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The Art of Clubsmithing: Shaft Tipping, Cutting and Gripping
Start with the right fit for you
Distribution of force during a golf swing starts from one’s core and flows down through the arms, along the shaft and is delivered at impact between the ball and the clubhead.
Now, that sounds simple enough (Right?), but there are many points along this chain of distributed energy where power and control can be lost. As we all know or could imagine, in golf we should try and harness every foot or pound of torque and every variable per second of velocity.
The problem is if we lose control and power in the shoulders, elbows or wrists — then we lose control of the shaft’s effectiveness and the club itself. The loss of power in one’s body is a whole separate issue and requires a swing analysis, or at the very least, a lesson or two.
However, with the shaft, we can always find a match that’s best for you.
Let’s get a run down-on shafts. Shafts come in different flexes, here are some flex suggestions based upon swing speed. These figures are taken from TaylorMade’s fitting system:
Shaft Flex Selection (Driver)
Carry Distance — Swing Speed — Flex
Less than 180 yards — Less than 75 mph — Ladies (L)
180 to 200 yards — 75 to 85 mph — Senior (A)
200 to 240 yards — 85 to 95 mph — Regular (R)
240 to 275 yards — 95 to 110 mph — Stiff Firm (S)
More than 275 yards — More than 110 mph — Tour Extra Stiff (X)
Shaft Flex Selection (6-iron carry distance)
Carry Distance — Swing Speed — Flex
Less than 100 yards — Less than 60 mph — Ladies (L)
100 to 130 yards — 60 to 70 mph — Senior (A)
130 to 155 yards — 70 to 80 mph — Regular (R)
155 to 175 yards — 80 to 90 mph — Stiff Firm (S)
More than 175 yards — More than 90 mph — Tour Extra Stiff (X)
The importance of torque in golf
Torque is basically how much the shaft twists and allows the clubhead to open or close at impact. The firmer the shaft, the less torque is distributed down the shaft. So the head will be less active on impact with the ball if there is less torque.
Flexes are extremely important for proper contact when ball striking. This is because the “shaft kick” and the torque of the shaft during impact. This will change the loft of the club as well as the angle of the face at the moment of impact.
Everyone should know that flex absolutely is extremely important and helpful for any and all players. Flex can help add yards to any drive as well as help a club become square at impact if the shaft is properly fit to your specifications. With this said, if improperly fit the shaft can hurt yardage as well as create some serious problems with the clubface at impact. Proper shaft fitting is something that no player should overlook if they want to improve their game.
Torque is a specification that is found on most shafts and can be played to your advantage. However, if unchecked the torque can really throw off your ball flight by affecting spin rates.
There was a previous article on our blog that detailed shaft “kickpoints.” Kickpoints are very important for every player. The kickpoint is part of what defines the degree of loft at impact. If we want to drop the ball flight down, we can get a shaft with a firm tip.
The shaft Master winner Bubba Watson uses is a Bi-Matrix Shaft with a steel tip to help almost eliminate tip flex. To increase the height of your ball flight, we can find a shaft with a lot of tip flex to help add loft to your clubface at impact.
Now that we see the importance of flex, let’s get into the modification process. Just about any shaft can be tipped to fit into your club. Where older clubs are shafted straight into the head, newer clubs have shafts tipped to allow of adjustability as well as ease in changing shafts.
Tipping a shaft involves the removal of the paint from the tip of the shaft to allow the epoxy glue to form a strong bond to the shaft. This is done either with a hand tool or a grinding wheel.
A grinding wheel can remove the paint, however. So to be more precise with the paint removal, it is usually preferred to have the paint removed with a hand tool to guarantee that the shaft’s graphite composition is not damaged and that only the paint is removed.
Once the paint is removed, the inside of the shaft tip is scoured with a tool to give greater surface area inside the tip. This also allows the epoxy to have a stronger bond to the inside of the tip. With the proper epoxy mixture we then coat the inside of the tip as well as coating the tip of the shaft itself. The tip is then slid onto the shaft and adjusted to insure the epoxy is even inside the tip and that the tip is properly aligned with the shaft to allow for the adjustability to be correct with the manufacturer’s specs.
Once the tip is secured and the epoxy has dried creating a strong bond, we can now move onto shaft cutting. Shaft length is equally important as shaft flex. With a shaft that is too long, we can face difficulty with the control of the clubhead. The longer the shaft, the stronger one’s wrists must be to get the club square at impact.
