This is another superb post in a series of advice you won’t find anywhere. Tom Wishon needs no introduction. He is one of the most sought-after professional clubfitters of our time, and he has agreed to answer any and all questions you have for him here on Golf Gear Select!
It’s obvious Tom has an infinite love for the game of golf and his advice shows how much he cares. Tom answers questions 21 through 30 from our readers.
What is your recommended maximum length for installing a graphite extension into a graphite shaft without the extension breaking? Isn’t it possible that a graphite shaft could break under the left hand (right hand golfer) while executing a normal golf swing?
Most graphite extenders are actually injection molded black plastic and not really made from a composite graphite material. At least I will say since I saw my first graphite extender back in the mid 90s, I have yet to see one made from actual graphite composite material. As such, the general rule of thumb for extender safety length is directly proportional to the clubhead speed and downswing aggressiveness of the golfer.
For golfers with very aggressive swings and clubhead speeds north of 100mph, +1” is totally safe, +1 ½” is typically OK, but 2” or more starts to get dodgy. For golfers south of 100mph with a little more smooth downswing tempo, 2” is going to be fine, but I would not push it to 3”.
~ Tom Wishon
I’m now 55 yrs old. I’ve been using a 905R Titleist Driver since 7 years ago.It was custom-fitted with Grafalloy Blue shaft weighing 55g Regular. I’m buying a new Titleist 910D. Should I now fit with a Japanese shaft with lighter weight?
The #1 goal of shaft weight fitting has always been to match the weight of the shaft to the golfer’s most typical swing tempo and the golfer’s force they apply at the transition point in the swing, when they start the downswing. In general, the more smooth and rhythmic the tempo and the more gradual the force of acceleration is put on the club to start the downswing transition the lighter the shaft COULD BE. Whether it SHOULD BE involves also bringing in the golfer’s own personal sense of weight FEEL and what they have developed a preference for after years of play.
And on the opposite side, the more quick and fast the tempo, and the more forceful and sudden they ramp up their swing force to start the downswing, the heavier the shaft weight could be. The reason is because the shaft weight controls the TOTAL WEIGHT of the club more than any other element in the club. For most golfers, if they get a club that is too light, this causes them to fight their swing tempo and transition move so that they are always struggling to get their tempo to be consistent. And for most golfers, if the shaft weight is too heavy, this causes them to labor more with their swing tempo and transition and they start trying to swing harder to make the club feel right for their natural tempo and transition move.
If after 7 yrs of using this 55g shaft you have never struggled with being too quick in your swing tempo, and you have always felt you had no real problem being consistent with your tempo and timing, then yes, you could be a definite candidate for using an even lighter weight shaft. But if you have gone through bouts of struggling to force yourself to “slow down”, then going heavier in the shaft weight would probably be more advisable.
~ Tom Wishon
How can I increase my driver swingspeed 15%?
I’m not going to mince words here. Increasing a golfer’s swing speed by even 10% is never going to happen strictly through any change in the golf club’s specifications. Swing speed increases of 5%, 10% are really only possible if the golfer makes a serious commitment to a physical training program that focuses on core strength and flexibility training, and when the golfer stays with that program for a year or more.
From the standpoint of the club itself, swing speed can be slightly increased by increases in the length and decreases in the total weight (shaft weight) . But swing speed increases from length ONLY happen for golfers who have a later to very late unhinging of the wrist cock angle on the downswing. And swing speed increases from lightening the weight of the shaft MUST be accompanied by accurate swingweight fitting so that the golfer can also achieve their best possible on center hit performance at the same time. To get a 5% increase in swing speed from longer length OR from a lighter shaft weight will result in less distance if the golfer also happens to experience an increase in the off center hits from these changes.
If the golfer has a smooth tempo and a late wrist cock release, then yes, this means going longer in length and lighter in the shaft weight can result in as much as a 5% increase in clubhead speed. But 10% or 15% is only going to happen with a very well designed physical training program that focuses on core strength + flexibility – and even then, +15% would be very doubtful because our bodies all have limits.
Those golfers you see with the 120mph and higher clubhead speeds are born with that athletic capability and then develop it from either superb swing characteristics or physical training.
~ Tom Wishon
HI. I ALWAYS HAVE HAD A PROBLEM WITH BUYING WEDGES OFF THE SHELF AND WAS WONDERING WHAT SORT OF SET UP YOU WOULD RECOMMEND. AND WOULD CUSTOM FIT HELP GREATLY. I HAVE NIKE VR BLADE PW 1 1/2 DEG UPRIGHT UNKOWN LOFT. DGS300 SHAFT WOULD YOU RECOMEND STIFFER OR SOFTER SHAFTS? A GREAT DIFFRENCE BETWEEN EACH WEDGE SHAFT LENGTH? AND WHAT DEGREES OF LOFT BETWEEN LOFTS? I FIND THAT A 4 DEGREE LOFT DIFFRENCE IN A SAND(56) WEDGE AND LOB WEDGE(60) IN OFF THE SHELF WEDGES ARE VERY SIMILIAR. WOULD I NEED TO START WITH GETTING MY PW CHECKED FOR LOFT AND LIE BEFORE I START BUILDING A WEDGE SET.
