Opinion & Analysis
Why You Should Be Playing Heavier Equipment
While I’ve been playing golf for the last 35 years, I only started tinkering with equipment for the last 17 years. I started with regripping and then graduated to full blueprints and rebuilds for myself and close friends and family. This came in handy when I had delusions of trying to compete with the guys in the Long Drivers of America (LDA). While my swingspeed is fast enough to necessitate the replacement of caved heads and broken shafts from time to time, I was humbled back into the amateur ranks very quickly. But the LDA guys were one of the early groups that made me realize that lighter shafts aren’t necessarily better for distance.
When golfers think of a great classic driver, the seasoned ones would talk about persimmon and steel while most WRXers will speak with reverence to the TaylorMade R510TP. This first re-launch of the Tour Preferred series was notorious for the high price tag as well as what justified the cost: the legendary Fujikura Speeder 757 shaft. At one point, you were not considered a player if you didn’t have a Speeder 757 in your driver. At 78 or 79 grams (based on flex), it was much lighter than steel. But its tight profile and low torque made for a very accurate shaft that produced a lower spin rate and allowed for good distance when you wanted to take a healthy swing at the ball.
Today, the manufacturers continue to promise distance gains with a marketer’s perfect formula: lighter total weight and longer shafts. Many WRXers have poo-pooed this concept of longer shafts over the years, professing their love for 44.5 inch drivers. You can go back to the inception of this board to read the questions of how to get a D2 or D3 swingweight on a club that has had the stock length cut down. Today, with some drivers measuring as long as 47 inches, you may have to add 15-20 grams of mass to the head to get the balance back to the club. Some of my early recollections of reshafting include removing the lightweight and big butt shafts from Callaway Great Big Berthas and Goldwin AVDP drivers to install 86 gram EI-70 shafts. My drives were much more accurate with the heavier driver shaft.
Until recently, this trend was applied only to woods and hybrids. But the next phase in the lighter/longer march by the OEMs has been irons. Lofts and lengths have literally made each iron one club longer than a similar numbered iron 25 years ago. And your 120-gram KBS or 130-gram True Temper Dynamic Gold shaft are now being substituted for 85-gram steel or 65-gram graphite. This was the norm for senior and ladies clubs for years. But these lighter weight clubs are now appearing in the men’s market as well.
Thankfully, most of the player or “pro” models still come with heavier shafts. But even there, you still have driver shafts in the 50-gram range, and they seem to be getting lighter each year. This follows the old club thought:
But control always seems to take a back seat to potential distance. I’m sure I could pick up 10-peak yards on a perfectly struck shot with a lighter driver shaft. However, the rest of my imperfect shots would suffer accuracy issues, whereas my heavier shaft would allow me a more consistent face contact and greater AVERAGE distance. My thought when I have built clubs for friends and family was to “swing the heaviest club that did not noticeably cost you distance.” My vindication for this is that your scoring clubs — wedges and putters — are trending heavier or maintaining their shaft weights. Read the GolfWRX thread about increasing accuracy and distance by going back to steel shafted drivers here: http://www.golfwrx.com/forums/topic/705558-now-this-is-how-a-cleveland-classic-should-look
I believe the quickest way to get someone to get excited about the game is to have them strike that one pure shot. Tin Cup described it as a “tuning fork going off in your loins” to Rene Russo, and he was right. Hit that one shot and you will be back for more. My experience has shown that more golfers would have more accurate shots with greater average distance with shaft weights in the following ranges:
Driver: 65-75 grams, 300 gram or more total weight
Fairway Woods: 80-130 grams
Hybrids: 90-130 grams
Irons and wedges: 110-140 grams
Compared to lighter equipment, most of your average male golfers will find the center of the face more often and realize more purely struck shots. This will increase your average distance and minimize the difference between your great shots and your misses.
The one argument that I cannot deny is the lighter weight in your bag if you are a walker. But consider that a golf ball weighs around 45 grams. The difference between heavy and light equipment for someone with three wedges is the equivalent of roughly three sleeves of balls in your bag. If that’s enough to break your back, then you should consider weight/endurance training or move to a push/pull cart. Fatigue at the end of the round from heavier gear is quickly fixed by strength training and sessions at the practice range.
