What Is a Ribbed Golf Grip?

In today’s market, golfers have a plethora of grips to choose from. They are offered in a multitude of materials, textures, firmness, styles and color combinations not to mention sizes so it is understandably that golfers can easily be confused by their subtle differences or by the terminology. One such term that I have been asked about recently is concerning ribbed grips. Not familiar with that term? Then you might be new to golf.

Why Ribbed?

Most golfers are only intimate with the outside of a grip as that is the only contact they have on a golf club. For those that re-grip their clubs or for others, or for someone that picks up a grip for the first time notices that it has a large opening at the mouth (bottom portion) and is hollow to allow it to slide over the butt end of the shaft. If you hold the grip up to your eye and pointed toward a light, one can see the inner portion of the grip. In the vast majority of the grips offered today the inner portion will be perfectly smooth.

The inner core of a grip can be designed with an internal feature than when placed onto the golf shaft will produce a pronounced raised rib in order to change the feel of the grip. This rib can aid in hand positioning. The term “reminder rib” is also used to describe a ribbed grip as it can help “remind” the golfer the proper position. This is permissible in the Rules of Golf for any non-putter grip. The raised rib must be straight, run along the full length of the grip and must not exceed a certain dimensional tolerance. If by chance you look inside the grip and see what looks like a flat side extending the length of the grip, it will be apparent that you have a ribbed grip.

Prior to 15 years ago, the vast majority of grips on the market were ribbed. Many grips at that time had very intricate patterns of paint fill that needed aligned so the grip didn’t look crooked when installed. If the grip was correctly aligned, then the rib would be positioned perfectly along the backside of the club (or 6 o’clock position). This would position the raised ribs in the fingers of both hands when held with an interlocking or overlapping grip.

Change of Buying Habits

In 1992, Lamkin introduced the Perma Wrap and Golf Pride the Tour Wrap, which looked liked simulated versions of leather wrapped grips. These grips where plain black and did not possess the intricate paint fill of so many of the grips at the time. For someone haphazardly installing the grips onto the shaft, this would lead to the rib being positioned anywhere but the traditional 6 o’clock position on the club. As these grips became overwhelmingly popular, soon the trend was for manufacturers and clubmakers alike to use the round or non-ribbed version of those grips to reduce the possibility of incorrect installation.

As time passed, people have become accustomed to requesting round grips, to the point where many golfers relatively new to the game may never have felt what a ribbed grip was on a golf club. Grip manufacturers have produced most of their popular models in both round and ribbed versions, even though many component supplies may choose to stock one or the other, rather than both. Often times in the catalog literature the component manufacturer will list whether or not the grip is round or ribbed.

What “Ribbed” Models does Hireko Offer?

Looking for a ribbed grip? Then Hireko has the largest selection to choose from in the entire industry in men’s and women’s (undersized) sizes plus corded models.

Avon
Nexus
Golf Pride
New Decade Multi-Compound (0.580″)
New Decade Multi-Compound (0.600″)
Tour Velvet Undersized Black (0.560″)
Tour Velvet Undersized Black (0.580″)
Tour Velvet Undersized Pink Logo (0.580″)
Tour Velvet (0.580″)
Tour Velvet (0.600″)
Tour Velvet BCT Cord (0.580″)
Tour Velvet BCT Cord (0.600″)
V-55
V55 BCT Cord
Lamkin
Crossline (0.580″)
Winn
PCi Black
PCi Hybrid

What Is Shaft Torque?

Torque is the simply the amount a shaft (shown in blue) twists when subjected to a known amount of force (usually one foot-pound of force is applied) and the torque value is always expressed in degrees. It is a term commonly associated with composite or graphite shafts, but steel shafts have a certain degree of torque too. However the amount cannot be independently changed from the frequency (or stiffness) of the shaft like a composite design, thus torque of steel shafts is generally not listed by the manufacturer. A lower torque value (i.e. 3.5° versus 4.5°) resists the shaft from twisting on the downswing with all else equal.

Is there a standard?
The answer to that is no, just like most parameters in the golf industry. I like to say “the only standard in the golf industry is there are no standards.” Each manufacturer has an internal method for measuring torque that will vary from one to the next. However, each shaft by the manufacturer will be measured using the exact same clamping dimensions and force for all their shafts. To explain this, let’s look at the following diagram.

The top shaft shows how Hireko measures torque for our Dynamic Shaft Fitting Index. We clamp 1” of the tip where the tip weight or force is applied. Of course for this to occur, the butt end is clamped (in our case 2”) to secure the shaft. The difference between the clamps is called the beam length. At Hireko, we measure a longer beam length than any manufacturer which is important to know when looking at out listed values versus those by the actual manufacturer.

For the sake of example, this 46” raw shaft (with a 43” beam length) happens to measure a torque of 6.0º using 1 foot-pound of force. By most standards, this torque rating may seem high.

