Tuesday, December 7, 2010

If a golfer swings 2 exact clubheads with 2 different shafts, is there a difference in ball speed?

From the desk of Tom Wishon:

If the golfer's angle of attack, the ball speed, the launch angle, the spin rate are exactly the same between the two clubs with different shafts, the carry distance would be the same. The only distance difference could come from how much the ball rolls after landing, depending on the firmness of the actual points the two balls landed on the ground. Technically if the swing speed were the same, the distance would be the same as well, but in this case of talking about only the swing speed and not the ball speed, then the only possible variable would be if there were any difference in the balls used for the two shots. Hence this is why I mentioned ball speed before swing speed.

It is pretty well verified by several competent technical sources that a +1mph difference in swing speed equates to a +2.8yd difference in CARRY distance, given the same exact launch parameters.

Trying to nail all this down to a single yard or so is difficult because there are several variables in measuring all these things. There can be tiny differences in balls of the same make/model and it is a fact that no launch monitor is absolutely perfect in its ability to always record launch parameters within 1mph or fractions of degrees or small increments of RPMs. There can and will be small differences in launch parameter measurement from any launch monitor.

Where we believe golfers can see differences in distance from different shafts are with respect to how the golfer reacts to the bending feel of the shaft during the downswing. We believe strongly that when you have a golfer who does have the ability to feel the bending action of a shaft, when that golfer finds a shaft that bends exactly the right amount and at the right time that is pleasing to the golfer, this allows the golfer to swing with full freedom, with no manipulation of the swing, and with a completely full and free release through the ball. When that happens, the golfer will be able to achieve their absolute highest possible swing speed, and from that comes more distance.

We do not believe there is any real difference in what some like to call the "tip velocity" of one shaft versus another. Shafts are in essence, "dumb animals". What we mean is that a shaft can only react to the differences in movements of the golf swing. Yes, different shafts do bend differently in response to the various downswing moves of different golfers. So to us, when a golfer who has a very distinct type of bending feel preference for a shaft is able to find a shaft that does bend when and how much he prefers, this then allows the golfer to gain the confidence that he can really go after the shot on the downswing to hit the ball. And from that comes more swing speed and distance over what the golfer can achieve when using a shaft that does not deliver a bending feel that is right in the golfer's preferred manner.


Saturday, November 6, 2010

Do longer length drivers really allow a golfer to hit the ball farther?

A golfer wants to use the longest length driver that he can hit it the center of the face most of the time. Some golfers who are more athletic and have good hand/eye coordination can use a 45 or 46 inch driver and still hit the ball in the center of the face a high percentage of the time. Those golfers who are less skilled are much better off with a 43 inch driver which was the length of drivers when Jack Nicklaus was in his prime. This shorter length allows the golfer to control the club better during the swing allowing for more on center clubface hits. The current world long drive champion can hit a 29 inch driver 405 yards. 29 inches is about 6.5 inches shorter then a standard Pitching Wedge. So if missing fairways is a big concern of yours, then going to a 43 to 44 inch driver will be of great help.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Beware counterfeit clubs bought on Ebay and other internet sources!!

Counterfeit clubs and shafts are now a 4 Billion dollar industry...that's right...Billion! I've seen so many counterfeit clubs brought to me for "fixing" because the owner is not happy with the performance. Sorry...I can't (and won't) "fix" them as they are truly just junk. Lofts way out of wack, swingweights all over the map, etc. These are counterfeit clubs with Titleist, Callaway, and TaylorMade stamped on them with counterfit shafts and grips as well. What did you expect when you paid $200 for an entire set?? Lately, the low price is no longer a tell tale sign as the counterfeiters have raised their prices to make them appear more legitimate....and they look very, very close to the real thing but perform very poorly. So buyer beware.

Monday, September 27, 2010

How does swing weight (head weight feel) and Moment of Inertia (MOI) relate when fitting a golfer?

Headweight feel is both related to and independent of, the swingweight and the MOI of a golf club. Let me explain.

No question if you take any assembled club and add weight to the head, you do increase its MOI and you also increase its swingweight. But if you were to lengthen the club without adding any weight to the head, you would also increase its MOI and increase its swingweight, and you would also end up with a little different headweight feel than if you just kept the length the same and added weight to the head.

In other words, it is very possible to have two clubs with identical MOI but they display a difference in headweight feel - just as it is very possible to have two clubs with identical swingweight that both display a difference in headweight feel.

Not to overcomplicate this, this is why in any fitting for any golfer, it is important to first find the best length for the golfer, and then to find the best shaft weight for the golfer based on your evaluation of their total weight needs for their strength + transition, tempo and release considerations. Finding the right length is much easier than finding the right shaft weight/total weight for a golfer.

At any rate, once the right length and best judgment for shaftweight/total weight is decided upon, then comes the search for the best headweight feel to go along with these first two.

This is why at present, I like the procedure of using a test club built with the right length and best judgment shaft weight, and then using gradual increases in headweight to try to find where the golfer both achieves a higher percentage of on center hits AND where the golfer also tells you they are liking the feel of the headweight versus their tempo and strength characteristics.

No question that much of the fitting of total weight + headweight feel is judgment and trial and error. I wish it were different, but at present there isn't any tried and true measurement that can tell us without a doubt what shaft weight and what headweight with it is going to end up allowing the golfer to achieve their best swing tempo and best on center hit performance.

I can use good educated guesses from my evaluation of their strength + transition + tempo + release, but we still have to experiment and observe the results as well as listen to what the golfer tells me.

