The Terrible Twos Syndrome of Golf Club Fitting: Part Five
Before the shafts are securely fastened to the heads of the test golf clubs, test clubs that will be extremely critical toward learning some of the most important basic principles of golf swing performance and associated golf equipment fitting, there are some additional details I want to address to hopefully prevent regrettable circumstances from occurring after the shafts are installed (and it is too late to do certain things). First, regarding any trimming of shafts before their installations into the heads, any trimming of the butt ends of the shafts should never ordinarily be done before the shafts are securely installed into the heads. To explain why, if for example any raw shaft length is a bit shorter than its designed length (but perhaps still within the shaft manufacturer’s tolerance range), if that situation is inadvertently overlooked, if a final length of the club/shaft is mathematically determined before the shaft is installed and accidentally cut a bit too short on top of that, and if the shaft is then also unintentionally secured a bit too deep into the hosel (the neck) of the golf club (all errors easily within the realm of human imperfection even for detail-oriented people), these “little bits” can add up to an unacceptably shorter golf club after assembly with no way to correct that result without seriously risking invalid results later. So test club construction should be painstakingly approached one structured step at a time to accomplish the best end result(s).
Any tip trimming like for unitized shafts that needs to be done before shaft installation obviously must be (carefully) done before shaft installation. In cases where discernible, diameter-changing steps are part of a shaft’s design (such as in many steel shaft designs), shaft specifications might be available that state a designed butt to first step distance (the step closest to the butt end) and/or a tip to first step distance (the step closest to the tip end). If a raw shaft length is a bit too long or short, such specifications can be referenced and might help diagnose whether the extra or lacking shaft length may correlate with the shaft’s butt or tip end. Exacting, fine-tuning adjustments can be made to the tip trimming of the shaft (and/or the hosel bore depth of the chosen clubhead) using such information before shaft installation if desired, even for a taper-tip shaft. But with a taper-tip shaft, the tip diameter will increase as the tip is trimmed more, and the hosel bore (the hole within the clubhead hosel the shaft is secured in) might need to be widened in order to achieve a given shaft installation dimension as discussed earlier. There is even reference material around for many taper-tip shaft models regarding how much the shaft tips are designed to taper per inch as they are trimmed and for how many inches the tips taper (the tapered sections often come to an end at some point). (Raw shaft weight adjustment might also be very finely tuned based on any discrepancy found between its raw length and designed length).
While it is not totally impossible to do such fine tuning for shaft trimming even for stepless golf shafts if the right measuring tools are available (and if the appropriate shaft specifications are available in the first place), perhaps you can imagine how comparably more difficult that can be than what I have already just described. Now you might currently think that even vaguely considering this level of fine tuning is utterly ridiculous (and maybe you are right), but then again you might just alter your way of thinking at least “a bit” by the time this post title sequence is finished. I also understand how this particular kind of information can be tedious to read through. It is certainly pretty boring for me to write. But based on specific testing comparisons that will be addressed by the end of this post title sequence, I will speculate that you will be glad to have been given this information in the end (and I might unintentionally forget to address one or more relevant topics along the way), so hang in there like I am for enjoyable aspects to return.
In giving one more consideration to the clubheads that will be chosen for the test golf clubs, I would strongly advise you to select clubheads that are as plain as possible on the back of the heads (behind the clubface). Such heads are sometimes referred to as “blade” style heads as opposed to perimeter-weighted, game-improvement styles that are often “cavity-back” head designs. The reason for this is simple in that, like it or not, a goodly amount of adhesive-backed lead (or some other material) tape will need be added and/or removed from the clubheads fairly regularly during testing. This process, which becomes fairly routine to golfers and/or clubfitters that want to become the best they can be at whichever goal they are pursuing, is laborious enough when having a good clubhead surface to work with let alone trying to satisfactorily secure such tape within any depression(s) that may be present on the back of the clubheads.
While relatively newer devices and/or systems that allow the quick connecting and disconnecting of shafts and clubheads would seem to have a very bright future, it will be quite some time before the appropriate combinations of clubheads, shafts, and/or grips that are really necessary for competent clubfitting will become available. It might never be truly possible to accomplish that in a way that is able to completely eliminate the use of clubfitting tools like lead tape for certain clubfitting tasks that should be performed. Regardless of this possibility down the road, these test golf clubs (and the purpose[s] for which they are intended) will perhaps always be better consummated as permanently affixed shafts and heads and old-fashioned lead tape for testing objectives.
Once the shafts are securely assembled to the clubheads, the overall club lengths of the test clubs must all be precisely made to identical playing lengths to obtain the best results from this particular test(s). Ideally, this would mean cutting exactly the same amounts from the butts of all of the installed shafts. However if any of the shafts were not at their perfect lengths to begin with and/or any fine-tuning tip trimming was done prior to shaft installations as examples, it is possible that one or more shafts might have to be trimmed a little more or less from the butt end in order to achieve the most consistency among all possible club specifications, including club total playing lengths and shaft step patterns.