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How the idea of shaft frequency began

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Forty years ago, Kim Braly and his father Dr. Braly went down to West Palm Beach to visit Wilson Golf, and that trip forever changed the way the golf industry thinks about the shafts in golf clubs.

“My father and I invented frequency matching,” Kim told me.

“And what’s that?” I asked.

“It’s the process of matching the stiffness of the shafts in your clubs to the heads so you can hit a golf ball rather than snap the shaft or hit the ball all over the place,” Kim said.

OK, that got my attention. So I ask how he stumbled upon the idea.

“My dad was an engineer and got into golf,” Kim said. “Eventually, I got interested in golf as well. In the early 1980s, we went to see the original ‘Iron Byron.’”

Manchester_Lane_Robot

A modern-day golf robot at Titleist’s Manchester Lane Test Facility.

Iron Byron was the first club-testing machine, and it was modeled after smooth-swinging legend Byron Nelson. It’s basically an early robot — a motor in a box with an arm — built to use a regular golf club to hit a golf ball.

Kim and Dr. Braly watched the engineer operating Iron Byron put a club into the mechanical arm, place a ball in front of the club face and then press a button to swing the club. The result: perfection. It produced a high, piercing ball flight that was hit on a rope, not far removed from the storied ball flight of Nelson himself. This was followed by another and another. Kim and his father were ecstatic.

With great anticipation, they watched the engineer load the next club. The results were much different. Balls flew all over the place. The dispersion was awful. The Wilson engineer operating Iron Byron slowed down the machine. Balls flew shorter distances, but they landed closer together. The dispersion had been reduced. This was the inception of their game-changing idea; dispersion was a result of certain shaft characteristics matched with a club head and swing speeds. This “AH HA” moment changed how we fit and purchase golf clubs today.

Based on this observation, Kim and Dr. Braly designed a method to measure the performance of a golf shaft. Later, this led to the concept of frequency: very simply, stiffness is not the letter on the shaft, but a measurement based on characteristics like weight of shaft, weight of the head, length of the shaft and several other characteristics. The year was 1977 and they submitted a patent on this idea called “Frequency Matching.”

Armed with the power of measurement, Kim was ready to change golf shafts forever. He and his father started traveling the PGA Tour, and in doing so became the first “PGA Tour Van.” Over the last 40 years, Kim has worked as a researcher and designer, mastering the golf shaft. He’s worked at True Temper, Royal Precision and is currently as the head designer of research and development at KBS Golf Shafts.

Kim, working with a player

Kim working with a player on his golf equipment.

In 2008, Kim launched a shaft company called KBS, which became the fastest growing shaft company in golf. Since that time, the company has gotten some of the best golfers in the world to use its shafts products, including Rickie Fowler, Justin Rose and Phil Mickelson.

The next time you’re struggling with shots that fly sideways, think about Kim and Dr. Braly. You might want to try try being fit for shafts if you haven’t already, because they may just be the most important part of your golf club.

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Brendan is the owner of Golf Placement Services, a boutique business which aims to apply his background in golf and higher education to help educate players, their families and coaches about the process! Website - www.golfplacementservices.com Insta - golf.placement.sevices Twitter @BMRGolf

13 Comments

13 Comments

  1. TeeBone

    Jun 7, 2017 at 5:34 pm

    Further, frequency matching a set doesn’t mean that the clubs all have the SAME shaft flexibility, only that the DIFFERENCE in flexibility is uniform from club to club. As the clubs get shorter, frequency and stiffness increase. Add to this the fact that as the clubs get shorter and heavier, they are swung at a slower speed. In the end, each shaft in a set flexes more and more overall as the clubs get longer. This silly “dispersion” theory suggests that a shaft must flex a specific amount to behave consistently.

  2. TeeBone

    Jun 7, 2017 at 2:39 pm

    Tour players, unless they have a specific shaft manufacturer deal, are free to play whatever shaft they want. Their decision to play graphite over steel has to do with performance, not money.

  3. TeeBone

    Jun 7, 2017 at 2:27 pm

    So Iron Byron, set at any particular swing speed, only reproduces the same ball flight with one specific shaft flex? This “dispersion” theory would mean that the same shaft can behave quite differently, from swing to swing, for an otherwise same swing input. Nonsense. There is no mention of this in any of the best-regarded scientific studies of shaft flexibility. This is a made-up marketing story designed to sell equipment.

  4. Ned

    Jun 6, 2017 at 8:06 am

    Brunswick Golf developed the Frequency Matching System in 1981!

    • Rico

      Jun 6, 2017 at 4:04 pm

      The article states that the Braly’s submitted a patent for “Frequency Matching” in 1977.

  5. J.

    Jun 5, 2017 at 7:15 pm

    And stiffness of an EI profile may be invisible to CPM matching? Does SST PURE shaft alignment work better?

