A Real Game Changer For Clubmakers – Tour Lock Pro Counterweights

One product line I am very proud to offer to our customer is the Tour Lock Pro and Opti-Vibe systems.  These innovative products can be used for brand new clubs or designed to help optimize an existing club making them extremely versatile.  Any true custom club fitting shop serving their community should not without a set of the Tour Lock Pro weight and here are a few reasons why.  Before we do, we first need to explain what these products are.

Tour Lock Pro Counterweights
These are designed to optimize the overall weight and balance of a golf club to enhance the performance that is best suited the player’s natural swing. Tour Lock Pro counterweights are available in 8, 12, 16, 20, 25, 30, 40, 60, 80 and 100 grams to fit any club in the bag from driver down to the putter.  Weights are easily installed and interchangeable to improve solidness of contact, accuracy, feel and distance by shifting the balance of the club closer to the player’s hands.  Using the grip modifier in a cordless drill to cut a precision hole in the grip, you simply slip in the weight; tighten with one of the fastening tools and your Tour Lock Pro weights are secured in place. If you are concerned, these do conform to the Rules of Golf.

Lighter isn’t always longer
You might be asking yourself “Does adding weight to a club make me swing it slower and not able to hit the ball as far?”  Well that might be the case depending upon where that weight is positioned. Marketing departments across the industry want you to think that lighter weight clubs are the solution to longer drives or increased distance in general.   For some golfers, opting for the lightest weigh clubs on the market can increase their distance, but for others they struggle to find their own fairway or target and cost them stroke after stroke after stroke.

Counterweighting, or placing weight near the hands, creates a unique phenomenon for many golfers.  What is one of the biggest problems most golfers have?  That’s easy to answer – they push, fade or slice the ball from their intended target.  They get frustrated and they try to invent a swing that will lessen severity of their errant shots.  We all know this game is hard enough without trying to manufacture swings on the fly which directly leads to inconsistency.

I have witnessed in fittings where a golfer makes a severe over-the-top swing and slices the ball with their existing club.  By adding possibly a 20, 25 or 30 gram counterweight, all of the sudden the swing path become less outside-in and the ball flight becomes straighter as well as more consistent.  One other thing occurs as well, with the correct amount of counterweight, the players swing speed increases because they got their timing down and release the club at a better position in the swing.  This is why we call it optimizing.

By adding weight near the hands, many players will experience longer and straighter shots.  The distance increase doesn’t come solely from the small increase of swing speed either.  Remember, a high fade or slice will not travel as far or roll on the ground afterwards compared to when the ball flight is straighter or produces a slight draw. No other product can make such a big change with such little effort.

Don’t forget putters too
The Tour Lock Pro (TLP) counterweights are not reserved for the full swing clubs either. The heavier weights (like the 50 – 100g) in particular are great at quieting the wrists or hands and make more of a pendulum stroke.  While heavier putter grips can act to quiet the hands as they act as counterweights themselves, they tend to be large and might not produce the comfort level favored by the golfer.  If you push or pull you putts or have general inconsistencies with distance (long one time, way short the next), look at the option of counterweighting.

How will I know what weight to use?
This is the reason why the TLP weights are interchangeable.  A fitter can work one-on-one with their client by using different weights to see if counterweighting is in the best interest of the golfer.  If so, they can dial in the weight that produces the best results.  A launch monitor or swing analyzer can detect the difference with great precision, but often times you can literally see the changes watching ball flight out on the range or on the putting green.  In general (for a RH golfer), the heavier the weight, the more the ball goes to the left.

So what if it doesn’t work or I want to sell or trade my club in?
The hole in the butt end grip you made with the grip modifier may appear to be invasive, but there are special end caps that pop in place and seal off the hole giving it a professional finish.  Plus, you can save the TLP weight and reuse it in the club you are replacing it or another one.  This is much cheaper and less time-consuming than replacing the grip.

Tour Lock Opti-Vibe
This is a similar product to the Tour Lock Pro counterweights as they also fine-tune a club to enhance feel and optimize performance. The concept is similar to the TLP weights by shifting the weight closer to the player’s hands.  However, the Tour Lock Opti-Vibe weights are designed to be inserted between 4-10” from the end of the grip to reduce or increase head feel and optimize overall weight, balance and club’s stability throughout the swing for any golf club.  Instead of counterweights, I consider these more mid-weights. Opti-Vibe weights come in weights of 12, 20 and 30 for woods and irons, while 50, 75, 100 and 150 gram weights are available for putters.

