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The future of iron shafts is graphite

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For me, the process to accept the superiority of graphite has not been easy. Like many GolfWRX readers, I grew up with a clear goal—become an elite player. A rite of passage on this journey, was when you finally had enough speed to get True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts in your blade irons.

I remember the day well. I also remember not having much difference in performance after making the change. Instead, the only real difference I experience was a lack of feel (which many describe as “boardiness”).

I was a victim of a bogus narrative, but as I have gotten older, I have also gotten smarter. I have awoken to the truth in 2020: Steel is good, but graphite shafts are the future of golf, especially for irons for the average player.

Let me explain. To understand why graphite is becoming a superior option, you must understand two important inputs of the design and manufacturing of shafts. The first is taper and the second is the thickness of the walls of the shafts. Together these factors combine to influence everything we think we love about steel. However, they are also extremely fixed; you cannot do a lot with the material. That is simply not true for graphite. Instead, graphite gives shaft manufacturers options. Options can result in way better performance for you.

So, what does this mean for you?

Let me share my own experience which started a couple of months ago when I learned that I would be moving from Florida to Denver. I was excited for the change of pace but quickly had questions—how would this impact my set makeup? With some questions in mind, I reached out to an old friend, Gawain Robertson of ACCRA (True Temper). I wanted to know how I could take advantage of the altitude and become the inner bomber I always knew I was!

With Gawain’s expertise, we developed a profile for the shaft that I wanted: something about 85 grams, 3.0 degrees of torque, and higher spin to go with a set of PXG 0211 iron heads. The intent was to create a combination, which was going to be easy to have max peak apex with lower spin, resulting more distance.

So, a set was built: 0211’s with custom ACCRA graphite shafts, 1/2 inch long, 2 degrees flat with Golf Pride New Decade MCC Grips.

As soon as I got to Denver, I was excited to test. I got a bucket, set up my FlightScope and started to smash 6-irons (Bugattis do not need to warm-up). The results? Over 15 shots my numbers where what I wanted, my smash stayed at an average of 1.39 but my peak apex went up from 28 to 33, my clubhead speed up from 86 to 89 mph, but my spin was about the same, hovering around 6,000 RPM, or in plain language 200-yard high, long 6-irons.

Graphite shaft technology is only going to improve, and we are, to use a ball flight term, far from the apex. I believe the future of iron shafts, in general, will be graphite—I know that, in my particular case, I’ll never see the glimmer of steel when I stand over an iron shot again.

 

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Brendan is the owner of Golf Placement Services, a boutique business which aims to apply his background in golf and higher education to help educate players, their families and coaches about the process! Website - www.golfplacementservices.com Insta - golf.placement.sevices Twitter @BMRGolf

22 Comments

22 Comments

  1. Speedy

    Sep 14, 2020 at 11:39 am

    Niche. Makes sense for a few amateur cases (seniors, ladies, injuries, etc.). Most need steel.

    I’d prefer hickory to graphite for irons, but that ain’t gonna happen. Steel rules.

  2. Craig

    Aug 18, 2020 at 3:25 pm

    I like the thought of graphite shafts in the irons, I always run into issues with the wedges, either the exact shaft isn’t an option, or the steel options are too light.

  3. Matt Brown

    Aug 17, 2020 at 4:54 pm

    With having wrist surgery, I just switched to graphite shafts for irons and wedges, to give my joints a break. I don’t know why anyone wouldn’t put these in play. Golf is bad enough on the body, might as well take any advantage you can.

  4. ht

    Aug 17, 2020 at 4:26 pm

    For a guy with 110-115 mph driver swing (think it’s like 90-94 mph with a 6-7 iron) that wants to tinker, what would someone recommend? Need x-100 specs. Low low

    • BT

      Aug 19, 2020 at 12:57 pm

      Recoil Proto 125 F5 OR Steelfiber i125CW S or X.

    • Jesse

      Aug 25, 2020 at 11:20 am

      I recently switched to graphite (Fuji Pro 115 TS) after back surgery and couldn’t be happier, once you get over the ego issue (which you will have) they are superior to steel in every way.

    • geohogan

      Aug 25, 2020 at 2:58 pm

      Nunchuk Xi, 100 gram shaft, with stiffest tip possible.

