Part II of our Club Fitting Q&A Series provided by Tom Wishon is a follow up to the eye opening answers given in Part I. And gives us one more reason Tom is considered the best clubfitter and researcher of his era.  His work in the clubfitting and research industry is quite frequently viewed as the standard.  Tom has dedicated his career to helping thousands reach their potential through accurate information and providing the best golf equipment available.  He has been offered numerous opportunities to head up golf club design for some of the largest golf club companies in the world.  However he has chosen the lesser known path of providing quality clubhead, shaft and grip component designs in order to help golfers around the world.

Question #11:

I have a Titliest 905R 9.5* with Pro Force V2 stiff 45″ 76g 2.2 tor. 267 butt,7.0 Mid, 28 Tip, Tip Par 4.0. Average drive is about 270yds.Ball flight is medium.It has taken several years and lots of trial and error to find this combination that I really like. I want to replace it possible with Nike VR and I want to go to 10* and with the new AVIX Core Red shaft and was not sure if I should go to 68G stiff versus 78G stiff. Swing Speed 95-100. I would like your thoughts on what to try whether it be club and or shaft combo open to try new things.

Jeff

Answer #11:

JEFF:

Please do not take this the wrong way, but in reading your question, the question I have in return is “if you like the performance for you for this 905R driver, why do you want to change anything after all the trial and error effort you made to find it?”

I understand that the lure of a new head model or new shaft can be great to all of us who keep seeking something better or something more. In this case, the smartest thing a golfer can do is to never change more than one thing at a time when they are hunting. For example, if you want to try that VR driver head, then keep the shaft, length, swingweight or MOI of the club, and grip all the same as what you have now so that when you hit the VR, you definitely know if any shot differences you see are from the head. Or if you want to see what the AVIX shaft might do, keep the same exact head, length, swingweight or MOI of the club and grip the same so you know if any shot differences you see are from the shaft.

To go change the head model and the shaft at the same time starts to put you in a situation such that if you see shot differences, you really don’t know what caused them. Since your question places you in the category of being very interested in equipment differences, that’s superb but you have to use a very organized approach to how you try out different heads or shafts or specs in your clubs. Isolate the variables by changing only ONE THING AT A TIME and you can learn tons. Change more than one thing at a time and you will be guessing.

And also since you are an equipment fan, do try to find a really good, competent, experienced Clubmaker with whom you can work who can help you keep all these variables in line so when you do experiment, you know you are testing one thing at a time.

Question #12:

Shaft – How do you determine the best weight of a shaft for fittings and should the woods be a similar in weight to match the irons?

Al

Answer #12:

AL:

The weight of the shaft is the number one most influential thing that affects the TOTAL WEIGHT of the club. So when you are contemplating a change in shaft weight, you need to look at what a total weight change will do for your swing.

The total weight of a club has to be matched to the golfer’s natural/most common sense of swing tempo, swing timing, swing rhthym. Get the total weight too light for the golfer’s tempo/rhythm/timing and they have more tendency to pull the ball, hit the ball off center, possibly go more over the top and outside in with the path, and generally be more inconsistent. One other symptom of the total weight being too light is when the golfer keeps telling himself, “I gotta slow down, if I could only slow it down a little, I’d be OK.”

Total weight being too heavy usually shows up most commonly as the golfer feeling tired after hitting 20-30 balls during a range session, or the golfer simply notes that the club just feels like it becomes more and more of an effort to swing through the ball. Other symptoms are more of a tendency to push the ball to the right or to come up off the shot through impact.

BUT. . . hand in hand with total weight comes the headweight feel or the swingweight of the club. And separating total weight problems from swingweight problems can be tricky. Many of the same symptoms for the total weight being too light or too heavy are the same exact symptoms for the swingweight being too low or too high. So along with any move to a different weight shaft has to come experimentation with adding/removing weight from the head so the overall weight feel of the club in relation to your tempo/timing/rhythm feels the best to you.

In general, the more forceful the transition move to start the downswing, the shorter the backswing and more abruptly the golfer starts the downswing, the stronger physically the golfer, the faster their natural tempo is, the more aggressive the downswing, the heavier the shaft weight AND the swingweight likely need to be. And vice versa for a smooth transition, smooth tempo, less strong golfer, less aggressive downswing move at the ball.

