No other time in the history of clubmaking /fitting can golfers find out very quickly how overall weight and weight distribution can affect their game. In one corner you have our new counterweights that can help back weight or counter-balance a golf club, which for certain individuals can help provide the proper rhythm and tempo or reduce their tendency to fade or slice the ball. On the other hand, some golfers prefer clubs that are overall lighter and yet have a nice head heavy feel. This is where the new breed of grips like the Winn Lite grips comes into play. Lastly, you have your standard assemblies with no counterbalancing or use of lighter weight grips.
Find out what camp you fall into as I implore you to take the 3 Club Challenge. Make up 3 different irons with the exact same model and number of head, shaft, flex and club length. On one, put on your favorite normal weight (50g) grip. On another, use that same grip but add one of our 20g counter weight plugs. On the last, use one of the new 25g WinnLite grips. Besides your normal weighted club, you will have one that is considerably heavier, but 5 swingweights lighter and another that is 25g lighter but 5 swingweights heavier.
If you or your customers hit these 3 clubs side by side at the range you will instantly find out how overall weight and swingweight may affect your accuracy, feel and distance (if at all) without changing any other fitting variables.
You just might be surprised so now let us hear your results…
Here were my results
I set up 3 identical 5-irons to the closest tolerances possible. You may prefer 6 or 7 irons for your own experiment. These heads were measured in my specification gauge to be all 27º loft, 60.5º lie while the heads were within +/- 0.3g of one another. The shafts were presorted to be within 1g of one another, but all had the same raw frequency (stiffness). These clubs were built to 38 ¼” and measured exactly E2.5 on the swingweight scale prior to the grips and counterweight (if any) were installed. As you can see from the table, these clubs were virtually mirrors of one another.
You may want to refer back to the Tricking the Swingweight Scale article for a second to see the effects of a lighter weight grip before proceeding. Now I want to briefly show what happens with swingweight when you add a counterweight using our same example before with our 50g grip.
When we add a counterweight we are adding to the overall weight of the club. Yet at the same time we are also reducing the swingweight. We learned that for every 5 grams of grip weight we added accounted for a reduction of 1 swingweight point. Counter-balancing does the same, but not at the same proportion because the counterweight is placed in a concentrated area at the very butt end of the club rather than spread out over a 10” span. In this case each 4g of counterweight reduces the swingweight by 1 point. The club before the addition of the counter weight was D0 and 390g. Now we are at a C5 swingweight and 410g.
4” Fulcrum positioning with counterweight
To simulate the feel, we suggested that the fulcrum point be located 4” from the end of the club rather than 14” to replicate the position of your hands on the club. This same club that produced a moment of 5806g-in is now 9906 g-in (349.42 oz-in) using the new calibration.
Below is a table that recaps the moments with each club. Our control club with the 50g grip and no counterweight measured 9945g-in, our 25g grip club (9957 g-in) and finally the 50g grip with 20g counterweight (9906 g-in). In each case the change was very nominal. The club with 25g grip is a little more head heavy than our control club and the club with the counterweight less head heavy. To put this in perspective, if we were to add 10 or subtract 10g of head weight to achieve the same affects as altering the grip weight in these two examples, we would have seen a 3.5% change in the moments. Therefore it can be said that theoretically changes in grip weight should have no noticeable affect on the feel of the club
How does this translate in real life?
As with any theory, you want to test it. I can honestly say that when I picked up and waggled each of the 3 clubs in my personal 3 Club Challenge test that they all felt the same even though there was an 11 swingweight differential. The only noticeable difference was the texture of the WinnLite grip over the other two clubs. In a perfect world it would have been great to be able to use the same grip, but that was not possible in this situation.
I enlisted the help of a few more golfers to pick up and waggle the clubs but without saying anything about the make up of each one to tip them off ahead of time. The first person who I handed these to agreed with me as he said aside from the texture, they felt the same. There was one golfer said that Club A felt stiffer then Club B and that Club C was the most flexible. However, he said nothing about the weights of the clubs. Interesting how the perception of feel can change amongst different individuals.
I was more interested to see what changes to direction, accuracy and distance might occur. Therefore I placed impact labels on each club and hit 3 balls toward a designated target. I repeated the test to eliminate any possible anomalies – after all I am far from mid season form.
In the next diagram you will see the actual impact positions relative to the center of the club face. Club A is the one with the WinnLite grip and the D8 swingweight. The grouping of impact was clustered very closely in both series of tests. If anything, impact occurred ¼” out near the toe of the club. Ball flight was possibly the straightest of the 3 clubs at least off of the mats where the impact decals were used.
Club B was the control club or what most clubs would be built to and that was sans counterweight or ultra lightweight grip. Surprisingly, this had the least consistency from an impact standpoint and if anything biased toward the heel. As a result, accuracy and distance both suffered compared to the other two clubs.
Club C was the counter-balanced club and heaviest overall. This did not affect the distance as the balls were landing in the same spot as the balls hit with Club A. The impact position was the tightest and this club felt the most solid. In the accuracy department if I were to do anything, the ball was an occasional slight push at least off of the mats. Hitting off of the grass without the impact decals, ball flight was the straightest. My only conclusion was the counter-balancing changed my swing path slightly altering the face angle at impact.
The test was eye opening how one could conceivably see improvement from a lighter weight grip and lighter overall club or counter-balancing the club and increasing the total weight and yet still see comparable results. In both cases I saw an improvement over a standard built club.
Counterweight is nothing new as I commented on this nearly 3 years ago when I did detailed testing on lengths and swingweights using our Power Play System Q2 driver. The testing focused on altering the swingweight via head weight verses grip weight like this current test but there were some parallels. You can see that article at the following link: http://blog.hirekogolf.com/2007/12/03/power-play-system-q2-testing/
With the recent edition of the new breed of lightweight grips, it will be helpful to see if switching over to those the next time you are ready to re-grip or even counter-balancing your clubs using our counterweights can improve your game. Only by taking the 3 Club Challenge will you or your customers ever find out.
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