While I am a decent ball striker at times, I personally cannot feel a big difference between a one flex difference (10 cpm's butt frequency) between two identical shafts or a 3 or 4 gram difference in headweight...but I know there are golfers who can.

The main thing I try to get across to a golfer when doing the fitting for total weight and headweight feel is to first explain that too light means you have more of a tendency to have your tempo get too quick or you have more of a tendency to think that you need to slow down. And Too heavy means you sense that it really takes more effort to swing the club or that after a few hits, you start to feel like it is too heavy or that you do have to make more effort to swing the club within your desired tempo/rhythm feel.

Putting those concepts into the golfer's mind as they go through the fitting then helps them to give me at least some feedback regarding what I need to know when it comes to increasing or decreasing weight.

Also with some golfers, usually the less experienced or the lesser skilled players, when I talk about these aspects of FEEL, many times they are not going to know what I'm talking about because they cannot themselves relate to these differences yet in their clubs. This is why when I talk to a golfer about the various aspects of feel, if they look at me like they have no idea what I'm talking about, or if they specifically tell me they don't notice such things, then I say "fine, that's OK" and use my judgment based on evaluating their strength + transition force + tempo to make these decisions for them. I then watch for improvement in on-center hits with an impact label while doing the test club thing.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

How important is "image" when a golfer decides to buy golf clubs?

Unfortunately for me, very important. The big golf companies hire marketing firms that know exactly what buttons to push in the golfer's brain to get them to buy that particular golf company's clubs. If you've been watching and believe the golf ads on TV over the past ten years, we should all be driving the ball about 400 yards and hitting the ball in the hole from 150 yards on a regular basis. Every year the newest driver promises 10 more yards and the newest iron has never been more accurate. So as long as consumers by into this, they will be emptying there wallets for the next best thing and end up being in the same boat as they were in with their previous set. Where in reality, the best club or clubs they can have for their game is a professionly custom fit set that matches their size, strength, athletic ability and swing characteristics. Who wouldn't want their shafts spine aligned, frequency/flex matched, MOI matched, built to the most comfortable length, with the proper lie/face angles/loft, with the most comfortable total weight and head feel, and with the most comfortable and proper size grip? And if this club has a lesser known companies name tatooed on it, so be it....the golf ball doesn't know. As Tom Wishon says, "I'll put up my clubhead designs with ANY companies head designs, any time, any place, any where".

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

What's the reason for offset in irons?

More time to continue the rotation of the face around to be less open is one reason for offset. The other one is slighly putting the hands a little more in front of the clubface to supposedly allow the golfer to have more of a chance to hit down on the shot. And another one is that the more offset on the head, the farther back is the CG from the centerline of the hosel bore, which is a factor in launch angle for golfers with a later release.

But no matter what, the human golf swing very definitely can be quite different in many aspects from one golfer to the next. Not all golfers rotate the hands/arms the same way on the downswing through impact. Some golfers pronate and turn the right hand over the left at some point before, during or after impact. Some golfers do not pronate through impact and can leave the right hand under the left, so for these swings, offset won't do much of anything with respect to the rotation of the clubface at impact.

Also, some golfers release the club so early that no matter if you had 30mm of offset on the clubhead, this still won't bring about a downward angle of attack at impact.

But the fact still does remain there most definitely are many golfers who do swing in such a way with their release that the presence of more vs less offset can cause a difference in shot direction and shot height for sure.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Although the lofts of my irons are all spaced exactly 4 degrees apart, I'm still finding inconsistant yardages between clubs. What gives?

You have discovered something about fitting that the "TrackMan" people discovered exists even on the PGA Tour among pros who you would think are as consistent as can be in the manner in which they deliver the clubhead to the ball at impact.

The idea of irons being made so the change of loft from club to club is the same number of degrees only delivers the same distance increment between the clubs if the golfer delivers the clubhead to the ball with each club in exactly the same manner. Clubs do differ in length and in total weight and in lie. These things along with each golfer's own way they set up to the ball and swing each club can contribute to the golfer delivering the clubhead slightly different to the ball with the different clubs in the set.

If these things result in the clubhead having a little different dynamic loft at impact, the distance difference between clubs that are separated by the same number of degrees of loft will then be different.

TrackMan showed that in many cases with the tour pros because of these little differences, they had to bend the loft into quite a different spacing of degrees to end up delivering the same exact number of yards between each club in the set.

With average golfers who do not have that high of a level of consistency for ball position, for angle of attack into the ball, for swing path and swing plane with the different clubs, it very well may be that such odd types of loft adjustment may have to be done to end up giving the golfer the same number of yards between clubs.

However, the FIRST thing to do in these situations is to do a very accurate loft measurement on all the irons. As we have mentioned several times, the very best foundries in the world cannot and do not manufacture clubheads with better than a +/-1* tolerance for loft (and lie and face angle).

This is not to say that a very high number of heads actually are off by +1 or-1 for the loft - they aren't because what makes a foundry really good in this business is the fact that the number that are off by +1 or -1 is a pretty small number. But it still can happen. So start first if you can with a very accurate loft measurement to see where the adjacent irons are at, and then from that, work on making the fine tuned loft adjustments that result in a more even spacing for distance between the clubs.

Last point, do NOT rely on the loft measurement part of a loft and lie machine to do the loft measurements. This part of a L/L machine is not as reliable for accurate loft measurement as a specs measurement machine/gauge. For accuracy all spec measurements have to be done on a separate specs measurement machine or gauge.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Is there any truth to the rumors about making the golf ball less lively to scale down distance?

