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Wishon: Shaft frequency can be misleading

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Numerous times I have read posts on GolfWRX from golfers who persist in selecting a shaft on the basis of a butt frequency measurement. In viewing new shafts that come on the market, many golfers believe as long as the new shaft has the same butt frequency as their current shaft, the shaft’s stiffness design will match their swing.

Unfortunately, there is a lot more to the stiffness design, stiffness performance and the stiffness feel of a shaft than a single butt frequency measurement. In other words, it is quite rare for two shafts with the same butt frequency to be the same stiffness design over the full length of the shaft. And equally, it is quite common for two shafts to have the same exact butt frequency measurement but be completely different in their stiffness design over the rest of the shaft.

Here’s a couple of examples to illustrate this point. First, let’s take a look at the full-length stiffness design of two shafts for drivers and woods, both made by the same company.

WRX article March 1 - WOODS

Note: All zone frequency measurements performed for our TWGT Shaft Bend Profile software are taken using a 454-gram tip weight so that we can obtain measurements all the way to the tip section of the shaft. With only a 205-gram tip weight, it would not be possible to obtain the measurements for the lower center to tip section of the shaft. Using a 454-gram tip weight lowers the actual frequency measurement compared to what the measurement would be using a 205-gram tip weight.

The two above shafts with their same 180-cpm butt frequency measurement, if done with a 205-gram tip weight, would both have a frequency measurement of 254 cpm. But the point is the same regardless of the frequency measurement method.

Here are two shafts which if measured only for the butt frequency, would lead a golfer to believe that they have the same flex or same stiffness design. Yet in looking at the full-stiffness design of both shafts, these two shafts may have the same butt frequency measurement, but they could hardly be more different in terms of their overall stiffness design. These two shafts in the hands of the same player would result in a completely different stiffness performance and stiffness feel — yet if the golfer were to look at the shafts by only referencing the single butt frequency measurement, the conclusion would be that they have the same stiffness.

This is not an isolated case. Within the 2,100 different shafts in our Shaft Bend Profile software, there are too many examples to list that are exactly like this — shafts that have the same butt frequency measurement but are completely different in their design, performance and feel.

The same thing exists within iron shafts, which is an area in club fitting that many golfers make their shaft selection decision based on comparing the butt frequency measurements. Let’s take a look at an example of two iron shafts with the same butt frequency.

WRX article March 1 - IRONS

What’s interesting when looking at the full-stiffness measurements of these two S flex iron shafts is that within the world of shafts, these two shafts may have the same butt frequency but they are almost as different in their stiffness measurements for the rest of their lengths as they possibly can be. Were the same golfer to play both these shafts, the Rombax S would feel like a telephone pole compared to the ProLaunch Red S. Yet both are S flex and both have the same exact butt frequency.

This matter of judging shaft stiffness, performance and feel on the basis of the butt frequency only can rise up to mislead golfers in the other direction as well. Let’s take a look at this next pair of shafts, a Cleveland Gold 60 S and the Fujikura Blue 004-R.

WRX March 1 Wood #2

Remember that these frequency measurements in the Bend Profile software are done using a 454-gram tip weight. The butt frequency of these two shafts if measured with a 205-gram tip weight would be 254 cpm for the Cleveland Gold 60-S and 244 cpm for the Blur 004-R.

Looking only at the butt frequency measurements, one would think that this 10 cpm difference in butt frequency with a 205-gram tip weight, or 7 cpm difference with a 454-gram tip weight, would most definitely be the reason the Cleveland Gold is an S flex and the Fuji Blur an R flex.

But take a look at all of the rest of the relative stiffness measurements after the butt frequency measurement. The 2- 3-5 differences in frequency for the 26 inch, 21 inch and 16 inch positions on the shaft are so small to be insignificant in terms of a stiffness difference in two shafts. Even the 13 cpm difference in the very tip end of the shaft is extremely small in terms of a performance or feel difference.

For all intents and purposes, beyond that single butt frequency measurement, these two shafts are so close in stiffness design to each other that only a very small number of very feel sensitive players could ever tell the difference in performance or feel between these two shafts.

