UST Mamiya VTS Shaft Series
Over the years shaft manufacturers have worked diligently to create product lines that are comprehensive in able to fit the greatest number of golfers with the fewest number of shafts possible. These products lines are typically developed out on tour using the world’s best players as their validation and then filter down the general public. In all my years in the industry, I have witnessed many lines that have taken off and became staples for clubmakers. I believe UST Mamiya may be next as they have put a fresh new twist on shaft fitting in their Proforce VTS (Velocity Torque Speed) series.
Shaft Fitting in the Last Decade
If you look at many of the popular shaft lines from the last decade, you see a theme. Instead of a standalone model, manufacturers will start out with a concept or new technology and expand it to cover several weight ranges. Great examples of these are the Aldila NV and Grafalloy ProLaunch Blue series. These lines not only have multiple options for flex, but weights that range in 10g intervals from 45g up to 75g or even higher. Finally the line has similar graphics to make it look cohesive. This type of line can be referred to a 2D or two-dimensional fitting where you are controlling two key parameters to complement the golfer’s strength and tempo.
Fujikura developed a line called the Fit-On E Series that expanded upon the 2D fitting method. Their approach was to add ball flight (high, mid and low) to the mix. To a certain degree, The Aldila NV series did this with the addition of the NVS as they would have one shaft designed to hit the ball higher and one lower, but also available in various weights and flexes to really fine tune fitting.
UST Mamiya has developed a new approach to shaft fitting. For several years now, they studied the 5 key design elements of the shaft (Weight, Torque, Butt flex, Mid flex and Tip flex). Butt flex is commonly the way most people associate flex by clamping the butt end of the shaft and then deflecting or “plucking” the shaft in a frequency analyzer to put a number on feel. Tip flex or tip stiffness is usually the indicator of how the manufacturer controls ball flight. Mid flex is the study of stiffness distribution in the mid portion of the shaft and has generally been unclear of exactly what the primary function was. However, Mid flex is what controls the shaft’s stability and the most important part of the shaft which ties into the Butt and Tip flex. Lastly torque, or the resistance to twisting, was thought to affect control.
After making pairs of control shafts to isolate each of these parameters, UST’s staff went out and tested golfers to see how each influenced feel and ball flight. They were somewhat surprised by the results. Shaft weight (which controls overall weight) was thought to have a function on speed, but it was a key indicator of feel or being able to know where the club was during the swing.
The butt flex was thought to have been a key contributor to feel, but that wasn’t the case. Surprisingly, torque was. When most golfers or fitters think about torque, they assume that low torque is all about stabilizing the shaft and the head. Plus the common perception is golfers with higher swing speeds require lower torque than those with reduced swing speeds.
Torque: The Often Misunderstood Shaft Parameter
What is the function of torque in a shaft? During the swing not everyone will have the same clubhead position or clubhead path (inside-out, outside-in) at the top of their swing as each of us has a unique swing. It may be open, closed or in a neutral position. The position is unrelated to a player’s speed; rather it is part of the swing DNA. By matching the proper torque it really helps to square up the face at impact. This is why it might be necessary for golfers with high clubheads speeds to use higher torque shafts than what traditionally might be suggested or those with reduced speeds to use lower torque. There is one nebulous parameter you cannot discount which is “feel”. If the club (or shaft) feels right there is no need for additional swing thoughts or adjustments and the player will have more confidence.
UST Mamiya was able to produce shafts of the same weight, butt, mid and tip flex, but with 3 different torques, each 1 degree apart or the minimum threshold at which golfers could feel. The shafts are colored coded to indicate the torque. On the silkscreen, the word PROFORCE and VTS are black, silver or red. The black is the lowest torque version. Silver is the mid torque version or 1º higher than the black. Lastly red is the highest torque version of 1º higher than the silver. There is also a circle above VTS with lettering denoting the weight and flex (5R = 55g R-flex).
For fitters, UST developed an eleven shaft matrix as a starting point to fit the bulk of the golfers, although there is a total of 54 wood shafts. They range from A, R, S, SX (in-between S and X flex), X and XX flexes and weights from 55 to 95g (in 10g increments). There are also hybrids, but not a comprehensive. This is UST’s 3D fitting matrix to give players a positive feedback with their natural swing to increasing ball speed for distance and reduced dispersion for control.
What About Ball Trajectory?
The Proforce VTS wood shafts were designed primarily for drivers, which come in various lofts, but fairway and hybrid clubs benefit especially off of the ground interaction. While tip flex can control ball flight to a certain degree, loft has the greatest impact. When golfers are fit, usually they pick the head first and then the shaft. The VTS series consists of shafts in the mid and mid-low ball flight categories.
