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The absolute facts about swing weight

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This story was selected as one of the 15 best GolfWRX stories of 2015!

To say there exists a high level of confusion about the fitting specification called “swing weight” is more than an understatement. Almost daily, comments are posted in the GolfWRX Forums with questions about swing weight, the gist of which so often indicates that many golfers, even accomplished players, do not understand the facts.

For that reason, I’ve created this list of three absolute facts about swing weight. It details what you need to know about a very important, yet very undervalued club specification. At the end of the story, I also describe something called “MOI Matching” that’s important to understand if you wish to take the swing weight/head weight feel conversation to the highest level.

Fact 1: Swing weight is NOT an absolute measurement of weight in a golf club.

There are two main issues that create confusion about the term swing weight:

  1. The use of the word “weight” in the term.
  2. The fact that swing weight is measured on a piece of equipment that is called a “scale.”

Both lead golfers to wrongly believe that swing weight is an actual measurement of weight, but it is not. A specification called “total weight” is an actual measurement of weight. It measures the total weight of an assembled club (head, shaft, grip, etc.), and is defined in the scientifically accepted definition of weight (mass) in grams or ounces.

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Swing weight, on the other hand, is an arbitrary designation that attempts to express a relationship of weight distribution in a golf club based on a specific fulcrum-point position on a device called a swing weight scale. All too many golfers believe if they have a favorite club with a swing weight of say, D1, that when they purchase any other club with a D1 swing weight they will get the same swing feel and performance. This is not the case, however.

Because swing weight is affected by club length, shaft weight, grip weight, shaft weight distribution and head weight, when any of these five variables change in a golf club so too does the swing weight measurement. And when any of these five factors of swing weight are different in a club, the same swing weight measurement will not demonstrate the same swing or club head feel in the club.

In other words, any time you buy a golf club with a different length, shaft weight, grip weight, shaft weight distribution or head weight, you have to start over from scratch to find what the swing weight of that club needs to be to offer the best performance for YOU and YOUR individual swing characteristics and preference for weight feel in the club.

Fact 2: Finding the right swing weight for each of your golf clubs is one of the most important fitting elements for achieving your highest level of swing repeatability, shot consistency, club head speed and shot accuracy.

In other words, if you totally ignore swing weight when buying new clubs and focus more on the shaft or the club head model, you are leaving yourself well short of being able to achieve the best possible shot performance for your size, strength, athletic ability and swing characteristics. Ignoring swing weight may also make you wrongly think that the shaft, the club head or some other specification on your clubs is not correct for you.

Swing weight, which should more correctly be thought of as the head weight feel during the swing, has a direct relationship to each golfer’s unique sense of swing tempo, timing and rhythm. But because golfers so frequently have different combinations of tempo, timing, rhythm and perceptions of swing feel, finding the right swing weight is often a time-consuming, yet worthwhile process of trial and experimentation.

If the head weight feel is wrong for the golfer, all manner of poor shot making can result: the tempo can be too quick or too labored, the swing path and angle of attack can have accentuated errors, the timing of the release can be changed as a golfer comes into impact, and more off-center hits and overall shot inconsistencies are likely.

Get the head weight feel correct, however, and the door opens for the golfer to be able to achieve the most swing consistency with his/her highest club head speed and highest level of on-center hits and shot performance. It doesn’t matter if a golfer is a scratch-or-better or high double-digit handicapper; getting the right swing weight/head weight feel makes a difference.

Fact 3: Once you find the best swing weight for your golf club(s), that swing weight is of little importance when you purchase new golf clubs.

It would be nice if once you found your proper swing weight, say D1, you could keep it the same and ensure the same performance and feel whenever you bought new clubs down the road. Sorry, it doesn’t work that way, and that’s because swing weight is an arbitrary measurement.

D1 (or any other swing weight) will only deliver the same exact swing feel when the club length, shaft weight, shaft weight distribution, grip weight and head weight are the same in two golf clubs. And even if you order a new set or club with exactly the same specifications, the weight tolerances of each component can make it so that a D1 swing weight in the new club doesn’t feel exactly the same as the D1 swing weight in the old club. Tour players are notorious for noticing these small differences, as they are highly skilled and have very refined senses of feel. But I’ve encountered less skilled golfers with the same sensitivities.

The point is that golfers who buy new clubs regularly are usually changing shafts or some other specification related to total weight and swing weight. And anytime they buy new clubs, they should go through another process of trial and experimentation to find the swing weight/head weight feel that’s best for their swing and delivers the best tempo, timing, rhythm and shot consistency.

If you want a measurement of swing feel that can bridge the gap between different clubs, different components and different lengths and deliver the same swing feel when you change shafts, grips, and other fitting specs, that is much more the domain of what is called MOI Matching of golf clubs.

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Because MOI is a scientifically accepted measurement of the effort required to swing the club about a defined axis of rotation, it is possible to have a set with each club made to the same MOI that you like in a current club, or the same MOI for which you are individually fit. For this reason, expect this process to be far more accurate in achieving the same swing feel than is possible with swing weight. Thus, if the ideal MOI for your swing tempo, timing, rhythm and sense of feel is 2782 g-cm2, when you change to a different club with different length, shaft, or grip, all you have to do is duplicate the 2782 g-cm2 MOI measurement in the assembled club.

