Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Understanding the Wishon June 2012 e-Tech Report

About every month or so, Tom Wishon has an updated ‘e-Tech Report’ which is more or less a newsletter discussing equipment, clubfitting and his research that has been conducted. I have found his e-Tech Reports to be very enlightening, in particular the last e-Tech report, which can be found here.


The latest e-Tech report goes into shafts. Shafts are something I’ve been studying quite a bit this year. Ironically, I ordered Wishon’s ‘Shaft Bend Profile Software’ program right around the time the 2012 PGA Merchandise Show happened and from there I started to notice that I played better with a softer shaft or so I thought.

Before I go on further, if you’re into equipment and want to really find the shafts for you, I recommend Wishon’s Shaft Bend Profile software, which is available to be purchased by the public (even if you’re not a clubmaker) for $130. The database is updated for free about twice a year to include new shafts and not only can you start to understand shafts that fit your swing, but also much more affordable shaft alternatives. The software can be purchased at



I think the concept that has to change about how a golfer thinks about shafts is to stop labeling shafts as a ‘good’ shaft or a ‘bad’ shaft. The reality is that the level of quality of a shaft does not really differ from one company to another. The difference is that the shaft may or may not fit your golf swing. So if you like a certain shaft or a certain companies shafts, you are more or less finding that the shaft(s) just happen to fit your swing.

Now, some stock shafts are just poorly made in the sense that they *might* be designed to be a little thinner than their after market counterpart in order to save some money. But, it’s not like some golfers cannot hit those shafts well. I just think that they are a little more apt to break if you slam or throw the club. Also, I believe that the characteristics of *some* of the stock shafts are different from their after market counterparts. In fact, Wishon’s Shaft Bend Profile software does indeed have different data for some of the stock shafts and their after market counterparts.

Even still, some golfers may hit that stock shaft well. It’s simply a case if the attributes of the shaft fit the golfer’s swing. You may be a little averse, and rightfully so, to stock shafts for those reasons. But you should look at shafts as being ‘good’ or ‘bad’ with regards to how they fit your swing instead of ‘good’ or ‘bad’ in terms of quality.


One of the first things Wishon discusses when it comes to shaft weight is when the golfer uncocks their wrists on the downswing. In Golfing Machine terms, this is called ‘releasing the #2 Power Accumulator.’

Here’s a set of pictures of golfers with different times when they un-cock the wrists in their swing.


As the picture frame goes to the right, the later the golfer uncocks the wrists (the left and middle pic are the same golfer).

So what Wishon is saying is that the earlier the uncocking, the more important the weight of the shaft is to the golfer versus the Bend Profile (which I’ll get into in a bit).

Conversely, the later the uncocking of the wrists, the more important the Shaft Bend Profile is to the golfer. So the golfer on the left is more dependent on the weight and the golfer on the right is more dependent on the Shaft Bend Profile for optimal performance.


One of the things I had questions about is why some higher clubhead speed players can use ‘softer’ shafts than some lower clubhead speed players. I had a friend of mine who generated close to 120 mph of driver speed, yet hit some old True Temper Dynamic Gold R500 shafts the best. So that always puzzled me when I was at a lower speed and playing better with the X100 shaft.

You’ll hear a lot of golfers say that it has to do with how the golfer ‘loads’ the shaft. Well, what does that mean?

I think a simpler way to put it is ‘how does the golfer get to their top clubhead speed.’

Another way to think of it as a sprinter. Let’s say you have 2 sprinters running the 100 meter dash and both clock in at 10.0 seconds. If sprinter A is 6’3” tall and has long legs and is known as a ‘long strider’, he may take a while to hit that top speed. Springer B could be 5’7” tall and from the get-go he’s running fast. So in the first 40 meters or so, Sprinter B could beat out the long strider Sprinter A. But in the last 60 meters, the long strider could be running at a faster speed and in the end catch up to the shorter Sprinter B.

Where it applies to golf is to understand the swing enough to understand what shaft characteristics fit your swing. And the key part of your swing to understand is the level of acceleration your swing produces.

Acceleration = the rate of change of velocity per unit of time.

Let’s say you have 2 cars traveling.

Car A is going 90 mph. The Driver then presses on the gas and is now going 100 mph.

Car B is going 40 mph. The driver presses on the gas and is now going 60 mph.

What has more acceleration?

Car B.


Because the change in velocity in Car B is 20 mph. In Car A, while moving at a faster velocity, has less acceleration.

Again, you can start to get an idea of the golfer’s acceleration in their downswing by when they start to uncock their wrists.


