GolfWRX is proud to present an interview with Fujikura Golf’s Chad Embry, National Accounts Manager and Alex Dee, Engineering Manager.
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.
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13-time major champion Mickey Wright passes away at the age of 85
LPGA Tour legend and Hall of Famer Mickey Wright passed away on Monday after suffering a heart attack, according to the AP.
Wright won 82 titles on the LPGA Tour including 13-major titles in a career which began in 1955 and ended with her retirement at the age of just 34.
Per the 13-time major champion’s lawyer, Sonia Pawluc who was speaking to AP, Wright had been hospitalised for the last few weeks after suffering a fall.
The sporting legend is the only LPGA Tour professional to hold all majors at the same time, and Ben Hogan once described her swing as the finest in the game.
Speaking on the news of her passing, LPGA Tour commissioner, Michael Whan said
“We are deeply saddened to learn about the passing of Mickey Wright. We lost a legend, but we may also have lost the best swing in golf history today. Our thoughts are with her family and friends.”
Wright’s long list of accomplishments in the game includes the most victories in a single LPGA season (13), four consecutive LPGA money titles (1961-64), 14 successive years with an LPGA victory (1956-69) and a stunning 44 wins from 1961 through 1964.
She was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1976.
Morning 9: Tiger: Bad week inside ropes, good week outside | Scott, Park end droughts | CBS’ coverage panned (again)
February 17, 2020
Good Monday morning, golf fans.
1. Scott gets first Tour win since 2016
Golf Channel’s Ryan Lavner with a succinct breakdown…“Scott started the day in part of a three-way share of the lead, and he suffered an early stumble with a double bogey on the fifth hole. But the notoriously wobbly putter steadied his nerve down the stretch, burying birdie putts on Nos. 13 and 17 that proved to be the difference. Scott earned an unofficial victory at Riviera in 2005 when he won a 36-hole, rain-slogged event, but now he has an official title as part of his Riv credentials. It’s back-to-back worldwide wins for Scott across two calendar years, as the veteran closed out 2019 with a victory at the Australian PGA Championship. But after a number of recent near-misses, the Aussie now has his first PGA Tour win since March 2016, when he went back-to-back at Honda and Doral.”
2. …and Down Under, another title drought endeth
AP report…”Seven-time major champion Inbee Park saw a seven shot lead shrink to two shots Sunday before winning the Women’s Australian Open by three strokes to clinch her first LPGA title in almost two years.”
3. …and on the Korn Ferry Tour
Golf Channel’s Will Gray…”Andrew Novak birdied each of his final two holes to earn his first career Korn Ferry Tour victory at the LECOM Suncoast Classic.”
4. Not the weekend he wanted
PGATour.com’s Ben Everill…”It was another week to lament at the famed course where Woods started his PGA TOUR career as a 16-year-old. He faded on the back nine of his rounds on Thursday and Friday and then shot 76-77 on the weekend to be 11 over par, some 22 shots behind winner Adam Scott.”
ESPN’s Bob Harig on what he saw…“Woods was still not moving great. While he looked good at times, his overall game was a shell of what he produced three weeks ago at Torrey Pines, let alone in December at the Presidents Cup or October at the Zozo Championship.”
5. Chubb champ: Scott Parel
Greg Hardwig of the Naples Daily News…”Scott Parel lost two opportunities at victories last year in playoffs. He wasn’t going to take that chance Sunday in the Chubb Classic.”
“Parel, 54, birdied six of the first 12 holes to come back from five shots off the lead and went on to win at The Classics Country Club at Lely Resort for his third PGA Tour Champions victory. Parel tied the tournament record at 17-under 196 on the par-71 course, and won $240,000 out of the $1.6 million purse.”
6. Rave review for CBS’ golf coverage…
Joel Beall with a (incomplete) tally of some of the (many) errors…
7. Rory talks Brooks & more
Adam Woodard at Golfweek draws on more of Rory McIlroy’s conversation with journalist Paul Kimmage…a few morsels…
8. Unplanned break ahead
Golfweek’s Beth Ann Nichols…”When Muni He triumphed at LPGA Q-Series last November, she seized control of something every professional golfer holds dear: her schedule…”
9. Genesis a big success for Tiger…outside the ropes
Golf Digest’s Daniel Rapaport rightly points out…”It was not his week on the course, obviously. But Woods’ time here was about more than how he fared inside the ropes. He has hosted this event for the last three years in conjunction with his TGR Live venture, but this was the first year the tournament formerly known as the L.A. Open was no longer an open. It’s an Invitational now, which means a reduced field size to 120, an increased purse and an elevated status.
Tour Rundown: Scott’s grit and guile, Queen Bee, Wofford’s pride
The PGA Tour’s Cali Swing came to a close for 2020, while the Champions Tour returned to the continental USA after a stint in Morocco. The ladies of the LPGA stood tall in Australia, just as the Korn Ferry tour also docked in the lower 48, after time spent in South America. As the world of golf considers the pros and cons of a world tour, it’s easy to look around and see how such a grand plan might come to pass. As the globe continues to orbit, we take our turn in running down this week’s results.
