Awakening of 20th anniversary Vol. 1
It’s been a while since we updated this blog. Glad to be back during these very challenging situations.
Today, we would like to write about the N.S.PRO 950GH, launched 21 years ago in 1999.
The worldwide trend was for “that black shaft”, which was a graphite shaft for irons. It was called ‘’black shaft’’ because the black color was the graphite prepreg material.
My father even called it so, because graphite shafts were yet not popular.
The days of steel irons shafts only were over once the “Black Shaft” came out and surprised golfers at lower weights, but strong performance with a cool looking, mysterious black finish.
It grew in popularity amongst amateur golfers especially after it was used by some famous professionals.
Especially in Japan, many amateur golfers used to play the Black Shaft.
Nippon Shaft, which sold only steel shafts at the time, had difficultly during the peak graphite shaft sales period. Only a few companies survived during the transition to increased graphite shaft usage.
Nippon Shaft already designed and manufactured graphite shafts before becoming known as a ‘’comprehensive shaft manufacturer’’.
That was a very challenging period for Nippon Shaft, because demand for steel shafts were almost next nothing to nothing.
However, we did not submit to the trend. We started development of a new steel iron shaft so that the golfers could easily hit higher and longer shafts like graphite shafts.
We had no idea if the new concept for light weight shafts would be popular. However, we focused on ‘’developing a sub-100g steel shaft’’. In the late 1990’s, the standard steel irons shaft weighed over 120 grams. Even though our goal was to make a shaft below 100g, the target standards for shaft stiffness, durability, etc. were the same for shafts over 120g. This posed a great challenge because the lighter the shaft weight, shaft rigidity becomes softer and reduces durability.
We focused too much on our target specs and our first sample was not playable as durability did not meet our high standards and the shafts’ shape was not pleasing.
First impressions from professionals and customers were, ‘’the shafts’ shape is unplayable, despite it’s comfortable light weight.’’
After receiving negative, but constructive user feedback, our engineers doubled their efforts to make a product to meet Nippon Shaft’s high standards.
By combining the design concepts for steel shafts with graphite shaft design concepts, we created a super lightweight (as viewed in 1999) steel shaft with an attractive slim design and rigidity, that met our goals for both lightness and durability.
At that time, shaft rigidity distribution was not a widely known concept. However, after repeated trials, various design elements such as shape, weight and flex were repeatedly altered. The final test was performed by golfers, resulting in the final design of "N.S.PRO 950GH".
The results from the light and supple shaft, produced a surprisingly high trajectory and longer distance, performance that re-wrote the expectations of steel irons shafts. Overall shaft stability, including slight tip torque was maintained due to the inherent property of steel.
It quickly was used by golfers of all skill levels and has become loved by many golfers around the world for 20 years.