Next time you visit your local clubfitter, pick their brain about being fitted into a slightly heavier shaft in your fairway, hybrid or driver by stressing that you want a more consistent and accurate swing instead of distance. You may find a new favorite club in your bag.
Click here for more discussion in the “Clubmaking” forum.
Leave a Reply
The Wedge Guy: What really needs fixing in your game?
I always find it interesting to watch how golfers interact with the practice range, if they do so at all. I certainly can figure out how to understand that some golfers just do not really want to get better — at least not enough to spend time on the practice range trying to improve.
What is most puzzling to me is how many golfers completely ignore the rationale for going to the range to at least warm up before they head to the first tee. Why anyone would set aside 4-6 hours of their day for a round of golf, and then not even give themselves a chance to do their best is beyond me. But today, I’m writing for those of you who really do want to improve your golf scores and your enjoyment of the game.
I’ve seen tons of research for my entire 40 years in this industry that consistently shows the number one goal of all golfers, of any skill level, from 100-shooter to tour professional, is simply to hit better golf shots more often. And while our definition of “better” is certainly different based on our respective skill level, the game is just more fun when your best shots happen more often and your worst shots are always getting better.
Today’s article is triggered by what we saw happen at the Valspar tour event this past Sunday. While Taylor Moore certainly had some big moments in a great final round, both Jordan Spieth and Adam Schenk threw away their chances to win with big misses down the stretch, both of them with driver. Spieth’s wayward drive into the water on the 16th and Schenk’s big miss left on the 18th spelled doom for both of them.
It amazes me how the best players on the planet routinely hit the most God-awful shots with such regularity, given the amazing talents they all have. But those guys are not what I’m talking about this week. In keeping with the path of the past few posts, I’m encouraging each and every one of you to think about your most recent rounds (if you are playing already this year), or recall the rounds you finished the season with last year. What you are looking for are you own “big misses” that kept you from scoring better.
Was it a few wayward drives that put you in trouble or even out of bounds? Or maybe loose approach shots that made birdie impossible and par super challenging? Might your issue have been some missed short putts or bad long putts that led to a three-putt? Most likely for any of you, you can recall a number of times where you just did not give yourself a good chance to save par or bogey from what was a not-too-difficult greenside recovery.
The point is, in order to get consistently better, you need to make an honest assessment of where you are losing strokes and then commit to improving that part of your game. If it isn’t your driving that causes problems, contain that part of practice or pre-round warm-ups to just a half dozen swings or so, for the fun of “the big stick”. If your challenges seem to be centered around greenside recoveries, spend a lot more time practicing both your technique and imagination – seeing the shot in your mind and then trying to execute the exact distance and trajectory of the shot required. Time on the putting green will almost always pay off on the course.
But, if you are genuinely interested in improving your overall ball-striking consistency, you would be well-served to examine your fundamentals, starting with the grip and posture/setup. It is near impossible to build a repeating golf swing if those two fundamentals are not just right. And if those two things are fundamentally sound, the creation of a repeating golf swing is much easier.
More from the Wedge Guy
- The Wedge Guy: It’s not all about distance
- The Wedge Guy: Are you really willing to get better at golf?
- The Wedge Guy: Anatomy of a wedge head
Golf's Perfect Imperfections
Golf’s Perfect Imperfections: Great debut for Savannah at the WLD opener + Hideki’s driver grip
A great start for Savvy in her second season competing in the World Long Drive Organization! We talk about the whole experience and we also take a look at the Katalyst suit and how our training sessions are going. Plus we speculate why Hideki is experimenting with a putter grip on a driver, thanks to GolfWRX’s Ben and Brian help.
Opinion & Analysis
The best bets for the 2023 Corales Puntacana Championship
Golfing’s great take to Austin GC this week for the WGC Match Play, but the jamboree makes little appeal as a betting medium as far as pre-event odds are concerned.
Though the event doesn’t contain the likes of Cam Smith and pals from the LIV Tour, most of the world’s top lot take part in a tournament that is great fun to watch but, from my point of view, is only worth jumping in once the group stages are sorted. Good luck if you play.
Instead, we’ll hop off to the Dominican Republic for the Corales Puntacana Championship, where world number 90 Wyndham Clark heads the market.
