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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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Forum Thread of the Day: “Oldest club that you game?”

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Today’s Forum Thread of the Day comes from uwhockey14, who asks fellow GolfWRX members for the oldest club that they still use out on the course. Despite the latest technologies continually leading to new and improved equipment, this thread shows that for many of our members, there will always be a place in the bag for that certain trusty older club.

Here are a few posts from the thread, but make sure to check out the entire discussion and have your say at the link below.

  • leo the lion: “Odyssey Dual Force 56 degree wedge which is about 20 years old. These wedges have what I believe are called Stronomic inserts in the face. The inserts are made of a very hard material and still look new. I have not found a wedge that gives more spin and control than these wedges. Ping Eye and ISI’s come close but the Dual Forces can almost stop on a dime. I also have a 52 degree that I will use together with the 56 on shorter courses.”
  • NRJyzr: “Playing Golden Ram Tour Grinds right now, they’re approximately 38 years old.”
  • Moonlightgrm: “My Ping ISI irons are 18-years old. Nothing can move them out of my bag. Easy to hit and very forgiving. I tried a set of Mizuno JPX900 forged this year, and they lasted exactly 3-rounds.”
  • sneaky_pete: “18* Mizuno Fli Hi II Driving Iron from around 2006/2007.  This will never leave the bag! Also still rocking my Adams Speedline Super S 3 wood from 2012.”
  • dpb5031: “Arnold Palmer AP30r blade putter – ~50 years old. Kasco K2K #33 (sorta between a 2 hybrid & 5 wood) – 18 years old.”

Entire Thread: “Oldest club that you game?”

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Wilson Staff Cortex wins “Driver vs. Driver 2” (in-hand photos)

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Designed by show contestant Evan Hoffman of San Diego, California, the Wilson Staff Cortex is the winning driver design of the second season of Driver vs. Driver.

The titanium-bodied Cortex features carbon panels and a sliding adjustable weight system.

Additional Cortex features

Fast Cage Technology — The company describes this as, a “weight-tuned titanium internal structure with an impressive 44% of its surface area covered in Carbon Fiber Panels. This Ti –Carbon construction allows for extremely precise distribution of weight and frees up additional weight for maximum adjustability.”

Wilson’s longest ever Slide Track — An eight gram sliding adjustable weight is positioned in the center of the head. Additionally interchangeable two and eight-gram weights can be adjusted on the sole and heel of the club.

Fast Fit Technology hosel system — Players have six adjustable options to dial in the loft of the driver in half-degree increments.

A Fujikura ATMOS Tour Spec shaft — red, blue, or black — is standard.

“Season Two of the show yielded two amazing finalists; the Cortex and the Rozwell,”
said Tim Clarke, President of Wilson Golf. “Ulimately, the Cortex came out on top with
its clean, classic shape, overall consistent performance results from a wide range of
player testers, and steady sound across the entire face of the club. We are excited to get
this driver into the hands of players at all levels of the game.”

Hoffman presented his original concept to Wilson LABS, and the engineers chose if from hundreds of submissions. After a nearly two-year process of refining, Hoffman is the winner of a $250,000 grand prize and the inclusion of his creation in the Wilson Staff Line.

The Wilson Staff Cortex will retail for $499.99 and will be available in 9-, 10.5-, and 12-degree models.

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Forum Thread of the Day: “Softest, most forgiving players cavity irons?”

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Today’s Forum Thread of the Day comes from moorebaseball, who asks fellow GolfWRX members for their recommendations on soft and forgiving players cavity irons. A whole host of different irons get a mention in the thread, with Mizuno’s cavity irons proving to be one of the most popular choices amongst our members.

Here are a few posts from the thread, but make sure to check out the entire discussion and have your say at the link below.

  • jimb: “I haven’t hit anything better feeling than the 2013 Callaway X-Forged.”
  • deep18: “As others have said, JPX919 Tour. Players look but according to Mizuno’s data, slightly more forgiving than the AP3 and almost as forgiving as the MMC.”
  • elwhippy: “Mizuno will be the softest. Srixon a close second. I imagine the TM will be most forgiving. AP2s are very blade like in their performance. P760 goes very high and straight with DG 105 and 120 shafts.”
  • 300_Straight: “Wilson V6 Tour is also a great feeling iron from what I’ve heard. Never personally tested it, though. Any Srixon 7 or 9 series irons are very soft, as are most Mizunos, Callaway X Forged, etc.”

Entire Thread: “Softest, most forgiving players cavity irons?”

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