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From a Fitter: Everything you need to know about wedge shafts

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This is such a dark corner of the golf industry that I truly believe needs a lot of work. Hopefully, this article can shed some light on wedge shafts for you.

I will mention some standards, explain some of my experience, and hopefully, help you make some good choices.

Linking back to the first article on aspects of a wedge that I target when fitting, I place a lot of weight on the style, bounce, grind, and loft/lie/length to get my wedge fitting started. As we move into shaft options, I look at crossing T’s and dotting I’s to ensure a player enjoys their new wedge setup.

We carry a bunch of shaft options built into different heads. As yet we do not have a consistent way to swap shafts in wedges during a session that still allows them to play at a reasonable swing weight and perform as we would like. Moving forward, I will be looking to explore this area to see if we can deliver better service and experience.

Generic standards for wedge shaft setup

  • Dynamic Gold “wedge flex”
  • Matching exactly the same shaft in your irons to your wedges
  • A slightly heavier shaft in your wedges
  • Putting an 8-iron shaft in your wedges
  • Using a wedge-specific shaft

During an iron fitting, we see a lot of variables in flight and feel, this is mainly because we use 6-irons as our demo clubs. When clients are hitting 6-iron shots, they are often looking for max carry, flight, and shot-shaping ability. This leads to hitting a lot of full swings and placing the shaft under a decent amount of load, therefore, we see some notable changes when we swap shafts. This will not show up as drastically in wedges as we are not always trying to hit the full shot. 

As we get into wedge fitting, I discuss with my clients in-depth what they use each wedge for, how far they hit them, what is the most common shot they play, what are the most common bad shots, how does the ball react on the green and what shots do they feel they need in the bag. Basically, trying to get a good overview of their game in a short period. In very few cases do players mention the ‘full shot’ lets them down? Often players say they are more comfortable hitting “softer shots” or 3/4 swings, this gives them the flight/shot that they require on a regular basis and the niche shots and consistency lets them down.

Logic here says to me, you probably do not want exactly the same shaft in the irons all the way down to the lob wedge when you are hitting soft shots 95 percent of the time. When I look at shaft specs, I am trying to build a shaft that can easily put up with the stress of a full shot and handle a softer shot without feeling blunt (for all clubs in the bag).

When I merge this process into wedges, the only wedge a “matching iron” shaft seems to be applicable (for the majority) is the gap wedge or the wedge that is predominantly a full-swing club. This is the club you hit full and maybe knock-down shots with, but you’re rarely trying to hit “flicky” spinning shots. (Those shots are why you also have a sand and/or lob wedge in the bag).

It would then make sense that if you are rarely hitting any full shots with your sand wedge or lob wedge, you probably want a softer golf shaft in those (as they are not trying to put up with your “flat out” swing), still ensuring the shaft does not feel ‘blunt’ or hard work to play around the greens with.

This is not a one size fits all theory, but I think a lot of players would have success even thinking about their wedge shaft layout in this way.

As an example: Personally, I am playing True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue 120g X100 flex iron shafts. I hit a lot of full shots with my 50 and 54, so I have chosen to play the DG 120TI X100 shaft exactly the same way in those two clubs. My 60-degree however, I rarely hit the full shot, so I feel need it a little softer in stiffness, but I need the weight to get my tempo correct and to give me more control to hit lower shots. For this club, I play the Dynamic Gold S400 Tour Issue. I chose this shaft as the profile is very close to my iron shaft but it is 13g heavier and has a slightly softer tip section, which I feel gives me a little better response.

Please see the S3 shaft profile comparison below

(I am very lucky to have the S3 shaft data, it gives me an apples-to-apples comparison of shaft profiles and weights and make wedge shaft selection a lot easier).

I also wanted to capture some data to highlight the difference wedge shafts have as simply as possible. Below is a graph showing a PGA pro’s shot grouping with a few shaft options. His 6-iron speed is about 94mph, and he has a sharp back-swing to down-swing ratio. This would put him at the quick end of people I fit. This generally means the player enjoys stiffer shafts, stiff style profiles, high swingweight, high total/shaft weight (and again not in all cases).

He tested three shafts all in the same wedge head, with the same length, loft, and lie.