If the USGA and R&A would ever wake up they would see that the majority of the distance gain by the elite players of the world has come not from titanium drivers and not from their mistake in re-doing the Overall Distance Standard for balls in the early 2000s, but it has come from the sheer fact that the average driver clubhead speed of elite players has increased by some 10mph over the past 25 yrs.

For each 1mph you can increase driver clubhead speed, you gain 2.8 yards of carry distance. Add on what we all have learned in the past 15 yrs about driver fitting to allow elite, high speed players to get into drivers that optimize launch angle, spin and angle of descent to the fairway, and you have the main reason why the USGA/R&A/PGA Tour have been compelled to stretch tournament courses to 7400 yds +.

Yes, when the industry went from 200cc size 17-4 stainless drivers to 460cc size titanium drivers, no question the COR increase added some distance. And there is a serious debate as well that when the USGA re-configured their ODS rule for balls, they made some mistakes that also allowed the ball makers to bring out balls that flew farther.

But the lion's share of this big distance increase among the world's elite players has not come from club and ball design technology, but from golfers who are better "golf athletes" and who undergo serious physical training to increase their clubhead speed.

Reeling back the ball would be a serious mistake, especially if it extends to recreational golfers. Who wants to play this game if all of a sudden you find yourself 10-20 yds shorter off the tee and having to hit 2 more clubs into the green than before?

The game is already in a down cycle for participation because of the effects of the recession and the effect of people having to work longer hours to make enough/more money to stave off the effects of the recession. To reel back the ball would kick this great game in the teeth even harder.

In addition, reeling back the ball for elite tournaments would also be a disaster for the game. One of the great things about this game has been the fact we all, from Tiger to the 90 yr old senior golfer, all play under the same rules. Also, one of the greatest thrills for many fans of elite tournament golf is witnessing these guys hit the ball so far. Take that away, and you kick the game and its popularity in the teeth once more.

If you look at the stats on tour over the past 4-5 yrs, you see that this increase in driving distance is pretty much over. There haven't been any real increases lately because this matter of equipment + golf athletes has reached a limit. Sure, you might see a guy here or there who is 6'9" tall, 310 lbs who is blessed with the neuro-muscular repetitive physiology to train to be a tour player with a 145 mph clubhead speed. But that would be a freak situation.

Distance increases on the tour are pretty much over now. So courses won't have to be stretched to 7800 yds. Where they're at with all the ones built to 7400 are fine. And in the end, what's wrong with a player winning a tournament shooting 20 under par. I think most golf fans like to see birdies, and not suffer through par being the winning score.

Anyway, I'm done. But I sure do get tired of seeing the people who run the rule making bodies of the game use such an utter lack of common sense.

Friday, July 9, 2010

What's up with some companies offering their irons in lower lofts? What's the trade-off?

Yes, many golfers who notice a 12 yard increase in distance per iron will think this new iron is "better" because it goes farther. In the irons, for all golfers, the lower the loft and higher the COR, the farther they'll hit the ball. Some golfers are "wise" to the companies that move lofts down just to create more distance to sell more clubs. Many are not, and only think of irons in terms of the head number on the sole. So for these golfers, they can be tricked into thinking that since they hit their new 9 iron a club longer than their old 9 iron, that must mean the company has a really gee whiz design technology, when in reality it may just be a lower loft than they played before.

Then too you have the situation with some golfers in which they don't want to hit each iron number longer than they do now. These golfers know if they get a club more distance from whatever reason, be it lower loft or higher COR, they know they are going to suffer from some sort of a distance gap problem somewhere in their set.

Typically a golfer does not start to think about going for more distance in the irons and thus shopping for a higher COR iron unless, because of injury or age or whatever reason, they are losing distance. We all tend to play the same courses so we all get used to hitting a certain number iron on each hole. When a golfer starts to realize he has to grab one more club or two more clubs to get the ball to the green, that's when the thought of " gee I wish I could still hit my X-iron from here like I used to " starts to come into the brain.

Thus in the market today, higher COR irons, such as the Wishon 770's or 870's, tend to be more for golfers who have lost clubhead speed, or, never had the clubhead speed to begin with because they were just not that athletically inclined or never developed a good turn and good wrist cock release.

But really, as long as the golfer makes sure he has a club for each distance he faces, there's really nothing wrong with using a higher COR iron to gain distance to hit less club into the green. That tends to breed more confidence because we all feel better when we know we're hitting less club into a hole than before.

But this isn't the way it works with lower lofted irons - no matter what, it is always more difficult to hit a lower loft club as consistently well as one with higher loft. So if a golfer buys a set with tricked up lofts, they might think they feel better about hitting a 7 iron into a green where before they had to hit a 6 iron. But after several rounds, they'll find that "hey, I don't hit my new 7 iron as consistently well as I hit my old 7 iron, even though when I hit it well it goes farther." That is because you're not hitting a 7 iron, you're hitting a 6 with a number 7 on the sole!

This is why a higher COR iron is better in the end - to get more distance with the same loft also allows for keeping consistency.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

C.O.R. (Coefficient of Restitution) is a measurement of how lively the face can be before it is deemed illegal by the USGA.

What was the COR of the old wooded heads? What is the COR of a one piece stainless steel cast iron head today?

.830 is the legal COR limit meaning that a golf ball shot out of an Air Cannon at the face of a clubhead at 100mph cannot rebound back any faster then 83mph or it is deemed illegal. Now they have a CT test (Characteristic Time) which is just another way of measureing face flexture.

Wooden woods with their array of different plastic to paper fiber to metal face inserts and normal 1 piece stainless cast irons both have a COR in the area of 0.770

In the history and evolution of COR as a performance factor in head design, designers didn't really become aware of COR all that much until around 2 yrs after the very first titanium driver heads came out in the early to mid 90s. Actually the first reason companies began to use titanium to make their driver heads was to enable them to make the head size larger than had been possible with 17-4 stainless steel, not because of the COR capability from titanium's strength to modulus relationship.

