In Their Own Words - AccuFlex Golf

By Casey BiererNovember 18, 2005, 5:00 pm
A Conversation with Mark Gerent
 
AccuFlex is a Charlotte, North Carolina based company. In 2001, AccuFLEX Golf shafts emerged on to the professional golf scene, making inroads on the Nationwide Tour and on the professional Long Drive circuit. The launch of the AccuFLEX ICON and ICON V.2 Tour shafts in 2002 earned victories on both the PGA and Nationwide Tours within two weeks of introduction. In 2004, AccuFLEX golf shafts swept the ReMax World Long Drive Championships with victories in the Men's Open, Men's Senior and Women's Open Divisions. Through year's end 2004, AccuFlex had accumulated a total of ten PGA, Champions and Nationwide Tour victories. In August 2004 the company introduced its 'Evolution' shaft, made exclusively with Nano Composite.
 
'Our Mission at AccuFLEX Is To Build a Golf Shaft to Fit Every Swing' -- Jody Baucom, President, AccuFLEX Golf, Inc. - March, 1999
 
Mark Gerent was a tech for Cleveland Golf and also worked for TaylorMade-adidas Golf. His exposure at certain events allowed him to create relationships with a significant number of PGA Tour players. He now reps AccuFlex shafts full-time on the PGA Tour.
 
Editors Note: This conversation took place on the driving range at the Chrysler Classic of Greensboro.
 
Casey / Q:
Mark, lets get right down to the nitty gritty. Why do you believe AccuFlex shafts are unique?
 
Mark / A:
What makes the shafts so different is that they are all made on a lathe. They are filament wound. The materials used are ten times smaller than any other material in the market which allows for extraordinary precision in the manufacturing process. The shafts are all seamless and spineless as well. What the nanotechnology does is, after it is woven on the lathe, the shaft is dipped in the material which then gets in all of the creases and folds and takes all the imperfections out of the shaft. This makes the wall thicknesses perfectly even and as a result there are no flaws in the shaft whatsoever. This equates to consistency and durability. Theyre three times stronger than any two-wrap shaft ever tested.
 
Casey / Q:
How did AccuFlex get its start? Where was the initial focus?
 
Mark / A:
We actually started as a long-drive company. The technology works well for the long drive guys. And with these guys, theyre hitting our eighty gram shafts with 200 MPH ball speed and not breaking the shafts and they love that. A lot of the time shafts break with that amount of torque.
 
Accuflex Golf Shafts
Accuflex Golf offers a large variety of shafts and each is made one at a time.

 
Casey / Q:
OK, so were out here on the range at a PGA Tour event. All the major OEMs have their tour vans out here. You dont have a tour van. How does it work for you? How do you get your shafts in the hands of the players?
 
Mark / A:
I work with the TaylorMade guys or the Callaway guys ' all of them really ' and if theres something thats hot - a hot driver head in a popular loft like 9 degrees - I have a demo made and make sure its available for guys to hit. If they hit itlike the way it feelslike its performance, then I go and build it to their exact specs with their grip and length and loft and all that stuff. These guys are going to know pretty quickly if they like it or not. They have such great feel.
 
Casey / Q:
Did you start out here or on another tour?
 
Mark / A:
We started out on the Nationwide Tour last year. AccuFlex wanted to try it out there and see what happened. And then with the success ' we have twenty to thirty guys out there playing with the shafts at any given time ' the company felt comfortable coming out here on the big tour.
 
Casey / Q:
So, back to the no tour van business. How do you get clubs built for players?
 
Mark / A:
These guys that work for the big OEMs, theyre awesome club makersthe finest in the world, really. They have no problem building a couple of clubs for me here and there. With our success on the Nationwide Tourwell, lets just say the guys out here on the PGA Tour know whats going on. They keep their eyes open for new technology. They know this shaft has won out on the Nationwide Tour so it sparks a lot of interest with the guys on the PGA Tour and they want to try the shafts. If a player wants to try a shaft then their tour rep is going to build that club for them no questions asked.
 