Please see the grouping below

The three shafts tested were: Nippon Modus 105 Wedge specific, Dynamic Gold Wedge flex and Dynamic Gold Tour Issue S400.

In no way am I trying to demonstrate the DG S400 is the best shaft for wedges, but in this group of data all that shows up is, the stiffest profile, heaviest shaft (of the test group) gave the player the tightest grouping for his 55-degree wedge shot. His explanation was that he felt the club’s position in the swing better and the strike through the turf was much more consistent, producing more consistent land zones with the DG S400. This small test shows that the wedge shaft alone has an impact even for a skilled golfer.

There are however always exceptions to theories (especially in golf!)

When I have a player using, for example, C-Taper 130 X or Dynamic Gold X100 in their irons it is tough to find a profile that matches closely that is heavier and not any stiffer. In these cases, I tend to have them play the same shaft all the way down to their LW, but I try to increase swing weight and decrease FM in the niche shot wedges (SW and LW). This can just mean adding head weight to soften the shaft a little, or sometimes soft-stepping the product to get some ‘feel’ back. 

The key take-away points

  • Think about the shots you play with your wedges most and how hard you hit them
  • Think about linking your shafts to your irons, but they do not always have to match
  • Test options and measure: grouping, turf interaction and flight consistency
  • Try and break down if the ‘”feel” of stiffness or weight help or hinder you making a consistent swing/strike
  • Don’t just settle with the shaft the wedges come with… unless they match in with your setup!

Getting all the information in one article is always tough, and I hate generalizing, so feel free to shoot me some questions—I like to try to help and also hear your experience and ideas when I can!

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Jack Gilbert is currently a Master Club/ Putter Fitter and Builder at Cool Clubs Australia, with 10 years experience in the industry. Day to day he is fitting and helping players from beginners to Major winning golfers and everywhere in between. Jack helps produce specific Putter Studio designs, alongside R&D for club fitting technology. He has played in the U.K and U.S.A as a Collegiate Golfer. In the last decade he has worked out of London, Gold Coast, Sydney and Melbourne and has been publishing content for Cool Clubs Australia since the company's inception. His content focuses on club fitting, club/shaft design and technology advancements.

25 Comments

25 Comments

  1. bl

    Feb 11, 2020 at 5:12 pm

    Great article!

    But…. that test seems fishy. You tried a really poorly fit shaft vs. an okay shaft vs. a properly fit one to prove the properly fit one is better?

    • Jack

      Feb 13, 2020 at 10:10 pm

      Hi BL,
      This was to prove my point that you do need to think about a wedge shafts.
      Do not just grab anything. Make an effort to get something that helps you get better results.
      This article is not about the shafts that were selected, it is demonstrating there is a variable here.

  2. Marc Boghosian

    Feb 7, 2020 at 8:03 am

    Jack – might be a stupid question but what kind of affect would hard/soft stepping the shafts have? ie hard stepped shafts in irons, with the same shaft soft stepped in wedges

    • Jack Gilbert

      Feb 13, 2020 at 10:14 pm

      Definitely not stupid.
      HS or SS give the player the option to play the same weight shaft slightly stiffer or softer than maybe they are playing.
      My experience as a general rule is: Too soft and the player may loose strike consistency and dispersion widens up…. Too stiff and it can feel a bit “blunt” / there can be implications on spin.

  3. Chris

    Jan 23, 2020 at 11:07 pm

    Great article Jack. I play X100 in my irons 4 thru Gap wedge, and was recommended the Modus Wedge 125 last year. I noticed a great improvement, hitting the ball closer to the hole and able to control my trajectory much better throughout the year. My question is why did you use the Modus Wedge 105 shaft with your pro player in the example, and not use the heavier 115 (122g) or 125 (133g) options. Also wondering which iron shafts your pro player is using in his set. Thanks.

    • Pg

      Feb 1, 2020 at 11:52 am

      He cherry picked a lightweight shaft to prove his point.

    • Jack Gilbert

      Feb 13, 2020 at 10:16 pm

      Hi Chris,
      I was not trying to demonstrate the performance of a specific product in this segment, just trying to highlight that there is a reasonable difference in wedge shafts that can have positive and negative effects.