Whether you subscribe to swing weight or MOI Matching for the expression of the weight distribution and swing feel of your golf clubs, there is no question that finding the best head weight feel for your swing tempo, timing, rhythm and sense of feel is absolutely critical for achieving the absolute highest level of shot consistency, club head speed and shot accuracy that your swing and ability will allow.

To find a club fitter near year, as well as club fitters who are certified in MOI Matching, visit wishongolf.com or the Association of Golf Club Fitting Professionals (AGCP)

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Tom Wishon is a 40-year veteran of the golf equipment industry specializing in club head design, shaft performance analysis and club fitting research and development. He has been responsible for more than 50 different club head design firsts in his design career, including the first adjustable hosel device, as well as the first 0.830 COR fairway woods, hybrids and irons. GolfWRX Writer of the Month: February 2014 Tom served as a member of the Golf Digest Technical Advisory Panel, and has written several books on golf equipment including "The Search for the Perfect Golf Club" and "The Search for the Perfect Driver," which were selected as back-to-back winners of the 2006 and 2007 Golf Book of the Year by the International Network of Golf (ING), the largest organization of golf industry media professionals in the USA. He continues to teach and share his wealth of knowledge in custom club fitting through his latest book, "Common Sense Clubfitting: The Wishon Method," written for golf professionals and club makers to learn the latest techniques in accurate custom club fitting. Tom currently heads his own company, Tom Wishon Golf Technology, which specializes in the design of original, high-end custom golf equipment designs and club fitting research for independent custom club makers worldwide Click here to visit his site, wishongolf.com

59 Comments

59 Comments

  1. Theo Erben

    Aug 17, 2015 at 4:58 pm

    I have great respect for what Tom is doing for clubfitting as a whole.
    When I saw the MOI concept many years ago I jumped in, believed in it.
    I have witnessed many heated discussions since then.
    Now I think it is time for MOI 2.0 because:
    1. IN MOI matching as used now, MOI is measured from the butt. This is correct if we would swing a club ONLY by hinging and unhinging from the wrist.
    2. When making a normal backswing our body feels the MOI of a golfclub not only from the wrist but also from the core.
    3. The MOI from all the body parts which have to be set in motion are ignored in the current MOI matching.
    4. I have not seen any serious study indicating MOI matching is better. Hearsay that clubfitters like it better, customers are satisfied etc. is no serious proof.
    5. If the current MOI matching concept was correct we would not need different optimum MOI’s for Woods and Irons.
    Cheers

    • golfiend

      Aug 17, 2015 at 6:00 pm

      SW is a faster way (some say more crude way) to approximate MOI and in the original old days, it was created as an easier way to build clubs faster. That said, although it sounds better in theory, there really isn’t proof that MOI matching is much better than SW matching. I can attest first hand that the tedious process of MOI matching does not outweigh SW matching with all things being equal, but that doesn’t mean that MOI matching is bad. Whether it’s MOI or SW, one still needs to take into account actual static club weight (the biggest factor from the shaft itself, weight and flex). Then it comes down to the individual’s person swing (transition, club head speed, etc.) and matching it with the clubs. Then comes the subjective experience of whether a player enjoys and likes the feel of the club , and this can actually change over time as a person swing develops and his skill level improves. This is from a club ho who has owned far too many clubs and who has personally enriched his club fitter. Now I’m down to about 5 set of irons, several more sets of hybrids, woods and drivers which I feel comfortable taking out any day of the week to play. But really, I can just play with one set that I have and that set may have a few clubs off by a few SW and with the woods even more off in terms of SW or MOI compared to the irons.

    • Tom Wishon

      Aug 18, 2015 at 1:55 pm

      Theo, good to hear from you and hope all is well with you these days.

      Back in 2002 when we were working on developing the MOI measurement and matching system, we did very definitely look at the spine of the golfer at the base of the neck as the defined axis of rotation for the measurement of the MOI of the clubs. We most certainly could have chosen to do it that way rather than to focus on the wrist hinge release as the axis of MOI rotation/definition. To us in our development work it would have been correct to do it either way since both are very key axes of rotation for the club in the swing. To us one was not better than the other.

      As to your comment about current MOI being bad because woods have to be treated differently in the MOI fit and match than irons, there is a very valid explanation for this. If a full set of golf clubs were to have been developed so that the length increment between each club from Driver to wedges were to have been exactly the same, then you would be able to use the same exact MOI for every club from driver to wedge and have swing feel/effort all be matched.

      But golf clubs did not evolve that way because the woods as a group are substantially longer than the irons. Even in a standard set of 1, 3, 5 woods and 3 to PW irons, there is a 3 inch drop in length from the 5w to the 3 iron. And because length is a squared property in the MOI of golf clubs, that really pushes the relationship of MOI to swing feel to a different level. As such when we began to do our work in MOI research, we did look at this in the beginning by trying to fit the same MOI in the woods and irons. It did not work because of this huge effect of length on the MOI and the big difference in length change from the last wood to the first iron.

