Just this past weekend, Brandt Snedeker fashioned a final-round, three-under 69 Sunday to come from six shots back and win the Farmers Insurance Open for the second time in four years, recalling his performance of four years ago when he came from seven back in the final round to beat Kyle Stanley in a playoff.
Over that four-year span, the equipment in Snedeker’s bag has changed, as one would expect, as manufacturers come out with ‘new and improved’ balls and clubs from year to year.
For example, this year, Sneds is playing the 2016 version of Bridgestone’s B330 ball and the just-released Bridgestone JGR driver, as well as Bridgestone J15 CB irons and J15 Forged wedges, none of which was available in 2012.
But one thing that Snedeker hasn’t changed in years are the shafts he plays in his irons. And odds are, if you try the Aerotech SteelFiber shafts in your irons – or any of your clubs – you’ll become a devotee, as well.
If you’ve followed MetroGolf since it was a print publication flying the Metrolina Golf banner, you’ve likely read about Aerotech before. Ten years ago – in the May 2006 issue to be exact – we were the first publication to test and review the company’s then-new Players Spec™ AMI 99 shafts. As with all companies, technologies, and thus products, at Aerotech have advanced over the years and the Players Spec model no longer appears in the lineup.
But the basic technology that has set Aerotech apart from every other shaft company in the game is still the same as it was in when Aerotech entered the marketplace in 1994 as a supplier for big-name OEMs. The Aerotech SteelFiber i95 S shafts that Snedeker used to fire his 69, the only final-round sub-par score, Sunday – a day when winds approaching 50 mph sent the day’s average score soaring to near 80 – feature the same graphite/steel fiber construction Aerotech has built into every one of its shafts since its founding 22 years ago.
It was the design and construction of the SteelFiber shafts that made them unique two decades ago and it is what continues to set them apart from every other shaft in golf today.
To explain the unique design, let’s go back to something MetroGolf told readers 10 years ago, a description that remains as accurate now as it was then:
“With its SteelFiber shafts, Aerotech combined the power of graphite and the stability and consistency of steel in the first, and to date, only shaft of its kind – a shaft constructed of a graphite core is wrapped with miles of steel fiber. In fact, an Aerotech composite shaft in standard driver length contains more than 59 miles of steel. The result is a shaft that dampens vibration and increases clubhead speed like graphite while producing the stability and control of steel. Further, the composite produces a shaft with numerous other advantages over traditional steel or graphite only shafts:
- Optimum weighting without increased wall thickness;
- Increased hoop strength, meaning the shaft resists distortion and maintains its roundness better than other shafts as it flexes throughout the swing; and
- A perimeter-weighted shaft with a higher moment of inertia. “
And while Aerotech does not make such claims, our experience at the recent PGA Merchandise Show’s Demo Day, testing like clubs with the Aerotech SteelFiber shafts versus traditional steel shafts, showed players can expect to pick up a bit of added distance from the composites, particularly as you move to the lighter weight shafts, like the i70 and i80 models. This makes sense as the lighter the weight, the easier, and faster, one can swing the club.
On its website, Aerotechgolfshafts.com, photos show the thinner wall thickness of Aerotech SteelFiber shafts compared to conventional graphite shafts. More importantly, other photos show how the Aerotech shafts better retain their shape and resist ‘ovaling’ – think of what happens to a garden hose as you bend it – as compared to graphite, when the two shafts are placed under the same load.
The key is the micro-thin stanless steel fiber Aerotech uses to wrap its graphite core. Each strand measure only eight microns – one-tenth the diameter of a human hair. And while it’s true that this technology allows Aerotech to produce shafts that are lighter, yet just as stiff as the stiffest steel shafts, don’t think that is all Aerotech offers.
In iron shafts alone, Aerotech offers shafts from 70 to 125 grams. What’s more, shafts in each class remain the same weight, regardless of flex. That is, the SteelFiber i95 stiff that is Snedeker’s shaft of choice is the same 95 grams as the i95 regular and extra-stiff flexes. Even in the same weight class, most other manufacturers’ shafts get heavier as they get stiffer. This characteristic, combined with the thicker wall thickness of other manufacturers’ shafts, accounts for the “boardy” feel of most conventional graphite shafts as you move to heavier weight options.
Snedeker is hardly alone when it comes to trusting his game – and his income – to Aerotech shafts. In fact, more than 50 touring professionals use Aerotech shafts to power their clubs, even though Aerotech does not pay a single player to use its shafts.
Others you may have noticed, either in person or on TV – the shafts are easy to recognize because of their muted silver finish, as opposed to the shiny chrome of traditional steel – include major championship winners Fred Couples, Mark O’Meara, Ian Woosnam and Retief Goosen, as well as Matt Kucher, Rory Sabbatini and Anna Nordqvist.
Even Jack Nicklaus, the greatest player the game has ever known, switched to Aerotech shafts when the technology became available late in his career.
In addition to the SteelFiber series for irons, hybrids and woods, Aerotech also makes the super-light Volant shafts for irons (55 and 65 grams), lightweight Powercoil HP50 and HP65 shafts for woods, the more flexible Alt470 wood shafts designed specifically for senior and female players and the Claymore MX and Claymore LD shafts for drivers. It’s worth noting that more than a dozen competitors used the Claymore LD shafts – available in 2, 3 and 4X flexes – in their drivers at the 2009 ReMax World Long Drive championships, the very first year the shaft was introduced on the Long Drive circuit.
Aerotech shafts are available from most OEMs as a custom order. (Expect an up-charge.) Or they are available after-market from most golf specialty shops and clubfitters. For more, go to aerotechgolfshafts.com or talk to your local clubfitting professional. But as we warned readers in 2006, don’t try Aerotech shafts unless you are ready to make the switch because even just a few swings on the range will spoil you.