  5. Bob Pegram

    Aug 17, 2020 at 3:23 pm

    The specs of graphite shafts can vary a lot more than the specs of steel shafts – bend point, weight distribution, amount of torque, total weight, etc. That is intentional. That makes using a good club fitter with FlightScope, Trackman, etc. more important. I used Dynalite Gold X-100 shafts on blades for a long time. They worked great, but somebody stole my clubs. I eventually found the same heads on Ebay, but they had Dynamic Gold S400 shafts – too heavy. My distances shrank. I switched to X-flex graphite shafts and got my distances back. They also mute the shock of impact. I now use longer length irons (+1.5 inches) with forged cavity back heads. Without graphite they would be way too heavy. They work great. The longer lengths take the stress off my old inflexible back. I hit the ball the same distances I did with the Dynalite shafts 20 years ago.

  6. Trevino

    Aug 16, 2020 at 5:09 pm

    The future of golf is $65 a shaft.

  7. Sam

    Aug 16, 2020 at 4:24 pm

    Then why don’t the pros use graphite shafts in their irons.

    This is the beauty of golf. What works for one won’t work for everyone else.
    I’ve tried my dad’s graphite shafted irons and just nope.
    Steel for me untill I’m older probably. Each to their own.
    Also, 200 yard 6 iron, that sounds like taking the fun pit of golf.

    • Reid Thompson

      Aug 17, 2020 at 8:46 am

      Re : Pros – Its going to take some some time for generatiosn to grow up with it. If a guy has 30 years of success with an x100, there is a mental component too. Its very expensive to put a graphite shaft set in a kid’s set.

      Dads Graphite – These are potentially not your dad’s graphite. The progress made in just the last couple years is insane. The strength to weight ratio and consistency of graphite vs steel is a joke. There’s no comparison and graphite allows you to put weight where you want it. For a price.

    • Bob Pegram

      Aug 17, 2020 at 3:27 pm

      A few touring pros do use graphite shafts in their irons – Brandt Snedeker, Matt Kuchar, sometimes others.

    • MIKE

      Sep 4, 2020 at 11:24 am

      Look at some of the pro’s longer (& driving) irons, more are graphite than you think. Every hybrid I’ve seen on the PGA/LPGA & Champions tour is graphite. The quality of graphite shafts has changed dramatically over the past decade. I never thought I’d go graphite but except for my SW & LW, I’m all in now.

  8. JRube

    Aug 16, 2020 at 9:25 am

    You’re also hitting a ball in the mile high air of Denver versus Florida….

    • Matt

      Aug 16, 2020 at 2:47 pm

      Next article “low density air is the future of golf”

  9. Stay puft

    Aug 16, 2020 at 5:07 am

    So why have we always seen graphite costing so much more? This isn’t new. This conversation is at least 30 years old! One question mark I’d have and maybe this is more relevant to a better player is weight. I’d have thought steel shafts can get to a heavier weight without as much engineering naturally. So for players that need a stiffer and heavier shaft, perhaps this is why steel is still in use after this talk track for the last 20-30 years.it doesn’t need thick walls to get to weight and what’s the impact of having thicker walls in shafts for an iron? What differences do you feel or see in performance. Graphite in irons hasn’t caught on for a reason. It’s likely down to more than a single factor like cost or weight, torque or feel. Whatever it is, I don’t see it happening anytime soon.

    • geohogan

      Aug 25, 2020 at 6:02 pm

      A heavier (100 gram), stiffer graphite shaft is found in Nunchuk for woods and irons.
      The butt is made stiffer with thicker wall, which also counter balances the shaft
      just as hickory shafts were naturally counterbalanced.

  10. RGoulart

    Aug 15, 2020 at 2:49 pm

    From a technology standpoint I can see how graphite is, even now, better than steel. OEMs are able to achieve with much higher accuracy the profile a player needs. However, cost is “steel” a major factor when making a purchase. I am sure OEMs will figure out a way to make them cheaper in the long term, but at the moment I cannot see it being adopted by the average golfer.

    • Bib

      Aug 15, 2020 at 9:47 pm

      A graphite shaft costs a manufacturer like 6 bucks to make .steel is something like a dollar. How much cheaper does it need to be?

    • Mike

      Aug 16, 2020 at 10:10 pm

      Not sure if I’m getting the gist of the comment, but in the last two iron sets I purchased, graphite OEM stock shafts were $10 more each. I bought six irons both times, That’s 60 bucks more each purchase. That $60 was irrelevant to me in terms of buying a new set of irons

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Equipment

Wunder: Titleist TSi driver first impressions

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Three things I want to address before I kick this off.

