Technical Tips

June 2010

Take a Look At Heavier Graphite Shafts
-- by Jeff Summitt

Are heavier graphite shafts for me?
Lighter means you can automatically swing a club faster, right?  Well, not so fast my friend, you might actually swing a heavier club faster.  Before I will explain, let’s first breakdown the overall weight of a golf club, which consists of the sum total of the head, shaft and grip weights. You see most driver and iron heads weigh the same from one manufacturer to another and most grips, at least the stock option, will weigh approximately 50g. This leaves us the shaft and why it is important to look at its weight you are using or deciding to purchase as this most often makes a club lighter or heavier.

The most popular driver shafts are in the 65g range, although the industry is trending toward 55g models.  If you look hard enough you can even find the super lightweight shafts now tipping the scales at a mere 45g.  On the opposite end of the spectrum, 75g and 85g models  are designed for stronger golfers in drivers or as options in fairway woods for added control.

Now 10 grams may not sound like much, but it can be felt.  Some shafts are offered as family with different weights of shafts to select from.  Examples are the Aldila NV and NVS, Grafalloy ProLaunch Blue  and the Fujikura E100, 200 and 300 series .  Typically the lighter shaft in the family will often be a little more flexible than the heavier kin. Conversely, the heavier weight options will be firmer and typically
provide a little lower trajectory.  So the combination of 10g and the difference in stiffness make a difference in the performance the golfer will experience.
After spending several hours monitoring golfers at the local driving range and handing players different clubs, I was able to see the effect of shaft weight first hand. The majority of golfers try to swing too hard in an attempt to achieve more distance. When they do that, often their balance diminishes and the ball flies everywhere except for where the golfer is aiming. Going to a lighter shaft exaggerates the situation.  In order to hit the ball straight(er), the player unknowingly throttles back their swing which in turn reduces swing speed and potential distance.

Believe it or not, handing them the same club and flex but with a heavier weight shaft option allowed most players not only to hit the ball straighter, but increased their swing speed too.  Now I am not saying to go to heavy weight steel shafts, but if you are plagued with control problems, consider a heavier weight shaft than what you are using.

Don’t give into the marketing hype that lighter will automatically mean you will swing it faster. If you have a nice groove swing, then lighter may be you answer to longer drives.  But if your tendency is to be more of a hitter or have a quick tempo, look toward heavier shafts.  Every golfer will have an optimum weight and there is no substitute to trying different weight shafts, just like you would the flex.

Other than those listed before, there are heavier weight shafts available by many other manufacturers such as UST , SK Fiber , New Image  that are available in multiple flexes and not just ones for the stronger golfers, although we have ones for them too, like the harder to find weight of the SK Fiber Rocket 85 .

Iron shafts
With steel shafts progressively becoming lighter and lighter, some golfers question the need for heavier weight graphite iron shafts.  However, there are some tangible benefits to this classification of shafts.  First as steel shafts become lighter, the walls have to be made thinner.  These thinner walls will not dampen vibration as well as a heavier weight, thicker walled steel shaft, so the frequency or stiffness needs to be decreased to provide feel.  Heavier weight graphite shafts have much thicker walls that do an excellent job of dampening vibration.  Plus these shafts can be made just as stiff as standard weight steel shafts.

A few heavier graphite shafts of note for the serious golfer looking to

relieve pain or shock from frequent play and practice are the Aldila NV105 , Fujikura Fit-On E380 , SK Fiber Tour Trac 100 , True Ace Cadence Red  and the UST Proforce Rv2 95 .   The NV105, Fit-On E380 and Proforce Rv2 are tip heavy will provide the same swingweights as standard weight steel shafts, where as the Tour Trac 100 and Cadence Red are counter-balanced and will allow for extended lengths without creating too much of  a head heavy feel.

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