Now let’s take the same exact shaft and change the clamping dimensions. Some manufacturers may elect to clamp 3” up from the tip and use a 32” beam length on their woods. This means the butt end of the shaft is clamped 11”. While this may sound like a lot of shaft is not being included for the torque measurement, there may be a valid reason. Some manufacturers have been measuring torque on their shafts since the days when wooden woods were common. In those days the shaft would exit the head 3” from the tip. Plus the shaft would be cut to length and not used at its full length. The clamping dimension further down the butt end would be closely associated with the position of the lower hand or portion of the grip.

By changing the beam length, the torque value of this shaft goes from 6.0º down to 4.3º, which is no longer considered high, but more average for a wood shaft. None of the manufacturers that I am aware of show how their torque is measured. So comparing torque values from manufacturer to manufacturer is not an exact science like it is by looking at the values from shaft-to-shaft with one particular company’s product line. This is one of the reasons why Hireko continues to test all parameters using the same testing methods and publish those results in our annual Shaft Fitting Addendum.

Is lower torque better?
The one thing about torque is that it is perhaps the most misunderstood shaft parameter and to the bewilderment of many, may not make complete sense. There is a myth out there that the lower the torque the better and will result into a straighter shot. While that may had started in the early days of graphite production, this is not entirely true today.

One of the reasons shafts with higher torque values are considered less accurate can be attributed to the cost. Often times the higher torque wood shafts (above 6°) will be less than $9 retail and may not be 100% graphite, but have a certain percentage of fiberglass mixed in. One clue is to look at the shaft weight. A heavier weight will be a sure sign that is contains a high percentage of fiberglass. Some shafts that are found in boxed sets or very inexpensive composite shafts contain fiberglass.

Low cost graphite shaft are constructed with low modulus (lower strength) materials. Often times these shafts will exhibit both high torque and a softer tip section. In the hands of a stronger player, this combination would be less accurate than a lower torque model.

But not all higher torque shaft use low modulus material. Contrary, some of the world’s most expensive shafts have higher torque values and here are a couple reasons why. With the advent of 4-axis winding, manufacturers might elect to wrap high modulus graphite plies at 0º angles on the mandrel to increase the hoop strength and control shaft ovalization allowing for better shot consistency. These fibers have no contribution to the torque of the shaft.

Secondly, shaft weight plays an important factor. If you do not believe me, look at any shaft line that is produced in different weight options. It should come as no surprise that the lighter the shaft; the higher the torque value. When you think about it, this makes complete sense. If less material is used (due to the lighter weight), there is less material available to control torque or resist twisting.

This year will there will be a focus or at least a trend toward lighter and lighter weight drivers. These drivers will be using shafts in the 50 gram and even lighter range. All of these super-lightweight shafts will require better quality materials to achieve the target weight and limit breakage. As a result of the thinner walls these shafts may have torque value by the manufacturer close to 6º (or 8º using Hireko’s longer beam length method), yet will produce highly playable clubs.

If you have control problems with these lighter weight / higher torque designs – don’t blame the torque. Blame the longer assembly length or the potential that the club is just too light for you to handle. Additional torque could actually be your friend, especially if you tend to fade, push or slice the ball as this could help to close the club face and not resist it.

Bottom of Bore to Ground Line Measurement

For clubmakers, there is a term that you need a full understanding of and that is the bottom of bore to ground line measurement (or BBGM for short).  For example, let’s say you pull a shaft 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 equal?” then you better listen up.

To explain how the length discrepancy occurs, let us take a look at the anatomy of the hosel area of a club.  The dimension labeled HL is the hosel length along the axis of the shaft.  This is measured using the lie of the club from the center of the bore to the point it intersects the ground line.

The dimension labeled ID is the insertion depth of the shaft into the head.  There is no industry standard for this dimension, but often it is slightly greater than 1” at the minimum and could range to the same dimension as the HL in clubs that are true thru bores or where the shaft exits the bottom of the sole.

The last dimension is the BBGM which is simply the difference between the hosel length and insertion depth.  For example, the HL in this diagram might be 2.375” and the insertion depth 1.125”.  This means the BBGM is 1.25” or how far the tip of the shaft, once fully seated in the hosel, rests above the ground line.

Now let’s go back to our first statement that we pulled one shaft from a 3 wood.  We will use this example for simplicity.  If we put that same shaft into another 3-wood that had a BBGM of 1.5”, then we would have a club that now measures ¼” longer.  If we had the same head weight, there is a good chance the swingweight will increase and that will have a slight effect on the shaft flex and lie.  This becomes an easy fix as the grip can be removed and the extra material be taken from the butt end of the shaft.  In this case no harm, no foul other than the clubmaker’s time and cost of another grip

However, now let’s use the opposite scenario where the BBGM is only ¾”.  This means the shaft is closer to the ground by 0.5” or the same as if it was tip trimmed ½” more.  The length will now shorten by ½”, the swingweight is reduced (with same head weight and CG position), shaft becomes stiffer and the lie flatter.  You can fix the length by removing the grip and extending the shaft.  The will have an effect of increasing the overall weight of the club as you have to account for the additional weight of the extender. Even though the shaft length and club lie are now resolved, the flex cannot be fixed.

