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?
  • 196
  • LEGIT8
  • WOW24
  • LOL4
  • IDHT1
  • FLOP2
  • OB2
  • SHANK15

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

Don’t Leave Your Common Sense in Escrow Outside the Golf Course Parking Lot

Published

on

Disclaimer: Much of what follows is going to come off as elitist, harsh and downright mean spirited — a pro looking down from his ivory tower at all the worthless hacks and judging them. It is the opposite. The intent is to show how foolish WE golfers are, chasing around a white ball with a crooked stick and suspending all of the common sense we use in our every day lives.

Much of what follows is not just the bane of average golfers, but also low handicappers, tour players and even a former long-drive champion during his quest for the PGA Tour… and now, the Champions Tour. In other words, if WE take ourselves a bit less seriously and use a bit more common sense, we are going to have more fun and actually hit better golf shots. We will shoot lower scores.

FYI: All of the examples of nutbaggery to come are things I have actually witnessed. They’re not exaggerated for the sake of laughs.

It’s winter time and most of you poor souls are not enjoying the 70-degree temperatures I am in Southern California right now (see, you all hate me already… and it’s going to get worse). That gives us all time to assess our approach to golf. I am not talking course management or better focus; I am talking how WE golfers approach our successes and failures, which for many is more important than the aforementioned issues or the quality of our technique.

Why is it that golf turns normal, intelligent, successful and SANE people into deviant, ignorant failures that exhibit all of the tell-tale signs of insanity? I also forgot profane, whiny, hostile, weak-minded, weak-willed and childish. Not to mention stupid. Why do we seem to leave our common sense and sanity in escrow in a cloud outside the golf course parking lot… only to have it magically return the moment our car leaves the property after imposing extreme mental anguish on ourselves that Gunnery Sergeant Hartman (don’t feel bad if you have to google this) would find extreme?

Smarter people than I have written books on this, but I think they missed a key factor. Clubs, balls, shoes, bags, gloves, tees, the grasses, especially the sand in the bunkers, the Gatorade they sell at the snack bar, hats, visors, over-logoed clothing, golf carts, etc., are all made with human kryptonite. Not enough to kill us, but just enough to make us act like children who didn’t get the latest fad toy for Christmas and react by throwing a hissy fit.

Bob Rotella has said golf is not a game of perfect, and although religious texts say man was made in God’s image, thinking we are perfect is blasphemous. We all play golf like we think there is an equivalent of a bowling 300. We expect to hit every drive 300 yards (the bowling perfect) with a three-yard draw… in the middle of the face… in the dead center of the fairway. All iron shots must be worked from the middle of the green toward the pin and compressed properly with shaft lean, ball-first contact and the perfect dollar-bill sized divot (and not too deep). Shots within 100 yards from any lie should be hit within gimme range, and all putts inside 20 feet must be holed.

We get these ideas from watching the best players in the world late on Sunday, where all of the above seem commonplace. We pay no attention to the fact that we are significantly worse than the guys who shot 76-76 and missed the cut. We still hold ourselves to that ridiculous standard.

  • Group 1: “Monte, you’re exaggerating. No one has those expectations.”
  • Group 2: ”Monte, I’m a type-A personality. I’m very competitive and hard on myself.”

To the first group, the following examples say different. And to the second group, I am one of you. It’s OK for me to want to shoot over 80 percent from the free throw line, but at 50 years old and 40 pounds over weight, what would you say to me if I said, “I’m type-A and competitive and I want to dunk like Lebron James!” Oh yeah, and I want to copy Michael Jordan’s dunking style, Steph Curry’s shooting stroke and Pistol Pete’s passing and dribbling style.” That seems ridiculous, but switch those names to all-time greats in golf and WE have all been guilty of those aspirations.

