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


Short backswings with strong acceleration on the downswing typically require the shaft to be stiffer overall or more tip stiff than what might otherwise be indicated simply by the golfer’s clubhead speed.  The reason is because a short backswing with a more forceful transition move to start the downswing puts more bending force on the shaft than will a long backswing with a more gradual acceleration of the club on the downswing.

This is where having an accurate swing speed rating for shafts can be helpful in the shaft fitting process.  At Wishon Golf we pioneered the creation of swing speed ratings for shafts based on a 10mph range to allow for differences in shaft bending force among golfers with the same measured swing speed at impact. 

For example, let’s say we have three golfers that all have the same measured driver swing speed of 90mph coming into impact with the ball. Golfer A has a shorter backswing with a very forceful start to the downswing.  Golfer C has a longer backswing with a slight pause at the top, followed by a gradual acceleration of the club to the ball.  Golfer B has a normal backswing with average transition force to begin the downswing. 

As the “average” golfer with a back-to-downswing transition of average force, shafts with a swing speed rating of 85-95mph would be suitable for the initial evaluation of the overall stiffness of the shaft because Golfer B’s swing speed of 90mph is right in the middle of the swing speed range of 85-95mph.  Golfer A on the other hand is putting more bending force on the shaft from his short backswing coupled with a fast and forceful acceleration of the club to start the downswing.  Because of that, Golfer A needs a stiffer shaft than Golfer B.  As such, the shafts for Golfer A would come from those with a swing speed rating of 90-100mph because in an accurate swing speed rating, the higher the swing speed rating, the stiffer is the shaft. Finally, with his smoother and more gradual acceleration of the club, Golfer C puts less bending force on the shaft. Because of that, the shafts for Golfer C would come from those with a swing speed rating of 80-90mph, indicating they are less stiff to match with his 90mph swing speed that has less bending force in the swing characteristics. 

In addition, typically the more forceful and aggressive the transition and downswing of the golfer, the heavier the shaft weight or the swingweight/MOI of the club could be depending on whether the golfer has a preference for clubs with a heavier total weight (heavier shaft weight) or with a more pronounced head weight feel (higher swingweight/MOI). I say could be and not should be because it is possible to create enough weight feel to prevent the forceful swinger from being too quick with his tempo by using a light shaft with a heavier swingweight/MOI.  Golfer experience, personal preference or hit testing is how the determination is best made. 

And conversely, the more smooth and easy the transition and downswing move, the lighter the shaft weight but not necessarily the lighter the swingweight/MOI should be for the golfer. 

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