There is so much more about wedge fitting than I can cover in a brief answer, but I will do my best to hit the key points.
- To ensure a proper distance difference between the wedges, the loft increments have to be accurately checked. 4* difference between the #9 to PW to AW to SW to LW is certainly advisable, but the rule of thumb is no less than 3* and no more than 5* in loft between each wedge.
- From a length standpoint, this can be entirely up to the golfer’s comfort in setting up to the shot with each wedge. Typically though, the PW and AW (gap)would be the same as the #9, the SW and LW would be -1/2” from the PW/AW.
- Swingweight or headweight wise, this is keyed by how much each wedge is used in a FULL SWING shot versus how much it is used in a ¾ to half swing. So typically, if the golfer uses the PW and AW for many more full swing shots and leaves the ¾ length and half swing length shots to the SW or LW, then the PW and AW would be built to have the same swingweight as the #9. If the PW and AW are used for knock downs and ¾ length swing shots a lot, then increase the swingweight of the PW and AW by +2 swingweight points over the swingweight of the #9 iron. For the SW, the swingweight would typically be +2 to +4 swingweight points over the swingweight of the PW and AW.
- Your wedge set makeup should be chosen on the basis of the green, bunker and turfgrass characteristics where you play. Here are some of the guidelines for that:
- Raised greens, small greens, very undulating greens indicate a need for higher lofts in the SW and LW of the set makeup, so a wedge set makeup of PW being +4* loft from the 9, AW being +4 from the PW, SW being +4 from the AW and LW being +4 from the SW is considered more beneficial.
- Flat greens, large greens, greens on the same level as the fairway indicate a need for perhaps lower lofts in the SW with no LW required in the set. So the PW would still be +4 from the #9 and with the SW being in the area of 54-55* loft. Depending on what that actual PW loft is, this tells you if you need a gap wedge (AW) to fill in the loft difference between the PW and SW.
- Fluffy sand, deep sand, fine particle sand tend to indicate a need for a little more bounce sole angle on the SW – and if you use a LW from sand, that type of sand indicates more bounce than usual on the LW. In such cases, more bounce means no less than 12* on the SW and no less than 10* on the LW. BUT – keying into this bounce decision is your personal angle of attack into the ball with the wedges. If you are more steep and downward, more bounce helps to keep the wedge from digging too deep in the sand; less steep and more level in the A of A indicates a need for a little less bounce sole angle so the sole can get more under the ball in such soft, deep sand.
- Coarse sand, shallow sand, heavier particle sand tends to indicate a need for a little less bounce on the SW and LW.
- Thick, longer grass around the greens, and also Bermuda type grass around the greens tends to indicate a need for a little more bounce sole angle on ALL THE WEDGES, not just the SW and LW.
Hope this helps a little.
~ Tom Wishon
I am wondering why OEM Manufacturers of Irons all seem to make their forged Iron sets with hosels that are taper tip. Yet the same manufacturers will offer other iron sets, albeit less expensive ones that are parallel tip hosels. The net result of this is that if you wish to reshaft you are limited in your choices of available shafts. I realize that one can bore out a taper tip hosel to parallel if you have a good quality drill press and the right tool but this process can have issues too.
This goes way back into tradition. For years and years, the steel iron shaft most used by tour players was the Dynamic from True Temper. A characteristic of the Dynamic taper tip shaft is that each different raw length used to make each different numbered iron in a full set was actually made to the same weight. So the 39” raw length taper tip Dynamic shaft that went into the 2 iron weighed the same as every one of the other shorter raw length taper tip Dynamic shafts for each of the other irons in the set.
When the parallel tip shafts were introduced in the early 70s, tour players largely preferred the feel of the Dynamic taper tip because the parallel tip version of the shaft decreased in weight down through the set to the short irons. This happened of course because when you use one master shaft for every head, you cut more from each iron shaft from the long to the short iron clubs. This changed the balance point of the clubs when built with the Dynamic parallel tip version vs the taper tip version and the tour pros noticed this and did not like it. For years, most of the forged irons from all the OEMs were offered with the Dynamic iron shaft because that is what the tour players most often used. Since the tour players liked the taper tip Dynamic, so too the OEMs stayed with this shaft in their forged irons and all the heads were made with a tapered bore.
