Swingweight – The Ideal Swing Reference Point

Posted by on Jul 18, 2012 in Clubfitting, Driver Fitting, Hybrid Fitting, Iron Fitting | 13 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.

13 Comments

  1. Hey Tom, wanted to say hello & I’m happy the company is still going strong. I’ve been busy but will be back to club fitting very soon!

    • THANK YOU Phillip! Best wishes to you!!

  2. I switched out my iron shafts to Aerotech 80 grams. Ping irons 3-9 come in stock at a D 1 swing weight. With these new shafts they were in the C8 to C9 range. I added lead tape to the center cavity back and got them back to D1. All feels good. At C8 I could not feel the club head and got faster on the downswing.

  3. Tom, Had a club maker construct me a set of clubs that feel a little light for my swing.
    I have been using these clubs for 2 years now & just can’t get used to the swing weight.
    The builder claims I need leasons & he built them to try to increase my ball speed.
    It hasn’t happened. Can any builder really be trusted to get me in the right heads & shafts to give me what I need, not want?

    Thanks,
    Louis

    • Louis

      If after playing the clubs several times have noted that they need more weight in the head to allow them to not feel too light to you and your swing tempo, then they should have weight added to get to that point. You are within your rights as a customer to talk to the clubmaker again and tell him that it is the norm in custom clubmaking for the clubmaker to do the final adjustments to get the clubs to where they are what you want and what you NEED. If he refuses, then I will ask you to do two things:

      1. Send US the clubs and we will bring the weight of the heads up to the point you want them to be. If that ends up being the resolution, let us know by email at contact@wishongolf.com and we’ll let you know our address to send the clubs. If you do have to end up sending us the clubs, we will want to know as much as possible about how much weight to add. To find that out here is what I would suggest, if the clubmaker refuses to help. Get some lead tape. You might try first to ask the pro at your course if he has some and if so, to give you about a 12″ long strip. Most lead tape for golf clubs comes on a half inch wide roll, so you would be asking him to tear off a strip that is 12″ long. Start adding the lead tape anywhere you want on one of the clubs that feels too light to you. Start by adding one 4″ strip. Hit 5-6 balls and see what you think of the feel. If still too light, add another 4″ strip and hit more balls. When you get the one club to the point the weight feels better, leave the lead tape on the head when you box up the clubs to send to us. We’ll do the measurements on that club and know from it, what to do to the other clubs to get them to be the same swing feel.

      2. If the clubmaker refuses to do the alterations to your clubs to make them right, tell us the name of this clubmaker. I will want to know who it is.

      Thank you for bringing this to our attention so that we can do all we can to help.

      TOM

  4. Should all my clubs be D1?

    • CHARLIE

      The swingweight of each golfer’s clubs must be matched to each golfer’s individual characteristics of downswing tempo, downswing aggressiveness and any pre determined preference for a specific amount of weight feel in the head that the golfer has developed based on previous experience with different clubs. WHen the swingweight is properly fit and chosen for each golfer, the result is that the golfer has a far better chance of achieving their highest level of swing tempo consistency and swing repeatability. But because of differences among golfers in their downswing tempo, downswing aggressiveness and any pre determined preference for a specific amount of weight feel in the head, what becomes the ideal swingweight for one golfer is not going to be the ideal swingweight for another golfer.

      Swingweight is NOT an absolute measurement of weight, as grams or ounces are. It is an expression of the ratio of weight in the head end of a golf club to the weight in the grip end of the club, based on the length, the shaft weight, the grip weight and the head weight of each club. So that means a swingweight of say, D1 in one club will not have the same exact headweight feel as D1 in another club unless the length, shaft weigh, head weight and grip weight in both clubs are exactly the same.

      What that all means is that each golfer should either experiment on their own with lead tape on the clubhead to see if they can find the swingweight that offers them the best, most comfortable feel for their individual swing characteristics. Or, the golfer should find a good clubfitter with whom to work and let the clubfitter guide them in the selection and determination of what would be the best swingweight to fit their swing.

