Friday, September 21, 2012

Does the Price of the Shaft Ensure Better Shaft Performance?

In a word? No, the price of the shaft does not ensure that anything about the shaft will be better, whether you are talking the fit, the performance or the quality. Sad, but it is true. Over the past several years, a number of shaft companies have chosen to develop and market graphite shafts for woods which are VERY expensive. From the early 1980s when graphite shafts were first introduced until the mid 2000s, the most expensive graphite shafts cost in the area of $50 to $60. In almost every case, these were shafts which were manufactured to be very light in weight and with a very low torque measurement. Making a graphite shaft that weighs 65 grams or less and with under 3 degrees of torque costs more money because more expensive higher strength/higher modulus graphite fiber materials are required to get to that light of a weight with that low of a torque. But today, there are many shafts selling for $100, $200, $300 and even more which are of “normal weight” with a torque measurement in excess of 3 or 4 degrees. Why are there a number of shafts today being sold for such high prices? If you pay hundreds of dollars for a shaft, does that mean you will hit the ball farther, straighter or more consistently? There are FIVE elements in the design of a golf shaft which ordain every bit of its performance. Those elements are the, 1) Flex or overall stiffness of the shaft, 2) Bend Profile, otherwise known as how the stiffness is distributed over the length of the shaft, 3) Weight, which is important because the shaft’s weight controls the total weight of the whole club, 4) Torque, also known as the shaft’s resistance to twisting during the swing, and 5) the Weight Distribution, which is also referred to as the balance point of the shaft. At Bob Sailer Golf, I maintain a data base of shaft measurements for more than 2,000 different shafts. This data base is the core of the TWGT Shaft Bend Profile Software, a program which allows me to be able to make quantitative comparisons of shafts for the purpose of making better shaft fitting decisions for my customers. With this software program, it is possible to compare the design and production specifications of any shaft in the data base to any other shaft. In a nutshell, it is completely possible to find shafts which cost hundreds of dollars for which all of the performance elements are identical or so close to be considered identical in performance to shafts which cost less than $50. In all of Wishon's research, they simply cannot find any performance justification for the very high price charged for some shafts today. What makes a GOOD shaft is whether that shaft’s flex, bend profile, weight, torque and balance point are well matched to the golfer’s swing speed, point of wrist cock release and downswing force. There really is no such thing as a “bad shaft”; there are only poorly fit shafts and properly fit shafts. A properly fit shaft has no price guidelines or cost requirements attached to it. In order to find the right shaft for you, your clubhead/swing speed, downswing transition/tempo and point of wrist cock release has to be known. Then and only then will your shaft fitting needs be properly met.

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