Don't get shafted by bad golf clubs

KEVIN HAIME

, Last Updated: 7:23 AM ET

As the old saying goes, a good carpenter never blames his tools. But that adage just doesn't apply when it comes to your golf clubs.

Truth be told, it doesn't apply to carpenters either because any carpenter worth a lick always has quality tools.

Unfortunately, I come across golfers every day with equipment that makes an improvement in their game almost impossible.

Your clubs really do matter, especially when it comes to your most difficult one to hit -- the driver.

Over the years, I've tried drivers owned by golfers that are so poorly made that even a pro can barely hit them or get them airborne consistently.

You really owe it to yourself to get fitted for all of your clubs, especially your driver.

With the help of a pro, some demo clubs and even a launch monitor, you can find a driver that you can enjoy hitting. It's said the golf shaft is the engine of the golf club, and it really is.

Here are a few things to look for in a golf shaft as you head out to find a driver that you can hit longer and straighter:

Club Length -- Be careful when it comes to the length of your driver. The industry is telling you that longer clubs will lead to more club-head speed, but that's only a general rule. If your club is too long, you'll have a tough time hitting the centre of the face consistently, so only some of your drives will gain a few extra yards. However, your mis-hits will actually cost you some distance. It's a real tradeoff, especially if you're a higher handicap player with a little less consistent swing. Also, there are many golfers out there who actually swing shorter clubs faster because over-length drivers seem awkward. For a shorter or slighter person, a long driver can sometimes feel like a telephone pole swinging around you. For those golfers, shorter clubs can actually be swung quicker and more consistently.

Shaft Weight -- Golf clubs have changed so much in the last 10-15 years. There was a time not too long ago when all shafts were made of steel and they all had about the same gram weight. Today, almost every driver you'll find has a graphite shaft in it and shaft weights vary quite a bit. Today, graphite shafts can be as light as 45g and as heavy as 100g. The lighter shafts will suit slighter players with slower, more rhythmic swings, while heavier shafts will suit stronger players with quicker rhythms. Most average players should look for a shaft weight between 55 and 70g. The heavier the shaft, the stiffer it will tend to feel.

Shaft Flex And Flex Point -- Believe it or not, where your shaft flexes is just as important as how much it flexes. Every golfer understands the difference between stiff and regular golf shafts. Stiff shafts suit better players with more swing speed, while regular shafts are more flexible to help golfers with less club head speed get a little more zip into the ball. Your shaft flex point, on the other hand, dictates how much spin you impart on the ball and helps determine how high you'll hit the ball. A lower flex point (more toward the club head) adds spin and helps get the ball in the air. A high flex point (nearer the grip) prevents excess spin and helps keep the ball from soaring and floating in the wind. As you'd expect, a high flex point better suits a faster swinger and a low flex point helps a newer player jump the ball into the air for distance. When you're buying a new club you not only have to find the right flex, you also have to find the right flex point to fit your swing and body type.

Shaft Torque -- As you swing a golf shaft around you at high speed, it not only flexes and bows, it also twists. That twisting is different in different shafts. The amount any shaft twists is called the torque of the shaft and the amount of torque in graphite shafts varies from as low as two degrees to as much as 5.5 degrees. Generally speaking, lower torque values will suit higher swing speeds and reduce flight dispersion by stabilizing the club and higher torque values will help slower swingers square the clubface at impact.

When looking for a golf shaft you have to pay attention to shaft flex, shaft flex point and shaft torque because each one of those values affects how your golf shaft moves, feels and how it strikes the ball.

You should also be aware of the weight and length of the shaft because those values really affect how you will be able to swing the club.

Next week we'll look at the club head and its affects on your ball flight off the tee.


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