  4. Rickey Di Dio

    Jan 21, 2020 at 10:48 am

    While I appreciate what you are trying to do, there are a few things I would like to point out. Your data size is too small and your data has to been “cleaned”. There are 3 shots in your chart that would be classified as outliers. Remove those and the charts get very similar. I work with players on bag analysis and club gapping. If we are hitting 7 irons and a player hits one fat that only carries 110 yards, that shot is thrown out of the “probable average carry distance”.

  5. Lars Mountgoaschen

    Jan 20, 2020 at 4:22 pm

    I was not aware that the X100 profile was like the S300/S400 profile as you seem to indicate in your EI graph….(?) I thought the s300/s400 has a stiff tip & softer butt compared (relative to profile) of the X100. In fact I still have the EI data by inch increments somewhere.

    You seemed to contradict yourself by choosing a heavier shaft in your wedge, you state you need the weight for your tempo(?) – why would you choose such a significantly heavier shaft to maintain your tempo?

    Generally with wedges the most sure bet is to use an 8 iron shaft and soft-step. This retains the same shaft profile ‘DNA’ for the player through the set and keeps weight within a tight parameter.

  6. Speedy

    Jan 20, 2020 at 1:11 pm

    For 56 and 60 wedges, I like S400, D4, Tour Velvet Midsize.

  7. golfraven

    Jan 19, 2020 at 3:29 pm

    I play the same shaft in my wedges as in irons (Modus 105 regular although 1/4 inch shorter, even down to the wedges). Works fine for me.

  8. Paddy

    Jan 18, 2020 at 11:37 pm

    Would you suggest Masterfit shafts for my Mizuno wedges?

  9. Mike

    Jan 18, 2020 at 5:52 pm

    i have always read that most pros use a stiff shaft, TT S400, which is softer than their usual X200 that they use in their irons, in their wedges. Yet almost all wedge shafts sold are the same S400 that is obviously stiffer than most golfers out there need. Most average golfers HAVE to use stiff shafts, even though the vast majority of golfers do not swing the club well enough to use stiff shafts. That is probably why everyone has a bunch of wedges in their garage that just did not feel right! I wised up and put a lightweight steel regular flex shaft in my forged Vokey and love it.

    • Josh

      Jan 20, 2020 at 8:22 am

      FYI Vokey wedges are not forged. They are cast.

      • MS

        Jan 20, 2020 at 4:51 pm

        Not true. I’ve been using forged Vokeys for the past 8 years. They are made only in/for Japanese domestic market, but can be easily delivered to the US via specialized online sellers. I’m in my 4th set of Vokeys now, worth it.

  10. MG

    Jan 18, 2020 at 5:37 pm

    Serious question: How can a “wedge flex” s200 play much different than an s400? It’s only a 3 gram weight difference. I don’t see how anyone except (maybe) a tour player could notice a difference.

    • Hugh B. Gnecks

      Jan 18, 2020 at 6:38 pm

      Say it with me……
      MAR-KET-ING!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Jack Gilbert

      Jan 20, 2020 at 3:22 am

      I do not believe there would be a wild difference.
      I just used a Tour issue S400 in my lob wedge because I could. I had the wedge as a head without a shaft, so I opted for the S400. If I had fit someone into DG 120 shafts I would have recommended “stock” dynamic gold wedge shaft as their most economical and best performing option.

    • Dan

      Jan 20, 2020 at 11:54 am

      Im a 45yr old former scratch player and I absolutely notice the diff between s200 and s400. Personally I couldn’t feel the head with an S400. Just my $.02

  11. JB

    Jan 18, 2020 at 3:36 pm

    I think you can go ahead and say that TI DG S400 is the best wedge shaft on the market. I thought Cleveland made a great decision when they made this the stock option in their RTX wedges.

  12. Alex

    Jan 18, 2020 at 3:07 pm

    X100 4-9 S400 46 50 55 59. Could probably go either way and used to have x100 in PW and GW. When I switched to all vokey wedges I just went S400 throughout cause they all look the same. I like the feel in them.