      As such in further work and as verified by a number of other clubmakers who have worked with MOI matching since day one of its availability, it was found to obtain a similar swing feel between woods and irons, the MOI of the woods had to be higher by around 75 g-cm2 on average over the woods. Again this is because woods are such a different part of the clubs vs irons because as a group they are so much longer than irons.

      In the end, whatever weight feel matching process allows the golfer to achieve his or her most repeatable, consistent swing tempo/timing/rhythm/on center hit performance is what every fitting has to focus on achieving for the golfer. Once all the other fitting parameters are set, it can be done with swingweight or MOI matching. But it is true in terms of being voiced by hundreds of clubmakers in their experience since 2003 that the consensus says once all the other fitting elements are determined, if the clubs are then MOI matched there is a slight improvement in repeatable, consistent swing tempo/timing/rhythm/on center hit performance. But to each their own and again, if any clubmaker is happy with swingweight matching and approaches it on a very custom, individual basis for each golfer, that is fine.

      • david

        Sep 7, 2015 at 5:30 pm

        we should talk some more, i’m sure you’re aware of the work Eric Cook has done with Swing-sync. I played with and tested some of his first sets in the late 1980’s and early 90’s with tremendous success.
        the first graphite irons he built for me went in the bag with about 20 warm up shots and posted 63. all of this MOI is marginalized if shaft frequency is not correct throughout a set.

  2. Gorden

    Aug 14, 2015 at 7:51 pm

    Fun to read Mr. Wishon’s articles, still if anyone reading these articles is taking in all this stuff and thinks they need it to play better…come on if you play good enough to have this stuff matter you are already getting this type of fitting free out on tour….I have played with a few 1 to 3 handicappers and not one has ever claimed he was that into his club fittings….in fact I play a lot with a gentleman over 70 that is still a 6 and he plays with clubs 10 years old and any ball I care to give him (or he finds)…IT IS NEVER THE ARROWS IT IS THE INDIAN…all amateurs would save a lot of club and ball money and be able to pay to play better courses if they understood same.

  3. arturo gonzalez

    Aug 13, 2015 at 11:29 pm

    I used to think my ideal swingweight was D0-D1 for all my clubs. But then I noticed my favorite driver worked better at D2. Then I noticed that my favorite 3 wood “felt” just as good as my favorite driver, even though it was a D0. Then I noticed that another 3 wood with exact same head but different shaft did not feel as good as the first 3 wood even though it was also a D0. Etc. Etc.

    In the end, I adjusted all my woods and back-up drivers so they would “feel” just as good as my favorite driver (I did it by changing the weights at the bottom of the head). If I close my eyes and swing them back and forth they all “feel” the same. I guess in essence what I did was MOI matching.

  4. Paul Wood

    Aug 13, 2015 at 3:45 pm

    Great article Tom. Now I don’t feel like I need to write one about swing weight. You nailed a very important piece which is that the name swing weight is very misleading and unhelpful. It can still be a useful measure, but only if people have a better understanding of what it is. You’ve helped that a lot here. If you take a look at the swing weight progression on our new GMax irons they’re actually much closer to MOI matched. Long irons are lighter than DO, short irons are heavier.

    • Tom Wishon

      Aug 13, 2015 at 5:14 pm

      Thanks Paul, that means a lot coming from you. VERY glad to hear that you guys chose to break ranks and go with a progressive swing weight in those irons. Stuff like that takes some courage because you now have to educate the heck out of your accounts so they don’t accuse you of messing up the swingweights when they put the irons on the swt scale in their shops ! But you will have more happy golfers who won’t pull shots or bottom rail the short irons as much. Next you need to head into 3/8″ increments !! HA! If you would, say hi to John for me – been a long time since I saw him and I always have had a very high level of respect for him and for what you guys do as an OEM. This winter when the snow and cold of Durango beats me up, I would like to stop south to say HI to you all.

  5. Hawk

    Aug 13, 2015 at 1:25 pm

    I completely disagree with this article as these aren’t the real facts of swing weight. In Physics the swing weight is the moment-of-inertia which depends on both the total weight and the balance point, or center of gravity. In sports this is called swing weight.

    Swing weight can be adjusted by altering overall weight, displacement of mass, and/or the central balance point.

    • Ed

      Aug 14, 2015 at 8:17 pm

      Hawk, you can swingweight a telephone pole to be D0 if you put enough weight on the “grip end” to balance things out. Swingweight and moment-of-inertia are different animals.

      • Mac n Cheese

        Aug 26, 2015 at 10:27 am

        incorrect. Swing weight is a measurement of the MOI in a useable and understandable term. Swing weight is completely based on the MOI of a club. The MOI is a complicated calculation that produces an arbitrary number that is then represented as the swing weight. They are in fact the same thing. Adjusting one or the other actually adjusts both. The swing weight establishes a what it feels like weight, that is based on the MOI of the club. When someone rattles off MOI numbers that is in fact the weight of the club being swung at that particular speed. That number is then modified to give you a more useable, understandable, and uniform expression, aka D0.

