Every shaft fitting comes down to solving problems that are keeping golfers from performing their best. The role of a club fitter is to understand what these problems are, what’s causing them, and most importantly, to apply a solution that addresses the problems.
With the Red Range, our goal was to create a robust offering of driver shafts that provide fitters with the ideal solutions for their customers that are seeking maximum performance. And to do that, we’ve engineered the Red Range shafts to be quite different than other shafts on the market.
In this article, we’ll cover why bend profiles are important, as well as our distinct approach to bend profiles.
Why Bend Profiles Are Important
A golf shaft bends multiple times during the swing, and that is a good thing for golfers. The bending of a shaft allows golfers to increase their swing speed by storing and then releasing energy into the golf ball. If you’ve ever used a training device like an Orange Whip, you’ve felt an extreme version of this phenomenon.
The way a golf shaft is designed to bend is known as a “bend profile.” It’s important to note that while the bend profile is one of the most important shaft measurements, it plays a secondary role in performance. It’s the golfer and not the shaft that plays the most important role in how a shaft will behave during the swing.
The purpose of the shaft and its bend profile is to encourage or discourage a golfer to move the club in a certain way. And because there are so many different types of golfers with so many different types of golf swings, the mass shaft manufacturers have spent decades developing countless bend profiles in an effort to “match” golfers with the right shaft for them.
This approach is well-meaning, but our research calls into question its value. It’s a similar idea to runners matching their foot size to shoe size. The fault of this approach is that it focuses mainly on the “good fit” of the shoe and not how fast it allows a runner to run.
At TPT, we believe that finding a good fit isn’t enough to justify purchasing a new shaft; golfers should demand a shaft that helps them take their performance to a new standard. And has led us in a different direction.
Why More Bend Profiles Aren’t Necessarily Better
There are two main issues with trying to match golfers to specific bend profiles.
1. Even the best golfers in the world cannot perfectly repeat their swing. Every swing they make has at least small differences from the previous swing.
2. Many golfers have specialty shots in which they intend to make a different swing on purpose. Think of the draw, fade, stinger, etc. you see regularly in coverage of professional golf.
With an understanding that it’s not possible or even desirable to create a bend profile for every type of golfer and golf swing, we chose to focus on creating a strict range of golf shafts with targeted, incremental differences in design. This approach allows fitters to make isolated changes during a fitting to tease out the most important shaft characteristics; not only bend profile, but flex, torque, and weight.
Another point to consider related to the approach of matching a bend profile to the player is the way conventional golf shafts are made. The mass manufacturers use what’s known as the Roll-Wrapping Method to make their graphite shafts. With this by-hand process, it’s impossible to make two shafts that feel and perform the same due to human error. We cover that topic and more in this article.
Our Approach To Bend Profiles
Red Range driver shafts are currently available in 14 distinct models. Below is a graphic that shows how the range is divided into eight shaft series: Hī and Lō versions of our 14-19 Series, as well as individual offerings in the 20 and 21 Series. Each shaft series within the Red Range targets a specific category of golfers. And within each shaft series from 14-19, we offer two bend profiles: Hī and Lō.
Shaft Specification Chart
Hī Bend Profiles
Smooth bend profiles that become gradually softer from the butt section to the tip section to help golfers maximize ball speed.
Lō Bend Profiles
Have reinforced tip sections that help golfers lower their trajectory through a lower launch angle and/or lower spin rate to optimize launch conditions.
FREQUENCY - HĪ
FREQUENCY - LŌ
As you can see in the shaft specification chart above, the overall CPM (stiffness of the shaft) remains the same even as the bend point changes. This allows fitters to isolate the variables of bend point from shaft stiffness, which cannot be done when comparing shafts across different manufacturers.
We came to this approach after thorough research of the best performing shafts in the industry, interviews with leading fitters, and intensive player testing. We learned that creating two bend profiles for our higher-speed shaft series would allow us to improve performance for nearly any golfer. This is because a fiitter can stay within the same shaft range and make changes to either the shaft series (stiffness) or shaft bend profile (Hī or Lō) until there is a clear and convincing winner.
A note about the 20 and 21 Series. In the development of these slower-speed shaft profiles, we found that nearly every golfer performed better with the Hī, which is why we only offer the 20 and 21 Series shafts in the Hī profile at this time. We’re still early in the launch of the Red Range, however, and we will continue to study the results of our fitters to determine if additional profiles are needed.
Please Note: The Red Range is also designed to offer golfers variable torque and weight options to maximize performance, but for the purposes of this article we’re going to stay focused on the effect bend point has on performance.
For more on how torque affects performance, read this article. For more on how weight affects performance, read this article.
Golfers That Bend The Rules
TPT Head of Performance Jon Sinclair leads player testing for TPT at this facility outside Fort Worth, Texas. And if you’ve ever wondered why TPT shafts don’t come with the swing speed recommendations offered by other shaft manufacturers, Jon is the reason.
Sinclair is considered one of the finest club fitters in the world for many reasons, but the most important reason may be his open-mindedness. To help golfers achieve their best performance, he often tests shafts that golfers on their own may never have considered.
Someone reading this article, for example, may assume that if they hit the ball too low with their driver they should never consider a Lō bend profile. Yet nearly every week, Sinclair fits a player who hits higher shots with, say, a 15 Lō when compared to a 15 Hi. As we stated at the beginning of this article, the bend profile plays a secondary role in performance. It’s how the golfer responds to a bend profile that matters most.
To Sinclair, one of the most important things that a bend profile does is change where a golfer impacts the ball on the clubface. And these differences in impact location can negate or even contradict what a shaft profile is expected to do in a fitting session.
We hope by now you’ve realized that descriptions of a shaft’s bend profile such as low-launch/low-spin, or mid-launch/mid-spin are a helpful starting point, but far from a stopping point if golfers are seeking the best possible performance.
The only way to identify the ideal shaft for your game is to schedule a fitting with a club fitter with access to accurate fitting tools. And we believe one of those tools has to be a range of golf shafts that gives the fitter complete control over every aspect of the shaft performance as the Red Range does.