Answer these 4 questions: 1) Are all golfers the same size? 2) Do all golfers have the same strength? 3) Do all golfers have the same athletic ability? 4) Do all golfers have the same swing characteristics? If the answers are “no” then how can a a standard, off the rack set of men’s or ladies clubs fit all golfers? A set bought off the rack can not allow you to be all that you can be as a golfer compared to a set built one club at a time with your swingspeed, tempo, athletic ability, coordination, and body size taken into consideration.
There really is no such thing as a Junior, Senior, Male, or Female golfer per se. There are only golfers with differences in size, strength, athletic abilities, and swing characteristics.
Take Senior men for example. Are we talking a 68 yr old, 6′ 3″, 225 lb, retired lumberjack, or a 68 yr old, 5′ 5″, 155 lb, retired bookkeeper? How can a golf club marked “Senior Flex”, in one length, one total weight, one grip size, one flex, and one lie/loft angle be right for both of these senior players?
When they start making all senior men in the same size, shape, and athletic ability, the concept of a “senior golf club” will make sense. Until then, the term is a marketing phrase and nothing more.
When talking about how your clubs are built, first off, all shafts are weight sorted, spined, and frequency matched to exact flex values. Then I employ True Length Technology (See TLT question) for each individual golfer and then MOI match the entire set to complement that particular golfer’s swingspeed, tempo, strength, coordination, and atletic ability. Good luck try getting that in a pre-assembled, one size fits all set of irons bought off the rack. Same thing goes for the clubheads-each head measured for exact loft, lie, and weight specifications…something that is never done in clubs bought “off the rack”.
Secondly, in any industry, it is literally impossible for a mass-produced product to cater to all individuals and golf equipment is no exception. The old saying “one-size fits all” may be fine for Spandex wear, but it is terribly inadequate when it comes to meeting the specifications and playing needs of individual golfers. These individual needs are at the very heart of the custom clubmaking profession and the primary and most important difference between OEM clubs and clubs crafted by clubmakers. Custom-fit clubs are assembled from heads, shafts and grips specifically chosen on the basis of how each can assist a particular golfer get the most out of their playing ability. In stark contrast, unless you play professional golf for a living, OEM clubs are manufactured to one set of specifications to create a ” vanilla-flavored” set of clubs that is made to satisfy the basic needs of the highest percentage of golfers. Kind of like a shoe manufacturer who only sells size 9 for men and size 7 for ladies because that is the national average.
There are over 20 different specifications that make up a golf club which together control the golfer`s Distance, Accuracy, Trajectory, and Feel. These specifications are the keys to an individual fitting which will allow the golfer to achieve the most out of his/her game. One of the biggest advantages is clubmakers are not constrained by a limited number of components. Clubmakers can select from millions of different clubhead-shaft-grip combinations to better serve the customer and accommodate the player`s needs and personal tastes. There really is no comparison. Clubmakers have a much greater range of components from which to create the right set of golf clubs for the golfer.
To be fair, over the past several years, there has been a surge by OEM companies to jump on the custom-fitting bandwagon. For OEMs, custom clubfitting is simply the newest and latest avenue to explore in an attempt gain a market share. What this proves is something clubmakers have known for years – custom fit clubs are an advantage for all golfers!
The publication, “Golf Shop Operations”, reported last year that 33 golf club companies offered some type of formal custom clubfitting system, including many of the industry`s leading manufacturers. More recently, “Golf Digest`s” online poll disclosed that nearly 90 percent of those surveyed think they would play better with fitted clubs, but only 33 percent of respondents have ever been fitted. All of this suggests that custom fitting has achieved national public acceptance and a tremendous market exists for custom-fit golf clubs.
Here is another example: When a person wanders around a sporting goods store and walks through the tennis department, it is quite apparent that every one of the “brand name” rackets are displayed with no strings. In addition, each brand and model of racket on display is stocked in a variety of grip diameters. Why? Because racket makers have known for decades that not all tennis players can play with the same type or tension of strings, or with the same grip size. In the brand name tennis racket business there has never been such a thing as a “standard racket” for all players to buy and use off the rack.
Then walk through the baseball and softball department. Row after row of bats are on display, offering ballplayers a wide range of selection in the length, weight, grip/handle diameter, and barrel diameter. Why? For many decades, bat makers have also known that one bat length; one bat weight, one grip diameter and barrel diameter cannot work well for all the sports’ participants. Once more, in the brand name bat business there is no such thing as a “standard bat” that all players can buy and use right off the rack.
Wander a little farther into the store and notice the snow skis. The skis come in a variety of different lengths and none with a binding attached to hold the skier’s boots. Then come the ski poles, again, all made to different lengths by their manufacturer. Why? Because skiers cannot possibly ski well if they all use the same length of skis and poles. Due to the different weights and sizes of skiers, they also cannot use the same bindings to hold their boots secure to the skis. Again, in the brand name ski business there is no such thing as one size of skis, poles and bindings that fits all skiers.
So why the heck has the golf business evolved into offering all their clubs the same length, the same weights, the same face angle on the woods, the same lie angle, the same grip size with the only options being a narrow range in driver loft and one flex of shaft for women and three flexes for men – but all within in the same shaft weight model.
Unlike just about any other sport, golf clubs have ALWAYS been made in standard, mass produced form. But, just like the people who play tennis, baseball, softball and ski, golfers also come in a wide variety of height, weight, strength, athletic ability, and of course, totally different swing characteristics. So why have golf clubs always been made as “one size fits all”? Because of the fact clubs are sold in sets and usually golfers carry 14 clubs. Mass production won’t allow for all these sets of clubs to be built with all different specifications, nor could the stores selling them carry all these different sets with different specs. Not to mention the sales staff would have to be very knowledgeable and specially trained to be able to analyze different swing moves of their customers in order to properly fit them.
Unfortuneately, most golfers are totally oblivious to the difference between the golf equipment and other sports equipment industries. Golfers are blinded by 50 million dollar a year marketing programs which brainwash them to believe the best golf clubs for them are the brands and models they repeatedly see in magazines and on television.