I don’t know how to answer 18-handicaps who ask me if they should switch to blades so they can work the ball better and in both directions. The blunt a-hole in me wants to tell them, “Dude, just learn to hit the ball on the face somewhere,” but that’s what they read in the golf magazines. You’re supposed to work the ball from the middle of the green toward the pin, like Nicklaus. Well, the ball doesn’t curve as much now as it did in Nicklaus’ prime and most tour players only work the ball one way unless the circumstances don’t allow it. “And you’re not Jack Nicklaus.” Some joke about Jesus and Moses playing golf has that punch line.

Wouldn’t it be easier to get as proficient as possible at one shot when you have limited practice time, versus being less than mediocre on several different shots? This also applies to hitting shots around the greens 27 different ways, but don’t get me started…just buy my short game video. Hyperbole and shameless plug aside, this is a huge mistake average golfers make. They never settle on one way of doing things.

The day the first white TaylorMade adjustable driver was released, I played 9 holes behind a very nice elderly couple. He went to Harvard and she went to Stanford. He gets on the first tee and hits a big push. He walks to the cart, grabs his wrench and closes the club face. She tops her tee shot, gets the wrench and adds some loft. Out of morbid curiosity, I stayed behind them the entire front 9 and watched them adjust their clubs for every mishit shot. It took over 3 hours for a two-some. These are extremely nice, smart and successful people and look what golf did to them. Anyone calling this a rules violation, have a cocktail; you’re talking yourself even more seriously than they were. Old married couple out fooling around, big deal if they broke a rule. No tournament, not playing for money, they’re having fun. They had gimmies, mulligans and winter rules. Good for them.

This is an extreme example of a huge mistake that nearly 100 percent of golfers make; they believe the need for an adjustment after every bad shot… or worse, after every non-perfect shot. How many of you have done this both on the range and on the course?

”(Expletive), pushed that one, need to close the face. (Expletive), hit that one thin, need to hit down more on this one. (Expletive), hooked that one, need to hold off the release.”

I’ll ask people why they do this and the answer is often, “I’m trying to build a repeatable swing.”

Nice. Building repeatable swing by making 40 different swings during a range session or round of golf. That is insane and stupid, but WE have all done it. The lesson learned here is to just try and do better on the next one. You don’t want to make adjustments until you have the same miss several times in a row. As a secondary issue, what are the odds that you do all of the following?

  1.  Diagnose the exact swing fault that caused the bad shot
  2.  Come up with the proper fix
  3.  Implement that fix correctly in the middle of a round of golf with OB, two lakes, eight bunkers and three elephants buried in the green staring you in the face.

Another factor in this same vein, and again, WE have all been guilty of this: “I just had my worst round in three weeks. What I was doing to shoot my career low three times in row isn’t working any more. Where is my Golf Digest? I need a new tip.”

Don’t lie… everyone reading this article has done that. EVERYONE! Improvement in golf is as far from linear as is mathematically possible. I have never heard a golfer chalk a high score up to a “bad day.” It’s always a technique problem, so there is a visceral need to try something different. “It’s not working anymore. I think I need to do the Dustin Johnson left wrist, the Sergio pull-down lag, the Justin Thomas downswing hip turn, the Brooks Koepka restricted-backswing hip turn and the Jordan Spieth and Jamie Sadllowski bent left elbow… with a little Tiger Woods 2000 left-knee snap when I need some extra power.” OK, maybe it’s a small bit of exaggeration that someone would try all of these, but I have heard multiple people regale of putting 2-3 of those moves in after a bad round that didn’t mesh with their downtrending index.

An 8-handicap comes to me for his first lesson. He had shot in the 70’s four of his last five rounds and shot a career best in the last of the five. All of the sudden, those friendly slight mishits that rhyme with the place where we keep our money show up. First a few here and there and then literally every shot. He shows up and shanks 10 wedges in a row and is literally ready to cry. I said, “Go home, take this week off and come back… and what’s your favorite beer?”

He comes back the next week, pulls a club and goes to hit one. I tell him to have a seat. I hand him a beer and we talk football for 15 minutes. Then I pull out my iPad and show him exactly why he is hitting shanks. I tell him one setup issue and one intent change and ask him to go hit one. It was slightly on the heel, but not a shank and very thin. I said to do both changes a bit more. The second one — perfect divot, small draw and on target. I walk over, put my hand up for a high five and say, “Awesome job! Great shot!”

