I receive a lot of emails from people asking why we do not seem to carry ‘Taper Tip’ iron shafts. This is a valid question, and the reality is that we largely do not stock or carry the Taper Tip shafts. I wanted to take a shot at trying to explain our reasoning, and outline the differences between ‘Taper Tip’ .355 tip iron shafts and the ‘Parallel’ .370 tip iron shafts.
First, the basics: ‘Taper Tips’ are shafts that come to the builder, retailer or club manufacturer with the tip pre-cut from the shaft factory. The 9-iron shaft is designated for the 9-iron, the 8-iron shaft for the 8-iron, and so forth. Once epoxied to the head the only additional work is butt cutting to length, gripping, and shipping.
This makes them the obvious choice for a high volume, 'Stick-and-Glue’ production line such as those of most major manufacturers’.
But there are downsides to taking this short-cut. For example, pre-cutting of a shaft assumes that every head and shaft falls within the manufacturers’ weight-spec tolerances and thus will fall within a consistently matched set in terms of stiffness from club to club throughout the set. In reality, this is very rarely true. Also, these pre-cut shafts do not allow the club builder to adjust for trajectory. When the shaft comes already cut to length, you get what you get.
‘Parallel tip’ shafts, on the other hand, come to the builder as the ‘raw’ full-length shaft from the shaft factory. While the shaft manufacturers will give guidance on the proper tip trimming, these raw shafts leave options open for the Club Builder who believes that a particular build might call for something different.
This makes Parallel tip shafts the obvious choice of professional Club Builders and Tour players for two important reasons.
First, Parallel tip shafts allow the Club Builder the option of tipping the shaft a bit more or less. Less tipping means a more flexible shaft, and thus might be called for when building a club with a lighter head, as the lighter the head the stiffer a club will play. Conversely, the Club Builder will probably want to compensate for a heavier head by tipping the shaft a bit more. In this way the Builder can balance or match the whole set. In fact, it is only in this way that a Club Builder can properly coordinate from club to club to ensure a perfectly matched set.
Second, working with a parallel tip allows the Club Builder to alter ball trajectory while still maintaining the integrity of a perfectly matched set. This is done by controlling the tipping.
A Regular Flex shaft, when tipped about 1 5/8 inches more than the Stiff would have called for, will play at approximately the same stiffness as the same shaft in Stiff. The difference is that, even though the flex is the same, because there is less of the skinny—or tip—end the ball will launch at a lower trajectory.
So, let’s say that the player for whom the clubs are being built wants a ‘typical’ stiff set, but that they wanted a higher launch from the long irons. The Club Builder might build the long irons in a X-Flex (extra stiff) with 1 5/8 inch less tipping than the S-Flex (stiff) would have called for, thus achieving the same finished flex but with a higher launch in those pesky long irons.
Likewise, if the player wanted more control with the short irons—in that they wanted them to ‘punch’ more than ‘balloon’—the Builder could go with R-Flex (regular) shafts tipped 1 5/8 inches more than the S-Flex would call for and thus build a set with the same flex and feel throughout, but with a lower trajectory.
The downside to Parallel tip shafts is that each shaft must be first tip-cut before being epoxied into the head. Typically, there would be no tip cutting in a 1 iron and then they would be tip-cut in 1/2" increments throughout the set. After this is done, then the Club Builder proceeds exactly as the high-volume shop: final butt cut, grip and ship.
Invariably we face the overwhelming concern of most non-Tour players—players who are seeking to re-shaft their Stick-and-Glue produced Brand Name with an upgraded Aftermarket shaft—which is ‘How do I get a .370 parallel shaft into my .355 taper tip heads,’ or ‘why don’t I get the aftermarket shaft in a .355 taper tip?’
The answer to the first question is that the heads built for the .355 must be reamed with a .370 Reamer, and then the set can be properly built; and the reason one purchases .370 shafts as upgrades is that with .355 Taper tips, while you may still be upgrading your shafts, you are not upgrading your build.
Now, one might notice in reading the above that I said ‘non-Tour’ players. Over the course of the years that I’ve spent working in this industry, working to create the perfect clubs and the perfect techniques for fitting same, I’ve identified what I refer to as the ‘Sacred Secrets’ of the golf industry. One of these Sacred Secrets is that while players like Tiger, or Jack or Phil might play clubs that say Titleist, or Nike, or what-have-you on the plate, they are not the same clubs that you buy in the store. They are special heads, often forged specifically to the individual players’ needs by elite artisans in the US, or Japan or elsewhere and stamped with the name of the company sponsoring the golfer. Outside of a casual resemblance they are nothing like the clubs you buy at Wally’s Discount Golf and Pro Shop
This is because the top players and professionals know that in order to get the most out of their equipment they cannot rely on the randomness of pre-cut tip shafts for their builds. They rely on their club builders’ abilities to exactly match each iron to their particular needs and see to it that the set is properly matched throughout.
Which, of course, brings me full circle to how we can assist you with your particular needs, Vector Golf and The Golf Coast Fitting Centers have been designing and manufacturing Artisan golf equipment—equipment every bit up to the standards of the world’s professionals—for over a decade. We have been pioneering the world’s most advanced fitting techniques for all of that time as well.
If you are looking for the best built and fit golf equipment in the world—at lower prices than the inferior off-the-rack equipment—then give us a call at 1-800-GOLF-SOS (800.465.3767). We can retrofit your old clubs, or set you up in brand new gear. One thing’s guaranteed: your golf game will never be the same again.
Until next time,
Vector Golf/The Golf Coast Fitting Centers