Casey / Q:
Youre up against extremely well established companies out here. Does that pose a challenge?
 
Mark / A:
It can be tough because the top players have relationships with a lot of the big companies. So Im here to get to know the guys and work myself and our product in on tour out here. I give away a ton of stuff out here and thats not cheap. I give our owner a lot of credit. He knows he has a great product and hes willing to make the investment to make sure that the best players in the world have a chance to experience the technology for themselves. Its a process. A small percentage of the shafts go in play, but over time, that helps build the credibility. And then you never know. A player puts the shaft in play and wins a tournament with it and bamits a home run. To already have seven wins this year on all tours combined, for a company thats only been around for two years, thats pretty good.
 
Casey / Q:
Do you cover all the tours yourself?
 
Mark / A:
Theres another rep of ours on the Nationwide Tour thats a full-timer. He used to be a caddie out there and hes been out there for years and years. He handles a ton of guys out on that tour.
 
Casey / Q:
So where does the buzz come from? Why are players interested in trying a new product like this?
 
Mark / A:
Its really the technology; fortunately that speaks for itself. Like Joe Durant hit it this morning and he wanted two drivers with it. Ive never seen anything like it. I mean a lot of the reps even agree that the players are pulling the trigger so quick when they try the shafts. Thats the bottom line. They try it, ask to have a driver built, and put it in the bag the next day. The shaft keeps the ball flight so straight, and theres just something about the feel. Its much tighter and its just so consistent and theres a lot less shaft deformation because of the weaving process.
 
Casey / Q:
Youre catering to the best players in the world out here. What about AccuFlex for the average Joe?
 
Mark / A:
Whats great about AccuFlex is that our line is so versatile. We have about 25 or 30 shafts in our line at any given time. We can accommodate low swing speed amateurs all the way up to a tour pro.
 
Casey / Q:
When we were talking yesterday you eluded to the fact that its unusual out on tour to find a one shaft fits all shaft. Can you elaborate on that?
 
Mark / A:
The buzz that I hear from players is that certain shafts out here dont work for certain guys. Its not that a shaft is bad, its just that the performance characteristics match a particular swing: speed, arc, tempo, strength, late release, early release, etc. However, everybody seems to hit our Evolution shaft really well. And thats pretty rare out here. Most guys are focused in on just one shaft or one shaft type and they cant hit another shaft. But, with the Evolution, just about all the players who have tried it like it. Its a mid-kick point shaft and its 72 grams, but, the nano creates a very low spin. And were finding out with the launch monitors that higher launch with lower spin, in most cases, is going to give you more distance. And a lot of guys are finding five, ten or even fifteen more yards with the Evolution without sacrificing accuracy.
 
Casey / Q:
Who does your research and development?
 
Mark / A:
Jody Baucom, our owner, does all the research and development and testing. Each shaft is made one at a time ' theyre not an assembly line shaft ' which I think is attractive to these guys out here on tour. The company thrives on producing a very high quality product and the tour players appreciate that kind of quality. Every shaft is tested for weight, wall thickness, torque, kick ' we make sure they are all spot on before we bring them out here and that goes a long way towards building credibility. Thats one of the reasons why its done so well out here is because of the quality. Good quality will always prevail out on the PGA Tour.
 
Casey / Q:
Having exposure on the tours helps with consumer interest?
 
Mark / A:
Weve had six or seven top tens out here this year. People start talking about a new shaft on tour. They see the shafts on TV and that builds interest. The public starts inquiring at golf shops and with their local proshey did you see that new shaft D.J. Trahan was playing with, or John Rollins or Marco Dawson or Chris Andersonand that generates interest and eventually consumer demand. Thats how you can build a companyas long as you have the quality product to back it up.
 
Casey / Q:
Take us through your line, if you will.
 
