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The story behind Jason Dufner’s new National Custom Works irons

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If you caught any of Jason Dufner shooting 66-68 on the weekend at The Players, you might have been intrigued by the blades the Auburn man was carving up TPC Sawgrass with.

GolfWRX members, not surprisingly, spotted the switch from his previous gamers over the weekend, eventually identifying Dufner’s irons as National Custom Works products.

We reached out to NCW to learn more about Dufner’s new weaponry, and company co-founder Patrick Boyd was kind enough to share some details.

BA: So Jason Dufner puts your clubs in the bag and lights it up on the weekend. How did this happen?

PB: I got an email from him a while ago…I saw the email and I laughed. I was like, ‘Yeah. OK. Sure, buddy.’ But I wrote an email back and said, “If this is you, I’d love to work with you on something.’ He gave me his number, we got in touch…scheduled an appointment with Don [White]. We spent an afternoon working with him on some sample clubs, and it’s kind of gone from there.

I text with him [Dufner] pretty regularly, and I’d heard from him the clubs were a couple of weeks out from making the bag, and he texted me Friday and said, ‘They’re going in the bag this weekend.’ And I hadn’t been paying attention to the leaderboard, so I thought he didn’t make the cut and he was just going home to mess around with them. Then, I’m watching Saturday and he shoots 66!

BA: So he just put them in the bag in the middle of the tournament? Crazy.

PB: Yeah. And the other interesting thing is, he’s a client like any of my other clients: he pays for his golf clubs. We don’t have a contract with him. He’s all about playing the best equipment that works for him.

BA: He insists on paying? Wow. So what was Jason Dufner looking for when he came to you initially, and what did you end up delivering?

PB: He’s been trying a lot of different stuff. He doesn’t have a contract right now. So, I asked him during that process what was happening and what he was seeing, and it became apparent that the soles on the irons he was playing were digging in too much. His spin rates were a little bit high, which to me indicates he was hitting it higher on the face than he’d like to. That was the beginning of the conversation. He was really, really thorough. He knew all his numbers and he knew exactly what he was talking about.

Initially, we met down at Albany. I had him bring what he was playing and what had been successful for him. Me and Don had a look at what was going on. It became clear pretty quickly what we needed to do as far as the sole configuration. That’s what he was fighting: the bottom of his golf clubs weren’t matching up with his angle of attack.

That was the first step. We made a couple of samples for him to take home…I got about two hours down the road and my phone rang. It was Dufner saying, “I hit balls with them. Everything is great. Just make this one little change,” and I got everything in to Don.

The first set we made for him, this is kind of interesting, when he told us about the trajectory he wanted and what he had in mind, Don looked at him and said, ‘Man, you want some blades!’ And he hadn’t played blades since he was in college. But the first project we worked on with our client were cavity backs.

He worked with them on Trackman and his numbers were really good, but the thing that was interesting to me was we used the smaller cavity back we work with and he thought it was a little too long heel-to-toe for him, so he asked me to make him a set of blades. So, we talked about that project…and once we had the sole knocked out and knew what he needed there, as well as what his preferred toe shape is, his preferred aesthetics, the offset he likes, it was pretty easy to put a set together for him.

The 4 and 5-iron are kind of a lower CG profile, and the 6-iron through pitching wedge is more of a mid-CG profile. He just wanted something to kind of knock it down and flight it a little bit flatter with the 6 through pitch, and then with the 4 and 5, he was looking for something a little easier to launch and hold greens with. Kind of a mixed muscle setup.

BA: It looks like he has Auburn colors on the ferrules? And can you confirm the stamping?

PB: Yep. I designed those ferrules for him. And the irons have the NCW star stamp in the toe of the muscle, and then we have the [Jason Dufner] Foundation logo. Then, the letters on the sole of the golf clubs are his dad’s name.

PB: Well, I’ll reiterate, what I thought was just fascinating was, when we initially had the conversation, he really wasn’t sure about working with blades. But once you get the sole profile knocked out for somebody and they’re not fighting the sole of the club…I mean, to me, it speaks volumes that once you get a set of blades in his hands with the correct sole profile it made such a difference in just his initial reaction to wanting to talk about blades…it’s just a testament to the importance of fitting somebody, getting the right sole for their angle of attack, tendencies, and conditions.

