Connect with us

Equipment

Equipment changes come full circle for Choi

Published

on

By Zak Kozuchowski

GolfWRX Managing Editor

There’s a simple rule most golfers follow when making equipment changes – don’t mess with success.

And golfers certainly shouldn’t switch from a set of clubs that helped them win the biggest tournament of their lives – at least not for a while. But that’s exactly what K.J. Choi, winner of The Players Championship last year, has done in 2012.

In early March, Choi put away the set of Miura CB-501 irons that he used in his victory at the TPC Sawgrass Stadium Course for a set of Cleveland 588 CB Forged irons. Just a few weeks later he sampled another manufacturer’s clubs, Ping i20 irons. But as the one-year anniversary of Choi’s win approaches, he again finds himself using the same set of irons that he used last year at The Players.

Many people will jump to point out that Choi’s tinkering was unnecessary – he should have been working on his game instead of trying to catch lightning in a bottle with an equipment change, they might say. But there’s another way of thinking about equipment changes. Bill Choung of CompuGolf Center in Dallas has been working with Choi on his equipment since March 2010. Since Choung opened CompuGolf nine years ago, he has been seeking to answer a simple question,

“How does an equipment change impact the golf swing?”

He’s found that changing equipment has a very real impact on a player’s swing, especially with tempo and rhythm.

The goal of Choung’s work with Choi has been to give Choi a higher trajectory and more spin on his iron shots. Choi felt that he wasn’t hitting the ball high enough or with enough spin to control his distances at major championships – setups that generally have firm greens and tight pin positions.

There are several different ways of achieving that goal, and Choi and Choung have tried just about all of them. Choi played the 2011 Masters with a 6-iron hybrid, which gave him a higher trajectory, more forgiveness and more spin. But Choi felt that he was sacrificing workability and feel, which led to more experimenting.

Choung hit paydirt when he built Choi a set of Miura CB-501 irons just days before the 2011 Zurich Classic. To create Choi’s desired ball flight, Choung used KBS Tour parallel tip shafts, which are different than the taper tip shafts used by nearly every other PGA Tour player. Whereas taper tip shafts are precut to a specific length for a certain club (6 iron shafts are generally used in 6 iron heads), parallel tip shafts are uncut, which means that they can be trimmed to fit any iron head. This allows the club builder to trim the shafts to the exact stiffness that a player desires.

Shaft stiffness, which is measured by the frequency of a shaft, is important because according to Choung it changes the way a player loads and unloads the club during the swing. When trimming Choi’s parallel tip shafts, Choung cut more off the butt end of the shaft and less off the tip, creating a “softer” tip that allowed for a higher trajectory and more spin. Choi liked the combination of the parallel tip shafts and the Miura CB-501 head, and the results proved it. That week he put the clubs in play to finish in the top 5 at the 2011 Zurich Classic, and of course, to win The Players two weeks later.

There are at least two reasons why Choi decided to change from the iron set that brought him a $1.7 million payday and a new level of fame in the golf world. First, he received information that parallel tip shafts were not generally played on the PGA Tour, which made him interested in trying taper tip shafts. Second, he changed because he was in the process of trying out different iron heads and shaft combinations that he thought might improve on the results of the Miura set he used to win The Players.

When Choi changed to a taper tip shaft, he was forced to use a softer flex to give him the trajectory he wanted. While this resulted in the desired higher flight, he lost consistency and control.

Science or art?

Talking about Choi’s golf clubs in terms of shaft frequency, spin rate and launch angle creates the assumption that his swing is always the same. While Choi does have one of the most consistent golf swings on Tour, even he falls in and out of bad habits. That’s why it’s Choung’s belief that no matter how technically sound a golfer’s fundamentals are, the golf swing is still an organic movement.

“When [golfers] change clubs, what they are really doing is changing their swing,” Choung said. “More than anything, they are inducing a change in tempo and rhythm.”

So it’s no surprise to Choung that Choi has returned to his Miura CB-501 irons with parallel tip shafts. He was struggling during the time he was playing Cleveland and Ping irons, shooting only two rounds in the 60s during that period. Last week, when he returned to the Miuras, he shot two rounds in the 60s and finished tied for 39th. It wasn’t a huge improvement, but it was his best finish in relation to par since the Hyundai Tournament of Champions in January.