While the BBGM can vary from one model to the next even within the same company’s product line, the good news is the BBGM does not vary within the set of like clubs.  That is the BBGM of the 3 iron is the same as the 4 iron, the 5 iron…and so forth. This is one of the reasons why you might need to alter tip trimming for different models or understand you just can’t one shaft pulled from one club and place it in another without some consequences.

How To Remove A Graphite Shaft

How To Remove A Graphite Shaft

There are many instances where you might want to save a graphite shaft intact. First of all, it is much easier when re-shafting a driver that the customer broke or simply did not like. One method to remove a graphite shaft is to remove the ferrule, cut the shaft off at the hosel and drill the remaining part out of the hosel. However, on modern drivers, fairways and hybrids which are nearly all hollow inside, could potentially could push material into the cavity of the head and cause it to rattle. From that standpoint alone, it is worth removing the entire shaft intact.

A more obvious reason is monetarily. Graphite shafts can be quite expensive; some costing several hundred dollars each (at least from a retail price, not necessarily a production cost). Many golfers will go out and purchase a new driver only to find out they don’t particularly like the stock shaft that came with the driver or they will read on the internet or in a golf magazine that a new graphite shaft by the XYZ-company came out and was the winning shaft on the PGA Tour that week. Whatever reason, golfers are never happy with their equipment and are always experimenting in quest for greater distance and accuracy.

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Golfers are now getting accustomed to walking into a club repair shop and wanting to pull the stock shaft out and put in the popular shaft of the week to try, knowing full well if the new shaft did not work, that the old shaft could go back in. Well, in theory that is correct, but let me explain a few things first.

Rule #1 – Never promise that a shaft can be saved

What is the reasoning for this statement? First is how a shaft it manufactured. A graphite shaft is made from many layers of graphite pre-preg or long continuous strands of carbon fiber wrapped around a forming mandrel. To hold the layers or strands together, an epoxy resin is used. This same epoxy resin is not much different from the epoxy that is used to hold the head onto the shaft. In order to remove the head from the shaft, a heat source needs to be applied. That same heat can transfer or permeate into the shaft and potentially break down the epoxy matrix holding the shaft layers together.

Secondly, chances are you weren’t the person who put the club together. The shaft may have been previously installed by another clubmaker or an individual who did not put the club together with the proper supplies. Urban legend or not, dumping gunpowder down a graphite shaft and securing it somehow is not a good method for increasing swingweight. But more commonly is the type of epoxy that was used to secure the head. Golf club manufacturers and component supply companies use only a handful of different epoxies because they work well to hold the head onto the shaft, but also this allows the club to be removed without excessive or a long duration of heat. Believe me; removing a club that had been affixed with JB Weld is not an option, especially a graphite shaft that you want to remove intact.

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Continuously reusing graphite shafts is not a good habit either. Each time the shaft is exposed to a heat source, there has to be some effect to the shaft. We are not talking about leaving the club in your truck of your car on a blacktop surface in Phoenix Arizona during a hot, steamy summer day, rather from the trying to remove the shaft with high heat. Buying shaft pull-outs is a risky proposition as you cannot verify how safely it was pulled or how many times the shaft was exposed to heat previously. Any club you put together or repair, ultimately you are liable for.

Rule #2 – The shaft needs pulled off straight

Most importantly, when removing a clubhead from a graphite shaft it is imperative that the clubhead be removed by pulling it straight off of the shaft. Twisting and pulling on the clubhead to remove it from the shaft (like you would on a steel shaft) will result into a shaft tip failure. A graphite shaft puller is an absolute must for this job. Shaft pullers can range anywhere from around $20 for a devise that looks like a modified pry bar (you still need a vise and shaft clamp) to several hundred dollars for a hydraulic model. Regardless, invest in a good shaft puller if you are repairing clubs in any sort of volume. Remember how much shafts cost again. Potentially saving just one that can be reused in another club that you can the charge full retail price will more than pay for itself!

Not that we established why we need a shaft puller and the potential pitfalls from a warranty / customer service stand point, now we need to look at a few other things before getting started.

