Changing The Golf World One Degree At A Time!
Soon you will see one of the most innovative golf products to hit the market. OK, every company says this about any of their new products, but we are going through the patent process to protect this idea. Personally this has been the most challenging project I have ever been a part of, but at the same time the most rewarding to see it work as it was envisioned. You might have already seen a sneak peek of the new Dynacraft Prophet ICT driver, if not I wanted to give you an idea of just how powerful and versatile this clubhead system can be.
Before I do, let me give you a little background information first. As a kid growing up I loved to play with toys that you could create stuff with, especially Lego’s. Back in the Stone Age we didn’t have PlayStation’s to occupy our time as many of you will recall. But those early childhood years would soon be inspiration to a few innovative ideas in the golf industry some 30+ years later.
The first commercially available product was the Dynacraft Interchange putters (2006). The idea behind this project was when a golfer got bored and wanted a change in their putter they wouldn’t have to buy a whole new one, they could simply purchase a different back piece that would attach to the face of the club with the shaft and grip already installed. Chances are you would have already been comfortable with the length and the grip. In a matter of seconds the common person off the street could transform their own putter with little cost or tools involved.
I thought it was a great idea. However it never took off the way I would have wished. But this didn’t discourage me from thinking about how other golf clubs could be bought and altered in the future. In the back of my mind, I already had an idea that would have to wait several years for the right circumstances to unfold.
Ping Golf, who I had had much admiration for their innovations over the years, produced a titanium driver in 1998. While the head wasn’t that overly special by today’s standard, it was their hosel that was. Ping had cast a single head with a socket that they could insert 14 different thermoplastic hosels that allowed custom fitting the lie and face angle of the driver and later fairway woods. Ingenious!
However as someone who had to do a lot of club repair, the thermoplastic hosels posed a challenge to successfully remove a shaft or the whole adapter/shaft system. If a customer need a different face angle to reduce a hook or slice or needed a different type shaft, you could not assure the customer you could accommodate his/her needs. That had always been in the back of my mind a way of simplifying this system to make it easier.
Changes in the Making
There are many Rules of Golf instituted by the two governing bodies of golf (USGA and the R&A) that manufacturers have to abide by. In the fall of 2007, the USGA and R&A made an important announcement, at least to club designers, that they would allow more types of adjustable features on woods and irons. Under the revised Rules of Golf, these clubs must be submitted for additional conformity instead of a carte blanche free for all amongst manufacturers.
One thing to understand is the adjustability of clubheads has been present for decades. In years past, golfers unhappy with their existing clubs would seek out a local custom club repairman. Armed with a torch (or other heat source) the club repairman would break down the epoxy to remove a shaft. Then they would put a suitable shaft that might possibly work better than the one they took out.
In other cases, if a golfer was hooking or fading their club, alterations could be made by a club repairman. With wooden woods, this process was labor intensive. But when modern metal woods came about, club repairmen were now able to use a loft/lie machine and adjusting the lie or face angle on a metal wood, assuming the hosel was adequately long enough to perform the bending.
In fact, the only ideological change the USGA has made is facilitating these changes by allowing these very same additional adjustability features, but without the labor intensive and time-consuming restraints of the past. This rekindled my thoughts on how drivers and other clubs could be marketed, produced and sold.
The rule just went into effect on January 1, 2008 and a few manufacturers have taken advantage of this important rule change by introducing products with adjustable features to the consumer.
The ICT Difference
Hireko envisioned the importance of this change when developing the Dynacraft Prophet ICT (Interchangeable Clubfitting Technology) driver series long before the rule change was implemented. While interchangeable hosels are relatively new to exchange out one shaft for another, we took it one step further.
The key is the octagonal interchangeable hosel insert. The ICT adapter bore is purposely bored at an angle in one particular plane. This allows the adapter to be placed into the hosel which will create eight different lie and face angle sets of specifications. Professional club fitters and many golfers already understand the importance of changing these two specifications and how is can affect ball flight.
In lieu of epoxy to hold the head onto the shaft, a shaft is epoxied into the hosel adapter. The hosel adapter is then slid inside the socket or inner hosel of the head with a screw and a tool to securely tighten the two together. This facilitates the shaft removal without the use of heat and potential damage to what can be quite expensive shafts.
Presently there are systems that allow one to screw different shafts onto a head for fitting purposes. But they are not conforming to the Rules of Golf. The Prophet ICT is not designed as a fitting tool (although it can be used as one), rather a club you can be fit for on the spot and taken home or to the course immediately. As your game progresses or simply looking for a change of new technology, additional shafts pre-assembled on the ICT adapter can be purchased. Or the hosel adapter can be removed and re-inserted in another position to provide directional help as one’s swing changes. This club can grow with the owner instead of becoming obsolete like so many clubs on the market.
The Dynacraft Prophet ICT will be available in multiple lofts and the octagon-shaped inserts will be sold separately attached onto a multitude of the most popular shafts available today creating nearly a limitless number of fitting possibilities. Imagine with just 3 different lofted heads, 8 shafts and the hosel able to be configured into 8 different positions, now that clubfitter or shop can produce 192 unique drivers with very limited inventory. Other companies offering interchangeable shafts would only be able to create 24 different options. It is a win-win situation for a retailer because they don’t have the huge outlay of cash, plus the consumer will have far more options than in a regular retail situation would ever allow to get a better fit. This is especially true if the retailer has a launch monitor to obtain accurate measurements or the customer is able to hit outdoors and observe ball flight under the watchful eye of an experienced clubfitter. And to think, all those 192 combinations could be carried in one’s hand.
In ensuing weeks when the Prophet ICT becomes available, we will provide you with more information on how to use this special system. I hope that you will be as excited and pleased with our Dynacraft Prophet ICT driver series as we are to introduce them to the golfing community.