Not many people seems to be aware that length and weight of the golf clubs can alter a golfer’s vertical swing plane, swing path and face angle. A lot of time, golfers will think that shaft fitting is just about matching the right flex. But we think flex is really a fine tuning mechanism. Roy Nix (Chairman of the Association of Golf Clubfitting Professionals) thinks that shaft weight, shaft length is far more important than the shaft flex. This is also something we agree. We believe a golfer can hit reasonably good golf shots if his club is the best overall weight and head weight along with being the best length for him regardless of the flex. Only after getting the total weight, weight distribution and length right can we begin the process of finding the best flex and shaft profile for our golfer to get the maximum out of his shaft.
This is how Roy puts it:
If you think of it like a car… Once you get the engine you want, 289, 327, 454, etc. (weight, length, etc.) you can then begin to put in the hottest plugs, pick the best fuel injection system, tweak the valves, etc. (find the best flex profile) to maximize engine performance. You can’t fit a 454 CID into a Mini Cooper and you can’t get much work done putting a 4 cylinder into a cement truck, any more than a 60 year old lady at 4′ 10″ and 85 lbs will handle a 130 gram steel shaft 46″ long very well regardless of the stiffness of that shaft. Give her a 45 gram graphite at about 43″ long and she will hit it reasonably well even if it’s an X stiff compared to the 130 gram steel at 46″ even if it’s an L flex.
If you want to go back to shoes… Imagine a track and field guy wearing steel toed work boots to do the high jump with, or a worker in a steel plant wearing the high jumpers track shoes.
Collectively, in the association, we found that the total weight of the club is critical to how the golfer can swing that club. Chance are the lighter the clubs weight the more likely the golfer is to swing it steep or upright and the heavier the more likely to swing it shallow or flat. The weight distribution is critical to how well the golfer will square the face at impact. The heavier the head the more likely to leave the face open at impact and the lighter the head the more likely to close the face at impact.
The length is also important in getting the swing plane right. You can’t very well get a 10 foot shaft to get you to Hogan’s alley or get your right elbow on your right hip on the downswing can you? The shorter the club the more likely you will be steep and the longer the club the more likely to be shallow.
Try getting on a FlightScope or Trackman and hitting a 45 gram shaft then hit a 130 gram shaft and see what happens to your swing plane/face angle. Try adding lead tape to the head of a light club and see if the face gradually opens more as you add more and more weight to the head. Add it 4 grams at a time. That is about 3 or 4 inches of lead tape. Just wrap it around the hosel one strip at a time (easy to get on and off) and see what happens to your ball flight as you add the weight. For length just tell me if your 3 iron or your wedge is more steep or more shallow. What happens to your spine angle as you go from 3 iron to wedge? Same thing happens when you go from 46 inch driver to 43 inch driver too. Sometimes a half inch in length or a few grams of weight can make a significant difference in accuracy, consistency, distance, trajectory and ball flight. So can 2 cpm in flex when fine tuning a shaft.