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Opinion & Analysis

Why You Should Be Playing Heavier Equipment

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While I’ve been playing golf for the last 35 years, I only started tinkering with equipment for the last 17 years. I started with regripping and then graduated to full blueprints and rebuilds for myself and close friends and family. This came in handy when I had delusions of trying to compete with the guys in the Long Drivers of America (LDA). While my swingspeed is fast enough to necessitate the replacement of caved heads and broken shafts from time to time, I was humbled back into the amateur ranks very quickly. But the LDA guys were one of the early groups that made me realize that lighter shafts aren’t necessarily better for distance.

When golfers think of a great classic driver, the seasoned ones would talk about persimmon and steel while most WRXers will speak with reverence to the TaylorMade R510TP.  This first re-launch of the Tour Preferred series was notorious for the high price tag as well as what justified the cost: the legendary Fujikura Speeder 757 shaft.  At one point, you were not considered a player if you didn’t have a Speeder 757 in your driver. At 78 or 79 grams (based on flex), it was much lighter than steel. But its tight profile and low torque made for a very accurate shaft that produced a lower spin rate and allowed for good distance when you wanted to take a healthy swing at the ball.

Today, the manufacturers continue to promise distance gains with a marketer’s perfect formula: lighter total weight and longer shafts. Many WRXers have poo-pooed this concept of longer shafts over the years, professing their love for 44.5 inch drivers. You can go back to the inception of this board to read the questions of how to get a D2 or D3 swingweight on a club that has had the stock length cut down. Today, with some drivers measuring as long as 47 inches, you may have to add 15-20 grams of mass to the head to get the balance back to the club.  Some of my early recollections of reshafting include removing the lightweight and big butt shafts from Callaway Great Big Berthas and Goldwin AVDP drivers to install 86 gram EI-70 shafts. My drives were much more accurate with the heavier driver shaft.

Until recently, this trend was applied only to woods and hybrids. But the next phase in the lighter/longer march by the OEMs has been irons. Lofts and lengths have literally made each iron one club longer than a similar numbered iron 25 years ago. And your 120-gram KBS or 130-gram True Temper Dynamic Gold shaft are now being substituted for 85-gram steel or 65-gram graphite. This was the norm for senior and ladies clubs for years. But these lighter weight clubs are now appearing in the men’s market as well.

Thankfully, most of the player or “pro” models still come with heavier shafts. But even there, you still have driver shafts in the 50-gram range, and they seem to be getting lighter each year. This follows the old club thought:

“Swing the lightest club that you can control.” 

But control always seems to take a back seat to potential distance. I’m sure I could pick up 10-peak yards on a perfectly struck shot with a lighter driver shaft. However, the rest of my imperfect shots would suffer accuracy issues, whereas my heavier shaft would allow me a more consistent face contact and greater AVERAGE distance.  My thought when I have built clubs for friends and family was to “swing the heaviest club that did not noticeably cost you distance.”  My vindication for this is that your scoring clubs — wedges and putters — are trending heavier or maintaining their shaft weights. Read the GolfWRX thread about increasing accuracy and distance by going back to steel shafted drivers here:  http://www.golfwrx.com/forums/topic/705558-now-this-is-how-a-cleveland-classic-should-look

I believe the quickest way to get someone to get excited about the game is to have them strike that one pure shot. Tin Cup described it as a “tuning fork going off in your loins” to Rene Russo, and he was right.  Hit that one shot and you will be back for more.  My experience has shown that more golfers would have more accurate shots with greater average distance with shaft weights in the following ranges:

Driver: 65-75 grams, 300 gram or more total weight

Fairway Woods: 80-130 grams

Hybrids: 90-130 grams

Irons and wedges: 110-140 grams

Compared to lighter equipment, most of your average male golfers will find the center of the face more often and realize more purely struck shots. This will increase your average distance and minimize the difference between your great shots and your misses.

The one argument that I cannot deny is the lighter weight in your bag if you are a walker. But consider that a golf ball weighs around 45 grams. The difference between heavy and light equipment for someone with three wedges is the equivalent of roughly three sleeves of balls in your bag. If that’s enough to break your back, then you should consider weight/endurance training or move to a push/pull cart. Fatigue at the end of the round from heavier gear is quickly fixed by strength training and sessions at the practice range.

Next time you visit your local clubfitter, pick their brain about being fitted into a slightly heavier shaft in your fairway, hybrid or driver by stressing that you want a more consistent and accurate swing instead of distance. You may find a new favorite club in your bag.

Click here for more discussion in the “Clubmaking” forum. 

