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Q&A: Jason Dufner speaks on his super-rare graphite iron shaft

6 Min Read


Q&A: Jason Dufner speaks on his super-rare graphite iron shaft

Explains the importance of a properly fit driver shaft

    WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W. Va. -- Just a short time ago, professional golfers used strictly steel shafts in their irons. Even when graphite shafts became both acceptable and popular in metalwoods and hybrids, graphite still hadn’t made its way into iron sets.

    Things have changed, however, and PGA TOUR players are finding benefits from using graphite in their irons.

    The latest example is Jason Dufner. Throughout his career, Dufner has used steel shafts in his irons, but when he showed up to A Military Tribute at The Greenbrier this week, he had a new LA Golf graphite shaft in his Cobra 4-iron. It’s not just any graphite shaft, either. As Dufner explained to PGATOUR.COM on Wednesday, he personally helped develop the LA Golf prototype iron shaft with John Oldenburg, Chief Product Officer at LA Golf, and there are only four shafts in existence.

    On the range at The Old White TPC on Wednesday with PGATOUR.COM, Dufner explained in-depth the benefits he’s seen from a graphite iron shaft in his 4-iron. He also discussed the importance of a properly fit shaft in his driver, how LA Golf has helped his game, and how much distance he’s picked up by using a lighter, low-torque driver shaft.

    PGATOUR.COM: How did a graphite shaft end up in your 4-iron, because I believe you’ve played only steel shafts in your irons throughout your career, right?

    JASON DUFNER: Yeah, for the most part. So I called John Oldenburg who designs all of [LA Golf]’s stuff, and I just talked to him about what I was looking for in a long iron shaft. Everything I’ve always tested in graphite has been real light. Generally speaking, if you give us (TOUR players) stuff that’s light, we’re going to increase speed, and generally speaking, we’re going to increase launch and spin. I was looking for something in the long iron where I would get higher launch conditions -- so a steeper land angle for me, with longer irons – but keep my spin rate consistent with what I would see if I had a steel shaft.

    My understanding is that it’s a pretty heavy graphite shaft (126 grams) and it’s cut to length of a 4-iron… so we can get pretty specific with the weight. It’s been pretty good and it’s pretty tight. The dispersion has been pretty tight. I saw an increase of about 1.5 to 2.5 degrees of launch angle, but still keeping my spin rate in that 4,000 rpm to 4,300 range. What I’ve seen is I get higher trajectory, but not with the big high revolutions to where if I got into the wind it’s going to go a really short distance. So I’ve been able to achieve a higher launch, softer land, but still keep my numbers relatively the same to what I’m used to with a traditional 4-iron.

    Is it something you see yourself using off the tee?

    No, for me it’s a 4-iron. I’ll use it on par 4s, par 3s, occasional par 5s… mostly par 3s to be honest. Perfect example, this week I used it three times yesterday in a practice round, and obviously tees change, hole locations change, but we see a lot of those [distances]. This probably has a 215 to 225-yard window -- maybe 210-220 window -- but I don’t have to worry about it getting too spinny or too float-y, especially when I get into the wind.

    I understand it’s a bit of a rare shaft… how rare is it?

    Yeah, I think there’s four of them. I have 3-of-the-4. I gave one to a friend… Will Claxton who played out here has one too.

    One other thing I’ll add is that LA Golf has been really great to me. I’ve had the opportunity to speak with John multiple times on what I’m looking for, and I think for us, if you know what you need – a lot of guys don’t know what they need out here (laughs) – but I know what I need and what I’m looking for. I can talk to John and they can build whatever I want. They have that ability to customize what we need out here.

    Are you playing anything else from the company?

    Driver shaft. Driver shaft is one that he built for me too after talking to him. I was looking for a lighter weight shaft. My biggest issue was the new heads; obviously CG (center of gravity) has changed a lot and everybody has gone to lower spin, higher launch. That wasn’t great for me. So recently I was playing a driver that was in the 11.5-12 degree range, and that brings all kinds of issues with face angle. And, generally speaking, if you have 12 degrees of loft, no matter how good the fit is, you’re probably going to hit it shorter than if you had 9.5 degrees.

    So I spoke to him and said, “Hey, here’s what I’m seeing with driver heads. I need a shaft that’s going to help me get the right launch and get the right spin rates without me having to change clubs, and without me having to change my swing too much.” I don’t want a club that looks like a 2-wood and could shatter my left shin (laughs). So they’ve been great in building stuff for me. The Cobra head, I think this one has about 9.75 degrees of loft, which actually gives me a better face angle; it’s more neutral at address. To be honest with you, I think that helps me increase my speed, because optically it doesn’t look like I’m going to go left, so I feel like I can swing how I want to swing, and not fear that it’s going to go left.

    There’s nothing like having a good fit…

    Yeah, so it’s been good, I’ve been happy with what they’ve been able to do. I think the biggest thing for me is that I know what I want, and then I can have conversations and then John can build it.

    What performance benefits have you seen from the new driver shaft?

    I probably picked up 2 or 3 mph. Some of it’s probably due to the club, and some of it due to stuff I’ve been working on in my golf swing. I think the biggest thing with this (shaft) is the dispersion. There’s low torque on this shaft so any mishits – even though the sweet spot is about as big as it can be nowadays – any mishits on the toe or the heel you don’t really get that gear effect because the shaft really stays stable. Instead of being 10 yards in the rough, it might be 2 yards in the rough. So the dispersion is really tight for me. I always look at what your bad [shots] do. The good ones are always good, but I want to see if I hit it off the toe or make a bad swing, is it in someone’s backyard or is it playable?

    For me it’s in someone’s backyard…

    Sometimes it is for some of these guys, too (laughs). But yeah, I put this shaft in play at Hilton Head, and I think I went up about 14 percentage points in Fairways Hit on average. And I think I went up about 11 yards on average over a 10-event period. So I picked up distance and accuracy, which is a double-bonus.

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