The rocket science of good golf equipment
Golf equipment is governed by physics, engineering and CAD design, basically its rocket science. Dustin Johnson uses it to maximum effect hitting drives over 400 yards to a matter of feet but can getting all this right and being fully custom fitted really be of any benefit to the average golfer?
The answer is yes and an academic paper even backs it up with the conclusion that the better the golfer the lesser the possible gains. For the likes of Dustin or Rory give him an old piece of wood with a tiddly steel shaft and they’d find a way to get the ball doing something but for us mere mortals with only a small portion of their talent getting everything right for us is crucial. Look at one of the biggest golf companies, PING, their whole business is based on making clubs for the average joe (Didn’t make a club for lower handicappers till 2000 and even then it had a big cavity in the back) and not a single club is built until an order for the whole spec arrives
So where should the club golfer start first, get the latest upcharge shaft, fancy new grips, space age undercut cavity head?
How about shaft length?
Bear with me on this but let’s look first at the ball flight laws which dictate how the ball reacts to the strike and creates the subsequent flight and trajectory. Central to these, excuse my grammar, is centredness of impact, essentially how close to the percussion point (Sweet Point) has impact occurred. If we assume a centred contact then a PGA professional would be able to see a ball flight and work out what combination of the other laws, principles and preferences created it but take it off centre and we open a big big can of worms. All of a sudden the club head starts to gear (deflect) and changes where the face points and how it reacts relative to the centre of gravity so all of a sudden its like where did that curve right come from
And what is the primary influencing factor in centeredness of contact ? Shaft length
Make a shaft longer and the club will feel and become physically heavier which could cause major issues controlling the swing and even slow it down. Go shorter it’ll feel and physically be lighter so could speed up and again major problems could ensue. With both of these scattering contact across the face you could well have the ball striking a part that’s moving at 10-15% different speed to the last contact so there’s distance consistency alone totally out the window
When you change the length of the club you also effectively change the lie angle (Angle from shaft back to horizontal) which in itself creates a balance to be reached but if you’re hitting off centre then the face starts pointing in a different direction again
And if you’re struggling with contact then the only choice of club-head would be high MOI super game improvement head
And this all without looking at how length will influence your posture and set-up so how can you make sure get length right
First point of call from the PGA pro’s point of view is using static measurements to get a starting point based on your build which also get’s a comparison to your current clubs and any issues or positives they might produce. Taking some observations from you warming up with your own clubs they can make a ball park decision on how the current type of shaft is working (Graphite/Steel/Heavy/Light) and then which to use during the length fitting. Then using spray (face tape can take as much as 25% of the spin off the shot) to check your strike pattern from the static point and adjusting longer or shorter to get the balance of control of the swing, strike point and power while all the time getting crucial feedback from the golfer. This process doesn't change wether it’s an iron or wood and at all times the professional is using their skill to provoke feedback from you that helps you understand better what’s going on with how you create a golf shot