    • Eagle

      Aug 21, 2015 at 5:16 pm

      Hawk,

      Your new name is Sparrow.

      Cheers!

  6. Lob Wedge

    Aug 13, 2015 at 4:16 am

    Great read Tom.

    Thst said… If all this does is get rid of the “I just cut 1″ off my driver, how much lead tape do I need to get the swing weight back?” Posts… I’ll be happy.

    • Tom Wishon

      Aug 13, 2015 at 10:09 am

      When shortening an existing driver substantially, with substantially meaning 1inch or more, the amount of weight addition to restore enough head weight feel to keep the golfer’s tempo and timing in decent shape can for sure differ from golfer to golfer. In general we approach this by starting out after the length cut by bringing the swingweight back to a halfway point between the pre cut swingweight and post cut swingweight. Then with lead tape you experiment upward from there to find that final point at which the headweight feel is not consciously too heavy but just short of that.

      For example, let’s say you have a driver with a swingweight of D1. You cut it shorter by 1 inch and the swingweight will go to C5 – rule of thumb is @ losing 3 swt points for each half inch you cut. You bring the driver back to C8 and start hitting shots to see how you sense the head weight and whether the club feels a little head light yet or not. It will probably take 2-3 ball striking sessions with a day in between each one before you start to really get a sense of whether it is a little head light or not. If so, add a little more weight and take it up to D0. Play with that for a couple of days to assess your feeling for the head weight vs your ability to maintain your best tempo and timing. And go from there. Usually the golfers with much more aggressive downswing moves will need the post cut swingweight higher than those who have a smoother far less aggressive move at the ball.

  7. JPurtell

    Aug 13, 2015 at 3:25 am

    So you get the perfect set of clubs (which is almost impossible) that are MOI matched, Floed (Flat line oscillation/Pured), Flex matched (CPM), Equal total weight, equal balance point, Exact feel etc etc and wake up one morning and have a shocker and shoot 110. What then?

    • Borg

      Aug 13, 2015 at 9:28 am

      It means you should go play tennis

    • KK

      Aug 13, 2015 at 10:39 pm

      Tom, thanks for the info. I have also noticed that new Ping irons seem to be approaching MOI matching, not swing weight matching. BTW, what do you think about about torque vs flex for shafts? I feel that this is a very under-educated subject for golfers.

  8. Chuck

    Aug 12, 2015 at 11:04 pm

    So I own my own Maltby Swingweight Scale. I think all of Tom Wishon’s information in this thread is highly valuable; and no you cannot have my Maltby Scale. I like all of the information. I look forward to everything Tom publishes. I don’t expect that Tom wants me to throw out my swingweight scale.

  9. Tgolfer

    Aug 12, 2015 at 8:58 pm

    Tom,
    Do you ever see top players pull their iron shafts and put them in a new clubhead (with the same exact headweight as before) instead of getting an entirely “new set”? Seems like this would keep the variables very consistent. Thanks in advance.

    • Tom Wishon

      Aug 14, 2015 at 10:31 am

      By top players if you mean tour players, my experience is limited to Crenshaw, Lietzke, Verplank and Payne from back in the 90s when I did what I do for Golfsmith. I never chose to work for any of the huge companies with tons of tour players on staff. But from my experience on tour off and on in the 90s, these guys were all different in how they came up with their equipment. Most by just taking what their company gave them after an initial consultation between player and company tech rep, and then going back and forth with tweaks as the player would offer feedback on what he liked and didn’t until the clubs were acceptable. A lot of that depends on whether the “fitting” has to be done at the tournaments during practice round days or whether the player comes to the company for a more intensive and focused session.

      Shaft “fitting” on tour was almost always just a trial and experimentation as I saw it with the other companies and players. Shaft reps had all their various shafts pre mounted in all the various OEM clubs of the time. So the players could hit test a different shaft as mounted in the head model they were playing or familiar with. But the hit testing was nothing remarkable. some players would hit a new shaft once, toss the club back and say, nope don’t think so. Others might hit it twice and then after the second hit, toss it back with a “not for me”. But it was interesting if a player hit a new shaft three or four times, that usually meant it was fairly close to what they felt they could play with. From there it was a matter of whether the player still liked what they had or whether they were “searching”.

  10. Steve Thomas

    Aug 12, 2015 at 8:00 pm

    Tom:
    I have read several articles on backweighting. Why do people put a weight in the grip end of their clubs and what type of player would backweighting benefit?
    thank you

    • Tom Wishon

      Aug 13, 2015 at 10:52 am

      Two reasons people have used counterweights, AKA backweights, one an OK experiment, the other a No No. Some people put weight in the end of the grip to lower the swingweight so that they can get the swingweight to be lower. This is the No No because all that does is increase the weight of the club while simply tricking the scale into reading a lower swt measurement.

