There’s been a discussion going around the office for weeks now, since Phil Mickelson landed in the bunker in the opening round of the Texas Open. From the sand trap, he took a trusty 8-iron and, having played his shot, realised that he was suddenly only holding a metal stick, with the end of his club having snapped clean off!
Many golf clubs are made from 431 Stainless Steel, or 17-4 PH Stainless Steel and West Yorkshire Steel are more than familiar with both grades as we supply them to other industries.
Both 431 and 17-4 PH are martensitic steel and are good grades for use in golf clubs, as they have a high tensile strength and high yield strength. The pace of the golf swing, along with the sudden impact of the ball means that the technical challenges of the game need to be matched with steel that is adaptable enough to remain strong but not brittle. 431 has a chromium content of up to 18% and nickel around 2.5% and 17-4 PH has slightly lower chromium at around 16%, but with nickel at about 4%.
It’s safe to say that as a material, they’re more than up to the challenges of the game, as they’re hardening processes avoid brittleness. It’s also no small coincidence that both grades have good corrosion resistance characteristics (with 17-4 PH having similar properties to 304 grade stainless), so poor weather doesn’t negatively affect them, and they can be polished to maintain a pleasant lustre and shine.
This, however, is the crux of the discussion at West Yorkshire Steel. Knowing the material as we do, how it came to break remains a mystery! Although Mickelson’s a left-handed player and was stood at a slightly awkward angle, there didn’t appear to be any foreign objects in the bunker and the swing wasn’t angled downward enough to hit the floor and shatter the club’s shaft.
After long and arduous discussion, we can only make this offer to Mickelson’s golf club suppliers; if you send us two complete, brand new sets of clubs, we promise that we’ll take them away for a long golf weekend and apply every ounce of technical knowledge we have, so you can be sure that your product is completely up to spec.
Well… it’s worth a shot!