Graphite vs. Steel in irons: Vizard 50 vs. Nippon 950 GH
The question of whether to play graphite or steel with irons is no longer as trivial as it used to be. Graphite shafts have simply developed too well for this, so that in some respects the differences are no longer that big. This is not to say that it makes no difference, on the contrary. But the technologies are getting closer and closer, and the performance of very good graphite shafts is not so far away from steel shafts anymore. And this although they are of course much lighter.
In this test we look at two very good shafts. The Vizard 50 as original shaft from Honma in graphite. And the Nippon N.S. 950 GH is also a very high quality Japanese stock which is fitted as standard in the Honma TW747 P. This is also the club head we tested with. That means identical club head with two different shafts without further changes like shaft length.
The setup for this test is not easy because you need a player with a very constant swing. The suspicion is obvious that the head speed is already different, so the swing has to be almost identical during the whole test without being able to rely on the numbers of the simulator. By the way, the Foresight Quad would be used for this, which currently offers the best and most accurate technology and puts all other simulators - especially in indoor use - in the shade.
Comparing club head and ball speed
As mentioned above, it is not 100% certain that the swing was identical, but on average the deviations should be extremely small. The average clubhead speed is 70.24 mph for the Vizard vs. 66.88 mph for the Nippon. That is a good 3 miles more for the graphite shaft and also what would be expected. Due to the lower weight the club can be accelerated better - with the same swing.
This also applies to the ball speed which is 90.59 mph vs. 87.99 mph. This value is even more difficult to compare because theoretically it must be assumed that all balls are hit exactly the same. Of course this is not the case with human players. Therefore we have already removed the outliers in order to get a constant hit pattern.
The graphite shaft is much easier to accelerate and has a much higher club head and ball speed.
It is therefore not surprising that the range of the Vizard is longer by more than 4m.
The spin rate roughly indicates how much backspin the ball gets at the end. You don't want the spin rate to be too high or too low. Too high would mean that the ball screws itself up into the air, is barely long and falls like a stone from the sky. Too little means practically no control when playing the green.
The spin rate is also very individual and only the Angle of Attack (how strong the downward movement is in which I hit the ball) is decisive here. Therefore, the ideal spin rate can only be taken from an individual fitting.
Nevertheless, there is a clear difference: The spin rate of the Nippon steel shaft is higher than that of the Vizard graphite shaft.
What you can learn from this test:
First of all the obvious was confirmed that a graphite shaft provides higher club head and ball speeds. Here it was also shown in numbers. The ball continues to fly accordingly. The spin rate of the steel shaft is higher, which provides more control. A ball that lands on the green with too little spin can do anything.
If you are a player with a low club head speed the tendency should be towards a graphite shaft. This is not a general rule. Because in the end you don't compete in a longdrive competition with a 6-iron but want to get the ball next to the flag. Therefore the spin must not be neglected.
With our test player spin is basically no problem because he hits the ball in a proper downward movement and thereby "squeezes" the ball. The spin will therefore always be ok, no matter with which shaft. In your case it may be completely different and you hit the ball rather in an upward movement which provides little spin. Then the difference between steel and graphite will be more pronounced and will be a decisive factor.
Another factor which speaks for a graphite shaft and which cannot be taken from the numbers is the more pleasant feel, because graphite absorbs vibrations and protects the joints.