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Rule #3 – Have a magnet handy

Here is a little trick, try to stick a magnet to the hosel of the head. If it sticks it will take less time to remove the shaft than if it doesn’t stick. Why? A magnet will stick to both carbon and stainless steel, where it won’t on titanium or aluminum. A magnet will also not stick to a “wooden” or head made wholly of carbon graphite / epoxy either. However, those two materials are rarely seen in the market that we will not talk about them in this article. If you heat a stainless steel hosel, it remains hot in the area that it is heated. Where as titanium and aluminum are very good conductors of heat and the heat will transfer to the other parts of the head. Thus it takes a longer duration of heat to break the epoxy bond loose. On a titanium head, it may or may not say titanium on it, but have numbers like 6/4, SP700, DAT51, etc. Heads made from aluminum, will not have aluminum engraved on them, rather stamped Ti Matrix or Ti Alloy. Aluminum heads are normally found in inexpensive boxed sets, equipped with very cheap shafts and are normally the hardest to work on.

Rule #4 – Before you heat, take a peek

Before grabbing the propane tank, take of peek of the finish because this will tell you what type of heat source to use. If the hosel is a satin or high polish finish, you should have no problem using a propane (or butane) torch or heat gun. However, if the hosel is painted or tumbled with a clear urethane coating, then caution should be made to protect the head as best as possible from discoloration.

Take a peek at the top of the crown as well. If it has a carbon crown, then you have to worry that the heat will transfer past the hosel and possibly damage the carbon shell. If this is the case, go to you local welding supply center and get a bottle of a product called Cool Gel. This is very cool stuff! Just spray it on the carbon surface only and it will protect it from any wayward heat like an accidental pass with the torch. When you are done, you can just wipe the head with a wet paper towel or rag to remove the gel.

I get several questions on what is the better heat source; propane or a heat gun. Both do a good job, but in my opinion one is not better than the other. The torch may discolor the head if you keep the heat in one place too long. A heat gun will take about three times as long to produce the same amount of heat to break the epoxy bond. During that time you still can discolor the head. On light colored heads (champagne, baby blue and light coppers) or the clear urethane coated heads (like the original Callaway Big Bertha titanium) I will avoid the propane torch like the plague. But before grabbing a heat gun, there is an alternative.

During the time I taught at the Dynacraft Clubmaking Institute, Forest Sands (a fine gentleman who volunteered his time to help teach each group of students) came up with a rather simple solution to avoid discoloring the heads. Getting the idea from going to the ophthalmologist (fancy name for eye doctor) who submerged the lens of his glasses in hot sand to make adjustments, Forest poured ordinary play sand (that you would use in a child’s sand box) into a deep fryer he had lying around. The hosel area of the clubhead could be submerged into the heated sand at 300° and left there for 20 to 30 minutes while you were doing other tasks. (Tip: keep a candy thermometer in the sand if it doesn’t have a heat regulator) The only concern was to make sure the graphite shaft didn’t touch the side of the deep fryer. For those that are health conscious, there is not better use for the deep fryer!

Once we have determined the material and the type of finish on the club, now it is time to heat the head. At this time I will have the shaft puller set up in the vise, but I don’t install the club in the shaft puller. For reference a Mitchell STEELCLUB© shaft puller is what I normally use. However, if you have a hydraulic puller, it may be best to set the club into the devise.

Rule #5 – Read the directions to your puller

Each puller is slightly different so follow the directions that came with it. After a while you will get the hang of it and find the most efficient method for yourself. I personally like having the club out of the puller for now as I am able to spin the hosel in the propane flame or in the direction of the heat from the heat gun. I can see better as the work up close and at hand, plus I am usually less likely to discolor the head when it is not stationary. However, if you do heat the club with it in the shaft puller, make sure to heat the rear of the hosel. If you do discolor the head, at least it will be on the back side that it least likely to be seen by the golfer when the club is at address.

You are now ready to apply heat to the head for the purpose of removing the head from the shaft. It is best to remove the shaft as soon as the epoxy breaks loose. By doing so, this will limit the possibility of heat penetrating into the shaft and causing it to break down.

Another tip, if you are heating the club when it is not in the puller, I would suggest leaving the ferrule on shaft. If the heat source accidentally moves away from the hosel and onto the shaft, the ferrule could protect the shaft from the flame. Plus it is easier to cut the ferrule off if it is warmed up.

Use a torch as the method of heating

Apply heat to the backside of the hosel or rotate the hosel in the flame for only a period of 15-20 seconds. If this is a stainless or carbon steel head, this short of duration can break the bond loose. If the clubhead does not come off at this point, reheat for a period of 10 seconds. Remember, you can always reheat the hosel, but you can’t remove heat if you heat the club too long. Continue this method of heating for 10 second intervals until the shaft puller has forced the clubhead from the shaft. Again, be patient. Sometimes these steps will have to be repeated as many as 3 or 4 times (or more) before successfully removing the graphite shaft from the clubhead, especially for titanium and aluminum clubheads. The more pressure that the shaft puller applies the less heat it takes to remove the shaft from the clubhead.

