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Shaft length and lie angles are also important aspects when purchasing new equipment – also might want to have them checked to your swing if you have done some bigger chances to your swing. While there are some physical measurements to help selecting the shaft length to you, there are also personal preferences to this one. With optimal shaft length you will catch the ball properly most of the times and the swing feels more natural. This should be checked especially when purchasing a new set of irons.
Lie angle means the angle where the shaft meets the ground when the clubhead is resting flat on the ground. Lie angle adjustments can have extremely positive effects on your ball flight and your contact with the ball. Any adjustments to lie angle should always be done while investigating the dynamic lie – not the static lie. If player has too flat lie angle, the heel of the clubhead is in the air at impact and this promotes a slight left to right spin on a righthanded player. Naturally when the lie angle is too upright, the toe of the club rises, and this promotes right to left spin on a righthanded player.
Torque is the amount that the shafts end with the clubhead will turn at impact. Torque is measured in degrees and the bigger the torque number on a shaft, the more it is bending. Here we encounter the lack of standardization for the second time, since there is no standard way to measure shafts torque.
A good rule of thumb is that players with slower swing speeds should favour a larger torque shafts and the faster the clubhead speed gets, the smaller the number should be – NO NO NO NO!!!!
There isn’t any concluded fact that proves this statement to be correct and one should just ignore it when heard.
Torque plays a key role on how the shaft feel while swinging the club. An X-Stiff shaft with high torque could feel too smooth and even a little soft, on the other hand a Regular shaft with really low torque can feel way too stiff or boardy to a player. Since the lack of standards, testing is the key here. The testing should always be accompanied with a professional fitter to ensure your questions and feedback from the shaft are understood correctly and adjustments to the shaft can be carried out correctly. Correct torque shaft can have incredible effect on your not-so-pure contacts with the ball and after all, we play better when our bad shots are not so bad anymore. As stated before, obviously personal preferences play a factor while selecting a good fit for you.
When speaking about bending or kicking points of the shaft (which are the same thing) you will hear the kick point being high, mid or low. Against common knowledge among golfers, the shaft does not bend right next to the grip for a high kick point shaft and it does not bend next to the clubhead on a low kick point shaft. The Kick/bend point is roughly a 6-inch section in the mid-point of the shaft and this is where the bending or kicking will occur.
Kick point is actually really important part in the equation for a optimal ball flight. Higher kick point shaft will produce lower trajectory, lower kick point will therefore produce higher ball flight and obviously mid kick pointers will produce something in between. A softer shaft with higher kick point might produce better trajectory shot that the stiffer shaft with lower kick point that you have played many years now. Take that piece of advice with you the next time you are going to test new equipment and see the results yourself.
When choosing a shafts kick point, it usually comes down to swing mechanics, more precisely how you are delivering the clubhead to the ball. Clubhead speed is not as big of a factor here as it is when selecting the stiffness of the shaft. If player delivers the clubhead to the ball with hands too much in front of the ball at impact, He/she delofts the club at contact. Little delofting is the key to a pure strike at the ball but when done excessively, the ball will not launch with optimal launch angle and the result may be loo low trajectory shot with lost distance and control. In this scenario a lower kick point shaft would benefit the player to have that optimal launch conditions for a better result. If the opposite happens at impact – where the hands are behind the ball, naturally the higher kick point shaft would decrease the balls launch angle and it brings the trajectory down for optimal distance and for more control.
When you are holding a potential new club in your hand and the shaft is labelled as a Stiff, what does that tell you?
Well, not much. Unless you are already familiar with that specific shaft.
Shafts come with different markings regarding their stiffness. There are numerous categories, such as Lady, Senior, Firm, Regular, Stiff, Extra Stiff and the list goes on and on… While this marking gives us something of a reference towards the characteristics of that shaft it leads us to our first dilemma – lack of standards. Since there are no standards set with these different ratings of stiffness, it is practically impossible to say how they perform while swinging. For a sake of example let us take two shafts labelled as regular, The KBS C-Taper Lite R and Nippon N.S.PRO 950GH. Both shafts are regular flex, but these two preform and feel completely different. This is mainly because they are constructed differently and targeted to different swing types also. Where the KBS shaft is predominantly favoured by the quicker tempo swings the Nippon is targeted towards smoother swings. If a smoother swinger tries the KBS shaft in question, the shaft might feel numb and unresponsive whereas other way round the Nippon might feel bendy and launch the ball way to high.
I see the shaft as a gearbox of the swing to deliver the speed created by the swing to the ball with maximum efficiency and accuracy. You would not fit a race car gearbox to a dump truck for optimal performance, would you?
What other characteristics should be checked when selecting a shaft?
While PGA Tour Professionals can generate A LOT of clubhead speed, they all do it in a unique way. Some guys have smooth and laidback swing, for example the late Severiano Ballesteros or Fred Couples. These players had tempo so good it made everyone drool over their natural and easy looking swing. They were able to create enough clubhead speed with smooth swing to keep up with the longest hitters at the time with relative ease. On the other side of the tempo discussion let us have Nick Price. While his prime, Price was a force to be reckoned with and tempo so fast it seemed he swung all out every single time. As we know, the pros go all out very rarely, and this speaks volumes to the individual style of swinging the club.
By todays custom fitting practices, the fitter would be most likely to recommend Price a heavier shaft that to Ballesteros or Couples. This is because a lighter shaft (although they all would have the same stiffness between them) could feel too soft or feel being late all the time. Another thing that the lightweight shaft could do, is to shoot the ball too high up into the air for inefficient ball flight. For smoother tempo players the heavier shaft could feel too stiff or numb to swing freely. Also, the trajectory could be a bit too low for optimal efficiency.
This weight issue is naturally affected by players preferences, some players like heavier shafts and vice versa. There is no absolute truth about shaft weight related to clubhead speed, or to any other measurable fact but fitters usually recommend lighter shafts for slower swing speeds and heavier for faster.