More on Equipment Tweaking
Shaft Oscillation

One of the most amazing things to me is to see what a golf shaft will do when put under the speed, stresses and dynamics of a golf swing. Particularly with drivers. Last week I told you three stories where we helped local golfers improve their performance, simply by looking at their equipment. I promised more and so here we go.

When a customer comes in to our custom shop and wants to see if they can make improvements in their equipment, the first thing we do is create a chart of just what they have in their bag. From driver to wedges, we carefully measure lengths, lofts, lie angles and swingweights to get the static profile of the set. One of the most revealing measurements we get is when we put each club on the Digiflex frequency analyzer. That gives you a basic reading of the number of cycles per minute (CPM) the shaft vibrates when clamped and tweaked. From that, we can determine, generally, where the shaft falls in the way of flex.

Our goal in this analysis is to see the consistency from club to club in the golfers set in these key measurements that affect golf clubs’ performance. We can find disparity in lofts and lengths to figure out why distance gaps are not consistent. But the most revealing thing is what we find when we investigate the shafts. In most every golfer’s bag, even with “matched” clubs, we find shafts that are a half- to full flex stiffer or softer than the others . . . sometimes even more. And nearly every time that will turn out to be either the golfer’s favorite club or one that always gives them trouble.

Besides the frequency, however, one of the most interesting things you see when measuring golf clubs’ frequency is the oscillation pattern of the shaft. We clamp a small laser on the shaft that “draws” a pattern on the wall a couple of feet away when the shaft is going back and forth – kind of like the sparklers we played with as kids. You would think when the grip is clamped and the shaft tweaked, it would simple go back and forth in a straight line. Well, that rarely happens, particularly with graphite shafts. You see, shafts have a seam (steel) or spine (graphite) running the length of the shaft. And the placement of this seam or spine can make the club do all sorts of things when put under this motion. We see circles and ovals of all shapes and orientations, figure eights . . . and some wobble so wackily, they bang against the machine itself. It’s crazy.

But somewhere on each golf shaft (of reasonable quality that is) is a way that it can be oriented in the head so that it does draw a straight line. And that’s the way a good custom shop will build clubs – but it does not happen that way on the assembly lines in the major factories. You can buy the most top grade driver from the most reputable company, with a top name shaft and still get a driver that wobbles all over the place. And you won’t be able to hit it worth a lick.

Think of it like tires. Michelin and other top brands produce fabulous products, but you cannot just pick four off the rack, put them on your car and expect a great ride. They have to be balanced to that particular car and wheel. Sometimes it only takes an ounce or less to bring a 50 lb tire and wheel into perfect balance, so imagine what only a few grams can do to a 11 ounce driver? Shafts are a lot like tires. At 100 mph or more, that shaft is doing a lot in tandem with that head, and if it is not "balanced" perfectly to it, then it can go all over the place in the impact zone, making you think you’ve totally lost your game. It's not your fault!

One of my best golf buddies cracked the face of his driver (yes, he’s l-o-n-g) and got a replacement from the manufacturer – “just like it”. Well, the new one had a built in snap hook that he couldn’t control. I took it to the shop and found out the shaft was oscillating all over the place. We carefully pulled the shaft, identified the spine, reoriented it in the head, then put about 3 swingweight points of lead tape in the heel and he’s in business. Longer, higher and less “hook-y” than anything he’s ever played.

So, I might sound like a broken record, but a trip to a good clubfitter/builder can show you things about your equipment that you can’t imagine. And probably help you improve some things in your game that you thought were all you!

Share your stories about club tweaking if you have some, and go get one or two if you don't.


photo source
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[ comments ]
Kickntrue says:
I wish I would've read this a couple months ago. I should have known better, but a couple months ago I took apart a driver that I was absolutely STRIPING to put in a custom shaft (for a review). While the new combo has been "okay" I basically threw away a driver that was PERFECT. Sure the parts are "worth" more now- but it stays in my bag now, so it's pretty much worthless.
8/13/10
 
rmumph1 says:
I wish I had someone around me that would fit my clubs right.
8/13/10
 
birdieXris says:
Can't say i've had this problem yet with my clubs. Perhaps i got a good batch with my irons. I did, however, get my driver, 3w, and hybrid done by a local club fitter who frequency tuned them. They're much more awesome than they were when i first bought them.
8/13/10
 
Banker85 says:
how about instead of a free wedge for the next reader you offer free clubfitting and they can tell us about the experience. Hey i will even volunteer and mail my clubs if you get them all how they need to be!
8/13/10
 
Scott Shields says:
Do you know of any good club fitters in southeast Michigan??
8/13/10
 
phraynck says:
youngstructural: I've been looking too but haven't found anyone outside of golfsmith.
8/13/10
 
Agustin says:
Now I'm afraid to find out what lurks inside my bag... :S
8/13/10
 
bkuehn1952 says:
@youngstructural: I was told this story & think it speaks highly of the club fitter. A friend was watching a 2-handicapper get fitted for a 3-wood at Miles of Golf (Ann Arbor). After hitting all sorts of models & shafts, the fitter told him that he could try to sell him a club with a $300 shaft but his current off-the-rack Callaway performed as well as anything. His advice was stick with what he had. If/when I get fitted, I will go there.
8/13/10
 
Scott Shields says:
I take lessons from Scott Hayes over there at Miles. The staff over there is really helpfull. But some places (Carl's) won't let you get on the launch monitor unless you're going to buy new ... I'd like to just get some diagnostics done.
8/13/10
 
onedollarwed says:
Uh oh, not another car metaphor for golf! Is the grip the tires and the shaft the engine? Wait I am the engine and the shaft is the transmission, the grip is the suspension, and the club head is the tires. Wait, the ball is the tires? Who's driving the car? Am I the driver or is the driver me? Where is Merlin2Driver?

