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How the idea of shaft frequency began

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Forty years ago, Kim Braly and his father Dr. Braly went down to West Palm Beach to visit Wilson Golf, and that trip forever changed the way the golf industry thinks about the shafts in golf clubs.

“My father and I invented frequency matching,” Kim told me.

“And what’s that?” I asked.

“It’s the process of matching the stiffness of the shafts in your clubs to the heads so you can hit a golf ball rather than snap the shaft or hit the ball all over the place,” Kim said.

OK, that got my attention. So I ask how he stumbled upon the idea.

“My dad was an engineer and got into golf,” Kim said. “Eventually, I got interested in golf as well. In the early 1980s, we went to see the original ‘Iron Byron.’”

Manchester_Lane_Robot

A modern-day golf robot at Titleist’s Manchester Lane Test Facility.

Iron Byron was the first club-testing machine, and it was modeled after smooth-swinging legend Byron Nelson. It’s basically an early robot — a motor in a box with an arm — built to use a regular golf club to hit a golf ball.

Kim and Dr. Braly watched the engineer operating Iron Byron put a club into the mechanical arm, place a ball in front of the club face and then press a button to swing the club. The result: perfection. It produced a high, piercing ball flight that was hit on a rope, not far removed from the storied ball flight of Nelson himself. This was followed by another and another. Kim and his father were ecstatic.

With great anticipation, they watched the engineer load the next club. The results were much different. Balls flew all over the place. The dispersion was awful. The Wilson engineer operating Iron Byron slowed down the machine. Balls flew shorter distances, but they landed closer together. The dispersion had been reduced. This was the inception of their game-changing idea; dispersion was a result of certain shaft characteristics matched with a club head and swing speeds. This “AH HA” moment changed how we fit and purchase golf clubs today.

Based on this observation, Kim and Dr. Braly designed a method to measure the performance of a golf shaft. Later, this led to the concept of frequency: very simply, stiffness is not the letter on the shaft, but a measurement based on characteristics like weight of shaft, weight of the head, length of the shaft and several other characteristics. The year was 1977 and they submitted a patent on this idea called “Frequency Matching.”

Armed with the power of measurement, Kim was ready to change golf shafts forever. He and his father started traveling the PGA Tour, and in doing so became the first “PGA Tour Van.” Over the last 40 years, Kim has worked as a researcher and designer, mastering the golf shaft. He’s worked at True Temper, Royal Precision and is currently as the head designer of research and development at KBS Golf Shafts.

Kim, working with a player

Kim working with a player on his golf equipment.

In 2008, Kim launched a shaft company called KBS, which became the fastest growing shaft company in golf. Since that time, the company has gotten some of the best golfers in the world to use its shafts products, including Rickie Fowler, Justin Rose and Phil Mickelson.

The next time you’re struggling with shots that fly sideways, think about Kim and Dr. Braly. You might want to try try being fit for shafts if you haven’t already, because they may just be the most important part of your golf club.

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Brendan is the owner of Golf Placement Services, a boutique business which aims to apply his background in golf and higher education to help educate players, their families and coaches about the process! Website - www.golfplacementservices.com Insta - golf.placement.sevices Twitter @BMRGolf

13 Comments

13 Comments

  1. TeeBone

    Jun 7, 2017 at 5:34 pm

    Further, frequency matching a set doesn’t mean that the clubs all have the SAME shaft flexibility, only that the DIFFERENCE in flexibility is uniform from club to club. As the clubs get shorter, frequency and stiffness increase. Add to this the fact that as the clubs get shorter and heavier, they are swung at a slower speed. In the end, each shaft in a set flexes more and more overall as the clubs get longer. This silly “dispersion” theory suggests that a shaft must flex a specific amount to behave consistently.

  2. TeeBone

    Jun 7, 2017 at 2:39 pm

    Tour players, unless they have a specific shaft manufacturer deal, are free to play whatever shaft they want. Their decision to play graphite over steel has to do with performance, not money.

