Connect with us

Opinion & Analysis

Part 1: Taking the guesswork out of selecting shafts

Published

on

It’s clear that a lot of threads and posts in the GolfWRX forums are from golfers asking all sorts of questions about shafts. In nearly 40 years of golf equipment design and research work, I think it is fair to say that the shaft is the least understood component of the golf club.

I have engaged in serious shaft research since 1990, and from that have learned a lot about shaft design, performance and fitting, I would like to help clear some things up and share some facts about shafts and what you need to know to pick the best shaft for YOUR swing.

I will do my best to make all of this understandable without stressing everyone’s attention span. But there is a lot to explain about this subject so I will separate this into three parts with some time in between each thread to allow you to digest it and ask questions.

How Can Golfers TRULY Compare Shafts to Know their Real Performance Differences?  

Below is a typical “specification chart” from a major shaft company.  I have removed the names because it is not my intent to criticize a specific shaft maker.  It is simply my desire to show you how the typical information provided about shafts will not allow golfers to know what they really need to know about shafts to be able to make an informed buying decision.

post-45409-0-74678000-1347655266_thumb

Plain and simple, the information in this chart cannot tell a golfer how any of these shafts truly perform, much less how they actually compare in stiffness to any other the shaft.

The flex? There are no standards for exactly how stiff any of the flex letter codes are. Charts like this provide no quantitative measurements of exactly how stiff any shaft might be. In fact the ONLY bits of information on a typical chart like this which can be helpful are the WEIGHT and the TORQUE.

The butt and tip diameter? These are fine for knowing what the hosel bore of the clubhead needs to be to easily accept the shaft and to know how to install the grip to obtain a desired size.

The parallel tip section? That simply tells you if you cut more than 2 inches off the tip, it’s not likely to fit all the way into any normal hosel with a 0.335-inch bore.

The bend point? Sorry, but the term bend point is not relevant because with terms like “high,” “mid,” or “low,” it has always been way too generic. WHERE EXACTLY IS a mid bend point? And how does this mid bend point compare to some other company’s mid or low or high bend point?

Recently I have seen a couple of other shaft companies begin to offer a form of QUANTITATIVE stiffness measurements for their shafts. Here’s an example:

post-45409-0-42691000-1347655297_thumb

This shaft company offers a series of stiffness profile measurements for the butt, mid and tip sections of their shafts. That’s a start, but the problem is that this company only offers these stiffness profile measurements for their own shafts. This is somewhat reasonable for comparing the various shaft models and flexes within this one company, but what if you have some other company’s shaft in your driver, or you wish to compare these shafts to some other company’s shafts? And if you have never hit one of these shafts, how stiff or flexible are any of these measurements in the first place? These rudimentary stiffness profile measurements do not allow the depth and scope of stiffness information to allow you to make a valid shaft fitting decision.

You might look at the butt stiffness number and say, “That’s a frequency measurement and I know how stiff a 270 cpm shaft plays.”  Yes, that butt stiffness number is a frequency measurement. But the problem is you have no idea how these butt frequency measurements were obtained.

  • What length of the butt was clamped?
  • How heavy was the tip weight?
  • Is this 270 cpm frequency the same as a 270 cpm shaft that you played?

Again, there are no standards in the golf industry for shaft frequency measurement so you have no idea if a measurement of say, 270 cpm from this company is equivalent to a measurement of 255 cpm or 265 cpm or whatever cpm using one of the many other types of shaft frequency measurement.

What makes all this even more “exciting” or I should say, challenging, is the fact the industry is now populated with many shafts that are VERY expensive. Do you really want to GUESS whether that $300 shaft is right for you, or would you like to have a more definitive way to help make that decision?

Is there a Better Way to Compare Shaft Stiffness?  

Ever since I began to perform quantitative measurements on shafts, I knew we needed a way to be able to see and compare the stiffness of as many shafts as possible, and do it over their entire length. That way, club makers and golfers could have a tangible way to compare the complete full length stiffness design of shafts to each other. The performance and the bending feel of any shaft are products of its stiffness design over its entire length. Not just the butt, not just the tip, but the whole length of the shaft. There are almost an infinite number of ways the stiffness of a shaft can be created over its entire length.

In 2005, we arrived on a reasonably simple method to perform full length comparative stiffness measurements for golf shafts. From this, we created a software program that would house and display the data from our shaft stiffness comparison methodology. We made the first version of the software available to club makers in 2006. Two times each year we ask the shaft companies to send us multiples of each of their new shaft models and flexes so we can keep adding shafts to the software data base.

At present, we have more than 2,000 different wood, hybrid and iron shafts in the TWGT Shaft Bend Profile software. We charge a one-time fee of $129.50 for the software because the expense to have it programmed and maintained is not insignificant. It also takes us quite a number of hours to acquire, test and input the new shaft data into the software two times each year. You can find more information about this on my site, which is linked in my bio.

As much as we would like, there is no possible way we can include EVERY shaft in the industry in the software’s data base. We have to rely on the shaft companies to send us the multiple samples of each of their shafts to measure because we simply cannot afford to actually buy all of the shafts. We also cannot obtain the OEM stock shafts because the OEM companies will simply not allow anyone to have their raw shafts for any measurement work like this. We do have some OEM stock shafts in the data base, which come from “pulls” from OEM clubs that we can measure. But we do try to put as many shafts as we can into the data base so that clubmakers and golfers can better compare the relative stiffness of shafts.