Choung said that Choi’s performance since switching back to parallel tip shafts might have improved because of the increased tip diameter of parallel tip shafts — .370 inches instead of the .355 inch tip that taper tip shafts offer. So why don’t more Tour pros opt for parallel tip shafts if they offer more stability? According to Choung, it’s because parallel tip shafts are much more labor intensive to build. Choung and his staff at CompuGolf can build a set of taper tip shafts in about 30 minutes, while it takes them about three hours to build a set of parallel tip shafts.

A lot of independent club builders and even Tour vans can’t justify spending extra time to create frequency-matched sets either, but Choung’s research has shown the value in it. Because of the chaotic nature of the shaft industry, where one industry’s stiff flex is another’s x-flex, Choung places huge value in frequency matching, which streamlines the frequency throughout the set. For example, Choi’s driver shaft frequency, the base measurement Choung uses to find the frequencies for the rest of his clubs, is 271. As shaft length decrease, however, frequency must increase to match. Choung and his team did testing of exactly how many cycles frequency should increase as the shaft shortens .5 inches, and their researched concluded that four cycles is best. That’s why Choi’s 4 iron, which measures 38.5 inches, has a frequency of 314, while his 60 degree wedge, which measures 34.5 inches, has a frequency of 334.

So what does all this mean for the average golfer? Even if you don’t swing like Choi, Choung said that there is still good reason to go through a verifiable fitting process, especially processes like his that have an improvement guarantee.

“A lot of golfers come to me and they say I’m hitting my driver well, but can’t hit my irons,” Choung said. “Or they say that they’re hitting their irons well and can’t hit their driver. Often there’s a total mismatch between the driver and the irons. They’ve adapted their swings to either the driver or the irons.”

If you still can’t be swayed to go through a custom-fitting process, Choung has this advice for you. The club that you liked demoing so much – buy it. But don’t order it. Buy that exact club. Because chances are, the one you order will be slightly different.

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

Your Reaction?
  • 0
  • LEGIT0
  • WOW0
  • LOL0
  • IDHT0
  • FLOP0
  • OB0
  • SHANK0

10 Comments

10 Comments

  1. John

    Sep 19, 2012 at 1:04 am

    Jon, oftentimes players prefer softer wedges as they are not making full/all-out swings with those clubs. They are looking for more feel and control in the short, scoring shots. For this reason, we often build the wedges a little softer than the rest of the set.

  2. Jon

    Jul 12, 2012 at 2:57 pm

    I don’t understand the math. If 4 cycles per 0.5 inches is the rate, how do we go from a 38.5″ 4 iron at 314 cpm to a 34.5″ wedge at 334 cpm? Four inches is eight one-half inches, times 4 cycles, is 32 cycles. 314+32=346, not 334. The article makes no sense.

  3. Michael

    Jun 8, 2012 at 4:33 am

    Old news from the building stand point. I try to avoid using taper tip shafts, since you can’t make a set with a correct frequency slope. You would have to have to many sets in your workshop, to do it right and you would have to through away to many shafts, that just don’t fit into a matched set. This is why I always try to work with parallel tips.

  4. Tim

    May 17, 2012 at 1:23 am

    Mike, Really? That my friend, is how you frequency match a set of clubs.

  5. Ian

    May 12, 2012 at 11:02 pm

    Bill Choung does great work. He did several clubs for me in Dallas years ago as well as clubs for many of my friends….the work was always first class

  6. Mike Krzewsky

    May 11, 2012 at 9:34 pm

    I heard this guy is not all that great and he had originally messed up KJ’s clubs by cutting the tip end instead of the butt end.

  7. Brian Cass

    May 11, 2012 at 9:59 am

    This is why Villegas and McDowell have struggled after seemingly nonsensical equipment changes (McDowell wins at Pebble then takes a signing bonus to Srixon…where’s he been of late?) Villegas wins Honda then switches to TMade (where’s he been of late???).

  8. Sam

    May 9, 2012 at 12:47 pm

    Had that exact same thing done several years ago to a set (frequency matched parallel tip shafts installed). Initially felt soft but played some marvelous rounds with them. Went back to tapered tips and regretted selling the set ever since.

