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.

14″ fulcrum 4″ fulcrum
Moment with 50g grip 6045 g-in 9945 g-in
Moment with 25g grip 6307 g-in 9957 g-in
Difference 262 g-in 12 g-in
Percentage difference 4.3% 0.1%

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.


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31 Comments on Tricking the Swingweight Scale?

  1. Steve says:

    Wow, this was really helpful. I use jumbo grips and had been concerned about the increase in weight of the grip effected the swing weight and noticed the new Winn grips and thought that might get the swing weight down to “normal” even with a Jumbo grip. Using your 4″ fulcrum example but adding weight instead of removing weight, I would assume a similar “hardly noticeable heft difference” with a jumbo grip compared to a standard? Essentially, who the heck cares about the grip weight in terms of “heft” even if it blows the swing weight off the charts!

  2. Jeff Summitt says:

    Steve:

    That is correct, the weight of a jumbo (if heavier) grip is hardly noticeable. I have used jumbo grips off and on for years and simply have left the swingweight light whenever using a heavier weight grip. Most people will tell you there is a difference and that is primarily because of the size rather than the weight.

  3. David says:

    I appreciate your detailed analysis on this subject. Should a golfer really expect increased swing speed & longer distance along with greater accuracy per the Winnlite sales pitch given that there is not a noticeable change in the club makeup?

  4. Roy Dye says:

    Technically you are correct. However, there is a difference when weighing either end of a club, stick or bat. Although a club, stick or bat weigh exactly the same when looking for total weight – turn either of them around and swing with the other end. Even though each still weighs the same they will not swing the same or strike a ball or object the same way when turned around. Nor will the ball or object travel the same distance or have the same accuracy. Hands, weight and length have a bearing on a rotating point and the power it takes to turn the club, stick or bat (or cock the hands and wrist for increased acceleration) and the rotating point is somewhere in front of the hands and grip end of the bat or club. Seems to me like a standard – like 14 inches does in fact help determine the amount of head weight, lead tape, butt or grip weight necessary for the hands to cock and swing the object in the most effective manner. Seems this could be proven very easily with a swing meter or radar. Who knows, maybe you have invented a new fulcrum point. If so we all need to use the same measurement or design our own so equipment can be altered to best suit the capabilities of each player – or swinger!

    Thanks, very interesting.

    Roy, Memphis, TN.

  5. BOB ROBERTS says:

    JEFF

    I AM PRINTING THIS ARTICLE SO MY CUSTOMERS CAN SEE EXACTLY WHAT HAPPENS
    WITH A HEAVIER GRIP VERSUS A LIGHT WEIGHT GRIP.SEVERAL OF MY CUSTOMERS LIKE
    LARGE OVERSIZE GRIPS BUT STILL WANT A D-4 OR ABOVE SWINGWEIGHT , VERY HARD TO ACCOMPLISH ESPECIALLY WHEN BEING ASKED TO BUILD THE CLUBS SHORTER THAN
    NORMAL.
    THANK YOU FOR ALL YOUR INPUT ON HERIKO’S WEBSITE.

  6. Tom says:

    So, is it fair to conclude from this (I’m really trying to make sure I understand the point) that, precisely because the weight reduction takes place “under your hands,” while the swingweight changes by about 5 (measured by the 14 inch fulcrum point), the person swinging the club isn’t likely to notice much, if any, difference in how the club “feels” or “swings”? (To be sure, the entire club weight is reduced by 25 grams, so it may have some, small, incremental effect on how fast someone is able to swing the club, but as a matter of feel, despite the swingweight change, the effect is almost zero.)

    To pursue this one step further, building on the swingweight seminar, even if a goal of swingweighting is “consistency” within a particular set (irons, for example), the point about grip weights suggest that this may be overstated. To make the point vivid, suppose that I have a 4 iron and a 5 iron, same make head, same shaft (5 iron 1/2 inch shorter), and starting with the same 50 gram grip, and both with a swingweight of D2. Leaving everything else the same, I then replace the 5 iron grip (but not the 4 iron grip) with a 25 gram grip. The swingweight changes to (about) a D7 in the 5 iron, but is there any particular reason to think that the person swinging the club would notice the difference between swinging the D7 5 iron and the D2 4 iron? (Total weight difference? Center of gravity? But not swingweight.) If not, then isn’t the idea of swingweight “consistency” through irons, for example, dependent completely on the “consistency” of the ingredients (head, shaft, grip)? Or, more modestly, focusing only on the grip (where the issue of a 4″ fulcrum versus a 14″ fulcrum plays out to the fullest), the grip’s effect on the swingweight should be ignored across otherwise consistent irons? And that goes to ignoring it in terms of the +/- 3.5 gram variance within a particular type of grip (that is, you shouldn’t try to come up with constant swing weights by fiddling with the grip or butt end of the club), precisely because the person grips the club about 4″ from the butt end rather than the 14″ measured by the swingweight gizmo. Or am I mis-understanding something?

