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Shindig

Am I deluding myself about shaft flex?

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I got my current set of irons about six years ago.  I know I obsessively used the Mizuno swing optimizer to select a shaft.  I ended up with FST 115, stiff flex, soft stepped, -1/2".  I have had some great rounds and great shots with these irons.  These are not Mizuno irons (they are Maltby K-30s).

I was debating a new set of irons, and in part I was wondering if this was still the right fit for me.  I know I deluded myself about a number of things back then, and I've found posts from that era when I say I hit an 8-iron 135 yards (for reference, that's a toss up of 6- or 7-iron for me at the moment).  I bet I hit very few GIRs back then if that was my thinking (I didn't keep as detailed records as you'd think).

There was a convenient Ping Demo / Fitting day near me at a Roger Dunn a few days ago that had a launch monitor, so I figured I'd go try.  If I were to get a new set of irons, Ping's offerings are at the top of the list (I marginally prefer the look over Titleist APs, and also their partnership with TST would break the tie in their favor).  My goal was to find out what, if anything, the difference would be between my current set and the Pings, plus if I decide to buy the Ping irons, now I have the specs to order.

After trying many combinations (I even took practice swings before hitting the ball, trying to emulate a good range/course practice), we ended up with a suggestion for R-flex and a shaft that weighs 105g (they gave a specific one).  On the store's launch monitor, I was hitting the G-400 7-iron 148-150 yards with the recommended shaft.

Now, that 7-iron is one degree STRONGER than my 6-iron.  Six years ago, I would have said "well, that's why I hit it so much farther," as I was quick to dismiss any set that had a PW with less than 47 degrees of loft (back before I understood there were non-marketing reasons to have these lofts).

Except... I hit it more than a club further.  If I need anything over 140 yards, I'm probably not hitting my 6-iron.  GameGolf has my 6-iron at 136 yards. I can recall one shot where I hit my 6-iron more than 140 yards recently.  I was trying to lay up short of a green that I couldn't see because of my tee shot position.  I could see the greenside bunker left of the green, a little over 140 yards away and up hill.  Well, I don't hit my 6-iron that far, so I'll hit that and use the bunker as a target.  Guess where I ended up.

Anyway, I thought I'd ask if anyone thinks I'm deluding myself (I don't think that's something I can figure out from within) about flex.  If I am, and given that I'm taking lessons fairly regularly, am I possibly looking at running into a situation before too long where I should have stiff flex?  Or maybe there's another factor with their clubs (they also suggest I play -1/4" not -1/2", but that's not the big difference in distance either).

Can shaft flex really be that big a difference?  My 31-degree iron at 136 yards, their (smaller sample size of shots hit) 30 degree at 148?  Even if you think of "their 7" and "my 6" as the "same club," that's over a ten yard difference because of shaft flex (or other variables).  And if it carries up the line at 10-yard increments, I'd replace 4-hybrid through PW in my set (I don't hit full shots with my GW, so I'd keep that).

For what it's worth, I think my approach shots are a game strength at the moment.  I lose 1.29 shots per round average on approach **compared to a 5-handicap**.  I gain 1.32 per round compared to a 10-handicap (today's revision places me at a 14.0).  Versus the 10 handicap, I lose .22 driving and... let's say more on the other two categories. 

My latest "My Swing" post includes two videos of me swinging at speed in case someone with a far better eye than I have wants to see how the shaft behaves in a swing (direct link to comment with videos (edit: or maybe just the last page of the My Swing thread?)):

Thanks in advance for any insight offered!  I'm up for learning more about flex, if I'm deluding myself, and for advice and suggestions about whether I should consider shaft flex changes.

One other data point:  two years ago or so, a Titleist rep fit me for my driver and I have stiff flex in that.  I don't think I swung better then than I do now, and I don't think that shaft is mis-fit either.

