Swingweight – The Ideal Swing Reference Point

Posted by on Jul 18, 2012 in Clubfitting, Driver Fitting, Hybrid Fitting, Iron Fitting | 55 comments

One of the very first “technical things” a golfer learns about his equipment is the letter + number designation which describes the SWINGWEIGHT of the clubs. C8, D1, D4 are examples of the letter/number designation which have been used to label the swingweight of golf clubs.

Just what is swingweight?

First of all, it really is not a weight or a measurement of a weight. It is not a parameter like “grams”, “ounces”, or “pounds.” It is an expression that attempts to describe the ratio of the amount of weight in the bottom 2/3’s to the weight in the upper 1/3 of a golf club. Some golfers like to think of swingweight as an indication of how much they can feel the presence of the weight in the clubhead when they swing the club.

There is no question we golfers need to have our golf clubs built so that the amount of weight we feel in the clubhead is matched properly to our individual strength and our natural sense of swing tempo, timing and rhythm. If a strong golfer with a fast, forceful tempo uses golf clubs with a low swingweight, the golfer will struggle with maintaining a comfortable, repeating swing tempo and will suffer from a higher percentage of off center hits.

Conversely if a weaker golfer with a smooth, more passive swing uses clubs with too high of a swingweight, they will fight the feeling that the club(s) are too heavy and take too much effort to swing. The importance of swingweight is that we golfers need to have a point of reference for how head heavy or how head light our golf clubs feel when we swing them – so when we find the right club weight balance that feels the best to our natural swing tempo and timing, we then can know how to duplicate that same weight feel in other golf clubs we may buy.

Unfortunately swingweight doesn’t work quite that way. Let’s say you find a driver that really feels good to your natural sense of swing tempo. You find it has a swingweight of say, D3. You now assume that ALL GOLF CLUBS WITH A D3 SWINGWEIGHT ARE GOING TO MATCH WELL TO YOUR SWING TEMPO.

And sadly, that is not true. If you change the length of your driver, D3 is not going to feel the same as the D3 you liked in the driver of the different length. If you change the weight of the shaft in your driver, once again, D3 is not going to feel the same as the D3 in your driver with the other shaft. Whenever you change the length or the shaft weight in your clubs, you have to go through trial and error testing to determine what swingweight best matches your natural sense of swing tempo, timing and rhythm. This is what lead tape is for. It is also another really good reason to work with an experienced custom Clubmaker who can not only recommend the best swingweight for your swing tempo, but who can also fit you for all of the other important fitting elements in your clubs as well.

Again, to find a clubfitter near you who can find your best fitting specifications, click on the following link to our FIND A CLUBFITTER locator tool.

55 Comments

  1. hi Tom making a new set of Irons swing weights range from d8 for 3 iron to e 1 for pw I want to add some weight and have lead and brass tip weights in .5 to 6 grams when I get the swingweight to e 1 I might have to add a weight that is 1/4 long on the end of shaft now the shaft will sit out of the hosel + 1/4 inch meaning i would have to cut the shaft 1/4 inch to keep the steps similar my question to you is should i use the tip weights or try and pack lead down the shaft or tungsten powder. I don’t need to go to E1 as its only 3 4 and 6 that are at d 8 the shafts are taper fit Aldila Rip tour 90 X Purred heads Mizuno mp-64’s . PW 160 club Previous set I have broken the shafts on 4 9 pw after about 300 rounds still x flex on all clubs driver 47 3/4 r11 rip gamma cleek R11 Aldila Phenom X interchangeable with driver one low one high depending on wind wedges Mizuno blue 52 56*sand 60*8 Ball Mark Hockey Puck when u bring out those poker chips I get my hockey puck try putting with that 2 feet from the hole hahahah coins come out after that. “May the Bounce Be with You”

  2. Tom – I am brand new to golf and for budgetary purposes have not been custom fit (and did not purchase “new” clubs). I have just purchased a set of Eye 2’s that have the lighter 106g shaft. Ping says the clubs were made to C6+. My accuracy hitting the ball is all over the place (my main miss is topping the ball). I swung a new set of M2’s and immediately felt the difference (D2 s.w.). You mentioned that liking one swing weight on one club might not translate to liking that weight with another – is there a way to be fit in to a swing weight with a set of clubs or would it just be trial and error? I am very sure that I need to up the swing weight but am not sure the best approach to this as I feel like I’d be custom building the clubs and not getting clubs custom to my swing tendencies (not sure if there is a difference).

    Ping will NOT change the swing weight, they say, as they now will only adjust swing weight on their CTP-adjustable irons. I assume this is something any regular fitter could do?

    I appreciate any feedback you might have.

    • Brian
      Fitting for swingweight is very much a trial process but we like to call it more trial and EXPERIMENTATION than trial and error !! Golfers are very different in their makeup of what they feel is heavy, what they feel is light, how heavy or how light. What I perceive to be too heavy for me to swing consistently, you may feel that is just right. There is no question though that when you swing the club and something feels too light, it becomes very difficult to achieve and maintain a decent level of swing tempo consistency – you tend to always fight being too quick and you are constantly telling yourself to slow down.

      The part about recognizing that a club feels too light is one thing. What you do about it and how much heavier it needs to be to match well with your natural sense of timing and tempo can only be an experimental process because there is no such thing as a “weight feel-o-meter” tool we can use in fitting. You just have to start with the light feeling clubs and add weight to the head, a little bit at a time, hit enough shots to give you a sense of either “nope still too light” or “it’s getting better” or “nope, that definitely feels too heavy for me.”

      Now in addition to head weight, there is also the overall weight of the club, AKA the total weight. This one can be a little tricky but it also can be easier to deal with. Total weight is controlled chiefly by the weight of the shaft. Yes, grip weight and head weight are involved but not even close to as much as the shaft’s weight. In short, you can have a shaft weight difference of 20 grams and both can feel ok total weight wise as long as you spend enough time finding what headweight/swingweight works best for your sense of light vs heavy and timing and tempo.

      As far as changing the weight of your Pings, the easiest way is for you to get a roll of lead tape and to to the driving range 2-3 times over the course of 1-2 weeks and just experiment with adding little strips of lead tape in the back cavity. Does not matter where on the head you put it just where it sticks and you don’t see it when you address the ball with the club. Yes, it looks less than gorgeous but tons of players live with lead tape on their irons. I do and it doesn’t bother me in the least.

      Lead tape is the best way to do your experimentation to find the right head weight feel for your tempo and sense of heavy and lightness. You can add a small amount at a time and you can do it quickly while you hit balls. If you want that lead tape off the head after you find the right feel, a clubmaker MIGHT be able to put a tip weight into the end of the shafts or drop lead powder down the shaft and lock it in place with a cork. Might because there might already be a tip weight in the end of the shaft put there by PING when they did the final swingweighting of the clubs when they made them. If so then living with lead tape on the head is what you have to accept. Plus lead tape is going to be a lot cheaper than paying a clubmaker to do this work with tip weights or lead powder down the shaft.

      Hope this helps,
      TOM

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