Shaft weight in the woods and irons does not have to be the same. It is hugely common for many golfers of higher than average strength or stronger, more aggressive swing tempo to use graphite in the woods and steel in the irons. But typically when you have a stronger, more aggressive swinging golfer, their graphite in the woods would be in the 80-90g level and not in the 50-65g level. In addition, when you have a big weight difference in the wood shaft to the iron shaft, this is also where swingweight or the MOI of the clubs becomes very important to match to the golfer’s tempo and swing aggressiveness.

MOI matching the clubs to each other instead of swingweight matching can definitely help to offset differences in the shaft weight of the woods to the shaft weight in the irons. For more information on MOI matching of clubs as an alternative to swingweight matching, head to this link to read more about it so you have an idea what this is and what it can do for golfers – http://wishongolf.com/moi.php

Question #13:

I bought 2 new drivers recently. Ping G15 and Taylor Made Superfast.

I had changed my G15 10.5 deg shaft to Fujikura Motore Speeder VC5.0, 45.75 inches long. I managed to get the weight of this club down to 310 gm. this help me increase my swing speed. I average 90mph.

I also want to do the same thing for my Superfast with 10.5 deg head. It is a lighter club than G15. So I am having problem finding a shaft that will lead to any weight saving and at the same time reduce the dispersion of Superfast.

Please help and suggest my options.

Eric

Answer #13:

ERIC:

First of all, let’s look at the Superfast driver. 46.5” in length, 283g total weight, D8 swingweight. The golfer who is going to benefit the most from this club will be an above average strength golfer with a very smooth tempo, with an inside out to square swing path, and with a late release of the wrist cock angle coming into impact. That is the only type of golfer who could possibly control this long of a driver and gain clubhead speed from its length and its light weight and very high headweight feel. If that is not you, then I am only being honest in telling you that trying to use this club to play to the best of your ability is a waste of time.

Some facts about drivers and distance. The only golfers who can gain clubhead speed from longer length drivers are those golfers who have a later to very late release of the wrist cock angle. Twice in my career I have done extensive testing with golfers to prove this. When the golfer unhinges the wrist cock angle early to midway in the downswing, they cannot gain more clubhead speed from a longer and longer length driver. The point when a golfer unhinges their wrist cock angle is when they achieve their highest possible swing speed. If the release happens early to midway on the downswing, by the time the clubhead gets to impact it will have slowed to a lower speed.

Second, longer length drivers put more stress and load on the golf swing. If the golfer has an inside out path AND a late release, they can keep this stress and load on their swing a little lower. But if the golfer has an outside in path and/or an early to midway release, the load that the 46.5” length puts on their swing is HUGE and the result is a lot higher level of inconsistency and more off center hits.

Since 2005, the average driver length on the PGA Tour has been 44.5”, not the 45.5 to 46.5” lengths seen on all of the standard made drivers from the big companies sold in pro shops and golf retail stores. If you look at the average PGA Tour player, they all have a late wrist cock release. From that, there is no question all tour players could gain more clubhead speed and more distance if they used a longer length driver. But they don’t, on average, because they know even as good as they are, they cannot be as consistent with a 46” driver as they can one that is shorter in length.

For average golfers who do not have a late wrist cock release, and who also have more of an outside in path, using a driver any longer than 44” really does hurt their overall driving distance. With an earlier release, the average golfer cannot get more clubhead speed from a longer length and they definitely get more off center hits and more swing path inconsistency.

So it’s fine for you to try the very light total weight to see if this helps increase clubhead speed, but do it with a much shorter length and with the swingweight matched to YOUR swing tempo and swing strength.

Question #14:

When spine aligning a club where do you thing the spine should be in relation to the clubface and do you feel the spine aligning adds flex stiffness or makes a shaft more flexible.

Dave

Answer #14:

DAVE:

The practice of “spine alignment” is not so much about the so called “spine” on the shaft and where it is on the shaft. It is all about testing the shaft to find a stable plane of bending and then installing the shaft so that the stable plane is in line with the target or the golfer’s swing path.

What do we mean by stable plane of bending? If you take a raw shaft (no grip, no head installed) and you put the grip end securely between the jaws of a vice with a symmetrical weight of at least 200g attached to the tip end, if you pull back on the shaft tip and let it go, the shaft starts to oscillate back and forth. In a stable plane of bending, this oscillation would keep going straight forward and straight back. A non stable plane of bending would show up as the shaft starting to oscillate back and forth in a non straight manner, usually so the tip end would look like it is wobbling all over the place. By repeatedly rotating the shaft between the vice jaws and doing this oscillation test over and over, you can eventually find a point at which the shaft will oscillate straight back and forth with no sideways movement. That would be a stable plane of bending for the shaft.