He leaves me hanging and says, ”Yeah, but I hit it in the toe.”

Don’t judge him. Every day I have people with 50-yard slices toned down to 15-20 yards saying the ball is still slicing. These are people who won’t accept a fade, but slam their club when it over draws 15 feet left of the target… and so on. I can’t judge or be angry; I used to be these guys, too. During a one-hour lesson, I often hear people get frustrated with themselves for thin and fat, left and right, heel and toe. Apparently, anything not hunting flags or hit out of a dime-sized area is an epic fail. I also get emails the next day saying the fault and miss is still there.

GIVE YOURSELF A BREAK!

My big miss has always been a big block, often in the heel. Instead, I now often hit a pull in the left fairway bunker out of the toe. I celebrate like I’m Kool & the Gang and it’s 1999… and I get strange looks from everyone. I can manage a 10-15 yard low, slightly drawn pull. I cannot not manage a 40-50 yard in the atmosphere block… that cuts.

So, now that I have described all of US as pathetic, let’s see what we can do.

  1. Be hard on yourself, be competitive and set lofty goals all you want… but you need to accept at least a one-side miss. If you hate hitting thin, weak fades, you need to allow yourself a slightly heavy over draw. Not allowing yourself any miss will make you miss every shot.
  2. Generally, the better the player, the larger the pool of results that are used to judge success. Pros judge themselves over months and years. High-handicappers judge themselves on their previous shot. Do you think pros make a swing change after 10 good shots and one minor miss? We all seem to think that course of action is astute. Bad shot, must have done something wrong… HULK MUST FIX!
  3. Don’t judge your shots on a pass/fail grade. Grade yourself A-F. Are you going to feel better after 10 A’s, 25 B’s, 15 C’s, 4 D’s and 1 F… or 10 passes and 40 fails? If every non-perfect shot is seen as a failure, your subconscious will do something different in order to please you. Again, 40 different swings.
  4. Improving your swing and scores is a lot like losing weight. No one expects to make changes in a diet and exercise routine and lose 20 pounds in one day, yet golfers expect a complete overhaul in a small bucket. Give yourself realistic time frames for improvement. “I’m a 12. By the end of next year, I want to be an 8.”  That’s your goal, not whether or not your last range session was the worst in a month. It’s a bad day; that is allowed. Major champions miss cuts and all of them not named Tiger Woods don’t change their swings. They try and do better next week… and they nearly always do.
  5. DO NOT measure yourself either on the mechanics of your swing or your scoring results according to some arbitrary standard of perfection… and especially not against tour players. Measure yourself against yourself. Think Ty Webb. Is your swing better than it was 6 months ago? Do you hit it better than 6 months ago? Are you scoring better than 6 months ago? If you can say yes to at least two of those questions, your swing looking like Adam Scott is less relevant than the color of golf tee you use.

That is a winning formula, and just like bad habits in your swing, you can’t wake up one morning and tell yourself you’re no longer into self flagellation. It takes effort and practice to improve your approach and get out of your own way… but more importantly, have some fun.

Your Reaction?
  • 168
  • LEGIT15
  • WOW2
  • LOL2
  • IDHT0
  • FLOP0
  • OB0
  • SHANK7

Continue Reading

Opinion & Analysis

15 hot takes from Greg Norman on our 19th Hole podcast

Published

on

Our Michael Williams spoke with the Great White Shark himself, Greg Norman, for GolfWRX’s 19th Hole podcast. Not surprisingly, the two-time major champion had no shortage of hot takes.

While you’ll want to check out the full ‘cast, here are 15 takes of varying degrees of hotness, from Norman’s feelings about bifurcation to whether he’d pose for ESPN’s Body Issue.