This brand name brainwashing has somehow made golfers totally oblivious to the fact that in every other “bat and ball” sport, custom fitting or rather, custom selection for the equipment’s performance specifications has been the mode of equipment selection for several decades. It totally amazes me that golf clubs are immune to the same manner of custom selection and fitting that tennis, baseball, softball and skiing have always pursued in their equipment offerings.
No matter how technically proficient I may be at debating the merits of the clubs I build, I cannot win that debate with 98+% of the golfers I encounter because $50 million times year after year is too difficult for me to upstage. I might as well be trying to build cars in my workshop and try to tell everyone I make a better car than Ford, Toyota or Mercedes-Benz.
On the other hand, the giant clubmaking companies and their $50 million/year in marketing DO have an Achilles’ Heel. The weakness of every big golf club company that IS being exploited and exposed with real success by a handful of astute Clubmakers is the big golf companies practice of doing nothing but selling standard made, one size fits all, golf clubs off the racks of every pro shop, retail golf store or internet golf retail site.
If I want to be successful in growing my business as a custom clubmaker, everything I say or do has to be aimed at making the golfer realize that no matter how good they believe the brand name clubs to be, there is no way they can possibly achieve all they can be as a golfer unless they take the time to be professionally custom fit.
The point is that as long as golfers are all different and all make swing mistakes, no standard made set of clubs can ever perform as well for the golfer as a set that is custom fit to each golfer’s individual size, strength, athletic ability and swing characteristics.
There are (3) basic steps to custom club fitting:
1. Computerized Swing Analysis which pin points the necessary shaft flex depending on the golfer`s swing tempo and swing speed.
2. Shaft length is determined to accommodate the player.
3. Grip size and style is selected to increase comfort and performance.
Other major fitting variables include set make-up, lie angle, clubhead design, hozel offset, face angle, shaft type, shaft torque, shaft bend point, shaft weight, swing weight, and total weight. These specifications all contribute to improvements concerning ACCURACY, DISTANCE, FEEL, TRAJECTORY, and CONSISTANCY.
Step 1. See a Professional Golf Instructor. (Too many golfers will spend $400.00 for a driver but won`t spend $40.00 for a private lesson).
Step 2. Be custom fit with quality equipment. (After all, PGA players use custom fit clubs and look at them, they`re Pros).
Step 3. Maintain a positive attitude.
Step 4. Practice.
Step 5. Play.
If you follow the steps above you will see positive results in your game.
Very important. Only carry clubs that you can hit. Because lofts have gotten stronger over the past ten years, a 3 iron (and maybe even a 4 iron) is not the ideal club for many golfers. Replace it with a higher lofted fairway wood or a “hybrid” club (which combines characteristics of both a fairway wood and a long iron). PGA players such as Fred Couples, Vijay Singh, and Lee Janzen are just a few who are now using such clubs instead of 1 and 2 irons. I offer some iron sets that are a blended set where the 3, 4, and 5 irons are a hybrid design for easier playability. Check them out!!
And don’t ignore the short irons. It is not unusual for a golfer to carry 4 wedges. These are the scoring clubs and any gaps need to be filled in. For example, if your pitching wedge is 47 degrees and your sand wedge is 56 degrees then it would be important to have a 51 or 52-degree wedge in order to eliminate awkward distance gaps. Ideally, 4 degrees (no more than 5) of loft should be the difference between wedges (and all irons for that matter). There is an exception to this 4* loft rule and that is for slower swinging golfers. For slower swingers, they do not see a big enough distance gap between irons so the Wishon 730CL set has 6* loft differences between clubs. This allows for a 10-12 yard distance between clubs like an average swing speed golfer experiences with the 4* loft spread set.
Shaft flex is the bending action of the shaft in relation to the speed and tempo of the golfer`s swing. The proper amount of shaft flex necessary to make good ball contact depends on the golfer`s swing tempo and how much club-head speed the golfer generates. The shaft is the “transmition” of any golf club (the golfer is the engine) so careful consideration is needed when determining your proper shaft flex.
Unfortunately, there is no industry standard for shaft flex – one company`s regular flex is another company`s stiff flex. More confusion arises when one tries to determine how regular an “R” flex is and how stiff an “S” flex is. Instead of traditional flex designations (L, A, R, S, XS) – practically meaningless because of how loosely they`re applied today – frequency matched shafts are measured based on cycles per minute and assigned a specific numerical value (3.0= light, 4.0=senior, 5.0=regular, 6.0=stiff, 7.0=extra stiff). In between flexes are also possible (2.5, 3.5, 4.5, 5.5, 6.5, 7.5). In other words, the frequency (rate of oscillation over a specified period of time) in CPM (cycles per minute) is used to precisely define shaft flex.
As a point of interest professional golfer Sergio Garcia uses a 7.2 flex in his irons and woods. Rocco Mediate uses 7.3, Ernie Els uses 7.1 and Tim Herron uses 6.5 Rifle Project X shafts. Generally speaking, a golfer with an average tempo and a 90 mph driver swing speed is more geared toward a 5.0 shaft flex.
Frequency matching is done with an electronic device called a frequency analyzer. A frequency analyzer gives a digital readout of the stiffness of a shaft. The flexibility of the shaft is measured by clamping the butt end of the shaft and then pulling the clubhead towards you and releasing it so the club oscillates freely at its natural frequency. The number of times the shaft oscillates is measured electronically and calibrated as cycles per minute (CPM). A stiff shaft would oscillate faster and produce a higher CPM reading than a more limber shaft. With selective tip trimming, your shafts are perfectly matched in flex guaranteeing all your clubs feel and swing the same be it irons or woods. Because your shafts all have the same predetermined flex, you can groove your swing to that one flex that best matches your swing tempo and swing speed. The net result is more consistent shotmaking.
In addition, with a frequency analyzer it is possible to duplicate the shaft flex of your favorite club. If, for example, you like the feel and performance of your 3 wood and are looking to buy a 5 or 7 wood, the new shaft can be matched to your existing 3 wood shaft via frequency thus ensuring the same flex, feel, and performance.
A set of off-the-rack irons sold to the general public are seldom, if ever, frequency matched. This is hard to believe considering the high cost of a so called “top-of-the-line” set of irons. Sure the heads look wonderful but virtually no attention has been paid to the consistancy of the shafts. If you are curious regarding the consistancy or your off-the-rack clubs, I will test them for you(for free) in about 10 minutes right before your eyes.
