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For irons, we prefer to think of shafts in "weight ranges". The most common shaft is the standard weight steel shaft. This includes the True Temper Dynamics, Dynamic Gold and the Rifles. They are the most popular shafts in irons. Standard weight steel shafts all weigh within five grams of 130 grams at full length.
The second weight range is plus or minus five grams from 115 grams. This is the range where you will find "lightweight" steel and "tour weight" graphite.
At the 95-gram weight range you will find "ultra lightweight steel" and "regular" weight graphite.
At the 75-gram weight range, you will find the very lightweight graphite shafts. We have found little acceptance for this weight range in irons among better golfers. We think that this is primarily due to the difficulty of building very light clubs with feel. We think that there are potential performance breakthroughs for better golfers who are willing to experiment with lightweight clubs. However, our current experience tells us that 75 grams might be too light for irons. Keep in mind the underlying reason for lightweight shafts is to increase swing speed to increase distance. Increased distance is just not that important for better players' irons.
For woods, there is another weight range. It is in the 50-gram area. We have not had a lot of luck with ultra light wood shafts among our better players although we have found some seniors who say they like 50-gram shafts.
It is axiomatic that golfers tend to choose shafts that are too stiff. As we mentioned earlier, we think this tendency is attributable to psychological proclivities favoring "stiffness". As an aside, it will be interesting to note the success of the marketing campaign around the new Maxfli "Noodle" golf ball, described as "long and soft". Maybe Maxfli will be successful in introducing a new psychological profile to post-modern era golfers.
In any event, we think that most golfers would get more fun out of the game if they softened their flex to promote feel. In addition to head weight, shaft flex is the next most important element in feel.
Most of us remember the "good old days" when a "duck hook" could go two fairways left. The new equipment just doesn't allow that. When is the last time you saw a drive you could describe as a "good old-fashioned duck hook"? For most of us, it was a long time ago.
The point is, with new technology taking the spin out of the ball and the "snipe" effect out of the driver, there is little risk of excessive "shot dispersion" in going to a more flexible shaft.
In our opinion, the only serious risk in going to more flexible shafts is in distance control. This is especially true if you play "game improvement" heads with flexible shafts and happen to catch a shot on the "true sweet spot". This is where some serious individual experimentation is appropriate.
One of the true breakthroughs in golf technology that has been accepted in the last few years is the advent of the ultra lightweight grip, lead by Winn. Part of the Winn "value proposition" was "enhanced feel" because they had the feel of soft leather.
An equally important aspect of ultra light grips is the effect that they have on swingweight. Just as two grams of increased head weight raises the swingweight one point, taking four grams out of grip weight also increases swingweight by one point. This is very important in supporting the trend to lighter shafts, heads and overall club weight. An average Winn grip weights around 40 grams. An average rubber grip weighs around 60 grams. Consequently, simply changing grips could increase swingweight by up to five points. This is a dramatic increase promoting increased feel. It is the way most manufacturers have been able to keep their new clubs with graphite shafts within acceptable swingweight ranges.
Standard weight grips will continue to be acceptable on steel shafted irons for the "heavy hitters". However, if you have not made the switch to lighter grips for all of your graphite-shafted clubs, you should consider making that move. You will feel the clubhead better, and the overall weight of your club will be lighter. This would be a very good experiment to try if you are trying to "remodel" your current set of clubs without spending a lot of money.
Overall Weight and Balance
If you have been sticking with our evolving arguments, you will begin to see our strategy in utilizing new materials and techniques to produce clubs with "breakthrough potential".
If you are a steel player and don't plan on changing much, there is very little value in moving down from your S-400's to S-300's. If you want to make a minor change just to see if what we're talking about makes sense in practice, change from rubber grips to Winn grips. That will give you an interesting and relevant data point. If you like your current clubs, but want to make them as good as they can be, you should consider having them SST PURED ™. There is no risk to that.
If you are truly interested in trying something new, then you should be thinking about trying graphite shafts in your irons. The improvement in quality and consistency as graphite manufacturers have begun to turn their focus to iron shafts to expand their markets has been dramatic in the last two or three years. Some graphite shaft manufacturers are claiming that their products are "more consistent than steel". But more important, the advent of SST PURE ® technology has made it possible to harness the inherent inconsistency of graphite and turn graphite shafts into consistent performers, at least equal to steel. In our opinion, the feel of graphite, at least for amateurs, is superior to steel.
We have had good results in the 115-gram weight range, with UST Tour Weight and Apache MFS 115 graphite shafts. In the 100-gram weight range, we have had good results with Apache MFS 40+. The jury is still out on our Penley Stealth 70's in the 75-gram weight range. At some point, the shaft simply gets too light to deliver enough "punch" to the shot. We'll post it to news as soon as we learn more from our personal testing and from our clients.
If you want to "drill down" into what we've been saying about head weights, we have some of our charts that we'd be happy to email to you. (Certain information we like to keep a little proprietary.)