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Owner's Corner

                                                                                                                                                                     

 

 

Hello!  My name is Don Thompson and thanks for viewing my Owner’s Corner.   I am a Viet Nam Vet (1968-1970) and I very much appreciate your visit to a Veteran's Small Business website.

I started this company in the fall of 2008 with softer 304 stainless steel irons being the foundation component so lie and loft could be easily adjusted in an affordable head.  Forged heads which by most are considered the best heads are very expensive so to me 304 stainless was the answer.  Since that time I have discovered I am able to adjust lie/loft on most irons a couple degrees regardless of the material.  Certainly adjustment on 304ss heads is far easier and I can get almost unlimited adjustment from the softer 304ss but it's not that big a deal.  Is it worth the extra cost for 304 stainless steel irons?  I personally think it is but others probably disagree.  We each need to decide for ourselves.   

As I have continued to develop Tempo Golf Components I have tried to select supporting component products that offer the greatest value without sacrificing performance. I could offer just about every shaft and grip product out there as most of my competitors do but that really serves no one’s best interest.  Alpha has become the cornerstone of my component offering because it's that good.  No clones, just solid performance heads at a fair price.  Alpha's quality, finish and performance is absolutely the "best in the industry".

I have chosen a different business model and only offer a limited selection of shafts and grips that support my personal knowledge of exactly what it takes to build a quality performance based golf club at a price we all can afford.  Grips are impossible for a small custom shop such as myself and since they do have a shelf life I have settled on Star grip as my preferred offering.

I have so much information and passion about this endeavor and industry that I desire to share with folks looking for the satisfaction of building their own clubs or choosing the route of playing with game improvement custom clubs built by someone else that I have chosen this forum, my “Owner’s Corner”, as a way to pass some much needed information on to the public; along with a little editorial free of charge.  

I sincerely hope you find all these entries of value.   Sincerely, Don Thompson


 

 

02/01/2019:  New shafts for 2019:  Well, all my pricing for this year’s shafts is arriving and as I do every year I am going nuts over some of the outrageous pricing on new shaft models.  Unless you are playing on Tour and even maybe at the collegiate level there is absolutely no reason to ever spend more than $100.00 for any shaft for any of your clubs.  If you can’t consistently break 75 the only reason I can possibly come up with for spending $400.00 just for a driver shaft is you have more money than should be allowed.  Heck, I can’t even rationalize spending $400.00 for a new driver that includes the shaft.  If you for even a second think a new driver is going to help your game with you having the same lousy swing as last year go ahead and waste your money.  You deserve the loss. 

For the first time this year I am not offering any shafts for sale that I pay more than $100.00 for.  You will see MAP prices at over $100.00 (Minimum Advertised Prices) listed on my site but I don’t pay MAP and either will you. 

This is reducing the number of shafts I am offering for sale but there are so many incredible quality high performing shafts of all different play profiles available you are not going to lose out on anything.  Besides, as a small custom shop/component dealer I personally cannot afford to stock any of these high priced shafts anyway.

02/01/2019:  OEM vs. Aftermarket Shafts:  I am asked about this question all the time. Is the shaft that came in my new $450.00 driver as good as the aftermarket shaft of the same brand and model?  Or, are any OEM shafts as good as aftermarket shafts?  The answer is maybe but more often NO!  Let me explain.

I personally have frequency profiled and measured torque values of OEM shafts and their aftermarket counterpart that looks exactly the same and often times they do not even resemble each other in their measured specification.  That does not necessarily mean the OEM shaft is bad, it just means the shafts are not the same shaft.

Let’s say I walk into the largest retail golf shop in our country and there are 100 brand new TaylorMade M6 drivers for sale.  If you examine them you will notice nearly all the drivers have the same shaft only varied by the shaft’s flex.  What do you think the chances are that the golfers who purchase these drivers all have the same swing profile?  The different shaft flex will compensate somewhat for swing speed but what about the shafts ability to compensate for how each individual golfer loads the shaft?  What about compensating for the trajectory?  The point I’m trying to make is everyone has their own unique individual swing profile and most likely very few of us will play our best golf with the same shaft in their driver.