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A tinkerer since he was a child, Brad Hintz has always enjoyed getting his hands dirty and learning how things are put together. Taking apart and putting together his bicycle and the family room television to make them work better eventually gave way to golf clubs. While a career in operations and analytics keeps him busy during the day, he has been building and repairing golf clubs as a hobby and passion for more than 17 years. Brad has been posting on golf forums since the late 1990s and has been a member of GolfWRX almost from its inception. This is his first foray into writing articles online.

12 Comments

12 Comments

  1. nikkyd

    Mar 14, 2014 at 10:54 pm

    My irons are sw at e6 and i tell you what, once you get that weight moving, you cannot stop it. Im shorter 5)at 5’8″ and play +1 1/4 ” over standard clubs. I can deadlift 600 lbs and bench 225 25× . Im not flexible by anymeans (not even as a child) but with my handsy swing, i find the heavier, the better. More consistant and straighter than ever . And good distance too! Now if only i could putt on muni greens that stimp out at about -13 haha

  2. Phil

    Dec 2, 2013 at 3:48 am

    Excellent article. Through experiments I have found that my swing speed has increased by around 3% with a heavier shaft. Also note that swing speed isn’t everything you have to make a quality contact. I have been down the light shaft / totalweight route and am now making a U turn with great results. My latest driver shaft Fujikura Speeder 757 is superb with longer more consistent results Callaway RAZR Tour head with D4 swingweight at 44.75in

    It all depends on the type of swing that you have but too many times We get conned with a short term increase in distance but lose control, consistency and accuracy over time.

  3. Dave

    Mar 21, 2013 at 7:25 am

    Agreed, last year my most consistant club in the bag was my Titleist Hybrid which has a Heavier shaft installed.

    • Rick

      Nov 9, 2015 at 10:48 pm

      Exactly the same here…92 gm stiff Diamana ….it is sweet.

  4. Adrian

    Dec 11, 2012 at 7:25 pm

    Excellent article. Thanks. And I totally agree.
    I lost confidence with my rbz 3wood this summer, cut it down a half inch and added some snakeoil to the head. Changed the swing weight from D3 to D6 and it’s now the most consistent long club in my bag, by far. Lost maybe 5 yards of distance on average but added automatic fairways; seems worth it.

  5. Roger F

    Nov 30, 2012 at 11:04 am

    Great article…..have added weight to my wedges, Putter, gone to heavier shafts on fairways and added tip weights, now have x flex Oxik Altus 86gr in 22 hybrid, very smooth, and 910D3 with Kai’li at 72 grams, regular shaft and 9gr head weight. Lots of Feel,Accuracy!

  6. Ian harris

    Nov 30, 2012 at 10:26 am

    How about light,stiff,with low torque? Love my steel fiber 95 gram iron shafts. Straight and long!!!

  7. joro3743

    Nov 29, 2012 at 8:49 am

    I totally agree with the heavier weight. When I was a young man and playing competitively my Driver was steel and wood with a 135 gr. shaft, XX flex, and 43.5 in. and the irons the same.

    Today, much older and with several physical problems I use a 45 gr. shaft at 46 and all over the place. Recently I picked up a 60 gr. Stiff Driver with a Ahina shaft and hitting the heck out of it. I know being a club maker for years that the theory of that is wrong, but I love it. I also play a forged Iron with KBS Tour steel and put away the 65 gr. Graphite Irons I was playing.

    At 73 this should not work, but it does.

  8. pablo

    Nov 28, 2012 at 3:09 pm

    I agree. My girlfriend hits better with mens flex shafts even with a very low swing speed. She likes to be able to feel the weight, as it helps her make better ball contact.

  9. John Muir

    Nov 28, 2012 at 2:27 pm

    I’m finding a lot of success with average male and female golfers and seniors with 45g wood shafts with lighter driver and fw heads and even new 50g iron shafts.

  10. Robert

    Nov 28, 2012 at 12:15 pm

    Excellent article. Many thanks

  11. Pingback: GolfWRX.com – Why You Should Be Playing Heavier Equipment | Golf Grip Instruction

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Opinion & Analysis

More Distance Off the Tee (Part 1 of 3): Upper Body Training

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If you read my previous story, Tour Pro’s Revealed: 3 Tests to See How You Stack Up, you are well aware of the fact that improving your upper body power is one of three sure ways to increase your distance off the tee. If you have not, I strongly suggest you check it out to gain some context about what is to follow and what is critical for your golf game.

Through our testing and the testing done of many of the industry leaders in golf performance, we have found that the ability of golfers to generate “push power” from their upper body is critical to maximize efficiency and speed in the swing. The way that you can test your power is simple. Sit in a chair with your feet flat on the ground. Keeping your back on the chair, chest pass with both hands a 6-pound medicine ball as far as you can. When you compare this to your vertical jump as described in More Distance Off the Tee (Part 2 of 3): Lower Body Training Plan, the number in feet you threw the ball should be relatively close to your jump in inches.

