The Equipment Insider

Vested interest: LA Golf Shafts, DeChambeau in for long gain

One reason for Bryson DeChambeau’s recent successes has been his equipment, which features graphite shafts designed and manufactured by LA Golf Shafts — a company in which DeChambeau has a financial stake

Sam Snead arguably swung a golf club more smoothly, powerfully and gracefully than anyone in the history of the game. Yet, in what he would come to call his “85 percent solution,” Snead understood that if he swung too hard, his Rembrandt-like swing would fall apart in a matter of seconds.

Enter Bryson DeChambeau, who put on 40 pounds of muscle since last September to his former 200-pound frame, and now swings his Cobra King SpeedZone driver in the 130 mph range. DeChambeau’s ball speed sneaks up close to 200 mph and his newly packaged muscle power escorted him to his sixth PGA Tour victory earlier this month at the Rocket Mortgage Classic in Detroit.

The golfer’s whopping 350-yard driving average set the PGA Tour record for a four-round event. He also set another record, becoming the first PGA Tour player to win a tournament using graphite shafts in all 14 of his clubs.

To an untrained eye the Hogan-capped 26-year-old from Northern California can at times appear to swing the driver as hard as he can. If Yogi Berra were alive to see it, the legendary New York Yankee catcher might have said “in fact 85 percent is really 100 percent.”

LA Golf Shafts, a nearly 2-year-old Los Angeles-based company of which DeChambeau is a partner, designs and manufactures all of DeChambeau’s graphite shafts. Chris Nolan, the company’s COO, notes that “for some time Bryson has already possessed the speed he needs to hit the ball as far as he does.” DeChambeau’s added muscle simply allows the player to support the extra load his increased swing speed exerts on his body and his golf shafts.

LA Golf Shafts — Bryson DeChambeau
Bryson DeChambeau currently plays LA Golf Shafts' graphite product throughout his entire bag.

A good way to unpack how DeChambeau’s driver shaft contributes to his Kraken-released, cranked-up long balls might be to look right in the middle section of the LA Golf Shaft Trono model he uses.

“Bryson told me that he wanted a shaft that would ‘keep up’ with his newly developing swing,” Nolan said, “as it got faster and faster as Bryson knew that it would.”

What resulted after nine prototypes was DeChambeau’s highly customized version of the company’s Trono driver shaft, which the golfer has nicknamed MRDR1 — or Murderer One. Trono is also Latin for “Throne.”

As Nolan explains, the Trono’s middle section measures far stiffer than its tip ends, while the shafts’ butt area, just below the club’s grip, displays a softness and flexibility to a degree rarely present in any shafts on the market today.

Both Nolan and shaft engineer Jeff Meyer, the company’s newly hired chief design officer, describe the new shaft’s dynamic motion as a “whipping action” and “like a door swinging from its hinges and slamming into the ball.”

What about how the shaft feels?

“Bryson’s interested in the numbers on the launch monitor that the shaft produces, such as ball speed, spin rate, launch angle, etc.” Nolan said. “He says that once the numbers are right, he can get used to however the shaft feels.”

Kit Mungo, a master club fitter and club builder who runs the Agoura Hills, Calif., Club Champion fitting and retail shop, says that all LA Golf Shafts graphite drivers, fairway woods, hybrids, graphite irons, and even putter shafts perform really well and feel very smooth. They have become popular choices among his store’s customers.

LA Golf Shafts manufactures all of its products in Anaheim, Calif., making the company’s graphite shafts the only ones made exclusively in America today. The company is owned by LA Golf Partners, a Los Angeles-based holding company founded by Reed Dickens.

Dickens, 42, is something of an entrepreneur and sports equipment industry visionary. Once a White House assistant press secretary to Ari Fleischer under President George W. Bush, Dickens co-founded Marucci Sports in 2009. The company’s baseball bats, according to “Bat Digest,” which provides objective reviews and ratings on baseball bats, is now the most common bat brand in Major League Baseball.

Bold, unconventional and innovative, Dickens is using the same iconoclastic business plan or “playbook” at LA Golf Shafts that he used at Marucci Sports. Rather than paying endorsement fees to ball players who were using Marucci bats, Dickens invited those players to pay him and become equity partners in his company. Now he is making the same kind of offer to professional Tour players, men and women who may be interested in using LA Golf Shafts.

“This way,” Dickens said, “the players will be putting some of their own skin into the game.”

As of now only DeChambeau and PGA Tour star Jason Dufner (who plays LA Golf Shafts’ Olyss model driver shaft) have become company player/partners. The amount of their respective investment and ownership remains undisclosed. Although the Covid-19 pandemic has disrupted businesses everywhere, when the situation improves Dickens said that the company will be moving toward announcing new partnerships with more players.

That said, Tour pros do not have to enter into such partnership/ownership arrangements in order to use LA Golf Shafts. Rickie Fowler and Kevin Na presently use one of the company’s graphite putter shaft models, though neither have yet entered into partnerships with the company.

Until now Tour players have selected their shafts by trying out models from other shaft makers and choosing the ones they like best. Dickens agrees with Nolan, who believes that the right shaft for a player forms a one-of-a kind “fingerprint” that works optimally for him or her.

All of LA Golf Shafts’ partners will work very closely with the company’s design team in developing what are perhaps the most individualized golf shafts the game has ever seen. The company will then evaluate each of their player-partners’ shafts to see if they possess what Nolan calls a “universal” that works well for a wide range of golfers.

The company will then produce similar models of their tour pros’ shafts; some scaled down, with lighter weights, more flexible bend profiles and more manageable degrees of torque, thus designed to perform optimally for a range of golfers with different swing speeds.

Consumers presently can order LA Golf Shafts’ products directly from the company or from major club fitting chains such as Club Champion and True Spec. By the end of the year, Dickens said, most of the game’s major club makers, such as Callaway, TaylorMade and Ping, will offer his company’s shafts as upgrade options.

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