  13. 24Linc

    Jan 18, 2020 at 2:22 pm

    Great article by Jack. My take away is try different shafts for your wedges but keep the weight similar or slightly heavier than your iron shafts and use slightly softer shafts for wedges that’s used primarily finess shots. Makes great sense.
    My question would be do you see any benefit of using slightly lighter shafts in wedges? Also how currently many iron sets have stock steel shafts of around 90g but still use s200 as a stock wedge?shaft how that would influence the players since the s200 would be quite a bit heavier and also stiffer say comparing to the AMT Red s300.

    • Jack Gilbert

      Jan 20, 2020 at 3:33 am

      Thanks 24Linc,
      You’re right people that are playing 70g graphite for example probably need lighter shafts in their wedges, such as 80g. They would probably not enjoy a DG wedge shaft as it would be labored and probably feel blunt and hard to get “feel” from (I see this a lot when players getting great results with light graphite try to demo heavy steel wedge shafts). It’s all relative to the best iron shaft.
      I have not had much success with using lighter shafts in wedges compared to irons as the swing weight can be hard to balance correctly and the shaft is often a fair amount softer which can result in inconsistent striking.
      e.g playing 100g KBS Reg iron shafts – either play the same in the wedges maybe a Hi rev 115g but do not drop down to the KB90 as this will probably be too soft.
      There is no one size fits all formula and there are always anomalies (that’s why I do a bunch of testing with my clients) but I hope this helps.

  14. Brian

    Jan 18, 2020 at 1:14 pm

    Great article Jack, you’ve keyed in on something that has continued to bother myself as for getting fitted with wedges. Everyone preaches get fitted but everywhere I “get fitted” for wedges the default on shaft is ALWAYS the stock “wedges offering.” Seems to partially hurt the “fit process” of wedges in my mind.
    As a side question, and as it relates to you play of 120g X100 flex in your irons…….may I ask what are your typical 6 or 7 iron numbers? I ask as I’ve not been fit for my Modus 120 Stiff flex in my irons, my 6 iron trackman numbers are 91-93mph and have questioned the playing the same shafts you are playing currently.
    Great article and we thank you!

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What GolfWRXers are saying about the best “5-woods under $125”

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@golfexchangeapp

In our forums, our members have been discussing 5-woods, with WRXer ‘gary3aces’ looking for a 5-wood for between $100 and $125. He’s looking to replace his current “M2 5 wood with something a little easier to hit”, and our members have been discussing the best options in our forum.

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.

  • C6 Snowboarder: “Take a look at a used Callaway Heavenwood in the Epic Flash model = pretty Friggen sweet. It is Heaven!”
  • Golf64: “Bang for the buck, hard to beat Cobra, but find Ping one of the easiest to hit off the deck. Since you are limited in the funds dept., maybe an older model Ping 5W would do the trick?!”
  • tilasan1: “G400 7 wood turned down or just use it as is.”
  • jbandalo: “Fusion fairways. Highly underrated, cheap, easy to hit and go for miles.”
  • RyanBarathWRX: “PING G fairway would be hard to beat and easily in price range:
  • Nelson.br.1515: “Another vote for the Callaway Big Bertha Fusion. Great stick!”

Entire Thread: Best 5-woods under $125″

 

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What GolfWRXers are saying about “blending Ping i500 irons with Blueprints”

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In our forums, WRXer ‘ballywho27’ has asked for thoughts on combining his current Ping i500 irons with the brand’s Blueprint irons. ‘Ballywho27’ is considering going “i500 in 3-4 iron and blueprint 5-W” and has asked for fellow member’s thoughts on the idea – who have been sharing their takes in our forum.

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.

  • jblough99: “I had a combo set for a minute, 3-5 I500 and 6-PW Blueprint. I could not get used to the transition, HUGE difference in looks at address. If I had it to do over I would just go 4-PW Blueprint and maybe a 3 I500 with graphite shaft as a driving, iron.”
  • animalgolfs: “iBlade{5i} – BP{6i-pw}. That’s my combo.”
  • Chunky: “I have i500 4-5 and Blueprints 6-PW. As mentioned above, there is a significantly different look at address. More importantly for me, the i500s are 1/2 to 1 club longer than the BPs (they fly much higher, too). Make sure you account for that added i500 distance when blending lofts or you’ll have a large gap.”
  • howeber: “I’ve done that exact set — 3 and 4 i500 and 5-PW Blueprint. It’s perfect for me since the 3 and 4 are more like a traditional 2 and 3.5. 4 is usually the longest iron I carry, so I like a little extra oomph out of it. At the end of the day though, when I finally tested them vs my MP4s, the Blueprints performed identically, while the i500 launched a little higher (same specs same shafts). Mizzys are still in the bag.”