To date more than 600 different club makers now use the TWGT Shaft Bend Profile software in their shaft fitting. This use by the club makers has also provided “in the field” verification that the measurements of the shafts do indeed provide a valid representation of the performance and even the bending feel of the shafts in the data base. The shaft fitting comparisons made with the data in the TWGT Shaft Bend Profile software is most definitely valid for predicting the performance and feel of a shaft.

How Does the Bend Profile Data Explain the Performance and Differences Between Shafts?  

Some of you have seen graphs from the TWGT Bend Profile software that I have posted to answer a question here and there about shafts. For those of you who have not seen this, the following is a basic screen image from the software showing a comparison of the relative stiffness design of two shafts. I just randomly chose to use the Mitsubishi Rayon’s Diamana White 83 X5CT S flex and the UST ProForce V2 HL65 S flex to start the explanation.

You see seven columns in the data box. These show WHERE on the shafts we do the stiffness measurements. Starting at 11 inches up from the tip, the measurements then are made at 5-inch spaced positions up from the tip end of each shaft, ending at 41 inches up from the tip. Because iron and hybrid shafts are shorter in raw length, their measurements run from 11 inches up to 36 inches up from the tip end of the shafts.

Measurements are done with a 454 gram weight attached to the tip of the shaft using a specially designed frequency analyzer that measures the shaft oscillations using two separate load cells and two separate strain gauges. Each shaft is tested at the same exact place on the shaft, using the same exact test methodology. This ensures the data is comparable from shaft to shaft to shaft in the data base of the software.

Let’s take a look at an example graph and data chart

WRX shaft article graph 1.JPG

The 41-inch, 36-inch and 31-inch measurements represent the butt section, the 31-inch, 26-inch and 21-inch measurements represent the center section and the 21-inch, 16-inch and 11-inch measurements represent the tip section of the shaft (yes, there is an overlap).

When companies design different flexes of a shaft, each different letter flex version is ordained chiefly by the stiffness measurements of the 41-inch to 21-inch positions of the shaft (butt, to center, to upper tip). Tip section differences on shafts do not play as significant of a role in the overall flex design (swing speed rating) of a shaft as do the butt to center to upper tip sections. The tip section design of a shaft is chiefly designed to create differences in the launch angle, trajectory and spin rate among shafts within the same flex.

After significant research and study of the shaft data, we can make conclusions about how much of a difference in the stiffness measurements is significant or not. With so many shafts in the data base, we can also identify a basic relationship between a golfer’s clubhead speed, the average bending force generated by that clubhead speed, and the overall stiffness design of a shaft. This is very important for being able to tell a golfer which shaft may be better suited to his clubhead speed. Therefore, we can use the stiffness measurements of the 41-inch to 21-inch positions on the shaft to determine the swing speed rating of any shaft.

We can also determine how much of a measurement difference is significant or not with respect to stiffness in the butt, center and tip sections of the shafts.

  • For example, at the start of the butt section, as represented by the 41-inch measurement, a measurement difference of 8-to-10 cpm is approximately equivalent to one full letter flex difference.
  • At the middle of the center section, as represented by the 26-inch measurements, a difference of 12-to-15 cpm is equivalent to one full letter flex difference.
  • In the middle of the tip section, as represented by the 16-inch measurement, a difference of 30-to-40 cpm usually accounts for a visible difference in the launch angle, trajectory and spin rate of the shot.

There are no standards for how stiff any of the letter flex designations of shafts may be. How stiff IS an R flex, an S flex (or any of the other letter flexes)? How much variation is there among shafts of the same letter flex?    

Below is data to show the low-to-high range in stiffness for all shafts for drivers and fairway woods in our data base that are marked as being a letter R flex shafts. These are listed from softest to stiffest, but all of these are made and marked by their respective companies to be an R flex shaft.

Based on the measurements of the 41-inch and 36-inch sections for the butt section, you are looking at a range of FOUR FULL FLEXES. That means the R flex shafts in the golf industry actually exist within a range of four full flexes. The same is true for S flex shafts, as well.

Because there are far fewer L, A and X flex shafts, the range in stiffness within these letter flex codes is not quite as wide as it is within the R and S flex shafts. Here is the Bend Profile graph and data chart to illustrate the range in R flex shafts for woods that exist today.

WRX article shaft graph 2.JPG

Based on all of our research to associate a driver clubhead speed with the measurements for the 41-inch, 36-inch, 31-inch, 26-inch positions of the butt and center of the shaft, here are the appropriate driver clubhead speed ratings for each of these above five different R flex shafts:

  • Miyazaki C.Kua 39 R: For a golfer with a driver clubhead speed of 55-to-65 mph
  • UST ProForce V2 HL-55 R: For a golfer with a driver clubhead speed of 65-to-75 mph
  • Aldila RIP’d NV65 R: For a golfer with a driver clubhead speed of 75-to-85 mph
  • Fujikura Blue 004 R: For a golfer with a driver clubhead speed of 85-to-95 mph
  • Rapport Blue Velvet R: For a golfer with a driver clubhead speed of 95-to-105 mph

Therefore, you are looking at shafts in the golf industry that match up to a range in swing speed of 50 mph, yet ALL are marked and sold as R flex shafts.

