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Our Iron Shafts

When it comes to graphite iron shafts, there is no better than Aerotech. Their flagship is the "Steel Fiber". It is a filament wound graphite shaft at the core that has then been wrapped with "thousands of miles" of microscopically thin steel fiber. The result is a very consistent shaft that has the stability of steel but the soft sound of graphite. Aerotech is gaining acceptance among Tour Professionals. Matt Kuchar started making cuts in 2009 after he switched to Aerotech shafts.

The most important feature of Aerotech is the range of weights and flexes the company provides. They offer their Steel Fiber iron shaft in 70, 80, 96, 110 and 125 gram weights, each in at least four flexes. In addition, they offer "constant weight" and "ascending weight" options in several models. There is simply no shaft company that has focused on iron shafts and provides the flexibility that compares with Aerotech. For skilled amateurs looking for graphite shafts, we almost always recommend Aerotech.

The company that has set the standard for steel iron shafts for the last fifty or so years is True Temper. A very high percentage of today's PGA Tour Players have True Temper shafts in their irons – primarily the Dynamic Gold line. The only real competition came from Royal Precision – creators of the original "Rifle" line and in recent years, the "Project X" (PX).

Alas, in 2007, Royal Precision hit the wall for the last time and True Temper bought the product lines and intellectual property.

The True Temper acquisition of Royal Precision seems to have been the last gasp of the original Project X shaft. Here's the background. Project X was invented by Kim Braley, son of Dr. Braley, the godfather of frequency matching. The original Project X shaft was designed like a "flagpole" with a constant taper from butt to tip. The constant taper provided exceptional stability but was a little to harsh for most amateurs. The "made for professionals" Royal Precision Project X shaft gained a following on the PGA Tour and even more on the European Tour. Today, the original Royal Precision Project X shafts are known as the "Satin" PX.

There will be no more Satin PX shafts. When True Temper acquired the Royal Precision assets, they destroyed the machine that applied the satin finish. True Temper then reengineered the manufacturing process at their plant. The new finish is bright chrome only.

Few veteran Project X players think that the "new" PX shafts play the same as the original. To complicate matters, True Temper now produces the PX shaft in "flighted" and "high launch" versions – designs which are contrary to the design integrity of the original PX. True Temper turned a product into a "Brand". It is doubtful that the True Temper version of the PX shaft will earn the same popularity among good players as the original. The new PX might become a good "volume" choice for off the rack clubs but is unlikely to gain a following on the PGA Tour.

Reenter Kim Braley. Out of work when Royal Precision folded, Kim joined up with FST (Femco) – a Taiwan-based conglomerate known for their expertise in machine tools – and the machinery that makes steel shafts. FST had a good reputation as a volume producer of high quality inexpensive shafts used by many of the major equipment manufacturers.

Kim Braley's first design contribution was the KB Tour shaft. Because of his following on Tour, Braley was able to convert an unusually high number of Tour players to his new shaft. The most notable was Kenny Perry who immediately went on a run to post his best career year with three wins. That put the KB Tour shaft on the charts with a bullet. We always include the KB Tour in our comparative iron fitting. Although it tests very stiff by traditional frequency methods, it does not play stiff. In direct competition with the True Temper line, the KB Tour is usually the choice. Why play the same old thing over and over?

In lightweight steel shafts, the winner is Nippon Steel. Although Nippon doesn't get much recognition on the PGA Tour, Nippon is dominant throughout Asia. Eighteen of twenty-four competitors in the 2009 Solheim Cup had Nippon shafts in their irons. For most amateurs, Nippon lightweight steel shafts are our preferred choice if a player is going to choose steel.

Our most popular model is the Nippon 950 – playing at 105 grams. We have sold hundreds of sets of 950's and believe that they should be installed hard-stepped. Many players are surprised by how easily the 950's play in "X" flex – despite testing extremely stiff by frequency. Frequency testing is an interesting exercise to compare shafts, but it shouldn't be accepted as gospel when choosing your shafts. The only way to truly understand the performance of a specific shaft is to hit it.

Some women will prefer the Nippon 850's – playing at about 90 grams. Strong men might prefer the 1150 – playing at 115 grams. Like Aerotech, Nippon covers the weight and flex spectrum in lightweight steel.

In 2010 Nippon is releasing a new "Tour Weight" iron shaft. The company has detected True Temper's pain and vulnerability. We look for that to be a very popular choice in the spring.

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