Another interesting point from this comes to mind when you think about sorting shafts by their butt frequency as a way to make sure all the shafts in a set have the same stiffness. Think about that based on what you have seen in the previous graphs which show shafts of the same butt frequency but totally different over the rest of the shaft, and this above graph which shows two shafts that are completely different for their butt frequency yet so very close to each other over the entire rest of the shaft.

But what about that 7 cpm difference in the butt frequency measurements? Wouldn’t a golfer feel that difference even if the rest of the two shafts are so close to each other in their stiffness design?

Consider this: In the installation of wood shafts into a driver and fairway woods, almost all of that very area where the butt frequency measurement is performed is cut off the shaft when the woods are built to conventional playing lengths. Most shafts for woods are made with a raw uncut length of 45 inches or 46 inches. When installed in most driver heads, to achieve a playing length for the driver of 45 inches, in the area of three inches is cut from the butt end of the raw shaft after installation.

That means the position on the shaft where the butt frequency is measured is now just two inches from the end of the grip. Do you think that last two inches of the butt of the shaft bends very much during the swing? No, it doesn’t, which in turn even further negates the 7 cpm difference in butt frequency between these two shafts in our above example.

Shaft stiffness design selection has to be made not just on the basis of the butt frequency, but on the basis of the stiffness of the full length of the shaft. So the next time you hit shots with a club that you know has the same frequency but the shaft feels or performs different, you now know why. Or the next time you hit shots with two clubs that you are sure have different stiffnesses yet feel and perform the same, you know that reason as well.

Bottom line? If you are serious about your shaft selection, you need to be working with a good, experienced custom club maker who is cognizant of these factors and who is able to show you the actual differences and similarities of the stiffness design of the whole shaft.

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

 

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Tom Wishon is a 40-year veteran of the golf equipment industry specializing in club head design, shaft performance analysis and club fitting research and development. He has been responsible for more than 50 different club head design firsts in his design career, including the first adjustable hosel device, as well as the first 0.830 COR fairway woods, hybrids and irons. GolfWRX Writer of the Month: February 2014 Tom served as a member of the Golf Digest Technical Advisory Panel, and has written several books on golf equipment including "The Search for the Perfect Golf Club" and "The Search for the Perfect Driver," which were selected as back-to-back winners of the 2006 and 2007 Golf Book of the Year by the International Network of Golf (ING), the largest organization of golf industry media professionals in the USA. He continues to teach and share his wealth of knowledge in custom club fitting through his latest book, "Common Sense Clubfitting: The Wishon Method," written for golf professionals and club makers to learn the latest techniques in accurate custom club fitting. Tom currently heads his own company, Tom Wishon Golf Technology, which specializes in the design of original, high-end custom golf equipment designs and club fitting research for independent custom club makers worldwide Click here to visit his site, wishongolf.com

16 Comments

16 Comments

  1. Sam Grogg

    Feb 18, 2014 at 4:01 pm

    If I wanted to do the complete profile on different shafts installed in the exact same model head, would the results be of any use to me?

    • Tom Wishon

      Feb 19, 2014 at 11:40 am

      Sure. Doing bend profile measurements like this on DIFFERENT shafts that are installed in the same head gives you the chance to see why you may like certain shafts over others because it eliminates the variable that different heads bring about.

      The biggest way that different driver heads affect a shaft’s feel and performance is through the differences you see from model to model in the “bottom of bore to ground” (BBTG) dimension. Not all driver heads are made to have the same distance from where the tip end of the shaft ends in the hosel to the ground. Some are 2″, some 2.5″, some 3″ – there is no standard for this in a driver head or any head’s design.

      So if you put the same shaft into two heads, one with a 2″ BBTG and the other with a 3″ BBTG, the same shaft in the head with the 3″ BBTG measurement is going to play softer because that greater BBTG causes the shaft tip to be farther off the ground. BUt what you are talking about, to test hit different shafts all installed in the same exact head, and then doing bend profile measurements on the shafts, that will tell you why you like some shafts and not others.

      One other thing on this all golfers have to be aware of. You can have two of the same exact shaft in the same head and have them feel and perform differently. When this happens it is almost always because the +/- tolerances in production of the shafts rose up and bit you. Try as they like, shaft companies simply cannot make all shafts of the same model as tight to each other in all specs. Some certainly do a better job of this than others. And by no means does a higher priced shaft mean that you are buying more shaft to shaft consistency. Some expensive shafts ARE very close to each other in tolerances, while some are not. Just as some cheaper shafts are very close to each other in tolerances and some are not.

