The Terrible Twos Syndrome of Golf Club Fitting: Part Seven

The combination of these factors results in a circumstance where, unless working with an adjustable-weight clubhead having a wide range of weight possibilities, not much change in golf club length can be achieved before encountering the following situation.  First, without any alterations to the clubhead’s weight, a sizable number of golfers will start to swing and play quite poorly because of resultant swingweight value changes that occur with golf club length changes of only a mere one quarter of one inch.  Second, even when clubhead weight alterations are implemented to readjust golf club swingweight after club length is changed, there is still a practical limit that does not extend very far regarding how much this can be done before a club could become less playable or even potentially dangerous (even though the club’s swingweight value might help a golfer swing his/her best).  Given a non-adjustable clubhead to work with and a nominal club length that will together produce a usable golf club swingweight value for most golfers, and even in applying all the tricks of the trade, changing the club’s length by one inch or even less from its nominal length can present challenging obstacles to overcome in order to keep the club’s swingweight balance playable for golfers in general, and changing it two inches and trying to keep the golf club playable is usually an exercise in futility, although more advances are always becoming available that offer more possible options for golfers and clubfitters.

A golf club cut two inches short of its nominal length and having a clubhead that is weighted for a playable golf club balance at its nominal length will need an inordinate amount of weight added (relative to golf club work, around one ounce) to its clubhead end in order to restore a playable golf club balance for most golfers.  And depending on exactly where all of this weight is added (down the inside of the shaft as far as it will go as one example so it will not be externally visible on the club), the playability (and/or safety) of the club may be seriously compromised.  As one potential example, if any down-the-shaft material extends above where the clubhead’s hosel ends, the possibility exists for premature shaft damage and/or breakage at the affected area.  The same down-the-shaft weighting technique can also render a golf club less playable in another respect when any added weight exceeds an amount that is not very much.  Oppositely, the same club made two inches longer will require about the same inordinate amount of weight to be removed from the clubhead end.  That can be a tedious process on a non-adjustable clubhead that might also easily affect the structural integrity of the clubhead.

One trick of the trade is a technique called backweighting, whereby instead of reducing the weight at the clubhead end to lower the club’s swingweight, weight can be added to the grip end/side of the club and the same swingweight reading can be obtained.  This concept also works in reverse (call it “backlightening” if desired), whereby instead of increasing the head weight to increase a club’s swingweight value, weight at the grip end can be removed, usually by using a very light grip.  Although it can work to a certain extent to restore a playable golf club swinging balance if any other potential options are dismissed, the use of backweighting essentially results in the adding of an influential, non-essential, and potentially inconsistent element into the equation.  Thus, I would never recommend using any type of intentional backweighting for this testing that comprises some of the most critical fundamental examining and learning about both a golf swing and related clubfitting.  Beyond this, do not be concerned about backweighting at this point if you are not familiar with or do not understand it, as even those that do use it cannot currently explain in convincible fashion why it may or may not work for certain golfers.  Unless specifically testing for backweighting alone, any and all backweighting should be avoided when a solid, fundamental golf club testing setup is desired.

Another relevant element concerning swingweighting that should initially be mentioned here (this aspect is based upon the fulcrum location of the traditional swingweighting system being fourteen inches from the grip end of a golf club) is that it takes roughly double the amount of weight change on the grip end of a golf club than the clubhead end in order to change the swingweight balance of a golf club an equal amount.  For instance, an increase in a clubhead’s weight of two grams is an average figure that will increase a golf club’s swingweight value by a single swingweight point, say from D2 to D3.  But the same D3 value can also be obtained by leaving the clubhead alone and instead decreasing the weight at the grip end by approximately four grams.  Alternately, an increase of about four grams of weight at the grip end or a decrease of about two grams at the clubhead end will typically reduce a golf club’s swingweight value by approximately one point.  These figures can vary some due to multiple factors that are involved.

Using this information and revisiting one of the above examples and backweighting, a golf club that is constructed to two inches longer than its nominal value (and having a playable golf club swingweight value at its nominal length) will have a swingweight value in the neighborhood of 12 points heavier than what typical golfers would be able to swing acceptably with.  Those 12 points coincide with roughly 24 grams of clubhead weight (approaching a full ounce) that would need to be removed in order to restore a playable golf club balance for a large number of golfers.  But if the clubhead weight cannot be reduced (or one chooses not to), if backweighting is used instead, and using the approximate 2 to 1 rule noted above, about 48 grams of additional weight would need to be introduced at the grip end of the club in order to (theoretically) restore a playable golf club swinging balance.  If a lightweight shaft is used, the amount of backweighting required may be as much as the entire weight of the golf shaft itself.  Based on this example, one might imagine how (despite the single element of golf club swinging balance being restored) various other golf club characteristics would be quite different from the club’s/shaft’s original design, certain very fundamental golf swing and golf club (component) relationships described earlier might not be learned correctly under such conditions, and why one would want to avoid such circumstances.