Will Wedge Shafts Improve My Game?
For quite a few years a number of the shaft companies have offered shafts specifically designed for wedges. The concept behind the design of most wedge specific shafts is to try to use the shaft as a way to increase the backspin on the shot, since greater backspin is considered an asset in the typical shot with a wedge.
The vast majority of wedge specific shafts are designed with a little softer flex than what would be normal when the golfer’s iron shaft of choice is tip trimmed its normal amount for installation in a wedge. The belief is if the wedge specific shaft is a little more flexible, it will cause the dynamic loft of the wedge at impact to be higher, which in turn will increase the amount of backspin on the shot.
The majority of wedge specific shafts are produced to have the same flexibility as the 8-iron shaft in a full set of iron shafts. In other words, to be about ½ flex softer than what the flex of a normal wedge shaft would be.
The other side of this concept is the thought that some golfers might develop better timing or rhythm with their wedge shots if they can slightly feel the shaft bend or flex a little more during the swing. This of course is a purely esoteric approach because what one golfer feels and likes, another golfer cannot or may not be able to detect from the shaft during the swing. In addition, to be able to even make a shaft bend forward at impact to affect the dynamic loft of the clubhead requires the golfer to have a later to very late release, a swing characteristic that the majority of golfers do not possess.
In truth, I did golfer hit testing some years ago to discover if there was a difference in launch angle and spin with one of the typical half flex softer wedge shafts versus an iron shaft trimmed as conventional for a wedge. In a nutshell, there really is not enough difference in launch angle and spin rate to account for any performance difference with a wedge shaft that is designed to have the same flex as an 8-iron shaft.
That testing is what prompted me to take the direction I did when I designed two different wedge specific shafts for my company. The High Flight steel wedge shaft is designed to be 2 FULL FLEXES softer than a conventional shaft in a wedge. And the Knock-Down wedge shaft is designed to be similar to a XXX flex.
My design intent was that if a golfer really wanted a softer feel or the chance for a higher launch/higher spin shot with the wedge, to actually do that would require making the shaft a LOT more flexible than the typical wedge specific shafts available in the industry. And conversely for the golfer who wants a dead stiff shaft in the wedge because he FEELS this would offer more control and accuracy, to do that requires the shaft to be VERY stiff.
At the end of the day, this matter of wedge specific shafts falls into the category of “if the golfer FEELS it is better,” the confidence that feeling may generate makes the decision worthwhile to do. Otherwise the same shaft you like in your numbered irons will be fine for use in your wedges.
I was looking at an older club I acquired as a gift at a very young age. It is a Rawlings Dynaflex PW; their top of the line club in the 60s (rumored to be made by Spalding). When I put this club next to newer models of the same club they appear to have a much flatter lie.
Is this typical and what was the thinking at the time (or perhaps now) that club manufacturers seemingly went to more upright clubs?
Howard The old old lie specs that way back in the 40s-70s pretty much all golf companies adhered to were based on a 5 iron lie of 60, with every iron changing in 1* increments up or down from there – i.e. 2 iron was 57*, PW/SW were 64*. Today the lower number irons tend to be more upright while the higher number irons are still usually right what they used to be back then. However, you do find that there is no standard whatsoever for lie and as such, many companies deviate in various ways from the old norm.… Read more »
I’ve been playing Callaway RAZR X irons with Regular graphite shafts for 3-4 years now. I never liked the SW and sold it 2 years ago. I’ve been thru many SW since. I rarely hit full shots with SW. I’m considering a Callaway XR with A-flex graphite shaft (senior flex). Any thoughts on going with the softer shaft?