A golfer’s ball striking ability determines the driver length. The longer the club, the more difficult it is to make a clean hit on the sweet spot. It is much easier to strike the ball on the center of the face with a shorter club. A golfer, short in height, with a good ball striking ability, can handle a club that is 1/2″ to 1″ longer than standard. A tall golfer with a high handicap would be able to connect the sweet spot more easily using a shorter club.
Because the driver is the longest club in the bag with the least loft, it is and will always be the most difficult club to hit solid and straight. So ideally, a golfer`s driver should be as long as his coordination and talent will allow. The longer the club, the greater the potential for loss of control. A really long drive out of bounds into the trees is a lot less desirable than a shorter drive right down the fairway. A rule of thumb is: Use the longest, lightest, most flexible shaft you can control.
And remember, at the end of the year the most accurate driver on any pro tour hits only 80% of fairways. This % includes the fact that many times the golfer will tee off with a 3 wood or long iron. A “driver only” statistic would likely be about 65% of fairways hit.
Why are almost all graphite-shafted drivers longer than the standard length of steel shafted drivers?
The inherently lighter weight of graphite allows for a longer shaft without increasing the total weight of the club. The longer the club, in turn, produces a longer arc and perhaps greater head speed. This could mean extra distance as long as the golfer can still hit the ball on the center of the face. If center-face contact is sacrificed due to the longer length, then going to a longer driver is a poor choice because hitting the ball in the center of the clubface is where most of the distance and accuracy generates from…for every 1/2 inch the ball is struck off-center you lose about 7% distance. Also, the loss of swing weight because of the lighter shaft weight can only be regained by adding weight to the head or lengthening the shaft. It is much easier for the mass producers to leave the shaft longer then add head weight so you end up with a 45 inch driver (some are now 46.5″) which is too long for most golfers to swing properly, usually resulting in a slice because the longer the club, the harder it is to square the face at impact. The average length of a driver on the PGA Tour is 44.5 inches. If the best swing athletes on the planet find a longer driver harder to hit properly, why in the world are you attempting to use one?
Because putting is so mental, this question is best answered by personal taste. You must have confidence in your putter to stroke good putts. If a putter looks good, feels good, has the proper lie, length, and grip type you need – TRY IT!
All clubheads have a lifetime warranty against failure under normal playing conditions. All graphite shafts have a 3 year warranty and all steel shafts have a 6 year warranty against breakage under normal playing conditions. Normal playing conditions do not include synthetic hitting mats or accidently hitting trees or other obstructions.
No shaft is perfectly round, straight, or stiff throughout its length and it is impossible to make a shaft that has perfectly symmetrical bending properties all the way up, down, and around the shaft. Because of this, shafts are like snowflakes and fingerprints – each one has its own ideosyncracies and irregularities. PUREing identifies the area of the shaft that is the most consistent. This area is then marked with an arrow and installed into the head in a neutral position. The shaft will then play symmetrical and bend exactly on the same plane as the golfer`s swing thereby eliminating mishits due to inconsistent shaft asymmetry. Currently there are more than 100 PGA professionals using PUREed shafts in their clubs and these numbers are escalating quickly.
All shaft vendors are available to me. These include TWGT, FST, True Temper, Royal Precision, UST, Aldila, Grafalloy, Harrison, Apollo, and Fujikura to name a few.
If you are just wanting a club that will help and are not interested in swing lessons, then there are 3 club specifications you need to consider.
(1) Shaft/driver length – most drivers today are 45″ to 46″ in length which is longer then the PGA Tour average of 44 1/2″. A shorter club, with perhaps a heavier swing weight/higher MOI and a slightly heavier shaft, will allow you to square the clubhead easier then a longer club.
(2) More loft – higher lofted drivers 11, 12, 13.5 and even 15 degrees will help you put less sidespin on the ball. You may be a candidate for a higher loft driver if you have a descending angle of attack at impact, meaning you deloft the club at impact. If you find you are a low ball hitter compared to most of your playing partners, chances are you have a descending angle of attack and therefor need more loft anyway to maximize distance. I guess that is why I hear many golfers say they hit their 3 wood straighter and just as far as their driver (a 3 wood is shorter and has more loft then a driver – what a coincidence).
(3) Face angle and hosel offset – a closed face or hook face will help compensate for you striking the ball with an open face. The most closed face driver I offer is 5 degrees closed. An offset driver will allow you a split second more time to square the face at impact resulting in a straighter ball flight. All offset drivers are closed faced to some extent.
Some irons are more expensive depending on how the head is manufactured and what material they are constructed from. With “cast” heads, hot, liquid metal is poured into molds. This is the easiest method and therefore less expensive to produce. “Forged” heads are basically pounded into shape using a 5 or 6 step forging process. A forged head starts out as a 6″ long billet of carbon steel. A multi-ton press then hammers this softer metal into shape. There is much more man-handling involved with a forged head making it more time consuming to produce and therefore more expensive. Some irons use more then one type of metal, again, this increases the price. Is one better then the other? No, as both cast and forged irons have won on the PGA Tour. Some golfers believe a forged iron has a softer feel to it when the ball is struck and some golfers cannot tell the difference between the two methods.
The same goes for metal woods. More complicated and time consuming manutacturing techniques as well as the use of more exotic metals drives the cost up compared to a more simple, stainless steel, cast head.
Price is not an indication of clubhead quality but rather a reflection of material and manufacturing costs. Simply put, some materials are more exotic and therefore cost more then other materials, and some types of clubhead manfacturing techniques take more time then other techiniques. For example, it is easier and takes less time to “cast” an ironhead in a mold (hot metal poured in a mold) then it is to “forge” an ironhead (a multi-ton press basically “pounds” a billet of carbon steel into a clubhead). Both methods produce exceptional clubheads and both cast and forged clubheads are in the bags of the best players in the world.
My buddy bought a new Titleist Vokey Spin Milled 58 degree wedge and that thing spins like crazy. What is the difference between the Wishon wedge models and his?
