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The Fujikura Fit-On Academy Experience

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The Fujikura Fit-On Academy gives the everyday golfer a fitting experience that is fit for a pro.  Using proprietary software, Fujikura compiles measurements of every club and all aspects of a swing in order to recommend the perfect shaft.  The Academy is headed by Pat McCoy, a PGA of America member with years of experience fitting tour pros.  McCoy and his staff find the “unique, one-of-a-kind thumbprint for a swing” that every golfer has. 

Depending on the fitting package chosen, your experience can include a tour of the R&D Facility.  During this time, you may hear something like when we visited McCoy and his intern Marshall Thompson:

“We at Fujikura needed a place where we could quickly test shafts and evaluate product quickly and easily for all of our customers and tour professionals.  We test inside with Trackman and have an additional facility where we can test performance outdoors.  Ultimately we also wanted to be able to bring in the consumer to see how we fit tour professionals and give them the experience and information to improve their game.  We have many different heads to try out, nearly every one on the market and just about every golf ball so that we can fit any golfer.  The common denominator with all of that is, of course, the shaft.  We can fit for so many different swings with so many different shafts and wanted to show the customer that differences in shaft, loft, lie, weight, etc. can make a difference in their game.  For example, one manufacturer with several head models enables us to offer 987 different fitting combinations.

We have a proprietary software program that we are able to put in all of a player’s information and have access to it everywhere we travel.  In addition, the software is able to help other fitters with finding a player’s ideal fit since there are so many possible combinations.”

Part of the experience of the Fujikura Fit-On Academy is a complete measurement of your current bag.  At this point, the loft, lie, etc. are carefully measured and recorded.   golfer will learn whether there is the right amount of loft between irons, both numerically and with graphical representation among other things (like lie and face angle). 

McCoy went on to explain the engineering processes and machinery in a tour of the facility, which included a sneak peek at some soon-to-be released technology and a bit of the Facility’s history:

“The EI Machine is a new prototype that Fujikura will be selling to the industry in the future.  This can measure the EI or flex curvature of a shaft in less than 2 minutes and can even measure an assembled golf club.  Basically the shaft is measured by how well it retains it’s flex throughout when it is deflected.  The machine bends the shaft and measures the entire length via laser and records the outside diameter and inside diameter while it is being flexed.  It is a unique technology to the industry due to the speed and the fact that it can measure an entire club.  In the past it would take over 10 minutes to measure a shaft and you could never measure an entire club. 

We also have a fatigue machine that OEMs have purchased from us.  What we do with this is bend the shaft while it is turning.  This finds out where the shaft might fail.  The machine goes up and down the shaft while it spins in tension.  We run a computer program with this that tells us where the shaft failed and how long it took to fail.  For example, the program will apply a certain amount of pressure for a specific time period, say two days, and tell us when that shaft failed.  This machine will be a Fujikura-branded machine that will be manufactured and sold in the future.

When I first started eight years ago, Fujikura had a manufacturing facility with a staff of about 400 employees here in Vista, CA.  Because of rising costs, we shut our facility down.  In order to still support the major golf club manufacturers with top quality designs, we opened the Fujikura R&D facility.  This facility has the same machinery and production capability of our factories overseas but at a much smaller scale.  This has enabled Fujikura to design rapid prototype shafts and then easily transition these designs to our overseas facilities for mass production.  The Fit-On Academy was created to use this prototyping capability to test and help design new and improved shafts designs for all level of players."    

The Making of A Shaft

McCoy takes us through the making of a shaft:  “What makes our shafts as good as they are is the material that we have in the shafts.  One material is the TRIAX which is in our Speeder, the go-to shaft.   Triax enables the shaft to return to its straight shape more quickly than conventional graphite shafts.  It almost acts like a spring or a whip through the hitting area for increased clubhead speed.  We have several other materials that are patented that only Fujikura uses in the golf shaft industry.  Depending upon whether we are putting together the Speeder, Rombax, or next generation shaft s, all our shafts use the highest technology materials in the shaft industry.”  During this time one sees the different sheets of the materials that will eventually become the shaft.  The components are cut into the constituent parts and carefully layered.  McCoy explains that there can be from about 5 plies of material up to 15 depending on the weight and flex of the shaft.  The overall goal is always to make the shaft as round, or circular, as possible.  The engineers at the facility have taken out all matter of chance in making the shafts as all specs are pre-determined.  This means that it is known how each shaft will turn out (tip and butt flex, EI, weight, torque) before it is even made.  There are machines that cut all of the materials and rolling presses in order to keep the integrity of the measurements, leaving nothing to chance.  This makes reproducible, predictable results of a high quality.   The process includes checkpoints that assure the quality of the shafts before they are cured.  After shafts are cured they are meticulously examined for any flaws.  The flex is checked digitally after the process is complete.  There are machines that check the flex of the shafts with weights that some of the OEMs use to also check the specs in a more old-fashioned method.  There is no “standard” for the shaft industry – most manufacturers have their own set of measurements that they consider to be ideal.  In addition, measurements are not always taken from the same part of the shaft, further differentiating specs between different manufacturers.

