Discussing Swingweight: What Really Happens To Over Length Shafts
This is the part of the swingweight discussion where I expect to get lots of comments, so don't let me down.
The modern trend in clubfitting seems to “fit” many golfers long and upright, which I don’t necessarily agree with, but can sound off on that later. Today, we’re going to talk about this subject, and I’m going to share my theory on what does and should happen to swingweight.
The idea of fitting a golfer with longer shafts is to accommodate his or her height and posture. Let’s say my friend who’s 6’3” really likes my irons, and wants a set “just like them”, but he wants his own fitting specs of 1” overlength.
So, to accommodate his larger size and assumed strength, I build a set of irons just like mine, except that I cut the shafts 1 inch longer than mine are. Now, that one inch in the butt of the golf club shaft only adds about 2 grams to the overall weight of the club, and other than that, they are EXACTLY like mine – same shaft flex, same heads, same everything.
But, when you put his new irons on the swingweight scale, he goes ballistic, because they read D7-9, rather than the D2 that I play. But you know what ? They don’t feel heavy to him, because they aren't. They're just like mine, only altered to accommodate his size.
However, if he insists that they should be only D2, as a clubmaker, I have my work cut out for me. First, I have to grind weight off the clubheads . . . considerable weight, as much as 5-8% of the mass . . . with greatly alters the club, right ? And removing that much mass then makes the shafts play much stiffer, increasing the frequency by a half a flex or more. So, in order to “match” the swingweight, I’ve created a tremendously lighter and stiffer club – nothing like the irons I have that he liked so much.
What I have always proposed is that we think in the concept of “swingweight equivalent”.
If the club is D2 at standard length, it’s going to be D4-5 at ½” over, maybe D8-9 at 1” over. For ladies and seniors, where we’re going shorter, that exact same club will be C9 or so at ½” shorter than standard.
I really think it’s just that simple.
What about all of you ?
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Thanks for sharing your wide knowledge with laymen like myself. I like to tinker with my clubs and have read quitw a bit on club swingweight and the arguments for swingweight matching vs MOI matching, in order to make my own mind up on which method of adjusting my clubs I prefer. Is the idea you are proposing ie. equivalent swingweights, along the same line as MOI matching or is that something different again? I haven't been able to fully grasp the MOI matching theory but certainly agree that simply ensuring every club is a D2 is of little benefit to every golfer, rather overall weight of the club is more important.
I'm starting to feel the same way. After cutting an inch off the shaft of 45" Driver I have, I added lead tape to get the Swingweight back to D2, but found the club felt totally different then it had at it's original length and Swingweight. After removing the lead tape the Driver felt good again, even though the Swingweight was in the high C range. I think we certainly need a new system to match clubs, Swingweight equivalent sounds like a much more logical system to me.
R H says:
You should just backweight the clubs to fool the swingweight scale. That way you don't have to grind mass off the heads, and/or tinker with the shaft or anything like that.
It really does show the weakness of the SW scale, though. You can make a telephone swingweight at C3 with enough backweighting and yet no one would say it is "too light".
RH, I wouldn't say the swingweight scale is "weak" necessarily, but it does have its limitations. As long as we understand what we are looking at, it is a good guide for matching the balance point of clubs. MOI matching is a new thing and gaining converts right and left. We'll watch to see if it gains universal acceptance.
As for backweighting, it also has its place, but changes the dynamics of a club's performance quite dramatically, so you must be careful with the concept. But experimenting with our equipment is one of the fun aspects of this darn game, isn't it?
Gary Fallon says:
I used to be very concerned about the swingweight of my clubs. I suppose it had to do with the fact that I had a SW scale readily available and they are so easy to use. But also because I can feel the difference. Don't know why I am so sensitive in that area, but I am. Then I began recalling my Wilson Staffs of the seventies and how they were D4. Hmmmmm. The clubs are now longer and the SW is now lighter. Things sure have changed. I don't know what seems to be so magical about D2, but I still prefer heavier feeling club, swingweight wise. I like the feeling of momentum through the impact area. My point is SW is more of a value for reading consistency between clubs whether one likes a C9 or D8. It is just one aspect of a club and not really the most important. YMMV.
Gary Fallon says:
Oh yes, I find that I do much better gripping down on the club. I gives me better control, like clubs of old. But dog gone it that reduces the SW as well. It is like a poor piece of meat. The more you chew on it the bigger it gets. I still find too many small things occupying too much of my life.
Terry, your articles continue to make me reassess my thoughts in this wonderful game. What else can we do and do all this. Wow!
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