Light weight steel shafts are offering a lot of clubfitting options. Just like the rush of graphite shaft makers to get 85 to 115 gram graphite shafts to market, steel shaft manufacturers are dropping from the 115 to 125 gram range to the 95 to 110 gram range. Why? Older golfers that have played Dynamic Gold, Project X or KBS Tour shafts (125+ grams) are not enamored with the feel of graphite and are looking for a lighter weight steel shaft to maintain the same feel and potentially give them more distance. On the other side, as junior golfers start getting stronger, it is a tough transition to go from a light weight 70 to 85 gram graphite shaft to a heavy 125+ gram steel shaft. As a clubfitter, we know that weight, flex and profile (launch characteristics) of these new shafts are important to getting optimum performance.
There are several manufacturers that offer steel shafts in the 95 to 110 gram range. True Temper has been there the longest with its Dynamic Gold Super Light(SL) shaft. This shaft is a lower launching shaft similar in ball flight the the heavier Dynamic Gold shaft. True Temper launched its XP series of shafts in the last three years with the XP 95 (high launch), XP 105 (mid-high launch) and XP 115 (mid launch) shafts.
Nippon has been in this market a long time as well with its 950GH series (95 gram) of mid to mid-high lanuch shaft. In fact the Nippon 950 GH shaft is the most popular on the LPGA Tour. Nippon recently introduced its Modus 105 shaft (mid-high launch) to complement its slightly heavier Modus 120.
KBS entered with the KBS Tour 90 and now has a variety of mid to high launch shafts. These include the C-Taper Lite, KBS Tour 105 and KBS Tour V 100. These shafts are also in the mid to mid-high launch range. Shimada, a Japanese manufacturer, has entered the US market with its U-Lite (high launch), S-Lite (mid-high launch) and Tour Lite (mid-high launch) shafts. Finally, OBAN, traditionally high performance graphite shaft manufacturer, has entered the market with its CT 115 steel shaft. The CT 115 is a Japanese steel shaft that offers a wide range of fitting options in the 115 gram range.
So how do you decide which of these light weight steel shafts work best for your swing? We have an extensive library of shaft profiles and demo shafts in our fitting system so we can dial our golfers into the shaft that offers the best combination of feel and performance. It is a MUST to be able to test different shafts on the same head in order to do a proper fitting. Numbers on the launch monitor don’t lie but the feel of the shaft has to deliver that confidence to create repeatable shots. That can only be determined in a fitting.
Another thing to be aware of in these light weight steel shafts is that it may be difficult to get to a particular desired flex. Most of these light weight shafts, but not all, have a smaller diameter butt section which makes it difficult to get much more than a men’s senior flex out of even a S or X flex. Again, this is based upon our experience in building to a specific set of frequencies in the iron set.
So if you are a little older golfer looking to maintain the feel of steel but looking for a lighter shaft, or a up-and-coming junior or lady golfer looking for a more stable shaft but not super heavy, the new light weight steel shafts offer great options.