What club manufacturers do is contract with shaft manufacturers to supply a  graphically pleasing design in a shaft profile that just might fit reasonably well a high percentage of golfers and they order 1000's of these shafts in different flexes.  Rather than compensate for trajectory with the shaft the club the manufacturer offers different lofts in their club heads.  This works well but I suggest many players might benefit more from a higher loft club face and a shaft that reduces the trajectory but seldom will you find a stiff tipped shaft in an OEM club.  It is a proven fact that the greater the loft the easier it is to hit a straighter ball.  Why do Tour players on extremely narrow fairways often opt for hitting 3 metals instead of their driver?  Giving up a little distance with a fairway hit is well worth the distance loss.

Bottom line:  The shaft is what generates the flight profile you desire just as much as the club face profile.  If you can, purchase your heads without shafts and choose your shafts that fit your swing.

 


   

01/30/2019:  Tempo Golf Components is back on line in its new format in my home state of Wisconsin.   I left Wisconsin more than 40 years ago but this is where my son and his family are so it just seemed like the time was right to finally return back to my roots.  If I had only known how cold it was going to be this 3rd and 4th week of January 2019.  I mean, -30°F with windchill of -60°F is down right painful if you need to go outside. 

I've  seriously considered shutting down the last few years but I am just too passionate about my small business and what it means to me.  I have so many loyal customers and I have received several emails asking me to keep it going.  I serve a nitch market for those players and club builders who are looking for technical support and product suggestion.  I believe I offer more technical information than any other on-line component store.

The big change I have made is that all products are priced and shown only at MAP (minimum advertised price) as established by the product manufacturer.  MAP is the price everyone in our business should show for the same product provided the manufacturer has defined a MAP.  I can sell my inventory for any price I want to provided I only advertise MAP.  So, in addition to now only showing MAPs I require either a phone call or email in order to purchase components from Tempo Golf Components.  I will always offer a considerably lower price than MAP.  My overhead is low, no expensive catalog or employees to pay.  It's just me.

Once we communicate I will then send you a detailed invoice from my QuickBooks accounting program attached to another simple invoice from PayPal.  All one needs to do is then return to PayPal and either use their credit card, debit card or PayPal account.  This invoice will include the shipping cost which will only be what the shipping costs me.  No less and no more. 


 

This is an article I pulled off the Mitsubishi website that I find pretty interesting written by David Dusek of Golfweek.  What I get from it is this:

Mitsubishi shafts are played by more of the longest drivers on Tour with eight and Aldila and Fujikura ranked 2nd with five each.  Fifteen of these players are using TayloMade M1 or M2 driver heads which means very little other than they must be paying these guys the most with sponsorships.  The fact that shafts are all over the place means the shaft is the difference maker in a driver.

Eight out of the twenty five are playing a 10.5° loft and ten are playing a 9.5°.  The lowest lofted driver is in Bubba’s driver adjusted to 8.25°. I knew more Tour players were playing a higher lofted driver than years past and this is possible because of shaft technology.  Shaft makers can produce all different frequency profiles and with a stiffer lower section of the shaft today players can increase the loft of their driver making it easier to hit more fairways.  Why do you think players pull out heir 3 metal on really tight holes.  It’s easier to control.

Personally, I think most amateurs would benefit by going to a 10.5° or even up to a 12° driver with a shaft adjustment.  I am currently experimenting with a 12° and a few different shafts.

These are all big hitters with swing speeds in the 110-115 MPH range and high smash factors to match their swing speeds.  The shafts they are all playing are fairly heavy with none of them playing an ultra-lite shaft say below 60g.  The heaviest is the Nunchuk that Jhonattan Vegas is playing at 104g but the Nunchuck is not your typical shaft.  They are all playing an X flex or TX flex which I believe is an acronym for Tour X.  Flex means little to me since there is no frequency standard within the industry that defines a shafts stiffness or ability to flex depending on your definition of flex.

One thing all of the Tour players do have in common is they are all playing high end shafts with 60% of these shafts listed below made in Japan.  As I mentioned above they are all playing a heavier shafts for stability, repeatability and lower torque than what can be offered in an ultra-lite.  I will gladly give up a fraction of a mile per hour in my swing speed for hitting the fairway more consistently with a higher smash factor.

