QA Talking Shaft and Irons

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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,
I recently changed the shaft in my driver. I paid the extra $10 to have the shaft 'pured.' Theoretically, it makes sense, but practically I don't notice that much difference in performance. As the inventor of the graphite shaft, youre surely the best person to give me some insight on this process.
Brad

Brad,
Im no purist. To my mind, a shaft that needs to be pured is a bad shaft to begin with.

The problem lies in the manufacturing process. The first graphite shafts were filament-wound, which means that a continuous bundle of resin-impregnated graphite fibers were wound onto a rotating solid core or mandrel, creating a woven pattern of material resulting in a constant thickness of material on the mandrel. This becomes the wall thickness of the shaft when the mandrel is removed after curing. The flex properties are thus very consistent in all directions, independent of the axis about which it is bent. These shafts were as good as steel shafts with regard to the consistency of bending and twisting properties, so none of them needed to be pured.

Today, however, graphite shafts are flag wrapped (a much less expensive process than filament winding), which means that sheets of graphite fibers, oriented in a specific direction, are rolled onto a mandrel. If just a few layers are used to make up the shaft wall thickness, then there is a good chance that an overlap will cause a thick section, or a high concentration of fibers up the side of the shaft which will create something like a spine. This would cause the shaft to bend differently in different bending modes. For example; an R-shaft bending about one axis may become an S-flex when the shaft is rotated 90-degrees and bent again under the same load. This is not good.

Some of the more popular shafts (Aldila NV for instance, and others) have many layers, and this reduces the potential inconsistency problems. Other shafts that are not as well produced may need to be oriented to a specific position to reduce the effects of their inconsistent bending properties ' the so-called puring process, which only underscores the fact that the shaft is impure to begin with.

If you were making a decision about what to put into your club, Id suggest that youre better off getting a shaft that does not require 'puring' in the first place. A better quality shaft may give you more peace of mind but since youve already had it done, and cannot detect any difference in performance then my advice is not to worry too much about it.

For more on shafts click here

Hope this helps.
Frank

Hi, Frank:
I have a fairway wood with a regular graphite shaft. Can I make it stiffer by adding lead tape? If so where exactly would I put the lead tape? My swing speed is between 95-105.
Thank you,
Rob

Rob,
Unfortunately, adding (sticking) lead tape to any part of the club except to the end of the grip -- which will have little to no effect -- will only increase the swing weight, and in turn make the shaft feel more flexible. Adding tape to the end of the grip will decrease the swing weight but wont affect the dynamics of the swing at all. The best thing you can do is get another shaft.

Sorry, but tape is only going to move you in the wrong direction. You are in a sticky situation and I hope this gets you out of it.

Frank

Hi Frank,
I have a question concerning the correct shaft length of my irons for my height and weight. I have a set of TaylorMade RAC OS irons. I like them a lot, but I feel I could be more consistent with them. I am concerned that the standard-length shafts may be too long, since I am approximately 5'5' tall. I was going to have a club specialist look at my swing to make sure that the lengths are correct for me before possibly cutting them down. Late this past season I had my Cleveland driver cut down approx 1' and it seemed easier for me to get the club back and around. What are your thoughts on this, or are these thoughts just clouding my head?

Thanks for your time.
Kind Regards,
Rick

Rick,
The standard length set of irons should be fine, but make sure to check the lie angle. If your ball flight is straight, then you probably dont have a problem with the lie angle; if you hit the ball consistently left or right of the target, then a quick visit to the lie-board will help. Put some pressure-sensitive tape on the sole of the iron and hit a ball off the board; the scuff mark on the tape should be in the center of the sole. Give this a couple of tries to make sure your swing is consistent in this regard. If you decrease the length of your irons, you will also decrease the swing weight, which makes it a little easier to get back and through but may not be the right thing to do if you like the club balance at your current length.

The reason youre having more success with your driver cut down is that it was probably too long to begin with. Most drivers are offered at 45 inches or more because were all looking for distance; manufacturers give us what we want as we chase the occasional drive we can brag about, despite the loss of control on the rest of our drives. To my mind, a 44-inch driver is the length that yields the most efficient driving performance. The average length of the drivers on the PGA TOUR is about 44 inches, and theyre trying to make a living from their performance. With a shorter driver, as youve seen, youre more consistent, giving you the confidence to swing better and score better. If you would like to experiment with shorter irons, try choking down on your standard-length clubs and see how this works before you start cutting anything off. Thats the long and short of it.

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