  1. “Better, best” will not be addressed. It’s never about that these days only what works for me or you.
  2. I’m not adding TrackMan data to this for one simple reason: It doesn’t matter to me for a first impression. I can get lost in the data and ultimately it confuses my ability to just enjoy the sound feel and look of the driver. Obviously, the fitting was on TrackMan, but in the past, successful drivers for me started with the emotional part. Simply, do I like the thing? Can I look at it? Can I trust it? Can I hit shots with it? That’s it.
  3. When I say “spin this” and “spin that,” it’s always addressing a positive aspect.

On Tuesday of this week, I had the good fortune of visiting the Titleist Performance Institute (TPI in Oceanside, California) to do my TSi metal woods fitting. Won’t get too far into that, but essentially it’s golf heaven in every sense of the word. Like TaylorMade’s Kingdom or Callaway’s ECPC, TPI it’s a gearhead paradise.

Titleist Master Fitter Joey Saewitz (@thejoeysaewitz on IG) was my fitter and after hitting a few balls to warm up, we dug into my gamer driver that I adore.

Current Gamer Spec

TaylorMade SIM (9 degrees @ 8.5). Fujikura Ventus Black 6X (no tipping) 45 inches, D4, GolfPride BCT 58R

I have been constantly messing with my driver between new shafts, lofts, lie, etc. Since I’ve been playing a bit more this month, I’ve had the chance to work on my swing and the driver has been the last thing to come around. I’m working on decreasing dynamic loft through the bag and have not adjusted my driver to match. The point is, I’m hitting the driver solid but have lost a ton of height and spin to keep it in the air.

I’m saying this now because for key metrics I was at a deficiency because of the craftsman not his tools. The SIM I was fit into was/is excellent. So, as you read on, keep in mind that I knew that numbers-wise apples to apples my setup was vulnerable to getting beat out due to my tinkering.

Thoughts

My average numbers these days are are 105-108 mph swing speed, 155-160 mph ball speed, 14-degree launch, and 1,800-2,000 spin. At 43-years-old, when I’m hitting it solid I get a lot out of my driver. IF I’m swinging well, at my low spin, off days can be nauseating with the driver.

LOOKS

TSi3: If two of my favorite drivers 975D and R7 Superquad TP had a baby, the TSi3 would be it. Its flawless appearance-wise. The heel section gives it an onset look that the faders will love and the top line toe section is a bit rounded off to give it an open look without having to crank it open. Not the first time we have heard that but nonetheless, Titleist nailed it.

The face has a cool matte finish that I can’t get into yet, but it frames a white ball excellently.

TSi2: Like the TS2, it has that high-MOI shape, although I will say the top line and transitions are a bit softer on the eye. It’s a driver that looks like it just wants to go high and far. If I wanted to hit something as hard as I could that’s the shape I would look for.

Side note—the black shafts in the TSi3 are almost too cool to even look at—the closest thing to a Darth Vader golf club I have ever seen.

FEEL/SOUND

This is where they really figured it out. Titleist drivers in the past to my ear sounded good but not great. There was always an essence of ting that I couldn’t fall in love with. The TSi series fixed that in totality, like all the great drivers on the market in 2020 it has that hammerhead thud that I adore. When you crunch it, you literally hear crunch. At impact, however, it has a more compressiony (is that a word?) feel than its competitors. The comparison would be a one-piece forged feel vs a hollow body players iron. Both feel excellent but there is a difference. You can feel the ball squeeze into the face which I think most will notice and respond well to.

PERFORMANCE—Not going to compare it to my gamer as it’s not fair, I gear headed my gamer to the point of lunacy. I will only comment on what the TSi series did while testing.

TSi3: The biggest standout here was usable spin. I am not a high-spin player by any stretch, so if I can find a driver that gets me 2,100-2,200 consistently when I flush it, it’s a contender. For a player at my speed to sneak it out there with the big hitters, I have to launch it at 14 at 1,700 spin, and hope I’m aimed correctly. What I found with the TSi was I was getting that performance at 2,100-2,200, and if anything only giving up 2-3 yards all while doing it 5/10 times as opposed to 2/10.

What does all that jibberish add up to? Consistency and something I can play with. Is it longer than my gamer? I have no idea, but we will find out. What I know is I hit a bunch of really good shots with TSi3, and after I got going with it, it was point and shoot. Stable? Yes. Long? Yes. Forgiving? Yes. Playable? Yes.

TSi2: To be honest I only hit a few with the Tsi2 as its not my genre of music. What I can say is it feels apples to apples with the Tsi3, launches higher with a bit more spin, and goes really straight. No shocker there. The high MOI category has a bunch of contenders, and in my opinion, it’s a head weight game. Heavy is always better for stability.