You may be prompted to comment, “This has to be the exception rather than the rule.” If we take a look at the data base to search where the majority of R-flex shafts lie with respect to their 41-inch, 36-inch and 31-inch butt section measurements, we find that the majority of R-flex shafts exist within a range that represents a 20-to-30 mph difference in the clubhead speed rating for the shafts.

This is precisely why golfers sometimes buy a new club and its shaft doesn’t feel as stiff or feels stiffer than their previous shaft with the same letter flex.

Do all shafts of the same letter flex have the same butt-to-center section stiffness (same swing speed rating) within the same shaft company or the same golf club company?  

Let’s take a look at the R-flex version of a number of different shaft models from one shaft manufacturing company. All are selected on the basis of being very close to the same shaft weight so they potentially could be considered for purchase by the same golfer.

WRX article shaft graph 3.JPG

I want to be sure to first make something clear. I am NOT saying it is wrong for a company to make the same letter flex version of each different shaft model to be of a different stiffness design. That is their right as a company to determine the exact design of each flex for each shaft they make.

What I am saying is that it is very difficult for consumer golfers to know how to choose the shaft that might best match their swing when the companies provide no empirical information like this to use for making quantitative comparisons of the different shafts.

The swing speed range for all these R-flex shafts from Aldila ranges by 25 mph. At one end, the NVS 65-R is a shaft that would be rated for use by a golfer with a driver clubhead speed of 70-to-80mph. At the other end, the RIP Gamma 60-3.6-R is a shaft that would be rated for use by a golfer with a driver clubhead speed of 85-to-95 mph. That means within all the R-Flex shafts from Aldila, the clubhead speed rating for possible selection by a golfer can range by 25 mph – yet all are marked as being an R-Flex shaft.

On top of this are definite differences in the TIP SECTION design of all these different R-flex shafts. Within all the R-Flex shafts from Aldila, we see shafts with a tip section design that ranges from the very tip-soft (Habanero 60-R) all the way up to the moderately tip stiff design of the RIP Gamma 60-3.6-R. If both these R-flex shafts were hit by the same golfer, the Habanero would launch the ball approximately 3-degrees higher and with an estimated 750 rpm more backspin than the RIP Gamma 60-3.6-R. Yet again, both are marked as R-flex shafts.

Again, each company is free to design their shafts as they see fit, for whichever golfer swing types they designate. But how can any golfer really know the difference in the overall stiffness design of any of these shafts and from that, know anything about the performance difference between these shafts of the same flex without clear, quantitative comparative information?

Please understand that variation between the same letter flex of different shaft models goes on INTENTIONALLY with every shaft company in the golf industry. It is not specific to Aldila. I simply use them to illustrate that this does happen within each shaft manufacturing company. Without a clear, quantitative means to compare the stiffness design of shafts, consumer golfers are in the dark with respect to making accurate shaft buying and shaft fitting decisions.

For those of you who made it this far, CONGRATULATIONS! You ARE indeed interested in shafts. For those of you who didn’t… well, true shaft knowledge can be a little beyond a normal realm of interest, I do admit that. I hope you all got something out of this, and there is more to come to help you know much more about how to determine the differences between shafts and how to turn that information into better shaft buying decisions.

By the way, there are many custom clubmakers out there who can help you find the right shaft FAR more accurately than the ways you have been trying to pick the right shaft in the past. These club makers who study this stuff are worth knowing and can help you. Again, to find a good club fitter, check out these sources:

Related

index

Your Reaction?
  • 188
  • LEGIT8
  • WOW24
  • LOL4
  • IDHT1
  • FLOP2
  • OB2
  • SHANK13

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

34 Comments

34 Comments

  1. Graham Davis

    Dec 10, 2016 at 10:00 pm

    One more point. I am 5 fòot 7 inches and 11 stone, so not a power house. 7 is my highest handicap and I hit my driver about 240 yards with mý 88 to 90mph swing speed. 220 yards carry.

  2. Graham Davis

    Dec 10, 2016 at 9:15 pm

    I should add to my previous mail that I have put together at least ten different shaft combos ranging from 45.5 inch fujikura 44gm regular to 44.25 inch black tie regular. I have tried senior, regular and stiff flex, and high , mid and low bend points At 85 to 90mph, why does a long heavy shaft give me the best results?

  3. Graham Davis

    Dec 10, 2016 at 9:02 pm

    I am a 7 handicap 61 year old with driver swing speed of 88 to 90 mph. You often say current drivers are too long and to use more loft but my stats on trackman say 45.5 inch shaft at 9° gives my best launch and carry with least spin. Why is this? I use grafalloy prolaunch blue and swing weight is about D5. This is a 68gm shaft. I have the same shaft at 44.5 inches but don’t hit it as far. Consistency is not a compromised with the longer shaft. My smash factor is just as good. I can see 10 to 20 yards more carry. Do I simply have good tempo?

