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Use a critical eye when viewing golf club shaft reviews
One thing you do not see me write much on in our blog are golf club shaft reviews, which can be quite a few in the course of a season. If you (and my bosses who encourage me to do so) are wondering why, it is because there is a big dilemma that occurs every time I try to put pen to paper. I have come to the conclusion that any independent review would be unfair to our readers, not to mention our dear vendors. Any positive or negative feedback would be only as good as how the shaft fits my unique swing. Before I can explain what I can best do to help fellow golfers find a golf club shaft they will like, let me try to explain a few things first.
We are all like snowflakes
You have all heard this adage a million times before. Go to a golf course, range or even watch golf on TV and what will you notice? Each golfer has their own natural swing…well, like a snowflake. No one will confuse my swing with Jim Furyk’s, Tiger Woods’ or Arnold Palmer’s. It’s obvious, the pros don’t need the exact same swing to excel at this game; nor do you. Only equipment that complements a player’s swing has to.
One of my best friends is approximately the same age and height and we both have almost identical swing speeds with all our golf clubs. I’ll take a new club with the shaft du jour or one that I happen to like. He will go to hit it and says it doesn’t feel good. The ball flight substantiates his claims too. Then he will hand me a club he raves about the performance and feel. I’ll end up telling him, “Meh”.
Golf Shaft fitting is all about swing speed isn’t it?
The answer to that is a big no! While golf swing speed is a starting point, it does not tell the whole story. Speed tells you how fast an object is moving. But the other piece of the puzzle is how and when the player loads and unloads the club.
To put this in perspective, loading is a force a player puts onto the golf club or golf shaft during the downswing. The magnitude of this force is caused by the acceleration or the rate of change in the velocity during the course of the swing. One example might be where one player exerts a very large acceleration at the initial part of the downswing. Another golfer might gradually accelerate the golf club until some point and then he/she may accelerate the club again immediately after releasing the club prior to impact. The point I am trying to make is the amount the shaft loads (or deflects) can vary even though the same swing speed is achieved at impact.
Then golf shaft fitting is all about the golf club’s frequency (butt stiffness) isn’t it?
The answer to that is a big no as well. Recently I took three identical length golf hybrids out to the range for me and my friend to test. Each also had a different shaft (although they were all labeled S-flex by each manufacturer). I had to sort through my collection of golf shafts to find ones that were the same frequency (measure of shaft stiffness) and where the weights were with +/- 1 gram of one another.
Many clubmakers would assume that just because the weight, length, torque and frequencies were near identical, that these would play the same. If you follow the Dynacraft Shaft Fitting Index I have been testing and publishing the results for the past twenty plus years, you would already know this isn’t always the case. Plus I recently acquired a new toy (called an EI Golf Shaft Profiler) for my R&D lab that examines shafts better than what I had been using and I wanted to test a theory eliminating as many variable as possibly to come up with a conclusion.
Understanding stiffness distribution along the length of the golf club shaft
Here is a plot of deflections of those three golf shafts from the tip (left side) to the butt end (right) using a shaft profiler. To understand this chart, look at Series 3 or the deflection curve plotted in light green. Near the tip, the deflection is far less than the others, indicating this is a stiffer tipped shaft. When we get to the area 16” from the tip, these all have the same deflection. As we get closer and closer to the butt end, the deflection is once again much less on the green plot line denoting a stiff butt section. The blue line or Series 1 would have the softest tip.
My friend didn’t know the differences between these golf shafts prior to hitting them as not to form a bias. Handing him one after another to hit, he indicated the Series 3 felt the best (most solid) to him after hitting several shots. When he hit Series 1 (blue), he felt that it was too flexible like he had to be careful how he swung it in order to control it – something he didn’t have to worry about with the other shaft. Remember now, these all have identical weights and frequencies (stiffness).
What he had discovered was the difference in stiffness distribution along the length of the golf shaft giving it its own unique feel. Now you know why each manufacturer produces a wide variety of golf shafts although they may be labeled R or S flex and have the same weight to appeal to specific tastes.
So how good would my golf shaft reviews be anyway?
