How Much Difference Can 10 Grams Make?
The average golfer has no regard for shaft weight. They’ll buy a new driver without once considering if the new shaft is markedly heavier or lighter than their current one and how that may help or hurt their game. “It’s just a few grams,” they’ll say, “how much difference can it make?”
We’re here to tell you that it makes a huge difference. Last week, a panel of industry experts explained the importance of shaft weight in Shafts 101. This week we’ve brought a mountain of cold, hard data to make that point in this edition of Golf Myths Unplugged.
Myth #1 – Shaft weight is a Critical Part of a Club’s Performance
Myth #2 – Lighter Shafts Produce Longer Shots
Myth #3 – Heavier Shafts Produce Straighter Shots
Myth #4 – Heavier Shafts Are More Consistent
How We Tested
For this test, we brought together ten golfers. Each player went through two different testing sessions – one with a driver, one with an iron. For the driver test, they hit seven drives each with a 50, 60, and 70 gram shaft, all using the same head. For the iron test, they hit seven shots each with an 85, 95, and 105 gram shaft, all using the same head. Every shot was measured by Trackman, and the data is presented below.
All testing was done at and with the help of Club Champion.
Whether you put a premium on distance or accuracy, getting fit for the proper shaft weight is essential to making a golf club perform for you.
In our iron test, we routinely saw a 10 or 20 gram change in shaft weight produce distance variations of 8-10 yards. You could possibly be a full club longer by finding the right shaft weight! Accuracy improvements were similarly impressive. We saw one player go from eight yards offline to just one. That can be the difference between missing the green and a tap-in birdie.
Our driver test also showed the importance of shaft weight. Our testers gained as much as 26 yards by finding the correct shaft weight. The accuracy gains were even more jaw dropping. We watched players go from painting the middle of the fairway to spraying it everywhere as they gained or lost shaft weight.
I wish I could tell you that picking up 10 yards was as easy as buying a lighter shaft, but that’s just not the case.
In our driver testing, we saw very clearly that light weight worked well for some golfers but not for others. Only two golfers registered their highest ball speed with the lightest shaft; six posted their high with the heaviest shaft. The numbers become more balanced when we move to carry and total distance: four were longest with the light shaft, four were longest with the heavy shaft.
Our iron testing leaned a little more towards lightweight shafts, but not enough to save this myth. Half our testers did hit their longest iron shots with the 85 gram shaft, but the other half lost distance playing the lighter shaft.
Once again, our testing is driving nails in the coffin of “common sense” fitting: heavier shafts are not inherently more accurate than lighter ones.
With the irons, our testers showed a preference for the middleweight shaft. Six of our ten testers put up their best accuracy numbers with the 95 gram shafts. Two testers were best with the light weight shaft, and they were extremely impressive, missing the centerline by only 1 yard.
The results from the driver test showed much larger fluctuations in accuracy and really demonstrated the value of fitting. One player was most accurate with the lightest shaft, and his distance from center more than tripled when he went heavier. Four players were best with the midweight shaft, and, again, some struggled mightily with lighter or heavier shafts. The other five testers were most accurate with the heaviest shaft, and, for them, that extra weight was necessary to improve their timing.
In addition to being thought of as more accurate, heavier shafts are often thought to promote greater consistency. Is there a more magical word in golf than consistency? I think not. Sadly, getting consistent is the result of hard work, not a heavier shaft.
For both the iron and driver test, we counted mishits as shots that were ten or more yards short of the median distance for that player with that shaft. These weren’t necessarily embarrassing drop kicks or knee-high liners, but they were the kinds of shots that miss greens and put stress on your iron play.
In both tests, we saw a fairly even distribution of mishits across the different shaft weights. Typically, the shaft that they hit most consistently was also the shaft that was producing their longest, straightest shots. In other words, accuracy, distance, and consistency all came together when a shaft was well fit.
It’s my hope that this data has inspired you to think carefully about the shafts that are in your clubs. As you can see, it’s not unreasonable to think that you can be longer, straighter, and more consistent in 2017 simply by dropping (or gaining) a little weight.
And keep in mind that all these changes happened without changing the shaft model! Just imagine the possible gains that you can make when you work with a qualified fitter to find the right weight, shaft flex, and model for your swing.