Short, Powerful Backswing: So What’s The Best Shaft for Me?

Posted by on Jul 31, 2013 in Clubfitting, Shaft Fitting | 17 comments

Short backswings with strong acceleration do require more overall stiffness and/or more tip stiffness to prevent a sudden, forceful swing move from over bending the shaft at the start of the downswing.

When choosing the right shaft, the weight of the shaft, the overall flex and the bend profile are the most important elements, with torque being much less important.  The reason is because you just do not see higher torque with any shafts that are designed in a stiffer overall flex with more tip stiffness. The shaft companies know that players who need to use stiffer overall flex shafts and more tip stiff shafts also need to keep the torque no higher than 3.5*. So it is very rare in the industry these days to even see a normal S, a strong S or any X flex with tip stiff bend profile to ever have a torque higher than 4*.

In addition, as long as the overall flex and bend profile and weight of the shaft are correct for a golfer’s swing, the difference between a torque of say, 2* and 3.5* is very minimal on shot dispersion. The golfer might notice that the 2* torque shaft felt a little stiffer at impact than the 3.5* torque version of the same flex and bend profile shaft, but he would not experience anything in the way of off line shots from a 1.5* torque difference.

So do your best to get fit for the right shaft weight, shaft overall flex and bend profile for your swing moves and the torque is not going to be an issue.

The best way to be sure you are properly fit for the right shafts that match all your swing characteristics is to find a GOOD Clubmaker/clubfitter in your area and have them use their knowledge and experience to custom fit you.

17 Comments

  1. Hi Tom,

    I came across a few of your articles in regards to type of shafts for different golfers, and I think they are great. I’m certainly still an amateur golfer, but am falling in love with the sport of golf. I live in a smaller city, and we don’t have any golf fitters available here, so am not 100% on my swing speed and what not. I hit my 5 iron 150 yards on average if that helps, and my drives around 215 yards or a little more. I’m currently hitting Taylormade R11S driver with regular flex shaft, but am currently looking at the Ping G30 SF Tec, as I do have a slight/wicked slice at times. I would describe my swing as aggressive, and I have a more high arcing shot more often than not. My questions are ultimately, should I go with the 10 degree or 12 degree, and should I go with a regular flex or stiff flex shaft? Any other tips/suggestions you may have would be greatly appreciated.

    • GREG
      Thanks very much for your interest after digging up some of my teachings. I appreciate that very much and hope your getting helpful information from your reading. It’s so hard to be as accurate as I would like or as the more experienced clubmakers would like when we cannot see your swing, see your ball flight and get some measurements and readings to give us a real basis for constructing a good recommendation. From what you say it will just be some ball park things to definitely follow. First with your aggressive move and wicked slice, do NOT have the driver made longer than 43.5″ – even think about 43. Aggressive tempo + over the top outside in move (the slice) are the two kisses of death for ever being ale to play a driver of any length more than that. Two, if you are asking or referring to my shaft designs, your distances with your aggressive move would most definitely indicate an R. If you went longer than 43.5 then you might go with the S if in fact your tempo is really fast and forceful on the downswing. Otherwise your carry distance would need to be over 225 with an aggressive tempo or 230-35 with an avg tempo to really move into an S. Shaft weight should be at least in the 70-75g level which in my shafts is the White so the total weight is not too low for your aggressive tempo. A real key is going to be to find the right swingweight so it offers enough weight resistance to your fast tempo but not too much to cause you to have to work harder to start the downswing and maintain tempo through the ball. This is usually done by “here hit this, add weight, here hit this, add weight. . . ” until you get to the point the golfer begins to say “that’s getting to be a little heavy feeling” and then you back it off a swt point or two. If I had to guess on a starting swt for this shaft and a 43-43.5 length, I would say D2 and then possibly use some lead tape to add a little and see if a heavier swt weight would be better. Also at least a 2* hook face angle on the head to help reduce that slice tendency. Loft wise is really hard to nail down without trial and sight and launch monitor info. BUt based on your distance and aggressiveness I would definitely say 12 – unless with any driver lower than that you hit it markedly high – in which you’d move it back to 11. I just feel no matter your release move’s effect on dynamic loft that for your swing speed a 12 would be better overall especially at that shorter length.

