OEM, Made For, Aftermarket and Original Golf Shafts
Unfortunately many golfers are not aware of one fact: There are different versions of the same shaft. For example, there are three versions of a Mitsubishi Tensei White: Tour, Original and OEM or Made For. The Tour version is of no importance for normal human beings or for us at ExactGolf. This version is exclusively for Tour players.
The original shaft is the actual shaft model that you can buy and use as clubmaker. At ExactGolf we only work with these shafts. They are intended for amateurs and are of the highest quality that can be purchased as a simple golfer. Tour shafts, on the other hand, can only be obtained by chance or through appropriate contacts.
Now there is a third variant that is really important for most golfers: Made for or OEM shafts. These are shafts that look the same or very similar to the original shafts. However, they are usually manufactured in other factories and mainly on huge scales. These are the shafts that leading western manufacturers buy and install in large quantities. Here it depends mainly on the price and as many pieces as possible should be produced to keep costs low.
These "Made for shafts" are therefore produced for a specific manufacturer - hence the name. They either look exactly like the original shaft or they are slightly modified. Frequently, for example, the name of the club manufacturer can be found there.
The important question to ask yourself is the following: How good are these made for shafts and does it make sense to play them?
The fact that we only offer original shafts on ExactGolf should anticipate the answer, but we would like to explain this in more detail.
Variations in quality
An important point is the quality standard. Made for shafts are inferior in this respect because the range of variation in quality is much higher. This means that with a bit of luck you will get a shaft that fits you, but most likely not. This can be seen, for example, with the CPM (the unit used to measure the stiffness of a shaft) and especially with the weight. If a shaft is supposed to weigh 65g, a Made for shaft can deviate very significantly from this and may even weigh 60g or 71g. These deviations are tolerated by the manufacturers and are sold just like that.
Different bending profiles
If you look at the EI profiles of OEM shafts, you can see that the bending profiles are sometimes completely different for identical shafts. And also the variations between the different weight variants are immense. A 60g shaft of the same shaft series can behave completely different than the 50g version. The shaft behaves different in the swing and it is impossible to find the right bending profile for a player.
"Unround" graphite constructions
A good shaft is characterized by being as round as possible. This plays an important role, especially with graphite shafts. If a shaft is only minimally "unround" it already changes the properties significantly. In principle, no shaft is perfectly round - not even a tour shaft. But the difference between original and Made for shafts is very clear. One could at least partially solve the problem by checking the shaft before installation and then installing it in such a way that the effects of the "unrounded profile" are minimized. However, this is not done by the major manufacturers and the shaft is simply installed as it is printed.
Fitting shaft unequal to actual shaft
One of the biggest problems is that the variations in the Made for shafts are so great that the shaft with which one is fitted, for example, differs significantly from the final shaft you will receive. Let's assume you get fitted for a new driver on a demo day and are very satisfied. You can order the club exactly as tested. When you finally receive it comes the disenchantment: you don't hit it as well and would like to give it back. This can have two reasons: You have been fitted with Range Balls and/or the final shaft is very different from the shaft you were fitted with.
The problem can't be solved if your fitter fits with original shafts, but then orders you a Made for shaft. Then the deviation can be even more extreme. And no matter what, you'll end up with a different shaft that you may not be able to handle at all.
Is a Made for shaft necessarily bad?
Basically you can say that a Made for shaft does not have to be worse for a certain player and a certain case. But 99% of the time it is. The best case is that you are fitted with a Made for shaft, order it and the shaft (by chance) corresponds to the shaft you were fitted with. For example, weight, CPM and profile are the same. And also the shaft is coincidentally not so unround or was coincidentally correctly installed. You see: the random factor plays a big role here. And it is correspondingly unlikely that the shaft actually fits.
Of course, there are also cases where the Made for shaft is just right for you. This is the case if the weight and CPM are right for you and the shaft has just happened to be well fitted, or if it is one of the few that are round. In such a case you are lucky to have the right shaft. An upgrade to a premium shaft would probably not be very useful. Therefore there is no guarantee that you are necessarily better off.
As you have seen, this subject is complex. If you have never dealt with it before, it may seem unbelievable. The fact that large manufacturers simply buy shafts from other factories and more or less pretend that it is the same shaft as the original or the shaft that is also played by the guys on tour seems a bit grotesque. But it's reality and it's not surprising if you consider how much money big manufacturers are making with it.
Therefore, at least for clubs with graphite shafts, you should only buy or get fitted with original shafts. With graphite shafts, the differences between Made for and original shafts are extreme. With steel shafts rather less and there are hardly any Made for shafts in this area because steel shafts are cheaper to produce and it is hardly worthwhile to reduce the production costs. But if a manufacturer doesn't have to pay 120€ for an original shaft, but only 20€, it makes a huge difference in the margin for him. Unfortunately at the expense of quality and the player...