheralded Hojgaar, hailing from Denmark, was in control most of the day. His late bogey, at the 16th, brought him to 4 over on the week for the antipenultimate hole. If he looks back with any regret on the week, it would certainly focus on the wee par 4.

Fishburn secures elevation at Canada Life Championship

At week’s opening, Patrick Fishburn held a tenuous grasp of the fifth and final hockey sweater, symbolic of a Korn Ferry Tour card for 2020. By Sunday evening, the young man from the USA had secured not only a promotion to the next level of tour success but all the confidence that comes with a clutch victory. On Fishburn’s heels in the Order of Merit, just $1,000 back, was Hayden Buckley. Just outside but with some hope, was David Pastore. Buckley faded this week, finishing mid-pack, but Pastore was electric. He posted constantly-improving scores of 68-66-65-63, concluding the week a solid 18 under par. He beat everyone in the field … everyone but Fishburn.

The young alum from BYU never strayed from the mid-60s, posting a pair of 64 over the weekend to outdistance the field with a 21-under par for a total. The title was Fishburn’s first of the year, and certainly must have provided the sort of assurance that beating the field brings. With the victory, Fishburn, Lorens Chan and Jake Knapp of the USA joined Canada’s Taylor Pendrith and France’s Paul Barjon in the elite group of five to receive life-altering tour sweaters and membership in the penultimate stage of tour success.

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Morning 9: First first-round leader of 2019-20 PGA Tour | Real star of the KLM Open | $30K golf cart theft

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By Ben Alberstadt (ben.alberstadt@golfwrx.com; @benalberstadt on Instagram)

September 13, 2019

Good Friday morning, golf fans.
1. First first-round leader of the 2019-2020 PGA Tour season
AP report…”Shelton made eight starts on tour as a non-member in 2016-17. He has his TOUR card for the first time after winning two Korn Ferry events in May.”
  • “I’m fired up,” Shelton said. “Last night it was tough to sleep. I’ve been waiting for this moment all season.”
  • “Starting on the back nine on the Old White TPC, the 24-year-old Shelton made the turn at 3 under and birdied Nos. 1-3. The 8-under 62 is his lowest score on TOUR.”
  • “Defending champion Kevin Na, Lanto Griffin, Mark Hubbard and Zack Sucher matched Harrington at 64.”

Full piece.

2. Meanwhile…
BBC report…”England’s Callum Shinkwin, 446th in the world rankings, is the surprise leader after the first round of the KLM Open.”
  • “Shinkwin produced an eagle on the 544-yard par five third in his six-under 66 to hold a one-shot lead in Amsterdam.”
  • “The 26-year-old has only made the cut at eight of 17 events on the European Tour this season.”
  • “Seven players are on five under, including England’s Chris Paisley, Matthew Southgate and Sam Horsfield, and Scotland’s Marc Warren.”

Full piece. 

3. Ready for battle
A look at the morning Solheim Cup matches (where soul-taking Danielle Kang will sit)…
Golf Channel’s Randall Mell…
Match 1, 3:10AM ET: Morgan Pressel and Marina Alex (USA) vs. Carlota Ciganda and Bronte Law (EUR)
Match 2, 3:22AM ET: Lexi Thompson and Brittany Altomare (USA) vs. Georgia Hall and Celine Boutier (EUR)
Match 3, 3:34AM ET: Jessica Korda and Nelly Korda (USA) vs. Caroline Masson and Jodi Ewart Shadoff (EUR)
Match 4, 3:46AM ET: Megan Khang and Annie Park (USA) vs. Charley Hull and Azahara Munoz (EUR)
4. Stealing the show at the KLM Open 
Todd Kelly at Golfweek…”one golfer in particular stole the show on Thursday.”
  • “Her name? Susan Hosang.”
  • “Her age? 100.”
  • “That’s right, the centenarian, who took up the sport 30 years ago, was a special guest at the tournament and played the 13th hole alongside Reed as well as Matt Wallace and Thomas Pieters in a Beat the Pro challenge, which pits a lucky amateur with the pros.”
  • “According to the Tour, the KLM Open is celebrating its 100th edition of the tournament. KLM, the Dutch airline, has been in business 100 years.”
5. Myrtle Beach rebounds 
The Forecaddie…
  • “While the world continues to focus on Hurricane Dorian’s damage to the Bahamas, Myrtle Beach and other South Carolina destinations already are back to business. Despite up to a foot of rain and several tornadoes that made news on national broadcasts, The Forecaddie hears the region came out of the storm incredibly well.”
  • “We were extremely fortunate to have avoided the worst of hurricane Dorian,” said Golf Tourism Solutions head Bill Golden. The agency overseas marketing for Myrtle Beach and has created a page updating golf course conditions.
  • “Myrtle Beach golf courses were able to escape with no long-term damage, and players can expect to find our courses in typically outstanding condition.”

