Your Shaft Has A Backbone
One of the most fascinating aspects of the golf equipment industry, but maybe the most mysterious, is the performance of the shaft. This connection between your hands and the clubhead is extremely critical to the outcome of any single shot, and to your ability to put the clubhead on the ball consistently. Today’s topic is courtesy of Deke P., who asked about shaft spine-ing:
I've just recently discovered the idea of spine-ing golf clubs. I haven't tried it yet because I've gotten mixed reviews from my online research. My question to you is: "Does the Wedge Guy believe in spine-ing golf clubs?”Well, Deke, I personally have found this to be a more critical part of custom clubmaking with graphite shafts than steel, so let’s start this discussion by exploring just what goes on inside a graphite shaft, particularly. The way most graphite shafts are made, they are not totally symmetrical. The higher grade the shaft, the more perfect they are, but there almost always ends up being a thicker part of the cutaway cross-section, running longitudinally down the shaft. This “spine” makes that side of the shaft resist flexing more than if you bend it in any other direction.
I’ve examined and measured a great many shafts and have seen some crazy things. Clubheads that are not oriented to this spine can oscillate all over the place when clamped at the grip and tweaked. They can flex back and forth in figure 8s, ovals . . . you name it. It’s amazing that anyone could get the clubhead on the ball even some of the time.
In most cases, you can remove the shaft and rotate it in the clamp until you find an orientation that makes the shaft oscillate in a straight line. I’m a believer that you then re-install the clubhead, orienting it so that the face is at right angles to this consistent pattern.
The problem is that shaft graphics are painted on without reference to this spine, and all club makers use the graphics as a guide in assembly. So, the result is that the spine can be anywhere in relation to the clubface. That is the main explanation why you often hit a demo driver on the range and make a purchase, then cannot hit the one sent you at all.
This is too complex a subject to be thoroughly addressed in this short space, but suffice to say that shaft spine-ing is an important part of high-grade custom clubmaking. And you won’t get it from an assembly line product from a major company who is building thousands of clubs a week to meet the mass-market demands.
I highly recommend a visit to a qualified custom clubmaker to learn more about shaft spine-ing and the other nuances of precision clubmaking. After all, these tools we use are subjected to high speeds and acceleration from zero to 100 mph or more in just a few feet and milliseconds.
Little things DO mean a lot in that environment.
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I’ve examined and measured a great many shafts and have seen some crazy things.
Matt F says:
Ain't nothing wrong with my....never mind!
Kurt the Knife says:
"Your Shaft Has A Backbone"
s' what me wife tells me.
are / were the steel shafts more consistant? would it be worth putting steel shafts into my driver / fairway woods? I usually do better when I grip down anyhow so a short shaft isn't an issue for me.
somehow the title reminds me of the bologna song, my shaft has a first name, it's D.i.a.m.a.na, my shaft has a second name it's B.lu.e. Oh I love to swing it every day and if you ask me why I'll say..............
@larrnjr: i have always wanted to have steel shafts in my driver and woods. Never seen it but i would think it would help with control....?
back when woods and drivers were actually made of wood, the shafts were steel, I've not seen it in the newer "distance" clubs cause we're all brainwashed to "need" that extra 2" of shaft to get that extra 20 yards....
I got my 3W and hybrid "spined" when i had them reshafted. Best thing i ever did. They feel more solid for sure. I haven't had my new driver done because it's performing so well on it's own. I think they were pretty close on the assembly line and i don't want to mess with it at this point.
Torleif Sorenson says:
I vaguely remember in the late 1990s when the USGA approved having consistent spines. Thanks for reminding me of this issue.
Hi Wedge Guy,
What are the advantages / disadvantages of adding shaft weights to your clubs. Heavy Drivers and wedges have a weight in the shaft to move the balance point. What is your opinion on this? Great blog. Thanks.
@larrynjr: A few years back I didn't even carry a driver in my bag because I could never hit one straight, but then I picked up a driver head for cheap and had it assembled with a steel shaft. I averaged about 220-250yrds on a good drive and very rarely sliced or hooked. Eventually, I bought a Titleist 983K and find that I can finally hit a real driver straight (at least often enough to post an acceptable score).
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