      The other use of a counterweight is to experiment with how more weight in the hands and a shift of the balance point upward toward the grip while maintaining the same headweight might help calm down a golfer’s swing tempo or even help him release the club a little later or more smoothly. Nicklaus was one of the first to experiment with counterweighting in his driver to increase total weight, increase the weight in the hands, move the bal pt higher while still keeping normal headweight to see if that could help him with his tempo consistency.

      It is hit or miss, trial and experimentation. We’ve looked into this a good bit ourselves in our work. Initially we thought that more weight in the grip end could help those with a more aggressive transition move to perhaps calm that down. But in our studies we found no absolute common thread as to who benefitted and who didn’t. There were aggressive swingers who benefitted just as there were smooth swingers who did so as well. And same thing in reverse. We have to chalk this up to the very unique, personal nature of golfers for the weight feel of their clubs. we have no way to measure who likes head heavy clubs, who likes total weight heavy clubs, who does better with a 30g weight in the grip, etc. We have to interview and ask and talk to the player to try to find what feedback we can to guide us in weight fitting, and then with our evaluation of his swing tempo/force/release we choose a starting point for shaft weight, swingweight/MOI and we go from there in experimentation with test clubs. With patience you find it for each different golfer. And when you do, the result is better for the golfer in terms of tempo control, timing, swing consistency improvement than what he was doing before.

      • Hawk

        Aug 13, 2015 at 1:42 pm

        the counter weighting does in fact change the MOI of a club by shifting the balance point of the club. This isn’t necessary a no no, because a lower MOI is easier to control through a swing. However; there is no distance increase because the inefficiency gained by lowering the MOI is offset by the increase in swing speed efficiency. Plus there is the fact that anything with a 3% change in negligible and unnoticed even to the trained individual. To truly benefit from counter weighting you would have to change shift the center of gravity more than 3%. The more shift the more noticeable. The best way to do things is to measure swing speed with ball speed and increase overall weight until ball speed decreases. Swing speed with decrease as you increase overall weight. When the bell curve peaks this is optimal weight and just before peak is ideal. You can keep optimal weight through counter weighting to lower the swing weight/MOI to the ideal weight. Once you achieve this, the club should perform at peak optimal weight, but feel as though it is the ideal weight.

        Of course everyone will be different, but a true fitting with adjusting weight, should consider these points.

        • Tom Wishon

          Aug 13, 2015 at 2:10 pm

          Hawk, yes, a counter weight changes the MOI of the club but not by very much because its position is very close to the axis of rotation that defines the MOI measurement of the whole club. That’s easy to see when you experiment with adding weight to the grip end and taking direct MOI measurements. The No No I was referring to ONLY about counterweighting is when people do it simply to lower the swingweight of a club so its swingweight could match to other clubs of the same swt but without the counter weight to do that.

          From our 15 yrs of work in MOI measurement and matching, we most certainly do not see it as the end all/be all for a theoretically perfect form of swing feel matching in clubs. The sheer fact that most golfers prefer sets in which clubs are made to different incremental lengths is always going to be a factor in clubmaking and clubfitting that is going to make it much more difficult to achieve the perfect match of everything related to weight feel in a club. But 15 yrs of work with MOI matching and listening to results from many of the 600 or so clubmakers who have done it and do it says that it can be a little better than swingweight matching for achieving a little higher level of swing/shot consistency.

          • Hawk

            Aug 14, 2015 at 7:47 am

            I agree with what you have said. The no no clears it up, as yes using counter weighting doesn’t lower the swing weight. That is because the swing weight takes overall weight into consideration. I do agree with your last point about MOI matching clubs and I would love to have my clubs matched.

      • Ed

        Aug 14, 2015 at 8:30 pm

        Tom,
        Interesting comments on counterweights to calm down swing tempo and delay release. I periodically experience chipping yips and as an experiment I tried a temporary backweight and it helped quite a bit. Before I could make the weight permanent I discovered (I hope) the swing flaw that caused me to flip/early release my chips. Have you done any work with counterweights to help people with “chip yips”?

  11. retiredRichard

    Aug 12, 2015 at 3:23 pm

    Mr. Wishon-If club manufacturers started selling sets of MOI matched irons, what would you estimate the current $800 cost of a set of irons would become-assuming they would have 4-5 sets of specs available and a player would test each and select their favorite/best performing? Thanks

    • Mark

      Aug 12, 2015 at 4:43 pm

      Tom may chime in here, but what he has often stated in the past is that there is no single “perfect” MOI value that works for all golfers so he doesn’t expect the large manufacturers to ever go to the expense of producing MOI matched sets for sale.

      However, I have been building MOI matched set for friends and family and I have observed that, at least for my relatively small sample set, there really is a fairly narrow “window” of MOI values that work for most golfers. So your idea isn’t completely off base. Preferred MOI really is directly tied to a golfer’s strength and tempo preference as opposed to swing weight which is arbitrary and completely undependable. I have found, as have other MOI practitioners, that a difference of about 25 MOI points (kg-cm2) is readily perceived. For irons, weaker golfers tend to prefer about a 2675 MOI while the absolute strongest are more likely to prefer 2775. If we take your idea of having manufacturers make available a set of “choices” of MOI balanced/matched sets then we’re only looking at 5 options: 2675, 2700, 2725, 2750, 2775.