The United States Golf Association released a report in the spring of 2016 that said average driving distance across several professional tours increased by only 1 percent from 2003 to 2015. This report did not sit well with people who believe modern golf balls fly too far and too straight, and that classic venues could be rendered obsolete for tournament play by overpowering pros.

Six months earlier, Golfweek  reported similar numbers and pointed out that in the 2014-15 PGA Tour season, 26 golfers had an average driving distance of 300 yards or more, which tied a record set in 2005.

During the 2015-16 Tour season, which ended after the Tour Championship in September, a record-setting 27 golfers averaged 300 yards or more, and the Tour’s average was 290.899. That average is slightly above the previous season’s average of 289.7 yards but just below the record 290.9 average of 2011.

While the Tour average fluctuates, it has stayed within a 3.7-yard range since 2005.

Below is a list of the 27 golfers who averaged at least 300 yards during the 2015-16 Tour season and the drivers they are currently using:

1. J.B. Holmes, 314.5 TM M1 430 (9.5°), w/ Fujikura Pro Tour Spec 83 X flex

2. Dustin Johnson, 313.6 TM (10.5°), w/ Fujikura Speeder Evolution 2. Spec 661 0 Tour  X flex

3. Tony Finau, 312.2 Nike Vapor Fly (10.5°), w/ Graphite Design Tour AD DI8  X flex

4. Bubba Watson, 310.6 Ping G (9°, bent to 8.25), w/ Grafalloy BiMatrx Tour prototype

5. Andrew Loupe, 309.3 Titleist 917D2 (8.5°), w/ Aldila Rogue Silver 70  X flex

6. Jason Kokrak, 307.4 Callaway Great Big Bertha (9°), w/ Fujikura Precursor Kuro 75  X flex

T7. Luke List, 306.9 TM M2 (9.5°), w/ Mitsubishi Diamana D+ 80 TX flex

T7. Hudson Swafford, 306.9 TM M1 (9.5°), w/ Aldila NV 2KXV Green 75

9. Rory McIlroy*, 306.8  TM (9.5°), w/ Mitsubishi Kuro Kage Silver TiNi XT 70  X flex

10. Gary Woodland, 306.1 TM M1 (8.5°), w/ Aldila X-Torsion 60 TX flex

11. Jamie Lovemark*, 304.8 TM M2 (9.5°), w/ Oban Kiyoshi HB 75 X flex

12. Ryan Palmer, 304.7 TM M1 (9.5°), w/ UST Mamiya Attas Elements Prototype 6F5  X flex

13. Adam Scott, 304.6 Titleist 917D2 (9.5°), w/ Mitsubishi Kuro Kage Silver Dual-Core TiNi 70  X flex

14. Jhonattan Vegas, 304.4 Nike VR (8.5°), w/ nVentix NUNCHUK  shaft

15. Jason Day, 304. 2 TM M1 (10.5°), w/ Mitsubishi Kuro Kage Silver Dual-Core TiNi 70  X flex

16. Justin Rose, 303.9 TM M2 (8.5°), w/ Mitsubishi Tensei CK Pro White 70 T X flex

17. Charles Howell, 303.4 PXG 0811X (10.5°), w/ Aldila Xtorsion Black 65  X flex

18. Robert Garrigus, 303.3 TM M1 (9.5°), w/  Project X HZRDUS Black 6.5  X flex

19. Brooks Koepka*, 302.6 TM M2 (10.5°), w/ Mitsubishi Diamana D+ 70  TX flex

T20. Sean O’Hair, 302.2 TM M2 (10.5°), with Mitsubishi  Diamana W-Series 70  X flex

T20. Brendan Steele, 302.2 TM M2 (9°), w/ Aldila NV 2KXV Blue 60  TX flex

22. Harold Varner III, 302 Callaway Great Big Bertha (9.5°), with Fujikura Motore Speeder VC 7.2  TS

 23. Rickie Fowler, 301.6 Cobra King LTD (9°), w/ Matrix Speed Rulz C-Type 70  X flex 

T24. Justin Thomas, 301.3 Titleist 917D3 (9.5°), w/ Mitsubishi Diamana BF60  TX flex 

T24. Jimmy Walker, 301.3 Titleist 917D2 (8.5°), w/ UST Mamiya Elements Platinum 7F5  X flex 

26. Patrick Rogers*, 300.5 Callaway Great Big Bertha (10.5°), w/ Fujikura Speeder Evolution 757 7.0 X flex 

27. Keegan Bradley, 300 TM M2 (10.5°), w/ Aldila NV 2KXV Blue 60  TX flex 

*Rory McIlroy, Brooks Koepka, Jamie Lovemark and Patrick Rogers each used a Nike driver during the 2015-16 PGA Tour season and have all since changed to new clubs. 


   

12/17/2017:  Golf in America in Crisis!   (This is an article I wrote for a golf publication last year)

The game of golf is the greatest individual sport ever played.  It teaches more of life’s quality values than any game ever to come along, especially to youngsters just being introduced to the game through a parent, the First Tee or perhaps an after school program. 

Unfortunately, golf is a dying sport with the number of rounds being played nationally on the decline for several years in a row and annually with more and more courses shutting their doors in favor of a new housing development or returning the course to farmland.

The demise is result of several factors so let’s explore some of these:

I went on line this evening to catch up on the baseball scores and take a glance at the Memorial leaderboard.  I was really taken back by the lead story on ESPN’s golf tab about Dustin Johnson’s 413 yard drive on hole number 17.  It was like this was some amazing feat.  Little was mentioned about Dustin only salvaging a par on this long par 4 hole and his score at the end of the day being +6 and already 13 strokes off the lead.  It is this very headline that has prompted me to attempt to explain what is very wrong with the game as it is played today. 

In the late 70’s and into the 80’s tremendous advancements hit the game with the first heel and toe perimeter weighted iron heads to reach the market from Ping.  In the same club head came a color coding scheme that made it possible for a player to specify the lie angle of the head since this was a cast head and very difficult to change.  Additionally,  I believe the U shaped grooves appeared in this iron shortly after modified so the grooves did not tear up the ball.  Remember, we were still playing the balata cover over the endless length of a rubber band.  Your two compression choices in a high end ball were a red lettered 90 compression or black lettered 100.  The court battles over U grooves vs. V grooves came in the years to follow.

With the introduction of these new irons came new names we had never heard of suddenly appearing on the leaderboards.  One couldn’t work the ball the same as with a muscle back blade but who needs to work the ball when just about every Tour player could now hit it straight and long.  No longer was the game about imagination and shot making.  The game was changing forever.

Next in the early 90’s came the worst thing to ever hit the game as far as club technology.  The stainless steel metal wood which if my history serves me well was first introduced by Callaway.  Soon after, as all technological advancements evolve stainless heads became titanium heads and the head volume started to increase until finally Mizuno in around 2002 introduced the first 460cc driver head and the USGA governing body declared that’s it, it cannot get any larger.  This may be the same time the driver’s face was limited to a .830 maximum on the coefficient of restitution and this is where we are still today for conforming driver heads.

I personally started playing golf when I was 12 years old living in a suburb of Madison, Wisconsin.  I saved all my money earned from shovelling snow from driveways for my summer green fees.  I would throw my father’s bag loaded with his old Hagen blades and persimmon woods over my shoulder, jump on my one speed Schwinn, and labor for a couple miles to get to the course by 6:00 AM to qualify for the kid’s rate.  I especially remember getting into big trouble if I used my dad’s Wilson K-28 golf balls so I needed to make sure I spent a little time scanning the rough for lost balls.  Who cared if it had a big smile from a miss hit.  His clubs were too long, too heavy and too strong for me but who really cared at that age if I could hit it farther off the tee than my buddies and maybe break 100.

I always walked with the clubs on my shoulder.  This is how the game was played back in the 60’s.  The weekend guys used pull carts and the really special players wearing the knickers drove these funny looking somewhat unstable gas powered Harleys with the single wheel out front.  Remember, this was Wisconsin, home of Harley Davidson.

I personally started buying golf components and assembling clubs for myself and friends in the 80’s.  It was just a cut and paste process with little understanding of the mechanics of a shaft but this was all I could afford at the time.  They were still superior to my father’s Hagen blades with the rusty heads and shafts and leather grips so worn they were hard to grip. As more and more of my golf buddies noticed my irons were looking pretty good I started reading up on club building but it still just remained a hobby.  I held a full time job as a sales engineer and being a typical sales professional it was my obligation to play in many corporate golf outings and to expense as many clients as possible to a friendly game on the weekends.  Pretty soon these guys too were asking me to build them a set of clubs.  This is kind of when I really decided to get serious about understanding the true science of club building.

The years went by and in 2007 I decided to start my golf components and custom club business.  It took me nearly a year to build my first website and take it live.  Initially I wasn’t that interested in building clubs but I found it a necessity if I was to be successful so I started buying the equipment.  The best loft/lie machine made, shaft puller, frequency machine, chop saw, belt sander, weight scales and all the other tools needed to do it right.  The business took off and along with it came the need to handle credit cards, purchase an accounting program for inventory and invoicing and all of the other painful needs for operating a small business.  I grew so fast so quickly that I actually stopped with the search engine optimization in hopes business would slow down.  I started this small business more as a hobby and it was never about the money I might make.  I think it was really about the love for the game.  Becoming certified as a club builder was expensive and I had not initially even given thought to it but in order to gain access to some of my shafts and heads my principals demanded certification. But, understanding the importance of a shaft’s design profile along with the specific design features of the different heads has made me a much better player so I have few regrets of the minimal profitability.  I have done club work for players actively on the LPGA Tour, Web.com Tour and several collegiate golfers and I am always surprised at how little they understand the mechanics of their clubs.  I have such a wonderful and loyal clientele shutting down will be hard when that day soon arrives.

Back to my discussion of golf heads and shafts.  I think I can honestly say that since the introduction of the 460cc titanium driver there really have been very few design features in either irons or drivers that have significantly lowered anyone’s scoring average.  Grips now come in unlimited colors which makes inventory a nightmare for little guys like myself so I just stock black from one manufacturer and order in any other make or color as needed.  But grips haven’t changed the game.

Composite or graphite shafts have had some impact but other than for metals and hybrids steel shafts by far outsell graphite for irons and there are performance reasons for this.  We now have adjustable driver heads for loft, lie, and face angle but this is more a gimmick and it has some pitfalls many players don’t understand.  I really think it’s all about manufacturer’s selling their overpriced shaft adapters.  We can get driver heads in different colors, different shapes, with speed bumps, speed grooves and even with the design help of NASA but the bottom line is they all need to meet the design limits as established by the USGA.  Golf club manufacturing today is all about marketing or they will all go out of business.  Nike and Adams certainly have seen the light of day and bailed.  Golfsmith a few years back ended their component business. Is anyone really so naive to think that this year’s driver models are really better than last years?  If so, why didn’t they introduce this year’s last year.  I will agree that today’s irons are yardage positive  compared to those of year’s past but this is only because they have nearly all been de-lofted.  Hardly anyone offers a one or two iron because today’s three irons are 19 degrees and today’s PW’s are 44 degrees instead of the traditional 48.  Come on player’s, smarten up.

So, why do I say the game of golf is in trouble? The No. 1 cause is the ball!  When is the last time you found a lost ball with a big old cut smile in it?  The materials and the design of the golf ball have advanced so far in the last 20 years it has obsoleted probably one half of the courses opened for play prior to 1980.  The U.S. Open at Erin Hills will play to nearly 8000 yards this year as it has the last couple of years at most majors.  Every course on Tour has had to add additional tee boxes to lengthen the yardage which means relocation of hazards.  Balls stop on a dime so we need more bunkers and larger greens made faster and faster to make the courses more difficult which slows play to the dreaded 5-6 hour round of golf.  Who in the heck wants to spend the entire day playing just 18 holes?  The ball is literally obsoleting most older traditional courses.

