One Phrase that Needs Eliminated from the Clubmaker’s Vocabulary
I have many pet peeves, one of which is the inaccuracy of certain terms or phrases. The release of the new Winn Lite grips has me reading posts on a few golf forums I frequent saying that these very lightweight grips are only tricking (or sometimes called fooling) the scale. I simply cringe whenever I hear that phase, so let me set the record straight.
What these posters are referring to is that the use of a lighter weight grip will create a higher swingweight. I will agree with that as that is absolutely true statement. But then the poster will go on to explain it by saying these grips are only “tricking” the swingweight scale. Well, unless they have secretly placed a piece of bubble gum on the scale to alter the balance, the measurements are accurate. After all, the swingweight scale is nothing more than a simple lever that has been calibrated.
In a recent Webinar I conducted on swingweighting, I talked about the effect of the different components on swingweighting. For years, the standard weight grip (50 grams) has been the standard from which clubs have been manufactured to. Ladies grips would be used primarily for female golfers and their smaller size would weigh slightly less as a result of a lesser amount of material used in their construction. Conversely, larger grips would weigh more. Some of which could be substantial if they were the jumbo variety. However, when we talk about standard grip sizing the weights that had been available have varied little…up until now.
Introduction of lightweight grips
The new Winn Lite grips weigh as little as 25g. That is half the weight of a standard grip, yet the same size. So if you were to replace your existing 50g grip with one of these, the swingweight will increase by 5 points. That is a fact.
Did the head become heavier? No. Did the club become longer? No. Did we “trick” the scale? No.
These reason for this is the fulcrum point on a swingweight scale is located 14 inches from the butt end and the fulcrum point is what the club pivots around. For each 5g of grip weight equals 1 swingweight point.
The swingweight scale was created as a way to measure the relation of weight distribution of a club. A higher swingweight will mean that a greater amount of the weight is toward the head side of the club. It is easy to understand that the use of a lighter weight grip will help the club feel more “head heavy”.
14” Fulcrum positioning with standard weight grip
On the other hand, the swingweight scale is not exactly set up the same way as you would hold a club. That is, you do not hold the club 14” down from the butt end unless you have to create some very unusual shot. No, the pressure point of your hands will be located approximately 4” from the end of the club. If you grip down on the club, that dimension may be slightly greater.
The effect of grip weight is often misunderstood. The center of the mass of the grip lies in the hands. So changing from a 50g grip to a 25g grip may have little or no effect on the heft or what you feel when you hold the golf club. In the past, grip weight was influenced by the size and that is a factor that golfers can easily feel. Not so with weight. Let’s look at this from a more detailed example.
We have a 38.25” graphite-shafted 5iron. The head weight is 257g, cut shaft 83g and our 50g grip. If you were to balance the club and mark the position, you would find that this point is 29.5” from the end of the grip. The swingweight scale measures the moments about the fulcrum point which is located 14” from the butt end. Got that so far?
This would mean that the balance point of the club is 15.5” in front of the fulcrum point. By multiplying this amount times the overall weight of the club, it produces a torque or moment of 6045 g-in or 213.23 oz.-in. When the sliding weight of the swingweight scale is shifted until the whole club balance out, the tick mark on sliding weight will be positioned at D1. It is that simple. The swingweight does all the calculations for you.
14” Fulcrum positioning with light weight grip
Now let’s see what happens when we change the grip from the standard 50g to 25g like the new Winn Lite series.
For starters, the head weight, shaft weight and length did not change, so all that occurred was the overall weight of the club was reduced by 25g. If we were to remove the club from the scale and were to rebalance the club and mark the position, you would find that balance point is 31.35” from the end of the grip. This is how the club becomes more head heavy or a higher percentage of the overall weight is shifted closer to the head.
This would mean that the balance point of the club is now 17.35” in front of the fulcrum point. By multiplying this amount times the overall weight of the club, it produces a moment of 6307 g-in or 222.48 oz.-in. When the sliding weight of the swingweight scale is shifted until the whole club balance out, the tick mark on sliding weight will be positioned at D5.
Introduction of 4” Fulcrum positioning with standard weight grip
If we made a swingweight scale with a fulcrum point that pivoted 4” from the butt end rather than typical 14” to come closer to replicating the position of your hands, it would look similar to this.
Note that nothing has changed on the club. Each component and the overall weight are the same as our first example. The balance point is the same too. The only difference is the moments about our new pivot point. This same club that produced a moment of 6045g-in is now 9945 g-in (350.79 oz-in) using the new calibration. We would no longer have our standard alpha-numeric designation to fall back on like D1, so we will have to use the moment measurements instead.
4” Fulcrum positioning with light weight grip
Let’s take the 50g grip and replace it with the 25g grip and see what happens.
While we saw a large change in the moments using our swingweight scale with the 14” fulcrum point, we didn’t see the same thing with the same scale but with a 4” fulcrum point. This same club that produced a moment of 6307g-in is now 9957 g-in (351.22 oz-in) using the new calibration.
The real effect on grip weight
Take a quick look at the following table to recap these differences.
|Moment with 50g grip
|Moment with 25g grip
Where there was a 262 g-in variance going from a 50g to 25g grip using the 14” fulcrum scale, it has less of a dramatic effect (12 g-in) when you use a 4” fulcrum point as our reference point. The reason is that the weight of the grip (or lack of) was closer to pivot or hinge point of what we were measuring. When talking about golf club specifications, a 4% change is considered significant. However a change of <0.5% is seldom noticeable.
Consider if we were to add 10g to the head in our example (267g / 257g) to achieve the same 5 swingweight increase as using a 25g lighter grip, this would represent a 4% change. Or consider a 5/6” (0.833”) increase in the assembled club length would also represent a 5 swingweight point increase (or a 2% difference). When you look at the same 5 swingweight point effect of the grip weight, it pales in comparison. This is what those people in-the-know are referring to when they say grip weight is only “fooling the scale.”
Consumers will need to understand why there is a need for ultra light grips (to reduce overall weight) and how to build and fit with them. Don’t look at the lighter grips as a means of achieving a specific swingweight. Let the swingweight naturally increase with the use of a lighter grip. Only by experimenting yourself will you know how, or if, grip weight has any effect on your game.