      Thus this bend profile measurement system is a very good way to know all these things for sure.

      TOM

  2. steve

    Mar 4, 2013 at 9:37 pm

    its always interesting to read Mr.Wishon`s articles but everytime i get more knowledge about golf clubs and shafts. it makes me very uncomportable because i know that it would take hard work/time/money to get the golf club right for myself. moreover, more i read Mr.Wishon `s articles, I know that i’ve been fitted WRONG! and knowing that my equipments can be optimized to fit my swing better. and my IDEAL CLUB HEAD AND SHAFTS are out there to be found with hard work/time/money. sometimes i wish i didn`t know the stuff that i know now. the more i know it gets more complex! i wish i could just swing without worrying too much on the equipment side.

    • purkjason

      Mar 5, 2013 at 11:46 am

      @steve … I’m at the point also of not wanting to know anymore about ideal clubs ,shafts, etc. The game is just about going out and having fun. Whether a good round or bad I just enjoy being out there away from the real world for a little bit. I just went to the driving range and tried different swing angles and choking up on the club etc. and did all the modifications myself at home. Works for my recreational play haha.

  3. Steven Safran

    Mar 3, 2013 at 5:41 pm

    Interesting and explains what I found today. I have 2 3 woods….one with an UST Axivcore 79 red and the other with an AD Di7. The AD Di7 feels and plays more stiff to me but today when I had them frequency checked the UST shaft has a significantly higher frequency. Gotta go buy feel over one parameter that doesn’t tell the whole picture.

    • K

      Mar 3, 2013 at 10:32 pm

      That’s not what this article is saying.
      If they are already-installed shafts in the heads, they have been cut and glued with heads that weight differently, so of course they are going to read differently. Not only that, your two shafts have different torque as well as kick points, so your point is null and void.

      Mr. Wishon is talking about the shafts BEFORE they are installed, so that you get fitted properly to the right shaft.

  4. Pingback: “What’s the frequency Kenneth” – Golfbloggen

  5. Jesse

    Mar 3, 2013 at 12:30 am

    Wow cool article. It is getting so complicated to choose shafts as everything is getting more technical and measurable. I am beginning to think that just trying shafts till I find what I like based on feel and ball flight. I do that with lies and lofts on irons some bent stronger or weaker based on distances, and some upright and flatter based on left right. I dont even know what they measure just go to a guy and say move it 2 degrees upright from whatever it is now.

    • Jessesbane

      Mar 5, 2013 at 1:55 am

      @Jesse: In the most laughter-provoking way you have just trashed Tom Wishon’s article. ROFL

  6. Walt

    Mar 2, 2013 at 8:59 pm

    Too bad there still isn’t some uniform way for the manufacturers to agree upon in which to measure the shafts.

    If they all agreed to use the method you are, then every shaft would have a visible graph like you have shown that would immediately help the buyer move into any companies shaft he wanted too.

    What a novel concept.

    • Rob

      Mar 4, 2013 at 2:01 pm

      Every shaft is visible on a graph like that, but it’s not available to consumers or the monkeys working at golftown/golfsmith. Expeienced custom club fitters have that information, which is why they always say to go to them to get properly fitted.

      What would be nicer is if industry standards on flex ratings were implememnted so that way all stiff/regular/x-stiff shafts are the same frequency, regardless of what company makes them.

      • John

        Jul 10, 2013 at 5:10 pm

        Actually ROB we have them printed out and are in just about every golfsmith proshop…in the interest of time and our main customer base we choose not to even mention it because we can’t have guys hitting in our bays for hours (I could see you being that guy)…golfsmith is a retail store, not a custom fitting studio, we exist to make money and fatheads like yourself and Tom Wishon (who left golfsmith) just don’t seem to get that simple concept…spend your money where ever you want but don’t bash a store because they won’t spend 2 hours of payroll flicking 15 different shafts on a frequency meter for you, get real buddy

        • Tom Wishon

          Feb 18, 2014 at 3:37 pm

          The guy calls you a monkey and this is what you say in response? Sounds fair. Oh, hey, wait a minute – I didn’t call you a monkey yet you still called me a fathead!! I guess you don’t win a star from the school of diplomacy.

