Could You Be Playing The Wrong Shaft Flex ?
One of the wonderful things about this game is that you are always learning new things, many of which go against “conventional wisdom”. I had one such learning experience last week when I was in Virginia visiting one of our Certified WedgeFitters, Mike Fix.

Mike has an extremely successful Clubfitting and clubmaking business in the Fredericksburg, Virginia area, and uses the TrackMan launch monitor, which relies on Doppler Radar to track all pertinent data regarding clubhead speed, ball speed, spin rate, launch angle, return angle, carry distance, etc.

It’s quite impressive, and this is the unit used in the R&D centers for all the major golf equipment companies. Mike was explaining that he’s finding tremendous success with building drivers for golfers of all skill levels by having them play shafts that are much stiffer than you might imagine, fitted to heads with lofts that are much higher than normal. I watched him go through a fitting process with my partner, Ralph Thompson, who’s a 14-15 handicap, and is not that long. What I witnessed was amazing.

Ralph has been playing an R-shafted Nike driver and hits it pretty well, but his accuracy is inconsistent. His normal slight fade is regularly interrupted by a push-slice or a pull-hook. Mike explained that in his experience, higher handicap golfers do not have consistent enough swing speed and hand speed to control the softer shafts, though conventional wisdom would prescribe them for slower swing speeds. He proceeded to have Ralph hit various drivers until he found one that was significantly more consistently straight, though the launch angle was too low.

Mike then proceeded to put a driver head on that shaft that gave the optimum launch angle. I've played golf with Ralph for 15 years, and have never seen him hit it that long and straight.

The club ? An ‘X’ flex shaft with a 15* loft head !!!!

The moral of this story ?

If you are struggling with driver accuracy, it might be an interesting experiment to try one with a much stronger shaft than you’ve been playing, but make sure the head has plenty of loft.

In other words, set aside the ego for a moment.  I think you just might be very surprised.
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[ comments ]
Tom says:
Terry, do you think this may apply to iron shafts as well? I say this because I began playing golf with reg shafts but bought new irons from eBay with stiff flex and found I was more accurate, especially with the longer irons. My swing was not neccesarily any better at that point.
5/16/07
 
Mike says:
Hey Tom,

I found just the opposite. I gave up stiff flex shafts in my irons, went to regular flex and it helped me swing smoother and slower.

I think the key here is to test, as you never really know what will work best for you until you work with a qualified clubfitter.
5/17/07
 
wedgeguy says:
I think you both are right here. I wasn't prescribing an "x" shaft for everyone, only relaying a very eye-opening experience I had. It's well worth trying. As for irons, if the shafts are too soft, any golfer is going to have trouble with directional consistency, and will likely get very high launch angles. But if you are trying to play a shaft that is too stiff, it offers no help to you in the swing, and you'll end up fighting it. The key, like Mike said, is to test and test, and a qualified clubfitter can help you immensely.
5/17/07
 
Chris S. says:
Terry,
I just came across this article on a web search for an unrelated topic, and feel the need to post.
I have ALWAYS struggled with driver accuracy until recently. Because I hate the big400 cc driver heads, I ordered a 275 cc Snake Eyes steel kids driver head off Golfsmith and mated it to a high end Graffalloy driver shaft. My buddies and I always build drivers to 43", so I did the same with this one. Not only is the clubhead small for kids, but has 15deg of loft (same as a 3W).
Long story short, I hit this club extremely straight about 250yds. Makes me laugh when I see the driver commercials because what good is long if you're in the trees? The combination of a driver 2" shorter than standard with the 3W loft makes this the best driver I could buy. Got the clubhead on closeout for $15 and paid $70(including puring) for the shaft. Can't find a driver at any store that matches this performance for less than $100.
Spend money on the shaft, not the clubhead!!!
6/18/07
 
wedgeguy says:
Chris, your creativity and frugality are admirable, and your innovative approach to hitting more fairways is right on. We saw, as I described in my post about the U.S. Open this week, that hitting it in the fairway is becoming a lost art in this darn game. But I know almost all golfers will experience your success if they will just find a way to hit fairways, even if it means giving up yards. For all of you playing a 45" driver, experiment with hitting shots with your hands down at least 2" on the grip, just to see what happens. I think you'll be surprised, not only at the accuracy, but the improvement in "average" distance, as you will hit the ball much more solidly.
6/21/07
 
VH says:
What is the swing speed for the X-flex 15* driver and the ball carry distance?
12/13/07
 
wedgeguy says:
VH, if this is directed at me, I really don't remember his swing speed. The point I was trying to make is that there are a lot of ways to experiment to see what works best for you. Don't be boxed in by swing speed "x" - shaft flex "y". Test and evaluate.
12/18/07
 
Sean says:
Terry,
I did a little experiment such as yours just not as severe a change in loft.

I went from a 905r 8.5 with NV-75 Stiff shaft to a 907D2 9.5 with NV-75 X-stiff.

I have never had a problem with launching the ball, but hooking left on many occasions got frustrating.

All the pros and club fitters here in Va Beach said stick with the Stiff .

Since I have gone to the X , I actually hit more fairways, don't have a dreaded fade like everyone said happens, have not lost any distance 275 -290, and most importantly I can actually feel the feedback from the ball at impact that I could never feel before. Sometimes I feel there is a lot of wrong advice out there.
1/11/08
 
wedgeguy says:
Sean,

It's always good to hear someone else's take on these postings. In my case, my "X" shafted 4 wood allows me to hit a draw more reliably when I want it than any of my other clubs. As a Hogan devotee, I don't like to hit it right to left much, but that's my "go to" club when I do.

Terry
1/21/08
 
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Terry Koehler is "The Wedge Guy" and President of SCOR Golf- The Short Game Company.

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