      It just may be that we’re finally at a point where some manufacturer may actually pick up the MOI idea and run with it to differentiate themselves from the pack. Many manufacturers are now making custom options and build-to-order specs very accessible to the every day golfer. It’s not entirely unfathomable that one of them may finally get a clue and go the MOI route. I must say that once you’ve experienced the improvement that an MOI matched set of clubs provides there’s just no way you would ever go back to swing weight matched sets.

      • Hawk

        Aug 13, 2015 at 1:46 pm

        Those MOI numbers is the actual swing weight of the club. Golf just uses a different system to express those numbers, through a much different method. Swing weight however; is in fact the MOI of a club as it is swung.

    • Tom Wishon

      Aug 13, 2015 at 11:04 am

      Mark hit on several cogent points about this in his post. But I’ll just elaborate to help finish answering your question. Some years ago a major OEM came to me wanting much more info on MOI matching. They assigned an engineer to gather info which he did over a few months. In the end their conclusion was that since their main business was to make all their clubs to one series of standard specs so the clubs could be shipped in bulk to be sold off the rack in thousands of stores, and since MOI matching was/is a custom fitting element in clubfitting, they would still have to just choose one MOI for their men’s clubs and one for their women’s so they would not have to disrupt this business model of pre built clubs built to one series of standard specs sold off the rack.

      The worst thing in the world for any golf retailer is when an OEM comes to them with multiple versions of the same club model. They already struggle with trying to figure out how many of each flex they need to order for their stores. To add on different MOI versions times flex versions, the inventory SKUs would become a nightmare. After all, the major retailers don;t make much profit off each OEM club sale as it is because there are too many retail stores all selling the same clubs which means heavy discounting is going to follow.

      So MOI matching pretty much remains in the domain of professional clubfitting since it’s real benefit is in a one golfer at a time custom fitting basis.

  12. MHendon

    Aug 12, 2015 at 2:46 pm

    The moral to this article is what I’ve always said. Demo, demo, demo. If the club feels good and you’re getting the results you want nothing else matters. People get to caught up on specs, flex, torque, bend point, swing weight, loft, lie, brand etc.

  13. Big Al

    Aug 12, 2015 at 2:26 pm

    They should make clubfitting more affordable for the average golfer. Club fitting at a big box store for $99 where they fit you simply for length and lie is not what I’m talking about. I’d love to get fit for Swingweight, MOI, shaft type, length, lie, bounce, etc…But to get that done from a quality fitter you’re talking over a grand for all the clubs in your bag! I get it, that it’s an involved process, and also important if you want to better your game, but I just can’t justify the amount of money it would cost right now..If I could get it done for my entire bag in the ~$400 range I’d probably do it.

    • kloyd0306

      Aug 16, 2015 at 6:35 am

      You mean, charge the same as an auto mechanic – $120 an hour.
      Thirteen clubs at approx 20 minutes per club = 4.33 hours X $120:
      That’s only $520.
      Excuse my sarcasm……

  14. Teaj

    Aug 12, 2015 at 1:29 pm

    I went through this this year. Ordered a new set with Steelfiber i110’s X and had them SW them to D3 replacing previous KBS Tour X shafts which were SW at D3 felt nothing alike which I thought at first had to do with the difference in weight of the shafts but now im thinking it also probably had to do with the weight distribution of the shafts as well as I could not hit the broadside of a barn with misses both ways. I have since changed the shafts to the KBS C-Tapers S+ and my game is back which I think is due to both the total weight of the club and the weight distribution being more similar to the Tour X’s.

    would love to learn more about MOI matching clubs but I probably don’t need to be messing with my clubs more then I already do.

    Thanks for the in site on Swing Weighting

    Regards

    Teaj

    • other paul

      Aug 12, 2015 at 1:46 pm

      I did something similar and the balance point of the steel fibers is much higher. I used lead tape to get the right feeling back. Trial and error.

      • Teaj

        Aug 14, 2015 at 9:20 am

        Have you seen the Srixon Z745’s? I was not putting lead tape on them they are to perdy for that ha. It’s not like I suffer from joint pain so the benefits of the graphite dampening vibrations really didn’t do much for me. I like to be able to drop the club on the ball and have very little play in a shaft so I know where the head is at all times so the C-Tapers have gone in and I couldn’t be more happy.

  15. Old Tom

    Aug 12, 2015 at 12:23 pm

    The amount of lead tape being arbitrarily added to pro irons, as verified by just about every WITB post on this site, doesn’t help to validate your points on swing weight delivering consistence, tempo, etc. I presume pro’s add the tape to better their feel of the club head vs the shaft during when loading the club. I’m not buying they are thinking about swing weight at all in these situations, just feel.

    • Greg V

      Aug 12, 2015 at 12:54 pm

      I think that that was pretty much the point of Tom’s article.