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, FL – MAY 13: Jason Dufner of the United States plays a shot during the final round of THE PLAYERS Championship on the Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass on May 13, 2018 in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)

For more about National Custom Works, well, works, check out our Peter Schmitt’s talk with Patrick Boyd last month.

EDIT: Patrick sent Dufner’s full spec sheet along

Make up: 4-P Standard Flatback
Muscle: PMB Long Iron muscle with straight line 4/5, Phatty ’53 (PJB) muscle 6/7, Phatty ’53 (PJB) muscle but slightly higher than 6/7 for 8-P
Shape: duplicate samples
Grind: duplicate samples. Client noted modification per our conversation, please adjust accordingly
Loft: 23/28/32/36/40/44/48
Lie: 59.5/60/60.5/61/61.5/62/62.5
Offset: duplicate samples
Weights: D-3 (-2g for chrome) 50g grip, 38.5/38/37.5/37/36.5/36/35.75″ cut length
Finish: Dull Satin, prep for chrome
Stamping: 1/4″ letters 4 (F), 5 (R), 6 (A), 7 (N), 8 (K), 9 (E), P (D) on toe side of sole, DW on heel side of sole, JD logo stamp on muscle heel side, Star N logo on muscle toe side
Paintfill: none
Ferrule: Custom Auburn

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50 Comments

  1. Les

    Jun 15, 2018 at 3:04 pm

    I’m gonna get a set of those clubs to lower my score…. and get that ‘traditional’ look to my WITB arsenal of weapons… 😮

  2. Soheil Shirzadi

    May 18, 2018 at 12:49 pm

    Scratch 2.0? Looks like Ari Techner is part of NCW

  3. GCGC

    May 17, 2018 at 10:45 pm

    FINALLY a set of clubs with normal lofts! Yay to NCF and Dufner! Where is all the OEM BS about “our engineers lowered the center of gravity soooo much that we had to put the 6-iron loft down to 22° in order to keep the launch angle down and spin down to a manageable level”….. bla bla bla. You too can be a hero and impress your friends by hitting a 9-iron 225 yards (even though said 9-iron has only 21° of loft). Either NCF totally messed up in their design of this iron head – ‘cuz they are nowhere near the “modern high tech” clubs, or the OEM’s are all talking out of their arse. I think it is the latter. Just sayin’.

    • Hogan Fan

      May 26, 2018 at 7:07 pm

      I could not agree more! I would like an equipment manufacturer who lowers the CG and creates a higher launching club to actually let the club launch really high to help all those guys who are playing below the tree line. At least provide it as an option! I really don’t want a 27* #7 iron (this is actually true) I want my clubs to have reasonable launch angle, reasonable descent angle, reasonable spin and the appropriate combination of those three to actually be a useful set of tools to help me around the golf course. I really don’t care what they say on the bottom.

  4. Marc Grenier

    May 17, 2018 at 1:14 pm

    Mr. Alberstadt,

    VERY good article, simple terms, easy to understand. I subscribe to GOLF WRX. newsletter and will read your past and future articles. Keep up the good work.

  5. HDTVMAN

    May 17, 2018 at 9:28 am

    ???? Very good and interesting article.

  6. Bob Parson Jr.

    May 16, 2018 at 5:23 pm

    They are not Parsons, meh!

    • JOEL K GOODMAN

      May 16, 2018 at 8:35 pm

      NO THEY AREN ‘T . THEY ARE BETTER BY FAR. AND PROBABLY NOT AS OVERPRICED.

  7. ron

    May 16, 2018 at 4:36 pm

    now everyone wants them

  8. Dave r

    May 16, 2018 at 12:31 pm

    One of the best articles I’ve read on here real good work . Good luck to Jason hope he does well on tour I know I’m pulling for him.

  9. Mirage

    May 16, 2018 at 12:10 pm

    Don White. ‘Nuff said. Great piece!

  10. Scott

    May 16, 2018 at 11:32 am

    Best article in a long time

  11. 2DudesTony

    May 16, 2018 at 8:20 am

    Duff Daddy has always been a pure striker & more than adequate putter. Everyone misses short putts regularly, most of us due to the “gimme”. I’d like to know what angle of attack caused a need for a different fitting. Details anyone? I used to be VERY steep w irons but corrected that w a posture change. Self taught but read & try a lot of teaching & have never had a fitting. At 66 I’m thinking it’s too late.