Remember Sprinter A vs. Sprinter B?

The swing on the left is more like 5’7” short Sprinter B. They have less acceleration and get their speed up as soon as the starter’s gun is shot in the air.

The swing on the right is more like the long-strider Sprinter A. They have more acceleration as they start out slower and gradually build up a lot of speed in a hurry.


1) The later the uncocking of the wrists = shafts that are heavier and stiffer in the tip section.

2) The earlier the uncocking of the wrists = lighter shaft and softer tip section.

So that’s why my friend liked the old R500 Dynamic Gold Shaft. He generated more speed overall than I did, but his swing had less acceleration. I don’t think they make the R500 anymore and I do not have the shaft bend profile numbers, but my guess is that the shaft had a soft tip section.


The butt section determines the feel of the shaft and helps with squaring up the clubface. Have you ever hit a shaft that is supposed to be the correct flex for your swing, but it feels ‘stiff’ and ‘boardy?’ Or how about that shaft that you feel like you ‘can’t get around on?’

Chances are the butt section profile is too stiff for your swing. It also may have more of the weight towards the butt section of the shaft.

Again, here’s where we start to look at how the golfer accelerates the club. But instead of focusing on the uncocking of the wrists, we are looking at the golfer’s downswing transition.

To me, this is a little more of a murky area. But, Iook at the golfer’s swing mechanics in the startdown.

Somebody like Jamie Sadlowksi is a good example of a ‘forceful’ startdown.

If you look at Sadlowski’s startdown, while he’s clearly lagging the club, he almost does it all with a rotational motion of his shoulders and it has a look of him really cranking down. Granted, Sadlowski generates unearthly clubhead speed numbers. But to me, if he only swung at 110 mph, his startdown would be still considered ‘forceful’ and he would probably need a bit stiffer of a butt section profile on his shafts over other golfers with 110 mph of clubhead speed.

Somebody like Boo Weekley I think has a smoother and less forceful transition.

Boo lags the club as well, but he utilizes his wrists and shifting the body pivot towards the target in the startdown to help with that. His rotation of the shoulders is not nearly as much as Sadlowski’s at this point and he has a look that is less ‘cranking down’ than Sadlowski’s swing.

That’s not to say one is superior than the other as Weekley generates about 115 mph of clubhead speed and is one of the best ballstrikers on Tour. But, it’s to say that part of the way they accelerate the clubhead in the downswing is different and it would provide different butt section profiles that fit them best.


The tip section plays a bigger role in the launch angle and spin rate. The stiffer the tip section, the lower the ball launches and less it spins.

There’s a common fallacy amongst amateurs that they want to have as little spin as possible in order to maximize distance for their clubhead speed. Instead, they should look to maximize launch conditions because if you can increase carry, it will help you hit it further more than if you can increase roll. Of course, one can overdo it by having too much carry and not getting any roll out of the ball. But, we generally want to see launch conditions optimized and to get the ball to land on an angle of about 40-45*, so we maximize total distance.

Tip section profiles is one of the reasons why I stopped worrying about ‘frequency matching’ shafts. To my knowledge, most frequency shaft measurements either measure the total frequency of the shaft or the butt frequency of the shaft.

If it’s just measuring the butt frequency, that would be good to know when trying to fit the butt section profile, but what if the tip section is way too stiff or way too soft? The launch conditions won’t be optimized.

Again, we go back to the uncocking of the wrists on the downswing to help point us in the right direction for tip stiffness.


The later the uncocking of the wrists (right) the stiffer the tip section will likely need to be. Of course, clubhead speed does play into this as shown by Wishon’s chart in the e-Tech report.



Once you understand your downswing mechanics along with speed, you should be able to get a general idea as to what shafts work for your swing.

For instance, here’s a swing I made back in January.

I generate 110 to 113 mph of driver head speed. I’ve found that I play best with a ‘stiff’ butt section shaft, but a very tip firm (X-stiff) shaft. That’s because I have a fairly average aggression in the startdown with a later uncocking of the wrists. Since I uncock the wrists later (and I uncock them later now than in the video), shaft weight is not as important than if I uncocked the wrists earlier in the swing.

So I play with a UST Mamiya VTS 65x shaft in my driver. With the 3-wood I play a UST Mamiya VTS Red 75x shaft. And then I play with the KBS Tour stiff flex shafts, which spin a little too much for me, but again…they have softer tip sections. So that’s why I’m in the process of switching to a Wishon Stepless steel shaft, which has a stiffer tip section to help bring down the spin a bit.


No comments: