QA Right Shaft Hybrids Woods

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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@franklygolf.com
 
Frank:
Weve heard so much about shafts. What is the best way to know that youre choosing the correct shaft for your woods and irons?
John

 
John,
In the last 10 years or so, shaft marketing has gone into overdrive. If you read the ads or the articles in most golf magazines, youll get the impression that getting the right kickpoint and torque properties for your individual game is as important as getting the right prescription in your contact lenses. In fact, unless youre a very low handicap golfer, choosing the right shaft is very simple.
 
The one and only important decision for you to make, unless youre abnormally tall or short and standard lengths wont work for you, is in your choice of shaft flex. You should look first for one that you feel comfortable swinging, and in general you should begin with the more flexible shafts and move towards the stiffer ones only if you find the flexible ones too whippy. (Most golfers use shafts that are too stiff for their swing speeds.) Finding a comfortable shaft will help you build confidence, which makes all the difference in your performance.
 
Chasing distance and moving outside your comfort zone to get it is a move in the wrong direction.
 
Generally your choice is largely dependent on your swing speed and your skill level. If you have a high swing speed (100 + mph with your driver), then you are a candidate for a stiff shaft or even an XS. Most of us who swing in the 90 mph zone dont need more than a R-flex in our woods, and this is probably the case for our irons as well. You can even use a stiff shaft in your irons and R-flex in your woods if this is what feels most comfortable to you. If you do this, Id recommend using the same flex shaft in your hybrids that youre using in your woods. (Today many manufacturers are installing specifically designed hybrid shafts in these clubs, but they still come in the usual array of flexes.)
 
I would certainly not try to be too exotic with the choice of your shaft -- e.g. low or high kick-point, specific balance point or some extreme in torque properties -- until you have reduced your handicap to close to scratch. At this point you can think about some of the fancy stuff if you need a specific flight pattern that neither a loft change nor overall shaft flex change is helping you achieve. But when you are at that point, youll have developed sufficient feel that youll be able to tell if the shaft is right for you or not. For more on shafts Click here
 
Hope this helps.
Frank
 
Frank:
I own three hybrids: 18, 21 and 24 degree. I hit the 21 and 24 very well about 7 out of 10 times, but I really struggle with the 18 degree; it's either a big slice or a big pull, though when I do hit it right I can get about 180 to 190 yards with it. I put in the 18 degree to replace my three wood as that club was a real problem for me. Any advice you could give me would be greatly appreciated.
Thanks,
Bob

 
Bob,
I would NOT normally recommend replacing your 3-wood with a hybrid. The likely reason you were having a problem with your 3-wood was either 1) it has the wrong flex shaft, i.e., its different from your driver (assuming you are not having a problem with your driver); 2) it has too long a shaft; or most likely; 3) you have the same swing flaw with the 18 degree hybrid as with the long fairway wood.
 
I suggest that you try to correct the swing problem before giving up on the 3-wood, which is an important club in the bag. Hybrids are generally used to replace the hard-to-hit long irons, but most golfers find fairway woods easier to hit than hybrids. Another solution for you ' and I would suggest you try this first -- is to substitute a 5-wood for the 3-wood for these long fairway shots to determine if the problem is the club or you. If youre still having a problem with the 5-wood, then get someone to look at your swing. If the 5-wood works, then dump the 18 degree hybrid.
 
Hi Frank. I just traded my Callaway 460x for a Callaway FTi and am now getting 19 yards more out of the new driver. Is this just in my head????
Chuck

 
Chuck,
 
I have no reason to doubt that the distance increase you are getting is real. But I do ask if you also increased your driving distance when you changed from your previous driver to the Callaway 460X?
 
If you did, then I would take advantage of and have fun with the 19 extra yards while this lasts.
 
The only reason this will last beyond the Placebo Effect Time (PET time), which is about a month or two depending on how much you paid for the new driver, is that you were not getting the launch angle and spin rates you needed to optimize your launch conditions with your 460 X. If so, it was not the right club fit for you.
 
Both drivers have the same COR and approximately the same head weight, so if you hit them both on the sweet spot with the same head speed, then the ball speed will be the same.
 
If the ball speed is the same then the only way you are going to get 19 more yards is if you launch the ball closer to optimum conditions for you and your head speed than you did before. Or you may now be playing off hard turf and getting about 19 yards more roll.
 
The answer is in your head, but I dont know which one.
 
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