      Hope this helps, and thanks again for your interest,
      TOM

  2. Tom,

    I have had an extremely hard time finding an iron shaft that my 19 year old son will find stiff enough for his golf swing. He hits the ball similar to the top Long Drivers but he is a fine amateur golfer. Presently he is hitting KBS Tour x flex hardstepped at a 1/2 inch plus length. Unfortunately he consistantly bends these shafts about one inch above the ferrule after a season of tournaments. Each club has deflected towards the target. His trackman numbers are some of the highest recorded. You can see his swing under Brent Rodgers on you tube. Can you recommend an iron shaft that would handle his swing. Thank you for any help.

    • DICK:
      In steel, the TTemper Black Gold X is extremely stiff – more than any KBS shaft by far and stiffest of any that TTemper makes. In graphite it would be the Matrix Program 130 8.0 XX iron shaft. it is even stiffer than the Black Gold X. Not 100% you can even find these shafts anymore. This information comes from actual stiffness measurements of shafts in our Bend Profile software data base. So if these shafts are still around, they are as stiff as anything made in the past 6-7 yrs.

      Hope this helps,
      TOM

  3. Tom,

    I’ve been reading your blog and comments here for quite some time. I use your driver head. I’ve been playing golf since 1990, and do some instructing. I am 70 years old and quite fit for my age. I’ve had Riley irons for easily 10 years and love them. However as you can guess my distance has dropped off.

    My conundrum is should I get a new set of irons, that is to say heads and shafts (fitted), or can I effectively refit these heads with a more appropriate shaft and have them “refitted” by one of your club fitters? As you probably guessed by now one of the issues is that these heads take a tapered tip.

    I look forward to your response.

    Robert

    • Robert:
      The irons you have are certain to be a conventional cast stainless steel model of old or rather, normal stainless steel technology. Over the past few years, we have learned how to make irons that have the same high COR face design as drivers have had since the late 90s. With a high COR iron, fit properly to you and your swing, it is a virtual certainty that you can gain about one full club more distance for your iron shots. So I know this means a whole new set but you really would not benefit one iota from reshafting your old irons. You’d be much better off and enjoy the game more if you were fit with an iron model such as our 771CSI design with its high COR thin face design.

      One other thing – if you did this, the other big thing you would want to do is to be sure the SET MAKEUP of your irons was well matched to your ability. The old traditional set makeup for irons over the years has always been a #3 to PW set. Most golfers, especially as we age (I am 63 so my time is approaching too) we cannot hit the low loft irons like the #3 and #4 and even the #5 as well or as consistently as we used to. So with being fit for the high COR iron model, it is also key to be sure to identify the right set makeup of irons + hybrids or higher loft fairway woods to replace the lower loft irons that you find are becoming too hard to hit well up in the air to fly consistently.

      As such many golfers now are being fit so their iron set is either a #5 to wedges or #6 to wedges and then using hybrids or high loft fwy woods in lieu of the #3, 4 and 5 irons. Hope this helps and if you need assistance in finding a good clubfitter with whom you can work to be properly fit, please do email us at contact@wishongolf.com and tell us the name of the town/city in which you live and we would be glad to look up who in your area is a good fitter to work with..

      Thanks much for your interest !!
      TOM

  4. Thanks Tom
    That last paragraph said it all. I hit my 6 iron around 160. My clubfitter suggested a stiffer shaft with the idea that a my regular flex was closing my clubhead because my shot were going left. Now, I’m thinking that I’ve been swinging outside in. I’ve had the new shafts and clubheads for a week and not seeing any difference in flight. It does look like they are using older technology at this shop.
    Bill

    • William:
      can you do two things for me? Can you send me an email through contact@wishongolf.com and let me know, 1) what town/city you live in or near, 2) who the clubmaker is that you had been working with who gave you the impression that you had a 90-95mph iron swing speed. We’ll do the very best we can to help.