  9. Pingback: Anonymous

  10. Pingback: Equipment changes come full circle for Choi | Augusta Blog

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Whats in the Bag

Garrick Higgo’s winning WITB: 2021 Palmetto Championship

Published

on

Driver: Titleist TSi3 (9 degrees)
Shaft: Fujikura Ventus Blue 6 X

3-wood: Titleist TSi2 (15 degrees)
Shaft: Fujikura Ventus Blue  7 X

Hybrid: Titleist TSi3 (18 degrees)
Shaft: Fujikura Atmos Blue 8 X

Irons: Titleist T100 (4-PW)
Shafts: Project X 6.5

Wedges: Titleist Vokey Design SM8 (50, 56-10S, 60-10S)
Shafts: Project X (52 degrees), True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue (56 and 60 degrees)

Putter: Scotty Cameron Phantom X 5.5

Ball: Titleist Pro V1x (2021)

Your Reaction?
  • 0
  • LEGIT0
  • WOW0
  • LOL0
  • IDHT0
  • FLOP0
  • OB0
  • SHANK0

Continue Reading

Whats in the Bag

Chesson Hadley WITB 2021 (June)

Published

on

Driver: Titleist TSi3 (10.5 degrees)
Shaft: Mitsubishi Diamana D+ Limited 70 TX

3-wood: Titleist TS3 (16.5 degrees, B2 Setting)
Shaft: UST Elements Gold 8F5 X

bill-haas-witb-2020

Hybrid: Titleist TSi3 (20 degrees)

Irons: Titleist 620 MB (4-9)
Shaft: True Temper Dynamic Gold AMT White Tour Issue X100 (4-9)

Wedges: Vokey SM8 (48-10F, 52-12F, 56-14F, 60-08M)
Shafts: True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue S400

Putter: Odyssey White Hot OG 2-Ball

Grips: Golf Pride MCC

Ball: Titleist Pro V1x

Your Reaction?
  • 0
  • LEGIT0
  • WOW0
  • LOL0
  • IDHT0
  • FLOP0
  • OB0
  • SHANK0

Continue Reading

Equipment

SST Pure: A deep dive into the technology

Published

on

Due to the manufacturing process, all golf shafts contain irregularities in straightness, stiffness, and roundness. And depending on how a shaft is aligned, the inconsistencies can adversely affect a shaft’s performance and consistency.

SST PURE was developed as a solution to this problem.

In simplest terms, the SST PURE (stands for it stands for Plane of Uniform REpeatability) process finds a shaft’s most stable orientation to minimizing twisting and off-line bending during the swing. This results in longer, straighter ball flight and more consistent performance in all PUREd shafts. Subjectively, PUREd shafts are often described as feeling “softer” than their non-PUREd counterparts.

For more background on SST PURE and PUREing on tour, we talked with SST founder Dick Weiss, independent rep Scott Garrison, who has the only SST Pure machine on a tour truck, and rep Arnie Cunningham.

Here’s what they had to say.

SST founder Dick Weiss

GolfWRX: Give us a 101-level overview of SST PUREing.

DW: What we do at SST is we analyze the irregularities in a shaft and based on various algorithms, various mathematic formulas, determine which is most asymmetric. Which is the one that’s causing the shaft to bend and twist out of line at impact and also in the first load – the transition between backswing and downswing, there’s a lot of movement in there also. What we do is identify that and mark it so it can be assembled into the club head.

It’s a technological development. It’s come about because we have computers today to do this. We don’t do it by eyeball. The computer doesn’t care who’s going to play it, what level of skill they have, what the material composition is of a shaft, who made it, what kind of ball you’re going to hit. That’s not what we do. What we are saying is we want to analyze a shaft to get it to perform to the best of its ability. You can take a shaft based upon irregularities in it – because shafts are not round or straight.

If you take any shaft and roll it on a table like a pool cue, you’ll see 90% of the time they’ll bounce along because they’re not round. There’s high points and low points, thicker and thinner areas. All we want to do is locate that and say, “Let’s make it work as an asset, let’s make it work as a support for a shaft so they don’t torque out or twist out at impact.”

GolfWRX: Can you give us a brief overview of exactly what goes on in the SST PUREing process?

