Club maker David Butler of Half Moon Bay knows that, whenever we hit the course or range, his bag is fair game. David is always experimenting. I've seen him play unofficial rounds with three or four extra shafts in his bag, whimsically switching from one to another. He calls himself 'Dr. Grip', but should change his name to 'Dr. Long'. David adds distance for pretty much everyone.

The last time we practiced, David carried a new toy his bag---a nineteen degree, #3, version of TaylorMade's TPM Rescue, mated with a 40 inch, 43 gram Bassara shaft from Mitsubishi Rayon Composites.

"Mind if I hit it?"

Dumb question. I already had the club in my hand. But I never thought I would fly that hybrid farther than most 3-metals. It made no sense -- a club with a shorter shaft and more loft going that far. "What did you do to this?" I asked Butler.

"Trade secret."

It took a while to pry some of the details, but aside from his usual spine aligning and oscillating the shaft, David described measuring the stiffness at eight-inch intervals to determine its perfect frequency: 248 cycles per minute at 40 inches with a D-3 swing weight. Suffice to say that David believes he has found an ideal shaft pairing for that particular TPM. Surprisingly, he did not use MRC's hybrid shaft, but one designed for a driver. He rambled on about increasing a ball's, "Angle of descent by experimenting," and somewhere in the middle of that I drifted off.

"Was that the first club you worked on?" I asked.

"No, it was the second."

"How did the first work?"

"The prototype was a complete bust. I made it with a stiffer shaft, and it went nowhere."

Not this one. With my 53-year-old swing, this nineteen degree hybrid flies an easy 230 yards in the air, and more with extra oomph.

I began to appreciate hybrid clubs only recently. I now carry a TM's Draw Rescue in my bag, and find it to be quite reliable. By contrast, the TPM version has a smaller head with quite a lot of mass in the back. I tried the two clubs side-by-side on a long par 5. Even on a miss-hit, the TPM flew twenty yards father, and very straight. "We're still experimenting, but I think we can make Rescues fly farther than fairway metals," says Butler.

Let's be grateful that David Butler builds golf clubs instead of bombs.


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