What’s ironic about this question is if Tom Wishon would have accepted Titleist’s offer back in 2002 to be the VP of R & D then Tom would have had to fire Vokey because 2 designers would not have been needed. And I would not be selling the Wishon wedges because they would have Titleist stamped on them.
But to get back to the question:
To my knowledge, while both the Wishon wedges and Vokey Spin Milled wedges have a CNC milling on the face, the Vokeys have conventional scorelines while the Wishon’s have scorelines that are more narrow but closer together.
Vokeys and virtually all other wedges have scorelines that are 0.8mm wide and 2.8mm spaced apart. The Wishon scorelines are 0.6mm wide and 2.0mm spaced apart. What this means is that at impact, the Vokeys put the edges of THREE scorelines on the surface of the ball while the Wishon’s put the edges of FIVE scorelines on the surface of the ball.
Backspin is a product of 1) swing speed, 2) friction between the face and the ball.
The higher the swing speed, the more backspin will result. This is a function of the golfer, period.
The more friction between the face and surface of the ball, the more backspin will result. Friction is a product of 1) surface roughness, 2) sharpness of the edges of the scorelines, 3) the golfer’s angle of attack with the clubhead down into the ball.
SO, if you mill the face, you increase the friction between the ball and the flat areas between the scorelines. If you make the scorelines so that you have more line edges in contact with the ball, you increase the friction. And if you hit down and through the ball strongly, you also get more friction.
So the Vokey milling and the Wishon milling do the same thing. But the Vokey’s conventional scorelines don’t add as much friction to the impact as do the smaller and closer together Wishon scorelines. Of the two, face roughness and scorelines, the face roughness will account for the majority of the spin because the area of the face between lines is greater than the area of the line edges. But having more line edges in contact with the ball does add some more spin to the shot.
Bottom line, the Vokey’s spin the ball more than any wedge that has a conventionally sand blasted or glass bead blasted face surface between scorelines. But the Wishon’s spin the ball a little more than the Vokey’s or any other wedge because they have both the surface roughness from the CNC Milling and the closer together scorelines to put more line edges in contact with the ball.
This is a myth and misconception that will live forever as long as the big golf companies continue to spend $50 mill a year brainwashing golfers into thinking the quality of a golf club lies more in the name on the sole and who on tour plays clubs with those names on the sole, rather than if the clubs are accurately and very professionally custom fit to all the differences between golfers’ size, strength, athletic ability and swing characteristics.
Look at it this way. The pros and very low handicappers are skilled enough to be able to play well with almost any golf club. You, on the other hand, are not, which means YOU need properly fitted golf clubs even more than THEY do. You need custom fit clubs to minimize your swing errors and to maximize your swing strengths.
Now let’s be clear – I am NOT saying you can “buy” skill as a golfer. I am not saying that by spending enough money, you can somehow go from being a double-digit handicapper to qualifying for next year’s U.S. Open. Buying new clubs – even truly custom built ones – is NOT a substitute for learning and “grooving” the proper swing fundamentals. Never has been. Never will be.
I AM saying, however, that equipment that doesn’t fit – that is the wrong length, or loft, or weight, or balance – can keep you from being all you can be as a golfer (at any level), and it might even keep you from becoming a golfer at all, what with the fact that some three million golfers leave the game every year.
The idea of custom fitting is to have clubs in which the individual design characteristics of the clubhead, shaft, and grip are matched to your swing. Further, they are assembled to allow you to maintain essentially the same swing throughout the set, yet give predictably different distance and trajectory results because of the way each club is designed and built.
This is the essence of custom clubmaking and design. Unfortunately, that almost never happens because so few golfers ever do more in their search for their perfect golf clubs than to drive to the local golf store or click on their computer.
The average golfer could lose five to six strokes by simply realizing that the golf club is not a “club.” It is not something that is used to beat things into submission. It really IS a superbly designed, surgical-quality instrument-if you take the time to discover how it can be fitted to complement your swing. The idea here is to play the game with one swing and 14 controlled results – NOT 14 swings and 144 prayers.
Yes, it’s true, golf is inherently a difficult and often frustrating game; but that’s part of its charm, part of the fun. As with any game, however, if poor equipment rigs the game so you can’t possibly win, suddenly it becomes a whole lot less charming and not fun at all.
A Spine Finder is a tool used to locate the spine of any golf shaft, be it steel or graphite. While there are some that question the need for this, I for one have been convinced that spine alignment of the shaft in a golf club is of major importance. How the spine is aligned plays a major role in how every club will perform. Again, some people will tell you that this isn’t very important with the new modern golf shaft, as manufacturing methods have eliminated the need for this. Well, I’m here to tell you that this is not true. I’ve tested more golf shafts than I can count, and I’ve been able to locate the spine on every one of them. While it’s true that some are better than others, none of the ones I’ve tested have been perfect.
The Spine Finder is pretty easy to use once you get the hang of it. First you clamp the tool in a bench vice at approximately a 30-degree angle. Then you insert the butt end of a shaft inside the two ball bearing sleeves. You then place the third bearing over the tip of the shaft and apply enough force to cause the shaft to bend a little. When you apply the force to the shaft, the shaft will want to twist along its axis, until it comes to what is known as the Neutral Bend Plane, or NBP. This is what you are looking for, and what you want to align when you install the shaft in a clubhead.
Why is this necessary? Well to put it in simple terms, golf shafts may be round in shape, but none of them are perfectly round and they don’t bend the same when you rotate them. If you rotate a shaft 360 degrees along its axis, you will find that the shaft will bend different amounts with the same pressure applied to the tip. How much difference you will find in a shaft will vary, and even the best models can vary as much as 15 %. What does this mean to you the golfer? Well, it means a shaft that is sold as an R flex, might be more like an A flex if bent in one direction, and more like an S flex when bent in a different direction. Most likely you will not find that much variation in one shaft, but you might find that much variance in a set of steel shafts for a set of 8 irons. What you want is to eliminate as much of this variance as possible so each club in a set of irons will play the same as the next. There is a second reason for doing a spine alignment on the shaft, and it can be even more important than having the flex of the clubs the same. It has to do with how the shaft will bend and re-bound when you swing the club. When a shaft is bent under load, as when you swing the club, you need to have the shaft re-bound again in a straight line, a line that is parallel to the target line. The only way for this to happen is if the shaft has been spine aligned when it was installed in the clubhead. If it wasn’t, you can make a perfect swing, and still not hit the ball in the center of the clubface. Miss the center of the clubface, and a perfect swing is wasted. How much can spine alignment help? Enough to make a noticeable difference in how straight and accurate you can hit every club in your bag. Enough to make the difference between finding the middle of the fairway with your new driver, and being in the rough.