One other thing – whether this makes any difference in the shot depends entirely on whether the golfer has a late wrist cock release or not. For early to midway release golfers, spine alignment or shaft orientation does not matter. This is because whenever you unhinge the wrist cock angle in the downswing, at that point the shaft goes from flexed back to flexed forward. If the golfer has an earlier release, the shaft goes from flexed forward to back BEFORE IMPACT so that by the time the clubhead gets to the ball, the shaft has rebounded back to being straight.

But for the later release player, this is when shaft alignment can be more important because with a late release, the shaft is moving from flexed back to flexed forward at impact. Thus if there is any asymmetry to the bending of the shaft, as it moves from flexed back to forward, this is when that mis-alignment can show up in the form of a miss hit shot from the shaft not being in a stable plane of bending toward the ball.

Question #15:

Is there any way to get a Driver with a lie angle that will work for shorter golfers? I have had this issue for my whole golf career. If I choke up on the club I loose distance. Is there anything you would suggest?

Thank you.

Greg

Answer #15:

GREG:

This is a tough one because all drivers are pretty much made from Titanium with shortish length hosels, and titanium is very, very difficult to bend for doing a lie adjustment. However, all is not lost because you can offset any misdirection coming from the lie being too upright for you by using a more open face angle on the driver head.

Here’s what I mean. If you find that all drivers are much too upright for you, the misdirection problem that comes from the driver head arriving at impact with the toe end of the head tilted well up is a pull or hook. This is because as the clubhead is tilted more back on its heel, the loft on the face is automatically aimed more to the left. Misdirection problems in drivers and woods can be addressed by using a face angle that is opposite to the off line direction of the shot – meaning a more open face angle if the upright lie is causing a pull or hook.

If you find that you slice the ball then the upright lie is not the cause of the slice, in which case a more closed face angle becomes the fitting recommendation to reduce the severity of the slice.

Question #16:

I would like to have Tom’s opinion on shaft profiling, and where to place the shaft’s spine: in line with the head’s face , or perpendicular to it.

Sergio

Answer #16:

SERGIO

See the response I made to Dave Davison’s same question above. Find the stable plane of bending of the shaft and install the shaft so that stable plane of bending points at the target.

~ Tom Wishon

Question #17:

75 yrs old-healthy and reasonably fit, have lost over 50 yds off the tee in last 4 yrs have 9 degree medium shaft taylor made draw. have not lost that much off of irons

Answer #17:

PHIL:

As we age, and I hear you loud and clear because I just turned 60, we simply start to lose clubhead speed from a drop in our body strength and flexibility and how much we can rotate during the swing. This becomes a good news/bad news situation for us golfers. The bad news is that you can’t trick physics because distance is purely related to clubhead speed. For each 1mph of clubhead speed we lose, we drop 2.8 yds of carry distance with the driver.

The good news is that working with a really good clubfitter to be as accurately fit as possible can offset some of this distance loss, especially if you have played with standard clubs bought off the rack in a pro shop or golf retail store. As clubhead speed drops, more loft on the driver helps gain back some distance loss. If you are blessed with a smooth tempo swing, an inside out to square path, and a later to late wrist cock release, you can gain more clubhead speed from longer lengths AND lighter shafts. But if you have an outside in path and/or an earlier release, longer driver length won’t gain anything in terms of distance.

I strongly recommend you think about seeing a GOOD clubfitter. We maintain a list of competent, experienced custom clubmakers that you can reference at the following link to see if there is one in reasonable proximity to where you live – http://www.twgolftech.com/locator.php

Last point – if you love the game, don’t want to lose more in how you play, and are willing to commit to a well planned physical work out program, there very definitely are some fantastic training regimens that truly can bring back some of the lost clubhead speed as we age. My son is a physical therapist also with an exercise science degree and last winter he finally got his old man here to agree to go into such a training program after hearing me complain of lost distance.

Let me tell you how much I have always HATED working out in the past. But somehow I got the guts, courage, fear of losing any more in my game, to hang with his personal training sessions three times a week. After three months of his personal training, him being there every workout session to help me/encourage me/yell at me sometimes too, the endorphins from working out finally started to kick in for me so that I could see and feel the benefits enough to gain my own motivation to keep it up. After 3x a week sessions from last November to late March, I started this golf season with +5mph swing speed more than I had last season, (remember 1mph driver clubhead speed = 2.8 yds) so that was 14yds I gained back.