Mark / A:
In terms of what is actually available we have our Icon line. Our Icon V2 is 68 grams stiff flex, a little over 2 degrees of torque. It has a little bit lower ball flight because of the mid-high kick point. The original Icon which is 80 grams with a very high kick point which is going to keep the ball down.
 
The Evolution is mid-seventies, low seventies weight range with 2.8 degrees of torque with a mid-kick point.
 
The new Heavy shaft, which is working out fantastic in the fairway woods out here on tour, is 95 or 96 grams depending on if its an S or and X flex. Its very unique. Its very strong in the butt with a lot of action in the tip because it has the torque properties of steel. So you get a really unique feel that has a lot of action but its very stable. They guys have been very receptive to this shaft in their fairway woods, especially the guys who regularly play steel.
 
We do the Assassins which is a mid-kick point shaft; 65 gramsa lot of guys on the long-drive tour are using this shaft.
 
The HL is 80 grams and it goes in the hybrids and long irons ' its a .370 tip iron shaft. Its worked out very well out herean anti-left shaft; a lot of the guys cant put it left just because of the torque and the stiffness of it.
 
Casey / Q:
So, all and all youre optimistic?
 
Mark / A:
Im extremely optimistic. I know in my heart that this is a fantastic product. And when guys out here give it a try the reaction is very favorable. The big name players might not automatically put the shaft in play. But, thats because there are a lot of factors at work at that level. But the reaction is wonderful. I think the guys out here appreciate the quality and performance of the shafts and eventually, thats going to pay off in a big way.
 
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CareerBuilder Challenge: Tee times, TV schedule, stats

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 17, 2018, 1:10 pm

The PGA Tour shifts from Hawaii to Southern California for the second full-field event of the year. Here are the key stats and information for the CareerBuilder Challenge. Click here for full-field tee times.

How to watch (all rounds on Golf Channel):

Thursday, Rd. 1: 3-7PM ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream

Friday, Rd. 2: 3-7PM ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream

Saturday, Rd. 3: 3-7PM ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream

Sunday, Rd. 4: 3-7PM ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream


Purse: $5.9 million ($1,062,000 to winner)

Courses: PGA West, Stadium Course, La Quinta, Calif. (72-7,113); PGA West, Nicklaus Tournament Course, La Quinta, Calif. (72-7,159); La Quinta Country Club, La Quinta, Calif. (72-7,060) NOTE: All three courses will be used for the first three rounds but only the Stadium Course will be used for the final round.

Defending champion: Hudson Swafford (-20) - defeated Adam Hadwin by one stroke to earn his first PGA Tour win.


Notables in the field

Phil Mickelson

* This is his first start of 2018. It's the fourth consecutive year he has made this event the first one on his yearly calendar.

* For the second year in a row he will serve as the tournament's official ambassador.

* He has won this event twice - in 2002 and 2004.

* This will be his 97th worldwide start since his most recent win, The Open in 2013.


Jon Rahm

* Ranked No. 3 in the world, he finished runner-up in the Sentry Tournament of Champions.

* In 37 worldwide starts as a pro, he has 14 top-5 finishes.

* Last year he finished T-34 in this event.


Adam Hadwin

* Last year in the third round, he shot 59 at La Quinta Country Club. It was the ninth - and still most recent - sub-60 round on Tour.

* In his only start of 2018, the Canadian finished 32nd in the Sentry Tournament of Champions.


Brian Harman

* Only player on the PGA Tour with five top-10 finishes this season.

* Ranks fifth in greens in regulation this season.

* Finished third in the Sentry Tournament of Champions and T-4 in the Sony Open in Hawaii.


Brandt Snedeker

* Making only his third worldwide start since last June at the Travelers Championship. He has been recovering from a chest injury.

* This is his first start since he withdrew from the Indonesian Masters in December because of heat exhaustion.

* Hasn't played in this event since missing the cut in 2015.


Patrick Reed

* Earned his first career victory in this event in 2014, shooting three consecutive rounds of 63.

* This is his first start of 2018.