Titanium has a much lower density than steel (4.5 g/cc vs 7.6 g/cc) so this enabled designers to push the size of the driver head larger. Size was a big factor in driver design back in 1993-94 because Callaway had started this trend with their original stainless Big Bertha. When BB came out, it pushed the size of a driver from 160cc to 200cc and triggered Cally's marketing campaign of "bigger is better".

So the industry got into all this huff about making larger and larger drivers. And from that moving into Ti for the head material allowed them to do that.

It was only after a year or two that the industry started to take a look at the Ti drivers and realize, "hey, I guess this does hit the ball a little farther - wonder what is doing that?" And from that, then the industry found that titanium's strength to modulus relationship did have an effect on the COR, and from that, an increase in the smash factor for more distance.

Then from that point on, it became a matter of figuring out how to make the Ti heads so the faces could be thinner to keep pushing the COR up while still making sure the faces did not cave in, break or fail.

Also, In the 70s prior to the metal wood era, you would see companies use face inserts made from different hardness materials and saying the metal face insert hit the ball farther than the old paper fiber insert because it is so much harder.

Same thing happened in the early days of the stainless woods - they all were saying that the move to steel woods would bring more distance because steel was harder than wood.

Even today, with much better engineering knowledge in the equipment side of the business, you will still see such claims about harder being better, as in the case of maraging steel face woods you still see marketing departments try and push with totally false claims.

But in reality, what really happens when the face gives a little (pushes inward at impact with the ball) is the ball stays more round and doesn't flatten out as much at impact, thereby retaining more of its energy. Remember when you were a kid and "Superballs" were introduced? When you bounced them on pavement they bounced really high because they didn't flatten out at impact. Now drop a half inflated basketball on the pavement. It won't bounce back because it flattens out and loses all its energy. So a hard clubface that doesn't budge at impact will make the ball flatten more and the ball won't leave the clubface with as much speed therefore less distance.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Why will I play better with custom fit golf clubs?

The Performance Factors of Clubfitting from Tom Wishon:
"After spending over 30 years in golf club design and clubfitting research, I am absolutely convinced that every golfer can play better and enjoy the game more by being accurately fit into golf clubs which are custom built to offset the swing mistakes and enhance the correct swing moves of each individual golfer.

Since 1981, I’ve taught thousands of clubmakers the correct principles of custom fitting. In turn, I have received countless phone calls, letters and emails from clubmakers as well as their clients who realize the best set of golf clubs will never be bought in standard form, off the rack from a golf retail store.

Real improvement through custom clubfitting requires consultation with a trained clubmaker who knows how to translate each golfer’s need for game improvement into direct changes in the specifications of the golf clubs which address each area of improvement.

In Common Sense Clubfitting: The Wishon Method, we teach clubmakers that all of the possible game improvement desires of golfers can be summarized in the following ways:

•I want more Distance
•I want to improve Accuracy
•I want to improve shotmaking Consistency
•I want to change the Trajectory of my shot pattern
•I Want to Improve the Swing and Impact Feel of my Golf Clubs

There are a total of 23 different design specifications which can be altered and customized to come up with the right custom fit clubs for any golfer. That’s a lot. Actually that’s too many for any clubmaker to have to think about trying to fit for each golf club in a set. Through my 30+ years of fitting research I have discovered which of these 23 different design specifications will visibly address a change in the golfer’s Distance, Accuracy, Consistency, Trajectory and Feel with their clubs. And that’s what we teach custom clubmakers – to focus on the golf club specifications which will result in the greatest amount of positive game improvement in Distance, Accuracy, Consistency, Trajectory and Feel for each individual golfer and find the golf club specifications which will make that happen.

There are two types of golf club specifications the clubmaker needs to know.

"A" Effect Fitting Specification: An “A” effect golf club specification will create the most visible and noticeable change in Distance, Accuracy, Consistency, Trajectory or Feel. When an "A" effect specification is changed, even by a moderate amount, the golfer should experience a visible change in that game improvement factor the first time they hit shots with the club.

"B" Effect Fitting Specification: This is a golf club specification that will create a performance change which typically will be less than an “A” effect specification for Distance, Accuracy, Consistency, Trajectory and Feel. A “B” effect specification will typically display its effect visibly ONLY if that specification was poorly matched in the golfer’s previous golf club(s).

In short, the more "A" and "B" specifications which are addressed in the fitting, and the more those specifications are different from the golfer’s previous club(s), the more visible and dramatic the game improvement change for the golfer will be. That’s how real custom fitting is better than buying standard golf clubs off the rack.

I Want More Distance.
The “A” Effect Specifications on Distance:
•Clubhead Loft Angle
•Club Length
•Club Swingweight or Moment of Inertia
•Woodhead Vertical Face Roll (Driver only)
•Club Total Weight
•Shaft Weight

The “B” Effect Specifications on Distance:
•Clubhead Moment of Inertia
•Fairway woodhead Vertical Roll
•Clubhead Center of Gravity Location
•Full Set Make-Up
•Shaft Primary Flex
•Shaft Bend Profile Design
•Clubhead Face Design

I Want Better Accuracy.
The “A” Effect Specifications for Accuracy:
•Woodhead Face Angle
•Iron, Wedge and Putter Lie Angle
•Club Length

The “B” Effect Specifications for Accuracy:
•Clubhead Hosel Offset
•Shaft Torque (woods)
•Clubhead Moment of Inertia
•Club Total Weight
•Full Set Make-Up
•Grip Size

