Graphite Shafts In Your Irons?
In my last article I mentioned that I had switched to graphite shafts in my irons as a concession to reducing the shock of impact to my hands. And it certainly has done that, but what I’ve also gained is a few more yards and very significant improvement in feel for working the ball.

I’ve been on this search for the optimum graphite shaft for my irons for some time, and we’re talking about blades (y'all know how I feel about them). For the past ten years, I’ve played the Reid Lockhart blades I designed when I was President of that company. These were among the first to push some mass out toward the toe to make them more forgiving, while not compromising the amount of muscle behind impact that makes blades so devastatingly accurate.

But we’re talking shafts here, so I’ll try to stay on track.

I’ve been through a number of different shafts, with various results, but recently came upon what I think is the finest iron shaft – of any material – I’ve ever played. It’s the new ProForce V2 Constant Weight from my friends at UST. I’ve known many of these guys since my days at Hogan, and they are really onto something here.

Constant Weight” means that each shaft weighs 94-95 grams, and there is a different shaft for each iron – you don’t cut the tip, thereby reducing weight, to make the shaft shorter for each club.

Let me tell you, my friends, this shaft is superb. The short irons keep their weight and balance and offer great trajectory control. The middle and long irons provide just the right height and offer great forgiveness and feel. I’m just overly impressed with this product.

The one thing you have to be aware of - if you want to experiment with graphite shafted irons, consider it an investment. The V2 shaft is about $35/club, plus assembly cost. And there are a lot more ways to do it wrong than right!

In my opinion, the best right way is to have a qualified independent clubmaker/fitter do it for you. At the risk of sounding negative, I wouldn’t buy a “stock” set of graphite shafted irons from any major brand. Their “bean counters” are too influential in what shaft they buy (low cost) and how they are assembled (fast).

You just will not get the quality or consistency you want in your iron play. But if you are thinking of doing that, insist that the store put your set of irons on a frequency machine to see the consistency first hand. There are no standards in this industry for what is “Regular” and “Stiff” flex, nor for what club-to-club tolerances are allowable. [Mine are built to +/- 2 cpm tolerance.] If the store doesn't have a frequency machine, make them give you a return guarantee and get to a clubmaker for an analysis before you ever hit a shot with those irons.

So, that’s another of my opinions – high quality graphite shafts in your irons can make a world of difference. One way to experiment with this is to have only one iron reshafted and see how you like it. I’d suggest the 8-iron to start. Once you are sold, you can do the rest of them.
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[ comments ]
Gregg Morris says:

I seem to remember that Wilson is using that very shaft in the new CI7 irons. Club fitting issues aside (and I know that's a "big" aside), would the bean counter issues still exist in these? Thanks!

Gregg Morris says:
My bad as the saying goes. I just checked their website and they're using the V2 not the constant weight. Ah well, score one for the "bean counters"!
Jason says:
I was thinking of changing my iron shafts to the Prolaunch Blue. Do you have any experience with that iron shaft?
Worth says:
Excellent article. I have thought about changing irons and wondered why graphite wasn't standard in irons like it is in drivers or fairway woods or hybrids for that matter.

I like to play golf equipment that is high quality but a little more exclusive than off the shelf models and have ordered a six iron from a company called element 21 golf which uses scandium shafts. I want to see if I get less stress with those shaft compared to my current irons. When I do get a new set in the next year or two, I think it will not have stock steel shafts.
wedgeguy says:
Gregg -- the V2 is the predessor to the constant weight version and a very good shaft in my experience; suprised it's standard in any major companies' product offering.

Jason -- I do not have any experience with the Pro Lauch Blue, but I would suggest you have the clubmaker show you the consistency if you are considering it.

Worth -- going up a level is usually a good idea. There is a lot of great equipment out there, and fitting is usually the key to getting it.
Glenn Morrow says:
I am trying to build a new set of irons after playing a 20 year old set of DCIi's I am 60 years old hit my 7i now 140 yards. I tried the Callaway x-20's with graphite and they seemed too light. I did not like the club head design so after reading you article on game improvement clubs I am focused on the Mizuno MP-57 and wondered how you thing these UST stafts would work in these ' forgiving' new blades? I read in a review somewhere that my old DCI's are blades and these MP-57's would be a very nice up grade at many levels: forged club, forgiving, larger sweet spot and of course I would be fitted for the length, lie and shafts. I can shoot a 41 one day and a 51 the next so that is my game in a nut shell! Thanks
johnnymac2201 says:
I'm also interested in putting graphite into my irons, but am worried about the overall decrease in swingweight. Just wondered how you or your clubbuilder went about getting the overall swingweight up, tip weights or lead powder down the shaft, or did you leave the swingweights at what I would figure to be in the area of C9 using standard weight clubheads.
wedgeguy says:
Modern graphite shafts, of the premium variety, are wonderful in any kind of irons. If you read here, you know I play the UST ProForce V2 Constant Weight shafts in my blades and love them. As for swingweight variations, most of the modern top-line graphite iron shafts are engineered to product similar swingweights to the steel shaft they are replacing. But your question on swingweight inspires me to address this subject in a new post, so watch for it.
Glenn Morrow says:
I wrote a note to Mizuno and they do not offer the UST ProForce V2 Constant Weight stafts and I told them to call their UST rep and get it together! I am renting a set of the MP-57 , for 5 days with R300 shafts next week to get a feel for these blades. I should be able to see if I can hit them with and consistancy. Mizuno said all they have are their Exsar IS2 Tour Spec(R/S/X) but which are no doubt good but not the UST V2 level of good!
JWHpurist says:
I must be "An Old School SOB" because I love the harmonics and feel delivered to my hands from a well hit shot with strong back blades with TT stiff shafts. I compared the feel of steel to graphite on several clubs out of my playing sets and found that the steel shafts were a better indicator of a well hit shot and delivered more consistant results and my hands don't hurt! JWHpurist
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