      Thanks,
      TOM

  5. I have one of those short powerful swings; my irons range from 90-95mph, but my Driver is just a little faster at 97/98mph. Does this have anything to do with the driver I’m using or is it simply a product of my short/powerful swing?

    • It is a little bit unusual for a golfer to have less than a 10mph difference in clubhead speed between the driver and their middle irons. Not impossible but not that common. Usually a golfer will display around a 15 to 20 mph difference between their driver and mid iron clubhead speeds. The only way from our experience that a golfer would have less than a 10mph difference in clubhead speed between the driver and the mid irons would be, 1) if the driver were made to be inordinately heavy compared to the irons; 2) if the longer length of the driver caused the golfer to unhinge their wrist cock angle (called the release) much earlier on the downswing than they do with the iron swing. Each golfer reaches their highest possible clubhead speed the moment that they unhinge their wrist cock angle on the downswing. If the release is early in the downswing, this causes the clubhead speed to slow down by the time the clubhead reaches the ball; 3) the device being used to measure the clubhead speed would be more accurate for the driver than it would be for the irons. This is possible if the clubhead speed device is made using infrared sensors to pick up the clubhead. Clubhead speed devices that use infrared pulsing to detect the head as it moves through impact are simply more inaccurate with measuring an iron head because iron heads are so much thinner in body size from face to back than is a driver. The pulsing of the infrared sensors cannot “hit” the narrow iron head as many times when the iron head passes over the sensors, but with the wider wood head the sensors can pulse enough to hit the broader wood enough times to get a more accurate reading.

      Proof of whether #3 is the reason for the close measurement of your iron and driver speeds can usually be found in the actual distance you hit the ball with the iron. For a true, accurate 90-95mph clubhead speed with say, a 6 iron, the golfer would hit the ball to carry on average around 190 yds. So if you do hit your 6 iron around 190 in carry distance, then you probably do have a 90-95mph iron speed. But if you hit the 6 iron shorter than that, then the unit being used to measure your speed is not accurate.

      Hope this helps,
      TOM

  6. Do you believe a fitter should use demo clubs to help in the fitting process or are the numbers enough?

    • Michael:

      The vast majority of experienced independent clubfitters do use demo clubs in the fitting process. Many will have test clubs all built up that they can choose from to have the golfer hit so they can see how their various thoughts work out about what the golfer’s specs should be that they obtain from the fitting analysis and measurement phase of the fitting process. And some use connector devices that allow them to instantly “build” test clubs that they want the golfer to hit so they can get feedback from their analysis in the fitting.

      TOM

  7. I am not too techie but us oldtimers shortened our backswing a long time ago and done got better results. I found that the brand of the club does not matter as long as the you hit the ball well with the club you choose. Any techie whippersnappers there know the swingspeed of Gulbis and/or Wie?

    • Data compiled by TrackMan, the leading launch monitor company in the world and the official launch monitor for both the PGA and LPGA tour, the average driver clubhead speed on the LPGA Tour is 97mph. In terms of range, the highest LPGA driver speed is Brittany Lincicome at 114mph and the lowest is Leta Lindley at 84mph. I have not seen specifically what Natalie Gulbis or Michelle Wie are. But based on the fact that Wie is one of the longest out there in terms of driver distance, she has to be in the area of 110mph and close to Lincicome. But I can’t say for sure what Gulbis is.

      TOM

  8. Dear Mr. Wishon,

    I have a very technical question as I am a very technical guy. I am looking to build a set of irons after a pro fitting i just had at a PGA approved/certified fitter. This post is right up my alley sort of. I swing with a fast tempo and my 6iron speed was between 90-94mph. I had a high smash factor and put a ton of spin on the ball. I was told to go hard stepping twice with Dynamic Gold SL S300’s based upon my data with the computer system. I have a few questions for you. I am also fitted for +1 inch on my iron lengths with a neutral lie angle.

    1. Can I soft step from an X100 SL and still see relatively similar consistency?

    2. I was told to go as high as possible with a CPM close to 325, my stock stiff shafts in my 2012 Cobra Bafflers were around 299. What real improvement will I see going with a higher number?

