The Terrible Twos Syndrome of Golf Club Fitting: Part Forty-Three

In continuing with the technical details of golf grip size fitting (one of the most critical clubfitting elements toward getting the most out of one’s golf swing) and in considering the use of different weight golf shafts on golf clubs now, an extremely important detail to learn well is how a swingweight scale physically operates with respect to measuring golf club swingweight values when different weight golf shafts are involved.  Recall that this testing assumes that and is based on the concept of swingweighting working well for one and so this particular discussion is in order now.  Even though I have not yet addressed the technical purpose(s) of swingweighting in Waggle Weight Wisdom™ (although I have through other means), that specific information is not required in order to understand the following.  There are very valid reasons why I am addressing topics in a particular order, including not wanting to add too many technical elements at once that might potentially promote confusion before really needing to, and as I have previously stated the rudiments exposed within this post title sequence are foundational, universal rudiments that can still apply whether golf club swingweighting works for one or not.  But since swingweight is intimately involved here, I will go over the specific elements of golf club swingweighting that are needed to efficiently continue this discussion.

I shall stay with my conviction that this “free” version of Waggle Weight Wisdom™ will contain no aiding drawings or the like and comprise solely text, although I certainly and thankfully plan to integrate an abundance of visual aids in some version(s) in the future.  Even my daughter, with a Master’s Degree in Anthropology and maybe having read more material in a single year than I have in my entire life, commonly first looks for how many pictures any given work has so she does not have to read as much, perhaps mastering that particular trait from me.  But such as it is for now, picture a golf club swingweight scale, where visual examples of various scale models can at this time be found at any number of other sources if one is not already familiar with what such a device generally looks like.  A swingweight scale for measuring a golf club’s balance is a device that has some length to ranging from roughly fourteen inches to more than twenty inches depending upon the exact scale design and any added features apart from club balance measurements, such as being able to measure golf club and/or club component total weights as well.  The scale’s width is generally little relative to its length and the scale has mechanisms to help secure a golf club at the club’s grip end and further down the shaft.  There are various designs of these mechanisms on various swingweight scale models.  The golf club sits in the scale for measuring with the club’s shaft in an essentially horizontal position, with its clubhead generally hanging downward by gravity based on the exact clubhead design.

A standard or sometimes called Lorythmic swingweight scale design (the name given to the original scale model) measures a golf club’s balance around a fourteen-inch fulcrum point distance as measured from the very end of the club’s grip cap down the shaft line.  Balance measurements, which can be expressed in different forms such as the common letter-number combination that most people are familiar with or plain numerical numbers if desired as just two examples, typically denote a balance relationship existing of a golf club’s clubhead side of the fourteen-inch fulcrum point location relative to its grip side of the same fourteen-inch fulcrum.  Higher measurement values typically represent heavier balance relationships of a club’s head side relative to its grip side.  The scale’s mechanism for measuring such golf club balances can also vary from scale model to model and might comprise a mechanical sliding weight along a balance beam generally running parallel to the club’s shaft and that must be manually moved to obtain the club’s balance reading, or might be electronic that does not use or need a mechanical sliding weight as examples.

With that brief yet still cruel, verbal-only description behind, envision such a scale placed in front of one in a level position (unlevel positioning can affect the accuracy of designed readings) and with the scale’s grip-holding mechanism placed to one’s left for explanatory purposes.  Any given golf club when in the scale will thus have its grip end to one’s left and from there the club will extend to the right.  To supplement the above description of scale operation, by engineering design a scale’s club-holding mechanism further down a club’s length does not have to be a matching distance away from the scale’s grip-holding mechanism to that of the scale’s fulcrum distance and could be in a different location than the fulcrum mechanism.  It is presumed that a standard, fourteen-inch swingweight scale model is being utilized here.  When properly placed in the scale, the head ends of various golf clubs will be differing distances to the right of the scale’s club-holding (and fulcrum) mechanisms depending on the clubs’ total lengths, while the clubs’ grip ends will always be the identical distance away from the scale’s club-holding (and fulcrum) mechanisms.  But again, different scale models could have one or more design features that may vary notably from that described here.

Now with any given golf club placed in the scale I want to quickly review certain scale measuring properties discussed earlier.  If one were to take a five gram weight and put it on top of the club’s grip cap or scale mechanism holding the club’s grip end in place over the club’s grip cap to the left, one would find that the resultant swingweight measurement value of the golf club would be reduced by about one point compared with the weight not being there, or from D2 to D1 as an example in using commonly accepted swingweight values.  In subsequently moving the same weight to the right along the club’s shaft, the club’s swingweight value would still be reduced as long as the weight remained to the left of the scale’s fourteen-inch fulcrum point location, however the reduction in swingweight value would become smaller as one approached the fulcrum point location of the scale.  In then moving the weight precisely over the fulcrum location, there would be neither a decrease nor an increase in the golf club’s swingweight value.