Use a heat as the method of heating

If you use a heat gun instead of a torch, then the duration of heat will be longer. Again, apply heat to the backside of the hosel or rotate the hosel in the flame for only a period of 45-60 seconds. If this is a stainless or carbon steel head, this short of duration can break the bond loose. If the clubhead does not come off at this point, reheat for a period of 25-30 seconds. Remember, you can always reheat the hosel, but you can’t remove heat if you heat the club too long. Continue this method of heating for 25 second intervals until the shaft puller has forced the clubhead from the shaft. Again, be patient. Sometimes these steps will have to be repeated as many as 3 or 4 times (or more) before successfully removing the graphite shaft from the clubhead, especially for titanium and aluminum clubheads. The more pressure that the shaft puller applies the less heat it takes to remove the shaft from the clubhead.

Use a sand pot as the method of heating

The sand pot provides the luxury of time. As stated before, you can leave the club in 20 to 30 minutes at 300°. I once had an expensive Japanese driver that belonged to a real finicky customer. Knowing full well I didn’t want to discolor the head, I decided to use the sand pot method. Sometimes you get distracted with a phone call or two and next thing you know that 20 or 30 minutes turned into 3 hours! After realizing the club was still being heated, I rushed over to the deep fryer expecting to find a club devoid of any finish. To my amazement, the paint and urethane were not harmed in any way. But it was a good lesson learned and luckily for me I didn’t have to reach into my wallet to replace it. The other part of using the sand method is the portion of the shaft that was in the hosel was relatively cool that you could safely touch it with your fingers right after if was removed, even though the head had to be handled with thermal gloves.

Rule #6 -Check the shaft tip

Once you are able to extract the shaft from the head, immediately put the shaft tip on the ground and push down on the butt end to deflect the shaft. If the tip crushes or looks like one of those exploding cigars, then you applied too much heat and the shaft is ruined and become a tomato stake. However, if the shaft tip stays intact, take a closer inspection of the tip section to see if you notice any longitudinal cracks or delaminating, or basically anything that you think would be considered damage. If not, there is a good chance you could reuse the shaft into another head or the same head later on.

At this time, clean to tip of any old epoxy as it is easier to remove when it is warm rather when it cools off. Another thing to do is remove any lead / brass tip pin that may be present for swingweighting in the tip of the shaft. Usually a pair of pliers will suffice. You may also have to remove any epoxy core that is inside the tip of the shaft as the hole needs to be clear to allow the shaft to seat the next time. A long 1/8” drill bit works well for this purpose, although I have found shafts that had as much as 20” of junk inside the shaft, but I will leave that for another article.

Successfully removing graphite shafts is not that hard of a skill to learn. All you need is a good shaft puller, patience, the proper heat source for the type of material as well as the club head’s finish and of course good common sense. You may not be able to save all of them successfully, but following these tips will put you on the path to proficiency.

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Does Resale Value Factor Into Your Golf Club Purchases?

Don’t let the potential resale value of a golf club be a reason to purchase one.

Are you deciding between a standard stock club(s) straight off-the-rack verses a custom made club(s) because the standard stock club will have a greater resale value?  If so, you should think about this. You are going to take a huge loss regardless compared to what you originally paid for them when you trade in your clubs.  After all, who ever takes in the trade-in has to make a profit to resell your set.  Sadly but true, clubs equipped with stock offerings (length, shaft, grip) will have a higher resale value than those that have been customized or altered slightly from a manufacturers standard specifications. After all, you or the buyer will have to find another customer that fits your specifications or cut the price so the player have afford to have to modified to his or her specs.

Another very important consideration, there is a very good chance the standard stock club will not fit you for length, lie, and shaft type or grip size. If so, you will never be able to hit the clubs to your full potential.  In that case your investment is not a very good one and not a valid excuse to opt for the stock setting for the higher resell value.  The bad part is maybe there is only one specification that is different than the stock offering such as the length 1/2” longer, lie 2 degree flatter or the grip midsize instead of standard and the cost of the upgrade may be minimal, if at all.

When you buy a custom suit, the idea behind that investment is that you intend to use it because you know that it fits and not because of the potential resale value.  After you get your use out of the custom fit suit (or out grow it), you are only going to donate it to charity, give it to a fellow friend or family member that it might come close to fitting (they can have altered) or throw it away if it badly used.

Golf clubs should have the same amount of consideration when buying them – the intent that they will work the first time you take them out.  If you are unsure if a stock club will fit, don’t buy the whole set.  You can buy a single club first.  If it fits, then you can buy the rest of the clubs around it.  In the unfortunate event it does not fit, you are not out much and in many cases the club can be altered to fit for a nominal fee. Don’t let the potential resale value of a golf club be a reason to purchase one.

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One of the Newest Trends in Golf: Drivers Under 300g

Is Lighter Better?