          • RanchoBob

            Feb 21, 2014 at 4:16 pm

            Tom, I’m thinking maybe he’s not in their PR department. That’s probably just as well.

            Your reasons for leaving them were your own and, based on what I know and what I’ve seen from Golfsmith of late, were spot on. It’s a great place to go to buy an off the rack club or to buy glue or grips or clothing. Fitting? Not so much.

            Now then. When can I demo the 939 AHT? 😀

      • John D

        Feb 21, 2014 at 10:50 am

        Rob

        There are clubfitters that have the shaft data and in the past it wasn’t published. But now a lot of this data is being made available to the average golfer. Go to http://www.golfshaftreviews.info to see the wealth of information that is becoming more available on the performance of golf shafts. I doubt that there will every be standards but if all shafts are measured in the same way you can compare different shafts to see how they should perform.

  7. Hunterdog

    Mar 2, 2013 at 8:37 pm

    @tom – great article as always. Finding the knowledgable club maker is the trick.

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pga tour

Gary Woodland WITB 2018

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Equipment is accurate as of the 2018 Honda Classic (2/19/2018).

Driver: TaylorMade M3 440 (9 degrees)
Shaft: Acra Tour-Z RPG

Fairway Woods: TaylorMade M2 2017 (15 degrees)
Shafts: Accra Tour-Zx 4100

Driving Iron: Titleist 716 T-MB (2)
Shaft: KBS Tour C-Taper 130 X

Irons: Titleist 716 MB (4-9)
Shafts: KBS Tour C-Taper Limited Edition Black PVD 130 X

Wedges: Titleist Vokey SM7 (48-10F, 52-08F, 56-10S), Callaway Mack Daddy PM Grind (60-10)
Shafts: KBS Tour C-Taper Limited X (48), KBS Hi-Rev Black PVD S-Flex (52, 56, 60)

Putter: Scotty Cameron Circle T 009
Grip: Scotty Cameron Pistol

Golf Ball: Bridgestone Tour B X

Related:

Discussion: See what GolfWRX members are saying about Woodland’s clubs. 

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Cobra launches King Forged Tec Black and King Black Utility irons

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We first spotted Cobra’s new King Forged Tec Black irons (in both One-length and variable length) and King Black Utility irons (in both One-length and variable length) at the 2018 PGA Show. The company wasn’t dishing out any information related to the clubs at that time, however, electing to await for the official launch to provide details.

Well, Cobra officially launched the clubs on Tuesday, so we now have all of the tech info, specs and more.

Read below for all of the details, and click here to see what GolfWRX members are saying about the clubs in our forums.

King Forged Tec Black irons

Cobra first launched its Forged Tec irons in 2015; “Tec” stands for Technology Enhanced Cavity. They used five different materials in the club head to produce an iron with more forgiveness and distance.

The 2018 Forged Tec irons have gotten a material upgrade with a new Forged 4140 Stainless Steel face, allowing them to be made thinner and produce greater ball speeds across the face. They also have the new “dimonized” black finish that appeared on the company’s King Forged MB/CB irons in the past (and the irons that Rickie Fowler uses). Cobra says the finish is more durable than any black finish on the market.

“The handsome new Dimonized Black Metal (DBM) Matte Finish boasts the industry’s most durable satin black finish ever, reducing glare and providing extreme wear resistance while maintaining the look and feel of a classic forged iron,” Cobra said in a press release.

Additionally, the irons have tungsten weights to lower CG (center of gravity), and move CG more toward the center of the face, and they have carbon fiber medallions to dampen vibrations for a softer feel.

Forged Tec Black One Length

At the 2018 PGA Show, Cobra representatives said that One-length irons represent at least 60 percent of all its iron sales. Yea, wow. So it’s no wonder why Cobra is coming out with Forged Tec Black One-length irons in addition to its variable length offering.