      TOM

  5. Hey Tom, Great stuff from you on this…I found through this testing process that my driver, my 5 wood, my 3 & 4 hybrids all play better at around C9 or D1, D2…i believe this is because most of the time with these clubs, the angle of attack should pretty much be somewhere between 0 degrees, to +2 to +4 degrees with driver, more closer to 1 to 2 degrees with the hybrids & woods, so the lighter swingweight of the clubs play fine…but when you move to irons, where you hit the ground and take divots and cut through grass, and dirt, a heavier swingweight plays as a heavy duty tool for slicing and punching balls on their way…my irons play at around D4 or D5..and i have a 60 degree wedge that plays at D7…i go from driver as lightest fastest club to lob wedge the heavy duty close up club for pure touch & feel around the greens where it counts!…

    • BOB:
      Interesting that from your experiences you report with your own headweight feel in your clubs, you have in essence somewhat tripped across a weighting that is somewhat similar to how MOI matching of clubs will work. Progressive increase of the swingweight is a form of weighting related to what MOI matching is. As clubs get shorter, that progressive decrease in length means that keeping the same swingweight does not allow them to offer back the same type of swing feel for your tempo and timing. But progressively increasing the swingweight does allow that to happen more closely so your timing and overall consistency and repeatability is enhanced. Good stuff and best wishes to you in this great game!

      TOM

  6. I find that with a higher swingweight, my tempo improves tremendously. I used to have my irons around D0 to D1, and when I had them moved to D5, I noticed a tremendous “calming” of tempo. Same with the driver…originally it was C9, moved to D1.5, and now it is all the way up to D4.5. I am naturally a very tense golfer, with a quick tempo. I have a tendency to push the shaft with my thumb on the downswing and lose lag and distance if the clubs feel too light in swingweight, and even overall weight. With higher swingweights across all clubs, this affect is minimized without any sacrifice in swingspeed at all. Center strikes are also improved. It’s amazing how light clubs really throw me off. Does this make sense with more tense/faster tempo golfers? i.e. they usually benefit from heavier clubs and more swingweight?

    • Matt
      Good for you that you have discovered part of the relationship between club weighting and the golfer’s inherent or learned sense of timing, rhythm and feel for golf clubs. we’ve been teaching this relationship for years in our books and articles from our research and there is no question whatsoever that when club weighting is properly matched to each golfers own unique sense of feel, consistency and swing repeatibility does improve. But unfortunately, since the mainstream of the golf equipment industry continues to pursue a business model of selling standard made clubs off the rack so they can achieve the highest volume of sales, that means many golfers are never going to understand how their clubs could be fit much better to them and their own unique combination of size, strength, athletic ability and swing characteristics. But we’re pleased to hear that you discovered this relationship on your own and worked it out to the point of improvement in your game.

      TOM

  7. Hi Tom,

    I have recently built a set of clubs to what I feel are perfect for me, however listening to comments about swing weights from other professionals I work with, I am now questioning if I have indeed made a wrong decision.

    My 6-iron swing speed is usually 90-92mph and I play with Project X 6.0 shafts, I have weighted my clubs to D3.5 and was wondering in your opinion, is this too heavy for my style, would I be better suited to a more standard D2 set up throughout?

    Kindest regards

    Lee

    • Lee
      The worst thing a golfer can do is to let doubt creep into his mind from comments from others WHEN THERE WAS NO DOUBT IN YOUR MIND BEFORE. You said in your comment that the feel of the clubs are perfect for you. If you have felt the clubs feel good and if they perform well, and if you have not had any complaints or problems with them, then leave them alone and quit listening to what others have to say about what weighting you should use. They are not you. They do not have YOUR sense of feel. They cannot possibly know what feels good to YOU. And if it helps, for many players with a high swing speed such as you have, using higher swingweight clubs most certainly is VERY NORMAL. The purpose of swingweight is to find a head WEIGHT FEEL so that when you swing the clubs, you feel the head enough so that your tempo, timing and swing rhythm can be consistent and repeatable. If you like the headweight feel of these clubs and you are not having problems with your tempo or timing, then they are fine.

      TOM

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