Humans are enamored by numbers.  For example, the media gets in a tizzy whenever a new century or decade rolls around.  Or we use numbers for benchmarks like they are magical, for instance when the Dow reaches 10,000 or the S&P at 2,000.  In golf, players get excited the first time they break 100 or 90, but never a number like 95.  So it should come as no surprise the new fascination in golf club marketing is drivers that are under 300g.

Back in the old days when woods were made out of wood and shaft of steel, a driver weighed 13 ounces.  Just goes to show you how long 20 years ago seems, heck, we didn’t use grams back then.  Well for you metric challenged individuals, 13 ounces is the equivalent of 368.5g.  Over the years golfers have moved away from shiny chromed steel shafts for much lighter weight and colorful graphite shafts in attempt to gain more distance off of the tee. It must have worked as you don’t see steel shafted drivers these days.

Chances are in your golf bag right now is some sort of large headed titanium driver with a 60 something gram graphite shaft assembled at 45”.  The reason why, that has been the modern men’s standard for the past several years.  By now you know heads have been much larger over the years and are capped out at 460cc.  Yet the weight of the head has not change from the days of the wooden head.  For the most part, the majority of manufacturers make their driver heads 200g +/-4g which is quite a small range when you consider the different philosophies that exist in the golf industry.

The biggest impact on weight reduction has come in the shaft.  The modern shaft is nearly half the weight of its steel predecessors.  With newer materials, they are becoming lighter and lighter each year.

Standard sized men’s grips have pretty much held the line at 50 grams for some time now, except for just recently with the debut of the new WinnLite grips.  Both those are the exceptions rather than the rule.  This means the modern driver is approximately 320g, which is nearly 2 oz. lighter than the previous generation of steel-shafted drivers.  Don’t forget to factor in @ 5g for items like epoxy, grip tape and the ferrule. So the goal of making a sub-300g driver is not far away.

In fact most ladies driver are almost there anyway because of the smaller and lighter grip (40g) used and the shorter assembly length.  They tip the scales closer to 305g.  But for men’s driver to get there and not make the head any lighter required the use of very light shaft in the neighborhood of 45g.  If you look through the catalogs, shafts this weight are far and few between.  Examples are Grafalloy’s ProLaunch Blue 45 and Apollo’s Masterflex HP48.

The easiest way to reduce the weight now is with one of the newer breed of lightweight grips.  This is one of the secrets the name brand manufacturers have in combination with a lighter shaft when making their sub-300g drivers.  As you can see from the chart, even using a common 65g graphite shaft and one of the WinnLite grips can match this feat.

If you want to make the lightest possible driver you can use a combination of a lightweight grip and shaft and tickle the ivories at a mere 275g or 9.7 oz. for you fossils out there. Now there is nothing magical because the weight of a driver is now 299 verses 304 or even 320g.  Good marketing?  Perhaps, due to the fact that people are fascinated with numbers. But will the customer see a difference going to these lighter drivers is the most important point.  I will tell you this, not everyone will benefit from these sub 300g drivers, just like not all golfers can use X-flex shaft or 46” drivers.  This is just another custom fitting option that is available to golfers today.  But I wanted to show you how this happens and what components to look at if your goal is a lighter weight driver for potentially more speed and distance.

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Download for Free the New 2010 Shaft Fitting Addendum

Don’t live in the dark ages anymore, especially with the high cost of shafts today.  Get the information you really need to compare one shaft to another. For 18 consecutive years, the annual Shaft Fitting Addendum has been the number one resource available for clubmakers and ordinary golfers to find invaluable information on golf shafts.  The 2010 Shaft Fitting Addendum has just been updated with over 100 new shaft entries available to you today.

If you are looking to advance your knowledge on the ever-confusing world of shafts, take this opportunity to download the 2010 Shaft Fitting Addendum.  This is a companion piece to one of the best books written about shafts called the Modern Guide to Shaft Fitting. And the best part is both of these books are available for free. This is just another example of how Hireko is helping out clubmakers, club fitters and fellow golfers alike by providing you with such indispensable information so you can make more well-informed choices when it comes to purchasing new equipment.

What Type of Information Will You Find?

For those that are not already familiar with the Shaft Fitting Addendum, the first thing you will find out is not all R-flex shafts are created equal – that is in terms of flex, torque, bend point, etc. as every manufacturer are their own standard.  In reality, there are no industry standards for shafts and the reason why this book serves as a valuable guide.  Consistency has been the key to this text as each of the over 3000 shafts and 50,000 measurements has been conducted by one individual using the same set of procedures and equipment for the past 21 years.