The Fitting

Fujikura did not want to be in the dark about any club and wanted to be the source for knowing everything about a club.  The first thing that happens with all of the products used in the fittings is meticulous measurements.  When you see the drawers full of heads and other club pieces, each has a sticker that tells exactly what its measurements are (loft, lie, bulge, roll, etc.).  They know everything about a club before putting it into a golfer’s hands.  Everyone knows that a club that says 8.5 is not always an 8.5, after all.  This is the case for the heads as well as the shafts (length, weight, etc.).  In fact, Fujikura teaches other fitters to have different lengths, kickpoints, and other metrics in order to have more options to do a proper fitting.  Indeed, the Fit-On Academy is quite thorough.

Trackman, the software, the screen…it’s all there…your measurements are meticulously recorded.  Your clubs, your swing, everything.  You don’t realize just how thorough your fitting was until about a week later.  There you are, still euphoric over the entire experience when you check your mail.  In your mailbox is a large manila envelope from Pat McCoy and his staff.  You open it to find a folder with measurements of your club (or entire bag, depending on which fitting you opt for).  The club, head, shaft, grip, loft, lie, and length are all recorded in a table.    Next, if you have your entire bag measured will be graphs of length, loft, lie, swing weight, and weight.  This is to show any gaps in your current system.  Finally, a recommendation page with specs for what you have been fitted for. In addition, for each club that you are fitted for will be shot-by-shot Trackman details with averages, a graph of dispersion, and a trajectory graph are included.  You’ll find these for both your club and the recommended club.  Finally, a DVD (if included in your fitting package) shows your swing and includes lines for you to see your swing plane.  When you come back down to Earth, you’ll realize that you have extremely valuable information that can only serve to improve your game.  Now, you must act on it.

A Word From The President

Newly-minted President of Fujikura, Dave Schnider, has been with the company for nine years and at his current post since April 2008.  Prior to his tenure with the company he was with Grafalloy, True Temper, and a college golfer at San Diego State University.  We found out from Schnider that the Fit-On Academy is a big part of Fujikura’s plan here in the States.  The company has done fittings in Japan for nearly ten years and they have more recently made this available to the US market. The company has learned so much about fitting from Japan and tour pro fittings that they now offer the everyday golfer this exceptional experience to improve their game.  Being tied in to the R&D facility also gives them the ability stay in touch with all golfers’ needs.  Fitting remains a top priority for the company.

The new shaft line – the ATL, or Academy Tour Limited – will soon be available.  This line is designed for the PGA Tour and better players out there.  In fact, the shafts will first be seen on Tour in late November/early December.  Even so, the company is interested in being accessible to all golfers.  The Fit-On Academy is to give the rest of us that Tour fitting experience that used to only be available to the pros.  “The Tour player gets such a benefit from being properly fit.  We wanted to bring this to more golfers”, says Schneider.  The future of shafts at Fujikura will expand to fit mid-handicap and more players.  Essentially, the E Series will already suit a large majority of golfers.

And By The Way

Everyone we met at the facility is an exceptional golfer in their own right.  McCoy claims that he’s “not that great at only about a 4 or 5 handicap”, intern Thompson is a scratch golfer, and Schneider is a +2. 

See For Yourself

With several options for a fitting – from one club to your whole bag – prices start at only $75.  Check the Fujikura website here for all of the package details.

 

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Fujikura launches new Pro 2.0 and Pro 2.0 Tour Spec shafts

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Fujikura has announced the launch of the second generation of its Pro series shafts: the Pro 2.0.

The first iteration of the Pro shafts were designed with a soft handle section to aid in loading. The Pro 2.0 presents an even more effective loading zone, according to the company, which also says torsional stiffness is 14 percent greater in the 2.0.

“Like all of our shafts, the Pro 2.0 has been designed utilizing enso, a 3D motion-capture technology that no one else in the shaft industry has,” said Alex Dee, Vice President at Fujikura Composites America.

“This technology and advanced data analytics has allowed us to crack the code on how club performance and ball flight are affected by shaft characteristics and swing type. When we compared to the original Pro, we saw the 2.0 was significantly easier to swing, had tighter shot dispersion, and lower spin to deliver the club head with more power, control and distance. We were thrilled with the result.”