1) He wants bifurcation immediately, rolling back technology for the pros, rolling it forward for amateurs

“I would instigate a bifurcation of the rules. I would roll back the golf ball regulations to pre-1996. I would roll back the technology that’s in the golf equipment for the professionals. And I would open up the technology and give it to the masses because the pros who developed the maximum club head speed of 118, 120 are the ones who maximize what technology is in that piece of equipment. So the person who’s under 100 miles an hour does not hit the ball an extra 30, 35 yards at all. They may pick up a few yards but they don’t get the full benefit of that technology…I would definitely do that because I think we’ve gotta make the game more fun for the masses. “

2) He has no relationship with Tiger Woods and doesn’t plan to watch him play golf

“And this might sound kind of strange. What I’ll say is … I really, in all honesty, I really don’t care what Tiger does with golf. I think Tiger is, golf probably needs him to some degree but golf doesn’t need him, if you know what I mean, because there’s so many other incredibly talented great young players out there, probably a dozen of them, maybe even more, that are equal, if not way better than Tiger, and they can carry the baton of being the number one player in the world. So, I get a little bit perplexed about and disappointed about how some of these guys get pushed into the background by the attention Tiger gets. I hope he does well. If he doesn’t do well, it doesn’t bother me. If he does do well, it doesn’t bother me.”

3) He plays almost no golf these days

“I really don’t play a lot of golf. I played with my son in the father-son at the end of last year, had a blast with him. Played a little bit of golf preparing for that. But since then I have not touched a golf club.”

4) He doesn’t enjoy going to the range anymore

“To be honest with you I’m sick and tired of being on the driving range hitting thousands and thousands of golf balls. That bores me to death now. My body doesn’t like it to tell you the truth. Since I’ve stopped playing golf I wake up without any aches and pains and I can go to the gym on a regular basis without aches and pains. So my lifestyle is totally different now. My expectations, equally, is totally different.”

5) It took him a long time to get used to recreational golf

“But I’ve been in this mode now for quite a few years now so the first couple of years, yes. My body was not giving me what my brain was expecting. So you do have to make those mental adjustments. Look, there’s no difference than when you hit 40, you’re a good player or not a good player. Things start to perform differently. Your proprioception is different. Your body is different. I don’t care how good you are and how great physical shape you are. Your body after just pure wear and tear, it eventually does tend to break down a little bit. And when you’re under the heat of the battle and under the gun, when you have to execute the most precise shot, your body sometimes doesn’t deliver what you want.”

6) He’s a big Tom Brady fan

“I’m a big fan, big admirer of his. He gets out of it what he puts into it obviously…But he’s also a role model and a stimulator for his teammates. No question, when you go to play Brady and the Patriots, you’d better bring your A game because he’s already got his A game ready to go.”

7) He believes we’ll see 50-plus-year-old winners on Tour

“I said this categorically when Tom Watson nearly won at Turnberry in his 50s, when I nearly won at Royal Birkdale in my 50s….if you keep yourself physically in good shape, flexibility in good shape, as well as your swing playing, and your swing. Yeah, maybe the yips come in maybe they don’t, that depends on the individual, right? But at the end of the day, my simple answer is yes. I do believe that’s going to happen.”

8) The Shark logo has been vital to his post-golf success

“But I realized very early on in life too that every athlete, male or female, no matter what sports you play you’re a finite entity. You have a finite period of time to maximize your best performance for X number of years. And with golf, if you look at it historically, it’s almost like a 15 year cycle. I had my 15 year run. Every other player has really has had a 15 year run, plus or minus a few years.”

“So you know you have that definitive piece of time you got to work with and then what you do after that is understanding what you did in that time period. And then how do you take that and parlay it? I was lucky because I had a very recognizable logo. It wasn’t initials. It wasn’t anything like that. It was just a Great Shark logo. And that developed a lot of traction. So I learned marketing and branding very, very quickly and how advantageous it could be as you look into the future about building your businesses.”