I Want to Improve Shotmaking Consistency.
The “A” Effect Specifications for Consistency:
•Iron, Wedge and Putter Lie Angle
•Woodhead Face Angle
•Club Length
•Club Swingweight or Club Moment of Inertia
•Full Set Make-Up

The “B” Effect Specifications for Consistency:
•Woodhead Vertical Roll Radius
•Iron and Wedge Sole Angle
•Iron and Wedge Sole Width and Sole Radius
•Clubhead Moment of Inertia
•Shaft Weight
•Grip Size
•Club Total Weight

I Want to Change the Trajectory of my Shot Pattern.
The “A” Effect Specifications for Trajectory:
•Clubhead Loft
•Driver Head Vertical Roll Radius

The “B” Effect Specifications for Trajectory:
•Clubhead Loft
•Clubhead Hosel Offset (wood, hybrid)
•Clubhead Center of Gravity Location
•Shaft Primary Flex
•Shaft Bend Profile
•Fairway Woodhead Vertical Roll Radius

I Want to Improve the Swing and Impact Feel of my Golf Clubs.
The “A” Effect Specifications for the Swing and Impact Feel of the Golf Club:
•Grip Style/Type
•Grip Size
•Club Swingweight or Moment of Inertia
•Full Set Make-Up
•Shaft Weight
•Club Total Weight

The “B Effect Specifications for the Swing Feel of the Golf Club:
•Club Length
•Shaft Primary Flex
•Shaft Bend Profile

A competent professional clubmaker will approach the custom fitting session by first determining which of the areas of game improvement are most important for each golfer – Distance, Accuracy, Consistency, Trajectory or Feel. Then by measuring the “A” and “B” effect specifications on the golfer’s existing set, the clubmaker can reference these “A” and “B” effect specs for the desired game improvement areas above, and know how much improvement IS possible for the golfer to achieve in an accurately fit set of custom made clubs. The clubmaker then proceeds to guide the golfer through a series of measurements and tests which combine with the clubmaker’s assessment of the “A” and “B” design specifications, to determine the exact specs for the new custom fit set.

That’s real custom fitting, and that is a major reason why custom fit is better than standard off the rack clubs every day of the week, and for every single golfer".

Monday, June 14, 2010

What's up with these really long length drivers these days? Can golfers really gain much distance from this increased length?

You may find this recent article by Frank Thomas quite interesting as he answers a viewers question on this very subject. For what it's worth, I don't swing a 46" driver any faster then a 441/2" driver. The last time I measured myself, I was actually swinging the 441/2" driver 1 mph faster....so no difference for me.

Posted: June 14, 2010
Hello Frank,

I was wondering if you could answer a question which has been of some concern to me recently.

I'm a Scottish pro and I give a lot of golf lessons. I noticed that many amateurs and even pros struggle with the driver compared to the likes of a 4 or 5-wood. Could it be that drivers are too long for many people to handle?

Yesteryear the driver was around 43.5 inches for a man and now some are 46 inches long.

Is there a maximum or minimum length that you would recommend for the average golfer?

All the best
– Iain


Driver length, has also been of some concern to me for some time only because it is being introduced for the sole purpose of increasing distance – the most powerful words in marketing golf equipment.

With today’s light weight and high strength materials; high MOI (Moment of Inertia), increased COR (Coefficient of Restitution), and advanced face design the is driver more efficient than it was ten years ago, and significantly more efficient than the clubs which were available to Jack Nicklaus in the 1960’s– his driver length was 42 ¾ inches long.

This efficiency is good for the game and golfers but if the length of the driver is increased one loses the benefits of the advances made in applying high-tech materials etc.

Iain, you are right and recognize what many teachers have experienced, i.e. that because of the increased length of a driver up to 46 ½ inches long – almost three inches longer than the 3-wood 43 ½ inches – it is difficult to control in spite of the all the advances in design.

We have learned, after many generations of club makers and millions upon millions of rounds played, that for every three degrees change in head loft, the length between successive clubs is approximately ½ inch – i.e. from drivers, to fairway woods and long irons.

Drivers used to fit this model for many years.

Yes, we are going to get increased distance but at the expense of accuracy and control.

My strong recommendation for the average golfer is to take advantage of the new technology along with being able to control your drives, score better and have more fun.

Jack Nicklaus had the opportunity to have a longer driver but as mentioned he selected a 42 ¾ inches. When Tiger did his best he had a 43 ½ inch driver. The average length driver on tour is about 44 ¾ inches.
So take your lead from the best in the world if you want to enjoy your game more and score better using the "Big Gun".

Iain, thanks for the question. I think it is going to help a number of golfers and may even have some influence on some manufacturers who are now negating some of the fine scientific work they are doing for the average golfer.

– Frank

Frank Thomas, inventor of the graphite shaft, is founder of Frankly Golf. Thomas is chief technical advisor to GolfChannel.com. He served as technical director of the USGA for 26 years and directed the development of the GHIN system and introduced the Stimpmeter.

Friday, April 30, 2010

How do the Pros on the LPGA and PGA Tours hit it?

As many of you are aware, TrackMan has been the official ball flight analysis system on the PGA and LPGA Tours since 2006. Virtually every week over the past 4 years, TrackMan systems are set up on the driving range as well as on one hole during the tournament to record launch parameter data from all the competitors in each event.

Thanks to our friends at TrackMan, you may find it interesting to be able to view the average launch and flight parameters for players on the PGA and LPGA Tours to be able to see just how the pros hit the ball with each club in the bag. Please understand that the location and the weather have not been normalized for this data. However, because the averages are based on a huge number of shots over a period of several years, the data still offers a very good representation on the key launch parameters for the best men and women golfers in the world.