  7. Lee Robson says:

    Jeff,

    I don’t know if it was my comment on that “other” site that set you off, but thanks for the great walk-through of the effects from lighter/heavier grips. Probably what I should have said was don’t fool yourself with the swingweight scale. As you essentially said in your last paragraph, don’t use grip weight to fix a swingweight issue. My comments were directed at a guy who proposed using lightweight grips to be able to shorten clubs and maintain a desired swingweight. Not a good idea.

    Cheers, Lee

  8. EJ says:

    jeff:
    On the spec. sheet I see the dynacraft ict volume is listed as 405cc. On another web site it is listed as 460cc. 460 or 405

    thanks
    EJ

  9. Joe Lawler says:

    Is there a formula to help calculate the increased swing speed due to lighter static weight of the club?

    Joe

  10. Jeff Summitt says:

    Sorry Joe, at some point there is actually a drop off going lighter like a bell curve. That is why clubmakers like yourself will have to work with the customer on an individual basis to see if the new technology helps, hinders or shows no difference in the performance.

  11. Jeff Summitt says:

    EJ:

    The volume is indeed the 405cc.

  12. Jeff Summitt says:

    Lee:

    Believe me, it wasn’t you the article was directed to!!! I am not even sure who I can thank for making me put pen to paper – ‘er, maybe fingertip to keyboard.

  13. Jeff Summitt says:

    Roy:

    Years ago swingweight scales had a 12″ fulcrum as well as the 14″ we use today. It really is a tool to measure consistency or build a consistent set (assuming same shafts and grips), but the fulcrum could be arbitrary. There will eventually be a follow up to this article, but the main issue was with “swingweight” and the use of lighter weight grips. However the overall weight is extremely important and well as the position of the balance point of the object being swung. These are what affect the completed club’s MOI.

  14. Jeff Summitt says:

    David:

    That is the great thing about building your own clubs or seeing a clubmaker – you don’t have to rely solely on what the manufacturer says. I would encourage you and anyone else out there to see for yourself what it does for “you” and/or your customers.

  15. Jeff Summitt says:

    Tom:

    You hit the nail on the head with this statement:
    “the grip’s effect on the swingweight should be ignored across otherwise consistent irons?”

    Remember one important item, when you build a set of clubs you are building to something. That something is usually a club you have been fit for, including a head, length, shaft, flex, etc.

    Let’s say you were fit for a 38″ 5-iron R-flex shaft (300cpm final frequency) and 50g grip that was built to D0. If you built the club with a 25g grip and you were building to a target swingweight only, then somehow you will have to remove 10g of weight from the head and this will in turn make the club stiff by 5 cpm. Now that will be felt. But if you had built up the club exactly like the demo, but replaced it with the 25g, the swingweight would go to D5 and the shaft would be the same stiffness as the demo.

    You wouldn’t be mixing and matching grip weights to control the swingweight as that would have and effect on the consistency of the overall weight and balance amongst the clubs.

  16. richard says:

    What a great article. Thanks much for mathematically pointing out what I
    intuitively thought about grip weight. Using the 4″ fulcrum point to
    simulate the position of the hands was very innovative.

  17. Richard Schaffer says:

    A switch for 50g grips to 25g grips would reduce to total weight by 325g (11 1/2 oz.) If you carry your clubs, this is a noticeable difference. As far a consistency goes if all grips are the same you have consistency of clubs. The question is whether the golfer will swing more consistently with a lighter more head weighted club, or not. This can only be determined by trial and error (with the help of lead tape.) Deductive reasoning would suggest that the lighter the faster the farther (within limits). Hitting irons farther is not a scoring issue, hitting driver and hybrids/longirons/fairways might be.

  18. Oooh! So much to comment on here, I almost don’t know where to start…

    First, let me compliment Jeff on a great article. I agree with everything in it.

    If you’re looking for formulas (i.e.- even more math), I have a lot of what is being requested on my web site at . (Jeff, I hope it’s OK to say that; the site is not commercial.)

    Until Jeff said otherwise, I thought I was the guy who pushed him to write this blog. I’ve been saying, “Grip weight fools the swingweight scale,” for about fifteen years now. The context is that, while grip weight does indeed change the swingweight, swingweight is not a fundamental physical quantity controlling either feel or physics. It is just a way to approximate the things that really matter, and changing grip weight does not change those things. So it is fooling the approximation, whether or not it is fooling the scale.

    Whether light grips (or, for that matter, heavy grips) increase or decrease clubhead speed is, as Jeff has already noted, a very personal matter. Jeff has already written the best study I’ve seen on the difficulty of predicting what butt weight will do for any given golfer with any given driver. (http://blog.hirekogolf.com/200.....2-testing/) And physically, changing the grip weight turns out to be almost exactly the same as changing the butt weight.

  19. Sorry, the link to my article on club heft did not make it through. It is
    http://www.tutelman.com/golf/design/swingwt1.php

  20. Jeff Summitt says:

    Dave:

    No problem on the link! As a matter of fact, a kudos goes out to Dave for taking a look at the article awhile back and giving me some suggestions to make it read better. Dave watches my P’s and Q’s carefully on subjects such as this so I have to be on my toes! His website is also chocked full of great information that I would encourage those with technical minds to take a peek.

