As a top graphite golf shaft manufacturer, UST is most noted for its plethora of Tour-proven wood shaft brands. Ask any avid golfer to name a couple of UST-branded wood models, and popular shaft brands such as Proforce V2 and IROD roll right off the tongue.
Fig. 1 UST Proforce V2 65 Wood Shaft
Fig. 2 UST Irod Hybrid .335 Wood Shaft
However, lost in the fray are numerous graphite iron shaft models introduced over the years. Ask the same question with regards to graphite iron shaft models, and the probability of accurately naming just one model presents a lofty challenge to even the savviest of equipment gurus.
Why is that? In years past, there has been a stigma attached to graphite iron shafts: They are thought to perform less consistently than steel iron shafts. It is not for lack of research and development or marketing resources, but demand for the product has not been there among elite touring professionals and mid-to-low handicap players. For the better player, precision shots are paramount, and graphite iron shafts—though they feel better and get the ball airborne with ease—have not been able to deliver that kind of consistent performance.
Until now, that is. Times are changing. Over the last several years, performance attributes for all graphite shafts have improved in two critical areas: design and manufacturing.
“The biggest improvement for UST is the use of our CASA software system to predict how the shaft is going to perform before a prototype is ever produced,” says Robb Schikner, director of engineering design and technical sales for UST. “We are able to streamline what is proven as a prototype into production more efficiently, with exact certainty on model specifications.”
UST’s manufacturing techniques and design principles have seen continuous improvements over the years, offering tighter tolerances not only for graphite wood shafts, but graphite iron shafts, too. Moreover, our tolerances remain the best in category, with the average tolerance for premium brands in the ±3 range. That is important for club fitters because they know exactly how each shaft will perform based on butt frequency, launch, flex and weight.
Though tighter tolerances are important for the continuation of UST’s rich tradition in manufacturing high-performance golf shafts, it is the constant-weight design feature that makes the all-new Proforce V2 Constant Weight Iron shafts special.
Fig. 3 UST Proforce V2 Iron Shaft
Constant weighting means that each shaft in the set is the same weight. For example, the Proforce V2 Iron shafts are exactly 95 grams in the long irons, the mid irons and short irons. That offers players not only a consistent feel throughout the set, whether hitting a shot 125 yards or 195 yards, but also remarkably improved ball flight and most importantly, the best distance control ever seen in a graphite iron shaft.
“When golfers test a unitized iron set against a constant weight iron set, they notice a more consistent feel from club to club in the constant weight set,” says Jamie Pipes, manager of product testing and field research for UST. “They also get a more solid feel and penetrating ball flight in the short to mid irons. Distance control from a long and short aspect is a lot more precise.”
The occasional flyer commonly associated with a normal, unitized, blank graphite iron shaft has been eliminated with the Proforce V2 Constant Weight Iron shaft. In the past, better players would experience a shot from the fairway, hit under normal conditions, where the ball jumps off the club face hotter, resulting in a shot that flew farther than expected. This is typically more noticeable on short iron shots.
In a unitized iron set, you have to trim from both the tip and butt end, as much as four inches off the tip end to make a 9-iron or any wedge. Additionally, you will need to trim it from the butt end to desired length. This is a good feature for helping club makers to frequency match a set, but by the time you tip and butt trim in the short irons, a 95-gram shaft will be lighter by 10 grams or so. Ball flight goes up and distance control becomes an issue because the short iron shafts—the scoring clubs—are noticeably lighter, which can cause a difference in tempo, rhythm and club speed. This reduction in weight may cause some distance control issues with flyers on some shots and other shots coming up short. (Note: Creating flyers is not the only problem with reducing the weight of short irons. The ball may come up short because the reduction in weight may not get enough mass into the shot or into the ball.)
Pipes adds that in a constant weight set, each iron shaft is designed to a specific weight and length for each club in the set. Proforce V2 Constant Weight Iron wedge shafts are 36" long and weigh 95 grams. Each iron up through the set increases in length by a half-inch, but the weight remains constant at 95 grams. In a constant weight set, the engineers can design each shaft to a specific frequency and match the set without having to trim from the tip end. Clubmakers can simply install the shafts and butt cut them to length.
At Golfsmith, the 95-gram weight platform in graphite seems to be one of the most popular, and indeed, it offers the best performance for a variety of golfers. Schikner tends to agree. “A 95-gram graphite iron shaft,” he says, “offers the great feel and vibration absorption characteristics for which graphite is commonly known, without sacrificing distance control or loss of feeling the clubhead position throughout the swing sequence.”
Lastly, Proforce V2 Iron shafts have a tremendous amount of feel. Our engineers were able to slightly reduce the hoop strength in the butt section to offer the golfer better feel, while the lower torque provides a stable platform in the tip section for better shot-shaping control.