  4. Montree

    Mar 23, 2016 at 11:34 pm

    May I share my story to choose golf swing analyser

    A common mistake made by amateur golfers is choosing golf clubs that are not suited to their swing speed. If you do not match your clubs to your abilities to swing them, it can have an adverse effect on your game. Club factors that should be adjusted based on how fast you swing a club include the shaft flex, torque and the type of shaft. By taking the time to find the right clubs for your game, you can best leverage your golf equipment to improve your game.

    Step 1

    Determine your swing speed. Many golf retail stores and pro shops can take this measurement. Otherwise, the speed can be estimated based on the club that you hit from a distance of 150 yards. If you use a 3-iron or wood, your swing speed is probably less than 60 mph; a 4-iron is 60-75 mph; a 5-iron is 75-84 mph; a 6- or 7-iron is 84-93 mph; and an 8- or 9-iron is over 93 mph.

    Step 2

    Determine the shaft flex of your clubs based on your swing speed. The shaft flex is representative of how much force is required for the shaft to transfer energy to the golf ball during your swing. Ladies flex should be used for a swing speed of less than 60 mph, senior flex for 60-75 mph, regular flex for 75-84 mph, stiff flex for 84-93 mph, and extra-stiff flex for speeds above 93 mph. Choosing the wrong shaft flex can lead to hooked, sliced or generally inaccurate shots.

    Step 3

    Pick a material for the shafts of your irons. The two most common options are graphite and steel. Players with a slow swing speed normally will choose a graphite shaft to maximize the distance the ball travels, while those with a fast swing will choose steel for greater consistency. If your swing speed is moderate, test clubs of each type to determine which feels the best. The majority of modern fairway woods and drivers are sold with graphite shafts and should be chosen based on the information provided in Step 2.

    Step 4

    Choose the clubhead for your irons. Low-handicap players will prefer half-cavity or blade clubheads for greater consistency and control, while high-handicap players should opt for full-cavity clubs to aid in getting the ball in the air consistently. A half- or full-cavity golf clubhead has a hollowed-out area toward the back to distribute weight around the clubhead, creating a larger “sweet spot.” Blade clubheads have more weight around the face of the club.

    Step 5

    Test the clubs you have chosen before purchasing them. If you do not like the feel of the clubs, pick a different manufacturer with the same configuration options before changing the shaft flex, material or clubhead variant.

    Read More : http://www.golfswinganalysers.com/best-golf-swing-analyzer-2016/

  5. Pingback: How to Hit More Fairways with a Custom Golf Shaft

  6. Rob Campbell

    May 8, 2015 at 6:45 pm

    Dear Mr. Wishon,
    How about if I clamp the grip to a work bench with the shaft cantilevered, hang a weight (maybe 454 g) onto the head (hosel) and measure the deflection along the shaft, once with just the head, once with the added weight? A lot more time consuming than clamping a bare shaft in an expensive oscillator but way easier for us at home. A profile of the shaft bend could be drawn and different shafts could be compared without messing with the club.
    I just found out I hit my cousin’s driver 30 yards further than mine. He’s got an R Fujikara and I have an A Project X. His would have way more deflection.
    Could such a profile convert to yours?

  7. Pingback: Does the golf shaft really effect your shots? | golfblogaustralia

  8. Adrian Hubert

    Mar 31, 2013 at 11:20 am

    Hi,

    I have some good knowledge of shafts, please can someone confirm that there is a difference between buying a shaft from say Golfsmith and having the same branded shaft from the tour. ?

  9. Tom

    Mar 11, 2013 at 5:38 pm

    Great article Tom. Just wondering, how did you determine that 454 grams was the best weight to use?

  10. tlmck

    Oct 8, 2012 at 10:09 pm

    lol. Just thinking of the guy who tried to sell me a C.Kua 39 R for my 92mph clubhead speed.

    I can say for certainty, with only my swing as evidence, that a C.Kua 39 stiff is equivalent to a Diamana Red 44L stiff. I have the C.Kua in my identical head backup driver as the Diamana is apparently no longer made, and was nowhere to be found. It’s also nice that the C.Kua does nor require a special grip.

  11. Nathan

    Oct 2, 2012 at 3:56 am

    This article looked promising untill i got to the part ( you really want to know it will cost you!!) good work

  12. Chris

    Oct 1, 2012 at 9:39 pm

    When can we expect part 2?

  13. Tom Wishon

    Sep 26, 2012 at 5:25 pm

    to JEFF who asked about shaft swing speed ratings for golfers with different levels of transition/tempo force in their swing.

    Most definitely you are sniffing at a lot of what is going to be in Part 2 of this series. This is precisely why we teach clubmakers to do a basic 1, 2, 3 rating of each golfer’s transition force and downswing tempo to go along with their swing speed.

    For example, three golfers all with a 90mph swing speed. But Golfer #1 has a very forceful transition and aggressive tempo. Golfer 2 has an average force/aggressiveness in transition/tempo and Golfer 3 has a smooth, more passive “swinger” type of transition and tempo.