Entire Thread: “Blending Ping i500 irons with Blueprints”

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GolfWRX Vault: Avoid these 5 club building disasters

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It’s never too late to go back to basics, especially when it comes to club building.

Even with modern new club release cycles the do’s and don’ts of building clubs haven’t changed much in the last few decades except for clubs with adapter sleeves and greater amounts of multi-materials incorporated into the design.

With that in mind its time to revisit an article from the GolfWRX Vault from June 2016.

——————

I’ve been fitting and building golf clubs for more than 15 years, and in that time I’ve seen a lot of really poor workmanship—stuff that would make most GolfWRXers cringe. But like anyone who ever did anything new, I didn’t start being naturally good at putting together clubs. It took a lot of time, ruined components, and trial and error to get where I am today.

I believe my attention to detail now stems from the fact that my dad was a machinist by trade, and anytime we ever worked on something together his attitude was to take your time and do it right the first time. My dad’s approach always had an impact on me, because I feel that if you do something right — even when it takes a bit longer — the job is not only more satisfying but also makes things work better and last longer.

The goal with this article is to help WRXers avoid the most common mistakes and assumptions in club building that lead to broken or ruined clubs, as well as real danger.

Over-prepping a graphite shaft

The shaft on the left has been prepped properly. The one of the right, which has noticeable taper, shows signs that layers of graphite have been removed.

This happens far more than it should, and can ruin an expensive new shaft purchase. To prepare a shaft properly for installation, you only need to remove enough of the paint to make sure that the epoxy adheres to the graphite. This is also true for the inside of the hosel.

Be careful to remove residual epoxy, dirt or rust (common with forged carbon steel club heads that have been sitting around for a while), or some type or solvent like the one used to put on grips, as it can cause of bond to break down very quickly. A proper reaming tool, a wire brush and some compressed air (either a small can or a large air compressor) can make cleaning simple, and prevent a golf club from falling apart.

UPDATE: Over prepping specifically applies to shafts that are designed to go into parallel heads and is especially important for 335 shafts with less material at the tip going into drivers and fairway woods. For information on how to properly taper a shaft to go into a tapered head, check out the video below:

Overheating a Shaft When Pulling it

This is what happens to a graphite shaft when overheated.

This is what happens to a graphite shaft when overheated, and the resin holding the graphite sheets together breaks down. It’s not always as noticeable, but if the shaft starts to fray it means the bonds have been compromised and it’s more likely to fail. 

Overheating a shaft when pulling it is another common mistake that can result in ruining a golf shaft. It also highly increases the chance of breakage. There are quite a few methods I’ve learned over the years to remove a shaft from a club head, from heat guns to large propane torches, but personally I find that using a small butane torch with a regulator for graphite offers the best results. It allows a club builder to easily control and focus the heat only where it’s needed. Bigger torches are fine for iron heads, as long as you don’t damage any plastic badges in the cavity or materials in slots around the head.

One of the best advances in club technology has been the invention and mass adoption of adjustable hosels. They not only help golfers adjust the loft, lie and face angle of club heads, but have also greatly decreased the need to pull shafts. So as long as a golfer is staying with the same metal wood manufacturer, they can usually test several different clubs heads with the same shaft, or vice versa — several different shafts with the same clubhead.

That being said, one of the most important tools that any hobbyist club builder should have or have access to is a high-quality shaft puller. It’s a necessary tool for anyone who wants to do repairs and helps prevent damage to a shaft while pulling it. The more linear pressure that can be applied to the clubhead, and the less heat used to break down the epoxy, the better. It makes sure both the shaft and the head are reusable in the future. For steel shafts, you can use a bit more heat, and twisting isn’t a problem. Again, with increased heat, be careful not to damage any of the badging, or permanently discolor an iron head.

Botching a Grip Installation

Using calipers and two-sided tape, you can replicate the taper of shafts to makes every grip feel exactly the same size in your set.

