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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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Equipment

2021 FootJoy HyperFlex with BOA

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FootJoy is celebrating its 75th year as the number one shoe in golf, and to celebrate designers are continuing to push the boundaries of comfort, support, and technology with the release of the all-new 2021 HyperFlex with BOA.

The HyperFlex is two years in the making and features a number of new technologies to provide the stability golfers require with the out of the box comfort they demand.

“They look and feel so athletic. They are super comfortable the moment you put them on.”
– Rafa Cabrera Bello

HyperFlex with BOA technology

WRAPID Fit Technology: BOA is a staple footwear technology, but the designers at FootJoy wanted to take its capabilities further and make it more comfortable. The result is an asymmetrical configuration that ensures a snug comfortable fit but reduces unwanted pressure on the top of the foot. It enables the shoe to move with you, wrapping your foot for complete security, all while providing powerful support through the swing.

Stratofoam Cushioning: This is a proprietary foam blend that is used in the midsole to offer the perfect amount of walking comfort while still providing the right amount of support to reduce fatigue.

OptiFlex outsole –  The design winds through the length of the sole to naturally flex as you walk and still offer torsion control through your swing when needed.

“This new outsole technology is designed to mimic the natural flexure of the foot, so not only are you getting a great walking shoe, but a shoe that will maximize the ground force throughout every movement in the golf swing.”
-Chris Tobias, Vice President, FJ Footwear.

Waterproof Technical Mesh Upper – The Hyperflex is going technical to maximize comfort by pairing a breathable knit mesh-lined upper with a waterproof membrane to regulate foot temperature in any weather while also keeping your foot dry.

Price and availability

The new Hyperflex with BOA, along with the standard laced model will be available starting February 1, and will be priced at $179.99 with the Wrapid BOA system and $149 for the traditionally laced model.

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GolfWRX Classifieds (01/20/21): TaylorMade SIM Rescues, GAPR Lo, and 2021 Callaway X-Forged irons

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At GolfWRX, we love golf equipment plain and simple.

We are a community of like-minded individuals that all experience and express our enjoyment for the game in many ways. It’s that sense of community that drives day-to-day interactions in the forums on topics that range from best driver to what marker you use to mark your ball, it even allows us to share another thing – the equipment itself.

One of the best ways to enjoy equipment is to experiment and whether you are looking to buy-sell-or trade (as the name suggests) you can find almost anything in the GolfWRX BST Forum. From one-off custom Scotty Cameron Circle T putters, to iron sets, wedges, and barely hit drivers, you can find it all in our constantly updated marketplace.

These are some of the latest cool finds from the GolfWRX BST, and if you are curious about the rules to participate in the BST Forum you can check them out here: GolfWRX BST Rules

Member Golfer881 – TaylorMade SIM Max rescues

Out with the old and in with the new thanks to the launch of the Sim2 line – which means if you are looking to upgrade these are ripe for a deal.

To see the full listing and additional pictures check out the link here: TaylorMade Sim Max rescues

Member GolfMinimalist – 2021 Callaway X-Forged irons

Classic forged cavity back irons with a modern twist – the Callway X-forged. Not only do they look great but considering these were just recently released you’re can get them for a pretty nice deal.

To see the full listing and additional pictures check out the link here: 2021 X-Forged

Member dafahnestock – TaylorMade GAPR Lo

Long iron workability with hybrid sensibility is what you get with the GAPR Lo, but if you have your eyes on other driving iron style clubs, be sure to check out this listing because there is a lot to choose from.

To see the full listing and additional pictures check out the link here: GAPR Lo

Remember that you can always browse the GolfWRX Classifieds any time here in our forums: GolfWRX Classifieds

You can also follow along on Instagram: GolfWRX Classifieds

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Titleist expands M Grind loft offerings through Vokey WedgeWorks

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When it comes to offering versatility for players who like to manipulate their wedges around the green and on full shots, the Vokey M Grind is one of the best options around. Now, based on the success of the M Grind SM8 wedges—which had come in lofts of 56 and 60 degrees—Titleist—through Vokey WedgeWorks—is expanding the loft options to include 50, 52, and 54 degrees.

What is the Vokey M Grind?

The man himself, Master Craftsman Bob Vokey, calls the M Grind his “most favorite” grind, thanks to its versatility. The versatility is made possible by its medium bounce profile, and its aggressive heel, toe, and trailing edge relief. It is the ideal fit for golfers with a sweeping and more shallow approach into the ball and aren’t considered large divot takers.

“The grind in the back allows you to open up the wedge and get under the ball a little easier, while the front of the wedge allows you to get out and produce that lower, stronger ball flight,”
-Aaron Dill, Vokey Tour Representative

Since the tour is such a proving ground for Titleist and the products they release, it should be no surprise that these new loft options have been made available for golfers with players like Cameron Smith, Patrick Cantlay, and Charles Howell III all utilizing the M grind on tour.

SM8 Wedge Technology refresher

Each and every single Vokey wedge goes through a full grooves inspection to ensure they are cut with a level of precision that leads the industry to produce maximum spin and shot control. After that micro-grooves are cut in between the spin milled grooves to maximize spin on partial shots.

The Vokey Spin Milled groove design has not changed since Vokey began offering variable depth and width designs depending on loft. Tolerances continue to get pushed, but since the design was already at the limit, it’s now more about being able to replicate rather than search for an elusive few hundred RPM.

When talking about those extra RPMs gained by potential tool and radius changes, Titleist likes to use the analogy of a pencil. You can sharpen a pencil to an absolute point, but the first thing you are going to notice when you start to use that pencil is how quickly that extremely sharp point dulls back to a “standard” sharpness. This relates directly to groove radius and Titleist’s philosophy to offer maximum spin for the life of the wedge, not just those first five rounds of golf, because unlike PGA Tour players, regular golfers can’t just wander into a tour van and ask for a new lob wedge every week.

Advanced WedgeWorks custom options

Inspired by the customization Aaron Dill (@VokeyWedgeRep), does to wedges on a weekly basis on the PGA tour the WedgeWorks custom options have been expanded to include:

  • Six unique toe engravings
  • Expanded stamping options: 10-character Straight/Freestyle; 15 characters around toe; 5-character staircase style
  • Custom paint-filled Loft and Grind markings and BV Wings logo
  • Hand Grinds: Raw finishes can be hand ground to exact specs, including both performance grinds and profile adjustments

Price, specs, and, availability

The new Vokey M Grind wedges will be available starting today for custom orders in golf shops and on Vokey.com in the lofts of 50, 52, and 54 degrees in a raw finish and in right hand only.

The wedges are priced at $199 each and that includes custom stamping, custom ferrule, and custom shaft bands.

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