There are 19 published specifications listed for each shaft that include:

Flex, Uncut Shaft Weight, Tip Diameter, Butt Diameter, Uncut Shaft Balance Point, Cut Shaft Balance Point, Completed Club Balance Point, Total Assembled Club Weight, Head Weight, Grip Weight, Cut Shaft Weight, Completed Club Frequency, Butt Deflection, Tip Deflection, T/B Ratio, Cut Shaft Torque, Raw Shaft Torque, Club Length (and wood bore type) and DSFI (Dynamic Shaft Fitting Index) Rating

To give you a peek of what information is available, look at the chart below. You can compare shafts from the same or even different manufacturers that are of approximately the same overall stiffness and weight.  In this case the Aldila Serrano, Fujikura Fit-On E250, Grafalloy ProLaunch Blue 55, ProLaunch Platinum with Axis Technology, New Image Red Image Graphite and our own True Ace Death Stick are all mid-50g shafts of similar frequencies and stiffness index.  But find out what the differences are.


How Do I Use the Information?

While offering all of this data is great, being able to take this information, understand what all the numbers represent and then be able apply it into your everyday fitting is another.  This is why we established the Dynamic Shaft Fitting Index (or DSFI for short).  The DSFI takes the Completed Club Frequency, Butt Deflection, Tip Deflection, Cut Shaft Torque and Club Length and puts it into a complex algorithm to put a number on stiffness.  No longer do you need to rely solely on the generic flex designations by the manufacturers.

In Chapter 5, the addendum explains why you may want to select the Aldila Serrano over the Grafalloy ProLaunch Platinum or visa versa. You can also relate Dynamic Shaft Fitting Index to the clubhead speed or the golfer’s driver or 5-iron and be able to make appropriate shaft selections. However, swing speed is only a starting point – certain golfers will use different flexes based on their tempo and length of their swing rather just swing speed.  The 2010 Shaft Fitting Addendum can help you understand these issues.

The 187 page Shaft Fitting Addendum is broken down into 5 chapters, but you don’t have to download everything.  The first shaft provides the legends of what each of the specifications are and we would encourage you to read that carefully.  Chapters 2 and 5 are the nuts and bolts of the 2010 Shaft Fitting Addendum with Chapter 2 showing the data and Chapter 5 providing the how to use the information with the master charts in order of stiffness.

In addition, club fitters or even ordinary golfers can look for suitable replacement shafts that may not exist anymore by looking through the archived shafts (Chapters 3 and 4). These are all the shafts tested that are no longer available but may contain information on shafts you have hit well in the past. Matching shafts of similar cut weight, frequency, cut torque and tip and butt deflections will help you find that one shaft you owned previously that they liked so dearly.

So don’t be like a member of Congress and do absolutely nothing, download the 2010 Shaft Fitting Addendum today.

Download Chapter 1
Download Chapter 2
Download Chapter 3
Download Chapter 4
Download Chapter 5

How to Make More Money During the Slow Season

Make Your Slow Season Profitable

While the golf season for many has been hampered by colder-than-normal temperatures and unusually large amounts of snow across the nation, some clubmaking shops might be feeling the pinch.  But here are some tips to help you increase your profits during an otherwise slow period of the year.

    1. Now is the time to dig through your inventory of products you may have stashed away like heads, shafts and grips that are no longer “current” models.  These are items that can be perhaps discounted when you have a customer looking for a bargain.  Offer buy 7 irons, get one iron free or throw in a hybrid or wedge with the purchase of a set of irons.  Getting something for free is often considered a higher perceived value than just discounting the price even if the difference is the same.  You have made a happy customer and you were able to get rid of some old inventory which is a win-win proposition.
    2. Hireko Gift certificates have excellent sell through during the slow season

      You are probably getting some tire kickers walking into your shop looking to see what is new.  After all, what is there else to do?  Sell gift certificates.  Yes, that’s right! These don’t have to be just for Christmas.  Maybe your customer isn’t ready to purchase a set right now but will once the weather breaks and he or she can play.  By selling a gift certificate, they will be coming back to your shop instead of spending that money somewhere else.  Also, talk up the new stuff that you will get in or maybe just got in and make that customer excited about spending their gift certificate in your shop when the time comes.  The proceeds from the gift certificate make help pay the rent or one of those utility bills.

    3. Hireko Chipping Mats $44.95

      Do you have a net in your shop that is rarely getting used?  Sell time hitting balls into your net.  Just because there is 15 inches of snow on the ground doesn’t mean that customers still don’t have the desired to get in shape and knock off the rust.  After all, if there is that much snow on the ground, chances are driving ranges in your area will not be open.  Who knows, while they are in your shop, they may want to buy something new or get their clubs re-gripped.

    4. Co-op with another business or maybe a local pro.  Advertise that if someone buys a set of clubs, woods, irons, or over a certain dollar amount that player might receive a free dinner, movie or certain discount at another business that is in the same boat you are.  They can reciprocate by driving business your way.  Even offering a lesson with one of the local pro is a way make that set of clubs you just sold play better with proper instruction.