Like I mentioned before, golf shafts that I like he doesn’t. I hit these same three golf clubs and found the club with the Series 1 (blue) shaft to be by far the best for me. As a matter of fact, according to the launch monitor I was 14 yards further than with the Series 3 golf shaft and with no difference in swing speed. Well guess what, if I had given my review of these shafts, one would have been stellar and the other not so stellar. Not to mention, if he had read the review knowing that our age, height and speed were nearly identical, he might have bit the bullet and bought the Series 1 shaft instead of the Series 3 he really liked.
How I can help golfers find the right shaft
Part of my job is to help educate customers on the products we sell. It is not to tell which products that performs well for me and those that do not. However, if I do find a product that performs well for me, I make sure to know as much about it as I can so that I can find similar shafts to it. The vehicle that I have used to express these findings has been our annual Hireko Golf Club Shaft Fitting Addendum which is available for free to download. By using our new measurement tool and building a better library of shaft profiles for customers and fellow clubmakers to access, they will have a better grasp of what shafts to confidently choose.
I took apart several of my golf drivers that I use in my rotation to see how their golf shaft profiles compared. Here is a plot of 4 of them plus one additional one I threw in that I didn’t fare well with. Can you guess which one it was? That’s right it was the one in aqua (light blue), yet again the same basic frequency as the others. One thing of note, some of these shafts are labeled by the manufacturer as regular and others as stiff, but doesn’t really matter as long as the numbers are the same.
Now whenever I go to the range to test a new head I have to remember to make another one up with a shaft profile my friend already likes otherwise I am not going to get any feedback on the head, only grief about the shaft he doesn’t like.
What type of golf shafts are right for your customers?
First, utilize something like our Hireko Golf QuikFit system so you can interchange different golf shafts onto the same head to eliminate all but one variable (shaft). But more importantly when you go to set up you demo golf shaft collection, make sure to get shafts that vary from one to another so you can maximize your investment – absolutely no duplication to avoid confusing your customer and tying up your money. Lastly, read as much as you can and personally try out the products you offer so you are intimate with them.
Be wise with your golf clubmaking epoxy habits and save time and money
While your clubmaking operation may be in full gear at this time of the year, one thing you want to check on is your golf clubmaking epoxy. Believe it or not, you are relying on its’ strength to form a long-lasting bond between any club you build or repair for your customers. But when was the last time you checked how old it is and whether it is still effective?
Most clubmakers will assume that epoxy for golf clubmaking is good as long as there is some left in the bottles. But that is not entirely true. Many epoxies have shelf lives just like milk, bread or that spinach that is starting to wilt in your refrigerator. After a year, they start to lose their strength. After two years, I wouldn’t use it for anything golf club related.
Mark Your Bottles
No matter how organized your shop may be, I doubt you will know immediately when you last purchased it by looking through old invoices. When you receive a package with your epoxy, the first thing you should do is take your Sharpie pen and mark the date it arrived on the bottle or container and it will always be there in plain sight. If you have the small one-job packets, don’t worry, these have an indefinite shelf life.
Buy in quantities you will consume
If you buy golf clubmaking epoxy in bulk (or in larger containers), you can save money per ounce or per club you build. However, if it goes to waste by going past its effective date and you have to throw it out, you really haven’t saved money have you? I guess you can still use it for small household fixes, but the point I am trying to make is buy enough to last you a full year.
By following these simple tips, you can rest assured that the clubs you assemble or repair for your customers (or yourself) is one less of life’s worries.
Epoxy A+B 4oz Bottles
24 Hour Epoxy 1.0oz Tube
Individual Epoxy Packets
How Do I Choose The Best Golf Club Irons For My Game?
Hireko has one, if not the most extensive lines of golf irons available by anyone in the golf industry and each model is designed in house. At first it may seem to like a daunting task to select the right one for your or your customer’s game, that’s why I want to share with you the secrets to the proper selection. What golf club irons are right for me?
Are you a left handed golfer?
This might be your most important question to ask. Why? Simply because not every model can be made in left hand and make it profitable no matter what company you are talking about. As life cycles for golf clubs in general are two or three years tops before they lose their luster and customers demand new equipment, golf club manufacturers (like yours truly) have to weigh the cost of tooling and the minimum order requirements from the foundries. This is why only those that will be forecasted as best-selling golf irons will be offered in left hand. Even if a model surprisingly takes off in sales that was made initially in right hand only, it will be too late to start tooling and production for the LH model as a quarter of the life cycle may have expired by the time they are in stock. With all that said, we still offer a plethora of left handed models to suit virtually any golfer.
