Getting The Shaft
I've written recently about seeing big variations in the shaft flexes and other specs in clubs played by our new college golfer intern and a local high school starlet, but I experienced something this week that made me want to address the subject of shafts to a greater degree. What prompted this deeper examination was a conversation with my head golf professional. He was telling me about a recurring theme of having demo days with major brands, his members buying new drivers based on the one they hit on the range so well, then being dissatisfied with the new one when it arrived. This is not an unusual occurrence in our sport, unfortunately.

He also told me about his new set of irons he received from the major brand which has him on staff. His story was that when he put them on the loft and lie machine, he saw variances of up to 2-3 degrees either side of his specifications. Now, I'm not going to bash major brands . . . OK, maybe a little . . . but if they will send out a set of irons like this to one of their staff professionals, what is on the rack in the store???

But back to the subject of shafts . . . specifically graphite wood and hybrid shafts. You must realize that in any large production batch of shafts, there is a tolerance for deviation from the standard spec that is allowed. That’s just the nature of manufacturing. The range of that acceptable deviation general is directly in line with the cost of the shaft itself. Higher priced shafts tend to be of a higher quality and consistency, much like anything else we buy. But with golf shafts, which are designed to operate in the golf swing at speeds of 80-120 mph, small variations can become quite an issue.

Golf shafts are kind of like the tires on your car. A small out-of-balance issue isn’t a problem driving around town, but when you get out on the highway, it can shake your car unmercifully. Likewise, a shaft with a slight variation in the way its spine is aligned or a slightly different flex from the next club will cause problems at full swing speed. And it is highly likely that your driver, 3- and 5- woods . . . even if they are the same make and model . . . have variations that can cause them all to perform differently.

Do you hit all your woods with the same directional tendency? With the same trajectory? With the same confidence and consistency? All of these issues can be traced to the shafts, and the small deviations that fall within manufacturers' "acceptable tolerances". If you are serious about playing your best, and getting the most out of your equipment, it would be well worth your time and a small investment to have your clubs analyzed by a capable independent clubfitter/maker. These golf club professionals have the ability to measure the true flex/frequency, define the flex profile, and locate the spine on each of your woods to make sure that they are "optimized". Quite often the fix is nothing more complex than pulling the shaft and re-installing it at a different orientation to the head. Sometimes, however, you’ll find that a new shaft can create a completely new club for you.

The fact is, if you’ve purchased a new driver or fairway woods in the past five years, there really isn’t a new model on the market that can make a huge difference in your performance. The secret is in the shaft, and your current woods can be re-built or re-shafted to fit you for a lot less than another new one that you really don’t know much about. There are several resources on the web to find a qualified golf club professional in your area – International Clubmakers Guild and Association of Golf Clubfitting Professionals both list their members on their sites.

The more you know about your golf clubs, the more you can get out of them. It's really that simple.

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[ comments ]
lcgolfer64 says:
Couldn't agree more WG.
I just had my of-the-rack 2yr old driver 'fixed' after toeing a couple too many and cracking the ferrel. I had the shaft shortened about an inch. I went to a ball fitting at the range yesterday where they measured swing speed, velocity, trajectory, and spin etc.

I've spent the last year or so getting lessons from a local Pro about once a week. So he was watching me and looked at my stats and then hit my "fixed" driver since we had pretty similar stats, except I had too-high sidespin (fade). He showed a an increase in S/S and fade (he has a beautiful draw normally) when he hit my driver as well. Then I hit his driver - sidespin and fade was way reduced for me.
He suggested that I go in and get re-fitted for a new shaft or a new driver. I will being so this weekend!
sepfeiff says:
Awesome advice. If you're more visual, this video helps. I have no affiliation with the guy in the video.
rmumph1 says:
I do not have a member of International Clubmakers Guild or Association of Golf Clubfitting Professionals within 75 miles of where I live. Is there another organization for club fitting that you would recommend?
wedgeguy says:
Those are the two I know, but there are a lot of clubfitters that might not be members. Try googling Clubfitter or clubmaker and your city, or you might also try the locator service on some of the component companies' websites -- SMT, KZG, Wishon, GolfWorks, etc.
Banker85 says:
if i had the money i would do these things...
eventHorizon says:
The last paragraph nailed it. Clubheads right now aren't changing much. No matter what the ads say. The shafts make the difference.
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Terry Koehler is "The Wedge Guy" and President of SCOR Golf- The Short Game Company.

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