Myth-Busting Club Fitting and Shaft Deflection

By Ryan Gager

When it comes to golf club fitting, there are countless myths and misconceptions that can lead players astray. One area where golfers often get caught up in myths is the selection of driver shafts. In this edition of Club Explorers, we’ll dive into a conversation between Nick Clearwater, Senior Vice President of Player Development at GOLFTEC, and Kevin Weeks, Director of Instruction at Cog Hill, as they bust the myths surrounding driver shafts. Let’s separate fact from fiction and gain a better understanding of what truly matters when it comes to fitting the right shaft for your game.

Understanding Shaft Deflection

Shaft deflection refers to how much a shaft bends during the swing. Clearwater and Weeks use the example of a shaft bending slightly forward towards the target during impact. This deflection can affect the performance of the clubhead and ultimately influence the ball’s launch conditions.

By measuring the deflection of a shaft, it is possible to determine its impact on club head speed. However, the extent to which deflection contributes to speed is often overestimated. Clearwater and Weeks stress that excessive deflection can lead to undesirable outcomes such as hitting the ball low on the face, resulting in increased backspin and reduced distance.

In case you missed it, here’s a great driver fitting we did, focusing on getting the correct shaft, with GOLFTEC Athlete Joe Hooks.

An example of shaft deflection is when your shaft bends toward the target during impact.

Examining the Impact of Shaft Kick

Another aspect discussed in the video is the notion of shaft kick, which refers to the forward bending of the shaft during the swing. Clearwater presents data from GOLFTEC’s partner Gears Sports to demonstrate how shaft kick affects clubhead speed. The results reveal that the contribution of shaft kick to increased speed is minimal.

For example, with the assistance of Gears’ measurement, it is evident that the contribution of shaft kick to clubhead speed at impact for professional players like Dustin Johnson and Jamie Sadlowski is marginal—only a few miles per hour. And Rory McIlroy, who is known for his tremendous distance off the tee, actually experiences a decrease in clubhead speed due to shaft deflection.

Rory McIlroy actually experiences a decrease in clubhead speed at impact due to shaft deflection.

Proper Driver Fitting and Shaft Selection

Clearwater and Weeks discuss how shaft selection involves more than just deflection and kick. Different shafts exhibit variations in deflection, droop (flexing towards the golfer during impact), and twist during the swing. Changing these characteristics without a deep understanding of their impact can alter the strike location and, consequently, affect overall performance.

To optimize launch conditions and achieve consistent results, it is crucial to consult professional fitters who possess the necessary knowledge and expertise. At GOLFTEC, we look at three main categories when fitting Students correctly for a driver:

  1. Launch Angle: A launch angle between 13 and 15 degrees is ideal to get the correct height and trajectory on your drives.
  2. Backspin: Generating backspin between 2,000 and 3,000 RPM is ideal to maximize your carry distance.
  3. Landing Angle: Also referred to as descent angle, is ideal between 35 and 38 degrees. This will maximize the amount of roll you get after your drive lands.

In the pursuit of maximizing performance, it’s essential to separate fact from fiction when it comes to driver shafts. The myth of a single perfect shaft is debunked, emphasizing the multitude of options available and the importance of personalized fitting. Understanding the impact of shaft deflection and kick is crucial, with excessive deflection and kick potentially leading to undesirable outcomes.

By relying on professional fitters at GOLFTEC with comprehensive expertise, golfers can make informed decisions based on their unique swing characteristics and performance goals. Avoid getting caught up in the minutiae and myths surrounding driver shafts, and instead, focus on the holistic approach to fitting that yields optimal results on the course. For more help with getting fit for clubs or any other part of your game, find a local GOLFTEC near you.

Check out other driver videos from GOLFTEC below, including shaft comparison with Brad Skupaka, plus PGA Tour winner Keith Clearwater comes in to GOLFTEC for a driver lesson with Nick Clearwater.

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