Keep in mind that the data represent average launch parameters, so there is a wide range between players for each parameter. Some of the interesting points of data from these average launch parameters include the following:

• The PGA Tour average shows the driver and fairway woods with a slight downward angle of attack while the LPGA average exhibits definite upward angle of attack with the driver. Overall, the PGA has a greater downward A of A for all clubs compared to the LPGA.

• The pros tend to hit every club in the bag within a very close range of the same height. Of course the LPGA pros achieve on average a lower shot height than the men because they have a much lower ball velocity for their shots, due to a lower clubhead speed.

•Driver spin rate is very similar for the driver between the men and women pros.
•The smash factor (ball speed divided by clubhead speed) is very similar for the same clubs for the men and women pros.
•Carry distance for the driver between the men and women is very definitely in line with the parameter of 2.8 yards per 1mph difference in clubhead speed.
•Launch angle for the women for the woods is definitely higher than that for the men, and slightly higher in the irons, which may be because of the difference in angle of attack or the use of different lofts per club. The average loft angles per club are not measured in any of this data so the main reason for the difference is likely from the difference in angle of attack for each club.
•The difference in clubhead speed for similar clubs between the men and women decreases progressively from 18mph in the driver down to 13 mph for the 9-iron and PW.
•While there is a significant difference in the spin generated by the men and women with the 3-wood, for all other clubs there is not as much difference in spin as might be expected.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

I only hit about 6 fairways out of 10. How can I improve on this stat?

You may not be aware but the most accurate driver on the PGA tour at year's end is 80%. And this stat is not a driver only stat as it includes teeing off with a club other then a driver such as a fairway wood. Yup, 8 out of 10 fairway's hit wins every year and the winner is never a long driver of the ball but rather one of the shorter hitters out there such as Fred Funk who has won the most accurate driver title several times in his career. So 6 out of 10 fairways is not that bad but actually pretty good.

Let's look at an average golfer for a moment. If you go out to your local driving range and watch golfers hit their drivers, what do you see? If you see two or three golfers out of ten who can consistently hit the ball straight, on a nice trajectory, you're there on a good day. I am not talking about hitting 300 yard drives right down the middle but rather the ball flying high and straight, landing downrange at any reasonable distance, within 20 yards on either side of its intended target. Name any other recreational pursuit in which one of its most common goals seems so unattainable by so many people. It is safe to say that far less then half of all golfers can consistently get off the tee with a driver successfully - and that's being charitable. Now, imagine any other consumer product that works only half the time in the hands of an average user. A product like that would be off the market in a week; yet we golfers just shrug our shoulders and say, "Man, it is a tough game."

I looked the other day and this year's Masters Champion, Phil Mickelson, was ranked 132 out of 134 PGA Pros at 46% of fairways hit. Hard to believe.

But getting back to your question: the first thing to do would be to measure your current driver regarding length, loft, face angle, shaft flex, total weight, grip size, etc. Then have you hit some balls and record your swing characteristics/tendencies and see how well your swing matches up with your driver. Chances are good that a few changes may have you hitting an extra fairway or two. For example, if you are a RH golfer whose misses are usually out to the right and your current driver has a square or slightly open face angle, then you would do well with a driver whose face angle is 1 or 2 degrees closed. Just common sense, plain and simple.

Monday, April 12, 2010

I hear alot about ball spin as it relates to driver distance. What can be done in head design to lower spin?

FROM TOM WISHON: For the vast majority of golfers who have a higher swing speed and do fight excessive spin, the reason is more in the swing characteristics that bring about that higher spin than it is in the club - at least as long as the golfer is not using a shaft and ball that both really contribute to higher spin.

From the clubhead's standpoint, there is very little that can be done to exert a significant effect on spin AND STILL KEEP THE CLUBHEAD'S DESIGN SHAPE WITHIN A RANGE THAT A GOLFER COULD STAND TO PLAY WITH.

From the head's standpoint, the only things you can do to bring about a change in spin are loft and center of gravity position. You don't really want to mess much with loft beyond about a +/-1* range from the loft that is optimum for your launch angle. At 100mph swing speed, a change of 1* in loft only changes spin by about 260rpm anyway.

CG wise, if golfers could stand to see and play with a driver that was smaller than 460cc or chopped off to the point that the face to back dimension was in the area of 60-80mm instead of the normal 125mm or so, we could push the CG much closer to the face and from that, bring about a more significant reduction in spin. But I rather think few golfers would want to play with such a radically shaped head, so we designers are not going to create it.

That leaves the shaft and the ball. Starting with the shaft, a player can experience less spin using a stiffer flex or a significantly stiffer tip shaft. But here again, at the expense of what? Using a shaft that no longer fits, no longer feels right and no longer generates the optimum launch angle for distance? No higher swing speed golfer with a decent release would ever want to use a shaft like that, and that is what it would take for the shaft to become a significant way to reduce the spin.

Which brings us to the ball. Not being a ball designer and not having done much more than cursory research in ball technology, there is no question the ball is an important way to change spin for higher swing speed players. In our robot hit testing, just as one example, we see a spin difference of a little more than 400 rpms between the ProV1 and ProV1* at a clubhead speed of 100mph. That increases as the clubhead speed increases.