After making seven straight cuts, and having a better chance of winning last week’s Valspar than the eventual fifth place suggests, he is probably the right favourite. However, quotes of single figures are incredibly short and I’d much rather be a layer of the win than a backer.
The last five Corales champions have averaged a world ranking of around 219th, with 2021 winner Joel Dahmen the highest ranked at 79. Given that and the unpredictability of the coastal winds, this is the chance to get with some bigger prices and progressive golfers whilst the elite play around in Texas.
According to 2018 victor Brice Garnett, this is a second-shot course, whilst previous contenders talk of the importance of mid-long range irons. The course won’t play its full 7600-plus yards, but with little punishment off the tee, those bombers that rank highly in long par-4s and par-5s will have an advantage.
Clearly, being coastal leads us to other clues, and all the last five champions have top finishes at the likes of Puerto Rico, Houston, Hawaii, Bay Hill, Pebble Beach and especially Mayakoba.
Sadly, the last-named Mexican track has gone over to LIV but at least for now it remains hugely relevant, with Dahmen, Graeme McDowell and Brice Garnett with top finishes at El Chameleon. Meanwhile, last year’s winner Chad Ramey, had previously recorded top-20 at Bermuda and fifth at Puerto Rico.
Best Bet – Akshay Bhatia
Full respect to the top lot, but given the recent ranking of the winners, the pair of improving youngsters make obvious appeal given their world ranking of around 280, almost certainly a number they will leave miles behind in time.
Runner-up behind the equally promising Michael Thorbjornsen at the 2018 US Amateur, the highly decorated junior star turned pro after contributing two points from three matches at the U.S victory in the 2019 Walker Cup.
Mixing various tours and invites, the 21-year-old finished a closing ninth at the 2020 Safeway Open before a short 2021 season that saw a 30th at Pebble Beach (top-10 at halfway) and a top-60 when debuting at the U.S Open.
2022 started well with a two-shot victory in the Bahamas on the KFT and whilst he racked up two further top-20s, they were not enough to gain his PGA Tour card.
After the conclusion of the ’22 season, Bhatia’s performances have been improving steadily, with a 17th in Bermuda followed by 45th at the RSM, and fourth when defending his Great Exuma Classic title, and seventh at the second Bahamas event a week later.
49th at the Honda disguises that he was 16th at the cut mark, and his fast-finishing second place at Puerto Rico just three weeks ago is further evidence of his ability in similar conditions.
Latterly, the Wake Forest graduate (see Webb Simpson, Cameron Young amongst many others) missed the cut at Copperhead, but again lost sight of his 21st position after the first round.
In the top-30 after his first round on debut in 2020, he said, “The more experience I can get, the better I can learn for myself,” and that certainly seems the case for a player that should play with a tad more confidence now he has secured Special Temporary membership on the PGA Tour.
Danger – Ryan Gerard
He may be two years older than Bhatia, but the 23-year-old is a novice at pro golf.
Having only played eight times on the Canadian Tour – containing one victory, a third, fourth and eighth place finishes, five times on the KFT – including a career-best third place in Columbia, and four events on the PGA Tour, there is no way of knowing how high the ceiling is for the Jupiter resident.
Take a chance we reach somewhere near that, this week.
It’s a small sample but having qualified for the Honda Classic via Monday Q-school, Gerard opened with a 69/63 to lie third at halfway, before finishing with a final round 67 and sole fourth place behind play-off candidates Chris Kirk and Eric Cole, and one place ahead of Shane Lowry.
That unexpected effort got him into the Puerto Rico Open, where he again defied expectation, always being in the top-20 before recording an 11th place finish.
Last week, he needed better than 54th place to earn his STM to Bhatia’s club, but whilst that proved a bit too much, showed plenty in recovering during his second round just to make the cut.
Ryan Gerard needs a two-way T54 this week to clinch Special Temporary Membership.
He was +1 through 13 holes, right on the cutline.
An inside look at how his last five holes played out @ValsparChamp. pic.twitter.com/s3vrrzEeXK
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) March 18, 2023
Gerard’s form is certainly a small sample size, but there is enough there to think he can step up again in this field.
He has that Spieth-type feel on the odd occasion we have seen his play, and he believes he should be here, telling the PGA Tour reporters that:
“But it’s definitely something that I’m not surprised that I’m in this position. I may be surprised that I’m here this early in my career, but I’ve always kind of felt like I wanted to be here, and I was going to do whatever I could to make that happen.”
