With pros all around the tour being deprived of pre-2010 club face grooves system, shaft makers are quick to come out with solutions to cater for the need of check-check-bite type of scoring wedge shots on the greens. The solution is called “Spinner Shaft”. Simply put it, these shafts help to spin the ball at much higher revolution-per-minute (rpm) than normal shaft. So, exactly how much more rpm was needed to bring scoring irons shots to check and bite the greens on every occasion?
Based on robot test results, wedge fitted with Conventional Steel shaft spun the ball at about 8,000 rpm while the same wedge fitted with Spinner Steel shaft spun the ball at 8,300 rpm. In addition, lab test result shown ball launch angle of Spinner Steel shaft was about 3 degree lower than normal. So, lower ball flight trajectory coupled with increased spin rate of 300 rpm, i.e. “3%” higher than normal, could help the ball to check and bite the greens? Hmm…. questionable? Haven’t got a chance to test it out myself, but I am kind of skeptical about the lab test result from mathematical perspective. 3% increase sounded too little to create significant impact on the ball’s rpm, unless the -3 degree ball launching angle is doing most of the trick. Nonetheless, let us just respect the Spinner Steel shaft maker’s claim then, period.
Robin Arthur, the person who had contributed to the earlier successes of Grafalloy graphite shaft, has released his version of Spinner shaft in Graphite under the label XCaliber of Arthur Xtreme Engineering. Graphite! Yes, you heard me right that it is Graphite Spinner shaft. This shaft weighs only 95 g and lab test result shown that it increases ball spin rate by another 2,000 rpm (on the average) as compared to standard steel shaft. That’s 25% higher than normal wedge shafts! Hey! Lab result sounded right this time mathematically. A must try, indeed.
From USA, I air freight in 4 pieces of XCaliber Graphite Spinner 95 Stiff shafts and got them fitted on a series of Titleist Vokey wedges: 58, 54, 50 and PW (from AP2 set). Weight reduction from the shaft helped to increase the overall clubs’ swing-weight from D2 to D9. To my preference, the swing weight gain had translated to much better club head feel for all the wedges.
Course test results were as follows:
- Spin Rate: Very obvious spin rate improvement for the 54 degree SW, 50 degree AW and the 46 degree PW. Shots from 85m with the SW or 100m with the AW would land, check and bite. Total displacement forward on the green was less than 3 feet. Great! On some well struck shots the ball would land, check and back-spin by 1 to 2 feet. Kind of cool to watch that ball actions on the greens. As for the PW, most shots would land, check, check and bite. Total displacement forward on the green was less than 4 feet. The increased in rpm on the ball had minimized forward roll in a big way. In most occasion, forward roll wasn’t noticeable. However, there wasn’t obvious spin rate improvement from shot came out of the 58 degree LW. Perhaps the excessive airborne time resulted from its high launch angle had worn off the extra rpm before landing.
- Ball Flight: Despite being specified as Stiff, this shaft tends to launch the ball higher than conventional steel wedge shafts. As we know a less aggressive ball flight trajectory means harder to be precise in shot making in the wind. A noticeable shortcoming of this graphite spinner shaft.
- Distance Carry: This shaft carries the ball farther than conventional steel wedge shafts by 10% to 15%. This could be due its graphite characteristic, i.e. more active shaft tip and lighten overall club weight by 35g. Lighter club yields higher swing-speed and hence longer flight distance as a result.
- Shot Manufacturing: Shaft tip was highly stable with Torque measured at 2.6 degree. As a result, it responded to shot making pretty well, e.g. draw, fade, de-loft punch and so on.
- Sand Shot: The advantage of active shaft tip, high spin construction of the shaft body and high launch angle of the shaft work like magic in the sand bunker. Coupled with higher swing-weight (D9), the LW and SW could pop ball out of any sand bunker (high or low lip) and land softly on the green with ease. Here’s my personal recall of a pleasant encounter: My shot landed at the foot of a super high lip (6 foot high) bunker. To worsen the situation, the ball seated less than 1 inch away from the bottom of the lip face. Couldn’t possibly pop the ball out from the sand in 1 for a normal circumstances. Surprise, surprise! I shot the ball up almost 12 feet high with the LW (58 degree) and it landed softly on the green. Success! At D9 swing-weight, the SW and LW could glide through sand effectively while providing excellent feedback to the execution hands at impact and follow-through. The high spin construction of the shaft provides a “push” sensation on the club head when gliding through sand. Kind of enjoyed that “push” sensation that you would’t normally find in other wedge shafts.
- Feel: At D9 swing-weight, the wedges were extremely good feel on the head. Good head feel was proven to be useful for shot execution around greens like, chip and run, short pitch and even flop shot. Again, the highly responsive feedback from the club head at take-way (back swing) and at impact provide precise timing trigger to the mind and hands. A plus point for golfer who consistently look for good club head feel for effective shots manufacturing. Like in the sand bunker, the “push” sensation from the high spin construction of the shaft was extremely useful in the rough or long grass. It is like a little impact booster to prevent golfer from decelerating club head speed in rough or critical pitch shots.
In conclusion, the XCaliber Graphite Spinner 95 Stiff Shaft scored 80% in overal performance rating. It could have scored 90% if not for the higher than normal ball flight. Go get hold of it before it is banned, who knows when by USGA!?