If you are so willing, I strongly recommend you find a licensed personal trainer who specializes in Core Strength and Flexibility training. Trainers licensed either in the TPI (Titleist Performance Institute) or the Paui Chek programs are also good for golf training. And remember, no one, and I mean this, no one hated working out more than I did. But having a trainer there with me for every work out for three months is what got me over the hump. It really is worth it and now that it is November again, I am back at working out again.

~ Tom Wishon

Question #18:

Because of injury my driver swing speed puts me at about 85 mph. Therefore with many shafts I find myself smack in the middle between an A and an R flex. ( probably the same problem for those debating between an R and S shaft). On certain shafts, the manufacturer’s specs show very little difference between flexes in terms of torque. When analyzing one particular shaft is there something else (other than torque) that would help me in deciding between an A and an R flex or (assuming the torque numbers are close) can I assume that there really is only a subtle difference between the flexes in terms of performance?

– Regis

Answer #18:

REGIS:

There are no standards in the shaft industry and there never will be because the golf companies and shaft companies do not want this. I know first hand. I served on an ASTM committee convened in the golf industry in the late 1990s that was trying to set up standards for shafts so consumers could have definite, empirical points of reference. After three years of meetings, the ASTM disbanded the committee because they could not get the company reps on the committee to agree to compromise. Every company wanted the standards to be their own that they had set up for their shafts.

So the best resource you can find for being fit into the best shaft for your swing is seriously to find a skilled and experienced clubfitter with whom you can work. The good custom clubmakers do have access to the data base of empirical shaft test information that my company maintains for now more than 1600 different shaft models and flexes. The good clubmakers also are far better trained to be able to analyze a golfer’s swing speed + transition move + downswing tempo + Wrist cock release + strength to then use this data to come up with the best shaft fitting recommendations. We maintain a list of competent, experienced custom clubmakers that you can reference at the following link to see if there is one in reasonable proximity to where you live – http://www.twgolftech.com/locator.php

One other thing – as clubhead speed slows, the very most important fitting specifications for distance are length, loft, shaft weight, total weight and swingweight or MOI of the club. The shaft’s flex is not quite as important for distance as are these other fitting factors. Working with a really good clubfitter will allow you to find the best overall combination of clubfitting specs to deliver the most distance possible for your swing speed and swing characteristics.

~ Tom Wishon

Question #19-

Tom, I am 6′ 2″ tall with 37″ sleeve length. In a standing position my hands hang 28 1/2 ” off the floor. For years I have played irons that are +1/2 inch in length 2 degrees upwrite. My swing is too flat. I have been working on making it more upwrite and find I hit the ball further and straighter. My questions is + 1/2 is starting to feel too long . I feel too far away from the ball and feel like it makes me swing more around my body instead of up. What is your recomendation?

Philip Moseman

Answer #19:

PHILIP:

All of our initial measurement work for obtaining a starting point for length determination has been done from a WRIST TO FLOOR measurement basis and not from a sleeve length or fingertips to floor basis. So I apologize that I cannot fully relate to where you are with respect to all of our measurement work. But since you say your sleeve length is 37”, I can relate to that meaning your arms are a little longer than average for someone of your height, so in terms of trying to estimate that to a wrist to floor basis, that would mean you would likely have a little shorter W to F measurement than most golfers who are 6’2” tall.

In that case, it would not seem that your clubs would need to be longer than standard to offer you a basic starting point for COMFORT in the length of your clubs. So I don’t doubt what you are saying when you observe that you feel the +1/2” length is probably too long and tends to force you into swing plane changes that don’t feel natural.

If I do some “extrapolation” based on other golfers’ height + sleeve length and where they are with respect to a wrist to floor measurement, my best guess would be your W to F would be in the area of between 34 to 36”. On our reference chart for this, that would equate to a STARTING length of 43.5” for the driver and 38” for the 5-iron. Note definitely we say that a wrist to floor reference is only a STARTING POINT for length determination.

When we teach length fitting, we stress to start with the lengths indicated by the W to F measurement, then we observe the golfer’s golf athletic ability, their swing path, their tempo and transition force/aggressiveness, and the point of their wrist cock release as further inputs from which the final length is determined. In general, the better the golfer’s athletic ability, more inside out to square the path, more smooth the tempo/transition and later the wrist cock release, the longer the clubs COULD BE from the wrist to floor starting point measurement.