The one-length irons sets match the weight and length of the 7 iron throughout the set, and have progressive tungsten weighting to achieve different launch characteristics — that means the longer irons will launch a bit higher, and the shorter irons a bit lower. New in this set is also progressive lie angle configurations; the longer irons will have a more upright lie angle, while the shorter irons will have a bit flatter lie angle.

The goal here is to allow golfers to take one swing no matter what the number says on the sole of their irons, but still produce desired results.

Both of the Forged Tec Black irons come equipped with Cobra Connect (powered by Arccos) in the butt end of the grips so golfers can retrieve data on every shot they hit during a round of golf or practice session. Golfers who purchase a set of these irons will also receive enough Arccos sensors to put in the remaining clubs in their bag, as well.

The irons come stock with steel True Temper AMT Tour White shafts, with a powder-coated black finish to match the black club heads, or graphite UST Recoil ES SmacWrap shafts. The 7-piece sets (5-PW, GW) sell for $1,099 in steel or $1199 in graphite, and will hit retail on April 6.

King Utility Black irons

Cobra also announced the launch of its King Utility Black irons, including variable length and one-length options.

They’re each made with Cobra’s familiar PwrShell face technology, which adds stability around the perimeter to make the clubs more forgiving while also allowing the faces to be constructed thinner. The faces use forged 455 high-strength stainless steel inserts to optimize ball speed across the face. Also for greater ball speeds, they have full, hollow-body constructions, and they have Tungsten toe weights (67-73 grams in the variable length irons and 90-94 grams in the shorter, one-length irons). For more precision and consistent spin, they have CNC milled faces and grooves.

The utility irons are also adjustable, with +/- one degree of adjustability using their MyFly8 hosel.

They have black PVD coats to achieve their black finishes, rather than the dimonized finish of the Forged Tec irons. Like the Forged Tec irons, however, they come equipped with Cobra Connect in the grips.

The Utility Black irons hit retail on April 6, and will sell for $219 in graphite and $199 in steel. The variable length heads will be available in 3 (18-21 degrees) and 4 (21-24 degrees) irons, while the One-length irons are available in 3 (18-21 degrees), 4 (21-24 degrees) and 5 (24-27 degrees) irons. Each come stock with steel true Temper AMT Tour White shafts with black powder coating, or graphite UST Recoil ES SmacWrap shafts.

Discussion: See what GolfWRX members are saying about Cobra’s new irons here

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The Elder and Younger 2-Ball, #teamkiradech, and a very boring wedge on the Honda Classic range

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GolfWRX is live this week from the 2018 Honda Classic at PGA National’s Champion course  in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. And there was plenty to see on the range Monday.

Kiradech Aphibarnrat, making his first U.S. start since the 2016 Web.com Finals, was in his glory. We got WITB looks at (the very yellow bag) of Brandt Snedeker, Gary Woodland, and Chesson Hadley, too.

Here are a few of the best shots from t-minus three days until tournament time.

Chesson Hadley is gaming this superb, decade-old, lead tape-laden, Odyssey 2-Ball.

We also spotted Odyssey’s latest 2-Ball offering, the Exo Two-Ball. No word on whether Mr. Hadley is upgrading…

Kiradech Aphibarnrat’s putter cover is everything you’d expect (and perhaps more).

The leader of #teamkiradech also has his emoji self embroidered on the back of his shirt. This would only be made better if emoji Kiradech also had an embroidered emoji on his shirt.

Chesson Hadley is also gaming one of Vokey’s new SM7 wedges with a bit of weight removed in a very boring fashion.

As if there weren’t enough yellow in this picture… Banana Snedeker?

All joking aside, you gotta love Snedeker gaming a Tourstage X 5-wood.

…with this wear mark, no less.

Laundry service for Bronson Burgoon, please?

Chad Campbell loves three things: UNLV, shaving cream, and Arnold Palmer. The Palmer-Barbasol thing makes sense, as the King reportedly abhorred facial hair on professional golfers (really).

A lovely assortment of Piretti covers. It’s probably frowned upon as a professional to walk away with this whole bag, but tempting nevertheless…

Ditto: Bettinardi.

Check out all our photos from the 2018 Honda Classic below!

Monday’s Photos

Special Galleries

Discussion: See what GolfWRX members are saying about the photos in our forums.

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