The golf club has been characterized in many ways. Some consider it a tool, a solution to help solve golfing problems. Others consider it a weapon, something with which to punish the golf ball. Still others believe the golf club is an extension of the arms, a piece of the bodily machine whose parts work together towards achieving a goal--sending a golf ball as far and as straight as possible.
Each component of the club serves an important purpose. The clubhead strikes the ball, the grip links the club to the body, and the shaft transfers energy from the body to the clubhead. Most golfers think of the clubhead as the most important part of this equation, a fact of life made apparent by the trend towards larger and larger clubheads, supposedly to achieve greater distance. Most golfers who plunk down good money to buy a Nike Sasquatch or a TaylorMade r7 Quad pay no attention to the shaft that comes with the club. When it comes to distance and accuracy, the shaft matters just as much, if not more, than the clubhead! Experts say that with a properly fitted driver shaft, a player can increase overall distance and accuracy by up to 20 yards.
Shafts come in such a wide variety of styles that golfers often feel they simply can’t be bothered to research and determine the right shaft for their style of swing. This is a mistake. Finding a shaft that optimizes your swing arc and speed is more helpful than any swing change you can make. Imagine a club so fine-tuned to your game that it feels effortless to swing. This is what finding the right shaft can do for your game.
So, how do you find the right shaft for your game? Visiting a PGA professional or clubfitter, who uses a launch monitor is a good start. They should measure clubhead speed, ball speed, launch angle and backspin rate as these are all key measurements to determine the right launch conditions for a particular head, shaft and ball combination. There is no substitute for hitting the ball on the range to make sure you are satisfied with what you are seeing. Also, he use of a launch monitor will give the club fitter the ability to match the flex of the shaft to your swing. Many manufacturers of shafts will tell you that most golfers especially golfers with lower swing speeds are playing with a shaft that is too stiff for their swing and they should opt for more flexible shaft.
The following are a few items to remember as you search for a shaft that matches your game.
A shaft with a lower torque rating will typically launch the ball lower with reduced spin when compared to the same flex shaft with a higher torque rating. If you want to launch the ball a little higher off the tee, a higher torque shaft would be a better choice.
Flex points, or kick points, refer to how tip stiff or tip soft a shaft is. A shaft with a softer tip will have a lower kick point and have a higher launch angle. If you want a lower ball flight you would look for a shaft with a higher kick point, or a stiffer tip.
Weight is a personal preference. Lighter shafts will allow you to swing the club faster, which can increase distance. With a heavier shaft you may give up distance gains, however gain more control. Generally, it is important that you are comfortable with the overall balance and feel of the club.
Length is also a personal preference. A longer shaft will increase your swing arc and increase distance, however you may give up consistency and control for this added distance.
A shorter club is easier to hit consistently on the sweet spot. It is generally thought that is you want to hit more consistent and longer average drives a shorter shafted driver is the way to go. If you are looking for the bomb and are willing have more off-line shots then go with a longer shafted driver.
Each part of the club; head, grip and shaft contribute to better performance and many golfers overlook the importance of the shaft. The combination of the proper shaft and clubhead will allow you to play your best golf.
Serious players and weekend warriors can benefit from finding the right shaft. Companies like Aldila, Fujikura, Penley, UST, Graphite Design, True Temper, Grafalloy and Accuflex are devoted solely to creating the most advanced shafts in golf. Conduct some research, demo a club or two, and enjoy the benefits that the right shaft can provide for your game. Accuflex
The golf shaft has come a long way since its hickory roots. Accuflex is evolving the golf shaft industry with its new Evolution shaft. The Evolution is the first shaft to utilize “Nano Composite Technology,” a new advancement that allows for tighter tolerances, more consistent composition throughout the shaft, more strength, and faster recovery. The Evolution improves every noticeable aspect of a shaft’s performance. It has superior feel, a low spin rate, extended distance, and increased control. Accuflex Vice President Todd Cassidy is also touting Accuflex’s next step in shafts, the Creation. “Our goal with the Creation was to push shaft design limits,” he said. “The Creation is truly unique in its design.” Made of a Nano Metal Polymer Composite, the Creation may be the strongest, most consistent shaft ever made. Golfers can expect to see a lot more of it in 2007. Aldila
Aldila’s most popular new shaft is the VS Proto. The shaft has become a favorite of PGA Tour players in part because of the feel it provides. Using ultra-high modulus graphite fibers, the VS Proto’s A65 performance resin system is a beacon of consistency. Whereas generic shafts can offer wildly different results from shot to shot, the VS Proto is more consistent than Tiger Woods with a final round lead. Following in the footsteps of Aldila’s excellent NV shaft, the VS Proto has been characterized as “NV on steroids.” Vice President of Sales and Marketing Mike Rossi says of the VS Proto, “It’s the best product we’ve ever made.” Graphite Design
Its eye-catching color and appearance are not the only things that set this premium shaft apart from others on the market. Providing higher launch angles and greater clubhead speed and power, the company’s Purple Ice features and innovative design that allows golfers more directional control with both center and off-center hits. Common reactions to Purple Ice shafts include: “extremely lively” and “exceptional feel.” Fujikura
Fujikura, long considered one of the top shaft specialists in golf, has made finding the right shaft a much easier experience with its new Fit-On system. Fit-On shafts are designed to optimize performance for beginners and pros. There are almost 30 Fit-On shafts to choose from, so the perfect combination of spin rate, flex, torque, and launch angle can be easily achieved. Fujikura recommends seeing a custom clubfitter when buying a new shaft to ensure compatibility. Penley
Penley has garnered a reputation in recent years as being the longest shaft in golf, and for good reason. Golfers who used Penley shafts have been ranked number one on both the Nationwide and PGA Tours in driving distance. Penley is also the most popular shaft among the Long Drivers of America. Penley’s top shaft is the Stealth 70. This firm shaft offers excellent feel and control to complement Penley’s trademark distance. The Stealth 70 is ideal both for amateurs seeking to improve and scratch golfers looking for anything that will put them over the top. “The Stealth 70 was designed with the better player in mind but we continue to receive incredible reviews from players of all ability levels. The butt end of the shaft is on the firm side to promote better stability and control. The tip has just the right amount of stiffness for feel and feedback” said David Duffy, General Manager for Penley Golf. “It is a great shaft for both drivers and fairway woods.” UST
For golfers that want to hit the stuffing out of the ball, the UST V2 LD is the shaft for them. Based on the highly popular V2 shaft, the V2 LD takes distance to a new level. Unlike other shafts, the V2 LD doesn’t have a flex point, meaning that the entire shaft flexes slightly, each part of it working together to transfer maximum energy to the ball upon impact. The shaft promotes a low ball flight and low spin rates, making it ideal for bombing drives down the fairway. Even players who aren’t big hitters will find that the V2 LD adds length to their shots. Long Drive champion Pat Dempsey says of the V2 LD, “It’s the only long drive shaft that works just as well for an amateur golfer that swings 90 mph as it does for someone who swings 155 mph.” There’s no disputing that the shaft is an indispensable part of the golf club. See your local clubfitter to find the best shaft to improve your game.