The Pro 2.0 is painted “Destroyer Grey” with a metallic blue design in line with the original Pro shaft. The Tour Spec model is painted “Tour Spec White.”

The shafts will be available in weight ranges from 57 to 87 grams (5, 6, 7, 8) and in flexes starting at R2 up to X. $225 MSRP; $250 for the Tour Spec model. Hybrid option available for $140.

Available at over 600 qualified Fujikura charter dealers beginning February 1. Full specs at Fujikura.com.

See what GolfWRX members are saying about the Pro 2.0 in the forums.

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Fred Couples signs with Bettinardi, will continue to use FCB putter

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Fred Couples has been using his namesake Bettinardi putter, the FCB (Fred Couples Blade), for the past four years. Now, he’s officially joining Bettinardi’s Tour staff.

Couples, who has won 15 times on the PGA Tour and 13 times on the PGA Tour Champions, will putt exclusively with the company’s flatsticks.

(Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images)

“I’m really looking forward to representing Bettinardi and its beautiful range of hand-made putters, as they always give me great confidence when I’m standing over putts,” said Fred. “Having won 5 times already with a Bettinardi putter, there’s nothing I’d rather be putting with.

Couples averaged 1.70 putts per hole when playing in 12 events with the Bettinardi wand last year.

“Having Fred Couples join our Tour staff is a massive endorsement for Bettinardi Golf,” said founder Robert Bettinardi. “We’re so proud and excited to welcome him to our growing Tour staff. I’m sure he will prove to be a great ambassador for our brand, as he attracts huge crowds and media attention wherever he plays.”

Here’s a look at Boom Boom’s FCB putter.

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Odyssey’s new EXO 2-Ball, Works Red and Black, and Toulon putters

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There’s one thing Odyssey has never struggled with: giving golfers options. Today, the company launched a trunk-full of new putters, including eight Works Red and Black putters, Toulon Atlanta and Portland models, and an Odyssey EXO 2-Ball putter that gives the classic 2-ball design a very new, and premium look.

Most of the new putters, actually, are mallets. More specifically, they are mallets that Odyssey says feel like blade putters; that’s because they’re made with toe hang (like a blade putter) rather than face-balanced designs of typical mallets. Toe hang frees up the face of a putter to open and close, a stroke-style that many golfers employ — amateurs and pros alike.

According to Austie Rollinson, chief designer of Odyssey, there’s been a trend of blade users on Tour switching into mallets because of this toe hang, and that will continue to happen. Odyssey says that of the PGA Tour wins last year, 29 winners used mallets — 14 of those were mallets with toe hang — while there were 20 blade winners. Also, of the top-50 in Strokes Gained: Putting, 31 players used mallets, 13 of which were toe-hang mallets, and 19 players used blades.

Therefore, many of the new putters from Odyssey are toe-hang mallets. Check out all of the new putters below, with info on design, pricing and release dates.

Discussion: See what GolfWRX members are saying about the new putters here

Odyssey Works Red and Black putters

 

The new Works Red and Black putters — adding on to the line of putters released in 2017 — continue to use microhinge face inserts that are designed to “grab” the ball to impart more topspin on the golf ball to get it rolling faster. The new offerings launched today include a No. 1 Wide S, No. 1 Tank, No. 7 Tank, 2-Ball Fang, Marxman, Marxman S, Jailbird Mini and Jailbird Mini S.

They will sell for $199 with a standard Winn AVS midsize pistol grip, and $219 with a SuperStroke grip starting on February 23.

See more photos and join the discussion about the Works Red and Black putters here.

Odyssey EXO 2-Ball

The new EXO 2-Ball, made with Rose Gold PVD, is a premium version of the iconic 2-ball shape. It’s CNC-milled with a microhinge insert, has an aluminum crown with a steel sole plate and Tungsten in the rear portion of the head. The EXO 2-ball also has black circles instead of the familiar white color for which 2-balls are known.

According to Odyssey, it’s a “statement product,” and it will only sell 5,000 of these putters globally. They will sell for $499.99 starting on February 2.

Odyssey says: “Our new Odyssey EXO 2-Ball is a premium limited edition putter unlike any we’ve ever offered. It combines one of the game’s most innovative and iconic putter designs with top-notch materials and meticulous production to create something truly special.”

Toulon Atlanta and Portland

Odyssey’s premium putter brand continues dipping its toes in the mallet style with its new mid-mallet Atlanta and Portland models. They have gunmetal finishes and are 100-percent milled from soft, 303 stainless steel. They also have Toulon’s familiar diamond-milled faces for improved roll.

The Atlanta and Portland models will sell for $399.99 apiece and hit retail on February 2.

Discussion: See what GolfWRX Members are saying about the Toulon Atlanta putter here

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