Opti-Vibe Installation
These utilize the TLP Grip Modifier to cut a precision hole in the butt end of the grip.  Next, make sure to clean out the old grip tape around the opening. The video below will show you some tips.

Select one of the Opti-Vibe weights, remove the locking cap and install Opti-Vibe weight on the Tour Lock Dual Tool (sold separately).

Next, and this part is very important, when inserting the Opti-Vibe through the hole in the grip, make sure to twist it clockwise and it will go in much easier. Slide the weight down 7” (or to the middle of the Dual Tool) for starters.  Unscrew the Dual Tool from the Opti-Vibe and then proceed to use the other end of the tool which is magnetic to push the locking cap back into the Opti-Vibe and twist it to tighten it in place.

To remove or to reposition the weight up or down the inside of the shaft, just do the reverse by loosening the locking cap and inserting the tool.  Once again, remember to twist it clockwise to make it easier to reposition or even extra from the hole at the end of the grip.  Make sure to view the video on our website shown on the product pages.

We mentioned the special end caps that pop in place and seal off the hole giving it a professional finish or you can opt to use one of the lighter Tour Lock Pro weights too.

How will I know what weight to use and where to put it?
Again, this is the reason why the Opti-Vibe weights are interchangeable and we have our special tool.  It is amazing to see what happens to ball flight and direction when you slide an Opti-Vibe weight inside the shaft and move it up and down.  If you go to the product page and click on product manual, you can find some tips on how to change head or club feel or you can go to the link here.

Where I find the mid weights to be most useful is when a player has a club that is just too light for them to control.  Again, the golf industry has gone on a diet and making their clubs lighter and lighter each and every year.  Yes, you could re-shaft with a heavier model, but have you seen the costs of shafts today?  This is not to mention the installation charge, which is often more than cost of the Opti-Vibe itself.  But expect a fitting fee for the time the club fitter is working with you unless you are experimenting yourself.

The key principles to understand are heavier the weight, the greater the heft of the club and the further toward the head they are placed, the more head heavy the club becomes.  The Opti-Vibe weights are designed to be positioned 4-10” below the end of the butt that is why the 7” mark is a good starting point.

Back to the flat stick
The 75, 100 and 150 gram weights are ideal for putters.  While that may seem heavy, remember the weight is positioned closer to the hands and you might not even notice the additional weight, but your stroke will. You or your customer got the yips?  Well, it is time to turn the tables and become un-yipped.

Summary

Many of the maladies golfers suffer from today are directly related to a club(s) that is not the correct overall weight and balance for their strength and timing.  By addressing these problems with counter or mid-weights, immediate improvements can be seen without resorting to re-shafting, re-gripping, buying a brand new club or taking lessons when the entire time one had a club that was not adequately weighted and balanced.

As someone who has hit thousands upon thousands of balls with a wide assortment of clubs, I can attest how you can take a club you can’t well and all of the sudden make it a gamer.  Don’t get me wrong, these products are not designed to take a club(s) this has been badly fit to golfer and stick a band aid on it.  These products can also be used effectively (especially the Tour Lock Pro) on brand new clubs as a way to enhance its productivity.

SHOP FOR ALL TOUR LOCK PRODUCTS HERE!

“Flighting” Golf Shafts

Before we touch upon our topic of “flighting” golf shafts, when need to first look back at last week’s blog where we showed you how certain shafts can be trimmed in multiple ways to create alternative flexes.  This process allows club fitters greater latitude in producing in-between or custom flexes for their clientele.  In the case of the KBS Tour, you saw one shaft could be used to create a range of flexes and in some cases this produces flex overlap.

Flex

FCM Range

R

4.0 – 5.5

S

5.0 – 6.5

X

6.0 – 7.5

For instance, if you wanted the equivalent of a 5.5 flex, you could elect to take the R or the S flex shaft and then follow the appropriate trimming table as we will show shortly.  While the X flex range may appear too stiff to create a 5.5 flex, I am going to let you onto a little secret.  Actually it is no secret at all, we are just applying the principles we learned in the previous article.  We know in order to create a 6.0 flex we would take the X-flex blank and use the following trim chart.

