Q A Kick Points


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
I am currently looking for a new shaft for my 400 cc driver. Can you clarify what the term 'low kick point' and 'high kick point' mean? -- John Trinca, Edmonton, Alberta

When you bend a shaft by compressing the ends, similar to leaning on the butt of the club with the head on the ground, it will bend with a certain bending profile. Because the tip end of the shaft is more flexible than the butt end, the shaft will bend more toward the tip than the butt. This is a normal profile. If, however, the shaft is designed to be more flexible toward the tip, this is considered a low kick point. This will be inclined to launch the ball up a little higher with more spin than a standard shaft. Conversely if the shaft is designed to be tip stiff, then the bend point will be closer to the butt of the shaft and this is considered a high kick point and will decrease the launch angle and decrease the spin rate. Normally, you have to be hitting the ball very consistently to take advantage of this kick point design. Also you should know that the bend point does not vary by much more that five inches between a high and low kick-point shafts.
I understand that swing weight and clubs total weight are two different things. Using the same shaft, does my swing speed stay the same whether the clubs swing weight is C9, D2, or even D4? Why do club manufacturers tend to put a very light swing weight, say C9 or D0, on irons with lighter shafts, while irons with heavier shafts tend to have heavier swing weight, say D3 or D4? Is it just a logical combination or does an extreme combination, for example 90-gram shaft with D4 swing weight, negate the role effect each plays in any way? My irons shafts (Royal Precisons flighted rifle 6.0) are on the heavy side, 130g, but have a swing weight of D0. Id like to have a better feel of the clubhead by increasing the swing weight, perhaps by regripping them with lighter grips. But Im afraid this might make the clubs feel way too heavy overall. I would appreciate your feedback. -- Tony K. Jung

The club weight varies from about 12 ounces in a driver incrementally up to about 15 ounces in a 9-iron. The reason for this is that as the shaft length decreases the head weight increases to arrive at the same swing weight, which is a simple balance beam concept with the fulcrum 14 inches from the butt end. So the more weight you add to the shaft, the heavier the swing weight and overall weight. The reason for this is that the center of gravity (cg) of the shaft is halfway down the shaft, and for a 44-inch club, this cg is about 8 inches toward the head from the fulcrum. To maintain the same swing weight with a lighter shaft, one needs to increase the head weight. Most manufacturers will have a reduced swing weight for graphite shafts, as these shafts are significantly lighter than steel. As a result, without the head weight changing, the swing weight goes down. You will be able to swing the lighter club faster because the overall Moment of Inertia (MOI) of the system about the grip is lower. Lowering the swing weight by back-weighting will not decrease the Inertia of the system, so you will not be able to swing a back-weighted club faster - even if the swing weight is less. Hope this helps.
I read your column with great interest. Like many who write you, I am trying to figure out how to get more distance. It just seems the technology just doesnt make it happen. I have tried more loft, more flex, more ball and many combinations, but the distance remains constant. I have read your comments on the distance for the average player with a driver, just over 200 yards carry. I agree, I see it in my results. I sometimes think I had more overall distance before getting so wrapped up in carry distance. My question is, what have you observed for the average player hitting a 7-iron, for instance? My 7-iron still carries 145 to 150. I am also curious as to what is the swing speed for Iron Byron that is used for equipment testing. -- Lee Easterday

With a carry distance of 200 yards, you are swinging at about 85+ mph. I would not concentrate on carry distance, but rather go for a little roll as well. An average roll of 20 to 25 yards is good on average turf conditions. If you are not getting this, then try to lower the trajectory and you may find that the overall distance will increase a little. At 85 mph you should be launching the ball at about 14 degrees and have a spin rate of about 3,000 rpm. If your launch conditions are higher than this, try to tee the ball a little lower. This doesnt cost a thing. For a guideline on ideal launch conditions for different swing speeds visit www.franklygolf.com/tgc/launch.asp
There is another sure fire method of increasing distance and this is by increasing swing speed. Exercise and swing technique are the best things to do to get that extra 10 to 15 yards.
Iron Byron had a head speed of 109 mph for 28 years and it was recently changed to 120 mph, which meant that the distance standard also had to change for 280 yards +tolerance to 317 yards + tolerance.
Dear Frank,
My son was recently tested on a launch monitor and had 110 mph club head speed, 13-degree launch angle and a 1750-RPM spin rate. He was using a TaylorMade R7 425 TP with 9.5 loft and a 75 gram x-stiff flex shaft. He
had 10-gram weights up front and 2-gram weights in the back. Is it possible to correct the spin problem by changing the weights, or do we need to consider changing the club? -- JM

The launch angle looks to be a little on the high side for this head speed and the spin rate is too low for what would be considered optimum launch conditions for maximum overall distance. The chart at www.franklygolf.com/tgc/launch.asp is a guideline for optimum launch conditions to achieve maximum overall distance. This assumes an average turf hardness which gives approximately 25 yards of roll for a drive. For maximum carry, one needs to launch the ball higher with less spin.
Moving the weights back will move the center of gravity back, which will tend to increase the launch angle and also increase the spin rate a little. This weight shift also increases the gear effect for off-centered hits. So to increase spin a little (approximately 500 rpm) the ball must be impacted a little lower on the face.
This will decrease the launch angle but increase the spin rate. There is no harm in changing the weights to the back to see if this helps change the launch conditions.
I dont know how far your son is hitting the ball now, but if it is in the 295-yard range, then the tweaks I have suggested will not do too much for him as this is about as far as a head speed of 110 mph can produce.
Ive been custom fitted for irons and they have told me that I need clubs that are 1/2 inch short and 2 degrees flat. My question is, will I lose any distance with irons that are inch short? Im thinking I may actually gain some distance because Ill be in the proper posture at address and maybe even hit it out of the sweet spot a little more often. What are your thoughts on this? ' Rafael

If you dont hit the ball on the sweet spot with your existing set but do with the new set, then you will not only gain confidence but swing better and will most definitely hit the ball farther, even though the club is inch shorter.
The fact that the club is a little shorter is only a matter of preference. As you know ,all drivers are sold at about the same length, irrespective of your height. Why would the irons have to be specifically customized for you unless of course you were extraordinarily bigger or smaller (+/- 5 inches) than the average in height - which is 510 for men and 54 for women.
I have often asked myself why we need to increase our club's length by inch if one is 63 tall, or inch shorter if one is 5 5 tall. I have seen good women golfers who use mens standard length clubs but are only 54 tall.
It is true that womens clubs are generally built to be about 1 inch shorter than mens clubs, even though they are, on average, 6 inches shorter than men?
Decreasing the length of a club by 1 inch will decrease the swing weight by six points, from a D2 down to a C6 without any other changes. And this is about the difference in swing weights between mens and womens clubs.
The most important part of custom fitting is to make sure the lie angle is correct. One lie angle is not going to be good for different club lengths and different swing planes. Lie angle is critical and next is shaft flex. Comfort is the key because you dont want to feel you are swinging a broom stick nor a noodle and only you can tell what feels comfortable. Generally go for the more flexible shaft if you are in doubt.
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