DW: Sure. In the PUREing process, there’s approximately fifty-six steps you have to take assuming you do what we call a retro-PURE. There’s two ways to PURE. One is if you take a brand new head, a brand new shaft, PURE the shaft and assemble it into a head – that’s a brand new club. The second way would be what we call a retro-PURE. One is we take apart an existing club, keep the shaft, take the grip off, peel the tape off underneath the grip. We use our Weiss-Gibson Ultimate Extractor, we cut the ferrule off. We remove the shaft. We drill out the old epoxy in the head and acetone the head down. We then drill out any old epoxy that may be in the tip of the club. We turn down and clean the outside tip of the club if there’s any epoxy or residue from the epoxy itself where the ferrule may have been. We then go ahead and PURE the shaft. We come back and fit a ferrule, reassemble the club. We use a fast dry epoxy with shafting beads in it.

GolfWRX: Now what would you say to those who don’t believe in the SST PUREing process?

DW: In any technology, people question it which is good. People still don’t think the Earth is round. I think if they are honest with themselves – forget about Dick Weiss and SST as an entity. If they’re honest with themselves and they know anything about clubs whether they make them in their garage or professionally, they have to be able to tell that shafts can not perform the same just randomly or haphazardly assembled. Each shaft has its idiosyncrasies.

So I say for the ones that don’t believe in it, do a test yourself without any type of process. Take a club out, hit it, bring it back in, try to stay off the quadrants, 90 degrees left, 180, another 90, that’s not the way to do it. Move it 30 degrees to the left or right. Put it back in and go hit it. Flip the plane upside down, put it back in, and go hit it.

We’ve started doing a lot of internal testing is because everyone says, “Let us see some independent testing.” We said okay and did it. We took the tour van and five workers with us. We used clubs I hadn’t seen. They came from tour. We didn’t look for asymmetric products. We just took what was there, new shafts, new heads, some of the heads I’ve never seen before. It doesn’t make any difference. We’re happy to subject it to any tests.

Scott E Garrison

“Studies have shown the irregularities in shafts, and that causes offline shots. If you play pool at a bar, you’re going to take the straightest queue.”

GolfWRX: How do you showcase the benefits of SST PUREing when players visit your truck?

SEG: When I have a player in the truck, and I do a quick demonstration and put a shaft in the machine, within two minutes, they’re in…they’re hooked.

All the OEMs, they’re seeing their players want this done, so we’re PUREing up shafts and getting them back to [their trucks] so they can build PUREd clubs for their players.

GolfWRX: What performance examples can you give us where a player PUREd his shafts and saw tremendous improvement?

SEG: It was about seven years ago when I just finished re-gripping Ben Martin’s putter with a SuperStroke grip. As he was leaving, I asked him if he had ever had his clubs PUREd. He said, “No, but I had heard about it and was curious.” I showed him a set I was in the middle of PUREing and he was sold. It was Monday morning, the week of the RBC Heritage and it was pouring. He said to PURE his entire set. That’s what I did Monday afternoon. I ripped his gamers apart and PUREd the shafts and put them back together (a retro-PURE). He was leading the tournament, he shot a career-low round and finished third. He told me later how much better his mis-hits were.

Arnie Cunningham

GolfWRX: What’s the most obvious benefit of PUREing?

AC: It’s about dispersion patterns. Until a person can really dive deep into the numbers—and we’ve done it throughout the years at Golf Laboratories and its proved over and over that the dispersion pattern is better PUREd vs not.

GolfWRX: Are there any misconceptions about PUREing?

AC: Detractors might be looking for some miracle feel, but really, it’s about the dispersion and an improvement on the already good technology in shafts.

GolfWRX: Tell us about the USGA restrictions on PUREing.

AC: You’re stabilizing the golf shaft. You’re putting it in the best playing position possible. If you PURE a shaft, by USGA rules, you can not turn that shaft to allow for a draw or a cut. Just that rule tells me they know it works because they’ve tested and they’ve seen the difference in performance.

Your Reaction?
  • 16
  • LEGIT1
  • WOW1
  • LOL2
  • IDHT2
  • FLOP5
  • OB1
  • SHANK10

Continue Reading

WITB

Facebook

Trending