Your Shaft Has A Backbone
One of the most fascinating aspects of the golf equipment industry, but maybe the most mysterious, is the performance of the shaft. This connection between your hands and the clubhead is extremely critical to the outcome of any single shot, and to your ability to put the clubhead on the ball consistently. Today’s topic is courtesy of Deke P., who asked about shaft spine-ing:
I've just recently discovered the idea of spine-ing golf clubs. I haven't tried it yet because I've gotten mixed reviews from my online research. My question to you is: "Does the Wedge Guy believe in spine-ing golf clubs?”Well, Deke, I personally have found this to be a more critical part of custom clubmaking with graphite shafts than steel, so let’s start this discussion by exploring just what goes on inside a graphite shaft, particularly. The way most graphite shafts are made, they are not totally symmetrical. The higher grade the shaft, the more perfect they are, but there almost always ends up being a thicker part of the cutaway cross-section, running longitudinally down the shaft. This “spine” makes that side of the shaft resist flexing more than if you bend it in any other direction.
I’ve examined and measured a great many shafts and have seen some crazy things. Clubheads that are not oriented to this spine can oscillate all over the place when clamped at the grip and tweaked. They can flex back and forth in figure 8s, ovals . . . you name it. It’s amazing that anyone could get the clubhead on the ball even some of the time.
In most cases, you can remove the shaft and rotate it in the clamp until you find an orientation that makes the shaft oscillate in a straight line. I’m a believer that you then re-install the clubhead, orienting it so that the face is at right angles to this consistent pattern.
The problem is that shaft graphics are painted on without reference to this spine, and all club makers use the graphics as a guide in assembly. So, the result is that the spine can be anywhere in relation to the clubface. That is the main explanation why you often hit a demo driver on the range and make a purchase, then cannot hit the one sent you at all.
This is too complex a subject to be thoroughly addressed in this short space, but suffice to say that shaft spine-ing is an important part of high-grade custom clubmaking. And you won’t get it from an assembly line product from a major company who is building thousands of clubs a week to meet the mass-market demands.
I highly recommend a visit to a qualified custom clubmaker to learn more about shaft spine-ing and the other nuances of precision clubmaking. After all, these tools we use are subjected to high speeds and acceleration from zero to 100 mph or more in just a few feet and milliseconds.
Little things DO mean a lot in that environment.
The Wedge Guy is sponsored by SCOR Golf, where Terry Koehler is President/CEO. He encourages you to submit your questions or topics to be considered for his columns on Tuesdays and Fridays. Each submission automatically enters you to win a SCOR4161 wedge to be given away monthly. Click the button below to submit your question or topic today.
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