with Robert Bicknell
Men - Is your shaft stiff enough? OK, now that I got your attention, let me remind you that this is a golf column and you need to get all those filthy, disgusting thoughts out of your mind. Yes, you know what I am talking about and I know you know that I know that you know what you're thinking… so forget it.
We'll leave your balls out of it for now…
Stop thinking like that. We are talking about the shaft for your golf clubs. OK? Sheesh.
At the beginning of the month, I hooked up with Chris from TaylorMade to fit me for the newest SLDR driver and we spent two hours going through 15 different driver head and shaft combinations before we came down to the two best performing shafts and the best head. The difference in the heads was an extra two grams of weight and a slightly higher loft (10.5 degrees, instead of my customary 9.5). This is the difference between a driver head made for Asia and one made for the US markets. No surprise, I opted for the US head because I like it heavier.
For shafts, and this is where it gets interesting, the Flightscope computer data pointed to the S-flex (Stiff) as the best fit, but my gut instinct told me the X-flex (Extra stiff) was the right one. So I took both out to the golf course for the real test.
The problem is that I have two vastly different swings - one for the driving range and one for the golf course. I tend to swing flatter and come very hard from the inside at driving ranges, mostly due to the claustrophobic environment. I also get crazy trying to figure out my angles and never feel comfortable. The mat is square and if it is square to the edge of the concrete and square to the target, I'd have less of a problem, but then we also have the ball tray or machine next to the tee, which provides yet another angle for me to deal with. The problem is, it's almost never square.
OK, I'm psychotic, I get it.
On the course, I have no problems with my alignment or feelings of a restricted swing area. I can plan my shot trajectory and flight line, line up my shot and pull the trigger without a second thought.
As I expected, after nine holes with each shaft, the X-flex outperformed the S-flex. It wasn't even close. I could swing as hard or soft as I wanted with the X and always knew where the clubhead was in my swing. With the S-flex, I had to slow down and try to keep the ball in play.
This is NOT what I want in a club. I don't want to have to change my swing to fit a club. I want the club to fit my swing and, that means, allowing me hit the afterburners.
One of my golf students had a lesson the other night and this guy can really pound the ball into next week. I don't get out-driven often, but this guy could probably do it. Over the last eight weeks, we've built him a pretty solid swing, but he was still having trouble from time to time with his driver.
When I let my student try my SLDR with the X-shaft, he was cranking out perfect draws like a machine. While the SLDR is a great club, so is the Titleist 913D driver, which my student uses, so it's not the clubhead. It's also not the swing.
It's probably the shaft, so I made a call to Lars Holden over at Titleist to see if he has an X-shaft demo in stock for him to try next lesson.
I have tried to tell players for years, as both a teacher and a GM/Director of Golf, that if you haven't had your clubs fitted for you correctly, you're giving away strokes to your opponents. It makes a huge difference to your game and you can see the results almost immediately.
Both Titleist and TaylorMade have fitting days at various driving ranges throughout the country and you should take advantage of it to see if your equipment is hurting you.
Bottom line: Your equipment should help your game, not hinder it. — VNS