Swing weight affects everything from club feel to swing speed — and your confidence. So take a crash course in the science of your golf club.
By Dave Pauley
Club manufacturers invented swing weight in the 1920s as a measure of the dynamic feel of a golf club. As defined by the USGA, swing weight value relates to the moment of inertia of the club at a fulcrum point, near the grip end of the club. Moment of inertia is the resistance of an object to rotation, just as mass is its resistance to linear motion.
In layman’s terms …
The swing weight of a golf club specifies how heavy the club feels to a player swinging it, based on weight distribution. So adding weight at either end — with lead tape, weights, extending or cutting the shaft — all effects swing weight. Another way to think of this is with more weight in the head the swing weight increases, and with more weight in the handle the swing weight decreases.
How swing weight is measured
The measurement of swing weight is expressed in a letter (A-F) and number (0-9) combination. Most manufacturers will create clubs with a swing weight in the D-0 to D-2 range. If a club is heavier, at F8, for
example, a golfer must then exert more force to swing the golf club. This causes a reduction in clubhead speed, which can reduce distance and cause the club to not “feel” right. This would be the opposite for a lighter club, which let’s say is at C-0. In theory it should increase swing speed, but an improper fit may cause someone with a moderate-to-high swing speed to “lose feeling of the head” during the swing. This can result in irregular shots and poor club feel.
Why swing weight is important
As covered during a GolfTEC TECfit, we match the golfer to the most ideal fit from a technical standpoint, but also make sure they are aware of the feel component of the club. This is a very important part of the fitting process, because changing the swing weight up or down can dramatically affect the golfer’s general comfort with the club and that of course translates to confidence on the golf course.
We often here comments like, “I can’t feel the club head,” or, “The club feels too heavy,” which are clear indicators the swing weight of the club needs to be adjusted.
Swing weight numbers in action
One swing weight point generally equals 1.7 to 2.2 grams, depending on club length. If, for example, we were to add 2 grams of weight to the handle end of a D-9 club, this would reduce the swing weight to D-8. And if we instead added 2 grams to the clubhead, this would increase the swing weight to E-0. The most common way to this is to add lead tape in these areas, which, if you’ve ever seen a tour player’s bag up close, often has lead tape sprinkled throughout the bag to fully dial in their highly attuned feel with equipment.
So, try it out for yourself — experiment on an old club laying around and see which swing weight “feels” better to you!