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Strike One

Head weight versus distance

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When I recently took up golf again following a lengthly hiatus, I was generously given a couple of slightly used Burner drivers. The thing I noticed most of all was how light the heads were. I had trouble adjusting to the feel of these clubs.

It was explained to me that the manufacturers design drivers primarily for distance, which means head speed. I assume the thinking is that the average golfer can increase the head speed of his driver if there is less mass to accelerate.

I can't argue with the marketing, but for me it didn't work. The obvious fix was to add a little weight to the head, which I did.

I took both drivers out to the range yesterday to see which one hit longer. I was curious to see how the added weight effected my distance. It was close, but the added weight increased my distance by about 10-20 yards.

This got me thinking about the physics involved. A heavier mass traveling at the same speed is going to impart more energy to the ball than a lighter mass. My swing speed is primarily governed by my ability to rotate my body and generate torque. A few extra grams on the end of the shaft isn't going to slow things down much, but it will impart more energy..

Therefore, it only makes sense to use the heaviest head I can swing comfortably. I just wonder how it effects the dynamics of the shaft.

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Most likely you were able to connect closer to the sweet spot more often with the heavier head.  With a lighter swingweight some people can have issues delivering the clubhead to the ball accurately - I think basically the brain has trouble perceiving where the club head is.  I find I can't hit my driver well without a swingweight of at least D0.  Some people like it around C5 (very light), some people like it really heavy like a wedge (my brother likes D6 for his driver, to me it feels like a piece of concrete on a stick).

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That may be so. The swing is all about timing, so maybe that's part of it too.

Kinetic energy is calculated using the formula: KE = 1/2 mass x velocity squared. Momentum (P) is calculated with P = Mass x Velocity.

A small change in velocity creates a large increase in Kinetic energy. A small increase in mass has little effect with respect to KE.

However, a small change in mass has much more effect with regards to momentum.

The question is: which has more effect imparting energy to the ball, kinetic energy or momentum?

My guess, from a purely physics perspective, would be KE. A higher club head speed would impart far more energy to the ball. Nevertheless, we have to think about what is happening to the ball at the point of impact. It's getting squished and accelerated.

At the point of contact, a lighter head will decelerate at a faster rate than a heavier head. The heavier head maintains greater velocity until the ball leaves the face. This means the ball probably spends a little more time on the face of the heavier club, where it develops a greater amount of deformity and has more time to gain energy and accelerate.

Then again, the amount of increased KE from the lighter head may do the same thing.

Interesting to think about anyway.

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Thats where you have to ask yourself what is better: higher clubhead speed or the added force that a heavier clubhead adds to the ball.  In the case of some drivers, the headweight is the same but the weight savings come in the shaft and grip.  I know that in the instance of Cleveland's 290 and 270 drivers, that is the case.

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The basic equation is

 
  m1
	v2 = ----------------  (1 + e)   u1
		m1 + m 2
 

where m1 is mass of club, m2 is the ball, e is cofficient of restitution, and u1 is the velocity of the club. A golf ball is ~45 grams. The difference between a 200 gm clubhead and a 400gm would be about 10%.  Now the tricky part is that no one can tell you how the club head speed will differ between those clubs. Some guys can swing lighter clubs faster. Other guys struggle to swing confidently with them because they can't feel the clubhead.

Originally Posted by GaijinGolfer

Thats where you have to ask yourself what is better: higher clubhead speed or the added force that a heavier clubhead adds to the ball.  In the case of some drivers, the headweight is the same but the weight savings come in the shaft and grip.  I know that in the instance of Cleveland's 290 and 270 drivers, that is the case.

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Originally Posted by x129

The basic equation is

m1v2 = ---------------- (1 + e) u1m1 + m 2

where m1 is mass of club, m2 is the ball, e is cofficient of restitution, and u1 is the velocity of the club. A golf ball is ~45 grams. The difference between a 200 gm clubhead and a 400gm would be about 10%.  Now the tricky part is that no one can tell you how the club head speed will differ between those clubs. Some guys can swing lighter clubs faster. Other guys struggle to swing confidently with them because they can't feel the clubhead.


Be careful when you start talking about feel though because for the most part, feel isnt real.

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I'm dredging up this topic because I have a unique issue...

I have a Callaway Diablo 9.5 driver with a ProjX Stiff shaft.  I hit it well averaging about 230-240.

However, My fairway is a Titleist 909F3 13* w/ a Adila VooDoo Stiff that I can drive almost as far as the driver!  It has a heavier feel at the head and a better tempo - I perceive the timing with the heavier head coming through the ball with more force at release.

So I'm wondering if I'm leaving yardage off the driver because it is so light?  Can a driver be modded to a heavier head-weight or is this a function of the shaft?

TIA

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It could also be that your launch conditions are better with a bit more loft. I'd see a fitter if I were you.
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Thanks Erik - went to the fitter and he checked the clubs: Driver is a D5 and Fairway is a D0.  He said to demo a loftier driver as you suspected...

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Thanks Erik - went to the fitter and he checked the clubs: Driver is a D5 and Fairway is a D0.  He said to demo a loftier driver as you suspected...

Sweet. Glad you were able to get some good information (from the fitter - my post was just a hunch).

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