I also perform what is called a FLO test. That stands for Flat Line Oscillation. The test is pretty simple, you clamp the butt end of the shaft in a vice, and then you flex the head end and release it. This will cause the shaft to spring back and forth, or oscillate. What you want is for the shaft to oscillate in a straight line. If you do this test with most every golf club made, you will find that the club head will oscillate in an oval, or figure eight pattern, just about anything other than a straight line. The ideal situation is to have the shaft oscillate in a straight line down the target line coming into impact. The way to achieve this is to align the spine of the shaft properly. It you think about it, a shaft can be aligned around a 360-degree rotation. Of those 360 degrees, only one position will allow the shaft to perform at its best. That means that if the shaft is randomly installed, as is the case with every OEM that I know of, the odds of it being installed correctly are 1 in 360. Personally, I don’t like those odds, especially when I can do something about it.
The main reason to use a spine alignment tool it to be able to align the shaft in the clubhead, so as to allow the shaft to perform at its maximum potential. When this is done, a set of irons will feel much more consistent, with each club performing pretty much the same. A driver or fairway wood will strike the ball closer to the center of the clubface, for straighter and longer shots. Pretty much what all of us want from our clubs. The second reason to use a spine finder, is to make the most out of the shaft that we are working with.
Golf is a rather hard game to play well. No one needs to have any disadvantage built into their clubs. But the fact remains that most every golf club you can buy, has the shaft installed in a less than optimal alignment. This is a disadvantage to every golfer with the skill to play this game fairly well. Spine alignment will not make a 30-handicap golfer start shooting scores in the low 90’s. But it will allow him or her to play better golf, because when he or she does make a good swing, the club will perform at it should, and the ball strike will be closer to center.
Let me ask each of you a question. Have you ever demoed a driver and hit it really well at a store or course. Then you purchased the exact same driver with the same shaft from eBay, or some other place for less money, only to find that when you hit the new driver it didn’t perform as the one in your demo? The most likely reason for this is that the one you purchased had the shaft installed with a different alignment of the spine, compared to the demo model you hit so well. And this is one of the main reasons I don’t recommend anyone buy a driver or any club for that matter, on E-bay. Sure, you might save a good bit of money, but it the club doesn’t perform like the demo model, it’s not a GOOD DEAL. It’s a waste of GOOD MONEY. Personally, the only way I’d but a club on E-bay, is if I intend to pull the shaft when I get it, and spine align it correctly. For the average golfer this is not an option, unless they take it to a custom club maker. And the cost of pulling the shaft, doing the spine alignment testing, and re-installing the shaft, can eat up most of money that was saved buying on E-bay. The good news is, with spine alignment, at least the club can be made to play a lot better, and the golfer can get the most out of his club.
I believe enough in spine alignment, that I will not build another club without taking the time to do the spine alignment before I assemble the components. And if I happen to find a deal on a new club that is too good to pass up, I’ll do the spine alignment on the club to see if I can make it better. The odds are 360 to 1 that I can.
While it would be nice if every serious golfer had their own spine alignment tool, I don’t see that happening. But what I do recommend is that every serious golfer has their clubs tested to see if they can be made to perform better. And to insist that any new clubs they have built have the shaft spine aligned correctly as a matter of practice. The test is simple and quick, and there is no good reason it shouldn’t be done with every custom made club, or re-shafting job.
Before proceeding, it will be useful to gain a feel for what is meant by “Moment Of Inertia”, or MOI, when we refer to the fully assembled golf club. Recent advances in the clubmaking arena have led to the development of a machine that measures a golf club’s Moment of Inertia. We know that when we try to move any object, it resists our efforts according to its mass. If a mass is attached to the end of a rod and swung from point A to point B, it offers a certain resistance to our efforts. If the rod is lengthened, it is more difficult to make the swing in the same time as before because the MOI of the entire mass and rod as one object has been increased. Therefore, if we consider the object in our example to be a golf club, the MOI is a measurement of the golf club’s ability to resist our ability to rotate the golf club around our body.
We can then say that MOI is the parameter that resists our efforts to swing and rotate the club around our body in the swing. The MOI can be increased by increasing the length through which the mass of the club is rotating and/or by increasing the mass of the clubhead itself. Or, the MOI can be decreased by shortening the length and reducing the mass of the club. In addition, MOI can be changed by altering a combination of the length and mass of the golf club.
A golf club that has a large MOI will require more effort to swing than a golf club that has a smaller MOI. The proper MOI of the golf club for the golfer thus has a direct bearing on the golfer’s strength, swing speed and the amount of control that the golfer has on the golf club when accelerating during the downswing. This generates the energy potential needed to propel the golf ball some distance away and along a desired trajectory. The energy potential of the golf swing can therefore be optimized by adjusting the MOI of the golf club to suit a particular golfer.
One of the goals in the fitting process will be to determine what exact MOI is best for each golfer. If that can be identified, then the MOI Speed Matching System will enable me to build golf clubs to a matched MOI so that all of the clubs in a set will require the same effort to swing. If this is done, the golfer should experience an improvement in consistency in being able to strike the ball on-center a higher percentage of the time, which in turn will translate into greater distance and better accuracy overall.
What’s the Difference Between Swingweight and MOI?
A MOI matched set will not be swingweight matched. This is one of the differences between MOI matching and swingweight matching. Golf club manufacturers build Modern iron sets to a specific swingweight with matching shafts. Most irons are sold in a set consisting of three iron to pitching wedge. Gap wedges, sand wedges and lob wedges are sold separately. Most often the swingweight of these wedges do not match each other or the three iron to pitching wedge set. Manufacturers are prone to installing different shafts into the wedges as well. In the end, the customer ends up with wedges that usually have a different shaft, swingweight and feel unlike the rest of their irons. When a set is MOI matched and the wedges are included, which is not hard to do, all irons will feel very similar. By adopting new length progressions the wedges can be integrated into the set by length much better.