If you threw the ball and it went 5 feet, you have an upper body power problem. If you threw the ball 25 feet and jumped only 14 inches, your upper body is not the problem — you probably need to focus on your lower body. It’s not rocket science once you understand what you are looking for. What can be challenging is knowing how to improve your power once you identify a problem. That is where the rest of this article comes in. What I am going to outline below are three of the most common upper body power exercises that we use with our amateur, senior and professional golfers.

The key with any power training exercise is to make sure you are as rested as possible between sets so that you can be as explosive as possible for the repetitions. Try not to do more than 6 repetitions in a set to assure that each one is as fast and explosive as possible.

Med Ball Chest Pass on Wall

This is one of the most basic exercises there is for developing upper body push power. Make sure your feet are about shoulder-width apart and don’t be afraid to use your legs to help maximize the punishment you deliver to against the wall!

Med Ball Wall Ball

Watching the video, you may be scratching you head and wondering why this is in the upper body power article when clearly the athlete is using his legs. The reason is that in the golf swing, power starts with the legs.

Med Ball Sky Chest Throws

This one is simple. Laying on your back, all you need to do is push the ball up as high as you can, catch it on the way down and the explode it back up into the air as high as you can. If you incorporate this exercise into your routine even once a week, you will see huge gains in your ability to swing faster if this was a problem area for you.

That being said, power creation requires not only speed but also strength development. It is also important that you have a solid strength program to increase your ability to generate more force. While this is beyond the scope of this article, finding yourself a solid golf fitness expert will help you create your ideal program.

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Podcasts

GolfWRX Forum Member dpb5031 talks about the TaylorMade Twist Face Experience

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Forum member dpb5031 (aka Dewey) joins TG2 to talk about his Twist Face Experience at The Kingdom. Recently, him and 6 other GolfWRX Members went to TaylorMade HQ to get fit for new M3 and M4 drivers. Does Twist Face work? Dewey provides his answer.

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

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Opinion & Analysis

Inside the Ropes: 5 things you didn’t know about playing on the PGA Tour

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Golf finds a way to take a hold on you… whether you become entranced by the skill of the world’s best professionals, fall in love with the feeling and beauty of a well-executed shot, or simply enjoy getting outside and having fun — the game is addictive.

I started playing at the age of 4 and began watching the pros on TV dreaming what it would be like to play golf on the PGA Tour. When I earned my PGA Tour status for the 2014 season, that dream became a reality. And like anything, it’s not until I actually experienced that life did I have any idea what it entailed.

For those of you who are curious what it’s like to be on the PGA Tour, here are 5 things to describe it.

1) The Culture

Traveling the world to various cities can be fun, and it’s an underrated part of the Tour lifestyle; you get to see new landscapes and taste the cuisines that define different regions across the country and the world. Unlike some other professional sports, where players stay in one place for maybe a night or two, we get to stay in places for a week or more, which allows for plenty of time away from the course to see the sights and get a feel for what the cities and their cultures offer.

2) The Show

The setup and time that goes into planning an event — the grandstands, concession stands, volunteers, and the whole network that makes these tournaments run — is beyond impressive. We see the finished product at the event in the epicenter of it all, but the planning goes on behind the scenes all year. When it’s game time and the golf ball gets teed up, it’s time for us players to block all of that out, but we certainly appreciate all of the hard work that goes into putting on an event. It may feel like being in a circus at times, but performing in the show is a thrill.

3) The People

The game of golf in general brings people together, but especially so on the Tour. Thousands and thousands of fans come to watch the golf action and enjoy the festivities. The Pro-Ams are a great way for the fans to get an up-close look at what goes on at a Tour event, and they’re also a great way for us pros to interact with fans and maybe provide some helpful swing tips, too. In my opinion, one of the best events of the year is the Pebble Beach Pro-Am — a gathering of pro golfers, athletes, musicians, actors and other celebrities. It’s a testament to how the game can bring people together from different walks of life.

4) Inside the Ropes

The Tour is almost like a private school of sorts. It’s a select group of a couple hundred guys traveling around playing these events. The jocks, the nerds, the geeks, the loners; you see a little of everything. As much as there’s a sociable aspect to traveling on Tour and getting to know these people, it’s a dog-eat-dog world where everyone is playing for their livelihood and playing privileges.

5) The “Pressure”

A season-long race can come down to a single shot making the difference — for some it’s between winning and losing a tournament, and others it’s between keeping and losing your card. The cameras, the grandstands, the noise… it can all be quite distracting. The idea is to block all of that out and pretend you’re playing like a kid, focusing with pure imagination for the shot. All the extra attention can help heighten the focus further, adding inspiration to “give the people what they want” and hit even better golf shots.

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