  21. Brad Smith says:

    The reasons cited here are exactly why I’ve always built my swingweight matched clubs around an ungripped standard. I’ve found in irons, that a 50 gm grip reduces the ungripped swingweight by about 9-10 points. Said the other way….ungripped clubs are 9-10 points heavier than 50 gm gripped clubs. Using Jeff’s example of the 38.25″ 5 iron that came out to D1 with grip, it would have weighed E0 or E1 ungripped. If a player feels best with clubs with traditional 50gm grips at, say D2, I’d build his set to an ungripped E1 or E2. Then we’d decide whether or not he wanted heavier (larger) or lighter grips and I’d ignore the final, gripped swingweight.

  22. David says:

    Now that all made sense. Well done article. BUT … if we do the fitting using the new MOI routine, would there not be a need to re-do the fitting again because the “feel” of the swing would have changed? I get the feeling that it might ….

  23. Jeff Summitt says:

    David:

    I guess it depends on how you are conducting your MOI fitting. Typically the grip has little influence in the calculations. Plus you will using the same weight grip (within a small tolerance) throughout the matching irons or woods.

  24. Ray. Dionne says:

    Common sense tells me the heavier the grip, the lighter the club will feel during the swing. Lighter grips should only be used to give the golfer a heavier club head feel. All that technical jargon is too complicated for me.

  25. Fred Thrasher says:

    I like what Brad Smith said. If, as the article states, grip weight has less effect on the “feel” of a club than shaft and head weight then why don’t we build clubs assuming a 50 gram grip and swing weight the club without a grip.

    If we want a D2 “feel”, we should build the club to E2 without the grip (compensating for a traditional 50 gram grip). If you finally grip the club with a lighter or heavier grip it shouldn’t change the “feel” much from the original D2 feel as the weight is under the hands.

    For just re-griping clubs, the jumbo or lightweight grip might change the weight in the handle, however it should not substantially effect the feel of the club.

    Do I have this somewhat correct or did I miss the point of the article?

  26. Jeff Summitt says:

    Fred:

    That is correct, the weight of the grip should have no influence on the weight or heft of the club when you hold or waggle the club. However, don’t confuse weight with size. True, junior and jumbo grips will weigh differently. But in those cases you will be able to feel a noticeable difference in the comfort level caused by the size.

  27. bob mcnally says:

    Who cares about “swingweight”? Does the ball go farther or not ?

  28. dave berger says:

    I have to say i dont agree with this article much. while im sure every fact is correct. the fact remains changing grip weight or butt end weights. dramatically effects the swing……dramatically..i am scratch golfer that uses lead tape in grip and head across various clubs lengths, i have a scale. daily i tinker to see what happens…i even bought into the jumbo max grip. here is what i can tell you……while the waggle will not produce much difference….when you swing the extra weight will, will help push head thru faster…..the back end of club will have more momentum thus forcing thru the head more….exactly how softball guy said….i have hybrid with a jumbo max grip on it. its like 150 grams. something crazy….i can hit that off tee 265 at times…..if i put normal grip on it, 225 tops…..picture a baton in motion throw it up, then catch one side, it will have ton of force…now throw up same baton with only one end, and catch the shaft end very easy, no force….now real world… i just ordered ft-irons….came d-9 swing weight from cally. very mad. i butt end taped across whole grip down to d4……originally my proj 6.0 felt harsh, loss of distance, playing too stiff but very very straight dumb straight….after butt weighting. instantly shaft felt pure, gained 10 yards, and ball went immediately went left. the head was being forced thru faster and earlier…. not even close, i immediately had to add more weight to head, now up to d-6, but plays like d-4 with a little more stress on the 6.0 if just weighted normally, meaning less baton, more rod like i would be happier and shaft perfoming as meant to not end weighted, but i just spent 100 on grips, so not redoing any time soon….so i agree swing weight scale just a tool, but saying the other fulcrum scale more indicative of anything not true. put a butt weight on a driver, and if your shaft can handle it, 1/2 stiffer than you play, and head about 1 degree more open, you will hit 20 yards farther and still straight……put that same butt weight on your normal stiff, and it will play weak, and same head angle, you will go left…..i would tell anyone to try it, take a club a bit too stiff for you, that you hit a bit right, butt end weight it and tell me you dont love it……key is you have to use tip stiff shafts….if you use mid kickpoint shaft, does not matter x-flex….note i am scratch or close too, with 3 3 putts and 2 shanks a round, cause i hit driver like a pro….

  29. [...] +/- 5g) are being used. For a further explanation on the affect of grip weight, check the article Tricking the Swingweight Scale. But shaft weight alone is not the only consideration as the final swingweight is also tied to the [...]

  30. [...] out of one 3 wood and place it into another 3 wood.  What could very well happen is the length, swingweight and even the flex of the club can change.  If you are asking “aren’t all 3 woods created [...]

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