Others to note – Kevin Chappell – Brandon Matthews
Far more experienced than the top two selections, Kevin Chappell appeals on best form.
Formally 23rd in the world, the 36-year-old has dropped to outside the top 600 but has dropped hints over the last two weeks that he may be approaching the play that won the Texas Open, run-up at Sawgrass, and finish top-10 in four majors.
Since his body broke down in 2018, golf has been a struggle, and he has not recorded a top 10 since the CIMB in October of that year. However, after missing nine of his last 10 cuts, the Californian resident has improved to 29th at Palm Beach Gardens (round positions 84/48/50/29) and 15th at Puerto Rico (47/54/33/15).
Strokes gained were positive throughout at the Honda, and he’ll hope to at least repeat last season’s 15th here, when again coming from way off the pace after the opening round. That effort was one of the highlights from the last 18 months or so, alongside repeat efforts at the Honda (13th) Texas (18th) and Barbasol (21st).
The work after major surgery may have taken taken longer than originally anticipated, but he says he handled the recovery badly. Perhaps that’s now a bad time gone, and Chappell can start making his way back up to where he belongs.
Brandon Matthews makes a little appeal at three figures, particularly on his win here on the Latino America Tour. This massive driver led those stats twice on the KFT and at the Sanderson Farms, and ranked second behind Rory McIlroy at the Honda Classic, when also being top 10 for greens-in-regulation.
He has a way to go on overall PGA Tour form, but Joel Dahmen won after missing six of seven cuts and whilst the selection’s three wins are at the KFT level, he made the cut on his only major attempt – at Brookline – and we all know one mammoth driver that took courses apart from time to time.
Top-10 Banker – Cameron Percy
I looked closely at Aaron Baddeley. The ultimate family man loves a test in the wind and comes here having shown a tad more consistency this year in better class. However, he loses out to his compatriot, Cameron Percy.
The 48-year-old Australian veteran may only have one KFT title to his name, but if we are going to make money out of him, it’s likely to be at one of these coastal ‘opposite’ events.
With top-10 finishes at likely locations such as Bay Hill, Deere Run, Puerto Rico and Panama, Percy’s game is testimonial to his heritage, ranking top-10 finishes aplenty in his homeland.
Best finish in 2021 was a seventh place at Puerto, and he repeated that same number a year later, just three weeks before finishing in the top five at this event.
2022 saw Percy mix with higher grades when eighth at Sedgefield and whilst he missed the cuts at both the RSM and his home Open, he was lying 29th and 25th after the first rounds respectively (6th after round two in Oz).
This season has seen just two cuts from five starts, but there is relevance in a 12th at Honda, and a closing 16th last week at Innisbrook, certainly enough to believe that he can carry on a solid Corales record of two top-eight finishes over the last two outings.
- Akshay Bhatia – 33/1 WIN/TOP-5
- Ryan Gerard – 50/1 WIN/TOP-5
- Kevin Chappell – 90/1 WIN/TOP-5
- Brandon Matthews – 150/1 WIN/TOP-10
- Cameron Percy – 9/1 TOP-10
Morning 9: PGA Tour’s designated event revamp | PIP changes | LIV and pros react | Bay Hill photos
Tiger Woods WITB 2023 (February)
Tom Kim WITB 2023 (February)
Ian Poulter opens up on “tough times” that followed LIV Golf announcement
Jason Dufner WITB 2023 (March)
Darius Rucker WITB 2023 (February)
Tom Doak brings High Pointe back in 2024
Chez Reavie WITB 2023 (February)
Miura announces mid-size cavity back CB-302 forged irons
Tour Edge introduces new Exotics 723 series of drivers, fairways and hybrids
Scottie Scheffler WITB 2023 (March)
Scottie Scheffler what’s in the bag accurate as of the WGC-Dell Match Play. More photos from the event here. Driver:...
Billy Horschel WITB 2023 (February)
Billy Horschel what’s in the bag accurate as of the Honda Classic. More photos from the event here. Driver: Titleist...
Andrew Kozan WITB 2023 (March)
Andrew Kozan what’s in the bag accurate as of the Honda Classic. More photos from the event here. Driver: Titleist...