From there, continuing to move the weight to the right, and now being to the right of the fulcrum point location instead of the left, the club’s swingweight value would now begin to increase.  The increase would be very minor while still close to the fulcrum location, but the magnitude of swingweight change for the same five gram weight would become greater when moving the weight further to the right.  At a position that is fourteen inches to the right of the fulcrum location, the amount of swingweight value increase would be exactly the same (theoretically) as the amount of swingweight value decrease when the weight was placed on the golf club’s grip cap at the start (which was fourteen inches to the left of the fulcrum location), or approximately one swingweight point.

In continuing to move the weight even further to the right, the amount of swingweight value increase for the same amount of weight change applied would become greater still, roughly two swingweight points heavier when reaching the clubhead end of a golf club that is forty-two inches long (fourteen inches of club length to the left of the fulcrum, a first fourteen inches of club length to the right of the fulcrum, and then a second fourteen inches of club length to the right of the fulcrum (or a doubling of the club length to the right of the fulcrum than that contained to the fulcrum’s left).  Based on this example, a golf club with a total length less than forty-two inches would have its swingweight value increased by slightly less than two points if the five gram weight were placed all the way at the clubhead end, but if that otherwise same club were longer than forty-two inches the same five gram weight would increase the club’s swingweight value by slightly more than two points (compared with the five gram weight not being applied).  The longer the club the greater the increase if the same weight is placed on the clubhead end and vise versa.

A similar example can be analyzed, but rather than adding, removing, and moving around a discrete weight I will instead examine two different golf clubs using the shaft weights of 120 and 60 grams as set up in Part Forty-Two as drivers.  While actual golf clubs can of course vary in lengths from less than thirty-five inches to more than forty-five inches, a figure of forty-two inches represents a fairly close average plus allows golf clubs to be divided into three equal parts when a fourteen-inch fulcrum scale is involved as it is here.  This is what Maltby basically represented in his explanation and it works out very nicely.  And choosing two golf shaft weights that are also evenly divisible by three also helps to present a rather clean example.  In the case of the test golf club with the 120 gram shaft, each third of the shaft’s length will comprise 40 grams of weight.  Regarding the test club with the 60 gram shaft, each third of that shaft’s length will comprise 20 grams of weight.  Regardless of what length such test club drivers might actually be cut to as per previous guidelines, temporarily consider these test clubs/shafts constructed to forty-two inches in length, with the noted shaft weights existing at that length through the following analysis.

First consider the 120 gram shaft in a test golf club driver formed according to conditions previously portrayed, utilizing any given golf grip model and with the clubhead’s weight adjusted so that the club’s swingweight value is D2 as measured when in a swingweight scale.  Next contemplate the exact same golf grip and clubhead with no changes to them, being transferred to the 60 gram golf shaft, with that resultant club being put in the scale.  What do you think that club’s measured swingweight value will be and why?  It is very commonplace to think that the club’s swingweight value will be higher than D2 and that is what I thought at one time.  But the fact is the club’s swingweight value will instead go down considerably by a very rough estimate of about seven swingweight points, or to C5.  And the clubhead weight will need to be markedly increased in order to get back to a D2 swingweight with the 60 gram golf shaft installed.  This should not be hard to see when separating the test clubs/shafts into thirds and applying swingweight scale functionality elements discussed before and above.  Based upon that functionality, golf shaft sections of equal length and consistent weight situated on both sides of the scale’s fulcrum point location will effectively cancel each other out regarding a golf club’s swingweight value measurement.  In this example the scale’s fulcrum is located one third the total length of the test clubs/shafts to the right of where the clubs’ grip ends are held in the scale.

