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Tee2Trees

Shaft Flex: Conventional Wisdom vs Reality

4 posts in this topic

"The clubhead always leads the shaft at impact regardless of flex."  FACT.

This is undeniably based in reality and should be the basis of our understanding of how flex affects launch.

"A softer flex will give you more distance at the expense of accuracy."  NOT FACT.

This is already a windy-sounding claim, but I would assert that it is in fact mostly untrue.  I have yet to see any evidence that shaft flex significantly affects swing speed.  In theory, a softer shaft will store energy over a longer period of time and then release energy over a greater portion of the downswing, but the energy cannot be amplified.  Basically the added coil adds distance to the path the clubhead travels, but as far as I have seen this doesn't translate to ball speed, (or swing speed at the moment of impact).  Any distance gains from a softer flex would be realized from lighter weight and higher launch.  Accuracy, however, can certainly be affected.

"A stiffer flex will result in a push and a softer flex will produce draws."  FICTION.

This is a corollary to the established knowledge that the clubhead leads the shaft at impact.  However, when many players test a soft shaft that they can easily overpower the result is just the opposite, a massive push.  What gives?  It is important to remember that the head is attached to the shaft at the heel.  If the shaft is whipping through the impact zone well ahead of the wrists, the force of the shaft release will push the club face open.  Only if the shaft has an unusually high torque rating relative to flex will the softer flex close the face and produce draws.

What would be key to unequivocally demonstrating any of this is quality high-speed video of a consistent golf swing as applied to a wide array of shafts with varying flex, torque, and kickpoint ratings.  The purpose of me pointing this out is to hopefully assist anyone else in their experimenting with equipment to tweak ball flight.  I know the usual canard about the importance of getting fitted, but for many of use we are not consistent enough to get a perfect fit in a simple one hour session.  The input data for a proper fit really comes from years of practice and study.

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That set of videos would be really cool.
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Originally Posted by Tee2Trees

"The clubhead always leads the shaft at impact regardless of flex."  FACT.

This is undeniably based in reality and should be the basis of our understanding of how flex affects launch.

"A softer flex will give you more distance at the expense of accuracy."  NOT FACT.

This is already a windy-sounding claim, but I would assert that it is in fact mostly untrue.  I have yet to see any evidence that shaft flex significantly affects swing speed.  In theory, a softer shaft will store energy over a longer period of time and then release energy over a greater portion of the downswing, but the energy cannot be amplified.  Basically the added coil adds distance to the path the clubhead travels, but as far as I have seen this doesn't translate to ball speed, (or swing speed at the moment of impact).  Any distance gains from a softer flex would be realized from lighter weight and higher launch.  Accuracy, however, can certainly be affected.

"A stiffer flex will result in a push and a softer flex will produce draws."  FICTION.

This is a corollary to the established knowledge that the clubhead leads the shaft at impact.  However, when many players test a soft shaft that they can easily overpower the result is just the opposite, a massive push.  What gives?  It is important to remember that the head is attached to the shaft at the heel.  If the shaft is whipping through the impact zone well ahead of the wrists, the force of the shaft release will push the club face open.  Only if the shaft has an unusually high torque rating relative to flex will the softer flex close the face and produce draws.

What would be key to unequivocally demonstrating any of this is quality high-speed video of a consistent golf swing as applied to a wide array of shafts with varying flex, torque, and kickpoint ratings.  The purpose of me pointing this out is to hopefully assist anyone else in their experimenting with equipment to tweak ball flight.  I know the usual canard about the importance of getting fitted, but for many of use we are not consistent enough to get a perfect fit in a simple one hour session.  The input data for a proper fit really comes from years of practice and study.

I always wondered if shaft flex really effected distance or not. It does effect loading into the golf ball, so there might be some difference in speed, but its probably negligible.

There is a big push now towards understanding that shafts have both a strong axis and weak axis. Meaning shafts are not perfectly cylindrical. They've found that golf shafts, when the strong axis is aligned with the club path, produces a more consistent ball flight.

I would say that when it comes to pushes or pulls, torque is a better indicator. Since torque controls how the clubface rotates around the clubs central axis, that would have a greater dictation on were the ball starts. Less torque could lead to a push.

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For me personally, a softer shaft than fits me will just mean inconsistency more than anything else. This often leads to hooks as a miss, but that's because of the "corrections" that appear in my swing to try and compensate for the softer shaft. Not really the fault of the shaft flex, but the fault of how I react with my swing to feeling a springy shaft.

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