Is MOI Matching a new high-tech clubmaking concept?
Not at all. Actually, research tells me that back in the 1920s when swingweight was developed, its originators were aware of the principles of MOI matching and tried to make swingweight matching of clubs the same as MOI Matching. They failed because the principle of the swingweight scale they developed could not truly accomplish the task of measuring the MOI of a golf club. Over the decades since the development of swingweight, engineers familiar with the principles of MOI have always been in agreement that MOI matching would truly make all clubs within a set swing with exactly the same feel, while swingweight matching could not.
Has MOI Matching ever been done previously in golf clubs?
Yes, there were two previous times in golf equipment history in which companies engaged in the sales of assembled golf clubs attempted to offer MOI matched golf clubs for sale. First, in the 1970s, a company named Sounder Golf offered sets of woods and irons which were purported to be matched by weighting the clubs at specific points within the shaft. The company promoted its clubs through the use of a device which would allow the shop to set two clubs in a pendulum swing motion to show how the Sounder clubs swung back and forth precisely the same in synchronous motion. When two swingweight matched clubs were placed in the same device, the identical swingweighted clubs swung back and forth in different pendulum motion. The Sounder clubs never caught on for two reasons: 1) Sounder was under-capitalized and unable to generate enough demand through their marketing programs. 2) Every set of Sounder clubs was built to only one specific MOI. Because golfers are different in strength, tempo and swing mechanics, one MOI measurement could never fit the MOI requirements of each golfer.
In the late 1990s, Tommy Armour Golf Company introduced their EQL model clubs to the market. By making all of the woods the same length and same total weight as the 5-wood, and all of the irons the same length/total weight as the 6-iron, the company did achieve a true MOI match for all the clubs within each segment of the set. This concept failed for two reasons; first, because the one MOI measurement to which all the EQL woods and irons were built did not fit all golfers, and second, because the concept of all woods and all irons being the same length was much too radical for golfers to accept.
Have you ever been troubled by the condition of ‘My long irons are too long and my short irons are too short’?
True Length Technology ™ addresses this condition through CAD modeling the entire set by correlating the ‘lengths and lies’ to the golfer in their athletic address position. Imagine having one single, stable athletic address position for every club in the bag. Holding every club in the same hand position and still utilize varying lengths and lies that fit your math model, perfectly.
Dan Connelly is the inventor of True Length Technology (TLT). Dan’s background:
“I have a strong mathematical background, with precision accuracy (micro measurements) being my primary function for the last 18 years.”
Currently Dan is a Precision Inspector (Metrologist) for the General Motors Canadian Regional Engineering Centre as a CAD programmer for the Coordinate Metrology Lab.
-Past Chairman (2 years) of the ‘Association for Coordinate Metrology Canada’ – devoted to educating & understanding micro measurement technology.
-Durham College Graduate – Mechanical Technology Program.
-Owner of the Proprietary Length / Lie / Fitting System – True Length Technology ™
Currently pursuing Certification with the Professional Clubmakers Society.
Current Trends – Dan’s thoughts:
“When I reviewed published lie angles verses length throughout the industry, the lie angle progressions did not add up mathematically to the traditional lengths.”
Company A – Lie angles increment in ½ degree per club,
Company B – Lie angles increment in 1 degree per club,
Company C – Lie angles vary and don’t seem to follow a progressive pattern.
How could each of these (different) lie angle designs all have (identical) finished lengths?
During any lesson, I was always taught to ‘get into my athletic address position’
Feet shoulder width apart.
Knees slightly bent.
Spine tilted forward near 30 degrees.
Arms hanging down and slightly out from my body.
When I did this my 7 iron fit and played like it was built for me.
Slight amount of grip cap above my hand.
Lie angle looking correct at address.
Hit the ball…straight.
However, my 3 iron would have nearly one inch of butt cap above my wrist at address, and my pitching wedge would be down into the palm of my hand. It seemed that there was roughly an extra 1 ½ inches between my longest and shortest clubs that just did not seem to fit my position.
Some players will adjust their spine tilt, knee bend, distance between their feet, etc. for every club in their bag. This will result in the golfer having to recall and execute 13 slightly different setup positions to maintain one common hand position. No matter how good of an athlete you are, this is still a very difficult task.
I felt that if I was a visually handicapped golfer, I would setup in my athletic position consistently – waiting for my club. Would I know the position I was suppose to be in if I was holding my 3 iron verses my pitching wedge? Would there be a difference? My thoughts were ‘No, I am ready to hit, give me my club please.’
In trying to understand how these theories worked with my existing clubs, I began to think, that just maybe, there was a more scientific approach to length verses lie relative to my athletic address position.
The birth of – True Length Technology ™
My first attempts at alternative lengths were building in 0.4 inch, 0.33 inch and 0.25 inch increments, which did help, but this too did not fit perfectly. After many different attempts, I decided to try ‘Math Modeling’ a set based on my athletic address position. As I began plotting lie angles on my CAD system, it became apparent rather quickly that any uniform increment length cut (not just ½ inch) was not mathematically correct. True Length Technology ™ proves that the length cut has to be progressively less per club, as your clubs get shorter and more upright.
Summary: True Length Technology.
One common hand position, relative to a perfectly math modeled length and lie will result in:
-A very repeatable athletic address position.
-A very repeatable swing pattern.
-More on center hits.
-Less fat shots.
-Less thin shots.
-Improved feel and playability.
-Less physical stress on the body.
-Final result – Improved scoring.
When a player is set correctly in a repeatable athletic address position, relative to the correct length and lie of their clubs, the results will come.
If this player is allowed to keep this athletic address position for every club, then not only does his swing path improve but so does his ball striking. Repeatability is so important, and if the swing is repeatable, this will show up in their results.
The athletic address is also the healthiest address position promoting longevity, and with less physical breakdowns due to the reduced stress on the body.
Yes. I would suggest replacing your 110gm putter shaft with a 210gm shaft. Then put a butt weight in the grip. Butt weights range from 20gm to 100gm. This extra weight will definately smooth you out.
Are the real high priced graphite shafts actually better then shafts with more of a mid price point?