* Last season finished seventh in strokes gained: putting, the best ranking of his career.

(Stats provided by the Golf Channel editorial research unit.) 

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Teenager Im wins Web.com season opener

By Will GrayJanuary 16, 2018, 10:23 pm

South Korea's Sungjae Im cruised to a four-shot victory at The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic, becoming just the second teenager to win an event on the Web.com Tour.

Im started the final day of the season-opening event in a share of the lead but still with six holes left in his third round. He was one shot behind Carlos Ortiz when the final round began, but moved ahead of the former Web.com Player of the Year thanks to a 7-under 65 in rainy and windy conditions. Im's 13-under total left him four clear of Ortiz and five shots ahead of a quartet of players in third.

Still more than two months shy of his 20th birthday, Im joins Jason Day as the only two teens to win on the developmental circuit. Day was 19 years, 7 months and 26 days old when he captured the 2007 Legend Financial Group Classic.

Recent PGA Tour winners Si Woo Kim and Patrick Cantlay and former NCAA champ Aaron Wise all won their first Web.com Tour event at age 20.

Other notable finishes in the event included Max Homa (T-7), Erik Compton (T-13), Curtis Luck (T-13) and Lee McCoy (T-13). The Web.com Tour will remain in the Bahamas for another week, with opening round of The Bahamas Great Abaco Classic set to begin Sunday.

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Mickelson grouped with Z. Johnson at CareerBuilder

By Will GrayJanuary 16, 2018, 8:28 pm

He's not the highest-ranked player in this week's field, but Phil Mickelson will likely draw the biggest crowd at the CareerBuilder Challenge as he makes his first start of 2018. Here are a few early-round, marquee groupings to watch as players battle the three-course rotation in the Californian desert (all times ET):

12:10 p.m. Thursday, 11:40 a.m. Friday, 1:20 p.m. Saturday: Phil Mickelson, Zach Johnson

Mickelson is making his fourth straight trip to Palm Springs, having cracked the top 25 each of the last three times. In addition to their respective amateur partners, he'll play the first three rounds alongside a fellow Masters champ in Johnson, who tied for 14th last week in Hawaii and finished third in this event in 2014.


11:40 a.m. Thursday, 1:20 p.m. Friday, 12:50 p.m. Saturday: Jon Rahm, Bubba Watson

At No. 3 in the world, Rahm is the highest-ranked player teeing it up this week and the Spaniard returns to an event where he finished T-34 last year in his tournament debut. He'll play the first two rounds alongside Watson, who is looking to bounce back from a difficult 2016-17 season and failed to crack the top 50 in two starts in the fall.


11:40 a.m. Thursday, 1:20 p.m. Friday, 12:50 p.m. Saturday: Patrick Reed, Brandt Snedeker

Reed made the first big splash of his career at this event in 2014, shooting three straight rounds of 63 en route to his maiden victory. He'll be joined by Snedeker, whose bid for a Masters bid via the top 50 of the world rankings came up short last month and who hasn't played this event since a missed cut in 2015.


1:10 p.m. Thursday, 12:40 p.m. Friday, 12:10 p.m. Saturday: Patton Kizzire, Bill Haas

Kizzire heads east after a whirlwind Sunday ended with his second win of the season in a six-hole playoff over James Hahn in Honolulu. He'll play alongside Haas, who won this event in both 2010 and 2015 to go with a runner-up finish in 2011 and remains the tournament's all-time leading money winner.

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Mackay still a caddie at heart, even with a microphone

By Doug FergusonJanuary 16, 2018, 7:34 pm

HONOLULU – All it took was one week back on the bag to remind Jim ''Bones'' Mackay what he always loved about being a caddie.

It just wasn't enough for this to be the ultimate mic drop.

Mackay traded in his TV microphone at the Sony Open for the 40-pound bag belonging to Justin Thomas.