Edited by Shindig
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I have owned several sets of Titleist AP2 irons with different shafts. My own experience: A regular shaft will produce a slightly higher ball flight AND a softer feel when striking the ball AND a bit more dispersion. A stiffer shaft will produce a slightly lower ball flight and a harsher feel (especially on mis hits) and a bit less dispersion. Distance wise there may not be that much difference!!!! I prefer regular shafts mainly because I like a softer feel when hitting the ball.

This is based on my own experience. Other people may have different results.

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There is no industry standard for shaft flex. Static weight, kickpoint, bend profile, etc., all affect launch conditions. Get fit and play the best shaft for your swing.

Plus, nobody else cares what shaft flex you use :-)

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I viewed your full swing six dtl.  Are you saying that carried 135-ish?

To me,  I have a real hard time believing that...

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1 hour ago, billchao said:

There is no industry standard for shaft flex. Static weight, kickpoint, bend profile, etc., all affect launch conditions. Get fit and play the best shaft for your swing.

Plus, nobody else cares what shaft flex you use :-)

Great point, billchao! Shaft flex, etc., is what the manufacturer says it is! There is no objective standard! If you can, find the book The Search for the Perfect Golf Club, by Tom Wishon, and just read the chapter "Getting Shafted"! He tried to introduce objective standards into golf shaft specs and eventually gave it up due to the forces arrayed against him!

Yes, the proper shaft can make that much of a difference! Go with what works. That's what the pros do!

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As for myself I like the Ping TFC 189 I think stock shafts in r.  No fitter ever recommended a stock r shaft but I like the feel so went with it.  My six is not a 135 club.

Everyone is a little different imo.  I have hit everything in driver except a ladies flex and just seem to do better with more flex.

One cheap quote stiff shaft I also really liked in driver was Aldila green nv.

I hit driver maybe 43.5 or 44 though.  

If the club is too boardy it gives me trouble.  Most low caps seem to gravitate towards dg x shaft in my area.  I don't care for them.  Could be I just don't load a shaft much...Don't know  don't care for right now.

Imo feel is big.  Also I have tried a club before and been unable to hit the sweet spot.  (Driver big name not cheap demo)  Took it back into the shop and told the kid who is under five cap and he was like me neither!  Lol He was like that club sucks.  

Also puring some cheap Tommy Armour something on the monitor...Bought it and lured one and second one fracked the head.  Tried another and no love.  Used the money for clothes.

 

 

Edited by Jack Watson

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2 hours ago, Jack Watson said:

I viewed your full swing six dtl.  Are you saying that carried 135-ish?

To me,  I have a real hard time believing that...

That specific shot?  No idea.  It was at a range that wasn't particularly well marked and I didn't laser any targets today.  GameGolf has my on-course 6-iron highlighted at 136 yards.  That, and the distances mentioned above, are carry + roll not just carry. 

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Shaft flex and everything else about the club doesn't matter anywhere near as much as what you put in. Yes, it's good to get it right, but it won't be the end of the world if you're slightly out. I found these videos interesting on the subject:

 

Also, nobody (who matters) cares what club you hit to what distance, whether it's a seven or a six. As for where the extra distance is coming from, consider:

  • Shaft length - if the club is longer, you may find it a bit harder to control (at least, the long irons)
  • Spin rate - bringing this down will add distance, but to the detriment of stopping the ball on the green.
  • Height - does it launch too high for you?

At the end of the day, go with what works over everything else.

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16 hours ago, billchao said:

There is no industry standard for shaft flex. Static weight, kickpoint, bend profile, etc., all affect launch conditions

BC is on target with this dose of reality. The verbal flex descriptions of regular, firm, stiff follow no industry standard. One attempt to clear this came from Kim Braley, originally of Royal Precision and now director of R&D for KBS shafts. (Royal Precision developed the Rifle and Project X shafts, which are now owned by True Temper).

