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.
than what s in their driver. (The average, off-the-rack driver shaft today is 45? inches.) Tiger Woods at his longest used a relatively short 43?-inch driver, with a steel shaft to boot. You ll find it easier to hit the sweet spot with a shorter shaft, and you can go after tee shots without losing much control.
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… Read more »
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… Read more »
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… Read more »
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, 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… Read more »
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… Read more »
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.
can you do two things for me? Can you send me an email through email@example.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.
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… Read more »
Do you believe a fitter should use demo clubs to help in the fitting process or are the numbers enough?
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.
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… Read more »
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… Read more »
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… Read more »
amazing insight !