When are the governing bodies going to finally quit caving into the big golf club manufacturers and say “game over”.  The ball design must be rolled back and limited in its ability to travel the distances we see today or the decline of golf as a sport as we once knew it will continue down its current narrowing path. 

The No. 2 reason for golf’s decline is related to the changed monetary aspects of the game.  I am not only speaking of the cost we as players must fork out but the cost to build new courses, cost to constantly upgrade and lengthen older courses, cost to maintain courses with increases in green size, high maintenance bunkers and longer fairways with more and more grass to maintain but water resources are crunching every course.  Even if water availability is free the electric cost to run the irrigation pumps can run up to $30K a month in desert locations.  We must reel in the length of our courses to promote a new direction in the expense to play and hold on to what we have left.  The direction we are going is absolutely crazy. 

I recently moved back to Wisconsin from Green Valley, Arizona just south of Tucson.  Green Valley at one time was a retirement town built around golf.  There were eight or nine 18 hole courses in town with a relatively small population and they were all always in fantastic condition.  The population continues to increase and two courses have closed in the last five years and I know of at least three others that are struggling to remain in the black and the facilities are not even close to what they once were. 

There have been some new courses built in the last ten years in Tucson but few locals can afford to play them as they are nearly all associated with a large big name resort complex.  When prices drop in the heat of the summer when the snowbirds leave a few are semi-affordable but once fall returns and green fees start at $100.00 going up to $200.00 and greater for a round.   Who can afford this 3-4 times a week?

Now that I am back in Wisconsin I thought it would be grand to check out the fabulous courses that Kohler has built up in the Sheboygan area along Lake Michigan.  My home is just 16 miles north of Kohler's Whistling Straits course where the 2020 U.S. Open will be played.  There are additional courses there today, it is truly a golf mecca, but I can only dream of playing any of the Kohler courses.  18 holes for $275.00 to $425.00 and a caddy is required with a suggested minimum tip to the caddy of $35.00.  This is what is happening all across our country and the folks in our business are asking why golf is in a decline.

One last example of how this game has become mainly for the elites.  I spent nearly 20 years in Nebraska where one of the greatest courses in our country can be found.  I’m referring to the Ben Crenshaw designed Sand Hills in Mullen, NE, a couple hundred miles out from Omaha and Lincoln.  This was an Open to the Public course when it first opened but one could only get a tee time by sending a request in writing and their management would then let you know what day in what month you might be able to play for an obscene amount of money.  Today it is limited only to members and their guests who mostly fly into the private airstrip due to the courses remote location.  I often wonder if even Warren Buffett in Omaha can afford a membership at Sand Hills? 

The direction of this game I love must change to survive.  The ball must be regulated with a roll back in its distance in order to save the courses for the recreational golfers that we have left.  The game even at the professional level was never intended to be about distance but instead putting, short game and shot making.  As a club builder the most frequent call I get is about what can I do to hit it farther.  Seldom is the question about short game or do my current clubs really fit my swing or level of play.  Golfers today seem to be obsessed with distance and this is a shame.  To me, the so called sport of “Long Drive” shouldn’t even be associated with the game of golf. 

So, I suggest, no more courses built with the green you just finished and tee box of the next hole more than fifty yards apart.  The game was invented to be walked so let’s get it back to the way it was meant to be enjoyed.  It was just never intended to be played with power carts that can travel up to 30mph and coolers on the back that hold two six paks.  That’s what the 19th hole was all about.  While playing there is no place for the need of alcohol that typically leads to disrespect of the course as well as other players.  I am so tired of hearing loud foul language and seeing players urinating in the bushes.  We have all experienced this behavior of the game meant to be played initially by gentlemen.

Let’s all start making demands to the governance entities that control the rules and limits of equipment that we go back in time 50 years to a time of smaller driver heads, maybe 300cc max, and balls limited in distance so we can play a round walking in less than 4 hours and get the exercise we as mostly overweight Americans so desperately need for our health.  We’ll live longer so we can play more golf. 