But a longer shaft will produce a higher swing speed. A good analogy for this is to reference the gears on a bicycle. With a larger gear, you can get faster speeds with the same effort given for a small gear. However, to start pedaling in high gear can prove extremely difficult. In golf that would be like having a shaft that is too long to consistently hit square by leaving the clubhead open at impact.
Here are some Taylor Made’s specifications on shaft lengths:
Men’s New Modern Standard Length
Club — Graphite — Steel — Ladies
Driver — 45 to 46 inches — N/A — 44 to 45 inches
3-wood — 43 inches — 42.5 inches — 44 to 45 inches
5-wood — 42.5 inches — 42 inches — 41.5 inches
7-wood — 42 inches — 41.5 inches — 41 inches
Utility No. 3 graphite — 40.5 inches — 40 inches — 39 inches
Utility No. 4 graphite — 40 inches — 39.5 inches — 38.5 inches
Utility No. 5 graphite — 39.5 inches — 39 inches — 38 inches
Utility No. 6 graphite — 39 inches — 38.5 inches — 37.5 inches
3-iron — 39 inches — 38.75 inches — 38 inches
4-iron — 38.5 inches — 38.25 inches — 37.5 inches
5-iron — 38 inches — 37.75 inches — 37 inches
6-iron — 37.5 inches — 37.25 inches — 36.5 inches
7-iron — 37 inches — 36.75 inches — 36 inches
8-iron — 36.5 inches — 36.25 inches — 35.5 inches
9-iron — 36 inches — 35.75 inches — 35 inches
Pitching Wedging — 35.5 inches — 35.5 inches — 34.5 inches
Gap Wedge — 35.5 inches — 35.5 inches — 34.5 inches
Sand Wedge — 35.25 inches — 35.25 inches — 34.25 inches
Lop Wedge — 35 inches — 35 inches — 34 inches
Note: All the estimates are different on their standard length and loft. These figures are an average.
Any shaft can be cut down to find the point where we achieve maximum clubhead speed without sacrificing control. One thing to keep in mind is when a shaft is cut down, it will become stiffer. As the strength of the shaft remains the same, the distance between flex points is decreased. So, you always have to factor in the cutting process when assessing your desired shaft flex.
Cutting is done with a high-powered cutting wheel from the desired length at the butt of the shaft.
Once the shaft is cut, we can now grip the club. Gripping is done by wrapping the butt of the shaft with grip tape. When wrapping the shaft, we can add extra grip tape to add girth to the grip. If we have a midsize grip that we would like to make a little bit larger, we can wrap the shaft several times with tape to add grip size.
The grip is then slid onto the shaft with an air-compressed gripping attachment. If you want to kick it old-school, you can bust out your bottle of grip solvent and force that bad boy onto the shaft by hand. But I can personally attest that the air gun makes gripping a whole new game when it comes to ease of use.
Now grip size is extremely important. If your grip is disproportionate there can be difficulty transferring all of that power from your wrists onto the shaft. Just as a large putter grip can help prevent wrist break during your stroke, adding a larger grip to your driver can help you from forward wrist break at impact that would otherwise create a hook.
On the other hand adding a smaller grip to your club can help your wrists get square where they otherwise would leave the club head open, causing a slice. Grip size can be figured by the size of your hands, but I find it always best to try out the different sizes as everyone has a different wrist strength.
At 2nd Swing, we have a large selection of upgraded shafts for any and all to come in and try. We have professional fitters who can help you find exactly what shaft flex, tip strength and shaft length works best for your unique swing. We also have a large selection of grips that can be added to your new or current clubs. Remember you are always welcome in either of our Minnesota locations to try out all of our inventory as well as free fittings with all club purchases.
If you happen to be out of state, or would like to browse the possibilities from the comfort of your own home I strongly recommend taking a look at 2ndswing.com. From rare and unique clubs to the best deals on genuine pre-owned clubs, 2nd Swing has you covered. As always, it is a pleasure to write to you on the possibilities of club customization and how all of this can help you enjoy a round on our fine U.S. courses.
For any customization questions or requests, please do not hesitate to email 2nd Swing Golf clubsmith Robert Reitz at Robert@2ndswing.com. We are also happy to talk about your game via telephone at (612) 216-4152, or go online to 2nd Swing’s fitting page.
Please see our images of the tipping, cutting and gripping processes for more details. Thank you for the read, and I hope all the best as you march the fairways this year.
Up next — The Art of Clubsmithing: Wedge Sole Grinds
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