TIM Of all the elements of a wedge, for 98% of all golfers, the flex of the shaft in the wedge is one of the least important for performance. The reason is because the wedge is so short in length and the shafts for wedges are designed much stiffer than any of the other shafts in a set of irons. In other words, the shaft really does not demonstrate enough bending in a wedge for 98% of all golfers to even feel it bend during the swing. The most important contribution of the shaft in a wedge is its weight… Read more »
Dear Tom: Thanks for your comment , I weighed all my options and finally waited for the Sterling left set 5-sandwedge and had an additional 18* hybrid built with the same weight ,shaft and grip by my Wishon dealer. I absolutely love them my scores are dropping and my distances are really accurate. My handicap is down 7 points and last week I shot an 84… not bad for a 65 yr old. I also use your 11* 919 driver. I am using a purespin 60* wedge with a same 1/8″Winn grip that my set was equipped with…seems to work… Read more »
Hi Tom, I acquired a classic set of Top Flite Professional D Irons used by a touring pro in the 1970s. They are muscle backs and were built in 1972. I assume the D is the swing weight, but here is my real question. Since the pro was such an adept ball striker, many of the irons (especially the shorter irons such as the 7,8, and 9) have a round like brownish gold appearance where he obviously hit the ball with machine like quality time and time again. The score lines appear fine. Will this negatively impact the striking performance/face… Read more »
HOWARD Congrats on the new acquisition ! I have been an inveterate club collector over my lifetime and I can imagine these were very nice classic traditional irons. Spalding was one of the very top club companies back then so I am sure these are pretty nice and pretty unforgiving for off center hits as well ! I doubt seriously the D designation had anything to do with swingweight. More likely it refers to a type of sole grind design they did on this particular model. Back then Spalding actually put out a separate custom iron model catalog which showed… Read more »
Hi Tom, As always, great information. I have recently changed the shafts in my 46 & 50 degree wedge to match my irons. There is now a full flex difference between these and my 56 & 60. I’ve got a 20 yard gap between my 50 & 56. I don’t want to have the lofts changed unless I have to. So my question is, will putting a stiffer shaft in my 56 help get a bit more distance? My irons have DG X100 and my most lofted wedges have s300. It seems that the X100 S400 combination is popular, however… Read more »
CHRIS You did not say if the distance between your 50 and 56 was 20 yds BEFORE the shaft change in the 46 & 50. If this gap has increased since the shaft change, then the first place I would experiment would be with the swingweight of the 46 and 50 before messing around with changing shafts again. Typically the reason most people do not hit the 56* SW as far as they would hit a non SW club of 56* is because on a SW you have a ton of weight down there on the sole, way UNDER the… Read more »
Thank you for your response. I am sorry for not making it clearer, the gap has increased to 20 yards following the shaft change, it was previously 15, GC2 measured (sorry no spin rates). This is what has made me wonder if changing the shaft of my sand iron would have similar results. It completely makes sense re the extra weight in the head and design of my 56. I will try adding a couple of gram’s of weight at a time to the head of my 50 and see how it goes.
With the shaft change in the club did you note whether the total weight and or the swingweight went down or up after the shaft change? That would be the way a shaft change could have an effect on distance with a wedge more than just the effect of the stiffness on its own. But the experimentation with the lead tape to slowly add some head weight should tell you more.
You mention several times to use the same shafts on your wedges as your irons. I’m using TT GS75 (88g) for #5-PW, but my Cleveland CG15 Wedgeflex (125g?) really doesn’t feel comfortable on full swings (I have 52, 56 & 60 degree.
Do you think the TT GS75 shaft would work in my CG15 wedges? I’ve heard some say their too light.
DEREK: The dumbest thing in golf equipment that I hear is when some golfer makes a sweeping generalization about a club or shaft or head such as to say in your case that a GS75 shaft is too light in the wedges. It might be for this golfer who said that, but it could be the best shaft in the world for many other golfers with different swing characteristics or feel preferences. If you feel that your #5 to PW do NOT feel too light ever when you swing these clubs, then by all means you would be a good… Read more »
Hi TOM very interesting article a question on partial wedge technique 40-80 yards what kind of shaft would a jason day or a stricker need : butt moving more, wider swing arc, early release with less flip release during impact versus a sergio garcia : butt moving less, narrower swing arc with more lag, and later release with optimal flip release during impact – playing C taper lite X on irons, but having a stricker like wedging technique, i wonder if i need another shaft for my wedges also afraid of doing so because i hit a lot of full… Read more »
ROBIN: It is true that the later the release of the wrist hinge angle coming into the ball, the more CHANCE there is for the golfer to notice a shot trajectory/launch angle difference between shafts of difference flex and different tip stiffness in their design. BUT. . . . short iron and wedge shafts are typically very stiff in terms of their actual amount of bending. Much stiffer than a matching wood shaft. The same model and flex of a wood shaft will bend twice as much as the same model and flex in an iron shaft. And then when… Read more »
Hi Tom, I just wanted to know your expert opinion on the new graphite shafts in terms of durability compared to steel shafts? Also, I don’t see that many standard size blade style irons fitted with graphite. Is there something about the design that renders them inappropriate for blades or is it just that blades are played primarily by excellent golfers who favor steel? Lastly, the big brand clubs always seem to add 1/2 inch to the iron length with graphite. I have my steel shafts 1/2 short. Is there technically a problem with using graphite the exact length as… Read more »
Howard: Durability of graphite shafts is just fine. Only if they are cracked from some type of accident or damage will they no longer function properly. They won’t wear out ever in terms of playability as long as they are not damaged in anyway. You answered your question about graphite shafts and blade irons. The vast majority of golfers who choose that type of irn design are steel shaft players. IN truth, the majority of iron players in general use steel – industry stats say around 2/3 of all iron sets are sold with graphite. No good reason for that… Read more »
Mr.Wish on, I’m a Canadian lefty who definitely gets left out in the cold by your designs.Frank Hann of North Bay is building me a
a custom set of single length out of 771csis’and
some979ss. Your Sterling line is of course right handed. What do you think?