And the less the golfer’s athletic ability, more outside in the path, more aggressive and forceful the tempo/transition and earlier the wrist cock release, the clubs should then never be longer than what the wrist to floor starting point measurement indicates, and could need to be a little shorter. FYI, here is a copy of our wrist to floor measurement chart that once again, we use only as a STARTING point from which we then observe actual swing characteristics before coming up with a final length:

Wrist to Floor Driver Length 5-iron Length
27″ to 29″ 42″ 36 1/2″
29+” to 32″ 42 1/2 37
32+” to 34″ 43 37 1/2
34+” to 36″ 43 1/2 38
36+” to 37″ 44 38 1/4
37+” to 38″ 44 1/4 38 1/2
38+” to 39″ 44 1/2 38 3/4
39+” to 40″ 44 3/4 39
40+” to 41″ 45 39 1/4
41+” to 42″ 45 1/2″ 39 1/2
over 42″ 46 and up 39 3/4 and up

Question #20:

Tom, I had been hitting a Taylormade R9 460 9.5 deg.with the Motore F1 TP shaft.I went to a store and compared my club on a launch monitor to the Taylormade Superfast 9.5 deg. with the TP shaft . Both were stiff shafts. I’m 64 yrs old and my swing speed is between 103 to 105. The Superfast looked better on the launch monitor, so I traded in my R9 460. I am hitting the ball longer with similar dispersion but the height is much lower. Why? I feel with the same height as my R9 the Superfast would be even longer than it is now. Should I have gotten the10 or 10.5 degree. If so, how would have known that on an indoor launch monitor?

Nelson Radcliffe

Answer #20:

NELSON:

The only accurate way to determine the reason for a change in ball flight is to look at EACH ONE of the specifications ON BOTH CLUBS that directly relate to shot height, and compare them one at a time to see which one(s) are different to cause the lower flight.

The only factors in a driver which show a definite contribution to the height of a shot are, 1) Loft, 2) Vertical Roll Radius on the face, 3) Center of Gravity of the head, both vertical and front to back location, 4) shaft flex and shaft bend profile, 5) total weight and swingweight.

  1. The higher the loft of course, the higher the shot and vice versa.
  2. The more radius of the vertical roll, the higher the loft will be on the top 1/3 of the face, the lower the loft on the bottom 1/3 of the face. And vice versa, the less radius on the vertical roll of the face, the less the loft increases on the top 1/3 of the face from the center and the less the loft decreases on the bottom 1/3 of the face.
  3. The lower and more rear located the CG, the higher the shot can be for any given loft. And vice versa.
  4. The more flexible the overall flex of the shaft and more tip flexible the bend profile, the higher the shot can go. And vice versa. But this only happens for golfers with a later to very late release of the wrist cock angle on the downswing. Since you are a 6, I’ll assume you do have a later release so this one is also a possible explanation for you.
  5. Changes in the total weight and/or swingweight COULD, not always, but could result in a change of the angle of attack of the club coming into the ball. Sometimes, not always by any means, a move to a much heavier weight or heavier headweight can cause the angle of attack to be slightly more downward which could result in a lower flight for any given loft. But #’s 1, 2, 3, and 4 are more predominant in their effect on shot height.

Of course without both drivers to measure carefully, I can only take a guess here as to the reason. But one big possibility is the fact that even though the two heads were marked the same for loft at 9.5, it is very possible they do not have the same exact loft. There are +/- tolerances in all specifications on clubheads and it is very common for there to be a variation in the loft no matter what company makes the head.

All launch monitors will show a launch angle for every shot as well as a backspin measurement. If you see the average launch angle is lower and/or the average spin is lower, then that means a lower flight for sure. So in your case here, you should have seen that the launch angle of the Superfast was lower to indicate this lower flight you see in play. And if so, then the number one solution for this is a little higher loft.

Once again, I am going to sound like a broken record here, but if you really want to stop the guessing and trial and error in club selection, find a really GOOD and very experienced clubfitter with a launch monitor with whom you can work to get every one of the key fitting specs matched to your swing. Few, darn few, of the people who run launch monitors in the big retail golf stores really know what they are doing when it comes to fitting. And on top of that, they simply do not have the range of fitting options among the OEM off the rack clubs to offer.

~ Tom Wishon

We thank Tom Wishon once again for taking the time to answer these questions on Golf Gear Select.

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