Can A New Shaft On The Club Help The Mid To High Handicapper
The axiom goes that the shaft is the engine room of the golf club. In recent years, we’ve learned that having the proper shaft on our favourite club head will give us better performance -- especially with drivers. Oh, it also helps to have a swing that doesn’t look like a screen door coming off its hinges.
That’s not a problem for the scratch player or low handicapper who can put a consistent swing on the ball. But can the average mid- or high handicapper customize his/ her own clubs and notice a difference? Better yet, can you shop yourself for a custom shaft that will make a difference? And can you tell the difference between the many products in the market?
Questions, questions. Good thing for players in our mid-handicap category -- I have an 11.3 index -- there’s plenty of information out there compared to the old days about the benefits of a proper shaft. Many of the top club manufacturers such as Callaway have fitting shops where you can be matched for their equipment. And the leap in quality -- with graphite technology in particular -- is significant. But mass manufacturers who must put one shaft type on their heads for many golfers are looking at happy mediums, not incremental edges.
So how do you get that edge? In the old days the pro shop or mass retailer might ask you “stiff shaft or regular?” and leave it at that. Steel shafts have a much narrower range in torque so that limited interest in the subject until graphite appeared. Even today, pro shops and box stores are not generally set up to customize shafts -- but will usually do so upon request.
But thanks to online sites and sophisticated marketing you can learn a lot on your own -- and fit yourself. For instance, you can access the site forUST Mamiya -- an excellent shaft manufacturer -- and find your own fit. That’s what I did, and, for test purposes, Mamiya supplied me with three versions of the shaft that most corresponds to my swing.
In this case it’s the 46-inch Proforce VTS 6R shaft in varying torques -- red (most), silver (medium) and black (least). Torque, in this case, means the shaft's designed resistance to twisting during the downswing. I added a Titleist 910 DL adjustable-head driver and headed to the range and the course to see how much difference I noticed.
As I learned from the website, graphite stiffness and torque range a lot more than steel. While steel varies from 3 to 5 degrees, graphite can vary from ultra-stiff 1 to as high as 7 or 8 degrees. As I first picked up the shaft/ head combinations I could immediately feel they were more supple and lighter (about 60 grams) than the shafts that came with my regular driver. As a result, my club head speed increased incrementally. I found that, playing at altitude in Calgary, my drives went about 10-12 yards further when properly struck.
My righthanded swing tends more to power than smoothness, and after hitting on the range and in play, I noticed that the red shaft (with the most torque) left my properly struck shots to hang right a bit. Conversely, the black shaft with less torque saw shots moving left as the club face got past square. As a result of supplying my specs to Mamiya, I found the silver shaft delivered most consistent results.
Is it worth it for the average golfer? These shafts are going on the market in the $150 range. I would say if you’re willing to spend the extra money, yes -- even the middle handicapper can see more distance and control in the customized clubs. Each golfer is different and has different requirements, so go the the Mamiya website or other shaft manufacturer to see if they can help you, too.