Thursday, May 31, 2012

A Look Back At the Harrison ShotMaker Insert

Another follow up question I received after the ‘Thinking Man’s Guide To Finding Your WITB’ series was on the Harrison Shotmaker insert.

The ShotMaker Insert is a small, lightweight ‘rod’ that a golfer or clubmaker can insert into the golf shaft. The marketing behind the Insert is that it will help make the ball fly straighter and give up to 40% more accuracy.

The ShotMaker is meant mainly for wood shafts because their current models only fit in 0.335 tip shafts. That’s usually what drivers and fairway woods have for shaft tip diameters. Cleveland and Taylor Made have drivers that carry 0.350 shaft diameters. There would be a way to work around that if you put a 0.335 shaft tip in those 0.350 hosel diameter by adding a shim in order to ‘fill the gap’ between the 0.335 shaft tip and the 0.350 hosel diameter. You could then just insert the Harrison Shotmaker into that 0.335 shaft tip and go about your day.

Anyway, the question was in regards to why I got away from the Harrison ShotMaker insert?

First, I still believe that the Harrison ShotMaker insert can be a useful tool to many golfers. I know I saw my ball flight lower a tad with a little less spin. I felt I was more consistent with the ShotMaker insert as well. Also, there had been reputable customers and clubmakers online who had shown FlightScope and Trackman data showing lower spin and a little lower launch with the ShotMaker insert versus no ShotMaker insert in the same driver.

Here’s where understanding the Shaft Bend Profile comes into play.

Essentially, all the ShotMaker insert does is stiffen up the tip section of the shaft. Thus the ball launches a little lower and spins less. Sounds simple. However, I think it still has some value in the end.


A little while ago Tom Wishon stated that the high priced, popular shafts like the Diamana models, Matrix, Graphite Design Tour AD-DI tend to have a common shaft bend profile…fairly stiff in the butt section and stiff in the tip section. In fact, the Nunchuck shaft has a bit of an underground following and it has an extremely stiff butt and tip section.

This leads me to believe that the majority of golfers in the scratch to 15 handicap range tend to play with shafts with too soft of a tip section. This probably stems from golfers usually going with a ‘stock shaft’ that they get at the golf store or pro shop. I know many golfers and clubmakers will steadfastly claim that the stock shafts in most clubs are not quite the same as the after-market shafts that are the same model.

I also have to question using frequency matching to fit for the shaft because usually the frequency matching either measures the frequency of the shaft as a whole or just gets the butt section stiffness. With Shaft Bend Profiles, it measures the shaft at usually 4 or 5 different locations, from the butt end to the tip end. So, it’s possible to have 2 different shaft models that match up on the frequency machine, but react very differently for the golfer (even if they are the same weight and bend-point). One shaft model may be much stiffer in the tip section and that will cause a lower launch and lower spin, despite the frequencies being the same.

What I wind up seeing from clubfitters is that they usually go at least one flex stiff with graphite shafts. Instead, if they better understood the shaft bend profiles, they could get a more accurate fitting for the golfer.

Getting back to the ShotMaker Insert.

It can be a great tool for a golfer who likes the feel of their shaft from a stiffness perspective. This is usually where the stiffness of the butt-section matters. But, if they have problems controlling their shots, it could be likely due to the tip section being too soft. So by adding the ShotMaker insert, that will help them to some degree. For some golfers, it may help them tremendously. For others, the tip section of the shaft may still be way too soft for them.

Furthermore, the ShotMaker Insert is also light as a feather, so it really doesn't affect swingweight or static weight. From my experience, it will affect MOI by less than 10 kg/cm^2.

Of course, one may say ‘get a shaft with a stiffer tip section.’

While that sounds fine and dandy, you will need to have a clubfitter who knows the shaft bend profiles. Or you will need a fitter with either a Trackman or a later model FlightScope along with plenty of different shafts so you can look at the launch angles and spin rates. Then you could be wind up wanting a $300 shaft. Combine that with the charge for the fitting and then having the shaft installed, a $100 ShotMaker Insert may not be a bad alternative.


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