Tuesday, November 24, 2009
5 Questions on Shaft Fitting
Answer: In our experiences, no two shaft-fittings are exactly alike. Some take place indoors, some outdoors, some both. The key is your comfort level. If you feel natural and comfortable swinging a driver within the confines of a studio, go for it. Just make sure you do your best to simulate the real experience. This means wearing a glove, your golf shoes, even the clothes you wear when you play.
We tend to prefer outdoor fittings, especially where there are open bays where you hit from inside the studio through an opening and onto a driving range. But again, it’s a matter of preference. Once you settle on your location, here’s what you need to hone in on:
• Be vocal. Tell your fitter everything. Especially if you aren’t swinging well, or if you happen to be abnormally crushing it. The more info you give your fitter, the better your shaft fit will be.
• Don’t show off. The fitter doesn’t care if you can knock it over the fence at the back end of the range, or if you can poke a hole through the studio’s net. Swing at your go-to speed, as if you’re on your home course’s toughest hole and you need to hit your best drive of the day. If you’re grinding through balls like Golfzilla hoping to reach a 110+ mph swing speed, your fitting will be a waste of time.
• Be open-minded. Just because you’ve always used a certain flex, length, etc., don’t let that fool you. In our blind testing, both of our golfers (the low- and high-handicapper) actually favored shafts that were different than the ones on their current driver. Don’t psyche yourself out by thinking things like, “I’m way too strong for an S-flex” or “I’m just not good enough for an X-flex.” Instead, when you get fitted, ask the fitter to not tell you what flex he’s recommending, and if need be, have him cover the specs on the shafts with black tape so you can swing without any preconceptions. Our blind fitting proved that when we know what the flex is, both low- and high-handicappers swing a little differently to adjust. But when testing blind, repeatable swings were easier to accomplish, and there was less adjusting.
A final thought: When getting fitted, the goal is to settle on the shaft that’s best for your swing, not the swing you wish you had. Stay within your means and get fitted in a comfortable environment.
Question 3: I’ve heard about shaft loading. What is that?
Answer: There are two things a shaft does when you swing it, load and unload. (We can already hear shaft-fitters grumbling about the strength of that statement. We know, guys. A lot more stuff happens, but we’re trying to keep it simple, okay?) Basically, a shaft flexes, then it unflexes. When it first flexes, it’s called loading. That happens during the transition from backswing to downswing. Think of it as pulling the rubber band of a slingshot or a bowstring. Some players load the shaft tremendously, like Sergio Garcia who retains a tremendous amount of lag through his transition. Other players have slower transitions, where the downswing starts slower and perpetually increases speed. They load the shaft much less.
How does this affect you? Simply put, how much you load the shaft affects how much it has to unload through the impact area. If you load too much and the shaft doesn’t release soon enough, control will be a serious issue for you. On the other hand, if the shaft doesn’t load enough or if it’s so stiff that it unflexes too soon, your distance is going to suffer. A fitter with a watchful eye will make recommendations based on your shaft loading and your swing speed, two factors that always ought to be considered together. If you simply go by swing speed, you won’t get the whole story, because it doesn’t tell you when your shaft is loading or unflexing. Some golfers, even though they may have a slow to moderate swing speed, may benefit from a stiffer shaft because they transition from their backswing to their downswing quickly. Conversely, some players with fast swing speeds can get away with a more flexible shaft because they transition slower and have a bigger overall arc. There are a lot of factors to consider in fitting, and how you load the shaft is crucial since it affects your shot quality tremendously.
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