July 25 2013
The True Temper DG Pro is the industry's first-ever progressive iron shaft. (True Temper)
By Jonathan Wall, PGATOUR.COM Equipment Insider
TOUR feedback plays a critical role in the design process for any equipment manufacturer. Whether the feedback is used for the next version of an existing iron line or a brand new driver shaft, hearing from the best players in the world allows R&D departments to understand what works and what needs to be improved.
Case in point: True Temper's new DG Pro, an iron shaft that was created over last 12-plus months following a significant increase in feedback from players who were unable to achieve the desired ball flight with longer irons (3-4 iron).
"We kept getting increasing reports that TOUR players were struggling with the ball flight with their longer irons," said Greg Cavill, True Temper’s vice president of alloy engineering and development. "So we went back to Area 61, which is where our robot and alloy test center are located, and we found that there under certain circumstances, the modern day ball, when it came to long irons with less loft, we were getting rounded ball flights. In other words, it was lacking spin.
"We set about trying to come up with a design that not only aided the player in the longer irons, but at the same time, didn't handicap anyone with excessive spin or anything in the shorter irons in terms of lack of control. TOUR players make their money week-in and week-out with consistency, so we wanted them to have confidence that out product wasn't going to balloon on them, and that they were going to get their usual yardage."
Instead of altering the stiffness profile or making the shaft lighter, both of which would've negatively altered the launch conditions and the performance of the mid and short irons, True Temper went about designing the industry's first "progressive" iron shaft.
Thanks in large part to a True Temper Tour-only prototype test set a couple years back called "Monaco" — Darren Clarke had the prototype shafts in his irons when he won the 2011 British Open — the company was able to come up with a progressive platform that allowed the stiffness profile to be optimized for each iron in the bag.
Over the next few years, True Temper refined the Monaco prototype and came up with DG Pro, a version that groups iron shafts into three specialized stiffness profiles with variable step patterns and butt-to-tip stiffness ratios.
"We have a design now where every iron shaft in the bag is optimized," Cavill said. "Not only does the lower portion of the step pattern actually change to control the tip response, but we're also changing the grip section itself, which allows us to stiffen that section up or reduce it."
To produce a long iron shaft that could handle the low launch and spin conditions of the modern day ball, the grip lengths were increased in the butt section of the 2-5 iron shafts to promote an active tip section. The long iron shafts features six, 1.25-inch steps in bottom half of shaft.
To keep the ball flight consistent and spin rate down in the mid irons (6-8), the butt to tip stiffness ratio was altered. The grip length was decreased in the mid irons to reduce the butt stiffness, while the lower half of the shaft was stiffened to keep the control and feel consistent. The mid irons shafts also feature six, 1.5-inch steps in bottom half of shaft.
The butt to tip profile in the short iron shafts (9-PW) was altered slightly — the grip section is slightly softer than the standard Dynamic Gold shaft — to promote a "cushioned" feel with a lower ball flight with increased spin. The short iron shafts feature six, 1.75-inch steps in bottom half of shaft, which is the common step pattern for the standard Dynamic Gold shaft.
The VWT (Variable Wall Technology), something the Dynamic Gold and Project X shafts utilize, was also varied per shaft to improve the feel and control. Altering the VWT allowed engineers, according to Cavill, to lower the balance point in the shaft, which in turn reduced "the overall static club weights while maintaining club swing weight."
Even though DG Pro has "Dynamic Gold" in the name, Cavill was quick to point out that while a precise, progressive platform could be the future of steel iron shafts, the new offering wasn't brought to retail to take over for one of True Temper's most successful shaft brands.
"We don't expect DG Pro to take over the world and make Dynamic Gold obsolete by any means," Cavill said. "DG Pro is another offering. We're not saying it's going to fit everybody, but its player profile is wider than that of a Dynamic Gold.
"We know the performance of the Dynamic Gold in the mid and short irons is very, very strong. Hence the reason we didn't want to move to far away from that. DG Pro is still part of the Dynamic Gold family; however, in the long irons, we knew we could make a significant change."
And for those wondering if True Temper is going to release a "Tour Issued" version of DG Pro — something the company did when it released a Tour Issued version of Dynamic Gold to the general public — it's likely too early to tell if there's a need for another version.
"Whether there is the need for a Tour Issued version, I don't know, "Cavill said. "We have some already being used on TOUR, and we've had incredible feedback about this shaft at impact and the response to the tip. It'll be interesting to see how it goes; it's all early days at this point."
DG Pro comes in three flexes (X100, S300 and R300) and is currently available at True Temper Performance Fitting Centers for $40 per shaft.