By Rob Sauerhaft
Bryson DeChambeau, one of the Tour's most compelling characters, is known to be hyper-analytical when it comes to golf equipment. His single-length irons have been well-documented. In February, he described his 39-inch putter shaft [Matrix U11-PO prototype graphite] to PGATOUR.com this way: “It’s stiff as a board. It’s the most consistent-producing deflection out there. If you change your rhythm it doesn’t deflect differently. That’s the important thing. I’m seeing a tighter dispersion on putts and very little twisting and turning of the head.”
Though he’s referencing a shaft in a mid-length putter, the concept holds true in standard-length models as well. Could a putter shaft make that much of a difference in your game? And when was the last time you had a putter re-shafted, like you would a driver shaft or set of irons? Probably never.
Which brings me to Breakthrough Golf Technology (BGT), a startup company founded by Barney Adams. BGT’s sole product (for now) is a multi-material, standard-length putter shaft. Back in the 1990s, Barney Adams took a little company with a big idea, Adams Tight Lies, and turned the woods market upside down. Now, at 79, he’s trying to do it again in putters.
“The Stability shaft is really an invention we came up with to address a problem with existing steel shafts in putters,” says Blair Philip, BGT’s Vice President of R&D. “Putter [head] weights have gone up quite a bit in the past 20 to 30 years.” Philip, previously a putter designer at Yes! Golf, adds, “We’ve applied material science to the construction of a more advanced putter shaft to reduce twisting and flexing that happens during the stroke. That makes a more stable shaft and gets your clubface back to square more easily and consistently.”
The multi-material, 125-gram shaft consists of a non-tapered graphite body with a steel tip section. There’s also a 22-gram aluminum insert inside the carbon-fiber tubing, and an aluminum connector to reinforce the shaft. The graphite body, steel-tip construction reminds me a bit of the Grafalloy BiMatrix shaft used by Bubba Watson in his driver.
Here’s how it works: To decrease flex, an aluminum insert is placed 17-inches from the butt end of the shaft. The 6.6-inch piece is centered where the shaft flexes most. We’re told the insert increases the local stiffness by about 25 percent. And, overall, the shaft is 4 percent stiffer than standard steel putter shafts. “Not a big number,” says Adams. “What differentiates us is where we are stiffer along the length of the shaft. We’re relatively stiffer in the middle of the shaft (at the flex point), not at the butt end.”
The combination of material, geometry, insert and connector also produce lower torque than a standard steel shaft. The Stability shaft has 1° torque, whereas all-steel models generally have 1.6° to 1.8°.
I had the opportunity to roll some putts with the Stability shaft and it feels similar to what I’m used to. “That was part of our design intent,” Adams says. “The goal was to improve performance without negatively impacting feel.” Other manufacturers have made shafts that limit flex and twist. Often, though, these products cause the putter to feel different than a player’s current model. “One of the most important design criteria, and why it took three years to develop, is there must be no adjustment by the golfer. You can fix the oscillation problem with shafts that are extra wide or ones that are very heavy. But the problems in adjusting [to those types of shafts] are greater than the ones caused by the oscillating shaft.”
Is your putter misbehaving? It might be time to get over to your local Club Champion studio. Try out the new Stability shaft as well as numerous other putter options available to you. The company’s master fitters, with assistance from the SAM PuttLab, can help determine your perfect flatstick. Schedule a Club Champion fitting at clubchampiongolf.com or call 888-340-7820.
Note - The shaft is offered in three tip diameters (0.355”, 0.370” or 0.390”) to fit different heads.