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SHAFTS: LONG DRIVE SCIENCE

  Industry-leading Club Repair and Service and the Most In-depth Clubmaking Info, How-to's and Videos - only at The GolfWorks  

From the very beginning and over the past few years interest in long drive competition has grown and along with that growth so has the popularity of the graphite shafted club; the weapon of choice for most all serious long drive competitors. This fact should not be a surprise to anyone when you consider the versatile freedom of design of graphite materials.

And from the early beginning of our long-term relationship no one understood this better than Joe Bianchi, who for the past several years was looking for (to quote Joe) "The best graphite shaft in the industry". So far Joe had tried them all except for Penley Sports.

That was the basis of our first meeting, to determine not if we could develop a shaft, but which of our current shaft designs would best fit Joe's requirements.

I recommended two shafts that I thought would be most suited for the task at hand. Joe played them both and selected one that subsequently we tested at different lengths and with different heads to fine tune for the best combination.

These were the results:

At our first competition Joe out drove 55 competitors to win the then Chrysler Long Drive, San Diego sectional, and later in the year, Joe outdrove the 20 state sectional winners to capture the Chrysler Long Drive 11th District (California State) Competition. This is an impressive feat when you consider we used a shaft from our standard line and Joe Bianchi is not the hulking mass most professional long drivers are. (Joe is approximately 5' 11" and 185 lbs.)

I was quite confident that one or more shafts in our Penley Power Shaft line would work because of one basic theory, feel. This is not measured in robotics, pure number crunching or following the lemmings by just designing another plastic tapered tube! Of course since those early days we have not only excelled but specialize in long drive.

Quite simply I look at things differently than many other designers or manufacturers. For instance, set aside the usual design theories and ask:

If one horsepower is one horsepower (and mathematically it pencils out), then why is one horse faster than the other?

If two racecar engines are assembled to the exact same specifications, then why will one engine develop more horsepower than the other?

If you assemble two golf clubs using shafts of different manufacture, to the same specifications (length, swing weight, over-all-weight and grips) and by the same clubmaker, why will one club yield more distance or better dispersion or both, than the other?

Obviously there are many factors to consider, but one word in my opinion can best sum it all up and that word is efficiency.

Specifically a golf shaft must be very efficient from tip to butt to give the best performance.

  • The shaft must have the highest quality high strength fiber (but not too stiff) to withstand the maximum compressive loads and still be able to recover quickly enough to generate the highest head speeds possible.
  • The shaft must have the highest quality resin matrix to hold the fibers together and transfer the highest percentage of compressive loads possible.
  • The shaft must be one complete piece no matter the length.
  • The shaft must effectively transfer back to the player a positive feel throughout the entire swing and thru impact.
  • The shaft must perform with a very high degree of consistency for distance and dispersion.
  • The shaft must not be super sensitive to head weight variations.
  • The shaft must be of such a design as to deliver the above qualities at a wide range of swing speeds. The shaft Joe is currently using performs very well from approximately 95 mph to 135 mph.
Obviously these designs incorporate unique fiber patters, mandrel designs and manufacturing process most of which are somewhat proprietary to Penley Sports but the product developed through this technology is available for the asking.