The setup I landed on

I was fit into the (D4 SureFit setting 9 degrees @ 9.75, flat) however after testing a bit at home on course and range, I landed on the D1 setting, which I like. For whatever reason, I can play Tsi3 at 8.25 and still maintain height spin and it flew about five yards further.

Final setup

Driver: Titleist TSi3 (9 degrees @8.25, D1 SureFit, 44.5 inches, D4 swing weight)

Shaft: Fujikura Ventus Black 6 X (tipped 1)

Overall, the TSi Series drivers will be VERY popular but not for the reasons you would think. It’s playable, you can hit shots with it, that’s the mark of a GREAT golf club. It’s not all ball speeds and carry anymore in my opinion. This is a driver I can go out and play well with, that’s huge for a hack like me. In my experience, I can’t say that about a lot of drivers I’ve tried to make work in the last four to five years. That’s just me. Lots of great drivers every year but I’m a hard case and finding one that’s just right is a challenge.

Ultimately, for me, the best driver on the market is SIM hands down because it performs in the hitting bay and even better on the course—my hunch is Titleist has something that will do the same.

It’s a beautiful driver that I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know.

 

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Equipment

GolfWRX Classifieds (9/25/20): Titleist U510, XXIO Red, Tour issue M5 head

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At GolfWRX, we love golf equipment plain and simple.

We are a community of like-minded individuals that all experience and express our enjoyment for the game in many ways. It’s that sense of community that drives day-to-day interactions in the forums on topics that range from best driver to what marker you use to mark your ball, it even allows us to share another thing – the equipment itself.

One of the best ways to enjoy equipment is to experiment and whether you are looking to buy-sell-or trade (as the name suggests) you can find almost anything in the GolfWRX BST Forum. From one-off custom Scotty Cameron Circle T putters, to iron sets, wedges, and barely hit drivers, you can find it all in our constantly updated marketplace.

These are some of the latest cool finds from the GolfWRX BST, and if you are curious about the rules to participate in the BST Forum you can check them out here: GolfWRX BST Rules

Member Yenmaster – TaylorMade M5 driver head

If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it 100 times—if you already have a shaft that you love, buying a driver head is the best way to upgrade and save a few bucks along the way. Is it time for you to trade up?

To see the full listing and additional pictures check out the link here: M5 Driver head

Member dansrixon – XXIO X Red Driver

This listing is littered with really cool and rare drivers and fairway woods from Cleveland, Srixon, and XXIO, including the XXIO Red driver looking for a new home.

To see the full listing and additional pictures check out the link here: XXIO Driver

Member kkennedy – Titleist U510 1-iron

The new U500 series utilities are the fastest and most forgiving Titleist have ever made, so if you are looking for a club to keep the ball out of the wind—here you go!

To see the full listing and additional pictures check out the link here: Titleist 1 Iron

Remember that you can always browse the GolfWRX Classifieds any time here in our forums: GolfWRX Classifieds

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Whats in the Bag

WITB GolfWRX Members Edition: Rkelso1984

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Recently we put out the call for our members to submit their WITBs in our forum to be featured on the GolfWRX front page. Since then, our members have been responding in numbers!

Now it’s time to take a look at the bag of Rkelso1984.

*Full details on the submission process can be found here, and you can submit your WITB in this forum thread.*

Member: Rkelso1984

Rkelso1984WITB

Driver: Callaway Mavrik Max (10.5 degrees, set to 9.25 degrees)
Shaft: Oban Devotion-6 04 Flex 65g

3-wood: Callaway Mavrik Sub Zero (15 degrees)
Shaft: Aldila Rouge 130MSI 70s

5-wood: Callaway Mavrik Sub Zero (18 degrees)
Shaft: Aldila Rouge 130MSI 70s

Hybrid: Titleist TS2 (19 degrees, set to 20.5 degrees)
Shaft: Project X Evenflow 6.0S 90g HY

Irons: Mizuno JPX 919 HMP (5-PW)
Shafts: KBS C-Taper lite 110s

Wedges:  Mizuno JPX 919 (50 degrees), Callaway Jaws (54, 58 degrees)
Shafts: KBS C-Taper lite 110s, KBS Hi-Rev 125s

Putter: Ping Heppler Ketsch (34″)

Putter Grip: Golf Pride Tour SNSR Contour Pro 140cc

Golf Ball: Taylormade TP5x PIX

Grips: SuperStroke TX1 Mid + 1 Wrap

Get submitting your WITB in our forum as we’ll be publishing more and more of them on our front page over the coming days and weeks.

Feel free to make it your own too by including some thoughts on your setup, your age, handicap, etc. Anything you feel is relevant!

Share your WITBs here.

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