Tales From The Golf Lab
A side story to what we do every day at SCOR Golf – building what we believe to be the finest scoring club concept to ever come along – is that the word is out locally that we have a sophisticated golf equipment laboratory that can dissect any club to find out what it really is. More and more friends and acquaintances come over to have us tear apart a golf club to see just what it is, and then they go out into the world and tell the horror story. I’ve shared a few of our “discoveries” with you over the past few years, but they just keep coming and it’s not like me to keep things to myself.

The challenge to me as a golf blogger who is, first and foremost, a golf club geek, but who also happens to run a premium golf club company, is that I don’t want to seem like I’m always bashing the major brands. But darn it, these guys keep sending me case studies that wear me out, and I want to shout from the rooftops what I see on a weekly basis to help my readers avoid these kinds of situations. Here are two of the past week or so, and a tip for all of you who are in the market for any kind of golf clubs.
  1. What kind of shaft is that anyway? A friend of mine sees me on the range from #13 fairway a couple of weeks ago, and walks over with his 3-wood and says, “Terry, I can’t hit this worth a s---. Can you figure out what’s wrong with it?” I took his club, a major brand with a graphite shaft, and put it on the frequency analyzer. The shaft, marked “Stiff”, was between a ladies and seniors flex! And it was so non-symmetrical that it oscillated all over the place. There was no way he could ever hit it. I shared that with him, and told him to have the pro send it back. But he told me he’d rather just have me rebuild it with a good shaft. I put a UST Mamiya ProForce in it and he loves it.

  2. Are these really ‘custom’ irons? So, another friend who knows what we can do in our lab brings in a brand new set of forged blades he had custom made by another major brand. He told me flat out, “I know what I ordered; I want to see what I got.” So, we charted the lengths, lofts and lie angles and swingweights, and they were pretty consistent – ½” long, 1* upright. But when I put them on the frequency machine, they were pushing the ‘X’ flex profile, though ordered as a Stiff. The puzzling thing was that though they had hit his requested D0 swingweights, the clubs were much heavier in total weight than I would have guessed. So he said, “Tear ‘em apart and see why”. So we pulled the heads off this brand new $1,000 set of irons, and cut off the grips. That’s when we discovered this particular brand’s method of getting the lighter swingweight – they use weighted tape under the grip. So, the customer wants a lighter club, and they make it heavier in the butt to fool him into thinking it is. I personally find that appalling.
So, the moral of this story is simple -- you have two choices in golf equipment. One, you can buy from the major brands and blindly choose to believe you got what you ordered and your shot problems are all your own fault. Or, two, you can make it a point to learn more about what makes golf clubs tick, find a qualified golf club professional who can accurately tell you what you bought, and you can hold these guys accountable.

It’s your money, but I’d be really p---ed off if I had spent $300 on that 3-wood or $1,000 on that set of irons.

And don’t get me started on this trend to adjustable drivers . . . . or ask me and I’ll tell you what I see with those dang things.
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[ comments ]
blundermuz says:
Terry do you know any places in the UK that would provide this kind of service?
12/9/11
 
cvargo says:
I would love to hear the rant on adjustable drivers. My friend uses one.... I think its a joke! But is has the nike swoosh on it so he had to have it.
12/9/11
 
snuffyword says:
I have this crazy dream/idea about truly building a custom set. I want to hit each individual club to put the right shaft on it that will produce a consistent ball flight and distance. Each individual club does not have to be the same brand clubhead or shaft. If it looks good and feels good and works for me, that would be the set up for that individual club. As for adjustable drivers (adjustable weights included), I have never cared much for them. I prefer to "adjust" my swing (i.e. fix my flaws) and have the clubfitter help to match me with the right driver and set up. Terry, I can't wait to hear you sound off on adjustable drivers!
12/9/11
 
snuffyword says:
@cvargo...ah, you beat to it.
12/9/11
 
mjaber says:
I'm a "do-it-yourself" kind of guy. I'd like to know if there are any recommendations for the necessary tools to build/rebuild a set of irons, or any resources for used/rental equiment (like the Home Depot Rents program, but for clubmaking). I'm not looking to do this full-time, or even part time. Just to be able to apply some of the concepts you (Terry) talk about and see how they affect my game.
12/9/11
 
larrynjr says:
I've been learning more about clubs and head weighting, MOI weight as my interest in building my own clubs grows. From the little I understand if your friend specified specifed a specific shaft length and shaft plus insisted on a D0 head weight. The only way they could possibly have complied would be to add weight at the grip end.
Perhaps I have completely misunderstood how all these things work together. I'd love someone like you Terry, who really know about clubs to explain how they could have reach the D0 (which seems extrememly light for an iron(Cleveland CG1 blade is D2 standard config)) in every club in some other fashion. Lengthening the shaft is only going to increase head weight. I've been reading a lot of Tom Wishon's materials as well as Ralph Maltby and the agcpforum.com.
12/9/11
 
Agustin says:
@ larrynjr: I don't know about other brands but the way Ping adjusts swingweight in their S56 irons is via the custom tuning port in the head of the club behing the sweet spot. They can change this insert to vary the swingweight of the club based on the head weight and not on the grip end.
12/9/11
 
larrynjr says:
@agustin, I can see how that would work for adding weight but not subtracting weight. I guess if the original head weight was less then D0 to start with but then you wouldn't need to add grip weight only head weight to get to D0.

