By Jeffrey A. Rendall, Images courtesy of True Temper
MEMPHIS, TN – Longer, longer, longer. We hear it a lot from golf manufacturers, with all of them guaranteeing that using their products will give you extra distance.
For clubs and golf balls, boasts of “distance” would seem to make sense. Tour Pros may not select a ball or even a club with pure distance in mind, but the average player wants more yards and will purchase equipment with that goal in mind.
What about shafts? Perhaps the most overlooked tools in your bag, shafts can make or break your game. The good folks at True Temper realize distance and power is the rage, and have introduced the XP shaft series (for irons) to accomplish just that.
More than mere distance, they’re reportedly forgiving, too.
Scott Hennessy, president and chief operating officer for True Temper, says they focused on distance from the outset with the XP series. “Over time you’re going to be more accurate hitting an 8-iron as opposed to a 7 or 6-iron. We knew we could get players closer to the pin if we could get them an additional full club of distance or more with their irons and XP delivers on that objective.”
It took True Temper’s R & D team over a decade to find the right formula of weight and flex distribution to provide the distance they were looking for in the XP. But the company also wanted the XP to offer greater feel than competitors’ superlight shaft products.
And it worked! Robot and player testing revealed the XP Series adds 6-8 yards in carry distance, with many players seeing even greater carry.
According to True Temper, they were able to accomplish the gains by combining advanced ultralight alloy technology with optimized material distribution. In addition, each XP shaft is designed with a “flex chamber” where power is stored in the downswing and released just prior to the point of impact.
So there’s a lot we don’t really see in a shaft. But True Temper’s been around long enough that we can trust them. I’ve personally used True Temper shafts virtually my entire golfing life.
Lauren Carr, True Temper’s Marketing Communications Manager, says they are constantly finding ways to innovate and improve golf shafts at her company. As a result, True Temper is able to bring game-changing technology to the golfer.
“All of our premium steel shafts are made with our Gold Manufacturing process which involves more than 130 processes to get the finished product,” Carr explained. “We have the ability to vary the internal wall of the shaft to produce certain playing characteristics such as higher ball flight. We are also able to produce super lightweight shafts that don’t compromise feel, stability or durability.”
Again, technology is the key. But as players, we still need help in finding the right shaft. Perhaps more than in any other equipment category, consumers need professional guidance to recommend the right shaft for their swing.
True Temper can help, too. “A great first step is to visit www.shaftfit.com,” Carr said. “This online fitting tool uses five key pieces of information from the golfer to suggest the right iron or wood shaft for his or her game.”
“We recommend golfers use this information to take the next step in getting custom fit, which is to visit a professional for a dynamic fitting. True Temper has the largest network of club fitting professionals in the U.S. and abroad through our Performance Fitting Center program.”
I was curious to see if True Temper shafts fit all different types of clubs and balls… or if they’re more specialized.
Carr says they design and manufacture shafts to address the needs of certain player profiles versus trying to match them up with a type of club or ball. Players seeking to find a shaft to fit a certain club or ball should include that information when consulting their professional. That way, everyone’s ‘fit’ properly.
The XP shafts are steel as opposed to graphite, though as mentioned above, they’re lighter in weight – which is perhaps graphite’s major selling point. Whereas graphite shafts have completely taken over in metal woods, they’re still a rarity on professional tours in irons.
“Steel shafts are still the most consistent way to ensure accuracy in a golfer’s irons,” Carr answered. “I think this is especially evident if you look at the shaft counts on the PGA TOUR each week. On average only about 2-3 players have graphite shafts in their irons -- the rest play steel.”
“I don’t think there will be a shift to graphite irons in the foreseeable future because there really isn’t a need for players to switch. At True Temper, we have been able to produce incredibly lightweight steel shafts that give the feel of graphite without sacrificing accuracy. The XP line of shafts was designed to give players lightweight performance and feel in a steel shaft and we have had overwhelming feedback from players saying XP delivers that.”
It’s been a while since I’ve been fitted for irons shafts, so I took Lauren Carr’s advice and dialed up shaftfit.com and took the brief questionnaire. I’ve used True Temper’s Project X shafts for years, so I’m familiar with their playing characteristics.
Based on the site’s recommendations, I selected the XP 105 to try, and they were matched with Cleveland Golf’s premium irons, the 588 Forged (CB and MB combo set).
The XP 105 is a little heavier than the XP 95, and more weight is better for faster tempo swings like mine. Lighter shafts in general are thought to be reserved for slower swing speed players, but True Temper says even the best players can benefit from these lighter shafts.
Granted, it’s very difficult to determine whether distance is greater from one set to another (especially when you add in the variables from different irons sets), but I will say the irons with the XP shafts had a really nice feel to them and certainly were not “short” on distance.
It would likely take an entire season’s worth of testing to make a determination on whether the XP is truly “longer” than other shafts in our estimation. But we would definitely recommend that you try the XP series with your fitting professional.
Shaft technology will likely remain a mystery for casual players, but it’s nice to know that a company like True Temper continues to do its work in research and development. All told, it’ll make the game “easier” for all levels – and more fun, too.
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