  12. dat

    May 15, 2018 at 11:10 am

    Now this is quality content!

  13. douglas terry

    May 15, 2018 at 10:42 am

    I guess shaft info is not important?

    • JW

      May 16, 2018 at 11:44 am

      They probably didn’t shaft the heads…. and if they did you’re right it’s the least important info in everything provided. The impact the shaft has its minimal compared to sole grind, head design, etc but if you see the pics it looks like the S400 AMT Tour Issue that he’s been using but I’m sure he could find a tour van to build them with those and Superstroke grips

  14. CJ

    May 15, 2018 at 10:13 am

    Great stuff…I see 12 oxygen theives marked it a shank…what a joke.

  15. Chuck Barkley

    May 15, 2018 at 12:14 am

    Great piece! Yeah, loving the “hat a day” situation too. Walked into Lids today to ask about their connection to New Era and the The Players cap Jason wore, and they were like, “duhhhhhhh, we don’t have any info on that cap.” Well can you call your contact their? “duhhhhhh, we don’t have access.” Ehhhh whatever. Go Duffy!!!

  16. Sue

    May 14, 2018 at 11:48 pm

    Love Dufner, this further supports my feeling!

  17. rymail00

    May 14, 2018 at 11:18 pm

    This was a cool story.

    I was such a huge fan of Scratch Golf (really sad to them go), but now to see the guys doing there thing again is awesome. I’m truly happy for them cuz they are a great group guys.

    I like Dufner and hope he plays well with the new sticks and it helps shine some light on NCW.

  18. moses

    May 14, 2018 at 11:06 pm

    Man I’m going back to blades. My iron game has been off lately.

  19. Larry

    May 14, 2018 at 9:45 pm

    NCW is using open designs by a Chinese foundry and passing it off as custom.

    • 2putttom

      May 15, 2018 at 10:40 am

      I must of missed that part in the article

    • Blake

      May 15, 2018 at 2:10 pm

      They do purchase blanks and grinds them. Not sure how open a blank design is

  20. Lenny

    May 14, 2018 at 9:26 pm

    Duf is trying to look like a 72 year old man and succeeding.

  21. Brett Weir

    May 14, 2018 at 8:57 pm

    Looks like some old school 1960’s Wilson Staff Blades.

    • 2putttom

      May 15, 2018 at 10:41 am

      yep the ever successful step muscle design.

    • T. Lee

      May 16, 2018 at 5:52 pm

      DynaPowered from mid 60’s! minus the red plugs in heel.

    • JOEL K GOODMAN

      May 16, 2018 at 8:37 pm

      THEY WERE THE STANDARD FOR THE WORLD AT THAt time

  22. len

    May 14, 2018 at 8:49 pm

    See… plain vanilla flavored muscleback fitted irons is all you need if you are a decent golfer… and the rest of us duffers hope our Super Game Improvement cavity back or hollow jello-filled multi-scruw irons will rescue our pathetic golf swing and wild ball flight. 😮

  23. JD

    May 14, 2018 at 8:45 pm

    Those are some sharp irons. I’m very impressed. Love the Auburn ferrule. WDE

  24. Randy Watkins

    May 14, 2018 at 7:57 pm

    Very interesting story. Makes me think about my angle of attack! I think Dufner pays because he doesn’t want any influence that steers him away from pure golf.

  25. MB

    May 14, 2018 at 7:33 pm

    Duf’s the Man he will figure the putter out relax, very underrated ball sticker imo.

    • kevin

      May 15, 2018 at 9:33 am

      figure the putter out? he was +7.4 in shots gained putting for the week (top 3)…..and top 50 in 2018 for shots gained. the idea that dufner is an awful putter is such a myth

      • Thomas A

        May 15, 2018 at 11:37 am

        Everyone only watched his one mis-putt on the 18th on Sunday. Cost him $403,000.

  26. SK

    May 14, 2018 at 6:55 pm

    See… plain vanilla flavored muscleback fitted irons is all you need if you are a decent golfer… and the rest of us duffers hope our Super Game Improvement cavity back or hollow jello-filled multi-screw irons will rescue our pathetic golf swing and wild ball flight. 😮

  27. Matty

    May 14, 2018 at 6:48 pm

    How about a Jason Dufner Hat Compilation for 2018?

