QA Explaining Shaft Tipping

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Editor'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
 
Mr. Thomas,
I recently ordered a Fujikura Vista Tour 60 X-Stiff graphite shaft to replace my existing shaft, which is an Aldila NV65 Stiff. The only problem is the Fujikura is 46 inches long compared to the 45 inch Aldila, which is the length I am comfortable with. If I were to tip the Fujikura to 45 inches, how much stiffer would it make the shaft and how will it effect how I hit my driver? -- Evan LaRocque

 
Evan,
It is a lot easier to shorten the shaft to 45 by cutting it down from the butt end. This will not affect the shaft properties as much as tipping it, which will make it tip stiff and the flight may be slightly lower and it might feel a little stiffer.
 
I am not too sure what sort of game you have but if you are close to a scratch player or better you will probably be able to tell the difference. If you are a 10+ hcp then you should not be able to feel the difference and in fact should probably go down to 44 inches which will keep you in the fairway more often. This length change will affect the swing weight but you can compensate with lead tape if needed.
 
Frank,
I am 6 6 tall and my clubs are 1 inch longer and 5 degrees upright. In order for me to hit the ball well I have to stand very close. Many times people make fun of how close I stand to the ball. My swing is very upright and it is almost to a point where the irons are not upright enough in order to reach the ball comfortably and make good contact without the toe hitting first.
 
Is it possible that these clubs are too short or is it my swing? -- Bob

 
Bob,
If you are not going to move away from the ball and/or bend a little at the waist, which might lead to a slightly flatter swing, then the shafts are probably too short. You are tall but not to the extent that you need more than a one inch longer set along with an extreme upright lie-angle.

The one inch longer set which you have is probably right but I think it is your stance and swing which is creating the problem. Before you make any further changes to your set I would first invest in a lesson from a good teacher who will better be able to evaluate what you need to do. You dont want to change your set and then after the lesson find that your swing change requires another fitting change back to where you started.
 
This is a common mistake where golfers get fitted to a set and then go for a lesson which corrected the flaw that the newly fitted set was trying to correct. Then you have to go back to get fitted again.
 
I have seen golfers with a slicing swing flaw get a band-aid club to correct it. This corrects the flight a little but not the swing. So they are now locked into a band-aid club and bad swing. This is fine unless they want to get better. When the swing flaw is corrected after a lesson then the band-aid club needs to be replaced. It is always less expensive to get a lesson to improve your game than a club which locks you into a flawed move.
 
Dear Frank,
Instead of advancing the ball forward during my drives, my ball spins backwards! I have a swing speed of 104mph and carry of 230yds. I am using a Cleveland 460 9.5deg with a NV55 stiff shaft. Ball ProV1x. -- John Chen

 
John,
There are two or three reasons for the ball landing and spinning back on the fairway on your drives. First it is most likely that the trajectory is too high. This can come from too much spin combined with a high a launch angle.
 
This will increase the angle at which the ball impacts the fairway. It is this impact angle and ball speed which determines how much roll you are going to get. Believe it or not, it is not the spin on the ball which influences the roll on the fairway. This is not the case on the green but your particular landing conditions on the fairway may be similar in angle off a wedge.
 
The other condition which will create a ball bouncing backward on the fairway is very soft wet conditions, which we have all experienced at one time or another. I think you know this and wouldnt be asking if it was the case.
 
So with your head speed of 104 mph you should be launching the ball at about 13 degrees and 2,400 rpm of spin (see A Guideline: Optimum Driver Launch Conditions for Maximum Distance on www.franklygolf.com for this information).
 
So I think you need to check your launch conditions using a good launch monitor. You may have to get a driver with less loft.
 
Frank,
I had a set of KZG Evolution clubs made for me by a respected club maker. He suggested True Temper super lite firm shaft for the clubs. Each club was shipped by KZG exactly the same weight differential between each club. Each club has 2.5 swing weight. Gripped with the golf pride red and black 1/2 cord grip...a good looking set, but I HATE them. I get no distance, I cannot hit solidly, am on the toe side in striking the ball. THEY JUST DONT FEEL RIGHT, thus far it is a regret to go thru the fitting process with custom clubs.

The other night I was watching Whats in the Bag and saw something that interested me. Adam Barr was talking to some club fitter about grips that had different weight that could be added to the butt end of the grip. It seems silly to me to lighten a club with a shaft, then go and add weight to increase the overall weight, but I dont understand all the dynamics nor the physics of this kind of thing...I know you do... kindly tell me if this should be pursued with the custom clubs mentioned.

Im 63 and still hit it pretty well. Handicap around 13, but have shot 78 and several 80s but I can also shoot a 95 almost any time. I am currently hitting Titleist 680 blades with s300 and I love them. Im the best worst golfer at my club. I can birdie as easy as triple. Can these KZG's be salvaged? -- Don Walters

 
Don,
I too have a set of 680 blades and love them as you do so why change. It is not easy to make good friends so when you have some, dont give them up until they get old and dont work for you any more. It really isnt them as much as you. I have a listing of more than 200 clubs on my site under the Maltby Playability Factor which guides you to the type of set which probably best fits you based on your skill level. If you are going to change because you need a little more forgiveness then this listing should be a good starting point.
 
Most of us (99%) can use a standard set without any change other than shaft flex. I know that we generally play with shafts which are too stiff so go for an R-shaft or if your swing speed is 75mph then go for the A-Flex shaft.
 
The KZGs may be good clubs but this combination obviously doesnt work for you. If you are looking for something a little more forgiving then you can go with the same specs but with a different head from the same manufacturer.
 
Changing clubs will not turn your game around unless you are completely mismatched but you have already made friends so work on your game and dump the 3-and 4-iron and get two hybrids. I am not going to change mine. Technology in irons hasnt changed very much and certainly not enough to part with a good friend.
 
Please dont start back weighting your clubs with weights in the grip purely to get the swing weight to something you feel is right when looking at the swing weight scale. Putting weight in the grip has the same effect as wearing a glove. It will reduce the swing weight by five points but have no effect on the swing dynamics. This is a method to tweak clubs if you really know what you are doing and play on the Tour.
 
Otherwise go with a true matching by changing, head weight, shaft weight and/or shaft length but dont try to do this with back weighting or slugs down the shaft. You may also want to include club frequency which adds another element i.e. shaft stiffness.
 
Good friends are hard to find so dont give them up unless you have no other option. It is not the arrow or the bow but the Archer in most cases.
 
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