      The pros add lead tape to certain clubs to get the right feel. I bet that if you measured the swing weights of the clubs in a pro’s bag, they would all swing weight pretty darn close. Certainly the irons.

      Don’t assume that all clubs come to a pro from the manufacturer with the same swing weight. Players will use their superior sense of feel to get the clubs correct.

    • Tom Wishon

      Aug 12, 2015 at 2:42 pm

      As Greg V said, that IS the gist of my article. In truth, we should drop the term “swingweight” and replace it with “headweight feel” because that is what we all are looking for to end up with clubs that help us maintain our individual best tempo, timing, rhythm and from that, our best shot consistency. Once you find that best headweight feel, you certainly can then measure the swingweight so you have that as a reference for the future. But that swingweight measurement will only be pertinent for achieving your best headweight feel for other clubs that have the same length, same shaft weight, same grip weight. Anytime you change clubs and the clubs have something a little different in terms of length or shaft weight or grip weight, then you have to start all over again to find that best headweight feel for YOUR tempo – and once found, that’s probably going to be a different swingweight measurement than before.

    • BIG STU

      Aug 16, 2015 at 4:44 am

      Exactly correct. What Tom is calling MOI matching I have called overall balance of the club. I have a swing weight machine but I never use it on my clubs. I weight mine up by feel for me. That may be the reason every club in my bag has lead tape on them. For me personally it is all feel. Something else Tom hit on about the OEMs building only certain across the board weights on their sets I can see that from a profit stand point and ease of marketing. That is why I have always stressed whether you buy an off the shelf club or go the custom route of having clubs set up or tweaked by a good fitter. You would be surprised how much difference there is in a club that has been properly tuned for your game even an OEM club. When I say tuned I not only mean loft and lie but also tuning shaft flex and frequency and the Total Balance or MOI as Tom says

  16. Robert

    Aug 12, 2015 at 11:57 am

    I would love to match my MOI because I struggle to find out what my best SW is but all of the closest “Wishon certified” clubfitters never respond to any of my emails. That’s great business practices.

    • Tom Wishon

      Aug 12, 2015 at 2:46 pm

      Sorry you have had that experience – all the clubmakers are independent businessmen and are not tied in any formal manner to us or to any other vendor they may choose to purchase supplies from or gain technical knowledge from. I wish to heck it was different because with a totally independent clubmaker market, that does mean golfers will be subject to treatment that runs the gamut from superb to pathetic. While I have worked hard my whole career to provide the clubmakers with the best technical information, it does still fall into the category of “you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make them drink.” If you see this response, would you please send me an email to contact@wishongolf.com and let me know who the clubmakers are that you tried to contact and who have not responded?

    • Tony Wright

      Aug 13, 2015 at 10:41 am

      Robert I would love to hear from you and would be glad to help you find a club fitter close to you.

  17. joro

    Aug 12, 2015 at 11:33 am

    Nice article Tom. Swing weight as you say is confusing as people relate that to how heavy the club is and it is anything but. I like to feel the head during the swing so I use a higher swing weight on a lighter Graphite shafted club. I like to feel and know where the head is.

    It can be confusing as a 15 oz club can be a c-9 and the same club in 14 oz can be a d6 as mine are. This does not mean the lighter swing weight is the lighter club, or vice versa. O/all weight is what counts and then swing weight to get feel. It can be confusing as most people do not understand that swing weight is not real weight going at 2 grams per on the head end and 4 on the butt end. Also the length of the club and even the weight of the grip can change it. Learn about it.

  18. Joe

    Aug 12, 2015 at 10:51 am

    Whoever created the swingweight metric should be burned at the stake. It has caused me hours of grief. I can swing my buddies D3 irons perfectly. They are completely suitable to my swing. But when I tried to match his SW mine felt awful. Because mine were .25″ longer than his and had a lighter gross weight because the heads and shaft were lighter. The shaft balance point was different. Another issue is grip weight. Managing grip weight to achieve a swing weight simply doesn’t work the same way. If you have a set of irons like my buddies that are D3 and feel wonderful. And you take a set of D6 irons and try to get them to D3 by loading up grip end mass, it’s not the same. They will never feel the same in a practical golf swing.

  19. Raymond Simpson

    Aug 12, 2015 at 10:50 am

    So what are the constituents that arrive at a MOI Matching of 2782g cm2 of the assembled club? It surely wouldn’t be the case if you shaved 2 g from a head and stuck it under the grip the overall feel would remain the same? Regards Confused.

    • Dumbazz

      Aug 12, 2015 at 1:18 pm

      Shaft flex, kick point, butt to tip stiffness and torque are a all major factors. Change from a thin grip to a thick grip, and you’ve lost that MOI number too, so that will call for a totally new build!

      Aaaaah. Don’t you love this game of physics?