Swing wise, from a ton of data we've been privy to from the folks at Trackman, the official launch monitor of the PGA and Euro Tours, we see that almost every time we see a pro with higher spin, a downward angle of attack in their swing comes with it. So if the player can deal with the work involved to change their angle of attack to be less downward moving toward slightly upward, along with that comes an automatic reduction in driver spin because they are then able to use a lower loft to achieve what becomes their optimum launch angle for max distance. And from the lower loft then comes the significant change in spin reduction.

Furthermore, 1) reducing head size to 420cc from 460cc is not enough to allow for enough of a CG movement to do anything significant for spin capability, and 2) the market of golfers out there is estimated by the industry mavens who research this sort of thing to be 98-99% polarized toward a 460cc driver and will not buy anything smaller because marketing has "convinced" them that 'bigger is better'.

So any company today that designs a smaller driver will choke on the inventory, unfortunately.

And as mentioned above, to move the CG close enough to the face that a golfer with a late release will instantly see a significant drop in spin would require that the driver head be designed so the face to back dimension would have to be at least 30% less than is average in driver shape dimensions today. And I have serious doubts as to whether there would be very many golfers who would like to look down on something like that in the playing position.

Hope this helps a little,

What about these longer and lighter drivers being advertised?

First of all, this isn't new by any means. A company no longer in business by the name of Goldwin Golf brought out a driver in the late 90s that had a total weight in the area of 285 grams.

Second point and by far the most important one, - no matter what ANY of the OEM drivers or clubs professes to do or be in their design technology, the OEM's models are nothing more than one size fits all offerings.

In this case of the very light total weight driver, if ALL golfers were well below average in physical and golf swing strength, with a very passive and smooth transition and tempo, and with a square to inside out swing path with a later to very late release, then and only then could you say that a company that makes a very light total weight driver would be applauded for doing so.

Why? Because that is the only type of golfer who would be considered to be well fit into a driver that weighs less than 300 grams and is also 46" in length.

As we all know, golfers come in all manner of strength and swing characteristics. Thus it is very important to understand when you look at ANY new club model from the OEMs, what you have to do is look at what type of golfer characteristics would be best matched to all the specifications of that club. Those golfers who deviate from those playing and swing characteristics would be wasting their money to buy that type of driver.

In the end, since golfers are so different in their combinations of size, strength, athletic ability and swing characteristics, the only clubs that are ever going to allow each golfer to play to the best if their ability will be clubs that are custom fit for each specification to each golfer's individual size, strength, athletic ability and swing characteristics.

I hate to keep sounding like a broken record on this, but until golfers understand this, they are going to continue to be drawn to any new club model the OEMs bring out and from that, will never understand that custom fitting is the only way to spend their money for clubs.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Marketing Ploys are Killing our Game!

By Dr. JJ King, President of KZG.

"The zeal for sales is really messing up the game of golf. Rather than focusing on game improvement, most major golf manufacturers focus on how to sell more clubs. Sadly, the clubs they keep producing don’t necessarily help your game.

The biggest folly recently has been in the iron category. Only a few short years ago, a traditional iron set was comprised of #3-9, PW, AW and SW. The typical #5 iron had a loft of 28 degrees. Today, most major brands sell a #5 iron with a loft of 22 or 23 degrees. Why? Because when you hit it at the retail store with their launch monitor, it will definitely go further…and the one with the most distance wins. But this presents a big problem. Your #5 iron is really more like a #3 or #4 iron and is much more difficult to hit consistently. But you already bought the set… so who cares?

And now you have to buy more clubs to replace the clubs you cannot hit in the iron set. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why the manufacturers have been doing a rip-roaring business in hybrid clubs over the past few years".

If you are in the market for a hybrid to replace one or more of your long irons, remember to replace the long iron with the same lofted hybrid. Just because the hybrid is stamped "3" on the sole does not mean it is the same loft as your conventional #3 iron you are replacing. The iron you are replacing must be measured for loft as well as measuring the new hybrid's loft to make sure they are the same. Just because a hybrid may be stamped "19 degrees" on the sole does not mean it is 19 degrees. There is a tolerence and it could very well be 2 degrees off it's stated loft. Get it measured.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

I was recently "fitted" for irons at the club where I play. The pro didn't even have a device for recording swing speed. Did I get a real fitting?

It doesn't sound like it. Any basic iron fitting has to uncover what your swing speed is with a mid iron like a 5 or 6 iron. Then at least you will get a shaft that somewhat matches your swing speed. I say "somewhat" because there is no industry standard for shaft flex. One company's "R" flex is another company's "S" flex which may be another company's "A" flex. In other words, there can be a 3 flex difference in an "R" flex from one shaft maker to another.

Other aspects that should have been recorded is your tempo (how much time elapses from takeaway to impact), release (where your wrists uncock), transition from backswing to downswing (smooth, average, or forceful), physical strength (below average, average, above average), length (wrist to floor measurement coupled with your setup and comfort level), shaft weight (depending on your tempo, transition, and physical strength), shaft bend profile which will assist with trajectory providing you have a mid to late wrist cock release, lie angle, grip size and texture, clubhead design that will compliment your misdirection tendency and swing characteristics, and set makeup (lowest loft hit well...no use buying a 3 or 4 iron if you can't hit it).

A friend of mine went through one of these "going through the motions" fitting and when he picked up his clubs there was nothing different about them from what anyone could have bought off the rack at any golf store...standard weight shaft, flex designated as "Uniflex" (whatever that means), standard length, standard size grip, standard lie angle, and standard set makeup 3-PW. If you don't know what's involved in a fitting, then you don't know what to expect. Not your fault.

Are there any "real" improvements yet to be discovered 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.

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".

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

I am a female golfer who has a slow swing speed. Do I need a full set of clubs?