But the Dynamic pattern from True Temper is one of the very few steel shafts in which the taper tip version weighs the same for each shaft. Pretty much every other taper tip steel iron shaft today is made from a parallel tip blank model. After trimming to the different shaft lengths required for each head number, the shaft companies then squeeze down the parallel tip into a tapered configuration. The reason is because it is FAR less expensive to make a set of taper tip shafts from a parallel blank than it is to make each taper tip shaft from its own separate tooling so each shaft could weigh the same. I do think that Nippon Shaft Company does still make several of their taper tip iron shafts to all be the same weight for each different raw length shaft used to built a full set, but I do not know for sure which ones. So this means when you see a set of taper tip iron shafts in a set of irons off the rack and the shaft is not a Dynamic, it’s a waste of time for them to do this since the tapered and parallel versions are the same. But not in the Dynamic, so that still stands as the main reason many OEM forged irons are tapered bore – that and the old tradition that “good players use taper tip iron shafts.”
Boring out tapered hosels to accept a parallel shaft should NEVER do anything to harm or change the club in anyway. If the Clubmaker has a decent drill press and a good holding fixture for the heads, this is a very routine and simple operation that would never change anything for the worse.
~ Tom Wishon
Tom, what is the deal with driver length. On many web sites I have seen they are all recommending 43 -44 ” driver length yet all the driver companies sell 45,46 and some approaching 47″ drivers. If I buy a new driver should I get it cut down by an inch or two. Then what does it do to the swing WT, shaft flex, club WT etc. What’s the story??? Thanks, Alan
Great question you ask, Alan because this is an extremely important area of clubfitting for all golfers to get the most from their drivers. From the early 1900s all the way to the 1980s, the standard men’s driver length from every golf company on the planet was 43”, with women’s at 42”. Then all of a sudden, driver lengths started to increase rapidly to the point that today, men’s standard driver lengths run between 45.5” and 46.5”, with women’s being dragged along to still be 1” shorter.
Did the golfer population all of a sudden get taller or more proficient to be able to handle that much of a driver length increase? No. What triggered this was an acceleration of competition for sales among an ever increasing number of golf club companies. When it comes to driver sales, DISTANCE SELLS. Companies who are able to convince golfers that their driver will hit the ball longer have always reaped the benefit of a big increase in sales. When it comes to convincing golfers that a driver generates more distance, increasing length has been one way to do that because it is believed by all that a longer length means more clubhead speed, and more clubhead speed means more distance.
The problem is, a longer length does not guarantee more clubhead speed. But for 98% of the golfer population, a longer length does ensure a higher percentage of off center hits. The only golfers who do see an increase in clubhead speed from a longer driver length are those players who have a later to very late unhinging of the wrist-cock angle on the downswing. For all who have an early to midway release, going longer does not bring a higher clubhead speed. This is because for ALL golfers, the point at which they get their highest clubhead speed is right when they unhinge the wrist cock angle. Release the club early to midway on the downswing and the club actually is slowing down when it gets to the ball.
Here’s a factoid to think about. Since 2005, the average driver length on the PGA Tour has been 44.5”. Not the 45.5” to 46.5” being sold to millions of golfers. On Tour you have a collection of golfers who you would think could very well control a longer length driver because of their incredible swing skills. But the reason the average driver length on Tour has been 1” to 2” shorter than what is sold off the rack is because as good as these guys are, they know even they cannot control a longer length as well as one that is a little shorter. Now think about how this applies to all the regular golfers out there.
If a golfer has a smooth tempo, inside out path, later release, and good control over their swing, then fine, go with the longer length to try to maximize distance. But if the golfer has any of the following – faster, more aggressive tempo, early to midway release, outside in path, and average to below average golf athletic ability, the best driver length will be in the area between 43.5 and 44.5 for men, 42 to 43 for women.
As to cutting down your driver, very definitely when you do this you MUST add weight to the head to restore the swingweight balance and headweight feel. Not doing that ensures a very high percentage of off center hits because you won’t be able to feel the presence of the head’s weight during the swing.
~ Tom Wishon
I play of 15 and generally hit the driver 250 – 260 on a good day but they are few and far between, I tend to hit the ball right to left. I have gone thru quite a few drivers and shafts trying to find the right combination until recently. I now have a titleist 909D Comp 8.5 Matrix Xcon 6 stiff. I have been choking down on the driver about an inch or more which has given me better control. If I were to get the shaft cut down 1 or 1.5 inches what differences would this make to the shaft?
When you shorten the length of an existing club, it is a MUST to add weight to the head to restore the swingweight of the club back to proper level for your tempo and swing timing. Not doing that pretty much guarantees worse performance from not being able to feel the presence of the headweight so your timing and tempo get messed up. Cutting down the length by 1” or even 2” won’t change the shaft’s performance to any point of negativity as long as you do add weight to the head to get the swingweight back up to where it was before the cut down. Adding weight to the head creates more of a bending action on the shaft than before so it offsets the slight increase in stiffness that occurs from a 1 to 2 inch reduction in length.