Tom Wishon sums this question up best:
“The complete and total performance of ANY shaft is controlled purely by its weight, overall flex design, bend profile design, torsional stiffness and its weight distribution. (weight + flex + bend profile + torque + balance point). PERIOD
The lighter the weight and the lower the torque, the more expensive a shaft will be. This is because the materials required to bring the weight of a shaft below 60 grams are more expensive. And, wrapping layers to form the shaft so the fiber orientation keeps the torque low takes more time, which costs more money in the production of the shaft.
But in no way should a shaft ever have to retail for $150, $300 or more. It is eminently possible to create shafts which retail for $50 that will perform IDENTICALLY to shafts that retail for $100 and higher.
Yes, there are raw materials which are used in some of these high dollar shafts which really are very expensive. Are they so much more expensive that they require the shaft to be priced at $100 to $1000 to enable the companies to make the same profit as before? No. For 98% of the high dollar shafts, the shaft companies are making a lot more profit because they are using the high price as a way to convince you it is a better shaft. Sort of like if you know a certain wine costs $200 a bottle, you will in all liklihood believe it is a superior wine. “If it costs more, it must be better”.
The other 2% I am allowing for in the realm of the NANO materials – some of these nano fibers or nano materials are insanely expensive. Or, the shaft company may have had to pay a big up front chunk of cash to the nano material company just to get them to go to work on a nano material for shafts. I perceive the Grafalloy EPIC shaft to be the only shaft in this category because of the nano nickel material used in its manufacture.
But even in that one example, could the PERFORMANCE of the Epic shaft or of any other high dollar shaft be duplicated in a shaft that would make a decent profit at a retail price of $50?
YES, I believe completely so because there is nothing in the weight, flex, bend profile, torque or balance point of a shaft that cannot be duplicated using normal standard to high modulus graphite materials that have been around for decades”.
A good example of this is the UST PROFORCE V2 shaft that retails for around $80 Canadian. This shaft is in Mike Weir, Jim Furyk, and Adam Scott’s drivers’ to name a few and this shaft seems to win somewhere on a Professional Tour almost weekly.
I have to agree with Tom Wishon when he was asked this question. In his words:
“I think the next 5-7 yrs that are going to tell the tale for where custom clubfitting finds itself.
As you know, the business model of the big golf club companies has always been to find the next technology, develop it into their standard made clubs, and market the heck out of that technology to convince golfers they will play better if they just buy the clubs that have this technology.
In a year or two, that technology has saturated the market, so along comes the next one which is touted and presented to golfers the same way as the last one.
Thanks to the USGA and the limits on design they have enacted over the past 10 yrs, and to the breakneck pace of competition among the big golf companies, the list of “next technology” items is pretty thin to empty these days.
Seriously – I know many out there think that “aww, some bright person/company will find SOMETHING NEW that hasn’t been thought of.” That debate is really for another separate topic, and if it comes up, I will be glad to present the cogent points to support my belief. To digress a tad, yes, you will see some more adjuncts of “adjustability” since the USGA has left that door open to the companies. Adjustable face angle on woods, adjustable length/lie/weight on putters, etc., some things like that will come in the next 2 yrs.
But for now, this topic is about the FUTURE OF CLUBMAKING/CLUBFITTING, so I will get back on track with my belief that the big companies are right up against a cupboard that is very bare to empty when it comes to new head/shaft/grip/assembled club technologies that they can market to attract golfers to buy.
No question the recent move of more and more of the big companies to move into fitting carts, interchangeable head/shaft, and what you will see in more options for adjustable clubs in the next 2-3 yrs all say the big companies are looking in this area we call custom clubfitting.
They have to because the cupboard is bare.
The challenge to these companies is how can they go from a business model in which they build millions of clubs all to a set of standard specs, and change to be able to build clubs/sets ONE AT A TIME, with each one a little different than the last or the next one. And believe me, to change a production line from making clubs all one way to making individual sets/clubs to order is no easy task for a company that must sell $800 million worth of golf clubs each and every year.
Then you have the problem these companies will face in trying to get their retailers to change the way they sell their clubs to the consumers. In the current business model, all the big retailers simply buy X% of the R flex version, Y% of the S flex version, put it on the racks and let the consumers grab it. Special orders in a retail golf store are a nightmare for these retailers to take/keep track of/consummate.
But if the OEMs go more into custom fitting, that’s how it would have to be done IF THE FITTINGS WERE TO INCLUDE ALL THE PERTINENT AND NECESSARY CHANGES IN THE CLUBS’ SPECS TO REALLY FIT THE GOLFERS.
With all the obstacles they face to do this right, that means to me the OEMs will simply figure out which specs they can most quickly and easily change so their production systems are not so disrupted, and so their retailers do not have to learn a ton more to be able to sell the clubs. Believe me, I’ve been there in my past career work and can testify the big retailers do NOT want to have to learn a lot more and train their staff to know more to be able to sell clubs to consumers.
In addition, the big retailers cannot afford to increase the time it takes to make a sale. Only way they could would be if the profit they make is much higher than it is now for selling the std OEM clubs off the rack. And with the economy heading the way it is, and with the price of clubs already being as high as what the market will likely bear to result in the big volume the OEMs need each year – there just is no way an OEM can do the same volume they have to do if the retail price of clubs went up.
So that means the OEM’s foray into custom fitting will be HALF ASS FITTING that is not really professional fitting and will fall well short of offering the consumer the chance to undergo a real fitting improvement.
But because the OEMs have $50 million per year per company to market with, they will tell the consumers this is what custom fitting is.
Within this, there will always be a small handful of companies or retailers who desire to differentiate themselves from their competition. Hence you may see a small number of retailers who do hookup with a good custom fitter and who do try to offer it done a little closer to the correct way to ensure game improvement for the golfer. Not many though. And that will likely be done with OEM clubs that are changed/retro-fit, like the “Hot Stix” business model in AZ for example.
There will also be a handful of VERY professional and committed independent clubmakers who will carve out an existence, but only within their immediate geographical area. This will be the very few who have the combined skills of 1) great fitting knowledge/experience, 2) confidence and the gift of gab to really be able to “sell the fit” to the consumer.