Using the Principles in Reverse
One of the questions you may ask in the back of your mind is how many golfers still use a 1 or 2 iron (or even hybrid) anymore?  The answer is few.  So what if we started with the 3-iron and took 1” less off of the tip than what is suggested?  We learned that cutting 1” additionally increased the FCM level by 0.5 (5 cpm) or ½ flex.  Therefore, if the opposite would occur by leaving an extra inch from the tip, we should see a reduction in the FCM level from 6.0 to 5.5.  Now we have three different shafts that could literally produce the exact same frequency numbers and slope.


Concept of “Flighting
Just because we produced the same frequency numbers, does this mean we produced the exact same stiffness?  The answer to this is a big “NO” and here is the reason why.  A golf shaft is a hollowed tapered tube.  This stiffness is defined by many parameters such as the weight, wall thickness and outside diameters of the shaft.  One of those parameters you can see quickly on a stepped steel shaft is the distance of the parallel tip section or the distance to the first step.

The raw, uncut R-flex KBS Tour shaft had a parallel tip section of 12”, the S-flex 11.5” and the X-flex 10.5”.  However, if we followed the trimming instructions from the previous chart, you will notice how the parallel tip section changes.  While the R-flex appeared to have the longest parallel tip section, after our aggressive tip trimming to increase the stiffness to the 5.5 FCM level, we have much less parallel tip section remaining as this chart will show.

On the other end of the spectrum, the X-flex blank had the least amount of parallel tip section in the raw, uncut form.  However, we opted to tip trim less off of the shaft to create a softer (5.5) frequency level.  Here’s the skinny, if you have two similar geometry shafts with the same frequency, then the one with a shorter parallel tip section should provide a lower trajectory as the tip will be stiffer.  Conversely, a longer parallel tip section with very similar geometries will produce a softer tipped section and subsequently a higher launch angle.

This is how “Flighted” shafts are produced to be able to offer higher launching shaft in the long irons for ease of play, mid launching in the mid-irons and lower launch in the scoring clubs by a manipulation in tip trimming of different flex blanks.  Some may say these have progressive bend or kick point, but it is really manipulating the parallel tip section that is creating these changes.

You cannot do this with any unitized, parallel tipped shaft.  Rather, the manufacturer has to produce a series of blanks that are nearly identical other than the raw, uncut frequency (stiffness) and possibly weight.  Few manufacturers are going to do this because of cost and the reason why these types of shaft demand a higher selling price.

This is a good exercise in understanding the effects of tip trimming on shafts and how you create differences is initial ball flight or trajectory.  Secondly, this is one reason why you might see an R-flex shaft create a higher ball flight versus the same exact shaft in S-flex.  Lastly, this illustrates why two clubs of the same length and frequency (stiffness) don’t always play or feel the same.

Alternative Trimming – KBS Tour Shafts

Clubmakers can often become bewildered when it comes to tip trimming a shaft. That is why it is important to read the directions carefully before you cut the tip as you can affect the final flex of the shaft. For instance, you purchase a stiff flex shaft. However, you may miss an important trimming note or your eyes go over one column or row too many and inadvertently trim the 3-iron shaft for a 4-iron or vice versa. All of the sudden you ruined the shaft…or did you?

When a manufacturer provides trimming instructions, it is often a suggestion rather than an absolute. What I mean by that is a shaft manufacturer is making a round tapered tube that is designed to fit into a variety of manufacturers club heads that may not all weigh the same nor will be the same final length. In many cases, at least with unitized parallel tip shafts, the trimming can be modified by the clubmaker to create an alternative flex as long as they are consistent in their methodology. This gives the clubmaker flexibility when it goes to custom fit and build a set for their customer.

Due to space limitation, it is impossible to provide all the scenarios possible when trimming a particular shaft. Therefore most clubmaking catalogs or websites will provide only one set of tip trimming per shaft to keep things simple. But I would like to go over one shaft line that goes beyond and provides alternative tip trimming.

KBS Tour
The parallel tip version of the KBS Tour are produced with a generous 43.5” length and come in 3 different flexes (R, S and X) or what I am going to say are “blanks”. The trimming instructions provided are the following. Please note the correct trimming for the 8-iron as a numeral was omitted in the 2012 Hireko catalog.

When you buy an S-flex shaft and follow these trimming instructions, you end up with an S-flex.  But what exactly is an S-flex?  KBS shafts are designed by Kim Braly. If you don’t know who he is, he and his Dad (Dr. Joe) were responsible for creating the FCM (Frequency Coefficient Matched) system – a patented system in the 1980s geared at frequency matching golf shafts / clubs.  Instead of a flex designation of S or stiff, flex was designated by a numerical format such as 5.0, 5.5 or 6.0.  You might be more familiar with those flex designations as part of the Project X and Rifle lines as True Temper acquired the company Kim originally worked for in the early 2000’s.

FCM explanation
If you are wondering what 6.0 represents, it is short for 260 or the frequency (cycles per minute) the clubs oscillates at when clamped at the butt end and set in motion. A 5.5 flex would be 255 cpms as you simply drop the decimal point and add a 2 in front of it.  However, the 260 cpm was for only one club in the set as we shall see from this chart.  At the time, drivers were 43”.  They were also steel shafted when the system went in place.  While neither condition exists today, the system still works and that is the beauty of it.

The flex designations were built around the club that was 43” long and as the clubs became shorter, the frequency would increase at a rate of 4.3 cpm per ½” or 8.6 cpm per inch.  For instance, if the 3-iron was 39” long, the frequency would be higher than the driver.  Doing the math, 4 inches times 8.6 cpm would be 34.4 cpm added to 260 for a total of 294.4 or 294 for short to remain a 6.0 flex. In another example, within the set could be a 36” 9-iron.  Here it is 7” shorter times 8.6 cpm or 60.2, plus 260 cpm for a total of 320.2 or 320 if rounding. When plotted, you would see a perfectly straight line suggesting a perfectly matched set. This is of course assuming that you are working with the same shaft as well as making sure the swingweights are identical as well.  Plus there are a few other considerations such as consistent hosel lengths and insertion depths.

Back to our original question, when you buy a KBS Tour S-flex shaft and follow the trimming instructions, what do you end up?  In the FCM system, it would equate to a 5.0 flex or the lower end of what a standard weight S-flex shaft would be. In clubmaking circles, one full flex is considered to be 10 cpm.  In our example it would be from 5.0 to 6.0 (remember that is short for 250 and 260 cpm at the 43” club).

Creating additional flexes
The parallel tip version of the KBS Tour S-flex iron is extra-long (43.5”) and has ample parallel tip section (11.5”) that if you were to cut more off of the tip than what was listed earlier, you could create several other flexes and still have enough length for standard length assemblies.  For instance, if you were to tip trim an extra 1” off of the tip, it would increase the flex by 5 cpm or increase the flex level by 0.5.  Instead of trimming 2 1/8” off of the tip of the S-flex for the 5-iron we trimmed 3 1/8”, we would end up with a 5.5 flex.  Trim an extra 1” and it becomes a 6.0 flex.  Finally, tip trim 1” beyond that and the shaft becomes a 6.5 flex.

It is pretty common, at least in steel shafts, to have what is referred to as “combination flex” shafts, which allows usually two flexes by following one set of trimming instructions or another. Now you have seen how one long shaft can become 4 distinct flexes by altering the trimming instructions.

If we had bought the R-flex shaft and followed the trimming below, we would end up with a 4.0 flex.

By adding up to three inches of tipping, we create a range from 4.0 to 5.5. Furthermore, if we had purchased the X-flex and used this trimming table, then we create a 6.0 flex.  Again by adding up to three inches of tipping, we create a range from 6.0 to 7.5.  By trimming more off of the tip, we create not only a stiffer shaft, but one that will launch the ball lower.  This will lead us to our next topic for next week talking about “Flighted” shafts.

SHOP KBS SHAFTS HERE!

Be Honest with Your Game and Golfing Ability

Before someone can help you straighten out your game, you have to be honest with yourself.  This holds true whether you are looking to take lessons or to invest into new equipment. For example, I was talking to a potential customer not too long ago who was looking for a new set of irons, including suggestions on a shaft.  I start out by asking him a little about his game.  Here is a condensed recap of the conversation.

Customer
“I have been playing only a few years now and I am a 12 handicap golfer.”

Me
“That’s great!  How far would you say you hit your 7-iron?”

Customer
“I don’t know.”

