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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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Equipment

WRX Spotlight: Argolf Mordred putter

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Product: Argolf Mordred putter

Pitch: From Argolf: “…each ARGOLF putter is named after an Arthurian legend.”

“Mordred was known as a notorious traitor who fought King Arthur at the Battle of Camlann, where he was killed, and Arthur was fatally wounded. The images depicting Mordred are reflected in the winged design of the putter which aids in stabilization and alignment, as well as its coloring.”

“With a lower center of gravity that surpasses all mallet putters in the ARGOLF collection, Mordred boasts one of the highest MOIs available on the market. Precisely milled from a solid block of aeronautical-grade 7175 Aluminum, Mordred appeals to the eye with its clean and sophisticated look. Using the most advanced technology, Mordred is shaped through a 5-axis milling process that differentiates itself from its competitors in design and performance due to its aerodynamic features.”

Our take on the Argolf Mordred putter

When you are dreaming of your next high-end milled putter, Argolf might not be the first name that pops into your head. Argolf is a French company founded in 2010 by a couple of aeronautical industrialists and a golf professional. By combining the expertise from both sites, Argolf has created a line of milled putters that not only look like art but with performance that rivals more well-known brands.

Mordred is a large mallet that boasts a very low center of gravity and super high MOI. Milled out of a solid block of aerospace-grade 7175 aluminum, the design is influenced by the aerodynamic lines from F1 race cars. The face features Argolf’s C-Claw technology that produces a more consistent forward roll without skidding. The Mordred is finished off with a single orange site line, a black PVD shaft, and a Pure midsize grip.

When you open the box, you are greeted with a nice grey and orange head cover that feels high quality and durable. Headcover removed, you will say hello to one of the larger mallet putters you have ever tried. The finish is a matte dark gray that eliminates glare and contrasts well with the orange paint fill. Traditionally high end milled putters have milling lines on most of the head and ARGOLF hid most of those in this head. The milling lines and marks are still visible on the rounded sections, but any flat surface is perfectly smooth. From what I have been told by machinists, it is more expensive to remove those lines and marks.

Any mallet putter that boasts high MOI, the style is going to be love or hate. At first, I was taken back by how busy the Mordred is, but out on the course, those flowing lines melt away. Not once was I distracted by them while lining up a putt. Size is going to take some getting used to as it just frames the ball different than any other mallet I have tried.

Feel and sound is where Mordred really shines. I have putted with aluminum putters before, and depending on the design they can have a different sound or feel. The C-Claw face really offers a softer feel and sound with just a slight click at impact. Not as crisp as carbon steel, just a little more muted and I enjoyed the sounds and feel with the Titleist AVX.

ARGOLF’s C-Claw technology does what it says and gets the ball rolling with zero skidding, even on long uphill putts. Putting side-by-side with a standard faced putter you could easily see tell the difference in the first foot of roll. Some face technologies can cause issues with distance control, but every putt rolled out to the expected distance. Compared to a traditionally milled face the Mordred will roll a fraction farther, but something that is easy to adjust to with a handful of putts on the practice green.

Shots off center go almost exactly where you aimed; the toe miss leaks just a touch right. Putts struck on the heel go straight and lose minimal distance while feeling still very solid. Toe strikes leak a hair right and are met with a small amount of vibration letting you know you missed the center of the putter.

Overall, Argolf’s Mordred putter is a great option for someone who is looking for a super forgiving putter. A minor complaint is no grip options for a putter at this price. I like a standard size, firmer grip and there are no other options to select from. The other thing that could become an issue is how well the finish holds up. I always use the headcover when I am not using my putter and the finish still has a few minor marks on it. If you are anti-headcover you might notice faster wear. Those are pretty small issues, and I think that ARGOLF has a really solid putter here.

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Forum Thread of the Day: “Odyssey/Toulon Santa Monica putter”

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Today’s Forum Thread of the Day showcases an Odyssey/Toulon Santa Monica putter which has got plenty of our member’s attention. Some have likened the blade to Tiger’s Newport 2, and a number are hoping for a release at retail soon.

For more photos, check out the full forum thread here.

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.

  • Weston11: “Absolutely beautiful!”
  • Scotty1140: “Sweet putter. Definitely inspired by Tiger’s Newport 2. Needs a bit more of a bevel on the trailing edges from address IMO. Always love a tri-sole. This coming to retail? Would like to roll this.”
  • Wdwfreak: “Bring that one out, and you have a sale. I like that a lot.”

Entire Thread: “Odyssey/Toulon Santa Monica putter”

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Forum Thread of the Day: “What golf-related Father’s Day gift did you get?”

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Today’s Forum Thread of the Day comes from nuttinbutapeanut, who asked fellow members what golf-related gift they received for Father’s Day. Our members share what they received, as well as gave on Father’s Day.

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.

  • OSpreyCI: “PXG 0811x Driver. Thank you fam bam.”
  • Aviador Naval: “Two hours of time with my son hitting balls and practicing short game on a day with beautiful weather. As an empty nester, that is 1000x more valuable than anything material.”
  • Kingcat990: “Took the father in law golfing, and we posted some horrendous scores. Had a great time piling garbage on the scorecard.”
  • Gautama: “New golf shirt and shorts, and got a surprise treat in a tee time for the whole clan on a little executive 9 hole, par 33 course. First time we’ve done it…my wife, my two sons aged 22 and 18, and my two daughters aged 9 and 6. The whole course was crawling with groups like ours… Not the fastest round any of us have ever played, but very fun.”
  • granata10: “New ping hoofer golf bag. It was needed and wanted.”

Entire Thread: “What golf-related Father’s Day gift did you get?”

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