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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 Ryan, an entrepreneur and scientist, is a passionate golfer who loves his local muni. Armed with a keen interest in the game, a large network of friends in the industry, Brendan works to find and produce unique content for GolfWRX.

25 Comments

25 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.

    • John

      Nov 2, 2020 at 12:29 pm

      This has to be one of the most ignorant, clueles and un-informed comments iver ever read on the subject of shafts. Im guessing you are a high handicapper with a scratch mouth.

      Rubbish.

    • Gerry Teigrob

      Apr 5, 2021 at 12:03 am

      I don’t need steel. I need confidence in my game. Steel doesn’t do that for me!

  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.

    • Gerry Teigrob

      Apr 5, 2021 at 12:06 am

      Actually Rickie Fowler, Bryson deChambleau, Matt Kuchar among others play graphite shafts. Checked what’s in their golf bag lately?

  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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