It was his first time caddying since he split with Phil Mickelson six months ago. Mackay was only a temporary replacement at Waialae for Jimmy Johnson, a good friend and Thomas' regular caddie who has a nasty case of plantar fasciitis that will keep him in a walking boot for the next month.

''The toughest thing about not caddying is missing the competition, not having a dog in the fight,'' Mackay said before the final round. ''There's nothing more rewarding as a caddie, in general terms, when you say, 'I don't like 6-iron, I like 7,' and being right. I miss that part of it.''

The reward now?

''Not stumbling over my words,'' he said. ''And being better than I was the previous week.''

He has done remarkably well since he started his new job at the British Open last summer, except for that time he momentarily forgot his role. Parts of that famous caddie adage – ''Show up, keep up, shut up'' – apparently can apply to golf analysts on the ground.

During the early hours of the telecast, before Johnny Miller came on, Justin Leonard was in the booth.

''It's my job to report on what I see. It's not my job to ask questions,'' Mackay said. ''I forgot that for a minute.''

Leonard was part of a booth discussion on how a comfortable pairing can help players trying to win a major. That prompted Mackay to ask Leonard if he found it helpful at the 1997 British Open when he was trying to win his first major and was paired with Fred Couples in the final round at Royal Troon.

''What I didn't know is we were going to commercial in six seconds,'' Mackay said. ''I would have no way of knowing that, but I completely hung Justin out to dry. He's now got four seconds to answer my long-winded question.''

During the commercial break, the next voice Mackay heard belonged to Tommy Roy, the executive golf producer at NBC.

''Bones, don't ever do that again.''

It was Roy who recognized the value experienced caddies could bring to a telecast. That's why he invited Mackay and John Wood, the caddie for Matt Kuchar, into the control room at the 2015 Houston Open so they could see how it all worked and how uncomfortable it can be to hear directions coming through an earpiece.

Both worked as on-course reporters at Sea Island that fall.

And when Mickelson and Mackay parted ways after 25 years, Roy scooped up the longtime caddie for TV.

It's common for players to move into broadcasting. Far more unusual is for a caddie to be part of the mix. Mackay loves his new job. Mostly, he loves how it has helped elevate his profession after so many years of caddies being looked upon more unfavorably than they are now.

''I want to be a caddie that's doing TV,'' he said. ''That's what I hope to come across as. The guys think this is good for caddies. And if it's good for caddies, that makes me happy. Because I'm a caddie. I'll always be a caddie.''

Not next week at Torrey Pines, where Mickelson won three times. Not a week later in Phoenix, where Mackay lives. Both events belong to CBS.

And not the Masters.

He hasn't missed Augusta since 1994, when Mickelson broke his leg skiing that winter.

''That killed me,'' he said, ''but not nearly as much as it's going to kill me this year. I'll wake up on Thursday of the Masters and I'll be really grumpy. I'll probably avoid television at all costs until the 10th tee Sunday. And I'll watch. But it will be, within reason, the hardest day of my life.''

There are too many memories, dating to when he was in the gallery right of the 11th green in 1987 when Larry Mize chipped in to beat Greg Norman. He caddied for Mize for two years, and then Scott Simpson in 1992, and Mickelson the rest of the way. He was on the bag for Lefty's three green jackets.

Mackay still doesn't talk much about what led them to part ways, except to say that a player-caddie relationship runs its course.

''If you lose that positive dynamic, there's no point in continuing,'' he said. ''It can be gone in six months or a year or five years. In our case, it took 25 years.''

He says a dozen or so players called when they split up, and the phone call most intriguing was from Roy at NBC.

''I thought I'd caddie until I dropped,'' Mackay said.

He never imagined getting yardages and lining up putts for anyone except the golfer whose bag he was carrying. Now it's for an audience that measures in the millions. Mackay doesn't look at it as a second career. And he won't rule out caddying again.

''It will always be tempting,'' he said. ''I'll always consider myself a caddie. Right now, I'm very lucky and grateful to have the job I do.''

Except for that first week in April.