Monday, August 1, 2016

Getting the shaft - part 2-ish or "Giving the Indian a crooked arrow"

I posted a couple weeks ago about OEMs and their shaft offerings when getting fit for a club. With all the shafts out there and most of them for no upgrade charge "I'll just get the most expensive because it's the best, right?"  Seems to be a common occurrence.  Well, yes - and no.  Recently, a client of mine - we'll call him Smashy -  was having troubles with his driver. He bought it, and hits it good sometimes but remains very inconsistent so he gave me a ring to see if there was something in the equipment. "Chris, it's not the arrow, it's the Indian"  ----- Native American, please Dude. Still, i don't care if you're Robin Hood:  If your arrow isn't right, you're not hitting a damn thing.

Well, Smashy is kind of a big dude. The kind I wouldn't like to meet in any sort of alley, let alone a dark one. Big hands, oversize grips, taller than me (not hard to do, but still), and when he takes a cut at the ball he can exceed 121 mph.  Smashy is currently gaming a Stiff flex in his driver.  But Chris, you said flex isn't standard over all manufacturers, that could be ok right?  Yes, thanks for paying attention!! Still, when something is very very wrong, it's good to check it out to pinpoint the issue.

Well, we put Smashy on the Flightscope and found out some things about his swing. Overall, it's very repeatable and VERY hard. Gosh it makes my back hurt thinking about it.  So we warmed him up, and put some good swings on his current driver to get the numbers. Spin was high at 3100+, launch was OK, but AOA at -3 and AOD at 56 degrees was a real issue.  I checked out the flex profile and saw that he was FAR out-swinging the current shaft and the tip was way too active.

Note the squiggly lines on the left side. Layman's terms, this is how the shaft is loading and accelerating the head before impact (0). Orange is the current shot at screen grab, but all the shots are represented in gray. Take note at how some of the lines start high and then decelerate, then accelerate again. This is common in every shaft. It doesn't just bow and unload at one point. The bad news here is that while it kicks HARD, it can't handle the energy store for his particular swing and while it was kicking hard relative to the flex, it wasn't hard enough - note 107mph swing. In addition, the lines are not relatively close to each other or at the same shape - indicating that it's loading faster or slower by quite a bit, and sometimes it even decelerates before impact because of how aggressively loaded the shaft is.  Not a terrible shaft - but not at all a good fit. We want everything going in the same direction and consistently.  Smashy - being a fade/slice player - needed something that would accelerate quickly and help close the face, but be able to handle his aggressive transition and even give him a little bit better of an attack angle.  So, we put him in the budget-friendly Vista Pro 75  X flex.

A little about the Vista Pro - it's the basic end of Fujikura's offerings. It was originally released about 3 decades ago (?) and dominated then - so they re-engineered the materials and tech to re-release this year, replacing their EXS line of shafts.  FYI it has the same bend profile as the Tour AD DI shaft - for $280 less....

10 shots with the Vpro shaft, and notice how much more evenly the lines mirror each other. A few outliers on awkward swings, but the shaft helps out and loads/ unloads much more consistently for Smashy than his original shaft. This X flex and lower torque rating is much more able to handle his aggressive nature and perform consistently so that he can hit drives in a repeatable fashion.  Only one swing failed to produce good acceleration in this instance.  Taking this information - there was nothing else at this pricepoint that could take the kind of swing he had, so for fun I pulled out the HZRDUS black 6.0 (6.5) which active flex rates between stiff and X... Just for fun, to see if we could squeeze a little more consistency... Remember, this shaft is rated LESS flex than this X.....

As you can see - experiment failed.  While he could load the shaft well sometimes and it performed fairly consistently for him - it was just not a good fit for the swing. HZRDUS is TOO aggressive and TOO STIFF for the way Smashy swings, so could not effectively load and unload for him consistently..... We even hit the LZ, with the same results.... just not as good as the Vpro for Smashy Smashworth. Two high-end shafts knocked out due to fit. Now he has a great fit and saved a boatload to spend on lessons if he needs!!

But wait --- H Black is more expensive than the Vpro!!! It should be better!  Truth is that yes, it is "better" in it's numbers - lowering spin and launch - but it is not better for this player because it doesn't fit his swing. When he hit it, he bombed it but the consistency is not there and we all know in golf it's less about how good your good shots are and more about how bad your bad shots are. I've had fittings already where this scenario was 100% reversed! Fitting needs to happen properly!

The moral of this story - don't buy something because it's expensive or "included". Pros use stuff because they have a team of people that sit and stare at every ball hit, analyze it and build them a new golf club in between each bucket. The shaft they have fits them, and know what --- manufacturers will paint whatever they want on it for them. There is nothing "stock" about a club if you see a pro playing what you see on the rack, trust me.

This is what a competent fitter brings to the table. Find your local guy - NOT someone on a sim at a box store but someone who does building and fitting. Someone who has no one else besides you at your appointment and isn't going to leave you or hurry you so he can go sell some girl a new golf skirt in the next department over. There are plenty of small shops and guys squinting at fulcrum scales, agonizing over the last few grains of lead to put into a club head to make it exactly what they need for their client. Sit down, have a beer, and discuss - you'll make a friend and have a great guy just like the pros do, and lift your game up another level.

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