Using calipers and two-sided tape, you can replicate the taper of shafts to makes every grip feel exactly the same size in your set.

This one seems simple, but when really getting down to professional level detail, it is quite important. We ALL have a preference and different opinion of what feels good in a golf grip, as well as different sensitivities. For example, we all have the ability to figure out what apple is bigger, even if blindfolded because over time we all develop brain function to understand shapes and sizes. This also applies to grips. If you use the same grips on your 13 clubs, you could potentially have 4-5 different final sizes depending on how many different types of shafts you use, because many shafts have different butt diameters.

Some shafts have larger butt diameters, while others taper faster than others. That’s why it’s very important to own a quality set of vernier calipers, and know how to properly use them. It’s also the same for putters, since many putter shafts are smaller in diameter. I have lost count of how many times I’ve had people bring me, putters, where the bottom half of the grip is twisting and turning because the installer never paid attention to the interior diameter of the grip, the exterior diameter of the shaft, and how it changed from top to bottom.

Using epoxy that’s doomed to fail

An example of epoxy that although not completely set, is no longer safe for assembling clubs.

An example of epoxy that although not completely set, is no longer safe for assembling clubs.

I’m a bit of a physics nerd and garage engineer, so this is one of those topics that goes beyond just the physical aspects of club building and into the realm of chemistry.

Here comes my nerd-out moment: In the simplest of explanations for a 0.335-inch driver hosel with an insertion depth of 1.25 inches, the amount of calculated surface area the epoxy can bond between the shaft and the head using the internal dimensions of the head is 1.49 square inches. That’s not a whole lot of area when you consider the centrifugal force being applied to a driver head traveling at 100 mph, and then the forces of torque that also come into play when a shot is struck.

In a PERFECT world, almost zero torque is applied to a shaft when a shot is hit on the center of gravity (CG) of the club head, perfectly aligned with the center mass of the ball, while traveling in the intended direction. This is vectors 101 of physics. Unfortunately, almost every single shot is NOT hit like that, and this is where the epoxy bond is put under the most amount of stress. Lap shear strength of epoxy goes beyond me, but it proves that building a golf club is not just cut and glue after all.

Note: For those of you curious, the most popular epoxies are rated for 4500 psi. 

As far are actually working with epoxy, first things first. Always check to see if the epoxy has a best-before date (yep, just like milk). Also, never store epoxy in direct sunlight. If you are using epoxy from a tube in a dispensing gun, you are using what is an almost foolproof method. Plunge out the necessary amount, mix for about a minute (mix! don’t whip), and remember, the less air that gets into the epoxy the better. If air gets in and the epoxy cures with bubbles in it, then you end up with a club that will often “creak.”

For those using two parts in larger bottles, the best way to ensure proper ratios is to pay attention to the weight ratio rather than volume. This isn’t arts and crafts; it’s chemistry, so by using the weight to calculate the ratio you will get the right amount of each part every time, and help decrease the risk of failure down the road. If you have mixed a larger batch and plan on building quite a few clubs at a time, you really have to pay attention to the consistency and viscosity as time goes on. You don’t want to glue a club head with epoxy that has started to set.

Turning an Extension into a Shank

The difference between a good shaft extension (bottom) and a bad one.

The difference between a good shaft extension (bottom) and a bad one.

This is one of those subjects I don’t even like to talk about. I very much dislike using extensions when building clubs, especially clubs with graphite shafts. Going back to my “do-it-right-the-first-time” mentality, extensions are a Band-Aid fix to a problem that requires surgery. They also counter-balance the club, and by their very nature create a weak point because of the small wall thickness at the butt end of a shaft. The only clubs I don’t mind extending on a regular basis are putters since they are never put under the same level of stress as a club being swung at full speed. I also never extend a club more than 1 inch, because I have been witness to horror stories of clubs that have been overextended that not only break but rip through the grip and cut people’s hands very badly.

If you are going to extend a club, it’s important to make sure the fit is very snug and doesn’t cause the extension to lean in any direction. It’s also best to have the epoxied extension cure with the club on its side to avoid an excess epoxy from running down the shaft and breaking off and causing a rattle.

 

 

 

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