  3. TeeBone

    Jun 7, 2017 at 2:27 pm

    So Iron Byron, set at any particular swing speed, only reproduces the same ball flight with one specific shaft flex? This “dispersion” theory would mean that the same shaft can behave quite differently, from swing to swing, for an otherwise same swing input. Nonsense. There is no mention of this in any of the best-regarded scientific studies of shaft flexibility. This is a made-up marketing story designed to sell equipment.

  4. Ned

    Jun 6, 2017 at 8:06 am

    Brunswick Golf developed the Frequency Matching System in 1981!

    • Rico

      Jun 6, 2017 at 4:04 pm

      The article states that the Braly’s submitted a patent for “Frequency Matching” in 1977.

  5. J.

    Jun 5, 2017 at 7:15 pm

    And stiffness of an EI profile may be invisible to CPM matching? Does SST PURE shaft alignment work better?

    • Skip

      Jun 7, 2017 at 1:18 pm

      SST pure is pure Kool-Aid. Drink it if you so choose.

  6. tim crider

    Jun 5, 2017 at 4:05 pm

    There is no doubt that shots can be saved every round by every player with changes from the shaft to the swing weight to the compression of your golf ball,,, hell practicing on the driving range could improve your game. There is a lot to know about this game and if you have the money and the time you may be able to cash in on these findings. Think how much better play got when shafts changed to steel from hickory. A lot to know and even more to learn. How much more can be found and improved, it was a very good article.

  7. Charles Bartholomew

    Jun 5, 2017 at 3:38 pm

    Interesting article. A little history lesson now and then is a good thing.

  8. cgasucks

    Jun 5, 2017 at 8:20 am

    If the Iron Byron can make crappy shots with a shaft that isn’t compatible with its swing speed, imagine it with a human being.

    • talljohn777

      Jun 5, 2017 at 12:14 pm

      Yes, if you have a club shaft that is too soft you can slow your swing down to allow the clubhead time to catch up and square, but why would you want to do that? The preference would be to hit a club that matches your top swing speed allowing you to get the most out of your swing.

  9. artie j

    Jun 5, 2017 at 6:59 am

    I didn’t know the backstory. Very cool article Ryan

  10. SH

    Jun 4, 2017 at 10:25 am

    Yup, awesome

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Whats in the Bag

Justin Thomas’ winning WITB: 2019 CJ Cup

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Driver: Titleist TS3 (9.5 degrees)
Shaft: Mitsubishi Diamana ZF 60TX

justin-thomas-witb-driver

3-wood: Titleist TS3 (15 degrees)
Shaft: Mitsubishi Tensei CK Pro Blue 80TX

5-wood: Titleist 915Fd (18 degrees)
Shaft: Fujikura Motore Speeder VC 9.2 Tour Spec X

Irons: Titleist T100 (4-iron), Titleist 620 MB (5-9)
Shafts: True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue X100

Wedges: Vokey Design SM7 (46, 52, 56 degrees), Vokey Design SM6 (60 degrees)
Shaft: True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue S400

Photo via Vokey Wedge Rep Aaron Dill

Putter: Scotty Cameron X5

Grip: SuperStroke Pistol GT Tour

Ball: Titleist Pro V1x

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How @justinthomas34 marks his @titleist Pro V1x ????

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Grips: Golf Pride Tour Velvet Cord

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Whats in the Bag

Cameron Champ WITB 2019

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*Equipment accurate as of the Houston Open

Driver: Ping G410 LST (9.5 degrees, flat+, CG shifter in neutral, 5g face, 5g toe weight)
Shaft: Project X HZRDUS Smoke Green 70G-6.5 TX (44.25″, tipped 1.5″, D4)

cameron-champ-witb-2019-driver

5-wood: Ping G410 (@17 degrees, flat standard, 5g face weight)
Shaft: Project X HZRDUS Black 95G-6.5 TX (41.75”, tipped 1.5″, D4)

cameron-champ-witb-2019-5-wood

Irons: Ping i500 [3-iron (38.75″, 21 degree loft, 1 degree up)], Ping iBlade [4-iron (1/2 degree flat, standard length)], Ping Blueprint [5-PW (1/2 degree flat, standard length)]
Shafts: True Temper Dynamic Gold X7 w/Cushin insert

cameron-champ-witb-2019-irons

Wedges: Ping Glide Forged (50, 54 degrees) (1 degree flat), TaylorMade Hi-Toe (60 degrees)
Shafts: True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue S400