  28. Gorden

    May 14, 2018 at 6:39 pm

    Love seeing Dufner and Woods for that matter, playing old style irons shows all these gimmicks the Club companies are putting on their clubs is nothing more then bubbles and bangles..truth known the Ping eye 2 could be brought back out and they would sell thousands of sets….

  29. Richard

    May 14, 2018 at 6:18 pm

    What a fantastic story for National Custom Works. They are doing some great stuff. So cool that he paid for them!!!

  30. Dan

    May 14, 2018 at 5:34 pm

    They look sooo one fashioned. Love em!!

    I wish I could call Don White and have him make me a set

    • Buchs

      May 14, 2018 at 6:25 pm

      You can. Just call NCW. Patrick will hook you up. Just may take a little longer after this article lol.

  31. the dude

    May 14, 2018 at 5:17 pm

    how bout they make him a putter…….(that 3 wiggle on 18 cost him ~ 700-400k)

    • Ryan Michael

      May 14, 2018 at 7:49 pm

      It’s not the arrow it’s the Indian.

      • Ralph Guldahl

        May 14, 2018 at 10:09 pm

        Tell that to the Indian with a quiver full of crooked arrows.

    • kevin

      May 15, 2018 at 9:34 am

      he was top 3 in putting for the week and +7.4 in strokes gained putting. what are you talking about?

    • Sue

      May 15, 2018 at 11:05 am

      All 4 rounds determine the $$$. He got to where he was because of all (4) rounds.

    • Tiger

      May 15, 2018 at 6:43 pm

      Go back to the land of stupid ignorant comments where you came from

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Michael Kim’s Winning WITB: 2018 John Deere Classic

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Driver: Titleist TS2 (10.5 degrees)
Shaft: Aldila Rogue Black 60X

Fairway Wood: Titleist 917F2 (16.5 degrees)
Shaft: Aldila Rogue Black 70X

Hybrid: Titleist 816H1 (21 degrees)
Shaft: Graphite Design Tour AD-DI 85X

Irons: Titleist 716 T-MB (4-iron), Titleist 718 AP2 (5-PW)
Shafts: True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue S300 (5-9 iron), True Temper XP 115 (4, PW)

Wedges: Titleist Vokey SM7 gap (52, 56 and 60 degrees)
Shafts: True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue S300

Putter: Scotty Cameron GSS 350

Golf Ball: Titleist Pro V1x

Grips: Golf Pride Tour Velvet Cord

Click here to see in-hand photos of Kim’s clubs and shafts

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Justin Rose signs multi-year deal with Lamkin; signature grip in development

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Justin Rose has signed a multi-year agreement with Lamkin grips. Interestingly, the Englishman’s relationship with the company goes back to a custom grip fitting at their U.K. office more than 15 years, and he’s been an official endorser of the grips since 2014.

“I’ve used Lamkin grips for as long as I can remember and they’ve been a part of every success in my professional career. The company is steeped in tradition but still stays at the forefront of grip technology,” Rose said.

He currently plays Lamkin REL ACE grips, and a Justin Rose signature grip will be released later this year.

Related: Justin Rose WITB

“Justin has represented Lamkin with incredible poise and dignity both on and off the course for the last four years. He’s an exceptionally gifted golfer and it has been our honor to share in his successes.” CEO Bob Lamkin said, “We’re especially excited to unveil Justin’s new grips in the second half of 2018. Without a doubt, these are the most innovative and performance-enhancing grips we’ve ever produced.”

The company indicated GolfWRX will be among the first to get in-hand looks at the design when the signature grip is released.

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GolfWRX Members Choice: The best players irons of 2018

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The bedrock of GolfWRX.com is the community of passionate and knowledgeable golfers in our forums, and we put endless trust in the opinions of our GolfWRX Members. No other group of golfers in the world tests golf clubs as frequently or as extensively, or is armed with as much in-depth information about the latest technology.

So we asked our GolfWRX Members, “What are the the best players irons on 2018?” (Blades excluded. The membership voted on those here). As part of the voting process, we allowed members to vote for up to three irons they felt most worthy of the title, based on their testing of the forged offerings from 17 different manufacturers.

