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Driver Shafts, Part 2
Let's continue this dialog about driver shafts. Many of you have chimed in with your thoughts and ideas on this, and that's what makes writing this column each week interesting and fun for me. You guys provide the input I need to keep on going.

Tuesday's column focused mostly on the shaft's spine, and many comments revolved around the question of why this isn't done for us by the shaft and/or club manufacturers. I suspect it's a matter of cost. In today's marketplace, where new product life cycles are a year or less for most brands, marketing sells more clubs than performance. Companies that will not let a new product "simmer" for a few years cannot rely on performance and resulting word-of-mouth get the numbers they want. So they turn new products faster and invest more heavily in marketing than product production. If you didn't like this one, maybe the next one will be the answer. Some may take me to task for that opinion, but it's what I've seen over my 30 years in the business.

But besides the spine location, the other aspects of the shaft you have to consider are its overall flex, weight, and maybe most importantly, its length.
  • Flex: Personally, I think this could be the least important of the criteria. If you have a club that is a little too stiff or too soft – technically speaking – but otherwise a good club, you'll figure out how to get the most out of it. And fitting flex is an art as much as science. One clubfitter I know was having great success fitting mid- to high-handicap players with very stiff shafts and higher loft heads to get the desired ball flight. His rationale is that these amateurs make very different swings from drive to drive in actual play – there are 12-14 driver swings over a 4-5 hour round, and each is affected by the mental state of the golfer at the time. We all know water right or left affects us, as does the just-missed three-footer or gunched-up hole immediately prior. The stiffer shaft compensates for these variances. Pretty interesting, and I saw it with my own eyes in the tee shots of my business partner after this fitting illustration.

  • Weight: There was some dialog on this and I'm a believer that driver shafts have gotten too light. Nicklaus was brutally long with a driver that weighed 13-1/2 ounces back in the 1960-70s – today's drivers are 25-30% lighter than that, even though the athletes are bigger and stronger. It takes great skill to wield a driver that light with consistency and proper sequencing of your big muscles. Go try out a heavier driver sometime and see what happens – even pull an old one out of your closet and go side-by-side. You might be surprised.

  • Length: "sv677" hit the nail on the head. If you want to hit your driver longer and straighter, grip down on the shaft at least two inches. The "proof" that a longer shaft delivers more distance is based on results from "Iron Byron" machines that hit it dead in the sweet spot every single time. You don't! But you'll come closer to doing so if you play your driver at an effective length of 43-44" than the 46-47" they are selling these days. The facts are this: a 1/2" miss of the sweet spot will cost you 7-9% of your distance, 3/4" increases that to 12-15%. That's HUGE! Try this technique for a round or two and watch what happens.
So there's my treatise on driver shafts for now. You guys send me questions about what topics you'd like "The Wedge Guy" to address next. I'm always listening.
The Wedge Guy is sponsored by SCOR Golf, where Terry Koehler is President/CEO. He encourages you to submit your questions or topics to be considered for his columns on Tuesdays and Fridays. Each submission automatically enters you to win a SCOR4161 wedge to be given away monthly. Click the button below to submit your question or topic today.


[ comments ]
abaetz says:
I'd like to know your thoughts on the lie of the driver and how that affects the success of finding the "sweet spot" of the driver.
12/7/12
 
oggyno says:
ive just been to ping in the uk. my 909 d2 which is 4 years old light stiff shaft could not be bettered by the anser g20 or i20 by me after trying several shafts. Is it just a measure of swing speed when it comes to distance. I can no longer swing over 100mph with the long stick so i dont carry it over 250 anymore as i am getting older. So distance imo is about the swing speed.

But one thing ive learnt from you terry is that 12-14 consistent 240 drives with a slightly shorter stick leads to better scores. Than 260-270 drives with more misses leads to higher scores. Although I have to admit that less birdies on short par4s and short par 5s.

Another observation when I went on the launch monitor for the first time was how much more I knew my own driver shaft than the others that were given to me.

Another observation was that with the irons i was 13 yards up. But because of this blog i knew that the ping 7 iron was 2 degrees stronger than my old mizuno zoids. So half of the gain was loft creep.
12/8/12
 
G.C. says:
I agree that the flex is not as big a factor for us 20ish handicappers.I played a 10.5 reg flex Burner for a couple of years and this year I played a 9.5 stiff Burner. I didn't see much difference in distance or ball flight, though the hit does feel "crisper".

What I do find to be more important is the weight of the club.
Force = mass X velocity
So heavier club and slower swing speed or lighter club faster swing should yield the same result.

It then becomes what you like. I have tried Taylor R9s and R11s and find them heavy. I'd rather hit my lighter burner and get more swing speed, i.e. velocity.
12/8/12
 
G.C. says:
Actually, I think the formula is Force = mass X acceleration.
Hey, I'm an accountant, not an engineer. Besides, I think everybody gets the point.
Cheers
12/9/12
 
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Terry Koehler is "The Wedge Guy" and President of SCOR Golf- The Short Game Company.

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