Something About Shafts
We don't normally plug things like this on oob, but since it involves Terry "The Wedge Guy" Koehler and he's practically family, we felt the need to share it with you. Terry will be on the "Speaking of Golf" show live tomorrow from 10-11 AM EST. He'll be discussing a variety of golf related topics so make sure you tune in for a good time. You can check listen to the live show at www.speakingofgolf.com.
I’m going to step outside the short end of the set this morning, and talk about the “first scoring club” – your driver. Good drivers of the ball have a much easier time of this game, as it is a huge advantage to approach greens from the fairway than the rough, even if you are not that long. I have advised many times that if you have to drop back to a 3-wood off the tee to keep it in play, your scores will invariably come down. So, check the testosterone and play better . . . if you can.
But a big part of hitting good drives is the tool you use to do it, and unfortunately, off-the-rack drivers are not “tuned” to optimize their performance. Let me explain.
If you purchase a driver from one of the top brands, realize that you got one of 250-400,000 – or more – that they made that year. Knowing that production is ramped up for the spring season, these companies build 30-50,000 drivers per month, or 1,500-2,500 per day, 250-400 an hour. These are assembly line clubs, (the only way to produce that many) and as such, they have some procedural tolerance built into the process. One of those is that shafts are installed with the graphics up, down or sideways on every club. That’s the standard.
The problem with that is that graphite shafts all have a “spine”, where one side is thicker than the others. That spine determines exactly how the shaft loads and unloads during the swing. And no shaft company aligns their graphics with any orientation to the spine, so you have no idea where it is on the shaft.
When we build a driver for ourselves or friends in our custom shop, we always locate the spine so that we know the club will load and unload in a straight line as the clubhead approaches impact. If it is not located that way, the club can actually “jump” in that final unloading, as much as 1/2-3/4 of an inch. That’s half the effective impact zone.
That’s been a puzzling thing to me about these drivers that have the adjustable hosel where you can rotate the shaft to achieve various “specs”. We’ve tested them, and when you rotate the shaft, you also change how that shaft will perform in the swing. So, finding the “right spot” is almost impossible.
Think about your driver this way. What other mechanical device on earth accelerates from 0 to 100+ miles per hour in less than 10’ of travel and .2 of a second? Even the most minute glitch in that club’s specifications and performance can have a major impact.
So, there’s the “problem”, but I’m not going to leave you without a solution. If you have a driver that you like the looks of, take it to a qualified independent clubfitter to have it measured and evaluated. He can pull the shaft and re-orient it into the head to improve your club’s performance dramatically. It’s like having your tires balanced or wheels aligned – it just works wonders.
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Aldila comes with Spine marked (according to them). Granted its not always perfect; out of all the Aldila shafts I have purchased I have only had 1 that was off by more than 1/8 of the circumference.
Regardless, as always you are dead on right ...
Torleif Sorenson says:
I read a different piece about ten years ago corroborating what you wrote above, Terry. Many thanks for reminding me about this! - Tor
Tim Horan says:
Absolutely spot on! I have had all my woods spine aligned, some through SST puring (spun on a shaft spinner with computer analysis) and some with a simple spine alignment device. Both have improved the performance dramatically reducing lateral dispersion and increasing distance. The distance is not necessarily down to shaft performance but more likely to be more consistant contact near or on the true sweet spot. I recently fitted Prolaunch shafts in a set of blades and all of them are spine aligned also.
This is a great topic. Here is a link to more than you might ever want to know about spining golf shafts.
Most of the evidence that there is any benefit to spining is anecdotal, and where to align the spine is an ongoing debat. That being said, I use a spining tool on all shafts that I install since it only takes a couple minutes.
@TeT is correct in that all of the Aldila shafts that I've seen, as well as most others, seem to have the spine aligned pretty close to 90* relative to the graphics.
I'm interested in others thoughts regarding the orrientation of the spine when installing shafts. Should it be at 3:00/9:00 or 12:00/6:00, and why?
My biggest concern is what is the best way to account for adjustable drivers & rotating the shaft with respect to the clubhead? If I did find the spine on the shaft and I wanted to tinker with the adjustment would it be worthwhile to re-attach the adaptor to the shaft everytime?
Tim Horan says:
The Cobra LS5 that I have with only a two position (Neutral and Closed) is fine as the two positions are 180 degrees opposed to one another. In this instance if the spine is aligned at 3 oclock when on the neutral setting it will be a 9 oclock on the closed setting. With a system with more options (open, neutral and closed with further options or degrees of each option) the spine will be slightly off but not by very much. Spine alignment need not be so exact that anything but spot on is useless. @ Swingem spine should always be at either 3:00 or 9:00. Interesting chap Dave Tutelman...read his blogs on MOI matched clubs. Great insight into club fitting.
@dc8ce: If we are going to assume that spining has a significant effect, then yes, it is best to realign the shaft tip so that the spine is in the correct orrientation relative to the prefered setting. I've done this on a couple of shafts for my R9 and R11.
@Tim Horan: I'm in agreement with you, I've always aligned my spines toward the target. I've also read that they should be aligned this way for driver to minimize side-to-side deflection and tighten dispersion on tee shots, but aligned at 12:00/6:00 in the irons to minimize toe-drop for more consistant contact.
I'm in the process of putting together two identical shafts for my R11, one with the direction of least deflection ("spine", for the purpose of this experiment) at 9:00/3:00 and one with it at 12:00/6:00. I'll take them to the range to see if I can tall any difference.
Tim Horan says:
@Swingem I have not heard that shafts in irons should be 12:00/ 6:00. I would have thought that this would accentuate any abberration as the shaft is loaded(taking the face either open or closed at impact. The toe droop can be compensated for with an adjustment to lie angle but needs to be done as a dynamic lie rather than a static lie. The degree to which any alignment will make a difference is directly related to what flex and torque properties a shaft has. A high torque (easily twisted) would show far more improvement than say a low torque shaft.
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