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July 2012

Head vs Shaft - Which is more important?

MyGolfSpyLabs

Ok…today we’re going to most likely change every single one of your opinions regarding a debate that has been going on for years.  And one I almost guarantee you were wrong about.  Which is more important: Head (or) Shaft.    Golfers seem to be sure of the answer…it’s the shaft right?  No, it’s the head.  The shaft is the engine.  No, the head is what drives the car.  Well enough arguing, cause today your going to find out the real answer, the debate is officially over!  Another mystery solved at the “MyGolfSpy Labs”.
Stand on the first tee box at your local golf course and ask the golfers what shaft is in their driver.  If you’re lucky, they might know what flex they play, but very few will know the specifics of the shaft.  For the weekend golfer, the head on the driver is the only thing that matters.
Next, go to an internet golf forum, or just hang out in a place where people think they are “in the know” about golf equipment.  It won’t take long for you to hear someone say something like, “As long as I’ve got the right shaft, it doesn’t matter what head I use…I could put a shoe on there and it wouldn’t matter.”

  • The question that I wondered about was: who’s right?
  • What’s more important, the shaft or the head?

Sounds like the perfect question to research for our latest “MyGolfSpy Labs”.  Now, with such a question in mind, there was no better place for me to go than Club Champion.  Our friends at Club Champion were gracious enough to give us the run of the place to find the answer to our questions.

TESTING PROCEDURE
To evaluate the relative importance of the head and shaft, we took one line of high end shafts and used their high launch, mid launch, and low launch models.  Similarly, we selected one OEM that has three driver models: a player’s driver, a game improvement driver, and a super game improvement driver.  Each of our three testers hit 10 shots a piece with the following combinations:

  • Players Driver with High-Launch Shaft
  • Players Driver with Mid-Launch Shaft
  • Players Driver with Low-Launch Shaft
  • Game Improvement Driver with Mid-Launch Shaft
Super Game Improvement Driver with Mid-Launch Shaft

 

OBSERVATIONS
For all you playa’s out there (meaning single digit handicaps and guys that think they are the next  well whoever you want to substitute) that think having a player’s head (smaller head, smaller sweet spot, one that you often tell people you play because you can work it better) is your best option, well think again.  Both the Game Improvement & Super Game Improvement drivers performed better and all our testers were single handicap players. Both were considerably longer off the tee and the Game Improvement was even more accurate.  So enough with the asinine rationale for why you love “X” driver…do yourself a favor…use your noggin…go get fit!
Now on to some other observations.

Distance
Changing heads resulted in total distance variations anywhere from 4 to 10 yards.  Changing shafts had almost exactly the same impact.  So once again they both play an almost identically equal role.

Ball speed
Changing heads had a substantial impact on all players ball speed.  Our testers gained anywhere from 1.8 to 4.8 MPH by choosing the best head for them.  Even more interesting: no one got the best ball speed from the head that they thought was the best fit for them.
Changing shafts also impacted ball speed significantly, anywhere from 1.9 to 4.3 MPH.

Launch Angle
Head and shaft both affected launch angle between 1* and 2*.  What was interesting is that every tester launched the “high launch” shaft the highest, but no one launched the super game improvement driver the highest….which is another myth.

Spin
Another shocker….each tester saw roughly 500 RPM’s of total variation whether changing heads or shafts, however NOTHING lined up with expectations.  One tester spun the player’s driver significantly more than anything else.  Similarly, the low launch shaft was either the middle or highest spinning shaft for every tester.

Dispersion
Whether we changed head or shaft, we saw roughly the same change in dispersion.  Starting to see a pattern?
The big surprise (though it shouldn’t be surprising by this point) was that the data bucked our expectations about direction, too.  The draw-biased, super game improvement head was not substantially more left, except in Tester 3’s hands.  Tester 1 hit the players driver and super game improvement driver almost exactly the same in terms of direction.
Similarly, the high launching shaft, which many would regard as “tip soft,” “whippy,” or “hook prone,” produced the STRAIGHTEST shots for Tester 1, kept Tester 3 off the left side entirely, and slightly reigned in Tester 2’s case of the lefts.

DATA – ALL

Here is a spreadsheet of all the data from all the testers.

CONCLUSIONS
The most obvious conclusion is this: both, yes both the head and the shaft play a vital, and roughly equal role in hitting the ball long and straight.
I think there’s another, more interesting conclusion: the head or shaft that “should” work for us often doesn’t.  While every tester was a single digit handicap, they all hit the super game improvement head the best.  They also saw good performance out of shafts and combinations that, on paper, shouldn’t have worked.  This leads us back to our familiar refrain: GET FIT.  You don’t know what a particular combination will do for you until you try it.



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