Constant Taper Profile
The butt end might appear larger than normal, but the shafts have a constant tapered profile which has to do with the shaft’s geometry. UST Mamiya found that a constant taper profile rather than a shaft with a long parallel butt section that later tapers down was more efficient at transferring energy. Don’t worry. You can still get a normal 0.600” grip over the butt end. The top or 2” down from the butt end is only 0.020” larger than standard, while the lower hand (6” down) is standard sized.
I had an opportunity to test one of each of the 60g S-flex shafts (Black, Silver and Red) and 2 of the 50g R-flex shafts (Black and Silver) into our QuikFit adapters and head to the range. Before I did, I made sure to measure the information for our annual Shaft Fitting Addendum as I do any shaft I get my hands on. For all you fellow techies, take a look at the data below in the format we usually publish this valuable information.
I have tested close to 4000 different shafts in the past 20+ years. This was the first time I have been able to find shafts were you have models of almost identical weight, frequency, butt and tip deflections, but the torque value varied so you can truly test the effect of torque.
For all those players that think high torque does this and low torque does that, well…throw out any preconceived notions. Armed with the 5 shafted adapters of identical length and one QuikFit Acer XF driver, I headed out to the range and enlisted one other golfer to test the Proforce VTS shafts. Once I explained the concept we took turns hitting and making observations.
The most notable observation was feel. While that might come as a surprise to most, we did not see a particular ball flight pattern. That is the higher torque shafts didn’t go predominately left or right or create an erratic shot pattern compared to a lower torque version. The higher torque simply gave a softer feel even though the other key shaft parameters that make up the shaft’s DNA stayed the same. Part of this can be explained by the flex profile. By having the stiffer butt, mid and tip sections, the player can sense greater stability. By adding higher torque to the shaft is what gives it feel.
While our swing speeds were approximately the same (mid 90’s) we have entirely different swings. We ended up liking totally different shafts as a result. Once you get dialed in with the right feel, like I said before, there is no adjustment necessary. A confident swing in which you can trust is what ultimately what gives you more distance. UST Mamiya’s Proforce VTS line provides more options giving players the better ability to be properly fit.
|UST-Mamiya VTS Silver Graphite||$149.99 ea.|
|UST-Mamiya VTS Red Graphite||$149.99 ea.|
|UST-Mamiya VTS Black Graphite||$149.99 ea.|
|UST-Mamiya VTS Hybrid Silver Graphite||$79.99 ea.|
|UST-Mamiya VTS Hybrid Red Graphite||$79.99 ea.|
|UST-Mamiya VTS Hybrid Black Graphite||$79.99 ea.|
UST MP5H Hybrid Shaft
The Micro-Lite shafts add extreme power, feel, and control to your game. 38 Micro-Ply layers improve feel without sacrificing performance.
|UST-Mamiya MP5 Hybrid Graphite||$44.99 ea.|
What new grips is UST offering in 2012? Plenty!
UST DV Torque Series
A unique design using UST Mamiya’s special torque bar technology for a firmer feel, less torque and straighter shots.
|UST-Mamiya Pro DV2 Torsion||#RU26||$7.49 ea.|
|UST-Mamiya Comp DV2 Torsion||#RU27||$5.49 ea.|
UST Tour PC
Made with premium compounds, the Tour PC grip provide a velvet soft feel in an exceptionally torsionally tight, long lasting grip.
|UST-Mamiya Tour PC White Midsize||#RU21||$3.29 ea.|
|UST-Mamiya Tour PC Red||#RU22||$2.99 ea.|
UST Soft Touch Grip
Enhanced designs distribute a superior, relaxed feel while limiting shock through advanced technology and materials. Wet or dry, the Swing Soft grips perform like a champion.
|UST-Mamiya Soft Touch Black/White Undersize||#RU23||$5.99 ea.|
|UST-Mamiya Soft Touch Black/White Standard||#RU24||$5.99 ea.|
|UST-Mamiya Soft Touch Black/White Midsize||#RU25||$6.49 ea.|
UST STS White Putter
Soft touch surface produces unique feel. Features polyurethane material and four distinct sizes to fit all golfers.
|UST-Mamiya ST1 Putter White Standard||#RU28||$6.49 ea.|
|UST-Mamiya ST1 Putter White Midsize||#RU29||$6.49 ea.|
|UST-Mamiya ST1 Putter White Jumbo||#RU30||$10.99 ea.|
|UST-Mamiya ST1 Putter White Super Jumbo||#RU31||$15.99 ea.|