QA Shaft Kick-Point Variations

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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
 
Frank,
I have a Driver clubhead speed of 106. What type of shaft should I be using with respect to the 'kick-point'? Some of my friends say I need a mid 'kick-point' on the shaft while others say because I have a low trajectory that I need a low 'kick-point' to get a higher ball flight. I am confused, whats this all about? G. Gomez, Arizona

 
G.,
With a head speed of 106 mph you are in the Stiff to even X-stiff shaft. This does depend on how fast you accelerate the club. The pros who have 110 + mph head speeds will tend to the X-stiff shaft. Most of us need a Regular flex shaft but believe that we swing faster than we do and base our shaft selection on our beliefs rather than on reality. Once you have the shaft flex that suites you best then you are in a position to tweak your trajectory using kick point variations.
 
The initial change should be to change loft. If your trajectory is too low then increase the loft or in your case decrease the loft to lower the launch angle. When you start hitting the ball very consistently and the launch angle is not to your liking then you can start working on the Kick Point adjustment to get both the angle and spin you are looking for. A low kick point will mean that the shaft, which tends to bend forward just before impact, will do so from a smaller radius (the lower kick point) and the head will tend to rotate under a little more and present more loft to the ball. A higher kick point will do the opposite i.e. rotate about a larger radius and reduce the effective loft and lower the launch angle. I would suggest that you not concern yourself with kick point unless you are very consistent, hit the ball a long way and want to tweak your launch condition. Work with a standard shaft flex pattern and change loft.

 
Hello Frank,
I enjoy your comments and articles. Recently while visiting a golf shop with a launch monitor I found that my results were better with the same flex shaft but with a heavier weighted shaft. Club head speed and launch conditions all improved. I was surprised because I thought all of this lighter stuff was suppose to increase distance.
Thanks, Gerald Barton

 
Gerald,
There is no good reason why the heavier shaft would change your launch conditions measurably. The difference in weight between shafts is not significant enough to alter even the head speed by more that a couple of mph based on the amount maximum amount of reduction you can get out of modern shafts. Also shaft weight is not going to affect other launch conditions measurably unless you are very consistent in your impact conditions and in the class of some of the better professionals. So I dont believe that it is to do with shaft weight difference but rather with some of the other properties which are different, such as overall shaft flex. This is very important as proper shaft flex which better matches your swing speed and swing style will allow you to transfer energy more efficiently to the club head and affect club face presentation. I think you have found a more efficient shaft/flex/head weight, combination for your swing rather than only a shaft weight change.
 

Frank,
I know you will know. With the max length of a shaft limited to 48'. How do you measure the shaft? Tip of shaft to top of hosel, or to bottom of head? Or some other way?
Thanks, Ted Aresta

 
Ted,
The USGA has adopted a limit of 48 inches as the maximum club length. This was because sometime in the future someone may be able to swing a shaft of this length or longer and continue to hit longer distances (which the USGA doesnt like to see) especially on the Tour. This is not really of any concern, as the tour players have access to long clubs but have chosen to use about 44 inch clubs, on average, as they have found this to be the most efficient length to get the job of distance and accuracy done. The few people who have migrated to longer shafts are those with relatively slow swing speeds and have lost distance. Some have moved to a 47 or 48 inch club and remember only those long drives which allow them bragging rights for a month or two. There are few stories about the balls which find their way into the woods. Sorry to have digressed from the question but thought you might be interested in this little bit of information. To measure the length of a club, lay it on a flat surface like a table top with the toe pointing upward in the air. Place a thin sheet of cardboard on the sole of the club such that it also makes contact with the table. The angle between this sheet of cardboard and the table top should be about 60 degrees. Where this cardboard makes contact with the table top is the start point of the measurement. The length of the club is from this point to the end of the grip of the club. On a driver (the club the USGA is trying to regulate) the lie angle is about 60 degrees and thus the angle selected.
If I have any advice to give it would be to not make your driver to the maximum limit as it will lead to more problems than it is worth. Hope this has helped and now you know how the length of a club is measured.
 
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