Me
“How about estimating a ballpark range, like 140, 145 or 150 yards?”

Customer
“I really can’t say to be sure.”

If you are perplexed and asking yourself how can a 12 handicap player not know how far they hit a pretty common club like a #7-iron, chances are they are not.  Humans (especially men) don’t like to appear to be ignorant when it comes to their abilities so often times little white lies may be blurted out.  As a fitter, sometimes you have to overcome this without demeaning or embarrassing the potential customer.

I have been involved helping fit golfers for over 20 years and you would probably think I have heard it all by now.  Fitting is part science, art and psychology.  You have to read into what a player said, digest it and quickly dissimulate whether the information is true, partially true or disregard totally and continue on with the fitting.

During the personal interview with the golfer (one of the most important parts of any fitting), the customer tells you they routinely draw or hook the ball off the tee with their driver.  When you head out to the range or you are having them hit indoors into your net with the assistance of a launch monitor or swing analyzer, all you see is the person slicing the ball.

I have had at times golfers who are new to the game and don’t have the golf terms or lingo down pat.  One of which is the difference between hooking and slicing the ball.  Fair enough, we can see that when it comes time to hit to the ball during the evaluation process. That is unless it is a phone or internet fitting, in which this is the only information you have to go by.  I may back it up by asking them if they swing right or left handed and follow it up by asking if the ball goes right or left to avoid confusion.

Total Clubfitting in the 21st Century Book $17.95 each

The other type of player you may get is the ones who are obstinate and will not tell you the truth because they are embarrassed about their game and don’t want admit their failings.  In this case, you and the player are at the range. The player, using their driver, slices the ball eight times in a row and says “I never do that!” As a fitter, there is no set of specifications or clubhead type that will correct for a slice one moment and then correct for a hook (if that was really the case).

I could go on and on and on with examples of certain fitting where I have tried hard at helping the customer get a club(s) that will fit their swing only to be rebuked by their own inability to be honest with their game.  My best advice for golfers looking to be fitted is to be honest with your game and ability.  It is far more refreshing when the player says, “My golf game stinks right now and I want to get better” rather than that same player saying “I like to work the ball and drive the ball over 300 yards”, when in fact none of that is correct.  Don’t worry, the fitter is not going to write on the bathroom wall so-and-so is a slicer or tell all his friends, family and members of his golf league.  Believe me the majority of golfers cannot break 100 and the fitter is used to it.  Their main goal is to put you on the straight and narrow so you can enjoy this hard, but incredibly enjoyable game all that much better.

New Feature Laden Hireko Website Launching Tuesday, October 16 at 11AM, PST!

On October 16, 11AM PST the switch will be flipped turning on our new super heated, feature rich website! Below are the top 10 new features created to give you more product information and new social media tools to make your web shopping experience with Hireko easier, more efficient and enjoyable. This is, of course, only the beginning of the changes; we will continue to innovate to bring you a more interactive experience and features to make the site more relevant and social for users.

The countdown has begun! Make sure to visit www.hirekogolf.com on Tuesday, October 16, 2012 and share with us our new, high tech website!

Sample of new look:

Top 10 New Hireko Golf Website Features

1. New Sorting and Filtering of Products

Now search by such variables as price, brand, body material, club, hand, flex and many others. Looking for shafts with taper tips only? No problem!

2. New Compare Products Feature

Simply click on “Add to Compare” on a product detail page to add to the Compare page. Compare descriptions, prices and much more!

3. New Wishlist Feature

Now you can add multiple products to a Wishlist that will not add the products to your shopping cart. Use this feature when you see certain items that you might not be ready to purchase yet or products that you might want to purchase later for gifts! Also you can email your wish list to a friend!

4. Enhanced Address Book

Now you can save multiple ship-to addresses! A real time saver for those with multiple addresses. Just click on Account at the top and Address Book under My Account.

5. New Freight Estimator

Looking to ship products outside of our normal $7.95 flat rate charges? Our new Freight Estimator does the trick.

6. Product Videos Integrated Into Product Detail Page

Now view our product videos on the Product Detail page instead of going to our Youtube page or blog!

7. New Product Question and Answer Tab

Have a question when you are viewing one of our products? Now you can ask a question to our Technical Department DIRECTLY from that page! The answer will then be publicly posted and also sent to your email.

