Here is a product designed by aerospace engineers, manufactured to tight tolerances and tested statically and dynamically to ensure quality control and consistent performance. Product specifications are determined in computerized laboratories that analyze more than 8,000 data points.It sounds like the manufacturing precision used to produce any number of vital parts for demanding customers and OEMs. But these are not just any parts. These critical components are required for business success in the toughest arena of global competition: These are your golf shafts.
True Temper Sports, celebrating 100 years in 2002, is the industry leader in all segments of the market. As the company name suggests, True Temper deserves a green jacket for steel manufacturing. Its flagship product is the Dynamic Gold steel shaft, played by more than 60 percent of golfers on the PGA tour. Dynamic Gold (primarily used in irons but also in woods by top players) has been the No. 1 shaft in golf for more than 50 years and a winner at more than 80 percent of majors since 1987.
Best of Both Worlds
The effort to achieve distance and accuracy is the key challenge in golf, for both players and equipment manufacturers. True Temper is up to the challenge with a mixture of materials, designs and processes to lower the scores of golfers at all levels of strength and ability.
“We launched an entirely new category of golf shaft last year with the introduction of BiMatrx™ technology,” says President and Chief Executive Officer Scott Hennessy. “Now that we’ve proven the technology provides measurable benefits … we are ready to expand the product family to target specific player needs just as we continue to do in steel and graphite.”
For woods and drivers, True Temper’s Rocket® brand is available in either an all-graphite version or with the new BiMatrx™ technology, which combines a lightweight graphite body with a steel tip for maximum control.
“Graphite and steel have very distinct advantages and drawbacks,” explains Marketing Communications Manager Chad Hall. “One of the great advantages of graphite is that you can make shafts extremely light for greater clubhead speed and distance. The trade-off is that the material and the way it’s manufactured lends itself, more so than steel, to some inconsistencies from product to product.”
More than 95 percent of players on the PGA tour play steel-shafted irons for consistency and accuracy. Conversely, 95 percent play graphite in their drivers to hit the ball farther, according to Hall.
“We thought if we can combine these two materials, we can get the overall weight of graphite with the tip consistency of steel,” he says.
The new technology didn’t take long to catch on. When David Toms hit his 243-yard ace in last year’s PGA championship, he used a 5-wood with a True Temper BiMatrx™ shaft. Toms went on to win the PGA.
Even if you don’t have the power of the pros, you can still play steel shafts to turn your ball into a pin-seeking missile. True Temper’s TX-90™ is the lightest steel shaft in the world – 30 percent lighter than traditional steel shafts. (TX-90™ is in the 90-gram range compared to True Temper’s lightest graphite shaft, the Grafalloy PowerLite® at 46 grams).
“The lighter we can make a steel shaft, the closer we can get an all-steel product to a graphite weight range,” says Hall. “With TX-90™, we are pushing the weight envelope so that golfers who are playing graphite in their irons can switch to a more consistent product.” TX-90™ is great for recreational players, older golfers and women, too.
Even as True Temper defines the future of golf, it boasts a red-letter history in the game. The company started in 1902 as a collaboration of tool manufacturers. In 1923, True Temper began manufacturing steel golf shafts to replace traditional persimmon. In 1924, the USGA, golf’s ruling body, allowed steel shafts. True Temper shafts were used by 1925 U.S. Open Champion Willie McFarland. In 1931, Billy Burke won the U.S. Open with True Temper shafts. In 1967, the company invented “Iron Byron,” the robotic ball-hitting machine used to test golf equipment.
More recently, in 1996, True Temper created its SensiCore® shaft insert to vastly reduce fatigue-causing vibration, which is greatest in steel shafts. Graphite reduces vibration by 48 percent; SensiCore® reduces vibration by 70 percent.
Today, all of the steel golf shafts that bear the True Temper name are crafted at the company’s state-of-the-art, 325,000 square-foot facility in Amory, Miss. Composite manufacturing and sophisticated graphite production is done in El Cajon, Calif.
The competitive advantages of True Temper’s products are essential to the company’s success. In fact, the golf market is not increasing, but holding steady at about 25 million U.S. players, according to Hall.
“When Tiger Woods turned professional, everyone thought that number was going to increase,” he says. “But there are several reasons it hasn’t: It is still a very expensive sport and very difficult. New players leave quickly and the old guard is unfortunately dying off.”
All golf manufacturers are vying for the business of the nation’s approximately 5 million avid core golfers, according to Hall. “They’re the influencers, the ones buying the equipment,” he says.
With True Temper’s product line of shafts that deliver distance, control, feel, accuracy, lightweight and consistency, the company is sitting at the top of the leaderboard of American sports equipment manufacturing.
True Temper’s Web site, www.shaftlab.com, includes a computer fitting center to analyze golfers’ swings and select the right shaft flex and stiffness. Golfers can also ask their golf equipment retailer or club maker for True Temper shafts. They can also be found in the proprietary custom and stock designs of the world’s top golf equipment makers. “If you can think of them, we do business with them,” says Hall of the company’s OEM clients.
The company also uses its expertise to manufacture bicycle tubing, hockey and lacrosse sticks and other sporting goods and non-recreational products. “True Temper Sports continues to expand, grow, and evolve into the undisputed leader in the precision crafted metal and composite tubing markets,” Hennessy says.