We are creatures of habit, or so I’ve been told. And God knows old habits are hard to break. Just ask my right leg that simply refuses to stop reverse-pivoting, despite my best intentions.
Equally hard to break are pre-conceived notions and superstitions. There are hundreds of them to be sure, but I want to focus on one particular idea in golf that seems to be largely unchallenged for its conventional wisdom: The more flexible the shaft, the less accurate it is.
You may have heard a similar version of the same idea. Stiffer shafts offer straighter shots, faster swingers need stronger shafts, and whippier shafts result in more slice. But a recent find has caused me to challenge this well-established notion—that an ultralight, super flexible shaft (44 grams) is claiming to be not only straighter but longer as well.
My first reaction: “NO WAY”. The shaft would practically be a fishing rod. There’s no way that it would stand up to my normal swing speed of 98~100 mph.
But the kicker was that the makers of this ‘breakthrough’ shaft doubled down on me by claiming that their fishing rod-esque shaft can hold under swing speeds of up to 150mph! That’s up in the territory of world long drive champions-and they are practically inhuman! Now I was scoffing out loud—time to put the money where their mouth was.
(Jung-hwan MOON, member of Korean National long drive team, testing out the new AutoFlex FS505 shaft)
The new shaft is named AUTO FLEX. Sounds a little cheesy, until you realize that Dumina Inc., the South Korean shaft manufacturer, also makes AUTO POWER shafts that have caused a local sensation on the KLPGA and elite amateur circles over the past few years.
Autopower shafts have proven itself to be effective, largely due to a wide range of 50+ shafts offering a much smaller gapping of about 5-10 CPMs between shafts. It allowed golfers to dial into their particular swing speed more effectively. Its use of their proprietary weaving pattern and as-yet-undisclosed material KHT (Korea Hidden Technology!?) also did what it said it would. Smooth feel, mid-high launch, and great accuracy/forgiveness.
FLEXING SOME MUSCLE
Enter AUTO FLEX, the new generation of shafts that Dumina claims will make the game of golf easier and more enjoyable for all golfers. By allowing golfers to swing more easily and smoothly with a much lighter shaft, golfers will not only feel fewer aches and pains but that their scores will improve as well.
Oh, and did I mention that there are only 3 shafts that are supposed to fit all levels of swing speeds from 65 to 150mph?
“NO WAY”, you say? I told you so.
According to the specs provided, I was fit for the SF405 shaft. The SF stands for ‘Spec Free’ meaning that these shafts do not follow the conventional labeling system of R, S, X, and weight. The first few waggles and I was at a loss for words.
Dumina claimed that after three rounds with the Autoflex, I would be well adjusted and that results would be prominent. I began by hitting a few shots with the 43-gram shaft and immediately noticed that the shaft had something much more than meets the eye.
Once I got over the initial doubt that a whippy shaft would not be able to square up to the ball at impact and started to swing normally, the shots flew straight with a bump up in launch angle. The higher launch (from 9º up to 13º) gave me more carry distance over my previous gamer, but I thought it might be increasing my backspin. But a quick check with a launch monitor showed an average of 2,000-2,100 RPM, which was about the same as before.
But the most noticeable numbers were from the total distance, which was about 5~7 yards farther than my usual average. This was surprising because I felt I was swinging a little slower and smoother than before (it may be from the fear that the whippy shaft may cause a duck hook), but the average ball speed increased from 62~63mph to about 65.
I venture that because the shaft is more flexible, it causes the head speed to increase, kind of like cracking a whip of sorts. This somewhat fits into my current belief that a more flexible shaft hits the ball longer (at the expense of accuracy).
Pretty darn good numbers for me, but ZERO side spin means a straight as an arrow shot and 1.50 smash factor.
The numbers on the launch monitor were impressive for my standards and usual play. But it needed to be tested out on the course.
At the time of this article, I have played some 10 rounds with the new AutoFlex shaft on my Cobra F9 driver (10.5°, 45.25 inches at D2) and I couldn’t be happier with my results. My driving accuracy has significantly improved over the conventional shaft (HZRDUS Smoke 6S).
I’ve played in both fair and very windy conditions, and the results were the same. I was finding a lot more fairway than ever before. That pesky little draw at the end that rolls the ball into the left rough has all but disappeared.
To be frank, I didn’t see much change in the overall distance as well-struck shots from both my old gamer and new shaft tended to go about the same distance. However, it was the frequency of how often I was able to hit the sweet spot with the new shaft that made me feel much more confident in swinging the driver on the tightest of fairways.
I am still searching for the right words to explain it, but the driver feels whippy on the backswing and yet it feels like the entire length of the shaft firms up on the downswing and at impact. At times, I was certain that the shot completely missed the center of the face and a quick check confirmed that I struck the ball on the heel or toe, well outside the center. But the resulting ball flight is either a slight push or pull with a small distance loss of about 10 yards. Yet, no bananas or duck hooks that I’ve come to associate with such mishits and feedback to the hands. What sorcery is this?
But the most beneficial factor for me was that I was swinging the club much easier and with less energy exertion than I would have done with a heavier, stiffer shaft. I had a lower back disc surgery five years ago that prevents me from making a full turn and a limited finish. Playing with longer-hitting friends invariably leads me to try to swing harder at a faster tempo, usually leading to ballooning scores.