8. New Product Tags

Think of a tag as a keyword or product label. Tags can both help you find items on the Hireko site as well as provide an easy way for you to “remember” and classify items for later recall.

9. Expanded Product Reviews

Customer Reviews are now listed sequentially in an easier to read, more compact format.

10. New Related Products Added

At the bottom of the product detail page you will see a new Related Products For You section. These specially selected items are complimentary products for the one you are viewing.

TUNE IN AND TURN ON OCTOBER 16 AT 11AM PST!

Hireko Now Carrying Golf Digest Hot List Fav’s Ogio Golf Bags!


Runway Meets Fairway

Introducing The New 2013 Ogio Golf Bag Collection
A Unique Flavor For Every Taste

OGIO is a global leader in golf bag, apparel and accessories design, recognized for collections showcasing unique styles infused with intelligent design. An award-winning brand, the company received gold and silver medals by Golf Digest in its 2010 and 2011 “Hot List” issues for its cutting-edge golf bag line and was also selected as the official team travel gear for the 2011 U.S. President’s Cup. In addition to its arsenal of high-performance golf bags and accessories, OGIO has relationships with a roster of athletes that includes Fred Couples and a list of more than 150 Pro Tour golfers that travel with OGIO bags.

Check out the videoblog below highlighting some hot features on Ogio bags:

SHOP ALL OGIO BAGS HERE!

Is Color Customization the New Trend in Golf?

What’s new in golf?  Believe it or not it may be color customization.  I try to stay abreast of the trends in the golf industry to either inform our customers or help change the Hireko product line to stay current of what our customers will request in the not-so-distant future.  In the past few weeks there have been some press releases by major manufacturers about upcoming 2013 product lines.  One of which is Cobra’s AMP Cell line featuring the same clubs, but in 4 different color combinations (maybe more to come).  Callaway is also coming out with their Razr Fit driver in eight different color options with their uDesign™ program. I am sure that other companies may follow suit with offering a particular clubhead in multitude of color options.

Personalized color options have been available to golfers for a long time – this is nothing new.  Shafts in the 1930’s were available in 20 or more finishes. Wooden woods were available with different colored stains and an assortment colorful inserts.  One has to remember that golf is a game of cyclic changes. Back in the early 90’s, when I worked at Dynacraft, we offered our Fiberlex putter in a plethora of colors (7 to be exact).  I also remember it was a stock keeping nightmare as the vast majority of sales came from 2 colors which weren’t technically colors anyway (black and white).

Maybe today more people are willing to have vibrant colored club heads – that is for the golfing population to decide in the next year or two and see whether the marketing staffs at these companies struck a bulls-eye or missed the target altogether.

Golfers looking to customize colors don’t have far to look when they look at the shafts, grips and even ferrule choices available today.  Like a black tuxedo or evening gown, a black head goes well with any color shaft and the reason black is still the color of choice amongst golfers.  I don’t think you will see Hireko offering heads anytime soon with colored crowns other than black or white, but you may very well see more accent colors.  That is unless, our customers demand adding more of a splash of color.

One of our shaft vendors specializes in customization – Loomis Golf.  If you may not be familiar with them, they offer a high end line of graphite shafts in 5 flexes, along with a taper tipped steel wedge shaft and straight putter shaft.  Each of which don the colors of close to 60 colleges and universities.

A custom clubmaker who fits and builds clubs for their local area or an end consumer looking at the choices Hireko has to offer, has far more custom options than any major manufacturer.  For example, if you look at our Caiman X2 driver line, it comes in 3 different lofts in RH.  We offer the Loomis Collegiate line in 57 different options of higher education in 5 different flexes.  We also offer ½” tall wood ferrules in 9 different colors and over 200 grips.  Just there you have over 1.5 million options and we haven’t even factored in the differently lengths or swingweight options.  That just scratches the surfaces as Hireko offer hundreds more shafts in a rainbow of colors.

Colored clubheads may have some sizzle and show up on TV for that brief second. However, if it is not fit properly to the player, no matter how gorgeous a club may look, the excitement with a new purchase will fizzle.  Trends may come and go, but a properly fit club never goes out of style.  At Hireko, we offer the widest assortment of products to be fit or the ability to fit any golfer and be stylish at the same time.

SHOP FOR LOOMIS SHAFTS HERE!