HISTORY AND EVOLUTION
Cue the filmstrip. It’s 1974, and Fujikura just entered the world of graphite shafts. At the time, the technology was rudimentary, but in point of fact, represented cutting-edge thinking and engineering. Consider your family grocery-getter or the Dodge Monaco of Blue’s Brother fame as a point of reference.
Technology is a matter of context. Most adults don’t consider a light-switch a major technological achievement, and many under 30 have only known a world of smart-phones. All of that is to say, graphite shafts today are as far from their predecessors as a 2019 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat is from a 2nd generation Chevy Camaro.
The earliest graphite shafts served the industry with a single benefit. Whereas steel shafts got stiffer as they got heavier, graphite shafts could change weight and flex independently. Basically, graphite shafts gave players performance and feel similar to steel, but in a lighter package.
Though materials were wrapped with intended precision, the final product lacked the concentricity and balance which is understandable given that early shaft designs were built using a small number of large size plies (pieces of material) from only a couple of material types.
To make a section of the shaft stiffer, additional layers of material were added, similar to wearing several pairs of socks to keep your feet warm. It’s effective, but not necessarily efficient, and moreover, it gave the shaft an isometric quality (changing one part of the design invariably changes other pieces of the design).