In early 1959, the proven strength and durable flexibility of NHK Spring Co. LTD.’s market-leading automotive value-spring alloy served as the genesis of what would become a revolution in the golf shaft industry. Since its inception, Nippon Shaft has developed proprietary golf shaft materials and specialized heat-treatment processes resulting in a line of high performance golf shafts that are superior in feel, consistency and performance.
When Nippon Shaft’s N.S. PRO 950GH came to market in 1999, it was the first consistently-made sub-100 gram steel shaft in the world. In addition, all Nippon Shaft products are constant weight, meaning that every iron in a player’s bag, be it a 3-iron or a pitching wedge weighs the same. Professionals demand constant weighting for the sake of consistency. Amateurs and higher handicappers also can benefit from constant weighting.
The product that propelled Nippon Shaft into the elite group of golf equipment manufacturers was the N.S. PRO 950GH lightweight steel shaft, which was introduced in 1999. At 95 grams, it was the first sub-100 gram steel shaft that maintained the consistency of traditional steel shafts.
The lighter weighted shafts enabled players to increase their swing speeds and therefore increase their distances. The stability of the shafts meant that their clubs would perform consistently and accurately.
At the time, the development of a lightweight steel shaft was significant because many golfers were enjoying the benefits of graphite shafts in their drivers, but they found graphite too light and too inconsistent to use in their irons.
Nevertheless, the slower swing speeds of most amateurs - and the eternal search for more distance by better players and pros - cried out for iron shafts that were both lighter and more pliable yet consistent. The N.S. PRO 950GH provided the light weight, pliability and, perhaps most significantly, the stability inherent in steel. "Even low-handicappers and pros took note," says Hiro Fukuda of Nippon Shaft USA.
In addition, all Nippon Shaft steel shafts are constant weight. This means that every iron in a player's bag weighs the same whether it be a 3-iron or a pitching wedge. The irons are also available in either parallel or taper tips, which is unique in the industry.
The real "magic" of Nippon Shaft sub-100-gram steel shaft is its ability to be both "soft" and "hard" at the same time. The marriage of pliability and stability is an apparent contradiction that is overcome by a combination of the type of steel Nippon Shaft uses in its manufacturing process and in the manufacturing process itself. Both can be traced to the company's roots in the automobile industry.
Nippon Shaft is a subsidiary of NHK, a Yokohama, Japan-based manufacturer of steel engine valve springs used in automobiles. Such springs must be both pliable and durable over the course of 100,000 miles. That same principle is at work when Nippon Shaft makes lightweight shafts for golf clubs.
"Essentially, we view golf shafts as springs" Fukuda said. "that's why we can manufacture our shafts to very precise weights and it's why they can be both soft and hard at the same time."