~ Tom Wishon
I have managed to get my 9.5 degree taylor made TP driver down to 43 inches by using winn lite midsize grip and adding extra 10 grams onto the headweight.The swingweight is D5 and the shaft is in the 65 gram range.The total weight is 306gramsI am 6 foot tall.Is there any recommendations that you can give me?
To be completely honest, the best recommendation I can give you is to find a good, competent custom clubfitter in your area to work with to go through an extensive swing and fitting analysis to nail down every one of the key performance specifications on your driver and other clubs too. Really good fitting advice by email is tougher to do because fitting is all about identifying each swing characteristic of a golfer that has a direct influence on each fitting specification. Not knowing any of your swing characteristics such as clubhead speed, misdirection tendencies, swing path, downswing force/tempo, point of wrist-cock release, angle of attack into the ball makes it difficult to react to your club specs here to offer the best help. So really, if you are serious about the game and serious about getting the best equipment to allow you to play to the best of your ability, you’d not only find it very educational but you’d find it very worthwhile to find a good, experienced clubfitter in your area to work with. To find a good clubfitter in your area, head to this link – http://www.twgolftech.com/locator.php
~ Tom Wishon
I have been trying to find a driver head around 300-320cc’s and for me no luck.Who would have made this size and would it be a piece type driver head.The 460 cc head is wearing me out I like smaller clubs and a lower ball flight not this try to reach the stars type shot.Any help would be appreciated.
Thanks Blane Kessler
In today’s golf equipment industry, finding a new 300-320cc volume driver is about as easy as finding a needle in a haystack. Your best bet would be to hunt for a used titanium driver head or club from the 1990s and have it retro-fitted with the right shaft and all fitting specifications to match your swing characteristics because to my knowledge, no golf club company today makes a driver head any smaller than the 420-460cc range. The golf club companies create what they think has the best chance of selling. And ever since the early 2000s, the marketing that has inferred that “bigger is better” has so polarized the golf market toward the larger size heads that no golf company wants to take a chance on trying to sell anything much smaller.
~ Tom Wishon
I have been playing golf 44 of the 47 years I’ve been on this planet.All thru ther years growing up watching the pro’s and the best scratch golfers in my area hit all their shots low and long and with great spin on the ball.The clubs had small heads and faces.So here is what I want to know.Every pro I’ve watched and talked to say get the ball up high and let it go.WHY? You don’t get bounce and roll it stays where it landed.I’ve played their way for 10 years now and I’m tired of it.When I go to a fitter they say,hittings shots like that will get you in trouble.No kidding I say,I’m use to hard pan and like hitting low shots tree top high I say.I need to know what is the Gain from high shots of any kind.Sure the tech is based and built around all these drivers with the club head the size of a soft ball,wheres those drivers with small compact heads.To me thats where the more solid shots are from I have caved in the face of every driver I have had since they have hit the market.The only one that I have not done that to is the Ping Rapture.Great club ,but I wish it had a club head of a 300cc driver.Where are they at by the way I would rather have one of those than anything.So Mr.Wishon please show and tell me the beneifit of this high ball shot of any kind.Thank you for your time
Keep in mind that out on Tour, the courses are all manicured with firm fairways with the grass cut to ½” or less – conditions that definitely help when it comes to roll after landing. But the main reasons a lot of tour players hit such high, soaring shots are because, 1) greens on tour are typically very firm so a high trajectory iron with a steep angle of descent helps stop the ball more quickly, 2) fairways are also fast so when a Tour player’s tee shot starts to head off line, again a steeper angle of descent helps keep the ball from running too far into the rough or out of play. Most all these guys have driver swing speeds north of 112mph and mid iron swing speeds north of 90mph. This means they get plenty of distance from their CARRY and do not tend to need a lot of roll after landing. So add this to the points 1 & 2 offered above and you see why many of the pros do want a high, soaring flight.
For everyone else who wants to squeeze every yard from their swing speed, finding the right driver loft that allows for a good balance of carry + lower angle of descent for maximum roll is the way to go. But again, this depends on the typical fairway conditions where each golfer plays. If your typical fairway conditions are moist, lush, longer grass and not conducive to roll after landing, you need to be fit with a driver loft that allows for maximum carry. On the other hand, if your typical fairway conditions are dry, firm, shorter grass, then the best driver loft is the one that gives up some carry distance to generate a lower angle of descent to the ground to take full advantage of the roll out conditions of the fairway.
Last thing – golfers who play a lot of “traveling golf” do find it very wise to have two different drivers – one for maximum carry for use on the courses with fairway conditions that don’t allow for much roll, and one for a balance of less carry with a lower angle of descent for fairway conditions that do allow for a lot more roll out after landing.
~ Tom Wishon