Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Club Fitting Part 1: Shafts

Steel shafts, rifle shafts, graphite shafts, and multi-material shafts, which is right for me?  Well, I'm not trying to answer that question for you, but I do intend to give you the information you need to understand the pro that is fitting you for your new clubs, and inevitably new shafts.  So, lets have a look at some of the terms used when talking about shafts.

FLEX - Flex is generally the most understood element of shafts.  Most golfers understand the rating of Ladies (L), Senior (S), Regular (R), Stiff (S) and, Extra Stiff (XS), but most golfers don't know where they fit in.  Something, I've noticed is that most people (more to men than women) thing they need stiffer shafts than then actually do.  They are only cheating themselves.  Different manufacturers have different specifications on flex, so be aware.
There are two methods of measuring shaft flex: a) the shaft deflection board and b) frequency analyzer.  Stiffness is how the shaft reacts when weight is applied.  Frequency or vibration measurement (similar to tuning a musical instrument) looks at how fast a club will vibrate with that particular shaft. The stiffer the shaft the faster the vibration.
Finding the correct flex for you is of the utmost importance, as it directly affects distance and direction.

WEIGHT - When shaft weight is  referred to it is the actual weight of uncut shaft before installation.  It is almost always measured in grams (g).  Most graphite shafts have this written on them somewhere.

Of specific not is the potential for club head speed and distance is increased with overall lighter shafts, but there are other factors you must considered.

KICK POINT - The term kick point refers to the point where the shaft bends during the golf swing.  It directly affects the trajectory of the shot.  A shaft with a high kick point will result in a low shot trajectory. A low kick point will result in a high trajectory.  For the experienced golfer kick point will affect the feel of the shaft.  Obviously, swing mechanics will be the ultimate determining factor in shot trajectory, however this is the general rule. 

Another term often confused with kick point is bend point, they are similar, but yet very different.  The kick point is the highest point (high being toward the grip) the shaft bends when the grip is held in place and pressure is applied to the club head, similar to the golf swing if you think about it.  Whereas, the bend point is the highest point (Again, highest being toward the grip) when equal pressure is applied to both ends of the shaft.  When measured these two points will be similar, but never exactly the same.

TORQUE - Torque is the twisting of the shaft. It is often assumed that this is specifically at impact, but it actually refers to the twisting that occurs during the golf swing.  The more torque or twisting a shaft has, the softer it will feel. Measured in degrees a shaft with a 3 degree torque will feel much stiffer that one that has 5 degrees.  All shafts have torque, and it varies depending on club construction an shaft type (steel vs graphite vs etc.).   Most steel shafts have about 3 degrees of torque.

Torque can have a slight effect on ball trajectory. The lower the torque, the lower the trajectory.

LENGTH - The length of the shaft is measured from the top of the grip to the base of the heel of the club as it lies on the ground.  While increasing the length of the shaft will most likely increase the distance of your shots, this is NOT the best approach.  I mean you don't see Phil Michelson hitting an 85in driver right?
To measure the correct length of shaft for you stand tall and have someone measure from the crease of your wrist and hand to the floor.  Do this for both hands and take the average.  The average club length is taken from your 5 iron, which is the exact mid iron in your bag. So, with this in mind your 5 iron should have a shaft length of:
  • 37 inches for a measurement of 29 to 32 inches
  • 37 1/2 inches for a measurement of 33-34 inches
  • 38 inches for a measurement of 35-36 inches
  • 38 1/2 inches for a measurement of 37-38 inches
  • 39 inches for a measurement of 39-40 inches
  • 39 1/2 inches for a measurement of 41 inches
These measurements you took are also used to determine the proper lie angle, but I'm not going discuss that today.  If you want to look further into this, check this link out. http://www.golf-components.com/custom-golf-club-fitting.html

There are a few other terms you may hear along the way, such as alignment, parallel or tapered tip, and puring, however I don't believe they are something the average golfer needs to be dramatically concerned with.  Besides, it is something I have never bothered to learn too much about, so I don't want to waste your time babbling on.

By no means am I professional club fitter or what have you.  However, I have done my research over the years and learned many things.  There are tons of great resources on the internet, books stores and pro shops, I highly recommend you use these resources at your disposal when buying you next set of clubs.

Just to finish this off I called this post "Club Fitting Part 1: Shafts", which insinuates Part 2 will follow.  Well, it will I just don't know when.  What it will entail, well I don't know that either.  Check back later.



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