You might also see a few of the OEM companies set up a fitting center at the various “big name golf courses”. The OEMs all have wanted to dream about a way to be able to bypass the retailer and go direct to the public to make tons more profit. It may be that some do launch fitting centers at name courses to enable them to do that – yes, they would have to share something with the course, but they would also charge more for such a “personal” fitting approach.
So that’s my take – OEMs will say they can fit but the output will be paltry so as to not force a big change in the company business model. Big golf retailers will still try to cut corners and take as little time as possible for each sale because they won’t make enough profit per sale to do otherwise. A handful of smaller retailers will be “boutique fitting centers” and do a credible job. A handful of independent clubmakers will earn the reputation as the most knowledgeable club guy in their area and make it. Oh and I forgot – there will likely be a lot of internet fitters (retailers and OEMs alike) who will provide quick, fill in the blank forms to try to offer custom fitting direct to consumers”.
Is there any "real" improvements left in driver head design? Every year the OEM ads promise more and more distance.
According to Tom Wishon: “The OEM golf equipment industry works in the realm of “tiny” improvements in clubheads, but we here at Tom Wishon Golf Technology don’t. How do you define whether a clubhead design improvement is viable or worthwhile? By the marketing claim? By a scientific measurement difference? Or by a golfer hitting shots and being able to visibly or perceptibly notice a difference in the result of the shot?
TWGT lives in the area of the last point. The big companies tend to live in the area of the first two points.
Let’s look at driver design to try to see what improvements are possible. . . .
This one’s easy. The USGA/R&A have a limit of 0.830 (CT measurement of 257 usecs). In driver design, virtually every company makes their drivers as close to this limit as possible. Every company has to deal with +/- tolerances in all sorts of specs on their driver heads, including the COR. Yes, if you can find a company with a CT measurement machine that is willing to “hand select” a driver head to have its CT right at the 257 limit in the rules, maybe your current driver is somewhere around 239-245 or so. And in that case, you might see about 1 yard, maybe 2 yards more distance. But that’s not really a significant design difference – that’s more like squeezing a little blood out of the turnip.
This one’s interesting for several reasons. First, the USGA for some odd reason chose to set the limit for drivers at 5900 g-cm2 with a +100 g-cm2 tolerance – a limit that no company can reach on a driver that is made to a normal headweight and to a size within the 460cc limit imposed in the rules. Remember the first year after the MOI Rule went into effect?
You had two or three companies marketing drivers they said had an MOI of 5250 g-cm2. Then a year later, NIke said one of their square SQ drivers had an MOI of 5900. Upon closer inspection of this driver, it was made to a swingweight of E2 to E4. In other words, Nike hit that 5900 MOI by simply adding weight to the head, taking advantage of the fact that for each 1 gram you increase the weight of the driver head, you increase the MOI by about 32 g-cm2.
But who on the planet should be playing with a driver with a swingweight in the E range? Few if any. So all NIke did was create something unplayable by the masses simply to be able to market that they hit the MOI limit of the rules. What’s more interesting is the fact that since this time, no OEM driver has come out with an MOI higher than 5300 with a normal swingweight.
This is another way of saying that none of the companies have figured out how to make a “reasonably affordable” driver within the rule for size, and within the range of normal headweight, that would be able to have an MOI higher than around 5300.
Could one be made? And if so, how much better would it be? If the driver body is made from something lighter like Aluminum or Magnesium or Graphite and made to be 460cc in size/volume, one could probably attach a bunch of tungsten around the perimeter of the head and possibly get the MOI higher than 5300 while still keeping the headweight within a normal (playable) range.
But such a driver would cost a LOT more than current drivers because of the materials and manufacturing cost to make something like that. And few if any of the OEM companies are ready to try to pin all their marketing hopes on a driver that would have to sell 700,000 units in a year which would retail for around $500-600. Such a price point won’t fly in today’s market, and the OEMs know that.
But what if price were not an issue? What difference would a golfer note in playing a driver with a 5900 MOI compared to one at 5000 or 5200?
One of the engineering groups we do consulting work for and from which we get some modeling work done did a very carefully constructed FEA modeling project to determine the effect of MOI increases on the amount the head would twist in response to an off center hit.
To make a long story short, they found that for a 3/4″ off center hit at 109mph, a driver head with an MOI that would be 1400 g-cm2 higher would see a reduction in twisting of the head of 1/4*. Put this into a more “normal” golfer’s hands – by normal golfer I mean a golfer with a 90mph swing speed. Now you are talking about a 1400 g-cm2 increase in MOI bringing about a reduction in twisting more along the line of 1/8*. That’s pretty small. Not exactly what you would say would be a very pronounced improvement.
FACE DESIGN FOR OFF CENTER HITS
As we have done here at TWGT, we focus more on trying to keep the smash factor high for off center hits by working with the variable thickness design of the face. After we completed the work on the 919THI Driver face, we did a CT test all around the face on one sample 919 head that we were able to create that had a perfect 0.830 COR right in the geometric center of the face. The CT drop off for off center areas of the 919 face was only equivalent to a COR drop of about 0.008 or so. VERY little drop off.
And TWGT is not the only company able to design a variable thickness face that keeps the smash factor pretty high for off center hits. So this means even if a technology came about which allowed the face to be designed to have a perfect 0.830 COR all over the face, the distance improvement for off center hits would be pretty darn small -only on the order of about 2, maybe 3 more yards for a golfer with a 100-110mph swing speed.
So then, what’s left after COR, MOI, FACE DESIGN for outright driver head design improvement that a golfer can notice in the first time he goes out to hit the club?
Well for 98+ per cent of all golfers there is professional, full specifications custom fitting. Since about that many golfers have never, ever experienced real custom fitting, that’s a pretty strong number of golfers who are sitting on their butts wanting to play better golf, hoping for the next great design technology, while out there under their noses lies the greatest single technology they could ever hope to find for being able to hit the ball better.
As long as there are golfers who hang on every word of the OEM companies and who think the OEM companies are the best club companies on the planet, then there are going to be a lot of golfers who are going to be sorely disappointed.
But on the other hand, if these golfers could somehow open their minds to listen to the facts about fitting, then you could have a TON of golfers who could hit the ball better and enjoy the game more”.