Full piece.

6. An all-out assault on Leishman’s back
Golf Digest’s Dave Shedloski reports on the rough stuff in the dorsal region of Marc Leishman this week…
  • “With four bulging discs in his back, Marc Leishman didn’t need any further injuries to make it uncomfortable to play golf. He got one anyway. The timing couldn’t have been worse.”
  • “Leishman felt his cranky back seizing up on him Wednesday morning before playing in the pro-am for the PGA Tour season opener, A Military Tribute at the Greenbrier. That was bad enough. Then, on the fifth hole of the pro-am, one of his playing partners inadvertently nailed him in the right side of his lower back with an errant approach shot.”
  • “Apparently, the accident was a result of a miscommunication. Leishman thought the player had picked up after several strokes on the short par-4 hole. But he hadn’t. Leishman still wasn’t quite in the line of play when a ball came whizzing at him from about 100 yards away.”

Full piece.

7. JT’s melanoma square 
Golfweek staff…”Justin Thomas revealed Thursday he had a recent scare with melanoma that was discovered when he had a mole on his left leg checked out.”
  • “Thomas, who won the BMW Championship last month, shared a photo on Instagram that showed an incision on his leg with stitches. When a dermatologist checked out a very small mole on his leg, it was caught in the early stages of melanoma, Thomas wrote.”
  • “”Luckily, we found it at a time where there should be no problems going forward,” he wrote. “That being said, EVERYBODY GO GET CHECKED!! No harm can come from it and it’s the best way to catch anything before it becomes a serious issue. Especially for all the junior golfers (and other athletes) spending so much time in the sun.”
  • “It is so important to make sure you’re monitoring your body – no matter how old you are or how much sunscreen you use. It really got my attention, and hoping it does the same to y’all!”

Full piece.

8. $30K golf cart theft
Dennis Hoey at the Portland Press Herald…“York police arrested the director of golf at the Cape Neddick Country Club and charged him with stealing a golf cart designed for golfers with disabilities.”
  • “Dustin Michael Hunter, 35, of West Street in Biddeford was arrested Tuesday morning at the country club and charged with felony theft by unauthorized taking or transfer, Detective Sgt. Thomas Cryan in a news release.”
  • “Hunter was taken to the York County Jail, then released on bail….Hunter allegedly stole a paramobile golf cart valued at $30,000 and a trailer used to haul the cart on April 21. The golf cart and trailer had been stored at the country club, according to York police.”
  • “Cryan said the cart was designed for use by disabled golfers, but can be customized for use in other leisure sports such as fishing or archery.”

Full piece.

9. A perspective on Abaco 
Our Michael Williams reflects on his experience at the resort last year…and the recent devastation.
  • “Abaco exceeded my expectations. The location was as beautiful as any in the world, with white warm tropic breezes and sandy beaches on a secluded bay. The water is a surreal kind of blue; actually, it’s a series of blues that range from turquoise to a deep royal blue.”
  • “The only thing more sparkling that the water and the sunshine were the smiles of the people. From the time that you arrive the warmth and hospitality of the staff at Abaco surrounds you. It’s not the kind of hospitality that you learn from a class or an employee manual. It’s a more honest and genuine variety that comes from a culture of courtesy and welcoming others into your world.”
  • “I made some great friends on and on the golf course in Abaco. David Southworth, who along with business partner Joe Deitch form the ownership group of the Abaco Club, is one of those people who has a kind of easy charm and grace. When he talks about Abaco, he deflects credit from himself and shives the spotlight on his staff and support team. “These are the people that make it possible,” I remember Southworth saying again and again.”
  • “And this on the current effort to rise again…”Both Joe Deitch and David Southworth have pledged that the Abaco Club will host its Korn Ferry Tour event in January 2020 as planned. Aid is beginning to flow and people all over the world are pledging their support in the short term and the long term. More is needed now and will be for.a very long time. Eventually, the spirit of the Bahamian people will prevail, and Abaco will rise again. For now, I will give what I can in time and money as I pray nightly for the living and the dead of Abaco.”

 

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