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Getting To Know Your Swing
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Getting to Know Your Swing

Golf is a funny thing, 400 years of evolution has refined the game into what it is today. With today's technology, The game, now more than ever, is available to almost everyone in the world. What used to be a game only played by noblemen and royalty, golf is now the second most widely played sport in the world.(second only to Futbol/Soccer)

Golf lends itself to all walks of life, it doesn't matter if you are short or tall, under-weight or overweight. It doesn't matter if you are able to sprint 40 yards in under 5 seconds or able to bench press 225 lbs 15 times. It doesn't matter if you are young or old or even a man or a woman, anyone can compete.

The technology is what I want to talk about today, specifically the technology behind the "shaft". Many golfers overlook the importance and impact shafts have on our game. Many times on the course I have complimented a player's clubs and asked what type of shaft they use, only to get the reply "I don't know. It's what ever shaft they were built with."

The shaft is a very important part of the golf club, It is where all of the energy you exert from your swing is stored and ultimately transferred to the ball. Many problems in the golf swings of today's players can be affected or even corrected by using the correct shaft.

If you have been playing for any length of time, You have done this. We know our range with the driver. Yet there are times when we step up on the tee, get a sudden rush of adrenalin and we decide to try to drive the green on a 350 yard par 4. With our teeth grit and muscles tensed, we swing with all our might at the ball, we hear a satisfying mighty crack as the ball leaves our club head and then we watch in amazement as the ball sails off to the right, into the fairway of the next hole. What happened? Well short answer, We overloaded our shaft.

The shaft works a lot like a battery. When we swing, the shaft does not stay straight, it flexes and stores kinetic energy, when it flexes the other way it releases that energy. Tempo is required to time the release of that energy with the impact of the ball. If there is too much energy stored in the shaft it takes longer to release causing the shaft to "whip" after the ball has left the club head. This is why you get less distance by swinging harder. The opposite is true when we decelerate through impact, The "whip" or release of energy occurs before impact and we miss hit, shank or "Top" the ball.

If overloading the shaft is your problem, You can fix this in one of two ways, Don't swing so hard, or get a stiffer shaft. Today's graphite shafts are designated with flex ratings, and these ratings correspond with swing speed. The faster you swing, the stiffer the shaft needs to be.

A flexible shaft can give a lot of distance to a player with a slow swing by giving an exaggerated Whip action. Like a Fly Rod, this will accelerate the club head way beyond the speed of the actual swing. This results in a longer hit. A stiff shaft requires more energy to "load" and in return will release more energy into the ball. So knowing your swing speed is very important when selecting your club shafts.

I generally use a stiffer flex shaft for longer clubs. Let me explain.

The shaft on my driver is 43" long and I swing my driver at 109 MPH. Because of this, I like to use x-tra stiff shaft for that club. This allows me to really put some power behind my drives. I use a senior flex shaft on my wedges. Why, you may ask? Just because I swing my driver 109 MPH, doesn't mean that I swing my wedges that fast. In fact, the shorter the club shaft, the less club head speed can be generated. Even If I did swing my wedge as hard as I swing my driver, the fact that my wedge shaft is only 31.5" long, will cause me to see a 15%-25% decrease in club head speed. It has to do with the fact that my swing arch radius is decreased. This is true for all of my clubs. To counteract this, I have my shafts set up as follows to maximize distance for all my clubs based on my swing speed.

On my Driver I use an X-tra stiff shaft. For my 3 wood, 5 wood, 3 iron, and 4 irons, I prefer a Stiff Flex shaft. For my 5-9 irons, a regular flex shaft works well. And for my PW, 52, 56, 60 degree wedges, I enjoy a senior flex shaft. It seems to give me lots of extra spin on the ball.

Work within your swing speed and find the shafts that allow you to hit the ball confidently. Your local Golf superstore has equipment that can help you determine what your actual swing speed is. Until next time, wishing you lower scores.


Street Talk

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