Q A Frequency Matching

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Frankly GolfEditor's Note: This is the latest in a weekly Q&A feature from The Golf Channel's Chief Technical Advisor Frank Thomas. To submit a question for possible use in this column, email letsbefrank@thegolfchannel.com
 
Frank,
I have a set of irons I want to put new shafts in. I like the way the irons setup. I just want to put Rifle shafts in them. I have been researching the 'frequency matched' issue and I am more confused now than I was. I have also spoken with two club builders and I received two different answers. Is it better to have the irons set to a 'single' frequency from 3 iron through the wedges? Or, should it be the 4.2 cycles between each club?
Thank you for your help. -- Chad

 
Chad,
Frequency matching, in conjunction with overall weight and even swing weight, have been methods used to balance (match) clubs for some time with the intent to make each club in the set feel about the same as the rest of the set when you swing it. Because the clubs vary in length as they progress from the long (3-iron length club) to the shorter (PW), to match these clubs the shorter they get the heavier the head should be when matched by swing weight. This will increase the overall weight of the clubs making the shortest clubs the heaviest in your bag.
 
The swing weight method uses a fulcrum positioned 14 inches from the butt. When the club is positioned in a swing weight measuring device weight is added to the butt end of the club to get it to balance. The amount of weight will establish the 'swing weight'. If all the clubs need the same amount of weight added to the butt end then all the clubs will swing weight the same. This method of matching has been found to be most acceptable to good and novice golfers. This is a static balance beam method.
 
The frequency method clamps the club at the butt end. It is plucked and the device measures the vibrations (oscillations) in a short period of time and this number is converted to the number of oscillations per minute. These vibrations are influenced by the shaft stiffness, weight of the head and shaft as well as the length of the club. It has been found that most golfers want a frequency which increases as the clubs get shorter, going from the woods to the short irons and an acceptable difference between clubs is about 6 to 8 cycles per minute.
 
I don't think that anybody has found that a constant frequency throughout the set is a good idea only because this does not feel properly balanced. It has been introduced many times without success.
 
Frank,
My swing speed is about 90 mph. In your opinion, how fast does a player need to swing to benefit from the tour performance balls (Pro-V1, Hx tour, etc) with a driver off the tee? Do the newer balls for recreational players such as the e5 and e6 allow the weekender the ability to check the ball up on the green? -- Israel Pea

 
Israel,
The differences in performance are very small but generally the higher swing speed golfers on tour will trend to the ProV1x, the ProV1 and Hx Tour as well as the Bridgestone B330-S balls which are all good balls and your game will not be compromised by using them only your wallet.
 
The NXT, NXT Tour and Bridgestone e5 and e6 are designed for the slower swing speed golfer, and this would be the direction I would suggest for the weekend golfer like most of us.
 
The e5 will allow you to get a little more spin with distance whereas the e6 will spin less off the driver and tend to reduce the effect of a slice or hook (or should I say a fade or a draw) as no piece of equipment will correct a slice or a hook which is an operator problem.
 
Balls are all so good today that most of us find it difficult to tell the difference. The thing is to make our selection assuming we will have our A-game and with this in mind hope the above will help.
 
I asked visitors to my website to help us find out what they consider to be the best ball. Visit FranklyGolf.com to see the results of this survey we conducted to find out what other golfers enjoyed!
 
Frank,
What does an insert or grooves on the face of a putter actually do? Is it all about feel, or will an insert/grooves change the force needed to move a golf ball. I read an article on 'dwell time', and it seemed to say the addition of the insert/grooves did not make a statistical difference. Also, is my balata insert putter from the mid 90s still legal? You rarely see them anymore. -- Mark R.

 
Mark,
The dwell time does affect the way the ball comes off the putter and also how it feels. A really hard insert will tend to reduce the dwell time and it will feel as if the ball jumps off the face. If this is combined with a hard covered ball then it will also increase the distance of the putt, given the same impact speed.
 
This feel is after impact but what the golfer detects is an impact with a softer cover ball when using a softer insert. There have been trends back and forth with regard to inserts and this will continue. Your soft insert (balata or equivalent) will continue to conform if it conformed when you bought it.
 
Overall performance is not dependent on inserts but will affect feel for certain putters which need to have some additional help to make them feel good. Putter performance is based on putter design which should focus on weight distribution, center of gravity location and certain physical dimensions and shapes. These will affect balance, stability and overall feel. Face balancing will also help eliminate some operator errors.
 
Frank,
I am 65 years old and took up golf about 6 years ago. I have only played about 6 rounds per year and maybe a dozen trips to the range each year. I now find that I am going to have more time to play and wonder if lessons, at my age, would do any good. I hit the 7-iron about 145, and driver 190 (when I'm lucky). I would like a small improvement and some consistency, but dont want to waste time and money. I would appreciate your honest answer. -- Gord Thompson

 
Gord,
If you want to improve your performance you need to do a couple of things. First you need to visit the practice range and the course a little more often as I think you have implied you intend to do. Secondly, definitely get a lesson to make sure the most of the parts are working and you are reasonably coordinated and not practicing the wrong moves. The third thing is to make sure you don't let lack of a good range of motion interfere with your game. So check with your doctor and then get involved in a simple strength and stretching regimen. Walking a couple of miles every day also does wonders. This will not only increase or maintain the distance on the course but allow you to play all 18 holes without getting tired. Also your entire quality of life will improve. It doesn't take much time or effort unless you intend to enter for Mr. America.
 
Only after you have got back into the game should you think about a different set of clubs because your game will change and the specifications for your clubs may also be affected by your new swing. So look for a new set next year.
 
Frank Thomas, inventor of the graphite shaft, is founder of Frankly Golf, a company dedicated to Helping Golfers. Frank is Chief Technical Advisor to The Golf Channel and Golf Digest. He served as Technical Director of the USGA for 26 years and directed the development of the GHIN System and introduced the Stimpmeter to the world of golf. To email a question for possible use in an upcoming Let's Be Frank column, please email letsbefrank@thegolfchannel.com