Thursday, February 13, 2014

Some Ramblings on Equipment

One of the things I have been contemplating lately is how so much equipment is often designed for the higher handicapper golfers. Even the equipment that is supposed to be designed for the lower handicappers tends to have design features that play more towards helping the high handicapper.

I started to think about this more after the PGA Merchandise Show.

One of the things Dr. Rob Neal ( discussed in his presentation at the Open Forum 2 was that the average shaft lean at impact for a Tour player for shots from 30-80 yards using a Sand Wedge was 16-degrees. The range was practically anywhere from 13-degrees to 17-degrees according to Dr. Neal. Golf Instructor and Edel Golf wedge designer has discussed this quite a bit as to why he designed the Edel wedges with more bounce and created a fitting system for that bounce:

One of the things Adams discussed at the Open Forum was how when they measured the forward shaft lean of players with wedge shots around the green years ago it was right in line with Dr. Neal's findings of roughly 16-degrees of forward shaft lean. That's why the Edel wedges feature higher bounce angles. If a golfer is getting 16* of forward shaft lean at impact but is playing with 6* of bounce angle in their wedge, the golfer is likely to stick the wedge into the ground with the leading edge. That is unless they make a large compensation in order to get rid of that forward shaft lean as Adams mentions with golfers 'backing up' out of the shot. And what we know about higher handicap golfers is that they usually have much less forward shaft lean than the better players. So that's why those OEM wedges have much less bounce. It works well for a 20 handicapper, but the better golfer with more forward shaft lean now has to work around them.

And this also makes me feel the same way with the irons.

We see that the Callaway X-Forged has more bounce, but the Mizuno and the Titleist clubs still seem to be much more oriented towards the golfer with less forward shaft lean at impact. So for better players out there, they should really check into the bounce angles of their irons and wedges.

The other part of the club I looked at and asked questions about at the PGA Show was shaft design.

What I have noticed with most shafts that I have tinkered with is that they are usually designed with more weight up towards the butt end of the shaft than the tip end.

So, what happens is that when the shaft is trimmed, the shaft becomes much lighter than it was when it was not trimmed.

For instance, I played around with a 130 gram KBS Shaft and trimmed it to a Sand Wedge length.  After I trimmed it to SW length and re-measured its weight it came out to 107 grams. 

Part of what I think this does is that it increases the concentration of the club's total mass towards the head.

Here is an example of what I mean.

Let's use the example of the SW with the 130 gram raw shaft that gets trimmed and weighs 107 grams after trimming.  Also, we will say that the head weighs 300 grams and the grip weighs 50 grams:

(107 gram shaft + 50 gram grip) / 300 gram head = 52.3% of mass concentration in shaft+grip

Let's say we get a shaft that weights 120 grams after being trimmed:

(120 gram shaft + 50 gram grip) / 300 gram head = 56.8% of mass concentration in shaft+grip

So as the % gets higher towards the *shaft+grip*, the ball will launch higher and spin more.  That's great if you're a 10 handicap that needs all of the help launching the ball that one can get.  But, if you're a 2-handicap looking for a penetrating ball flight with the shorter irons, this could be a problem.

The other conflict is that they generally make shafts for 6-irons.  And when the shaft gets longer there tends to be a very high concentration of the mass towards the shaft+grip.  This means the ball launches lower and spins less.  But we don't need lower launch and spin help with the long irons since they are already designed with a lower loft. 

This leads golfers into purchasing hybrids because they cannot hit their long irons well even when they make a good pass at it.

It's one of the interesting things I found with the Nippon Modus 130 shaft.

The 'high end' (towards the butt) of the tip section of the Modus 130 is very soft.  Then the 'low end' of the tip section gets very stiff.  The shaft is also designed with a lot of steps towards the tip and when I trimmed it, it was still rather heavy after trimming, meaning that more weight was towards the tip instead of towards the butt section like most shafts.

The step pattern towards the tip would usually indicate a very stiff shaft.  But, Nippon has figured out a way to create a shaft geared more towards the better player by being able to keep it heavy after trimming which keeps the concentration of mass higher towards the shaft.  All the while creating a tip profile that creates a ball flight that will not be too soft which would result in flying too high and spinning too much.

I just think that better golfers may want to look out for this when it comes to the performance of equipment for their golf swing.



Stephen said...

Hi Ritchie,

Apologies, I was a little confused by the article relating to shaft weighting. Is it your experience that a higher shaft grip precentage weight equals a lower or hight ball flight.

Your post suggests implicitly that a higher grip shaft percentage is desired by better players and yet you explicitly state that this is not desirable as it raises the trajectory.



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