    3. I love it when the ball goes high off the club, I know that might make you cringe, would I be close to the same consistency with a similar weighted high launch shaft from Dynamic Gold or a quality shaft with similar torque?

    4. I wasn’t fitted for my driver the other day, would it be safe to assume I would need an inch longer driver and putter? I have long legs but a regular torso which is why I was matched for longer clubs.

    DG X100’s at 130 weight are simply too heavy for me right now, I’m 250lbs and 33 but not into body building. Would I be better off getting stronger and using my set with DG X100’s or getting what is best now?

    I’m confident I can do the shaft cutting and such from my research, I’m the kind of guy that researches for 2 weeks before buying something and builds his own computers and makes cell phones do legal things that require software manipulation so I love the challenge of making my own clubs.

    I appreciate any info you can give me!

    • BRYAN

      We’re VERY technical as well in our work so we’re happy to help.

      1. When it comes to iron shafts especially, it typically takes big changes in the stiffness design or installation to make medium to small changes in the ball flight shape of the shot. Iron shafts are a LOT stiffer in actual resistance to bending than their wood shaft counterparts within the same flex and pattern. Typically within True Temper’s stepped iron shaft patterns, a FULL flex difference is 2″. Which means to change a full flex in soft/hard stepping the soft/hard step change has to be FOUR clubs. A two step hard step change would put you halfway between the S and the X. While it can be a little different for different golfers depending on the forcefulness and aggresiveness of their transition and downswing tempo, a double hard step change should definitely be noticeable in terms of stiffness FEEL but usually only slightly different in terms of the effect on the trajectory and spin on the shot.

      2. A frequency measurement such as you offered ONLY refers to the butt stiffness of the shaft and has nothing whatsoever to do with the tip stiffness because such measurements are made from clamping only the very butt end of the shaft in the freq analyzer. It is very possible to find shafts which have a higher butt frequency but which happen to be designed with a totally different center to tip section stiffness. Without knowing the WHOLE shaft’s frequency profile, it is impossible to say if a change to a higher butt freq automatically means the whole shaft is stiffer. If the stock Cobra shafts had been designed with a stiffer center and tip section compared to the 325 shaft you talk about, then you might sense that the 325 shaft is not all that much stiffer. However, typically, without knowing precisely the whole bend profile of both shafts, it usually can be said that much of a butt stiffness increase from 299 to 325 most certainly would feel a lot stiffer from the start of the downswing. And normally such a big increase in butt stiffness (10cpm = 1 full flex level) would also mean that the tip section of this 325 should be stiffer. Should be. So the guess is that the 325 shaft would definitely feel a lot stiffer than the 299 shaft and should thus bring about some noticeable decrease in trajectory and spin.

      3. If you love the very high trajectory, it is very possible that will get reduced with a change from the 299 shaft to the 325 butt freq shaft because as I said, a 26 cpm increase of the butt stiffness typically represents at least a 2 full flex increase in stiffness.

      4. It’s not possible from the information you offered to know anything about what length is best for you, your stature, posture, height and wrist to floor dimension and especially for your swing characteristics. If you can respond with answers to the following questions, we can offer a reasonable length recommendation.

      a) What is the distance from the major wrist crease at the base of the palm of your upper hand on the grip to the floor when you are standing comfortably erect, shoulders perfectly level, arms hanging relaxed at your sides, standing on a hard surface floor in tennis shoes? Inches + any fraction please.

      b) Is your backswing length past parallel, parallel, or short of parallel?

      c) When you start the downswing, would you describe this transition move as abrupt/forceful/aggressive, smooth and gradual, or in between those two?

      d) for your downswing are you a definite aggressive HITTER with your tempo, are you smooth and passive to rhythmic or somewhere in between?

      e) when you unhinge your wrist cock angle, do you do that early in the downswing, about midway down, a little later than midway or very late in the downswing?

      f) are you a good athlete with good motor control, good reactions or are you average in athletic ability?

      g) what’s your handicap and or average score for 18 holes?

      h) what driver length do you play with now and how many fwys per round do you average hitting with this driver?

      Hope this helps,
      TOM

    • amazing insight !

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