In detailing this further, the one-third section of either test golf shaft that contains the golf grip, and the adjacent middle section, are equidistant from the scale’s fulcrum point.  This circumstance effectively cancels out the effects of these “opposing” sections regardless of whether the sections weigh 40 grams each as in the case of the shaft weighing 120 grams total or 20 grams each as in the case of the shaft weighing 60 grams total.  Therefore, the section of the golf clubs/shafts that is primarily responsible for determining the difference between these test club swingweight values is the far-right third of the clubs/shafts that is nearest the clubhead.  In isolating just this particular section of the test golf club shafts, a circumstance is encountered where there is 40 grams of weight along this section for the 120 gram shaft, but only 20 grams of weight along this section for the 60 gram golf shaft.  So when a test club has its swingweight value set to D2 using the 120 gram golf shaft and then the grip and clubhead (unaltered) are in essence transferred to the 60 gram golf shaft as a different test club, there is 20 grams less weight on the clubhead side fairly close to the clubhead.  If all of this weight reduction were concentrated right at the clubhead, the resultant swingweight value reduction would be about ten swingweight points.  But since the location of the weight loss is somewhat to the left of the clubhead and within the shaft (but still fairly close to the clubhead), the swingweight value decrease will be somewhat less than ten points.

Whether or not originating from him, Maltby recommended a calculation, all else being equal, of a one-point decrease in swingweight value for every nine grams of decrease in shaft weight, figures that have held up pretty well and can be logically reasoned out once swingweight scale functioning is comprehended.  But these figures and the explanations given are simplified and there can be other factors that can notably influence and affect results.  Generally though, and certainly in this example, a relatively sizable measure of weight needs to be added to the clubhead (over what it was to achieve a D2 swingweight value when using the 120 gram golf shaft) in order to get the swingweight value back up to D2 when the same clubhead is paired with the 60 gram golf shaft.  This is the scientific physics of the situation.  Now once again assuming that golf club swingweighting works well for one and that the clubs’ swingweight values would be made the same, and for lack of a more adult word that appears most appropriate, one gets a “double whammy” when changing between clubs having different weight golf shafts.  When switching from a 120 gram to a 60 gram golf shaft (assume the same golf grip is used at the outset), the weight directly under one’s hands and continuing along the entire length of the shaft would be decreased by a total of 60 grams from that of the 120 gram shaft experience, plus at the same time the clubhead itself would be appreciably heavier when using the 60 gram shaft than it was when using the 120 gram shaft.

It should not be hard to see that this condition can easily result in one or more different perceptions among these two clubs (relative to one’s base golf swing performance), even if both clubs are at one’s best swingweight value.  As a supplemental note for those who may not be aware of certain other features of such a circumstance, with all else being equal again the absolute or total weight of any given golf club will decrease as its golf shaft gets lighter, even though the clubhead itself of the golf club typically requires an increase in weight.  In this particular example, using the 60 gram golf shaft reduces the club’s total weight by 60 grams over the 120 gram shaft, and the clubhead weight only needs to be increased by roughly 15 grams in order to get the club’s swingweight value back up to D2 when the 60 gram shaft is used.  Thus, there is still a net decrease in total golf club weight of around 45 grams when the 60 gram golf shaft is used.  I will record here again that I learned much of this basic information well regarding the relationship between golf shaft weight and swingweight scale golf club measurement (when lighter shafts were still quite novel) through the work of pioneer Ralph Maltby.  But from here certain work gets quite different.

So in getting to the real core of the matter now, and so I do not have to repeat the entire post title sequence again, certain presumptions will be made before continuing further that certain clubfitting tasks have been performed beforehand to help better secure the results that follow.  These tasks will have provided stronger substance and evidence that swingweighting works for one instead of having to solely depend on an assumption that it works, and actually seeing and believing in such evidence within a given clubfitting task is crucial toward achieving success within the next clubfitting task as is sequenced here.  As such, it is presumed that the two test golf club drivers (one each using the 120 and 60 gram shafts) have been constructed in accordance with that presented in Part Forty-Two.  It is further presumed that, say over perhaps a couple of weeks of time, one has worked with each of the test clubs (independently with no side-by-side comparisons performed) and tried a variety of different golf grip sizes and/or styles on each (maybe even trying some backweighting in “reasonable” amounts to further prove whether swingweighting really works effectively for one or not).  For every different grip situation tried on each club, the club is tested over a sufficiently wide range of swingweight values to determine with certainty what range and median swingweight value one’s most coordinated golf swings are made at.  In this case it shall be presumed that one’s most coordinated golf swings are made over the same swingweight range and at the same median value under all of these varying grip (and shaft) conditions (the whole purpose and advantage of base swingweighting even though one should always reevaluate for its efficiency of use every so often), and that this median swingweight value is D2.