    For golfer 2, you can choose from shafts rated to be 85-95mph because his bending force is average for a 90mph swing. For golfer 1, you’d pick from shafts rated at 90-100 because these would be slightly stiffer shafts his swing speed is at the low end of the shaft’s rating – more stiff to better match with the fact that for his 90mph swing speed, his strong/forceful transition/tempo puts more bending force on the shaft so he needs a little stiffer shaft than what his swing speed indicates on its own.

    And then finally the 90mph smooth swinger should pick from shafts with a swing speed rating of 80-90mph because he is NOT putting as much bending force on the shaft for his 90mph swing.

    But you have the big basic point of shaft flex fitting down – amount of bending force is not always related to the golfer’s swing speed, but is heavily influenced by their transition and downswing tempo.

  14. Tom Wishon

    Sep 26, 2012 at 5:04 pm

    To John who asked about OEM stock shaft stiffness:

    There’s no nice way to say this. You can’t and won’t know how stiff an OEM stock shaft is. The OEMs do not provide any quantitative information on the stiffness/bend profile design of their stock shafts. Test hitting is the only way unless you buy the club, take it apart and then send me the shaft so I can measure it and include it in the data base of the software we created.

    We’d love to include them in the data base of this software program but they will not send us their stock shafts to measure, nor will they allow their shaft mfg vendor to do that either. So the few OEM stock shafts we have in the software come from clubmakers who pull these shafts intact from stock clubs and send them to us to measure.

    This again is one more good reason to be working with a GOOD, experienced clubmaker who has this software when you want to nail down what works/performs best for your swing and sense of feel.

    • Ian Mikutel

      Apr 22, 2013 at 4:18 am

      Why not use some of the $129.50 you charge for database access to purchase OEM shafts each year? It seems to me like the most valuable data for most golfers out there would be that of the OEM shafts, not super expensive, custom shafts? Unfortunate that the OEMs won’t send clubs for this testing, or just standardize this testing across all OEMs.

  15. Pingback: GolfWRX.com – Taking the guesswork out of selecting shafts (Part 1) | Golf Products Reviews

  16. Pingback: Light VS heaver shafts or clubs??? - Page 2 - Golf Forum - Golf Rewound is the Family Friendly Golf Forum and Discussion Group

  17. Justin

    Sep 24, 2012 at 11:36 pm

    @Eric:

    Yes, the more flexible the shaft, the more you can “feel”.

    • Davy

      Mar 29, 2015 at 2:40 pm

      The more ‘what’ you can feel?
      The answer should be interesting.

  18. Ryan

    Sep 22, 2012 at 4:17 pm

    Great write up. This definitely confirms what a lot of us already thought we knew which was every OEM even within there own shafts has no tangible way of discerning flex even within their own shafts that to me is CRAZY but soo glad Tom gave us real eveidence to prove this and I cannot wait for part 2

    • Davy

      Mar 29, 2015 at 2:50 pm

      You seem to have missed the point. Each manufacturer arbitrarily decides by their own measurement and priorities what they will market as an ‘R’ flex for example. One practice is to offer an ostensible ‘R’ flex with an ‘S’ shaft band on it to capture the vastly misinformed share of the market that believes they require a stiff shaft. But, you are correct about Tom’s authoritative expertise.

  19. Ryan

    Sep 22, 2012 at 4:14 pm

    Great write up. This definitely confirms what a lot of us already thought we knew which was every OEM even within there own shafts has no tangible way of discerning flex even within their own shafts that to me is CRAZY but soo glad Tom gave us real eveidence to prove th

  20. Jeff

    Sep 21, 2012 at 8:24 pm

    Terrific article. Does the data about stiffness profiles lend itself to discerning which shafts are more suitable based on an individual’s loading characteristics at a given swing speed? Does this matter? Looking forward to reading your next article.

  21. Eric

    Sep 21, 2012 at 5:17 pm

    Tom:

    I play hickory clubs with a group. One thing I’ve noticed is one can truly feel the weight of the club, and I believe that significantly affects how the club is swung – particularly as you begin the forwardswing, and your subconscious changes the path of the swing.

    As a result, I wonder if the whippier shafts improve feel of the clubhead – OR – is there a way to get great clubhead feel without giving up the control of a stiffer shaft?

  22. Mark

    Sep 21, 2012 at 3:06 pm

    Thanks Tom.

    As always, a well thought out and informative article. I’ll be getting the software, and look forward to part 2.

  23. ACGOLFWRX

    Sep 21, 2012 at 8:42 am

    Excellent information for the masses, well written and above all, very informative.

  24. John

    Sep 21, 2012 at 6:16 am

    Very well written Tom – thanks. The only problem remains, how do I know what level of stiffness I should be purchasing through the OEM’s at retail stores? Hope that’s covered in Part II.

    • Al

      Oct 16, 2012 at 11:47 pm

      Not speaking for Tom by any means, but his philosophy is that, rather than relying on the OEM’s, you should be custom fitted for your clubs rather than buying off the shelf.

    • Davy

      Mar 29, 2015 at 2:54 pm

      Well, you might try hitting before buying. Would you buy shoes without trying them on?

  25. Matt

    Sep 20, 2012 at 10:50 pm

    As an engineer I am fascinated by this and am always on the search for the right fit as a scratch golfer, to maximize my game. This is revolutionary stuff. Thanks!