 

  1. Contact some of your old or repeat customers and offer a free bag check or tune-up before the season starts.  This might entail looking at the grips and recommending new ones or giving them a good cleaning.  Check out the shafts to see if the steel shafts are rusty or kinked or if the ferrule has ridden up on a club and offer to fix them.  Check the loft and lies on forged clubs and re-bend them if you see something out of whack.  Be creative in what services or checks you want to offer, yet honest with your customers! This is also the reason why you want to maintain an e-mail list as the cost to contact your customers is generally your own time.  It sure beats paying for post cards and postage or taking the time to call each one of those customers on the phone.

Hopefully some of these tips can help create some additional sales and generate interest when the season kicks into full gear.

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Tricking the Swingweight Scale?

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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“Draw Bias” Clubheads – Understanding the Principles Behind the Design Feature

Technical Director Jeff Summitt Explains Draw Bias Clubheads

Have you ever heard the term “draw bias” to describe a particular clubhead model? Well if not, then you may want to listen up. Golfers who struggle with a fade, push or even slice should be aware of this terminology and how it could very well help you to hit the ball straighter and further.  Even for those that hit the ball relatively straight may find draw biased or as I like to put it “draw enhancing” to your liking.  Contrary to common belief these will not make what would normally be a straight ball flight and turn into a hook.  But a draw flight will often provide more roll and overall more distance.

Draw Biased vs. Closed Faced

One thing I should first start out by stating is that one should not confuse the difference between a closed face angle and a draw bias clubhead.  Face angle is the direction the face points relative to the target. Yes, a closed face club can help start the ball far enough left (assuming a RH golfer) to correct for when the ball fades or slices.  This of course assumes that the player does not compensate and open up the face at address to make it look square.

Draw bias has to deal with creating a draw spin or at least encouraging the ball to produce a draw ball flight (see diagram below).  Where a golf ball ultimately lands is caused by a few factors such as how open or closed the face is at impact and the swing path of the golfer.  Normally when a golf ball impacts the center of the face a draw is created by an inside/out path. For example a 2º inside/out path with a 1º closed face angle would create draw spin (like the black line in the diagram).  But with a draw biased club it is possible to create a draw spin with a center impact and a square face angle and straight path toward the target line. The latter would normally produce a straight ball flight only.

Examining the CG Location of a Clubhead

Have you ever wondered where the center of gravity of a clubhead is? Well, take a close look at a driver, fairway wood or hybrid.  What you will find is the clubhead shape is very asymmetrical.  Upon close inspection you may find there is a little more area on the face out toward the toe or the highest point on the crown is not in the center, but also toward the toe.  Lastly, the most rear portion of the head may also be biased out toward the toe rather than the center.

In the accompanying diagram there is a top and bottom view of a clubhead that has been quartered. It is amazing the center of gravity is as close to the center of the face.  After all we have a heavy hosel to contend with and why the shape is often biased toward the toe area.

Draw Biased Explained

Most golfers assume the best place to hit the ball is in the center of the face and that is a valid assumption.  In a neutral bias clubhead, the center of gravity will be in-line with the centerline of the face (see diagram)

When discussing the phenomenon called “gear effect”, we state that a shot struck in-line with the horizontal center of gravity would not have any side spin. However any ball struck out on the toe side of the center of gravity would create draw spin. Any ball struck on the heel side; slice spin will occur.

A draw biased clubhead is where the center of gravity is shifted toward the heel.  This would true for any clubhead where the center of gravity is far enough behind the face to produce a gear effect, like in the case with drivers, fairway woods or many hybrids.

With a draw biased head, the same scenarios occur, but the reference point changes.  No longer is the centerline of the face the position where no side spin will occur.  That would be toward the heel in line with the center of gravity.  A shot struck in the center of the face now on the “toe side” of the center of gravity which will impart draw spin.  How much will draw spin will depend upon how far the center of gravity has been shifted toward the heel.

Examples of Draw Biased Clubheads

There is a good chance that any driver that has been intentionally made to be draw enhancing will also be closed face, further reducing the likelihood the ball may be pushed, faded or sliced since that is what the majority of golfers do. Offset drivers and fairways can be draw enhancing by the nature of their design.  Often times the longer hosel length and the extra weight required to form the offset hosel naturally shifts weight toward the heel.

There can be a strong argument that if impact not made in line with the center of gravity then some energy will be lost in the collision. True, especially if you just “nutted” one in the center of the face and you think you should be rewarded for that.  But if the ball is slicing and heading towards the deep rough, tree line or worse yet – OB, then that become a moot point.  This is where the aid of internal weighting and the shift in the CG is a huge benefit.  Plus remember that a draw will likely produce a lower launch angle and greater run when it hits the ground which can lead to greater distance.

Examples of draw biased clubs, or draw enhancing are the new Acer XDS Insider drivers (both standard and Thriver edition), Acer XK Draw and the 21010 Dynacraft Prophet ICT driver and fairways (remember there are open face positions on this model).

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