With that done first, one should be more confident of setting either of the test clubs’ final swingweight values to D2 with various grip sizes on either and being able to make one’s best golf swings possible with either club set up in that way (even if later swung poorly in a side-by-side comparison with another club of the same swingweight value).  I reiterate that it is the final golf club swingweight value that is important and not some ungripped target swingweight value (another often-used process that is more convenient for a club fitter/maker but also very incorrect).  Now from this point, contemplate the following in conjunction with what has been detailed.  Consider a situation in which a standard size golf grip (of the same exact model for the best explanatory purposes) is installed on each of these test golf club drivers and each club’s swingweight value is competently set to D2.  Before personally actually swinging either test club or observing anyone else doing so, would you predict beforehand that one would make one’s best golf swings possible with both of these test golf clubs if they had the very same golf grip size on them?  If you said yes, then you bluntly stink as a clubfitter or clubfitting educator.  You stink at knowing athletic performance attributes in general as they relate to human capability, you stink at understanding golf swing performance more specifically even from a very generalized perspective first before potentially attempting to analyze any finer details regarding golf swing performance correctly, and you certainly stink at understanding clubfitting even at an extremely basic level, meaning that other clubfitting elements following in sequence cannot be accurately comprehended either.

I sort of wish there was a little kinder word I could use, but it does fit superbly, as this is something so foundational and of such a low-tech nature that virtually anyone capable of swinging a golf club backward and forward in any manner and of any skill level (even a clubfitter and even one for whom swingweighting does not even work) can learn it quite well rather quickly.  It can be learned by purchasing two each of the prescribed 120 and 60 gram golf shafts and producing four test clubs with otherwise identical characteristics but provisioning for the testing of different golf grip sizes among all four test golf clubs.  Subsequent side-by-side direct golf swing comparisons using various golf grip sizes, first done independently within each pair of same-shaft test clubs, will yield the golf grip size that one makes one’s best golf swings with for each of the 120 and 60 gram shafted clubs.  (Other side-by-side swinging comparisons both before and after the testing just described, such as a 120 gram shaft club versus a 60 gram shaft club with identical golf grip sizes on each and a 120 gram shaft club versus a 60 gram shaft club after one’s best golf grip size has been determined separately for and utilizing the pairs of 120 and 60 gram shafted test clubs and respectively installed, can reasonably add to one’s knowledge and help procure added dimensions to one’s knowledge with regard to athletic performance in general, golf swing performance more specifically, and related equipment fitting).

Under normal circumstances one’s best grip size to help one achieve one’s best swinging will be different on clubs with these different weight golf shafts.  Our human bodies are constructed and function in such a manner when it comes to holding onto and swinging various elongated objects, and not just in golf.  This particular concept also firmly exists in other activities like swinging baseball bats and tennis rackets and so should not be so foreign to the golf club fitting industry, yet it is.  The unfolding of this post title sequence, which logically dictated a discussion of a golf club’s grip versus head end while using the same golf shaft first and which required the integration of golf club swingweighting, may have perhaps temporarily shifted the focus away from the main principles and procedures that were being taught.  But now that the generalized golf club total weight has come into the picture more, it should hopefully be easier to see this missing documentation of golf that foundationally states (all else being equal) different grip sizes are needed to achieve one’s best swing performance as some or all of the remainder the implement being swung becomes lighter or heavier.

But as straightforward as these basic elements are, not being able to learn them is justly what happens to an industry that laughably instructs and encourages one’s golf grip size fitting to one’s golf swing to be done without one ever actually swinging a golf club (still far and away the most predominant process whether by physical hand measurement(s) or comfort).  The clubfitting trade always has been and continues to be loaded from top to bottom with so-called professional clubfitters and clubfitting educators that adhere to this incompetent theory and practice, with a byproduct of such inferior trade knowledge being routinely having only a single golf shaft of any given model to work with (an essentially useless arrangement) for fitting one’s best golf grip size, one of the most critical golf club specifications there is.  This situation is not helped in that golfers as a whole can hardly be considered athletes in a traditional sense and often do not even know that golf clubs can be fit and made with different grip sizes to accommodate any given golfer’s swing.  In the end, the most crucial scientific element for the best fitting of one’s golf grip size to one’s golf swing, which is the actual performing of one’s golf swing (and a whole lot of it or one should not really bother with clubfitting at all), is totally missing.  I do not call the clubfitting industry the worst in all of sports without just cause.  I call it that because it is factual even on a most elementary level, and it applies to multiple other clubfitting tasks besides grip size fitting.

Similarly to one needing larger golf grip sizes as golf club swingweight values go down as has already been discussed, one will need larger golf grip sizes as golf club/shaft total weights go down in order to get the most out of the golf swing one has.