BTW, I hope it didn't sound like a dig at Terry, it was not, it was a request for info from only the truly knowledgeable.
12/9/11
 
BAKE_DAWG40 says:
Terry, I took your advice on finding a certified club maker. I have a great set of Wishon irons, a hybrid, and TWO drivers. The first driver I was hitting too high. Fine on days with no wind. I called him back and told him about the problem. He put another 10* driver together for me and just gave it to me! All those clubs for $780!!! Best club buying experience EVER!
12/9/11
 
BAKE_DAWG40 says:
And don't get me started on adustable drivers. I bought a STR8 Fit driver and it totally screwed me up off the tee for a whole year. I learned my lesson the hard way. Still having trouble and the driver WAS one of the clubs I hit best. Ugh!
12/9/11
 
Shallowface says:
Stories like Terry's post about the three wood are why I no longer buy anything new. I only buy used clubs and I don't pay more than I can resell it for. For me, it's trial and error just like it has been for 40 years and I guess it's always going to be that way. I'm going to do it as cheaply as I possibly can. I played 100 rounds this year, and I want to be able to do that as opposed to blowing cash on the latest and greatest, especially when the almost latest in greatest will be available for one third the price a year from now.
12/9/11
 
Shallowface says:
I've tried launch monitor fitting but when the salesman is honest enough to tell you that his launch monitor isn't accurate (doesn't provide "real world numbers") what good is it? I had a club pro (one who doesn't sell clubs anymore) tell me that if you can't go to Carlsbad for a fitting, you're wasting your time.
Stories like Terry's three wood post are a result of an industry that has no standards. An industry that thinks it knows what's best for the customer, believes that the majority of its customers are egomaniacs, and when its customer comes into the store wanting a 9.5 with a stiff, sells him a 13 with an L flex, marked 9.5 and stiff.
12/9/11
 
Shallowface says:
Imagine you want a Corvette, but the company thinks you'll drive too fast if they sell you one, so they'll sell you the 'vette, tell you you're getting one engine, and selling you an engine better suited for a Chevette (really dating myself here). But that's the modern golf industry in a nutshell.
What other business in the world operates this way?
Terry, post all of these stories you care to post.
12/9/11
 
Agustin says:
@larrynjr, you nailed it, and actually the std swingweight for steel shafts from the 2 to the 9 iron is D1. PW is D3. Swingweights for graphite shats is one point lower.
12/9/11
 
Greg_K says:
+1 larrynjr. I have built several sets of irons for myself +1/2" using light Rifle's and ended up at D3 or D4 swing weight. (Which I like). But other than grinding down the heads to remove material ;-), adding butt weight seems to be the only option to reduce swing weight.
12/9/11
 
Tim Horan says:
@blundermuz - I know of a couple of places but they will charge you. If you are able to re-grip a club yourself and have a fairly accurate pair of digital scales you can get pretty close to a swingweight check using the following web based swingweight calculator. Checking spine/ frequency of a shaft is more specialised and probably needs that specialist. Check out Wishongolf.com and find a UK based agent. Swingweight calculator link as follows. www.leaderboard.com/SWINGWT.HTM if you need more assistance email me via this site.
12/9/11
 
Tim Horan says:
@blundermuz - You are not far from where I am. You could go see Greyshott Golf near Hindhead. Make an appointment when Wayne is there and discuss your requirements. They have done some good work for me on my woods.
12/9/11
 
windowsurfer says:
With the help of Cs of rounds over the last cple of yrs, Ms of range balls plus youtube + forums like FGI, I've ventured into clubmaking. Started w regripping; made my own set of irons (with a set of Kucharesque Aerotech SteelFibers that ended pain in what's-left-of my rotator cuffs). Very fulfilling, even when I wrecked the 1st (and 2nd -- slow learner) graphite shaft I pulled. Discovered SMT - a wow moment. Found Graf ProLaunch Red was a great drvr + FW stick por moi. Learning lots, havin fun. Might even help my game . . .
12/10/11
 
Dusty23 says:
i realize that there might be some legal issues, but i'd be interested in seeing a list of which companies have a better track record so you could be extra vigilant when dealing with any of them. that would make them all do a better job to protect their reputations and deliver a better product
12/12/11
 
mattyk695 says:
I would really like to hear your thoughts on adjustable drivers. I have a Taylor Made R9 Super-Tri with an X Flex Mitsubishi Shaft that came with the club. I swing about 110-112 mph and tend to hook a "normal" driver. I set the R9 shaft to neutral upright and hit it real nice at first but now I am a bit inconsistent after 2 months.
12/12/11
 
stedar says:
I'm kind of simple. The club is the tool, the swing mechanics is what creates the shot. If you hit a club 100% the same every time you will be the no.1 in the world (even the pros can't hit exactly the same as every shot is different(wind, lie, mental attitude etc, and then there is the shot making with a draw or fade, low or high). So it seems to me, the best thing about selecting a club is to see if it allows you to create some sort of consistency with your swing. Terry mentioned the shaft and how it can be non-symmetrical - scary thought, as this game is already tough enough. Selecting the gear that helps you be consistent then practice until you are confident. That all you can ask in golf. The rest is time on the course... It would certainly help to know which brands to stay away from when it comes to how they manufacture them.
12/12/11
 
blundermuz says:
@Tim Horan, thanks for that mate!
12/13/11
 
wedgeguy says:
You guys asked for it, so watch Friday for my article on adjustable drivers. As for the subject of swingweight, I've written about it before here, and it's the most misunderstood measure of a golf club . . . and practically meaningless in the grand scheme of things. It means nothing more than a way to quantify the relative balance point of a club. There is no unit of measure of "1 point" of swingweight. And overlength clubs should have a different balance point than underlength clubs.
12/13/11
 
onedollarwed says:
Sadly some of the local "certified" club fitters go bulls**t when I bring up these subjects - frequnecy analyzers, etc. - and now my list is running short. "Who told you that? There's no such thing!" is what I get for responses.
12/16/11
 
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Terry Koehler is "The Wedge Guy" and President of SCOR Golf- The Short Game Company.

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