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September 2016

Finding the right wedge shaft for your game
By Chris Wycoff

In the minds of many golfers, wedges are the most important clubs in the bag. As a fitter, I am always surprised how this belief conflicts with the amount of consideration golfers typically put into selecting their wedges. When asked why certain wedges are in their bag, most reply with something along the lines of, “Well, I’ve always just used this loft and grind,” “I’m not really sure” or “My buddy, who’s a scratch golfer, told me I need it.” For most, wedges are in an unfortunate race with the putter to win the unceremonious award of the clubs that help golfers the least.
Most people know there are wedges with multiple loft and bounce options available, even if they’re not quite sure what’s best for them. Very few, however, have ever thought about the shafts in their wedges. In this article, I’ll be showing you the importance of finding the proper shaft for the wedges in your bag by illustrating how different shafts can impact performance.
The goal of this test is not to make some generic recommendation that “you should be playing XXX shaft,” but rather to highlight the variance that can exist across different shafts. I encourage you to do your own testing with a qualified fitter, but if one is unavailable in your area, these themes might help find a good wedge shaft for you.

Testing Process

To conduct these tests, I selected three testers with low single-digit handicaps and relatively consistent swings. Any findings will only be amplified for higher-handicap golfers due to increased swing variability, and any shaft-to-shaft variations might have been hidden by this inconsistency.
We used an Edel Wedge fitting system because of the interchangeable hosel system and extensive shaft options. Each tester selected a 56-degree head with the bounce that fit them best. They then used the same wedge head on each of the six shafts we tested. The order the shafts was randomized for each golfer during the testing process.
The shafts represented some common wedge shafts and crossed multiple weights, flexes and EI profiles. Testers hit five shots at a target 100 yards away with each shaft, and all shots were measured with FlightScope.

The Data

Data: To start, I’m posting a table that shows summary results for each shaft per golfer (below). A couple of things to remember when reading this:

  1. All distances are in yards.
  2. All distances are carry distances.
  3. On lateral distances: negative numbers represent left of target, positive numbers right of target.
  4. Standard deviation shows the variance in the range with smaller numbers being better.

A lot to digest, right?

To help gauge shaft performance for each golfer, I created an additional table showing the ranges in carry distance and lateral dispersion. These numbers were then multiplied to calculate the total area covered by the five shots with each shaft. This is the single best summary stat I can think of to grade wedge performance.

Simplified Testing Results

Now we can start to see some things. 

  • Based on the average size of the dispersion area, Wes is the best wedge player. Sorry Mike and Nick, but I’m pretty sure you already knew this…
  • Distance control is where variation really shows up, and this is where the best wedge players differentiate themselves. Of the 18 player/shaft combinations we tested, there were only two where the carry distance range was less than the lateral range.
  • Each player did have a specific shaft that stood out, one with a dispersion area much smaller than the other options. There just wasn’t any consistency in shaft performance across the golfers.

Best and Worst Shafts for Each Tester

Green indicates the best wedge shaft for each player. Red indicates the worst.

Launch Angle and Spin Rate Rankings

The same variation is found when looking at launch angle and spin rates, with the shafts that produced the highest and lowest launch and spin numbers varying for each golfer. These tables are simple stack rankings, based on performance.

 

  • One interesting correlation was that for two of the three golfers, the same shaft provided the smallest dispersion area and lowest launch angle. While not a hard and fast rule, it’s something to keep in mind when trying out wedge shafts.
  • The shafts that worked better for the testers weren’t necessarily the ones you would have guessed. The KBS C-Taper Lite 105R worked the best for Nick, who has an upright and aggressive swing. Wes has a flat, smooth swing and the relatively stiff and heavy True Temper DG Spinner Wedge+ shaft worked the best for him.

Two Big Takeaways

  • Lighter and More Flexible is Probably Better. When selecting new or re-shafting your existing wedges, your best bet is to find a fitter with the proper experience and equipment to guide you through the options. If that’s not possible, a general trend shown here is that a shaft that’s lighter and a bit more flexible than what you’re using in your irons is a good bet.
  • Enough about the Spin. Worrying about what wedge shaft creates the most spin should not be your top concern. Even though there was shaft-to-shaft variation in the spin produced, they all had enough to quickly stop the ball on the green. As good as these Edel wedges are, this is a consistent finding regardless of the brand we’re fitting. Finding the proper wedge head (loft, grind, bounce) and a shaft that helps your distance control should be your main focus when getting new wedges, not if one option gives you an extra hundred or two RPMs.
Original Article Here




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