Excellents article again, wow! But what to do.... where to do?

So in theory, the same model club or set of clubs from the same manufacturer will probably have some different characteristics than the identical one somebody else has.
8/13/10
 
Swingem says:
@onedollarwed - Fer cryayay, lets go over this ONE MORE TIME: The shoes are the tires. The socks are the rims. The legs, hips and shoulders are the engine. The brain is the engine control module. the arms, wrists and hands are the suspension, the grip and glove are the suspension bushings and motor mounts. the shaft is the transmission. The clubhead is the piston. The ball and the mouth are the exhaust. Have we got this straight now? :-)
8/13/10
 
Agustin says:
@swingem - LOL, you lost me after the socks/rims.
8/13/10
 
TravisMiller says:
@Swingem: I just want to get in the truck to pull out my game!
8/14/10
 
onedollarwed says:
Nice! Npw what do I do with the grass and the hole? ...asked Barnacle Bill the sailor.
I always find this funny because in a car metaphor you shouldn't be swinging or hitting anything (so the car and its motion would have to be the ball). If we drove a car like we drove a ball, we be in a ditch or the woods every 300yds. Of course I will be driving to the beach later.
8/14/10
 
Swingem says:
Dunno about the grass, I guess its the road. The hole is definately the bank, where you either pay or collect. To that point, while I'm pretty happy with my set, I'm considering having them checked out. Perhaps I can improve my pay/collect ratio. Hey, maybe that could be a stat on oob.
8/14/10
 
SniderS says:
I just realized that my Approach Wedge is longer in the shaft than my Pitching Wedge. The Pitching Wedge is part of my Callaway Diablo Edge set while the Appraoch Wedge is a Taylor Made Burner (impulse buy). At this point, I'm not sure which one I like better and I hit both of them equally well. Does anyone see this as a problem?
8/14/10
 
TeT says:
in case anyone is interested; Aldila ships their shafts with the spine marked, although i have yet to see a manufacture that heeds the mark (they always align to the graphics).
8/15/10
 
TeT says:
Terry, what does your shop charge for analyzing and revamping clubs; price per?
8/15/10
 
onedollarwed says:
I think we can all agree that we'd be better served by many more small shops with specialized knowledge. I can't wait to have a few extra bucks to get a tuning/ informational session.
1. As above, what are some standard services, and reasonalble rates. I'm always willing to pay extra for honest, local, personalized service.
2. There must be a difference between the local independent clubfitter, and the sleazy knock-off pusher, who uses some kind of gizmo to fit you into some system. Sometimes the distinction is obvious. How do we tell? What equipment and services are the honest products?
3. The five inch space between our ears is the road, the eyes, ears and nose are the tourists, the body is the double-decker bus, and the golf equipment is the tacky gift items, and the HOLE is our one way trip into the subconcious!
8/15/10
 
wedgeguy says:
Onedollarweed, most reputable clubfitters are members of AGCP, ICG or other professional trade organization. You can find them on those website rosters. TeT, we typically charge $50 for an analysis of a full set of clubs, and charges for re-working vary with the work required and shafts selected if a re-shaft is in order.
8/16/10
 
nswynnerton says:
My understanding is that such gyrations are dependent upon a number of variables. If the shaft alone is spined ("SST Pured") prior to installation, then cutting it to length, attaching the clubhead, even fitting the grip may all impact upon the original determination. Correct me if I'm wrong, Terry, but shouldn't the shaft be installed, at the proper length, and the grip affixed before a correct analysis of the spine can be made? I think this is something I learned from Keith Chatham, a master fitter and clubmaker in Kerrville, Texas.
8/16/10
 
TeT says:
Thanks,
8/16/10
 
nswynnerton says:
I contacted Keith (PrecisionFit Golf, Kerrville, TX) and he said he FLOs (I think he means the spining process) the club with the shaft cut to length and the clubhead attached. He doesn't put the grip on 'til later.
8/16/10
 
onedollarwed says:
Excellent! and thanks Terry.
8/16/10
 
Richatvillage says:
Youngstructural-Check out golfersadvantage.com Gary has a trackman launch monitor & has many useful ways to use it. Gary is a member of the Michigan Clubfitters & does great work.
8/17/10
 
Tim Horan says:
@nswynnerton - I am pretty sure the SST system will not accommodate shafts with grips or heads attached. If the heads and grips are acurately fitted in alignment with the spine then there will be no issue. Cutting a shaft to length, fitting a grip and head will not change where the spine is it will however change the frequecies. The skill in clubfitting comes from assembly of the components having the raw data available (head weights, shaft weight, frequencies, spine alignment. grip weight even down to resin and tape weights)If anyone wishes to contact me I have an example of the build sheets for my set. The detail is phenomenal. tim.horan@btinternet.com
8/20/10
 
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Terry Koehler is "The Wedge Guy" and President of SCOR Golf- The Short Game Company.

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