Very likely you do not need a full set of clubs (13 clubs and a putter is the legal limit of clubs you may carry). Any golfer who swings a 5 iron under 60 mph will not see enough of a distance gap between a #6 iron (31* loft) and #7 iron (35* loft) for example. In other words, these 2 irons go almost the same distance for a slow swinging player. Lofts in irons are traditionally spaced apart by 4 degrees.

I have sets available (such as the Wishon 730CL set) where lofts are 6* between clubs allowing for normal 10 - 12 yard distance increments between each club. This set is an 8 club set: High lofted driver (16*); (2) fairway woods of 20* and 26*;
(3) irons of 30*, 36*, 42*; and (2) wedges of 48* and 54*. Very simple to understand this set make-up and you are not carrying around several clubs that you have no use for.

I see many, many slow swinging golfers who have 14 clubs in their bag and it is confusing for them to know which club to hit from certain distances. Plus they spent money on clubs they do not need.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

What happens when a golfer is using a shaft that is either too stiff or too flexible?

Identifying whether a shaft is ill fit to a golfer is a combination of both performance and FEEL issues.

When the shaft is too stiff for the golfer, most typically you see any or all of the following:

1. Loss of distance because the golfer cannot get the ball up as high to achieve the proper launch angle.
2. Possible tendency to leave the ball to the right
3. The feeling of impact between the ball and clubface feels harsh
4. The golfer may sense the shaft does not bend as much as he likes or would be used to, which in turn can trigger the golfer to swing harder to force the shaft to feel right, and from that comes more swing inconsistencies.

When the shaft is too flexible for the golfer, these are the things you would typically see:
1. Ball flight can be too high so the shot loses roll on the fairway and even shorter carry distance.
2. If the golfer already has a tendency to draw/hook the ball, the ball flight can hook/draw more from the same swing move.
3. The golfer may sense the shaft is bending too much which in turn can cause the golfer to think he is losing control, and/or cause the golfer to have to slow down/alter the swing to make the shaft's bending feel end up being less flexible feeling.

Shafts are a very fascinating part of the club because the only golfers who see the PERFORMANCE symptoms of a shaft being too stiff or too flexible are those golfers with a later to late wrist cock release and a slightly to more aggressive downswing tempo. But pretty much all golfers will note one of the two FEEL aspects of a shaft that is too stiff or too flexible. The most noted FEEL symptom experienced by golfers with a shaft too stiff is they sense the ball comes off the face with a more "dead feel" as if the shot wasn't hit that solid.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Can I get custom fitted for clubs at a large golf retail outlet like Nevada Bob's or Golftown? Their ads look impressive.

If you have enough money and if you hire experts in video commercial production, you can sell ice cubes to Alaskans. By no means is this fitting and not even close. Not only do the sales staff know very little about fitting, even if they did, there still would be no way they could get the OEM clubs built with all of the fitting specs altered for the needs of each golfer. But because of the money to market like this, golfers will be fooled.

Now in all this, the good news is that any marketing that talks about custom fitting to golfers will at least start to make golfers aware that 'maybe custom fitting IS important.'

Up to the past year or two in golf club marketing, nothing was ever said to consumers about custom fitting. Now that the OEMs know they are out of new technology developments that can make an immediate difference for golfers, they are turning to fitting as their "technology behind which to market."

But because no OEM can even come close to making their required sales forecasts by doing anything but selling pre made clubs off the rack, there is no way any major OEM is ever going to be able to offer full specifications fitting for ALL the important fitting specs to each different golfer.

My point is that even if I worked at a large chain golf store, the business model of the OEM side of the golf industry would prevent me from ever being able to get a golfer into a FULL SPECIFIECATIONS FITTING. The OEM's simply do not build their clubs to an assortment of fitting options for all of the 13 important fitting specs in golf clubs because they can't and won't offer that many fitting options in their clubs. They can't because to have that many headweight, head loft, head face angle, shaft weight, shaft flex, grip size, etc, options would be a very bad business practice for them to persue to be able to make their mid to high 9 figure annual sales forecasts.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Click link to view golf video's by Tom Wishon:


Is there standard lengths for clubs...Thanks, Bill J.

Bill, I typically shy away from offering a finished assembled length for clubs because I am all about every one of my builds being custom fit to each golfer for all the key fitting specs, one of which is length.

Because I do have to choose a starting headweight for each of my builds, even with the weight bore(s) on the heads, there certainly are limits to what any club can be built to for a length and still be able to come out to a reasonable range of swingweight or MOI. But with the headweights choosen and with the heads that have one or two weight bores to add weight to the heads, the range for length fitting for all head models is about as wide as is possible within the whole golf industry - and again, I try to do this because I recognize that with all the different golfers out there, the custom length range has to be as wide as I can make it. All this being said, if I had to publish a "standard" length chart (UGHH!!!) it would be as follows:

MEN (subtract 1" for Women)
Driver - 44",
3wood - 43"
4 wood - 42.5"
5 wood - 42"
7 wood - 41"
9 wood - 40"
11 wood - 39.5"
2-iron - 39.5"
3 iron - 39"
4 iron - 38.5"
5 iron - 38"
6 iron - 37.5"
7 iron - 37"
8 iron - 36.5"
9 iron - 36"
PW - 35 3/4"
AW - 35 3/4"
SW - 35.5"

Bill, sorry about this, but you have no idea how much I HATE having to put down anything like a "standard" length chart for my builds because I am all about CUSTOM FITTING - and as such, I hate thinking of golf clubs on a standard spec basis!!!!!

One golfer, one clubmaker, one set of all custom specifications, never standard is sort of my "mantra". Hope you understand!