    • Davy

      Mar 29, 2015 at 3:18 pm

      It probably seems revolutionary, but Tom has been doing this since back in the 1980s when he was at Dynacraft and wrote his first Complete Guide to Golf Shaft Fitting. While there are no generalities, many tour players over the years have opted for heavier dynamic and static weighting with flatter lie angles than off the shelf mass-produced clubs. As an engineer, you probably enjoyed reading Homer Kelley’s The Golfing Machine. Bob Tway, Bobby Clampett, and a litany of others found it interesting all the way to their demise in a vortex of paralysis by analysis. But, it is interesting and has one salient bit of advice you can look up at 6B-1D in the book.

  26. Bill B

    Sep 20, 2012 at 8:54 pm

    Tom,

    Without a doubt this is the best information on shafts I have seen in one place. You have created my dream of the “golf shaft genome project”. The golf shaft is the heart of the club and you are making quantative information available that provides options to professional fitters and club junkies alike. We have all made our own personal golf shaft assments on various shafts via real life play, launch monitor results, and feel, but this speeds up the process and opens the door to choices across various manufactures.

    Thanks and keep up the good work

    Bill Baitinger

  27. Mike D.

    Sep 20, 2012 at 12:50 pm

    Thanks for the write-up Tom. Verifies what I’ve thought about shaft manufacturing. Can’t wait to see part two!

  28. Chris

    Sep 20, 2012 at 12:35 pm

    This is absolutely fantastic information. Many thanks!.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Opinion & Analysis

Bag Chatter: An Interview with Uther Supply

Published

on

Bag Chatter is a series of interviews that spotlights brands around the golf industry and the people behind them. We’re looking to make this a regular thing, so please comment and share through your medium of choice. If you have a brand and are interested in participating in these interviews, you can email mailbag@golfwrx.com for consideration. This interview is with Daniel Erdman of Uther Supply.

Tell us about Uther. How do you pronounce that? What are you all about? How did you start?

It’s actually pronounced “other.” We’ve gotten that question a lot and, to be honest, we’re kind of OK with it. We wanted to brand ourselves as unique, so we think it fits well. We want to create products that no one else creates. That could be towels in unique prints or some other golf goods outside of that. We’re targeting the customer that wants to be different as well…people who want to demonstrate their unique personalities.

Forgive me for being a little direct, but golf towels may not strike a lot of people as being something a lot of people would start a business with. Were you seeing a lack of something in the marketplace somehow? What prompted you to start this company selling golf towels?

It may not be conventional and I definitely recognize that. Some of my friends have laughed at me for starting a golf towel business. I guess it hit me when I was working at private clubs (I have worked at The Thornhill Club and Ladies’ Golf Club of Toronto). When you work in the back shop and storage facility, you handle a lot of golf bags. I just noticed rows and rows of bags that all look the same and I thought it made a lot of sense to inject some personality into it. You know, people go crazy for how all the pros personalize their wedges and their bags. They buy towels and bag tags from courses like TPC Sawgrass and Pebble Beach to personalize their stuff, but in the end it all kind of blends together. Billy Horschel’s octopus-print pants at the 2013 US Open was something that always stuck out in my mind and in that moment when I was staring at all those bags, it all kind of came together in a way. I thought we could really add something to the marketplace.

What do you think differentiates your products from others in the marketplace? Why do you think people would buy your products?

We’ve already addressed the fact that we offer different and bold prints, but that’s obviously the first thing that most customers will notice. Beyond that, though, we put a lot of attention to detail into our products. We went through 40 different suppliers to get things right. My grandparents had a really successful flooring mat company when I was growing up. Watching them run the family business gave me the bug at a very young age to start my own business. It also taught me how much quality matters and getting the right suppliers and materials. It was so much more difficult back then without the internet, but now, a quick google search just does so much of the legwork for you.

Uther Supply’s golf towel lineup

Something that I think is very interesting here is you’re very young at only 22 years old. A lot of the people I’ve talked to recently have been in their twenties as well. Tell me a little bit about what it took to start this company. Did you have to secure an investment? A lot of people shy away from starting a company for fear of the hill being too steep to climb, if you will. Since you’re in the process of climbing it, what’s that actually like?

It definitely was difficult. The only outside funding I got were some grants and loans from business accelerator programs. Those helped tremendously. I remember having to place a very large order at my supplier at the same time my one of my funding opportunities was being processed. That particular one only had like a 20 percent acceptance rate, and if I didn’t get it, I honestly wasn’t sure how I was going to fund the order. The way everything happened to be timed, I had to I place my order before I heard back from my funding application to meet a deadline. It turned out I was accepted, so that was a relief, but it was definitely pretty stressful. You know, in the beginning, you’re working for months before you generate any income. You’re doing everything for the first time like sending stuff through customs, dealing with suppliers, collecting transactions, you name it. You’re bound to make mistakes along the way and when you have zero money coming in, the mistakes you make hurt so much more. You have no processes or systems in place. It’s something you need to accept for what it is and grind through it. Social media helped accelerate things quite a bit (including meeting my sales partner Luke through Instagram). Selling on Amazon and going to the PGA show last year gave us a boost as well. It’s hard to say what the hardest part is specifically. It’s just the grind in the beginning trying to get momentum behind it. Once you get over the hump, it’s really exciting and fun, but getting up to that point is definitely not easy.