John Daly WITB 2023 (March)
John Daly what’s in the bag accurate as of the 2023 Galleri Classic. Driver: Ping G430 LST (9 degrees @8.5)...
Equipment1 week ago
Miura announces mid-size cavity back CB-302 forged irons
Whats in the Bag2 weeks ago
Stewart Cink WITB 2023 (March)
19th Hole3 weeks ago
Rory McIlroy accused of being ‘out of touch’ following post-round comment at Bay Hill
Whats in the Bag2 weeks ago
Jordan Spieth WITB 2023 (March)
Whats in the Bag2 weeks ago
Andrew Putnam WITB 2023 (March)
19th Hole3 weeks ago
Jack Nicklaus drops surprising news regarding Tiger’s playing future
19th Hole3 weeks ago
Lee Westwood and Ian Poulter go after ‘hypocrite’ Brandel Chamblee over response to new no-cut events
Whats in the Bag2 weeks ago
Corey Conners WITB 2023 (March)
Mar 14, 2014 at 10:54 pm
My irons are sw at e6 and i tell you what, once you get that weight moving, you cannot stop it. Im shorter 5)at 5’8″ and play +1 1/4 ” over standard clubs. I can deadlift 600 lbs and bench 225 25× . Im not flexible by anymeans (not even as a child) but with my handsy swing, i find the heavier, the better. More consistant and straighter than ever . And good distance too! Now if only i could putt on muni greens that stimp out at about -13 haha
Dec 2, 2013 at 3:48 am
Excellent article. Through experiments I have found that my swing speed has increased by around 3% with a heavier shaft. Also note that swing speed isn’t everything you have to make a quality contact. I have been down the light shaft / totalweight route and am now making a U turn with great results. My latest driver shaft Fujikura Speeder 757 is superb with longer more consistent results Callaway RAZR Tour head with D4 swingweight at 44.75in
It all depends on the type of swing that you have but too many times We get conned with a short term increase in distance but lose control, consistency and accuracy over time.
Mar 21, 2013 at 7:25 am
Agreed, last year my most consistant club in the bag was my Titleist Hybrid which has a Heavier shaft installed.
Nov 9, 2015 at 10:48 pm
Exactly the same here…92 gm stiff Diamana ….it is sweet.
Dec 11, 2012 at 7:25 pm
Excellent article. Thanks. And I totally agree.
I lost confidence with my rbz 3wood this summer, cut it down a half inch and added some snakeoil to the head. Changed the swing weight from D3 to D6 and it’s now the most consistent long club in my bag, by far. Lost maybe 5 yards of distance on average but added automatic fairways; seems worth it.
Nov 30, 2012 at 11:04 am
Great article…..have added weight to my wedges, Putter, gone to heavier shafts on fairways and added tip weights, now have x flex Oxik Altus 86gr in 22 hybrid, very smooth, and 910D3 with Kai’li at 72 grams, regular shaft and 9gr head weight. Lots of Feel,Accuracy!
Nov 30, 2012 at 10:26 am
How about light,stiff,with low torque? Love my steel fiber 95 gram iron shafts. Straight and long!!!
Nov 29, 2012 at 8:49 am
I totally agree with the heavier weight. When I was a young man and playing competitively my Driver was steel and wood with a 135 gr. shaft, XX flex, and 43.5 in. and the irons the same.
Today, much older and with several physical problems I use a 45 gr. shaft at 46 and all over the place. Recently I picked up a 60 gr. Stiff Driver with a Ahina shaft and hitting the heck out of it. I know being a club maker for years that the theory of that is wrong, but I love it. I also play a forged Iron with KBS Tour steel and put away the 65 gr. Graphite Irons I was playing.
At 73 this should not work, but it does.
Nov 28, 2012 at 3:09 pm
I agree. My girlfriend hits better with mens flex shafts even with a very low swing speed. She likes to be able to feel the weight, as it helps her make better ball contact.
Nov 28, 2012 at 2:27 pm
I’m finding a lot of success with average male and female golfers and seniors with 45g wood shafts with lighter driver and fw heads and even new 50g iron shafts.
Nov 28, 2012 at 12:15 pm
Excellent article. Many thanks
Pingback: GolfWRX.com – Why You Should Be Playing Heavier Equipment | Golf Grip Instruction