GolfWRX members are both discerning and carry handicaps lower than the general golfing population, so OEMs ought to (and do) take note of their feedback.

With the votes tallied, it’s time to take a look at the top-five vote getters of the bunch. And many thanks to all who voted! (See the full thread here).

No. 5: Ping iBlade (8.26 percent of votes)

Ping’s new iBlades fit the broadest definition of blade irons; they have the narrow soles, thin top lines, short blade lengths, minimal offset, maximum workability, excellent feedback and soft feel blade players want. They aren’t forged like most blades or blade-like irons, though, instead opting for a multi-material, cast chassis that Ping uses to boost forgiveness and distance. Think of them as “intelligent blades;” they’re a much smarter choice for blade players who don’t compete for a living, and even some who do.

The iBlades offer more distance and more forgiveness than their predecessors, Ping’s S55 irons, as well as more refined look and feel that makes them more “blade-like” than they’ve ever been.

Related: Review: Ping iBlade irons

No. 4: Srixon Z 765 (8.41 percent)

Srixon’s no-frills approach to iron-making is refreshing in today’s golf equipment climate. The company forges its irons from 1020 carbon steel, and offers three distinct models than can please anyone from traditionalists (Z965) to forged cavity-back enthusiasts (Z765) to distance- or forgiveness-seeking crowds (Z565).

Low handicappers have a difficult decision to make between Srixon’s Z765 and Z965 irons. The Z965’s are musclebacks that are slightly more “workable,” as blade-lovers like to say. That’s another way of relaying that they’re smaller-sized irons that spin slightly more. Both irons, though, have similar profiles with little offset and thin top lines. Both also use Srixon’s Tour V.T. Soles, and utilize a new heat treatment to make the irons more durable. For blade players, the Z765 won’t look clunky or have too much offset. Low, single-digit handicappers could really go either way, or create a brag-worthy mixed set.

Related: Review Srixon Z765 irons

No. 3: Callaway X Forged (10.36 percent)

X Forged irons, like Callaway’s Apex Muscleback, are also single-piece forgings, the blade lengths are slightly longer, the overall head shapes are slightly larger, and they are cavity-back irons made for a bit more forgiveness.

Like the Apex MB irons, the soles of the X Forged irons are built for the turf interaction that’s desired by Tour players, and the head profiles are tour-inspired. The lofts are slightly stronger throughout the set than the Apex MB, but are still weaker than the game-improvement style irons in Callaway’s stable. That means better players will see the ball launch in the “desired window,” according to to the company.  The X Forged irons are “triple net forged,” according to Callaway, and they have progressive CGs with 20V grooves on the face.

Related: Callaway finally launches new Apex MB and X Forged irons

No. 2: Titleist 718 AP2 (16.22 percent)

With fast-face technologies and stronger lofts off the table (the 6-iron is 30 degrees), Titleist investigated new ways to improve the AP2 recipe. The result was a new main ingredient, a high-strength steel known as SUP10, which is used to make the forged bodies of the 3-6 irons. Titleist also used SUP10 to form the face inserts for the 3-6 irons. Because SUP10 is stronger and lighter than the 1025 carbon steel bodies and 17-4 stainless steel face inserts Titleist previously used to create the AP2, designers were able to move the CG of the new irons lower in the club heads for higher ball speeds and a higher launch angle.

Like the 718 CB, the 718 AP2 irons are also co-forged to concentrate high-density tungsten weights in the corners of the club heads to improve MOI and exactly center the CG of the irons.

Related: Titleist’s 718 irons offer endless possibilities

No. 1: Mizuno MP-18 SC (16.82 percent)

The MP-18 Split Cavity irons feature what Mizuno calls a half-cavity design. Mass has been taken of the upper portion of the irons, focusing CG (center of gravity) lower in the club head for an easier launch and more forgiveness.

The MP-18 SC irons are only fractionally longer from heel-to-toe than the MP-18 muscleback irons. They’re also 0.5 millimeters taller and have soles that are 1.5 millimeters wider. With identical specs (aside from swing weight in the longer irons) and offset, these irons are designed to blend seamlessly into a combination set with the MP-18 muscleback irons regardless of where golfers decide to split their set.

Related: Mizuno brings the MP family closer together

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