Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The Road to Golf Club Fitting Nirvana - Part X

Part I:
Part II:
Part III:
Part IV:
Part V:
Part VI:
Part VII:
Part VIII:
Part IX:

While I have been pleased with the performance of the MOI and MOI Balance Index (MBI) clubs I have done so far, I felt that the performance of the driver was of the most importance. If MOI/MBI works well with the driver and the irons and the wedges, then I felt it can work with virtually any club and is something that golfers need to consider and this could eventually revolutionize club fitting and perhaps club designs. If it doesn't work for the driver, then we have something that is limited to working well for irons and wedges.

I had decided to get a new driver head. My Wishon 919THI head was wearing down from so much use, so I decided to get a new head with the same loft (10 degrees) and face angle (0 degrees). I also planned on just removing my driver shaft (UST Mamiya ProForce VTS Red 7x) and installing it into the new driver head.

First, let's discuss the shaft and shaft length in this series on ultimate fitting.

In initially had a lighter version of this UST Mamiya VTS Red 7x shaft in the Silver 6x model. That was because I had a 45-1/8" driver length.

I see a lot of golfers on the internet discuss shortening their shaft because the average Tour driver is 44-1/2" long. The problem is that they don't understand that the static weight of the driver has to change in order to get the heft of the club to fit the golfer's swing. Furthermore, this will alter the distribution of the weight of the components in the club which can alter the feel and ball flight.

Remember, this was my first attempt to use a 44-3/8" driver. This club was NOT Balance Index matched. But in order to get the heft (MOI) to match to the longer 45-1/8" driver, the static weight was 13 grams heavier.

I was a bit skeptical of how this would work because since we are using a shaft that is 3/4" shorter and a club that is 13 grams heavier, there was a fear that I would lose a lot of club head speed. Instead, when using Trackman at the Marriott Golf Academy (formerly the Faldo Golf Institute), I found that I only lost 1 mph of club head speed. But, I started to hit the ball further than the old 45-1/8" driver shaft.


Because my launch angle improved by nearly 2-degrees. I was also making more consistent contact. That went along with being much more accurate and precise with the shorter driver shaft.

I would say that the *potential* distance was better with the 45-1/8" driver. But the average distance was better with the 44-3/8" driver. And the standard deviation in driver distance was MUCH better with the 44-3/8" driver. I discussed this briefly in 2012 Pro Golf Synopsis and I plan to further elaborate on the importance of consistency in DISTANCE when a golfer is hitting a driver in 2013 Pro Golf Synopsis (which should be out in November).

I established that I should use a 44-3/8" driver based on Tom Wishon's 'wrist-to-floor' chart on page 22 of 12 Myths That Could Wreck Your Game ( If you look at the chart, you can see that golfers generally use way too long of a driver shaft and probably a little too short on the iron shafts. I stand 6'3" tall and I'm using a 44-3/8" shaft. Granted, I do have short legs for somebody my height (only a 29" inseam). But, I highly doubt most golfers should be using a driver that is more than 45 inches long.


The next part of this fitting is the Bend Profile of the shaft. I highly recommend Tom Wishon's Shaft Bend Profile software if you want to determine what the best shaft is for you. First, it can save one a lot of money on shafts as I've seen plenty of $300+ shafts that are virtually the EXACT SAME as a $50 shaft. But, we can also use the Bend Profile software to better understand what shafts we hit best. And if you're doing MOI Balance Index, you'll need this as you will likely need to alter your shafts in your irons.

The problem I discovered with my swing I figured out when I first got the Bend Profile software was that graphite wood shafts were often not fitted for my swing.

I think what happened is that for years and years the shaft industry made shafts with very soft tip sections (remember how whippy graphite shafts often were?). I think to counter that, eventually shaft manufacturers started to create very stiff butt and tip sections.

What would happen for me is that if I went to a X-Stiff driver shaft, the tip section was usually good for me, but the butt section was too stiff. Thus, I struggled to rotate the wrists and would leave the face open (sometimes called 'not being able to get around on it'). Conversely, if I went to a 'stiff flex' graphite wood shaft, the butt section would work for me, but the tip section would be too soft, causing me to hit a very spinny ball flight and lose distance.

Now we are starting too see wood shafts that are more 'stiff' in the butt section with a 'x-stiff' in the tip section. I discussed this with UST Mamiya Director of R&D, Michael Guerette, and he recommended the new VTS model shafts and I finally started to find a shaft that fit my swing.

Here's a look at one of the shafts that I struggled with, the Wishon S2S Black 65 (stiff) and comparing it to the UST ProForce VTS Red 7x shaft.


As we can see, the Wishon S2S Black is much softer than the UST ProForce VTS shaft.

It's like one of my Top-30 Club Fitter Russ Ryden ( states; if we really want to be optimally fitted for shafts, we need to start thinking and talking like the designers of these shafts think and talk. We need to stop talking 'flex' because it doesn't mean anything. Instead, shaft design and analysis is about analyzing cylinders. Here we show that UST has a shaft labeled as 'X-Stiff' and Wishon has a shaft labeled as 'Stiff'. Yet, the Wishon 'stiff' is much softer from butt to tip section than the UST 'X-Stiff' shaft.

And that's why I couldn't hit the Wishon S2S Black shaft. It is not a 'bad' shaft. It just does not fit my swing.


Now, let's take a look at my 44-3/8" driver before it was MOI Balance Index matched:

So, the Balance Index is at 46.35. I want it at 38-42. Because the Balance Index is above the target, that means that I need to be able to match MOI while adding more weight to the shaft because the club is too 'head heavy.' So, this will require me to remove the lead tape from the head and either find a heavier shaft or add lead tape to the Balance Point of the club on the shaft.

Since I received a new driver head, the weight was not the same of the raw head. The original head had a raw weight of 202.5 grams. I had to add 1.3 grams from the epoxy and the ferrule. Thus, the 'raw head weight' of the original head came out to 203.8 grams.

The new head had a weight of 204.1 grams. Thus, the total weight of the head would be at least 205.4 grams (adding 1.3 grams for epoxy and ferrule).

We know from the simple formula that I showed in Part IX that this would mean that the trimmed shaft would have to weight roughly AT LEAST 73.2 grams.

205.4 grams * 60% = 123.48 shaft+grip weight

123.24 - 50.3 grip weight = 72.94 minimum trimmed shaft weight.

Well, I know that my shaft weighs 73.1 grams after it was trimmed. So I haven't gone too far over. When I dry assembled the club I found the MOI to be at 2,770. That means I had a good amount of room to add weight to the shaft to match the MOI and meet the target MBI.

Here is what the final specs of the driver:

So, we notice some change here.

Less Weight in the head (210.3 vs. 205.9). More weight in the shaft (73.1 vs. 81.0). This causes the total weight to be heavier (333.7 vs. 337.2). While the MOI stays the same (2,825). The Balance Index is practically on the money (40.09).

Of course, the big question is 'has it improved performance?'

I believe so.


For starters I hit this driver much longer now.

I believe what has happened is that since there is less weight in the head, the driver is now getting less spin. However, the trajectory has practically stayed the same. So the height has not lowered, but the landing angle is flatter and the spin is less, causing the ball to carry about the same (maybe a tad further), but a major increase in roll. This also helps with accuracy and precision as the ball doesn't hang in the air as much.

Therefore, I am even more pleased with the MOI/MBI concept and technique and feel that it is the final piece to the ultimate club fitting.



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