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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

Jhonattan Vegas WITB 2020

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  • Equipment accurate as of 1/14/20

Driver: TaylorMade M6 (9 degrees)
Shaft: Fujikura Atmos Tour Spec Black 9 TX

3-wood: TaylorMade M6 Rocket 3 (14 degrees)
Shaft: Fujikura Atmos Tour Spec Black 9 TX

Irons: Mizuno MP-20 HMB (3), Mizuno MP-4 (4-PW)
Shafts: Project X 7.0

Wedges: Titleist Vokey Design SM8 (52-12F, 56-14F), TaylorMade Hi-Toe (60-09 LB)
Shafts: Project X 7.0

Putter: Scotty Cameron GoLo DB5
Grip: Lamkin Deep-Etched Paddle

Grips: Golf Pride Tour Velvet Cord

Ball: Titleist Pro V1

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What GolfWRXers are saying about TaylorMade’s SIM fairway woods

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In our forums, WRXer Hotdocta created a thread to discuss the new SIM fairway woods and wants to hear from fellow members who have experienced them. Plenty of WRXers give their thoughts on the 2020 additions from TaylorMade, with the vast majority mightily impressed with what they have seen.

Here are a few posts from the thread, but make sure to check out the entire discussion and have your say at the link below.

  • DNice26: “I bought the 5 wood based on reports the Sim is silly long and low spin, and after my first round today, it absolutely delivered. The 5 wood isn’t too big, and I found it to flight excellently off the tee and off the fairway. It set me up today for birdies on all the par 5s. I have mine shafted with an 80X diamana blue, and it is fantastic.”
  • JoeFrigo: “The SIM is the hottest 3w I have ever hit. Had the m6 all last year and absolutely loved it. I said all last year it was the best fairway I’ve ever played….the SIM is even better. I love the profile at address, and there are times the SIM 3w gets within 1mph of my driver ball speed. I honestly went back to PGA store for playability and grabbed the 5w instead because the face is so hot. I had about 5 launch monitor sessions and 1 round on the course and was killing it, but gaps were way off now. Decided id wait and get more course time with it, but then the Coronavirus came.”
  • tyusg: “The SIM fairways are extremely hot off the face. Was hitting off the trackman at my work, and was reaching smash factors of 1.51 and 1.52. The shape of them do remind me of the M6, a little bigger, and a pretty deep face. But the V Steel tech they put back in I believe is why the smash was so high. Even on off center hits, the ball speed was pretty much all there still.”
  • Polly509109: “I have hit both SIM ti/ SIM Max. They were both very good. Tried all the Mavrik 3W offerings and SIM fit my swing better. Switched from TS3 fairway. Into the SIM ti with my old shaft from the Titleist. 82X Diamana Whiteboard. Don’t have any numbers for you, not really a launch monitor guy. But was getting 255-269 carry and 275-288 overall with the stock Diamana 75S shaft when I was fitted. 104-108 ss. Don’t know what kinda monitor.”

Entire Thread: “TaylorMade’s SIM fairway woods”

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What GolfWRXers have bought since ‘lockdown’

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In our forums, our members have been discussing their golfing purchases since lockdown began in many areas of the world. WRXer ‘lvmike’ created the thread and has purchased a Ping putter as well as a TaylorMade driver and our members have been getting involved with plenty of WRXers investing in new equipment from clubs to hitting mats and beyond.

Here are a few posts from the thread but make sure to check out the entire discussion and have your say at the link below.

  • JoeFrigo: “Other than a mat and net, unfortunately, I haven’t bought any clubs…courses are closed here so I can’t hit anything anyways. I’m now really looking into a personal launch monitor since ill have a month at least of no range time. But the temptation is strong for more clubs! particularly putters since I can do that in my basement green.”
  • manima1: “Purchased an EXPUTT putting simulator – perfect for lock-down. Review so far is this is an excellent tool in dialing in putting distances and developing a consistent stroke at a given distance – similar to how you can dial in irons and wedges on a typical full simulator.”
  • pmang: “In the past week I’ve bought a SIM Max, a TS2 and a hot melt gun. Come to think of it I bought a Garmin clip-on GPS/Rangefinder… oh, and some Adidas golf shoes…. and I’m sure there will be more.”
  • pgetzen: “Bought a Stitch SL1 bag and two Cleveland RTX4 wedges on the Walmart deal, as well as 3 knit headcovers.”
  • 1PuttTutt: “Full basement simulator setup, including hitting mat, screen/enclosure, mevo+ launch monitor, projector, gaming laptop, etc. Unfortunately only the hitting mat has arrived so far, but I was able to set up some blankets and padding so I can hit balls in the basement. I also bought four dozen balls and a pushcart. I was thinking the pushcart was a genius idea, being that courses would limit to one person per cart, and courses would run out. But then they shut courses down before I could use it.”
  • uglande: “Two Vokey SM8 wedges and a Scotty Special Select putter. I’m wearing out my basement carpet with all of this chipping and putting, so my short game should be good to go when we’re released again to the outdoors. I also bought some sweet Titleist black leather (noir) head covers.”
  • Kye123: “Me, my dad and my little bro bought a Swingcaddie S300 and an industrial net from a fishing company… was going great until my little bro sailed a 60 straight into the conservatory two houses down, wedges are now banned.”

Entire Thread: “What have you purchased since ‘lockdown’?

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