I’ve researched this to death and I really want your clubs.
Sorry but no possible way do you want to try to convert an iron head model from conventional to single length construction. Too much weight has to be added to the 5, 6, and too much has to be removed from the 9, PW, AW to enable that to be done. The potential for a LH version of Sterling depends on the success and staying power of the RH version. If it is there, we will do it as soon as we see the indications it can be done.
I recently got fitted for a set of AP2 irons – DG SL S300 shafts and 2 degrees flat of Titleist’s standard. Really enjoying the clubs. I’m now looking at upgrading my wedges – Vokey 50, 54 and 58 degree. Do you recommend using the same shaft from irons through to your wedges?
COLM: I have always felt that it is better to use the same shafts in the wedges that you like in the irons. These wedge specific shafts really are overblown in the claims for what they do. Most are nothing more than a half flex softer than a normal tip firm S flex iron shaft, and in a 35-36″ club that just is hardly enough difference to matter for 99% of all golfers. and even if a golfer has such a refined sense of bending feel, what he’ll feel in terms of a slight softness isn’t doing anything to really… Read more »
With the recent advent of swing analyzers that attach to the clubshaft, it would seem that the goal of an S2S tailored fitting device should be within reach. I have a “SwingTip” and SkyGolf makes one. Several others are available. In that they provide swing data, it should be possible to take that data and create the S2S numerical output fairly easily.
As I said, yes for sure the capability is there. But that part is worthless without the translation of the measurements into the shaft fitting decision conclusions. And that’s FAR more difficult than the stuff these sensors measure now in these devices.
Tom I was recently fitted for irons by a Mizuno dealer using the shaft optimizer for shaft recommendation. I know your own clubfitting guide recommends a fitter observe the swing action of a golfer and assign a numerical designation to describe the downswing tempo, early or late release etc. and then match a shaft with design characteristics to match the gofers dynamic swing. This involves a value judgment. I was wondering how difficult it would be to design an instrument similar to the shaft optimizer, not to recommend a shaft but to evaluate the actual swing while hitting balls. The… Read more »
ROD Sure, it is possible. in fact, about 8 yrs ago I started to try to make such a device with the help of an electronics mfg. We did get a prototype made which was small and very light and attached to the end of the grip. problem that killed it was trying to program it properly for all different clubhead speeds and different acceleration profiles of golfers from slow/weak to very fast/aggressive. What would be a #3 transition rating for example for the slow/weak person would not even be a #1 transition for the strong/fast player. I just was… Read more »
One thing I have noticed is most major OEMs have a 1/4″ shaft length difference between their different classes of specialty wedges. By class, I mean the 54* and 56* Sand Wedges have the same shaft length. By specialty wedges, I mean those made to be sold separate from iron sets (i.e., Vokey SM5 and TaylorMade Tour Preferred). Also, Cleveland wedge models after the CG15 only have 1/8″ difference in shaft length between classes of wedges. BUT, within the iron sets some of the stock wedges will have PW and Gap wedges the same shaft length: Ping G25, G30 irons… Read more »
The tour guys hit a lower flight in their wedges with higher spin. You esplained earlier about creating spin using dynamic loft with a softer tip flex and a stiffer tip for a knock down wedge.
My question is which is the best shaft to hit a lower high spinning penetrating flight?
The understanding I have to hit that shot is you try to catch the bottom groove so the shaft flexes creating a gear effect and dynamic loft.
Sean: Bear with me here as I need to explain exactly how any shaft can affect spin to help answer your question. The ONLY way that a shaft can offer a difference in spin with ANY club is when the golfer can make the shaft come into impact curved forward more to cause a slight increase in the DYNAMIC LOFT of the head at impact. But the ONLY golfers who get the shaft to come to impact bent forward are those with a later to very late release. For golfers with an early to midway release, the shaft goes into… Read more »
So if you’re an early released, would the 56 give the same dynamic loft as a 60 for a late release golfer?