Braley refined the measurements of CPM (cycles per minute) and patented the FCM (frequency coefficient matching) system to compare different models and brands of shafts. Originally, CPM was used by clubsmiths to frequency-match sets of clubs - make sure all the shafts prepared for an iron set had the same comparative flex. (Without going into a full-blown physics class, let's just say that steel shafts pre-2000 had manufacturing variances as to weight and flex. (These variances still exist, although much smaller now in better shafts.) The idea was that if you took a case of shafts and weighed them, you could group them into sets that were within a couple of grams of each other and get a more uniform set of iron shafts.

CPM = cycles per minute, a three-digit number gathered during shaft oscillation tests. For example, CPM = 265 would be a fairly stiff shaft compared across shaftdom.

FCM = a two-digit decimal, such as 6.5 (see FCM chart below). A Project X shaft with FCM = 6.5 would be quite stiff. (Caution: A PX shaft rated at 6.0 is the same as a old Rifle shaft rated at 6.5. IF you're dealing with older Royal Precision shafts, consult a vereran clubfitter!) 

For more background:

16 hours ago, Shindig said:

Anyway, I thought I'd ask if anyone thinks I'm deluding myself (I don't think that's something I can figure out from within) about flex.  If I am, and given that I'm taking lessons fairly regularly, am I possibly looking at running into a situation before too long where I should have stiff flex

A couple of cautions here. One pro who is excellent as and instructor and clubfitter has this advice: Get clubs for the swing you have today, not the swing you hope to have a year from now.

Another comes from our own @1badbadger who kindly gave me advice when I was agonizing over shafts a couple of months ago. Be aware that, for example, a Cobra R-flex fairway wood shaft that's marked as a certain flex and weight may not match up perfectly to the "same" shaft from another batch. Although labeled as the same model, often different shaft makers will split up the total Cobra or Titleist demand, since no one company had the capacity for quick turnout of all the shafts a big club maker needs. So, you get lot-level and company-level variations in weight, flex, and quality. 

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"Be aware that, for example, a Cobra R-flex fairway wood shaft that's marked as a certain flex and weight may not match up perfectly to the "same" shaft from another batch."

Yes, totally true. When I buy my Titleist drivers or woods I will go to the store and grab three "identical" clubs (same head and same shaft), then I will hold the ends of the shaft and try to flex it. Always one feels softer and one feels stiffer and one in between, even though all three are marked the same. Manufacturing tolerances are greater than people think.

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As others have mentioned the label on the shaft means little to nothing.  Some companies will label a senior flex shaft as stiff flex so some poor fool can think he is stronger than the average person.  You have to go with what feels right and gives you the most consistent results, regardless of the flex or name on label. Then learn to ignore the guy in your group that hits his PW 150 yards with a drop and stop shot into the green, and accept that you need a 5 iron shot that lands short and rolls up onto the green.

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Yes you are deluding yourself about shaft flex.  Its impact is minimal unless you are very very consistent.  If you get an extreme shaft you may see a difference but a regular or stiff shaft on an iron is not going to make a huge difference.  Certainly nothing to obsess about.  Picking a shaft from a chart is worthless.

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For me, the only time the shaft flex shows a noticeable difference is when we are talking about the same brand and model. For example, Dynamic Gold AMT R300 vs S300, yes I will feel a difference. I'm now using XP95, and I can also feel the difference between R300 and S300. 

Now, AMT R300 is stiffer than XP95 R300. Here the comparison does not work  because it's different model shafts.

Edited by arturo28mx

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FWIW: I think flex is way over rated. I think for a normal man still in their 50's, or younger, "regular" or "stiff" is fine.

I think to casual amateurs, length and lie angles are much more important.

Getting the flex just the way you want it matters to professionals MUCH more than us "hacks".

Just my 2 cents worth.

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Shaft flex can make a noticeable difference, so don't dismiss the importance of playing the correct flex.

My experience comes first-hand from being a professional club fitter and equipment tech for the last 19 years.  I have worked with players of all abilities from beginners and high handicappers to winners of major championships on the PGA Tour.  The difference in shaft flex is a real thing.  Shaft companies wouldn't spend time and money in R&D to produce shafts in various flexes if it didn't matter. And I have seen the difference it makes over and over, not only in my own game, but with the thousands of players I've worked with over the years.

