Wednesday, February 25, 2015

What shaft weight should you play?

When discussing the manner of fitting the shaft weight and total weight of a golf club, the conversation should also include fitting the swing weight, or better stated, the head weight FEEL of the golf club at the same time. This is because the two “weights” of a golf club are very much interrelated in their effect on the fitting performance of golf clubs for each golfer.
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In the interest of brevity, this segment will discuss the fitting of shaft weight and total weight, followed next by a conversation about swing weight/head weight feel fitting. So we’ll start with the meat and next week we’ll add the sauce to make it a more complete dish!
Fitting the golfer for the correct total weight and swing weight (head weight feel) is extremely important for enabling the golfer to achieve the highest level of shot consistency and swing repeatability. Too light or too heavy and the golfer struggles to maintain a consistent swing tempo, timing and rhythm. Match the weights of the clubs to the golfer’s transition force, tempo, rhythm and strength and a higher level of swing consistency happens, which also results in a greater on-center hit performance, better quality “misses” and fewer “off-the-world” shots.
All experienced clubfitters know when fitting the weight of the shaft that the total weight of the club is being fit to the golfer at the same time. This is because shaft weight is the No. 1 determinant of the total weight of the club. Yes, grip weight and head weight have an influence on total weight, but they aren’t as important as the effect of the weight of the shaft. In short, when the golfer needs a lighter or heavier total weight in the clubs, fitting the weight of the shaft is how that is done.
In fitting the golfer for the best shaft weight, experienced club fitters study the “force and strength” of the golfer and his swing. The more forceful and aggressive the transition move, the more quick and fast the swing tempo and the greater the strength of the golfer, the heavier the shaft weight should be to better match to these more powerful swing and golfer characteristics. Conversely, the smoother and more passive the transition, the smoother and more rhythmic the tempo and the weaker the golfer, the lighter the weight of the shafts and total weight should be.
Another way the good club fitters look at this matter of fitting the weights of the golf club is to understand that the total weight of the club is felt more on the backswing and the very beginning of the downswing while the head weight is detected and shows its influence on swing tempo consistency more from the beginning of the downswing to the release.
Without question, the golfer’s personal preference for the overall weight feel of his clubs takes precedence over any shaft weight recommendation done on the basis of strength, transition and tempo. Shaft weight fitting involves judgment by the club fitter based on experience from having fit many golfers and learning from what golfers of different strengths, transition forces, tempos and weight feel preferences preferred, along with what ended up performing the best for them.
As with any area involving judgment, it is always helpful to have a guideline as a starting point in the decision making process. The following chart can be used as a basic starting point in the shaft weight fitting process. As with so many parts of the fitting process, test clubs should be assembled with the shaft weight being recommended to be hit by the golfer to assist in making the final decision.

A starting point for shaft weight

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Click the chart to enlarge it
In the next segment in the series on club fitting, we will finish the discussion of fitting the weights of the clubs by bringing in the co-important specification of head weight feel (i.e. swing weight or MOI).

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