Shaft Weight

When To Go Heavier, When To Go Lighter

In theory, a golfer should be able to swing a lighter shaft faster than he or she can swing a heavier shaft. But some golfers will not increase their swing speed with a lighter shaft. While it seems to go against the laws of physics, giving a golfer a lighter shaft can actually cause his or her speed to decrease. This is no rare occurrence. Club fitters see it happen nearly every day.

So what’s going on here? This is just one of the paradoxes of club fitting, where the answer to seemingly straightforward questions is more often than not “it depends.” Two golfers of the same size, strength, and speed can find themselves needing shafts of different weights to play their best.

An in-person club fitting is the only way to know for sure that a golfer has the best shaft for them. For that reason, the purpose of this article is not to help golfers “fit themselves.” After all, even the best golfers in the world rely on fitters to help them optimize their performance.

Our goal is to offer golfers a deeper understanding of the framework leading fitters use to identify the best shafts for their players. With so many points of confusion related to shaft weight in particular, we urge you to share this article with golfers who are interested in taking their games to the next level.

When To Go Heavier

As strange as it sounds, heavier shafts can help golfers “activate” more swing speed. To explain how this works, we’ll use a relatable non-golf example.

Imagine being asked to carry two packages across a room: one that weighs 2 pounds, and another that weighs 20 pounds. Both packages are the same size and shape; the only difference is the weight inside.

To carry the lighter package, you may only require the strength of your hands. With the heavier package, you will likely need the strength of your arms, shoulders, and core muscles… potentially even your legs. The more strenuous job “activates” these additional muscle groups to carry out the task.

A key factor in maximizing swing speed is maximizing muscle activation, which is why certain golfers can swing heavier shafts faster than lighter shafts. Slightly heavier shafts can activate additional muscle groups, effectively “turning on” more speed in a golfer’s swing.

When To Go Lighter

Let us not forget that lighter shafts are better for many golfers, too.

There are two factors that are critical to increasing distance, and lighter shafts can help with both factors. These factors are:

  • The Speed The Club Head Is Travelling At Impact
  • The Mass Of The Club Head

Increasing The Speed The Club Head Is Travelling At Impact

When a shaft is lighter, it reduces what’s known as the total weight of a golf club, which is the weight of all components: the head, the shaft, the grip, and the things that hold them together such as the tip, tape, and epoxy.

When the total weight of a club is reduced, it allows some golfers to swing faster. This is like removing weight from a race car. If all other factors are the same, a lighter race car will beat a heavier race car to the finish line every time.

This is how it’s possible for a weaker golfer to achieve the same clubhead speed as a stronger golfer if the stronger golfer is using a shaft that’s too heavy for him or her.

Increasing The Mass Of The Club Head

This topic is related closely to swing weight, which is an important factor that we’ll explain more thoroughly in a future article. But for the purposes of this article, we’ll do our best to stay focused on shaft weight and not swing weight.

The concept of “mass redistribution” is popular in clubhead design. It’s the practice of moving weight to positions in the clubhead where it can best improve performance: distance, accuracy, or even feel.

We know that, in general, the heavier a club head is the more energy it can transfer to a golf ball if the clubhead speed remains the same or very close to the same. This is because, at impact, the transfer of energy is related almost entirely to the weight of the clubhead. The first four inches of the shaft nearest to the clubhead also play a role in energy transfer, but it’s a minor role as the first four inches of the shaft, regardless of shaft model, does not vary as much as clubhead weight.

Using a lighter shaft allows more weight to be placed in the clubhead through adjustable weights, hotmelt, etc. without increasing the total weight of the club. This “redistribution” of shaft weight into the clubhead can be one of the last tweaks in a fitting that unlocks more distance off the tee.

The Golfer’s Role In A Fitting

Is your head spinning by now? The good news is that TPT Authorized Fitters understand everything we’ve described and more so golfers don’t have to think about all of this during a fitting.

So what should golfers focus on during a fitting? We would ask them to be ruthlessly attentive to the two variables below:

  1. Performance: A change in ball flight and/or distance.
  2. Feel: Any perceived change in weight, stiffness, loading, twisting, etc.

Because fitters are able to objectively judge performance with a launch monitor, it is a golfer’s only responsibility to communicate to a fitter what they’re feeling with each adjustment to the club — and of course to do their best to make good swings.

Golfers can generally disregard static measurements like shaft weight during a fitting, which often distracts from the goal of improving performance. If golfers can do this, an efficient and effective fitting is almost always the result.

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