Golf Shaft Fitting: How Does ‘Transition’ Affect Shaft Selection?

Posted by on Jun 17, 2013 in New News, Shaft Fitting | 13 comments

Occasionally, we receive questions about golf shaft fitting, so we will do our best to answer them.  Here is a question regarding ‘transition:’  What role does ‘transition’ play on the golf shaft and what kind of tips can you provide in finding the right shaft?

Because the difference in how forceful the golfer starts the downswing can be of high importance to finding the right overall stiffness in the shaft along with the right shaft weight and right headweight feel as well.

Typically if you have two golfers with the same clubhead speed, the one with a much more forceful transition move will do better with at least ½ flex stiffer shaft than what would be normal for that swing speed, with a 20g heavier shaft weight and in the area of 2 to 3 swingweight points higher in the headweight feel than the golfer with a pause at the top and a very smooth, gradual transition move.

Golfers with a strong transition who end up with too light of a total weight and/or too light of a swingweight tend to experience a higher degree of off center hits, more heel side hits, and even the tendency to make a slight outside in path become more outside in.

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  1. Hi Tom,
    I’ve been having some problems with SW since I decided to increase my iron length. My irons changed to a D6 due to the added 1/4 inch and a low balance point with the project x 6.0 shafts. I am looking to reshaft with Nippon Pro Modus 3 Tour 120 X flex…possibly soft stepped once. Are you familiar with that shaft? Will it have a more normal balance point to get the SW down around D4 or does it have a low balance point like the Project X? Also, I average 112 mph with the driver and hit a 34 degree 7 iron about 182 yard…do you think I fall into the x flex category or more x flex soft stepped (stiff plus) category?



    • ADAM
      We just did finish doing the measurements on the Modus 3 shafts for our bend profile software. We find that they are very slightly butt heavy in their balance point design. So the swingweight should drop a little from that, but perhaps not a large amount. You do definitely fall into a typical X flex pattern with your iron distances. No question about that. But as to whether to say soft stepped or what, I can’t possibly tell you that. For high speed players with a late release and a lot of ball striking experience, it is impossible for anyone to advise you on that part of the shaft installation because things like that are strictly a matter of the golfer’s feel preference coupled with his preference for the flight shape. So when it comes to fitting high speed players with a late release and a lot of ball striking experience, that always has to be done in person, outdoors, with a clubmaker who can switch shafts in test clubs for you to hit and see and feel the differences. Other than that, you have to take ONE IRON ONLY and do some experiments with different trims and 2 or 3 separate ball striking sessions with each different iteration of the shaft’s assembly.


  2. I was just reading one of your articles on GolfWRX: Part 3: Facts about shafts, and what they do. Your conclusion said: “The flex (overall stiffness) and bend profile (distribution of stiffness over the length of the shaft) are without question an important performance element of the golf club – but only to golfers whose point of release is later in the downswing. In addition, the flex and bend profile of the shaft becomes more of a performance element in the shot as the golfer’s clubhead speed gets higher and their transition and tempo gets more aggressive.

    So for golfers with an early-to-midway release with a slower swing speed and with a less forceful and aggressive transition and tempo, the shaft’s flex and bend profile will not affect launch angle, trajectory and backspin and become chiefly a contributor to the impact feel of the shot coming off the club head.”

    Are you saying that for most golfers with an early-to-midway release and slower swing speed, it doesn’t make any difference which shaft flex they use? Just use what feels good? Then any OTR clubs that feels good is a good enough fit?

    I am just trying to grasp what I have probably known for a long time… No matter what clubs I try, they are all show about the same results and it is for me, just what feels good. I have been “fit” for my current clubs, but wonder if there is benefit to seeing one of your fitters. Thanks.

    • KENNY
      I am saying that FROM A PERFORMANCE standpoint, the early to early-mid release player is not going to see any real difference in launch angle, trajectory or spin rate from shafts of different stiffness design. I want to be sure you do not mistake this from the way that a shaft’s stiffness design can affect the impact feel of a shot for ALL GOLFERS most definitely also including early to early mid release players. So rather than think to use any old shaft, it still is best for the early to early mid release player to be fit for the flex and bend profile as if the shaft so the impact feel won’t end up being dead or boardy. But remember too when you say “Any OTR clubs is good enough”, in no way is this true because it is so important for the early to early mid release player to be fit for the right lengths, lofts, lies, face angles, shaft weight, total weight, swingweight, set make up, clubhead design and grip size to be able to play to the best of his ability. OTR clubs are still all made to average standard specs for these fitting elements so even though the stiffness design of the shaft is not going to make much difference for launch angle, trajectory or spin, all these other fitting elements I listed are so important for golfers with regard to achieving their best distance, accuracy and shot consistency.


  3. Hi Tom,I’ve been having problems with a recent fit and would love to get your opinion on the matter.

    I was fitted by a very reputable fitting and clubmaking company here in Ireland in the summer of last year. I am a 5 handicap 19 year old 5’11” 185 lbs athletic build. My swing speed ranges from 114-118 mph with the driver and is 96 mph with a 7 iron and I have an aggressive transition.