Yes, it's true there are no industry standards regarding shaft flex (or shaft length, loft, lie angles or swingweights), so your ideal flex may have a different designation depending on the make/model.  But it doesn't matter what it's called...just that it fits you.

And the theory that the "average" mid to high handicapper isn't good enough to tell the difference, or it won't matter, and that fine-tuning your shafts is for tour guys only is not true.  In fact, the mid and high handicappers often see more dramatic results than low handicappers and pros.  

The way a shaft flexes during the swing, or "loads and unloads", has a major influence on what happens at impact. For example, a shaft that is too stiff for a player will not load and unload correctly, which can cause shots to fly low and right (for right-handed players).  Your swing might be fine, but because the shaft doesn't fit it causes poor results.  To compensate, it's natural to make adjustments in your swing to try to hit the ball straighter and higher.  You may not even realize you're doing this.  Even if you adopt a swing that hits the ball straighter, it's hard to make the same compensations every time, so it will always be inconsistent.  A properly fit shaft will allow you to swing normally, and produce the correct trajectory and optimize distance.

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On ‎8‎/‎4‎/‎2017 at 2:42 PM, BallMarker said:

FWIW: I think flex is way over rated. I think for a normal man still in their 50's, or younger, "regular" or "stiff" is fine.

I think to casual amateurs, length and lie angles are much more important.

Getting the flex just the way you want it matters to professionals MUCH more than us "hacks".

Just my 2 cents worth.

@BallMarker I humbly disagree with your statements.  The entire makeup of a club makes a difference to any golfer no matter their ability or age and in fact it can make the greatest positive impact to the high handicap golfer vs the lower handicap golfer. With the correct set up you will maximize distance, dispersion and then enjoyment.  This is done best by going and getting professionally fitted. This also includes proper shaft flex as well as weight.

Now I also do agree with your statement that flex can be over rated if that is all you look at regarding selecting a new set of clubs and shafts.   And to pound this home, the best way to avoid this pitfall is to get professionally fit and go into the fitting with a open mind.

In my opinion the single largest advancement in the game of golf over the last 10 years or so has been the access for all golfers to a Professional Fitter.

Also of extreme importance is having a high quality golf instructor and take lessons. 

If the Pros are still taking advantage of both of these items why is it that Amateurs are so reluctant too?

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On 8/4/2017 at 2:42 PM, BallMarker said:

Getting the flex just the way you want it matters to professionals MUCH more than us "hacks".

Reminds me of a video clip I saw of Lee Trevino (just a few years ago) testing a driver. First shot was 97 MPH, second was 109 MPH, and the next three were 104, 106 and 105. That's pretty consistent for a retired 72 year-old (then... he's 77 now).

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On 8/9/2017 at 9:08 PM, djake said:

@BallMarker I humbly disagree with your statements.  The entire makeup of a club makes a difference to any golfer no matter their ability or age and in fact it can make the greatest positive impact to the high handicap golfer vs the lower handicap golfer. With the correct set up you will maximize distance, dispersion and then enjoyment.  This is done best by going and getting professionally fitted. This also includes proper shaft flex as well as weight.

Now I also do agree with your statement that flex can be over rated if that is all you look at regarding selecting a new set of clubs and shafts.   And to pound this home, the best way to avoid this pitfall is to get professionally fit and go into the fitting with a open mind.

In my opinion the single largest advancement in the game of golf over the last 10 years or so has been the access for all golfers to a Professional Fitter.

Also of extreme importance is having a high quality golf instructor and take lessons. 

If the Pros are still taking advantage of both of these items why is it that Amateurs are so reluctant too?

Well, okay.... My main point was, most amateur swing changed from day to day, even swing to swing.... mainly because their overall mechanic isn't the most desirable.

I just think telling someone who shoots in the  mid 80's, or more, to get professionally fitted is premature, and waste of money.

Instead, I'd tell them to make sure their game is "solid" and consistent, first. Then go get fitted.

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