The Equipment Insider

Golf shafts: To pure or not to pure?

Golf shafts may appear all circular and straight, but SST Pure "puring" technology shows that they are like snowflakes and each has irregularities that can affect both accuracy and distance

More than 200 years ago, the English poet William Blake wrote that it was possible to see “a world in a grain of sand.” Translated into golf language the lyric might convey what all players have always known: “little things mean a lot.”

More than 20 years ago, two swings of a driver led Dick Weiss, a Florida golf course owner and operator, to the very same conclusion. He has always been a talented golfer with an impressive amateur record who also competed as a pro and long drive competitor. Now 74, Weiss recalls that moment of pure insight.

After pulling a shaft out of his Ping Zing driver with the shaft extractor he had invented, Weiss says that “for no reason at all, I decided to turn the name Aldila on the top of the shaft to the back of the shaft before I re-inserted it into the driver head again. The first shot I hit with it in that new orientation felt like a butcher’s knife going through butter.”

He then took another identical shaft and inserted it into the same clubhead with the label facing exactly the same direction, but this time the club didn’t work. Weiss concluded that it’s impossible to produce a perfectly round shaft.

SST Pure shaft testing
SST PURE'S computerized technology analyzes and finds a shaft’s irregularities through a series of algorithms and mathematical formulas, and ultimately discovers what causes a shaft to distort during the swing and through impact.

“All shafts have a hard side and a soft side, a thick side and a thin side, a flat side and a round side,” he said. “There are asymmetries along with knots as well as debris irregularities in smoothness in the shaft’s walls that result from the manufacturing process. Every shaft is unique, like snowflakes or fingerprints.”

Not long after, Weiss started SST PURE. The company’s acronyms stand for Strategic Shaft Technology and Plane of Uniform Repeatability, and shafts that have gone through the process are often referred to as having been “pured.” The shaft “puring” process employs a $35,000 computerized machine that analyzes and finds any given shaft’s irregularities through a series of algorithms and mathematical formulas. The results are what causes the shaft to bend and twist excessively out of line during the swing and through impact.

Concurrently the machine identifies the shaft’s most neutral plane — measured from the shaft’s butt to its tip end — and can then present and orient its straightest, strongest and smoothest planar axis correctly. The shaft is then inserted at right angles to the golf club’s clubface and finally into the clubhead. According to Weiss, the result is a club that strikes the ball more solid and produces longer and more accurate shots. There is also improved mis-hit shots compared to shafts that are inserted randomly into clubheads.

The major golf club manufacturers wouldn’t concede that their club assembly process could benefit from pure shaft process. Even so Weiss made his small company into a highly regarded one whose service is coveted by serious golfers and equipment aficionados all around the world.

More than 200 PGA Tour players have had their shafts pured and a short list includes the likes of Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Nick Faldo, Fred Couples, Jason Day, Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas and Bryson DeChambeau.

As L.A. Golf Shaft COO Chris Nolan says, “Everybody pooh-poohs puring except almost half of the Tour players themselves.” Nolan, whose company has taken a serious look at the benefits of the SST PURE process, adds that DeChambeau recently became the first player on the PGA Tour to compete with graphite shafts in all 14 of his clubs and that each of his three metalwoods had been pured.

In October, Weiss sold SST PURE to Nick Sherburne, who had evolved his EJL Custom Golf founded in 1998 into Club Champion, now a popular Premium Tour Level custom-fitting operation. A golf industry pioneer at age 37, Sherburne plans to keep SST PURE and Club Champion separate companies. He will continue the licensing of SST PURE machinery and training to competitive custom club fitting companies such as Cool Clubs, Golftech, True Spec and smaller independent club repair shops around the world.

“When Dick wanted to sell the company,” said Sherburne, “we saw an opportunity to protect an important technology and to grow SST PURE. We want to share with the golf world what we knew to be the best secret in golf.”

A passionate and talented club worker since he was young, Sherburne adds that pured clubs (the process costs approximately $30 a club) frees golfers to swing their clubs slightly faster and with less effort than clubs that have not been pured.

“The cylindrical irregularities of a shaft before puring inhibit the shaft’s uniformed rotational motion and orbit throughout the swing, which slows down its speed,” Sherburne said. “The same player swinging the same shaft after it has been pured has a better balanced feeling of the shaft in his or her hands and the confidence to swing the club more freely and faster.”

In golf, little things mean a lot.

Weiss also discovered that an un-pured shaft’s random insertion into a clubhead could result in that shaft performing as a regular flex, a stiff flex, an extra-stiff flex or even in what some still refer to as a ladies or senior flex shaft. Golfers must use a shaft that flexes correctly for their swings to work best.

Weiss had his SST PURE tested at Golf Laboratories, an independent and state-of-the-science club testing facility in San Diego, used for years by top golf club and shaft manufacturers in the industry. Clubs with pured shafts produced more distance and less dispersion (more accuracy) than identical clubs without pured shafts.

“After you see how out-of-alignment shafts can be and what the SST PURE process does to correct that, it’s hard not to believe in the benefits of the service,” said David Edel, the founder and proprietor of Edel Golf, an innovative Austin, Texas-based designer and manufacturer of high-quality irons, wedges and putters.

Weiss, who pured the world’s first golf shaft, deserves the last word here.

“SST PURE works with golfers of all abilities,” he concludes, “and our list and success of Tour players who have had their clubs pured speaks for itself. Helping an older woman golfer who hits her drive 110 yards hit it 120 and giving a young strong player who drives it 290 yards a better chance of keeping the ball on the fairway, that’s doing my job and that’s what makes me happy.”

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