In Their Own Words - AccuFlex Golf

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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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