It should also be mentioned that you’re based out of Canada. A lot of people would assume being in the Great White North would make the game of golf a challenging proposition. How long/short is your golf season in Ontario? How do you stay sharp over the Canadian winters? And what’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done to play golf when it’s far too cold for most of us? To what lengths will you go?

It can get interesting for sure. I first started golfing because of my hockey friends. Yes, a lot of us do play hockey up here. It was a natural transition for a lot of us to play hockey in the winter and golf in the summer. However, if you do happen to get a golf itch in the winter, you will have to get creative. It’s pretty easy to go to just an indoor simulator to practice. Sometimes I would go to Golf Town (our version of Golf Galaxy) to pretend to demo clubs in order to practice my swing. That can get you by for a while, but it’s not the same as hitting an actual golf ball and watching it fly through the air, you know? So when you get to that point, there’s a nice indoor/outdoor range near me with covered, heated hitting bays. Our golf season is from like April through October, so that leaves a lot of time in between. Golf vacations become necessary sometimes.

Before starting Uther, you alluded to your experience working at golf courses. First off, you must have some good stories. No need to mention any names, but what’s your favorite story from that stage of life? Also, what was it like to go from working at a club to having to court those golf clubs to become your customer, stock your products, etc? Was that really easy or really difficult?

Well, I have a bunch of stories involving golf carts. Just in case the old golf directors read this, I won’t give too many details. Working at a course is great. You can’t get a better “office” than going to the course every day. There’s nothing like watching the sunrise on a dew-covered golf course, especially when you’re being paid. Some of my best memories were after tournaments where three of us guys would clean like 80 golf carts. We would all have fun and get to know each other. It didn’t really feel like work.

In both instances (working for a course and now selling to them), it doesn’t really feel so much like work. It does take a lot of work, don’t get me wrong, but it doesn’t feel like drudgery, that’s for sure. The difference is that there’s a lot more behind the scenes work that I’m doing now. We recently did a towel for the San Francisco Public Golf Alliance in collaboration with State Apparel. It took us a lot of back and forth to get that product right, but once we did, we came up with a custom, one-off product that our customers really loved. And watching them react to it was incredible. Stuff like that really keeps you going.

Bo Links, Co-Founder of the San Francisco Public Golf Alliance, holding custom towel developed with Uther Supply

This question is unabashedly inspired by (ahem…lifted from) one of Rick Shiels’ recent posts. (Giving credit where it’s due here). If you had to “Tin Cup” it (i.e. play a round of golf with only one club), what club would it be and how many extra strokes do you think it would take? So, if you were to play your home course, your normal score is what? And what would your “Tin Cup” score be, you think?

If I had to choose one club for a Tin Cup round, I think it would be a five iron. My home course (and the public golf course I worked for) is Richmond Hill Golf Club. It’s only like 6,000 yards, so I feel like I could totally get by with a five iron and get on any green in 3. I typically shoot like an 80-85. I don’t think I would be that far off the number honestly. I trust the five iron, but also, I know my course pretty well and I think that club would suit it nicely. Now that you ask, though, I feel like I’m dying to try it!

What tour pro would you most like to have a beer with? Not necessarily the guy you’d want to play golf with or pick his brain about the game. Who do you think is the most likeable guy on tour? Who would you most like to befriend, if you will?

I would definitely have to go with Rickie Fowler. He’s got a bold style for sure, but he owns it and I really dig that. I love that he congratulates the other guys on tour and is supportive of them when they win tournaments. He seems so humble. He’s also really adventurous. He’s into motocross. I’m not into motocross, but I love the adventurous spirit. He just seems like a really cool guy from what I can tell.

It’s almost hard to believe, but the PGA Merchandise Show is fast approaching (January 23-26, 2018 in Orlando, FL for those who don’t know). Will you be exhibiting? What are you most looking forward to? That question is, of course, about what steps you think Uther will take, but also, are you looking forward to anything specific from other manufacturers? What companies’ booths are you planning on going to?

We will definitely be at the show and we’re really looking forward to it. Come see us at booth 3988! I walked the show last year but wasn’t exhibiting, so I would go up to potential customers and pitch my products to them. That was a lot of work and it was quite stressful being out on a limb like that. We’ve been working on this year’s show since August and I think it’s going to be a ton of fun. We’ve got some really cool stuff planned. You also get to meet so many people there, which is just a blast. As far as other stuff I’m looking forward to, Greyson Clothiers is definitely at the top of the list. Charlie’s story is so interesting and I just love their products.

Uther Supply plaid towel on the course

Lastly, what do you guys have in the works? Are there any product releases forthcoming? Tell people how to find you on website, social media, etc.