With AutoFlex, once I dialed into the new reality with an adjusted belief about whippier shafts, I was able to maintain both accuracy and distance for the whole round and not feel as tired. And I was better able to maintain my balance with a smoother swing and not have to worry about losing distance. Perhaps this is what let me hit the face center more often. Just like the namesake, it was as if the shaft was automatically trying to help fix my swing flaws to provide maximum forgiveness.
Whatever it is, I was sold.
I now have the same spec AutoFlex shaft in my 3-wood as well. If I had trouble getting my fairway woods up in the air previously, no one would suspect that of me now.
I would love to replace all of my shafts, irons and all if I could afford it, but unfortunately, the shafts are quite expensive. The company tells me that the “hidden technology” material and the manufacturing process is quite costly (nearly seven times over regular shaft manufacturing cost), and they are available in limited quantities at 950,000 KRW (about $775) each.
For me, the proof was in my new-found fearlessness with the driver and wood. I get a kick out of waggling my driver on the first tee to the shock of my playing partners and then bust a drive down the middle. Some still can’t come to grips with the shaft despite trying for themselves. And the makers of the shaft are keeping their lips sealed on what makes the shaft behave differently than the commonly held perceptions. In fact, Dumina has not applied for a patent at all, stating that once their secret is out, it will change the way we play golf and limit their business from copycats. So whatever KHT is about, it will remain undisclosed for the time being.
What do you think? Do you have any ideas on how the AutoFlex shaft works or what are its component materials? I would be interested in hearing from other gear heads out there!
Bridgestone launches special First Tee edition e6 ball
Bridgestone Golf has launched a special First Tee edition e6 golf ball, with a portion of the proceeds going directly to First Tee, a youth development organization that helps kids and teens build their strength of character through golf.
The special First Tee edition ball is available now exclusively through PGA Tour Superstore and comes in both white and optic yellow color codes.
“We’re very pleased to offer this special First Tee edition e6, exclusively at PGA Tour Superstore. For decades, First Tee has done very fine work, helping young people learn and grow through the game of golf, building strong individuals and communities. It is an honor to create a dedicated product where the proceeds from the sales will bolster their charitable endeavors.” – Dan Murphy, President and CEO, Bridgestone Golf
As a reminder, the e6 is the longest-running model in Bridgestone’s current lineup. The latest model, new for 2021, features a larger, softer core in design for a more responsive feel added distance for moderate swing speed players.
The new design, which is specifically tailored to modern players who value a ball that provides a very soft feel at impact, retails for $21.99 per dozen.
Adidas unveils new Stan Smith golf shoe in classic colorway
Adidas Golf is bringing the classic Stan Smith colorway to the course, with the new unmistakable white and green golf shoe.
Building upon the new PimeGreen upper made with high-performance recycled materials1 as part of Adidas’ mission to End Plastic Waste, this version is also waterproof (one-year warranty) to help keep golfers dry both on and off the course.
The new Stan Smith golf shoe features a PU cushioning in targeted areas in the midsole to go alongside a PU die-cut sockliner in a bid to provide maximum comfort.
The shoe also contains an adiwear spikeless outsole that features lugs inspired by the shoe’s original sole design, offering some added traction for all course conditions to go along with their style.
“When we were talking about bringing this shoe into golf, the original white and green colorway was a must-have as part of our planning. The Stan Smith silhouette is known throughout the world for being so versatile from a fashion standpoint, so we’re excited to give golfers that same style and versatility for when they head out to the course, now in a more sustainable way.” – Masun Denison, global footwear director, Adidas Golf.
As an ode to the traditions of the past, Adidas has also included a removable white kiltie to provide players another way to wear their shoes and give off some added flair for their round.
This classic white and green colorway of the Stan Smith Golf will be available on adidas.com, through the Adidas app, and at select retail partners worldwide beginning Saturday, May 1.
Lob wedge or no lob wedge? – GolfWRXers discuss
In our forums, our members have been discussing the necessity of a lob wedge. WRXer ‘rickybooby25’ kicks off the thread, saying
“Do you use a Lob wedge in your current set-up or not? Players nowadays immediately default to using a LW when playing a chip shot around the greens. I currently have a LW in the bag but have been debating on taking it out completely because it creates bad habits when facing a chip shot. What are your thoughts?”
And our members have been sharing their thoughts on the subject in the forum, with some very interesting responses.
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.
- Chadwickog: “I am in the NO lob wedge camp, it simplifies the decision making when it comes to wedge play, and all shots are still possible if you know how to hit them.”
- jholz: “I’ve always looked at the lob wedge as a specialty club for special situations. Lower lofted wedges (54* or 56*) are the ones I use for the vast majority of generic chip shots.”
- timmekang: “I’ve mentioned this in prior posts, but I carry 2 lob wedges. Not all lob wedges are created equal to don’t be afraid to bring more than 1 out on the course with different bounce/grind/etc. and see what works best depending on your lie and circumstances.”
- lefthack: “I bought one, learned to hit it, but didn’t find a need for it in my bag when there are other clubs I would use more.”
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