9) He’s tried to turn on-course disappointments into positives

“We all … well I shouldn’t say we all. I should say the top players, the top sports men and women work to win. Right? And when we do win that’s what we expected ourselves to do because we push ourselves to that limit. But you look at all the great golfers of the past and especially Jack Nicklaus, it’s how you react to a loss is more important than how you react to a victory. And so, I learned that very, very early on. And I can’t control other people’s destiny. I can’t control what other people do on the golf course. So I can only do what I do. When I screw up, I use that as a very strong study point in understanding my weakness to make sure that I make a weakness a strength.”

10) Jordan Spieth is best suited to be the top player in the world

“I think that Jordan is probably the most balanced, with best equilibrium in the game. He’s probably, from what I’m seeing, completely in touch with the responsibilities of what the game of golf and the success in the game of golf is.”

11) His golf design is built on two pillars

“Two things: Begin with the end in mind and the least disturbance approach. I think we, the industry of golf course design industry, really did the game of golf a major disservice in the 80s and 90s when everybody was leveraged to the hilt, thought they had unlimited capital, and thought they could just go build these big golf courses with big amounts of money invested in with magnificent giant club houses which weren’t necessary. So, we were actually doing a total disservice to the industry because it was not sustainable.”

12) He’s still not happy about having essentially invented the WGC events and not getting credit

“I’ll always be a little bit salty about that because there’s a saying that I keep telling everybody, “slay the dreamer.” I came up with a pretty interesting concept where the players would be the part owners of their own tour or their own destiny and rewarded the riches if they performed on the highest level. And quite honestly, Michael, actually a friend of mine sent me an article, it was a column written, “Shark and Fox Plan to Take a Bite out of the PGA”. And this is written in 11/17/94 and I literally just got it last night. And I’m reading through this article and I’m going, “Oh my gosh, oh my gosh, I was ahead of my time!” I really was ahead of my time.

So, it was very, very kind of like a reflective moment for me. I read it again this morning with a cup of coffee and I did sit back and, I’ll be brutally honest with you and your listeners, and did sit back and I did get a little bit angry because of the way I was portrayed, the way I was positioned.”

13) He was muzzled by the producer at Fox

“I’m not going to dig deep into this, I think there was just a disconnect between the producer and myself. I got on really well with the director and everybody else behind the scenes, some of my thought processes about what I wanted to talk about situations during the day, and it just didn’t pan out. And things that I wanted to say, somebody would be yelling in my ear, “Don’t say it, don’t say it!” So it became a very much a controlled environment where I really didn’t feel that comfortable.”

14) Preparation wasn’t the problem during his U.S. Open broadcast

“I was totally prepared so wherever this misleading information comes saying I wasn’t prepared, I still have copious notes and folders about my preparation with the golf course, with the players, with the set-up, with conditioning. I was totally prepared. So that’s an assumption that’s out there that is not true. So there’s a situation where you can please some of the people some of the time but not all of the people all of the time.

15) He would do ESPN’s Body Issue

“Of course I’d do it. I think I like being fit. I think on my Instagram account I probably slipped a few images out there that created a bit of a stir…And I enjoy having myself feel good. And that’s not an egotistical thing, it’s just none of my, most of my life I’ve been very healthy fit guy and if somebody like ESPN wants to recognize that, yeah of course I would consider doing it.”

Don’t forget to listen to the full podcast here!

Your Reaction?
  • 39
  • LEGIT4
  • WOW3
  • LOL6
  • IDHT0
  • FLOP11
  • OB0
  • SHANK34

Continue Reading

Podcasts

TG2: “If you could only play one brand, what would it be?” (Part 2)

Published

on

“If you could only play one brand, what would it be?” Brian Knudson and Andrew Tursky debate their choices in part 2 of this podcast (click here in case you missed Part 1). Also, TG2 welcomes special guest and GolfWRX Forum Member Ed Settle to the show to discuss what clubs he has in the bag.

Listen to our podcast on SoundCloud below, or click here to listen on iTunes!

Your Reaction?
  • 4
  • LEGIT0
  • WOW0
  • LOL0
  • IDHT0
  • FLOP1
  • OB0
  • SHANK3

Continue Reading

19th Hole

Facebook

Trending