    • Tom Wishon

      Aug 12, 2015 at 2:53 pm

      The elements that make up the MOI of a golf club are its length, total weight, balance point and a measurement called the pendulum period of the club. Hence the reason that the MOI Speed Match machine that reads a club’s MOI is designed to allow the club to rock in a pendulum motion to measure its period (time) to rock back and forth. Total weight is a product of the sum of the weights of the shaft, grip and head – with the shaft weight being the most predominant contributor. Club balance point is a product of all these plus the weight distribution of the shaft as well.

      Any MOI such as 2782 g-cm2 can be duplicated with different combinations of length + total weight + balance point + pendulum period. That’s the great thing about MOI that makes it potentially better than swingweight for duplicating a specific swing feel. With swingweight, if you change the length, shaft weight, grip weight of a club, you cannot achieve the same overal weight feel you had before by just making the new club with the same swingweight. But with MOI, if you change length, shaft weight, grip weight, as long as you then build the club with headweight adjusted so the final MOI is the same as before, you do get the same swing feel even tho things are changed with the length, shaft weight, grip weight.

  20. Gordy

    Aug 12, 2015 at 10:17 am

    Tom,
    So, if swing weight doesn’t matter…is it all about feel for each club? Meaning it may not be matched throughout your bag?

    • Tom Wishon

      Aug 12, 2015 at 11:38 am

      Please do NOT misunderstand me – whether it is swingweight or MOI matching, there is a headweight FEEL that will enable every golfer to achieve his/her highest level of swing consistency, tempo, timing. Once you find it for your particular combination of length, shaft weight, grip weight, headweight, then you can measure it on a swingweight scale so you have that swingweight measurement as a reference. But then realize that if down the road you change length, shaft weight, grip weight on your clubs, you then have to go re find that head weight feel that still gives you YOUR best sense of weight feel for best tempo and timing.

  21. timbleking

    Aug 12, 2015 at 9:49 am

    Hi Tom,

    And thanks for the article. So, if I try to sum up, we can just forget about the swing weight issue and only refer to the MOI Matching measurement? Is the “duplicate” option really the right one to get the exact same feel as on our favorite club in the bag for any other club we buy?

    This changes a bunch my vision of those things and to be quite honest, simplifies it as Hell! Please acknowledge and let us know.

    • Tom Wishon

      Aug 12, 2015 at 2:59 pm

      Please do not get me wrong here. While MOI matching certainly has the chance to be a little better for most golfers’ consistency than swingweight matching, there is no question that a ton of golfers have played a lot of great shots and rounds with swingweight matched clubs. So I am not advocating throwing swingweight out the window completely. Once you find your best length, loft, lie, shaft, grip size, if you have enough patience to keep working with the head weight, you will find the best overall weight feel for you and your swing and your sense of tempo and feel and timing, etc. Once done, you have a choice to either measure that swingweight and make all the other clubs in the set to the same swingweight – or, you can take that test club and measure its MOI and then make all the rest of the clubs to have that same MOI. In the end, most golfers would find that they like the MOI matched set a little better for its ability to offer a weight feel for EACH club that is just a little bit more in tune with the golfer’s preference to offer more consistency. But it is not HUGE HUGE – it is just a little better. In the end though, one of the biggest benefits of fitting the weight feel by MOI than swingweight is that when you do go buy new clubs with different lengths or shafts or grips, with MOI you do have an absolute weight feel reference that when duplicated on the new clubs will still provide the same weight feel you had before. Swingweight can’t do that.

  22. Greg V

    Aug 12, 2015 at 9:30 am

    The old story about the swing weights of Bobby Jones’ clubs bears repeating.

    Swing weight as a measurement came along after Jones’ retirement. When they did measure Bobby’s hickory set, they were amazed that all of his clubs had the same swing weight, except for one club which was different. When they told Jones their findings, his replay was that the exception club in question (I believe it was his 8-iron – although his 8-iron would have had the loft of a modern PW) never did feel quite right to him.

    The story speaks to Bobby Jones ability to assemble a truly matched set using his own standard of feel.

    • Rich Hunt

      Aug 12, 2015 at 10:57 am

      I got to measure Nick Faldo’s old T-Zoid irons on the MOI machine. Nick had been known to take 20 clubs of each iron with the same shaft and specs and then determine which one he liked best. So, he would bring along twenty 5-irons, twenty 6-irons, twenty 7-irons, etc. and then chose which club felt the best to him.

      When I measured the irons on the MOI machine, each came out to 2,750. The only one that did not was his P-Wedge which came out to 2,775. Sir Nick had a very keen sense of when a club was the way he wanted it.

      • Average Golfer

        Aug 12, 2015 at 12:15 pm

        Great. So I need to buy 20 of each club and then just go thru them one at a time until I find the one that fits, otherwise I may get stuck struggling with clubs that were never going to fit my swing to begin with.

        This game just got a lot more expensive.

  23. Todd Marsh Fitness

    Aug 12, 2015 at 9:00 am

    I know Arnold Palmer always checked his swing weight. I never do and probably should. I tried to read the electronic version Mr. Wishon’s book, think I bought it on Nook, but it was formatted so bad I couldn’t even see all of the words. What I did read was great. I would love to be a club fitter.

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