So, the big news is that we will be expanding beyond golf towels. We will be launching some gloves and hats that I’m really excited about. We have six different golf gloves as well as bucket and baseball hats we’ll be rolling out in some very fun prints and colors (because that’s what we do). Definitely a good idea to check out our website, which is www.uthersupply.com. The website has a link to sign up for our email list which will send out some discount codes from time to time. There will also be some exclusive and limited-edition products on the website at times too. @Uthersupply is our handle on all social media platforms. Business customers can reach us at contact@uthersupply.com to collaborate with us on custom products. We’d love to have people come see what we’re about!

Your Reaction?
  • 20
  • LEGIT0
  • WOW0
  • LOL1
  • IDHT1
  • FLOP1
  • OB1
  • SHANK3

Continue Reading

Opinion & Analysis

Tara Iti: A Golfer’s Paradise

Published

on

This trip couldn’t have started better. Tara Iti Golf Club is magic! No disrespect to the home of golf, but this course might be as special as it gets when it comes to playing links golf.

Catch Up: The Start of My Golf Adventure

Tara Iti is a masterpiece that opened late in 2015. It’s designed by the famous golf architect Tom Doak, and it’s located on a large piece of land on the North Island of New Zealand around 1.5 hours from Auckland. It’s well hidden from houses and traffic, so you can just focus on your game and the stunning property.

The course brings swift fairways and plenty of risk-reward opportunities, offering a bevy of challenging shots that you need to plan carefully in order to get close to the flag. I loved especially the shapes presented by the fairways and waste areas, which make it feel as though the entire course is seamlessly woven together. I also like the idea they’ve got here of playing the ball as it lies. No bunkers, just waste areas.

On a personal note, my match against Johan was halved. He played very well on the first nine while I did well on the back nine.

What’s key to success to Tara Iti is a polished short game in combination with the ability to hit the fairways. I found my favorite hole at No. 17, a strikingly beautiful short par-3 that pops up between the wild sand dunes. There are three iconic trees to the left with the sea and a beautiful island as a backdrop.

Up Next: Kauri Cliffs on the northern peak of New Zealand. It is said to be one of the most scenic courses in the world.

Your Reaction?
  • 42
  • LEGIT2
  • WOW6
  • LOL0
  • IDHT0
  • FLOP0
  • OB2
  • SHANK1

Continue Reading

Opinion & Analysis

Life as a left-handed golfer

Published

on

“My bad, forgot you were a lefty,” my cart partner says, driving to the wrong side of the ball for the third straight hole.

“All good. Let me just grab my wedge and putter and you can head over to your ball,” I say, realizing I left that wedge on No. 2.

“Too bad you can’t use one of mine!” my hilarious buddy jokes. And just like that, we’re off. The life as a lefty.

Saturday morning rounds usually start casually enough. Tees are thrown and partners drawn. As I approach the ball, my laser-like focus after a terrible range session is typically interrupted by everyone’s favorite knee-slapper.

“Did anyone ever tell you you stand on the wrong side of the ball?” ZING!

“Actually, I’m standing to the right of the ball if you really look at it,” a younger me once quipped, a joke that would confuse and embarrass all involved. And then, with the confidence of an awkward night at the improv, I dead block one that nestles next to a tree.

As we cruise down the rough, my chauffeur politely asks, “You pulled your drive, correct?”

“Yeah, missed left side,” I mumble, preferring not to get into that brain teaser.

Now, this ball may be perched to the right of the tree, giving me a lucky angle in. “Man, what a time to be left-handed, eh?” Or, to my chagrin, settled just to the left of it forcing me to play it sideways. “Ugh, what a tough break being left-handed, huh?”

Lather, rinse, repeat.

Now, I don’t fault anyone for making these observations; even I think left-handed players look outrageous on the golf course. The most experienced golfer will still see a fellow lefty in the middle of their ensuing fairway and wonder, “Why is this guy hitting it toward us?”

We’ve been conditioned to think this way. I like to call it The Ugly Duckling Syndrome. Maybe someday, we too will turn into swans and have the beautiful swings that all right-handed golfers like to say we have (we don’t). The compliment usually comes in around No. 6 as he’s starting to get the hang of this cart thing and your wedge is still holes behind.

“You have a good swing there. You remind me of Phil Mickelson. I bet you are a big fan of his?”

Sure, why not. I also have a Mark Brunell jersey, Mike Vick fathead, and I exclusively watch James Harden play basketball.

Sarcasm aside, us lefties are a proud bunch and really do love playing with or seeing another lefty on the course. For many of us, it’s the only chance we have to try different equipment. We take full advantage.

Seeing another lefty at the club is like seeing a long-lost friend on Thanksgiving Eve. We might wave, give a head nod or take an air swing, but I promise you we are acknowledging each other. Have you ever been out on the lake and pulled off the friendly wave to a fellow boater? That’s being a lefty on the golf course.

Now, we like you righties; we know your charm. You provide us an endless supply of dad jokes and sometimes you have an original one. And when we finally have a second to go grab that wedge left on No. 2, we know you’ll return it with a smile. “Well, at least you knew I wasn’t going to keep this one, Mickelson!”

Lather, rinse, repeat.

Your Reaction?
  • 71
  • LEGIT15
  • WOW6
  • LOL4
  • IDHT0
  • FLOP1
  • OB0
  • SHANK18

Continue Reading

19th Hole

Facebook

Trending