Shaft tipping is one of the most widely misunderstood golf club fitting tools among golfers, and it’s not for a lack of effort or understanding. For decades, shaft tipping has essentially been a guessing game — and a very wasteful and expensive guessing game.
In this article, we’ll explain why that is. But before we do, let’s cover the basics of shaft tipping.
The Basics: What Is Shaft Tipping?
Shaft tipping is when a club builder removes length from the tip section of a shaft, which is the end where the clubhead is installed. In most cases, tip trimming a shaft makes it meaningfully stiffer. It also increases torsional stiffness, known as “torque,” which is a shaft’s resistance to twisting.
On the other end of the shaft is the handle, which is also generally trimmed some amount when building a golf club. Handle trimming doesn’t affect shaft flex as much as tip trimming because most shafts become gradually stiffer as they move from tip to handle. For that reason, trimming the handle section of a shaft does not dramatically increase shaft stiffness.
Here’s another way to understand why tipping makes a shaft meaningfully stiffer. When you cut off a portion of the softest part of a golf shaft (the tip), it increases the overall stiffness. The handle section of a shaft, on the other hand, is longer and more uniformly stiff, so removing material from the handle does not make such a pronounced difference in overall stiffness.
There’s a caveat to this, however, and it’s that the general increase in stiffness from tip to handle is not necessarily linear. This is one of the reasons tipping can be complicated, but not the main reason.
Why Shaft Tipping Is So Complicated: Reason #1
The reason tipping is so complicated is first and foremost the way most golf shafts are made. As we describe in this article, nearly all golf shafts on the market are made by hand with a decades-old process known as the Roll-Wrapping Method.
Because these shafts are made by hand, it’s impossible for even two shafts that are supposed to be identical to feel or perform the same. Some tour players are known to test multiple versions of the same shaft, ultimately choosing a favorite for their gamer and a second-favorite for their backup.
Premium shafts are generally more consistent than budget shafts or “stock” shafts, but even the most expensive handmade shafts on the market have flaws called seams or “spine” that prevent them from offering golfers top performance.
You might be wondering why this is. The simple explanation is that off-center shafts create more off-center hits. And any shaft that is made by hand is going to be off-center to some degree.
We’ll be developing future articles that dive much deeper into this topic. You can learn more about our automated shaft manufacturing process in this article.
Why Shaft Tipping Is So Complicated: Reason #2
The second reason shaft tipping is so complicated is that there are no “standards” for golf shafts. Even if a shaft is labeled the same — let’s say a low-launching, 60-gram stiff from Manufacturer A — it’s not going to perform the same as a low-launching 60-gram stiff shaft from Manufacturer B or C. This makes tipping standards across different manufacturers impossible.
If you’ve ever tried to upgrade to the latest and greatest shaft and saw your performance suffer, you know this phenomenon well. New does not necessarily mean better with handmade shafts. It only means different.
How Much Stiffness Does Tipping Add?
For most manufacturers, there’s no clear answer to this question. Some manufacturers recommend tipping shafts certain amounts for specific swing speeds and miss tendencies. These recommendations can range from 0.25 inches to 1.5 inches and vary from product to product and manufacturer to manufacturer.
When we were developing the Red Range, we sought to establish a method for shaft tipping that was precise and simple. We wanted to eliminate all guesswork, just as we do in our shaft manufacturing process.
Tipping TPT Red Range Shafts
|MODEL||TIPPING AMOUNT||WILL PLAY LIKE|
|14 LO||1 Inch||13.5 LO|
|15 LO||1 Inch||14.5 LO|
|16 LO||1 Inch||15.5 LO|
|17 LO||1 Inch||16.5 LO|
|18 LO||1 Inch||17.5 LO|
|19 LO||1 Inch||18.5 LO|
|MODEL||TIPPING AMOUNT||WILL PLAY LIKE|
|14 HI||1 Inch||13.5 HI|
|15 HI||1 Inch||14.5 HI|
|16 HI||1 Inch||15.5 HI|
|17 HI||1 Inch||16.5 HI|
|18 HI||1 Inch||17.5 HI|
|19 HI, 20 HI, 21 HI||Do Not Tip||Do Not Tip|
Let’s say a fitter wanted to build a 45-inch driver. Let’s also say that the shaft is a TPT 14 Lo, which is the stiffest shaft we make at TPT. The fitter has two options for trimming the shaft.
Option 1: Maintain Stiffness
We created the 14 Lo to be one of the stiffest shafts in the world, so we believe that most golfers will play it “straight in” (without tipping). To maintain the stiffness of the 14 Lo, a club builder would simply trim the necessary length from the handle section of the shaft to get to a length of 45 inches.
Option 2: Increase Stiffness
Let’s say that a golfer needed his 14 Lo to be even stiffer. What a club builder would do is trim 1 inch from the tip section of the shaft. He would then trim whatever length necessary from the handle section of the shaft to get to a length of 45 inches.
Tipping any TPT Red Range shaft 1 inch will result in a stiffness increase of 5 cycles per minute (cpm), or one-half flex. This removes the need for half flexes in the Red Range. When a 14 Lo is tipped 1 inch, for example, it effectively becomes a 13.5 Lo. A 17 Hi, when tipped 1 inch, becomes a 16.5 Hi.
Please Note: We do not recommend tipping any TPT shaft more than 1 inch.
Exceptions To TPT Tipping Rules
The 19 Hi, 20 Hi, and 21 Hi have profiles that are slightly softer leading up to the tip section. When they’re tipped, they actually become more flexible. For that reason, we do not recommend tipping these shafts.
Erroring On The Side Of “Straight In”
The vast majority of Red Range shafts that we’ve sold to date have been installed straight in (no tipping). This is because our Red Range was developed with only 10 cpm between shaft series, as well as a Hi (higher ball flight) and Lo (lower ball flight) profile in each series (14-19), creating a very tight and complete range.
Let’s say your fitter has identified the 18 Series as a great fit for your game. It’s available in two profiles (Hi and Lo), which gives a fitter the ability to have you test the two different profiles and choose the best-performing shaft. This removes the need to “guess” at a tipping amount that would raise or lower your ball flight to create optimized performance.
When Tipping Makes Sense
So when does tipping make sense? Let’s say a golfer is between a 17 Lo and an 18 Lo in a fitting. It was clear that the golfer performed better with the Lo profile, but he or she needed something that was stiffer than the 18 Lo and more flexible than the 17 Lo.
If a fitter didn’t have a demo of an 18 Lo tipped 1 inch (effectively a 17.5 Lo), the fitter could tip the 18 Lo gamer shaft with confidence that the tipping will result in a profile exactly between the 17 Lo and 18 Lo.
We hope this answers some of your questions about tipping TPT shafts — and shaft tipping in general. If you have any questions, please feel free to email us at [email protected].
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