    I was fitted for the Grafalloy blue (white version) 60 gram in the driver and 3 wood and x100 SL (109 gram) in the irons and wedges. All the clubs are swingweighted at D3 except the driver which is D6. I have been having serious problems with consistency with these clubs and they seem very hard to feel throughout the swing. Strikes tend to be off the heel particularly with the 3 wood which I also top regularly. The miss with all the clubs tends to be an over the top pull hook despite my usual club path being 1/2 degrees from in to out.

    I returned to the fitter recently and was told to experiment with the swingweight using lead tape which has been of no help. I also have a slight vertical dip in my swing (similar to Rory McIlroy’s move) and was told adding weight to the shaft would not be good given this move. Tempo is also a problem I have with the lighter shafts and was told the heavier shafts improving my tempo was only a band aid fix for naturally poor tempo despite never having trouble with tempo before changing clubs.

    The fitting took place on an extremely warm day and I hit 30 balls to warm up beforehand and hit close to 90 balls in quick succession during the hour long fitting. When I returned recently I hit 50 balls within a 30 minute period and felt fatigued on both occasions.I ended up being able to hit the light clubs better in this situation as they felt much heavier than they do when I play on the course. I have experimented with heavier shafts on course with greatly improved results.

    In your opinion is there any reason a player of my physical and swing characteristics should be fitted for such lightweight shafts? Also do you think hitting such a large volume of balls in such a short time frame can affect the accuracy of the fit?

    Thanks in advance for being so generous with your time. I apologise for the length of this post but I just wanted to make sure I didn’t leave out any important information that could help in your response.

    Best Regards

    • DONN:
      JUst about everything you told us about with regard to your swing characteristics and your experiences with different clubs with different weight shafts does point to the fact that you need to have a heavier shaft to increase the TOTAL WEIGHT of the clubs to better match to your timing, tempo and preferred sense of feel for the clubs when you swing them. Typically when you have a golfer who is younger and thus probably stronger physically WITH an aggressive transition move and a higher than average clubhead speed, that type of golfer tends to do better with graphite shafts in the woods which are not less than 80g in weight, and for the irons, shafts which are not less than 120g in weight.

      THEN YOU GO TO WORK ON THE SWINGWEIGHT TO GO WITH THE HEAVIER SHAFT WEIGHT by doing what the fitter said which is to work with lead tape to add a little hit shots, add a little hit shots, until you start to get to the point that you feel the head enough during the swing to feel better about your timing and rhythm in the swing with the club. For some golfers if you use a light shaft and then keep adding weight to the head, the club gets to a point that the balance point becomes too low and starts to make you sense that it is too head heavy, but your timing is still messed up because the very light shaft is still making the total weight of the club too light for your strength + your downswing aggressiveness. Thus when we hear what you say about your experience with the light shaft + high swingweight, that tells us you need to be in a much heavier shaft. And then go to work with the tape to see what headweight feel matches best with that so you definitely feel the presence of the head enough during the swing to go with the heavier total weight to get your tempo and timing more consistent.

      Hope this helps,

    • Tom, your reply was very helpful and I really appreciate the level of detail. The fitter has agreed to replace all the shafts with heavier ones at their own expense. Thanks again.

  4. Hi Tom

    For a long time, I have believed it was ‘me’ and not my tools that was the cause of my swing inconsistencies. I’m troubled to have recently learned (from a new golf coach) that I have invested a huge amount of practice and lessons with irons that aren’t suited to me. I’ve enjoyed learning about shafts through your website forums, and can safely say your final paragraph in your blog entry above describes me to a “T”.

    I have been playing with NSPro 950s Reg. I’ve been told (and agree) that they are too light and too soft. I have been experimenting with practicing with oddment irons that have heavier shafts and love being able to feel where the clubhead is for the first time ever (now I know what everyone is talking about!).

    So I need to update my irons, but I also don’t want to overdo it with increasing the weight and stiffness of the shafts. My handicap is 4. My 6-iron SS is 79mph. I’m a 35yo female, but have an aggressive-ish transition. My Mizuno DNA (to the extent that’s helpful – not sure how accurate it is) is 5-2-6-4 (tempo, toe down, kick angle, release factor). The Mizuno computer suggests stiff Dynalite Gold XP (117g), soft-stepped KBS Tour Stiff (120g) and NSPro 1150GH stiff (116g). These are all ok, but I don’t love them.

    I’m looking closely at getting either the Nippon Tour Modus3 120 and the DG Pro shafts. I like these to hit, but only am able to demo them in stiff and in a 6-iron (different brand heads). It’s very difficult to any kind of sensible apples-with-apples comparison or get a feel how I’d like these shafts across a full set.

    Can you give me your opinion whether you think (i) either/both of these could be around the right weight for me and, (ii) whether I should be looking at getting regular or stiff flex in each case?

    I live in Australia so there is no real opportunity to test/try these shafts and compare them. I would have to actually buy the shafts and get them assembled… which is not exactly a viable option.