Putter: Ping PLD Prime Prototype (Stealth finish, straight arc, 34 3/8″, 19 degree lie, 2 degree loft, black shaft)
Grip: Ping PP58 Midsize Full Cord

Grips: Custom Lamkin Black 58R

Ball: Srixon Z-Star XV

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Equipment

WRX Spotlight: EV3D putters

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We hear the buzz words “3D printed” all the time these days. It’s a newer technology that has shown to have lots of applications in other industries, but golf hasn’t been one of those until now. 3D printing a putter is a pretty new adventure, but EV3D Golf is showing that it is going to be much more common very soon.

EV3D Golf is bringing new putter designs to us golfers that CANNOT be made through traditional casting or milling. 3D printing is the process of creating a putter layer-by-layer, allowing any supported shape you can think of. Even hollow designs like EV3D’s signature lattice features!

This gives EV3D engineers the ability to create putters that push the limits of MOI, feel, and of course look. The intricate lattice design does more than just look really cool, it also helps move weight to the outside and rear of the putter, increasing MOI in all models. All EV3D putters are printed from a combination of 420 stainless steel and bronze. This alloy gives the putter its responsive feel, excellent durability, and the ability to offer 3 finishes. They also offer a ton of different hosel designs to fit your eye and putting stroke, all are 3D printed as well. EV3D even adds custom touches like text in the cavity, different site lines, and paint fill to make it your own. Right now they offer 6 different head shapes, but if none of those are what you are looking for, they will work with you to print your dream putter from scratch!

We got our hands on 2 models, the EV3D Golf Ares X and Hades, to take out to the course and putt with. In hand the first thing that grabs your eye’s attention is the intricate lattice work on the putters.

All you want to do is hold the putter closer to your face and see how the heck they did it. At the right angles you can actually see through that lattice structure, but we were told that debris getting stuck in there isn’t an issue. The next thing you will notice is the rough texture of the head. This is created by the process of 3D printing the head, showing off the layers of material used to build the shape of the head. I don’t know if was intended but that rough texture does help with reducing glare, making the putters easy on the eyes even in the brightest conditions.

I personally really like the Antique Bronze finish, but EV3D does offer a Natural and Slate Black finish to suit your personal taste. Out on the putting green the Ev3D putters performed really well, offering a hefty dose of forgiveness and a crisp feel and sound. Traditionally modes like the Hades don’t offer much in the way of forgiveness compared to mallets, but the Hades shocked me with its off-center putts. Putts hit off the heel or toe stayed on line much better and I even made a couple that had no business even being close to the hole.

Distance loss on those mishits is about what you would expect, coming up a little short, but defiantly not a drastic difference. Since the EV3D line doesn’t have any fancy face milling, I was a little worried about the initial roll and if the ball would hop or skid. Initial contact was great, only met with a tiny bit of skid before rolling out. Nothing that I think effected even my longest putts. The feel off the face is something that reminds you of a quieter classic Ping BeCu putter, crisp with an audible click. If you are looking for a silent impact, like an Odyssey Microhinge, then the EV3D line might not be your cup of tea. If you are on a quest for exceptional responsiveness on well struck and mishit putts then you should be very pleased with any of the EV3D putter models. The feel of impact is a little firmer than I think we are all used to these days with so many inserts and deep milling. The crisp feel and slightly more audible EV3D is somewhat refreshing and mishit putts are extremely easy to recognize.

Overall, the EV3D putters are a solid offering from a new company utilizing a new technology in the golf club space. With all the combinations of putter heads, site lines, and hosels, I can’t see you not being able to find a putter that fits your eye. Looks for any putter are going to be subjective, but there is no denying that EV3D is pushing the limits at a time where we see a lot of similar putter designs from all manufacturers. And if you are the type of person who wants to create an original design of your own that has never been done, EV3D is waiting for that call to help you take your idea from thought to printed putter head! Check the entire EV3D putter line at the company website.

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