Let’s start our discussion by making one thing clear. There’s a lot to fitting the flex and bend profile of shafts — enough to write a whole book.
In asking me to write about the fitting of each of the key specs of golf clubs, GolfWRX in essence gives me a “1-pound bag” each week to offer information about each fitting spec. Covering everything about shaft flex and bend profile would be like trying to put 100 pounds of stuff into that 1-pound bag!
For those who are really into knowing as much as possible about flex and bend profile fitting in shafts, I recommend you read the three-part series I wrote for GolfWRX some time ago.
- Part 1 — Taking the guesswork out of selecting shafts
- Part 2 — Taking shaft fitting from guessing to specifics
- Part 3 — Facts about shafts: What they do
For those who may not be that familiar with fitting for FLEX and for BEND PROFILE, fitting for the flex is a matter of finding a shaft with the correct swing speed rating for the golfer’s clubhead speed AND transition/tempo, while fitting the bend profile involves matching the tip stiffness design of the shaft to the golfer’s point of release.
Of all the points that an experienced club fitter has to evaluate to do a good job in the fitting of flex and bend profile, the most important one is to have accurate shaft bend profile measurement and swing speed rating data on the largest possible population of shaft models and flexes. This is because there are no standards for the flex of a shaft in the golf industry. Each golf company and shaft company is free to decide how stiff any of their letter flex codes on their shafts are to be. As such, the R flex from one company can be of the same stiffness as the S flex from another company or the A flex from a third.
Without access to a large data base of actual stiffness and swing speed rating measurements for shafts to be able to clearly know and compare the stiffness design of shafts, fitting for flex and bend profile is a matter of time consuming and frustrating trial and error. Period.
The following bend profile data graph is simply offered as an example of the type of shaft stiffness measurement data required to take shaft flex/bend profile fitting from a trial-and-error process to one of clear, succinct organization. This example graph will also prove the point about the confusion in flex due to a lack of standards in the industry.
Each of the five shafts in this graph are labeled and sold as S-flex shafts. The stiffness measurements represent a range of three full flexes, or stated another way, represent a swing speed rating difference of more than 30 mph.
With such data, the flex and bend profile fitting analysis follows these procedures:
1. Accurately measure the average clubhead speed of the golfer with a driver and a 5- or 6-iron.
2. Observe the golfer’s downswing transition and tempo and evaluate it as either:
A) Smooth/gradual/passive with little sense of acceleration.
B) Average, with some sense of force and acceleration from the transition through the downswing.
C) Forceful and aggressive, as if the golfer cannot wait to pour on the coals to accelerate the club to impact.
In simple terms, the club fitter is observing whether the golfer is more of a swinger (A), a definite hitter (C) or somewhere in between (B) with his downswing transition and tempo.
3. Observe the golfer’s point of release (i.e. the point at which the golfer begins to unhinge the wrist-cock angle on the downswing as either (1) early, (2) midway, (3) later, or (4) very late. Another way to evaluate this is to reference the point of starting the release to the hour numbers on a clock while facing the golfer.
- (1) Early: 11 to 9:30
- (2) Midway: 9:30 to 8:30
- (3 Later: 8:30 to 7:30
- (4) Very Late: 7:30 to 6:30
4. Choose shafts of the correct weight (see my story on shaft weight/total weight), which have a swing speed rating that matches to the golfer’s clubhead speed and an adjustment for their transition and tempo evaluation with a tip stiffness design that matches the golfer’s point of release.
We will use an example of a golfer with a 100 mph driver clubhead speed. The up or down adjustment in the swing speed rating and tip stiffness recommendation is the same for all other clubhead speeds.
The above procedures are done to give the club fitter A STARTING POINT for shaft flex and bend profile fitting. Suitable candidate shafts are chosen by the club fitter from which the test club hitting process begins.
Again, because the best club fitters are superb multi-taskers during the test club sessions for flex and bend profile, the club fitter is also testing for shaft weight, swing weight and continually asking the golfer for feedback with each change of head weight or shaft.
Without question, the matter of ADVANCED PLAYER SHAFT FLEX/BEND PROFILE FITTING must also include an evaluation of the golfer’s preference for feel elements and shot shape/performance related to the flex/bend profile. Experienced club fitters will ask the golfer to provide the names of shafts the golfer has used, along with the golfer’s feedback of too high, too low, good flight, too stiff feeling, too flexible feeling, just right feeling, etc.
With this information, the club fitter will access his database of shaft stiffness measurements to study as many of the golfer’s previous shafts and compare the stiffness measurements. Through this process, the club fitter will be able to know what the actual stiffness measurements are for each shaft model feedback opinion from the golfer. From this the club fitter will have a very clear picture of what the stiffness measurements need to be to best satisfy the golfer’s feel and shot shape preferences.