    Thanks so much in advance!


    • Tracy
      I hear what you are saying and based on my many yrs of experience, with your needs with your swing and playing experience and ability to note differences in shafts, you really do need to find a good clubfitter with whom to work to get what you precisely want. I can’t help you as much as you would like because to do that I have to SEE your swing characteristics and know all your impact data. And even then I can’t know what YOUR specific feel likes and dislikes are from this far away. That again is something that a good fitter does as a part of the whole fitting analysis. Where in Australia do you live – what town/city? I know there are not that many good clubmakers in your country but maybe you just happen to be close enough to someone who you are not aware of yet who could help. If you can let me know where you live, I would for sure check all my resources to see if there is someone in at least some reasonable proximity to you. If you wish you can respond with your location by email to and I will see it to be able to check and respond.


  5. Tom
    I have been playing for more than 30 years holding a handicap of 5 or lowerI have owen many sets of irons Miura Epon Callaway Ping to name a few including few custom fittings I came across some of your replies on a golf forum which made total sense to me regarding club fittings. So few weeks ago I visited a local club fitter and purchased a combo set of 575MMC 3-AW plus PCF Micro SW the look and feel of these heads are second to none and when placed behind the ball they are very pleasing to the eye. As I have a very fast tempo and forceful transition on my request they have been fitted with Dynamic Gold S300 shaft as I find with the lighter shafts I struggle with a closed club face and also I have a tendency to develop even faster tempo. For the 3 4 5 6 irons the flight is much higher than expected with push shot in the main the clubs were built to swing weight D2 for 3-8 and 9 PW AW D4. I would appreciate your thoughts on the shaft fitting in particular the weight and flex swing weights for a fast tempo short back swing with forceful transition.

    • AZ

      It’s good to hear you realize the importance of the weighting of your clubs to your tempo and timing. Typically it is true that the more forceful and abrupt the transition move and faster and more aggressive the overall downswing tempo, the HEAVIER the clubs need to be to help you try to prevent being too quick with your overall tempo. Since you are using the DG shaft, you already have one of the heaviest shafts you can use. So you already have the total weight up there at about as high of a level as is possible. so that leaves the headweight as the other place to continue to experiment to find that weight feel that makes the most difference in terms of you being able to control your tempo more consistently, without having to think consciously about it. I’d add headweight to the 3 to 8 irons (lead tape is fine for experimenting with this) to see if you can find a point of headweight feel where you see better results with the push, the height or the overall tendency to fight your tempo.

      However, one more thing you need to check out if you can. See if you can get a quality video shot of your swing, with the camera facing your chest/front as you swing. Make sure the camera shows your HANDS and the CLUBHEAD when you hit shots. What you are looking for is to see if the clubhead is passing the hands a little at the moment of impact or whether you have the hands slightly in front of the clubhead. Many times we see when a golfer has a VERY HIGH trajectory with any club or clubs, the reason is because for some reason they allow the clubhead to pass the hands before the head contacts the ball. When that happens there is automatically a lot more dynamic loft on the clubhead at impact which becomes the real cause of the too high shots. Correction of that typically has to be working on the release and the swing to keep the hands slightly in front of the clubhead coming into impact.


  6. Tom i have changed irons to a more modern cavity back design from a blade style iron. Hoping new technolgy would bring more consistancy. The new irons are .25 longer with the same swing weight but i know the shafts are about 20 grams lighter. I can not make the new irons preform as good as my older blades. I have read that shaft weight is important for quicker tempos but mine is very smooth and deliberat. Could it be that i just need the heavier shaft to keep my tempo smooth. Thanks, Chris

    • CHRIS

      based on more years in this industry than I sometimes now care to remember (!!), I would bet the farm that the reason for your inconsistency with the cavity backs has nothing to do with the head model change (unless the lofts and/or lies are different in the two models) but is coming from something in the shaft weight, total weight and/or swingweight of the new irons not fitting YOU and your sense of feel, your swing timing and tempo.

      First things first, you need to find out if it is a shaft weight or swingweight issue before you go out and consider spending any more money on different shafts. So that means get yourself a roll of lead tape and head to the range. start with one of the irons that you really notice is more inconsistent and start adding weight a little at a time to the head. Hit shots, evaluate if you can feel the headweight enough or if it feels light during the swing. See if you can get to a point where the shots are what you want to see and feel by experimenting with more weight on the head.

      If you can, then that means this was a swingweight issue and not really a shaft weight issue. But if you can’t and even at a decent headweight feel for your swing the clubs are still inconsistent and you struggle to achieve a consistent tempo and timing, then that says the shafts are probably too light. If so, then take ONE of the irons and reshaft it with the same model and flex of shaft you had in your old irons. Hit it over several range sessions and experiment with the lead tape on the head with that ONE test iron to see if you get the club to the point that you are happy with the feel and performance.

      If so, then you can re shaft the other irons to match. But doing it this way you at least are taking a more orderly approach to see what’s the cause without spending much money right away.

      Hope this helps,

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