PGA Tour: Scott claims 14th tour title with grit and guile
Say what you must about the back nine at the Augusta National, but I will stand the inward half at Riviera as the ultimate gut-check site in golf. For starters, we saw Tiger Woods go out in 4-under par on Thursday, stoking the embers of bonfires of hope everywhere. El tigre played the inward half in 36-38-41-39, so we know which high-school crush still makes him nervous! Wasn’t much different for the rest of the field; play the inward half well and you stand a chance. How about Adam Scott? After an inexplicable 37 on Thursday, he back-nined Riviera for 31-33-35. For those (like me) not counting, that’s the essential difference between what Tiger tallied, and what the tournament victor posted. Scott had his hands full, as players like Bryson DeChambeau, Matt Kuchar, Rory McIlroy, and late to the party: Sung Kang and Scott Brown. Both Kang and Brown closed fast, reaching -9, joining Kuchar in a tie for 2nd. They call Riviera Hogan’s Alley, for the playing record of the wee ice mon over its 18 holes. It begs the question, which Riviera was Hogan playing, that he could get that good, that repeatedly, over these beguiling, 18 holes?
LPGA: Queen Bee secures 20th title in Royal fashion. Could gold be next?
Inbee Park has been many things over the years: Major champion (she won her first LPGA event at the 2008 US Open); Olympic Gold Medalist (yup, that was her in Rio, wearing the bling); and now, comeback kid. Park was injured in 2017, and despite a victory in 2018, has yet to capture the stature that thrust her to #1 in the world, and 18 tour victories. Watch out, world; she might be back. Park stood sooo tall after three rounds; 67-69-68 had her at 15-under par over the glorious, Royal Adelaide course in Seaton. Only Ayean Cho managed to find similar altitude, with 3 rounds of 69 for -12. Would Cho solve the mystery of the final round, the one that eluded her last week, when she gave back a lead over the final 9 holes? In a word, no. She closed with 77 and dropped to -8 and a tie for 6th place. All part of the learning curve, as they say. With her playing partner stalled, Park played things close to the safety vest. She finished with a +1 74 on Sunday, good for a 3-putts margin of victory over new runner-up Amy Olson of the USA. If Inbee is rounding into form now, she’ll be a certain threat to claim a second gold medal this summer, in Japan.
Korn Ferry: Wofford’s pride birdies final two holes for 1st victory
You know you’re small when … your small town isn’t the bigger of the two small towns in an arguably-metro region. Spartanburg ain’t no Greenville, says no one in those parts, but it’s true. And Wofford College is a charming, southern institution of higher learning, located in the middle of Spartanburg. And Andrew Novak found a golf and learning home at Wofford. And now, he has a title and Wofford again has a pro tour winner. Again? You mean another Boston Terrier has won on tour? Uh-huh, one William McGirt, at the 2016 Memorial Tournament. According to my researchers, that’s all. The dynamic duo of McGirt and Novak.
Right, back to Andrew Novak. He and 5 other golfers reached 20-below par at the Lakewood National (not to be confused with other, national golf clubs) near Sarasota. Greyson Sigg, Chandler Blanchott, and David Kocher ran out of gas there, and tied for 4th. Taylor Montgomery actually reached -22, before a bogey at the last dropped him to -21 and solo 3rd place. John Chin had 5 birdies throught 7 back-nine holes, but failed to summon a 6th, and ended his run at -22. And Novak? He birdied 17 and 18, to jump from 3rd to 1st in the blink of an eye. Novak moved all the way from 26th to 3rd on The 25 chase for PGA Tour cards. He’ll certainly earn his for 2020-2021, but might he manage 2 more victories, for a battlefield promotion? Keep closing and the answer will be uh-huh. #GoTerriers
Tour Champions: The ultimate grinder peppermills his third Senior victory
Bernhard Langer, Stephen Leaney, and Chris DiMarco went out on Sunday and shot wonderful rounds … for the conclusion of a US Open. Hovering near par, on any day, would not bring baubles at the Chubb Classic. Bob Estes went out and posted 64, his best round of the week by 3, to reach 15-under par. He blazed past the aforementioned trinity, but could not reach the brass ring. That plum went to Scott Parel, probably the only Georgia Bulldog who never was … a Georgia Bulldog. Parel posted 63 on Sunday, eclipsing Estes’ 198 by 2 shots. The victory was Parel’s 3rd on the late-stage circuit, and was his first since October of 2018. Parel graduated from the large, state school in Athens, but never competed for the varsity squad. He made his living as a computer programmer, but never gave up his dream of playing professional golf. As a size 50+, he is now living that dream. Langer salvaged a tie for 3rd (with Kevin Sutherland) at -13. Ironically, Parel has been in two Champions playoffs in his career, and has lost both of them … to Kevin Sutherland. Good thing for him that the California native could “only” close with 67
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