You may begin to believe it’s your God-given right to experience the latest in technology… you know to take your game to the next level and seek the holy grail of golf. That long drive with a draw… or maybe that crisp iron shot that lands softly on the green to set you up for a birdie try. It’s all good.
Let me see if I can set the stage.
It’s early Spring and still too cold to play golf but you are beginning to get the itch back. You pick up the spring edition of the Golf Equipment Buyer’s Guide to peruse the latest equipment. You soon find yourself day dreaming about how the latest Game Improvement irons will allow you to drop a club and hit 150 yards with an “easy” 7 iron. Or, how about that new driver that will add yardage by eliminating that annoying fade, making you the envy of your foursome?
Then the real danger sets in. You attend one of those dreaded “golf demo days” where you scrutinize every new club salivating at the grand new technology. Finally you do something you know you will regret but do it anyway. You head out to the heated range with a bucket of balls in one hand and that new driver in the other, the one with a $450 price tag and five star rating from Golf magazine, with the intent of validating its touted acclaim. The final verdict is in. Two thumbs way up. You may even wonder how you got through a round of golf last year without this club.
Sound hauntingly familiar? Well, you’re not alone. Technology is an amazing game equalizer that affect some sports more than others – golf is at or near the top of that list. One can even make the argument that golf technology has gone too far, providing unfair advantages over the golfer that maybe cannot afford the luxury of upgrading equipment regularly. I personally fall into the camp that technology is a great thing for the game of golf and the average player. It allows golfers with mediocre abilities to experience the thrill that comes from hitting that 250 yard drive right down the center of the fairway, that they know would not be a possible with outdated equipment. Anyone serious about the game understands and maybe even welcomes technology as part of this game.
There are other ways however, you can experience new technology, improve your game, and do it in fashion that will allow you to pay next months light bill. It’s called a golf re-shaft or golf shaft replacement. By upgrading what many call the “engine” of the golf club, one can experience amazing results. Today’s golf shafts are so technically advanced, you can easily take that driver you have been using the last couple years and add 10, 15, or even 20 yards with a correctly fitted shaft!
Shaft characteristics and measuring characteristics to each swing are integral to a proper golf fitting – they all play key roles in determining the correct shaft for each golfer. A high level description for some of these characteristics are described below:
A very general guideline for shaft flex is 70 to 90 mph head speed = Regular, 90 to 100 mph head speed = Stiff, and excess of 100 mph = Extra Stiff.
Defined as how much the shaft twists given a certain amount of force. In general, the lower the torque, the harder the feel and less twisting occurs (club head turning around the shaft). Steel shafts are fairly constant and do not twist much. Graphite shafts given their properties, vary considerably more. Lower torque with stiffer shafts are more difficult to hit without adequate club head speed. In general, slower swing speeds typically need a higher torque to help square the club face, while faster swingers need lower torque.
Defined as the maximum bending of the shaft (also called flex or bend point). This characteristic affects the trajectory of the shot. If someone hits the ball too low of a trajectory, a lower kick point will get the ball airborne, and vice-versa. The lower the kick point, the more the club head will feel like it is moving through impact. In contrast, a higher kick point will make the shaft have a “one-piece” feel. In general, a higher kick point is easier to control.
In general, there are standards in place for most clubs, especially irons. For example, most 7 iron shafts are 34.5″ in length. The standard driver length is 43″. Recent advancements in driver technology has allowed for an increase in driver shaft lengths. Many drivers now come standard with 45″ shafts, some even longer. The maximum legal length for drivers is 48″.
Most steel driver shafts weigh between 90 and 120 grams while their graphite counterparts come in between 65 and 90 grams. Many driver shafts are going to lighter weights to increase club head speed and distance. The weight of irons vary in accordance with the length of the shaft, incrementing 2 grams per club ranging from 120 grams for the longer irons to 110 grams for the shorter irons.
As you can see from the above descriptions, selecting the right shaft can be an involved process, one that should not be taken lightly if game improvement is your objective. That brings me to the point I would like to stress most about shaft selection. In my opinion, getting custom fitted by a trained professional is one of the best decisions you can do for your game. Analyzing your swing dynamics using computer generated results significantly reduces or eliminates the guess work out of the shaft fitting equation. This personally happened to me last year. I was using a UST Proforce V2, a great shaft by all measures. However, I was custom fitted and found that the Fujikura ZCom Six, was a better shaft for my swing. It allowed me to increase my club head speed while maintaining or even improving control. I increased my drive by at least 15 yards. This was all done on a 5+ year old Taylor Made R5 club head.
One caveat to this thesis is that extremes should be avoided. In other words, do not expect drastic positive results by putting a $300 shaft on a 20 year old antiquated club head. Although you may see improvement, you may be better served with a brand new club.
There are plenty of great shaft manufacturers to choose from including Accuflex, Aldila, Fujikura, Grafalloy, Graphite Design, Harrison, Mitsubishi, Penley, Rifle, True Temper, UST and more. All of these companies in my opinion, produce great shafts and offer a wide variety of choices. In general, shaft prices range from $50 upward to and over $200 however, expect to find a very good shaft to fit your game somewhere in between. Try out the more popular auction methods to get even better prices.