Steel shaft graphite feel

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The latest shaft from True Temper Sports is the GS95. This super-lightweight steel shaft is touted to have a soft, ‘graphite-like’ feel often associated with composite shaft designs.

Greg Cavill, manager of steel design for the past four years, answered a few questions about this unique new shaft. Prior to his current position, he worked as steel shaft development engineer for True Temper Sports. He started in the steel shaft business back in 1997, working as the shaft development engineer for Apollo Sports Technologies. At the time, Apollo was the second largest steel shaft manufacturer in the world.

Without giving away any secrets, how is True Temper able to make a steel shaft that feels like a graphite shaft?

True Temper Sports has invested heavily over the past five years in both research and development and also advanced manufacturing techniques. The time spent testing R&D prototypes led to a better understanding of how shafts from varying weight categories react during the swing. Over the past 18 months, we have focused heavily on the sub-100 gram sector, as this was recognized as a segment of the market where TTS could develop new advanced designs and grow our global foot print.

We focused on discovering how to optimize the designs to improve feel without sacrificing the performance benefits of steel in terms of consistency and accuracy. This was achieved by applying specific internal reinforcement to certain areas of the tip to stabilize the shaft and reduce the magnitude of vibrations traveling towards the hands. Because each design has a unique natural frequency, the placement of the reinforcement varies from design to design and from length to length.

At our private test center in Mississippi, we were able to test numerous designs using our Swing Robot programmed with a variety of swing profiles (load profiles) common to the targeted player demographic. Using high speed cameras and tracking software to evaluate the reaction of various sections of the shaft during center and off-center hits, we where then able to compare the results against the theoretical FEA design models and fine tune the geometry to provide a damped yet responsive feel at impact common to your standard graphite shaft.

Once we understood what was needed, optimized prototypes were manufactured and evaluated out on the Japanese LPGA Tour using blind player testing. It was at this point we really knew we were onto something special as one design consistently ranked number one by everyone who tested it. That design was later renamed GS95 and was launched in partnership with Callaway Golf in Japan.

By comparing high speed camera footage of the GS95 to a competitor’s product, we were for the first time able to quantify why shaft A feels different to shaft B and show it in real time during customer presentations. It is always fun to see the reactions on people’s faces.

What is the advantage to having the lightweight steel? Why not just use graphite?

The consistency of steel is second to none, which is very important when building matched sets. Until recently, composite shafts were the only way to provide cost effective sub-100g shafts. However, the new advances in TTS steel shafts have allowed us to seriously compete head to head not just on weight but also feel and playability.

What benefits can the everyday player receive from using this type of shaft?

At the start of the GS (Gold Series) project it was True Temper Sports’ objective to provide a family of steel shafts which combined the benefits of a graphite shaft (lightweight, softer feel) with the advantages of steel. I believe that we have met this objective and produced a range of shafts that are very easy to swing, feel great at impact, and are very consistent in their performance throughout the set.

Players benefit from increased carry with an increased descent angle that helps them stop the ball quicker on the greens. It is common for golfers to comment on how easy the shafts are to swing compared to their current set, which helps them make more consistent strikes. The tips are responsive to allow you to shape your shots, which is a reason why we also have players on the Japanese LPGA Tour using this product.

Who is this shaft designed for? What is the target demographic?

The shafts have a fairly large player profile due in part to the range of weights and flexes we offer. If you would like to play the lightest 100-percent steel shaft in the world and maximize your distance, play GS75 with trimmed weights down to 69 grams in the wedge. For a golfer used to playing a constant weight design, then we have two options – either the GS85 at 85 grams trimmed, or the GS95 at 95 grams trimmed; all three models share the internal reinforcement mentioned earlier, and have dedicated step patterns to ensure maximum performance in both feel and ball flight.

What other advances in shaft technology can we expect to see in the future from True Temper?

Product performance is my primary goal. Therefore all new designs, whether they are for the True Temper Sports catalog or for any of the major golf companies, must outperform the competition. I am very lucky that our management group has always provided 100-percent backing for any new products to ensure that corners are never cut. The GS series of shafts were designed this way and have pushed the boundaries for steel golf shafts to the next level.

Many of our new prototypes have been designed for next year’s groove ruling to ensure that TTS maintains its dominance as the number one shaft manufacturer in the world.

Of the new designs that we are working on, one in particular is very exciting and has many industry firsts to provide players with unmatched spin control. It will be launched sometime next year once we are completely satisfied with the performance. It would be very easy for TTS to spin a marketing story around just another steel shaft, but that is not the True Temper way. All new designs must outperform all shafts within its sector. That’s one of the elements that separate TTS from any other shaft manufacturer.

Click here to read what members at GolfWRX are saying about the new GS95 shafts.