What is your handicap?
This is usually a question that is often asked, but I prefer not to pigeonhole certain products by handicap level, unless they made say Tour or Pro on them. Even in those cases, there are exceptions to the rules. You see, only a fifth of all golfers even establish or maintain a golf handicap, so essentially this question would rule out the majority of golfers to begin with.
What are your shot tendencies?
I would rather look at tendencies a player may have such as hitting the golf ball too high or too low, or maybe the customer is prone to fading or drawing the ball. In these cases, the loft, center of gravity and amount of offset in a design are what make it unique and sets the ball at different angles from the face to correct for a specific tendency. Sure, golf shafts also can control ball flight to a certain degree, but the bulk of the work not related to golfer’s swing comes from the head design.
How to choose the best golf club irons for your game? The following chart will act as a quick golf club iron buyers guide based on certain tendencies and help you find the right golf club iron. A couple quick notes, the models with an asterisk next to them are available in LH. To make the chart more user-friendly certain irons make be spread out further than they actually would be. For instance, the Acer XS Forged and Dynacraft Prophet Tour Forged Irons would fall on top of one another on the chart and make it difficult to read.
Is your trajectory too high or too low?
Often times the result of too high or low a ball flight is a direct result of the player’s swing mechanics, angle of attack and solidness of contact on the face. For example, golfers that tend to sweep the ball at impact will likely make contact lo
wer on the face than someone who takes more of a divot. Loft in conjunction with the vertical center of gravity of the head is what control trajectory. It shouldn’t astound you that our two ladies models (iBella Bellissima Irons and Obsession Irons) will be amongst our highest launching golf iron clubheads as the lower clubhead speeds will produce less spin and height. On the other side of the spectrum, the Power Play Caiman X2 Raw Power Irons is our lowest launching, but primarily in the mid and lower lofted golf irons.
It should also come as no surprise that the majority of the irons will fit within the medium trajectory category window as better golfers don’t want to see abnormally higher or lower ball flight than what they are used to. While trajectory is a balance between distances and yet allowing the ball to land on the green during approach shots, direction is another key requirement as we will show next.
Before we speak about draw or fade enhancing, we need to have a starting point or what is labeled as neutral. In this case, let’s say the middle-of-the-road iron in our line will be intended to hit the golf ball straightest for the vast majority of golf from amongst the many head designs we offer. That means certain heads will be geared to hit the ball more left (draw enhancing), while others further right (fade enhancing) for a RH golfer. The Power Play Caiman X2 Tour Irons would likely be the most fade enhancing due to the elongated blade length and low offset, while the Acer XF Irons and XF HT Irons the most draw enhanced.
Most golfers tend to push, fade or even slice their irons. Certain irons do a better job of squaring the clubface by incorporating more offset or shifted the weight closer to the heel or shaft to enable the head to rotate closed. That is why on paper the Acer XS HT and the Acer XF HT seem to be for the same type player.
More accomplished golfers are more likely to draw the ball in general and don’t need as much offset as a result. This is why you will find fewer head that are fade enhancing as the pool of players is smaller.
Several of the entries are borderline when it comes to directional bias as they have reduced offset, but not too reduced. This includes the Dynacraft Evolution Hybrid Irons which I consider a hollow-bodied iron more than a true hybrid. The Acer XF Pro Irons and Acer XS Pro Irons meet the criteria as well, with the loft being the separator; one will hit the ball a little lower than the other.
Squeezing out a little more
The middle square (medium height / neutral ball flight) should fit the sweet spot of golfers playing today. There are three very good candidates (Acer XDS React Irons, Acer XS Irons and Power Play Warp Speed Irons). What you do not see from the chart is how they are constructed. Of the three, the Warp Speed is the only one with a more exotic face material to help bolster ball speed and distance with all else being the same.
I hope this article has answered for you the question “how to choose the right iron set” for my game. You can see we have a wide variety of irons to choose from, even in left hand. After reading the explanations and examining the chart, you should have a better idea of what each iron is supposed to do so you are able to confidently select the best model for your or your customer’s game. If you are curious about an iron, I would highly recommend buying a mid-iron of the model with a shaft and flex you are familiar with.