June 2010

TIPS FROM A PRO - Golf Shafts: What You Might NOT Know

Author: Pete Popovich | Photographer: Photography By Anne

It has often been said that the golf shaft is the engine of the club. We have talked about fitting an individual for a shaft in prior articles but would like to educate our students/readers on how shafts are manufactured and some common myths concerning what should be done with shafts.

The three most common types of shafts in play today are: table-rolled graphite, filament-wound graphite, and steel. Even though graphite has come a long way since its introduction to the golf industry, steel remains the most consistent and most reliable in terms of controlling distance and direction.

This is the main reason you see a majority of today’s touring professionals playing steel shafts in their irons, where control is most important, and graphite in the woods, where distance is most important. Why is this so? Graphite, as a material, takes a longer time to “load” during the backswing. Your hands travel a certain distance during the swing, and the club head travels approximately three times farther (depending on which club you use). When a swing is shortened, i.e. half swing or three-quarters swing, graphite has not had enough time to respond, by “loading” itself and thus gets “confused” as you transition into your forward swing. Because the shaft is now “confused,” it cannot properly release the energy you have given it, causing you to catch fliers and/or misdirection. I am sure some of you who are playing graphite shafts in your irons have trouble controlling distance. This is the major reason why wedges have steel shafts.

Table-rolled graphite shafts are manufactured just as their name suggests. The graphite is rolled much the same way a cigar is rolled. When the rolling is done, the shaft is stored vertically, still wet, until a specified amount of shafts have been produced, 500 shafts for example. Once 500 shafts have been rolled, they are then put into a kiln/oven for drying. The problem here is, as the first shaft is waiting to be put into the kiln/oven, it is still wet and under the pressure of its own weight. Because of this, it begins to warp, ever so slightly. The second shaft warps a little less and so on and so on. This warping can, and will, cause inconsistencies in the way the shaft functions and can lead to mishits, misdirection and a multitude of other problems. It is blind luck that you get a shaft without any warping when you purchase a table-rolled graphite shaft.

Filament-wound graphite shafts are manufactured in a much different way. The graphite is braided, or wound together. It often produces a much more consistent shaft that is void of any seam and minimal, if any, warping. This allows for a tighter shot dispersion as well as more consistency in distance control.

Steel shafts are manufactured by either stretching a solid piece of steel or by rolling a flat strip of steel. In the stretching process, a solid piece of steel is actually stretched then put through a series of squeezing processes in order to form the steps of the shaft. In the rolling process, a flat strip of steel is rolled into a tube then welded. However, the welding is not done in a traditional manner. As the two ends come together, they are fused without the presence of a second material.

One of the biggest myths regarding shafts is that having them “spined” will correct all your problems. Steel shafts have a seam where they were fused, holding the shaft together. Table-rolled graphite shafts have a seam where the graphite has been rolled. This seam is the weakest part of the shaft. It has become common for people to claim that “spining” the shaft, or putting the seam in a certain position, can help make the shaft perform better. We disagree with this for good reason. The seam represents a weak spot in the shaft that will be present no matter where you put it. If the seam is put at 12 or 6 o’clock, you gain in your ability to control distance but sacrifice in your ability to control trajectory. If the seam is put at 3 or 9 o’clock, you gain in your ability to control trajectory but sacrifice in your ability to control direction. Keep this in mind the next time someone tells you to have your clubs “spined.”

If you would like to know more about golf shafts or are tired of taking lessons that do not get the results you want, contact us at (843) 338-6737 or on the Web at golfacademyhiltonhead.com to improve your game today. We are the only golf instructional school in the area that guarantees results!

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