Graphite iron shafts are ready for their close-up

I grew up playing the game of golf. After 30-plus years, I switched from steel iron shafts to graphite. Maybe I wasn’t the classic (...)

Graphite iron shafts are ready for their close-up

I grew up playing the game of golf. After 30-plus years, I switched from steel iron shafts to graphite. Maybe I wasn’t the classic candidate for graphite: Early 40s, single-digit handicap, mid-90s mph swing speed with 6-iron (driver swing speed north of 100 mph). But my hands, wrists and lower back needed a break, and I liked the idea of graphite reducing the shock felt at impact. Graphite iron shafts, at the time, had the stigma of being for senior golfers with slow swing speeds in desperate need of distance. In addition, the shafts cost more than steel and naysayers felt the carbon fiber poles produced less consistent results.

Some of the criticisms might’ve been true in the past. But, in 2021, the shafts are a viable option for all player types, regardless of age or ability. Graphite might not overtake steel anytime soon in the Irons fiefdom. After all, steel’s been king since it replaced hickory nearly 100 years ago. But you’re doing a disservice if you don’t consider graphite for your next set of irons. Here’s why.

To start, price shouldn’t be a deterrent anymore. Nowadays, aftermarket graphite is competitively priced to steel. Consumers can expect to pay an extra $150-$200 for a set of graphite-shafted irons (7 clubs). Granted, it’s not an insignificant amount but one that isn’t a dealbreaker for many golfers.

Graphite iron shafts are more consistent, too. Smarter designs and better materials have driven performance improvements in feel, distance control and dispersion. Fujikura, for example, collects tons of data at various swing speeds. The company has a high-speed 3D motion capture camera system, called Enso®, that reveals how shafts bend, deflect and twist prior to impact. Enso® enables its R&D team to take advantage of intellectual property (IP). The formula? Pair the IP with strong, light materials boasting “maximum carbon-fiber content.”

Of course, feel is uber-critical in irons. Years ago, the makers of graphite shafts would have to wrap material over and over in the same section (usually, toward the tip) to get the shaft comparable to steel in terms of swingweight and length. Just one problem: Heavier graphite shafts often felt “boardy,” or harsh, at impact. Five years ago, Fujikura began using High Density Composite Core (HDCC), a 7-gram composite insert in the tip section of Pro and Vista Pro iron shafts. With HDCC, Fujikura no longer has to wrap additional layers in the tip to get to swingweights. Their shafts are plenty stiff with better feel, in part, due to the larger inner diameter.

There’s more. Through materials and manufacturing processes, graphite companies can create numerous shaft profiles to suit specific players’ needs. For instance, Fujikura can increase stiffness in different sections of the shaft without adding weight. That means a stiff, lightweight (65-gram) shaft is possible. In general, the same cannot be said for steel. In order to manufacture a stiffer shaft, it’ll have to get heavier as well.

Fujikura’s robust lineup of iron shafts includes a vast array of weights, flexes, shot profiles and prices, making it easy to fit a variety of golfers. Weights range from 40 to 115 grams, in Ladies flex to Extra-Stiff. “That’s huge for good fitters,” says Nick Sherburne, founder of Club Champion Golf, the industry’s largest high-end custom fitter with 85 locations nationwide. “Weight is so important to a good fit and having those offerings set them apart. Some brands only offer certain weights in certain flexes.” Sherburne adds, “Fujikura has a nice mix of lighter-weight shafts that produce a higher ball flight and other models that deliver lower flight. And, likewise, they have heavier shafts that contribute to higher trajectory and ones for a low-piercing flight.”

Product design flexibility. High-end materials. Shock-absorption qualities. Competitive pricing. It all adds up to products worth testing when it’s time to upgrade your iron game.

Source : Golf Week More   

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Golf Association of Michigan’s Youth Program Finding Success Through Play

FARMINGTON HILLS, Mich. – Mix together a Golf Association of Michigan (GAM) president bullish on greater access to the game for (...)

Golf Association of Michigan’s Youth Program Finding Success Through Play

FARMINGTON HILLS, Mich. – Mix together a Golf Association of Michigan (GAM) president bullish on greater access to the game for young people, the GAM Foundation’s Youth on Course support program,  fundraisers like the 100 Hole Hike and YOC Celebration Day and the result is 6,495 golfers under age 18 having a fist-pumping fun and affordable golf season.

Heading into October there were 6,495 YOC members through the GAM playing 12,364 rounds of golf and hitting 1,447 buckets of balls this season, all for $5 or less. In addition, $72,250 had been paid to the state’s participating courses by the GAM Foundation.

GAM president Mark Bultema of Grand Rapids, pushed an agenda of inclusion and pulled off fundraising as well. He said he started playing the game at age eight at city-owned Indian Trails Golf Course in Grand Rapids. In August, the course played host to the first YOC Celebration Day that raised over $50,000 while giving dozens of young golfers and their families a day of golf fun.

“I had a chance recently to look back on my life’s journey and the one thing that has been a constant is the enjoyment I have had playing golf,” Bultema said. “The most memorable times I have are playing with my two children, their spouses and my seven grandchildren. What a blessing, and it all started when I was eight years old and my first round of golf at Indian Trails. I would have been one of the Youth On Course members if the program had been available.”

GAM Executive Director Chris Whitten lauded Bultema’s efforts and leadership.

“Mark’s a planner and he had a great vision for it, both parts, the fundraising to support the kids and then welcoming the kids and letting them play golf,” he said. “It was a special afternoon, and because of all the good planning of Mark and the GAM staff, I thought it just went beautifully.”

Cut to recent weeks and for the third consecutive year the GAM participating in the 100 Hole Hike fundraiser for Youth on Course. It raised over $30,000 thanks to generous donors and GAM staff members and others walking more than 100 holes at two sites (Boyne Highlands Resort in Harbor Springs, Country Club of Detroit in Grosse Pointe Farms), each toting their own golf bags after collecting pledges.

“The Michigan 100 Hole Hike exceeded all expectations this year,” Whitten said. “More Hikers took on the challenge and we spread out to two new locations,” Whitten said. “We had a lot of fun and raised some great awareness for Youth on Course Michigan. I can’t thank these golfers enough.”

Whitten said the participating golf courses across the state, over 70 of them, do get subsidized but are playing a key role as well.

“To be fair, what we subsidize is a negotiated rate,” he said. “They have skin in the game, too. They are working with us on a workable rate that makes it all possible. It means in the end it’s going to be good for the game of golf in Michigan because we’ll keep growing it for everybody and making it more and more accessible. The funds raised help pay for a lot of golf rounds.”

Whitten, Ken Hartmann (GAM Senior Director of Competitions), Charlotte Sypula (USGA Boatwright Intern), golf professionals Corey May, Scott Pussehl and Patrick Wilkes-Krier, Ann Arbor philanthropist Michael Nisson and GAM Governor Janina Jacobs were among the hikers, and some were involved in a competition to raise money. Hartmann even made a hole-in-one at Country Club of Detroit while at the event.

“It has been a great year for the GAM, Youth on Course and Michigan golf,” Whitten said. 

Those interested in learning more about the Youth on Course program or the 100 Hole Hike can do so at .

Source : Golf Week More   

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