Again, with the right database of shaft stiffness measurements, the process of flex and bend profile fitting becomes a very organized, very orderly, and very accurate process. Without such information, shaft flex and bend profile fitting will forever be a matter of trial and error.
- What length should your clubs be?
- What lofts should your clubs be?
- Face angle is crucial for a proper fitting
- The best way to fit lie angle
- How to choose the right club head design
- Tom Wishon’s keys to set makeup
- Getting the right size grip, time after time
- What shaft weight should you play?
- What swing weight should your clubs be?
- What shaft flex should I use?
This story is part of a 10-part series from Tom Wishon on professional club fitting.
The 19th Hole Episode 168: Long Drive Champ Maurice Allen discusses Bryson
World Long Drive Champion Maurice Allen discusses Bryson DeChambeau’s controversial entry at the World Long Drive Championships. Also features Kristine Rose of Kemper Sports and host Michael William’s Ryder Cup breakdown.
Club Junkie: New Fujikura Speeder NX and Mizuno ST-G Driver Reviews!
Fujikura has a new Speeder NX with a new Variable Torque Core that adds low torque for stability in the handle and tip section while leaving the mid-section with higher torque for better energy transfer.
The Speeder NX has a stout, but smooth, feel and offers a more mid launch with mid/low spin. The new Mizuno ST-G driver is ultra adjustable to fit any golfer out there. Mid launch and low spring, the Beta Titanium face has good ballspeed on shots hit way away from the center!
You can also watch on our YouTube channel here.
The Wedge Guy: Takeaways from the Ryder Cup
Like most of us, I watched quite a bit of the Ryder Cup matches this past weekend and was happy to see the “youth movement” of the U.S. Team rise to the occasion. Congrats to all the players, caddies, coaches, and support teams of our victorious U.S. team!
What I saw were a bunch of matches that were not too dissimilar to those most of us play on a regular basis. The wins were much more often due to great up-and-down scrambling or great putts. Very few holes, it seemed, were won by spectacular shotmaking — knocking the flags down with approach shots. Of course, there were plenty of those – in that many matches between the world’s best 24 golfers, how could there not be?
But by and large, holes and matches were won on and around the greens, just like they are with every round of golf we regular golfers play. Guys that could make the clutch chip or pitch – or the spectacular recovery like we saw from Jordan Spieth – WOW! And then there’s always the huge impact on your score from making more than “your average share” of the 4- 10-foot putts, and maybe even sneaking in a few more from 15 foot and longer.
If any of us are to take a lesson away from the Ryder Cup, it’s this: Spend the bulk of your practice time hitting short chips and pitches — and on the putting green — if you really want to make an impact on your average scores.
One of my favorite short game practice routines can be executed on any practice range, and you can do it with as large a bucket of balls as you can. With your sand wedge, hit a couple of shots toward the front of the range, starting with a target 20 to 30 feet in front of you. Then, hit a few shots to that target ball, varying the height of the shot – one low, one medium, one high – with the goal of flying the ball to that target ball from the firsts shot. Then hit a shot 10-15 feet past that grouping and do it all again, then another group of shots to a spot 10-15 feet closer to you. Repeat this pattern to different groups of balls ranging from 10-15 in front of you, on out to 15-20 yards or more. Work back and forth between these groupings – always bearing down to hit the exact shots you want.
Your future short game success will be proof that this drill develops a feel for hitting all the different greenside scoring shots you need to play to your potential.
As it pertains to actually “practicing” your putting, I think there are two aspects of that process.
The first is to drill on your basic stroke mechanics. I think the best way to do that is to lay down a chalk line on a dead straight putt of 6-10 feet. Hit putt after putt paying close attention to your face angle and alignment at address and to making a simply back-and-through stroke. You simply cannot hit enough of these.
The second practice putting routine I like is to putt the circuit around the putting green, hitting left- and right-breaking putts from distances of 20-40 feet. I recommend hitting two putts each time using the second putt to “go to school” from the break and speed of the first one. This is the only way to gain a “library” of feels and looks that will serve you on the course as you play a round of golf.
Those are my “lesson” takeaways from the Ryder Cup.
But the other thing that was so very evident was the havoc that a stout wind can deal into a round of golf. On Saturday, the wind blew harder than the other days, and the shotmaking showed it. There were many fewer shots covering the flag or hit pin-high — and many more that sailed wide of the target or came up way long or short.
It really doesn’t matter what level you play the game, the wind is always the most difficult “hazard” to negotiate as you propel a 1.68-ounce golf ball around several miles of golf course real estate.
Watch the difference in scoring from week to week on the PGA Tour – comparing those dead still days and the low scores any course will yield, to those days when the wind kicks up and changes the game considerably.
Again, kudos and congratulations to the victorious U.S. Ryder Cup team. Great going, guys!
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4-wood vs 7-wood vs hybrid – GolfWRXers discuss
‘My first-hand experience with Bryson DeChambeau’
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