    • Skip

      Jun 7, 2017 at 1:18 pm

      SST pure is pure Kool-Aid. Drink it if you so choose.

  6. tim crider

    Jun 5, 2017 at 4:05 pm

    There is no doubt that shots can be saved every round by every player with changes from the shaft to the swing weight to the compression of your golf ball,,, hell practicing on the driving range could improve your game. There is a lot to know about this game and if you have the money and the time you may be able to cash in on these findings. Think how much better play got when shafts changed to steel from hickory. A lot to know and even more to learn. How much more can be found and improved, it was a very good article.

  7. Charles Bartholomew

    Jun 5, 2017 at 3:38 pm

    Interesting article. A little history lesson now and then is a good thing.

  8. cgasucks

    Jun 5, 2017 at 8:20 am

    If the Iron Byron can make crappy shots with a shaft that isn’t compatible with its swing speed, imagine it with a human being.

    • talljohn777

      Jun 5, 2017 at 12:14 pm

      Yes, if you have a club shaft that is too soft you can slow your swing down to allow the clubhead time to catch up and square, but why would you want to do that? The preference would be to hit a club that matches your top swing speed allowing you to get the most out of your swing.

  9. artie j

    Jun 5, 2017 at 6:59 am

    I didn’t know the backstory. Very cool article Ryan

  10. SH

    Jun 4, 2017 at 10:25 am

    Yup, awesome

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GolfWRX Spotted: 2021 New Ping putter series at WCG Workday

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This week, the PGA Tour is at The Concession Golf Club in Bradenton Florida, and we were on-site Tuesday to spy some interesting things from the grounds and on the putting green where players were prepping for the first round of the WGC – Workday Championship where the purse is 10.5 million dollars!

It’s on the putting green where we spotted a whole line of new putters from Ping, and although we don’t have all the details about the new line there is enough visual technology to draw come conclusions including:

  • Dual-durometer inserts like the current Sigma 2 ( red accent )
  • Grooved insert technology
  • Heavy perimeter weighting on the heel and toe to increase MOI – assumed to be tungsten

Don’t forget that you can check out the full image galleries in the GolfWRX Tour Equipment forum.

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To see the rest of the pictures and read what GolfWRXer’s are saying about the spotted putters, check out the entire thread in the forums here: 2021 WGC Workday Championship – 2021 Ping putters

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Cameron Smith’s Scotty Cameron 11.5 putter at the 2021 WGC Workday

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In our forums, our members have been reacting to Cameron Smith’s new Scotty 11.5 putter. The flat-stick is a big hit amongst WRXers, and has even been described by one of our members as “basically perfect”.

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.

  • Katke87: “Ooooh baby baby!!! Can’t wait to get my hands on a new 5 and 11 to see which is more wonderful.”
  • TIScape: “Love it! I’m a slant neck fan. Identical to Homa’s it appears.”
  • MillerTime859: “That’s basically perfect.”

Entire Thread: “Cameron Smith’s Scotty Cameron 11.5 putter at the 2021 WGC Workday”

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Bettinardi signs LPGA Tour rising star Patty Tavatanakit

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Bettinardi Golf has announced the official signing of former World Number 2 amateur and LPGA Tour rising player Patty Tavatanakit.

Entering her sophomore season on the LPGA Tour, Tavatanakit will play her DASS (Double Aged Stainless Steel) Studio Stock 3 putter, with the 21-year-olds first tournament this week at the Gainbridge Championship in Orlando, Florida.

Patty attended the University of California Los Angeles, where she became a 7-time winner and two-time WGCA First Team All-American. With her success at UCLA, Patty qualified and became the Low Amateur at the 2018 U.S. Women’s Open, where she finished T5. Turning pro shortly after, she earned the Gaelle Truet Rookie of the Year award in 2019 on the Symetra Tour.

Putter Specs:

Model: Studio Stock 3

Weight: 360 grams

Material: DASS (Double Aged Stainless Steel)

Face Milling: Micro-honeycomb

Finish: Black PVD

Speaking on joining Team Bettnardi, Tavatanakit said

“I was always a big fan of Bettinardi Golf during my collegiate days, and now I couldn’t be more excited to be part of their official Tour staff. Being able to visit their shop, see the technology, and try all their face millings to find my perfect putter was truly awesome.

The confidence I now have in my putting is the best it has been, and I’m really looking forward to this season and seeing it pay off on the greens.”

Tavatanakit joins a young lineup of LPGA Bettinardi Staffers, including Annie Park, Muni He, and PGA Tour stars, such as Matthew Fitzpatrick, Sam Horsfield Jason Kokrak, and long-time staffers Matt Kuchar and Fred Couples.

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