Or, more correctly – carbon fibre (I like the British spelling). This morning I gave a lesson to Dick Murtland, a golf-club guru with Adams Golf, who has done more with the manufacturing carbon fibre and shaft making than anyone I know (or have heard of).
First and foremost, our clubs (rods) are NOT made of graphite – graphite is merely the powder or powdery solid form of pure carbon (atomic #12 for those chem geeks out there like me). The material they are constructed of is carbon fibre in sheet form. What drives the costs up is the type used – mainly its tensile strength. The higher the tensile strength, typically the greater the modulus (number of fibers per square inch on the sheet), the lower the weight, and the higer the cost. Your higher end rods will be made with these types of material, which gives us the cool strength-to-weight ratio we all love.
Another interesting tidbit I garnered was how the thickness of the fibre is supposed to be uniform throughout the length of the rod, butt to tip. “But Bart, that doesn’t make sense – the tip is much smaller than the butt.” That statement is true, but the THICKNESS of the fibre is the same – it is just rolled over a smaller area at the top. The thickness of the rod decreases, but the fibre sheet does not. This is why rod makers must be careful with sanding – you can end up with flat spots where the fibre is thinner than in the rest of the rod, resulting in a weak spot.
I have a few other questions for Dick the next time I see him, about things like Boron and the like, and I will be sure to post the answers once I do – a great lesson for me, and he will be double hauling by his trip to Argentina!