That depends on whether the early release causes the golfer to flip the clubhead forward in front of the hands. Some early release players don’t flip that much through impact or before impact while many do. How you know is if you do hit the ball extraordinarily high most of the time you swing full with the club. In those cases of flipping the clubhead through ahead of the hands, the dynamic loft will be much higher, as much as 7, 8, 9* higher than it would be for a late release player.
I was just wondering how critical club length is? I’m 65 and find a more upright stance beneficial. Should I just go off the standard length charts for my height?
KEITH SUPER CRITICAL in the driver and woods. Important in the irons but not quite as critical as in the driver and woods. BUt in saying that, of course every golfer has to be within 1/2″ of what would be considered a proper length fit in the irons based on his height AND HIS ARM LENGTH in the irons. What goes with the length is the LIE ANGLE and for sure, if you are changing your stance/posture to be more upright, no question this means that the lie angles of the irons really need to be dynamically fit to you… Read more »
What’s your opinion of graphite shafts on wedges for the senior player to soften the impact on their hands (similar to the usage of graphite on irons)? Do you think it makes any difference at all for the arthritic golfer to use graphite shafts on wedges if they use graphite on their irons (stiff shafts on irons, ? flex on wedges)
I don’t hear or read much discussion about graphite shafts on wedges.
Graphite certainly has much better vibration dampening characteristics than steel, so yes it can help, but typically along with graphite shafts the golfer would want to explore using larger diameter grips in a grip model that is very soft to begin with as an additional means for reducing the discomfort.
Thanks from Germany
I know that is not the content of your article, but it would interest me if steel shafts usually have a constant material thickness.
What are typical thicknesses
Thanks in advance for your answer.
HANS Steel shafts, whether for woods or irons, have never been made with a constant wall thickness. As the shafts taper smaller on the outside from the butt to the tip, the wall thickness ALWAYS increases to balance the stiffness progression of the shaft over its length. For the shafts to have closer to a constant wall thickness, the outside diameter progression of the shafts and the tip section diameters would have to be completely different than they are today. In the design of steel shafts, there really are only two things that a shaft designer has at his disposal… Read more »
When I first purchased irons in the late 1960’s the soles were thin (skinny). Today many, if not most irons, sport thick wide soles. What is the idea behind the wider soles and is it beneficial for most golfers?
GARY Some time ago, designers learned that if you made the sole of an iron wider, you lowered the center of gravity of the clubhead which could help less skilled golfers get the ball up to fly a little bit higher. For better to skilled players, this really is of no importance, but for slower swing speed players and those who have less ball striking skill, lower CG heads can help a little more. It is also true that if you go way back in time to say, the 50s and 60s and even 70s, the good player irons of… Read more »
I currently play G25 irons with CFS shafts in regular flex, would it be a good idea to buy the Tour Gorge wedges with CFS shafts in soft regular?
EMIL We do not have open access to any of the big golf companies own shaft models so I cannot really comment on the exact bend profile design of the CFS shafts from Ping. Sorry about that, we do wish that these companies would let us have their stock shafts to measure and include in our Shaft Bend Profile software data base, but that isn’t to be. Thus all I can tell you about your question is simply to say two things – 1) as long as the weight of the shaft in your wedges vs your irons are very… Read more »
Tom, It’s Feb.2013 and i was wondering if you have any new comments on wedge shafts. TT spinner, KBS Hirev or Nippon’s pro wv, and how these shafts compare to your design objectives. TT’s spinner boast 700 plus revolutions on the ball. I was under the impression that the soft shaft allowed you to “whip it” and then “whip it good” – hence an increase in club head speed at contact with a full release of the wrist. I didn’t really think launch angle would change. I thought, simply, it was all about clubhead speed at contact. I’m not sure… Read more »
BON: In all honesty I have real reservations about all these wedge specific shafts doing what the companies who make them say they do. I certainly have not done stiffness measurements on all of the industry’s wedge specific shafts, but for the ones that I have, they tend to have the same overall stiffness as does an 8-iron shaft in a typical iron shaft design. to me, dropping the stiffness by only a tiny bit, as that is, just cannot create a shaft that could ever do much of anything different. That’s why when I developed the wedge specific shafts… Read more »