Why R is not really R.
First of all, every manufacturer like Cleveland, Callaway, and Taylor Made have shaft companies like Fujikura, Graphite Design and Grafalloy make shafts specifically for their clubs. These shafts are designed to perform with the clubheads (like the Launcher 400) to get particular performance characteristics, like higher launch angles, etc. These shafts are also designed for a particular target market, like beginners, better players, etc. Because of this, an R shaft in a Cleveland Launcher 400 will not feel or hit the same as a Firm flex in a Callaway ERC. The same holds true for steel iron shafts. A Dynamic Gold S300 shaft in one club will be stiffer or softer than in another. That is why you may hit one manufacturer’s clubs better in an R flex than an R flex in another.
Why Shafts are Inconsistent
Steel shafts in general are much more consistent than graphite shafts because of the way they are manufactured. The rolling or extruding process of making a steel shaft produces a shaft of more uniformity and consistency. Graphite shafts are made by wrapping multiple thin layers of graphite material around a tapered steel mandrel. This wrapping process produces overlaps that cause thick and thin spots and uneven weight distribution throughout the length of the shaft. One measure of shaft consistency is its frequency, or CPM (cycle per minute) as the shaft is rotated around its axis. Steel shafts are very consistent but graphite shafts can vary as much as two full flexes from shaft to shaft. This is why you can hit your buddy’s driver great on the range, go to the local pro shop and buy the exact same thing, and not hit it out of your shadow!
Spines are Everywhere
For both graphite and steel, but especially for graphite, the stiffest part of the shaft creates a “spine”. This spine can cause you to hook or slice if the shaft is not properly aligned in the clubhead when it is assembled. At D’Lance Golf, we test each shaft on the MCC Shaft Profiling Machine to determine the exact location of the stiffest part of the shaft. We then align this spine so that it is facing the target line of the club at address. By doing this, you will have a shaft that aligns itself perfectly square at impact. No major manufacturer does this in their stock clubs. Most clubs purchased over-the-counter will have a variety of shaft alignments and will perform erratically. Just when you think it’s your swing, you are wrong again..it’s the shaft!
What the Pro’s Do
The touring pros are trying to hit the longest, lightest, softest shaft that they can control. At D’Lance Golf, we test this theory for everyday golfers by testing you on the True Temper Shaft Lab to determine optimum shaft flex. Then, we have you hit a number of different demo clubs and then review your results on a launch monitor. The launch monitor tells us the launch angle, distance, shot dispersion, and several other key statistics. Each shaft will create different shot patterns depending upon the flex, weight, length and spine alignment of the shaft in the club. The touring pros have tour vans that follow them to each major golf tournament so that they can tweak their shafts to each course they play.
So What Should You Do?
First, by testing your swing on the True Temper Shaft Lab at D’Lance Golf, you will know the optimum shaft flex for your natural swing. Each person has a natural way of swinging the club that produces an optimum shaft flex for both their woods and irons. To hit each club in your bag the farthest and straightest of your ability, each club needs to be matched to your optimum shaft flex. The next step is to have each of your clubs tested on a frequency meter to determine their exact flex. Then, you can see how closely they match your optimum swing. If the shafts are off by as little as a third of a flex, you will notice that your shot dispersion is quite a bit greater than you would like. While we can tell you that you need to have a shaft flex in your woods of low stiff (5.7 Shaft Flex Index), it will be highly unlikely that you can purchase a club off the rack that is that exact flex. By custom building or re-shafting your existing equipment, D’Lance Golf can frequency match your clubs to the EXACT CPM you need prior to building your clubs. Buy your clubs off the rack and you will be lucky to get the consistent, accurate clubs you bargained for. So, don’t waste your hard earned money on the trial and error method of club buying. Call D’Lance Golf at 303-730-2727 today for an appointment to get your swing analyzed and your current clubs profiled. That way you are assured that each club in your bag will perform consistently from swing to swing, day to day, throughout the season.