QA Reshafting and Knock-Offs

RSS

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@franklygolf.com
 
Hi, Frank:
 
I was just wondering about reshafting my old favorite clubs. Is it worth it to reshaft clubs? The clubs Im speaking of are Browning 500's (blades, approximately 15 years old). I think theyre almost a collectors item and I really love and miss playing with them. I currently use Titleist 990's and I like them as well, but I just miss the feel of my old Brownings.
 
Does a club-head itself lose some of its pop and/or distance with time, or is it more the shaft? Will reshafting bring the oldies back to life, or should I just let them rest ? I would really appreciate it if you could clear up this situation for me.
 
Thank you very much,
Scott

 
Scott,
Your 15-year-old Browning 500 blades are ready for retirement. Not because they are losing their oomph, because they don't do this. Generally, its the person at the grip end of the club which has a problem with the Oomph factor as time goes by. Neither the heads nor the shafts wear out, but grooves, grips and golfers do.
 
If you like your Titleist 990s, then find a place on the mantel or a warm place in the basement for your Browning 500s. Iron technology hasn't changed much recently, but you are certainly ready for an upgrade with 15-year-old clubs -- as you have already realized, since youve done something about it.
 
Also, you should look into some hybrids that match your iron set and have the same flex shaft as the fairway woods. If you don't have a gap wedge, make sure you also get one of these -- about 50- to 52-degree loft to fill the gap between your pitching and sand wedges. Check out my guide to hybrids and wedges by visiting my Web site
 
Say something nice to your Browning 500s for me when you find a deserving place for them.
Frank
 
Hi Frank,
 
I currently play with a set of off-the-rack, three-years-old standard loft/lie irons from a reputable manufacturer. I do not carry a handicap, but I usually score in the low 80's. I played with a club pro who advised me that I would benefit from a set of properly fitted clubs, which I both understand and agree with.
 
During a static fitting, my wrist measured 37.5 inches from the ground, which indicates I need clubs that are more upright than standard. I have not experienced any real directional problems with my irons; if I do lose a shot the tendency is to hook it, which I am told is the opposite tendency for someone who is playing irons with too flat a lie angle. My divots are rather shallow but are usually even in their depth. I also realize that my posture, stance, and swing motion do have an affect on my club position as I strike the ball, and you can't see this. However, I would like to know, before spending between $700-$900 for new irons, is there that much of a performance difference between two sets of irons that are only separated by about one or two degrees in their respective lie angles? Are there any studies that put a average yardage dispersion on clubs at each lie angle if a single golfer were to hit those clubs at each lie angle? Any information you could provide will be greatly appreciated.
 
Thank you,
Mike

 
Mike,
I am so pleased that youve written to me before you laid down $700 to $900 for a new set of clubs only because of concern about the lie angle.
 
First of all, from the description of your game, divot pattern and ball flight, I don't think you have a lie problem at all. You are correct in your assumption that if your lie angle was too flat the ball would be going off to the right with a slight fade. This, you say, is not the problem; in fact, you indicate that when you lose a shot it goes to the left with a slight hook, which would suggest that the lie angle -- if this was the problem -- is too upright.
 
As I said, I don't think you have a lie angle problem, but if you want to be sure and test this, use a piece of pressure-sensitive tape on the sole of the test club (generally a 6-iron) and hit a few balls off a lie board. If the scuff mark on the tape is not in the center of the sole, and your ball flight is not straight, then you (or a local club maker) can make a lie adjustment by bending the club head. This is certainly not going to cost you $700+.
 
Iron technology has not changed very much in the last several (in fact, in the last ten or more) years, so if youre happy with the way you hit the ball with your three-year-old standard set (standards generally fit most of us) then you don't really need another set. You will not hit the ball any farther or measurably straighter with a new set unless you frequently miss the sweet spot and are playing with a set of irons (blades) designed for the elite golfer.
 
While your set is definitely not old in iron terms, you might want to look into getting one or two hybrids if you don't carry these in your bag already. Look for the same manufacturer as your irons and/or talk to your pro and get his advice on some hybrids. Dump your 3- and even 4-iron and replace them with hybrids of the same loft but no more than an inch longer than the iron it is replacing. You will have a lot more fun hitting these than the long irons.
 
I hope this will save you some money and a bunch of grief. Mike, there are some 'lies' that you can't rely on.
Frank
 
Frank,
Can you tell me how close and/or how different 'knock-off' clubs and brand-named clubs are? More importantly, for the average player/hacker, would it make more sense to go with the more economical 'knock-offs?'
 
Thank you,
Steve

 
Steve,
The answer is a resounding NO.
 
My definition of a knock-off is a club that closely resembles a popular product. In some cases it even has a name that at first sight might be confused with the product its trying to copy.
 
This is not good idea, even though they may be less expensive. I would certainly not want to fly in a plane with a knock-off engine called Roils Royse instead of the real thing ( i.e. Rolls Royce). Why then would I want to trust my drive off the tee or the rest of my golf game to a Bigg Berta or the like?
 
In some cases the knock-offs are not as blatant as the example above, or dont actually violate trademark laws, but if you want the performance offered by the real thing, you should stick with the original product. There might be a difference in the method of manufacture; there will almost certainly be a difference in quality control and consistency. By manufacturing a knockoff, the producer has demonstrated a willingness to cut corners; you have to wonder what other compromises its made in the quality of the club.
 
A better way to get prime performance at a discounted price is to go for last years model, which should still work very well. The laws of physics dont change much, and certainly not from year to year. New clubs will certainly, in most cases, have some improvements, but those differences are usually extremely minor from a performance standpoint. So go for the real thing, and if price is a factor then most of the models introduced over the previous couple of years will be a good buy.
 
Click to purchase the Frog PutterFrank 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@franklygolf.com