12/14/2015:  Golf Ball Compression:  Golf ball compression is a relative measurement since there is no standard in the industry that golf ball manufacturers need to follow.  By this I mean one manufacturer may give its ball an 85 compression value while another may give its ball having the exact same compression a value of 95.  For this reason most golf balls are no longer identified with a compression number but rather by a statement low compression or high compression.   Others give us a driver swing speed to assist us in selecting the correct ball.

In the old days when Tour balls were made by winding a rubber band around a solid core balls were stamped usually in red for 90 compression and in black for 100 compression.  The 90 was considered low compression and the 100 high compression.  Today’s golf balls are made so differently none of this is really applicable.

Compression of a golf ball is defined as the relative resistance of the ball to being deformed when struck by the club face.  It used to be thought that a high compression ball travelled farther than a low compression ball and it was also believed a high compression ball was more difficult to control.  Since today’s golf balls no longer contain a wound rubber band none of this is even valid.

Today, if anything, it is promoted as low compression will increase distance but also negatively affect control.  Truth of the matter is empirical research using automatic swing machines has shown very little difference in distance between so called low compression balls and high compression balls.

Just as important as choosing the right compression ball for your game one also needs to pay attention to hardness which is really determined by the cover material.  Most two piece balls have some type of Ionomer plastic cover and these cover materials tend to be harder than the urethane covers on multi-piece balls.  You can hit a low compression ball with your driver and the ball will feel soft but if you hit the same ball with your putter because of the cover material the ball might feel and sound like a rock.

The 3 piece, 4 piece, five piece and now 6 piece balls nearly all have urethane covers which is a soft material regardless of the ball’s compression and the ball will generate high spin if properly hit by your short irons compared to two piece balls.  The additional mantle layers making up layers 4, 5 and 6 are added to supposedly help eliminate side spin, something we call hook and slice.

Finally, I might as well throw in for this discussion the dimple pattern and the number of dimples found on different balls which also is supposed to affect distance and control.  I personally have no clue when it comes to understanding dimples.

Bottom line, choosing the correct golf ball for your game is very complicated and difficult to say the least.  The price differential between a high end Tour ball and a quality 2-piece ball is enormous.  For most recreational golfers I must honestly say spending $40.00 for a dozen golf balls is a huge waste of money as many higher handicap players don’t properly strike the ball with their short irons to take advantage of what a multi-layered ball might do for their short game.  Instead, just enjoy the game and use the money you save to play another round.

 


5/6/2015:  Hybrids  The following is an article written by Tom Stickney II that I found pretty interesting.  It was published in the May 4, 2015 newsletter of GolfWRX.com.  I am in agreement with most of what Tom Stickney II says and I personally usually carry 2-3 hybrids in my bag.  If I had to choose just one it would be my 22° #4.  Love this club. 

  10 reasons you should switch to hybrids

By Tom Stickney II

Well, the time has come for me to admit that I’m NO longer a long-iron carrying player. I’m a hybrid convert! And I’m not ashamed to admit it, because hybrids help me play better.  My approach shots with my hybrids (which replace my 2, 3 and 4 irons), fly higher, land softer and stop quicker. And when I do mishit these clubs, the results are much better and, more importantly, findable. My only dilemma is that my bag now looks like I have a traveling puppet-show in tow.  My current bag includes three hybrids!   I strongly suggest you follow my lead, and to support my suggestion here are my Top-10 reasons you need to play hybrids!

You need hybrids in the bag if you…

#10:  If your handicap is higher than 3  Higher handicap golfers must use hybrids because, generally speaking, they don’t have the club head and ball speed to use long irons effectively. Shots with long irons that don’t have ample speed will come out too low, have too little spin, and run off the back of greens. Remember that hybrids are designed to launch the ball higher, spin more, and come into the green softer; all things that the average player will find supremely beneficial.  The higher your handicap, the more fairway woods and hybrids you should have. Here is a  general rule of thumb:

  • 25+ handicappers should start their iron set with a 7 iron.
  • 12-25 handicappers should start their iron set with a 6 iron.
  • 10 handicappers or less should start their iron set with a 5 iron.
  • 5 handicappers or less should start their iron set with a 4 iron.

#9:  If you’re a flat-ball hitter   An LPGA Tour players’ average apex height with their driver is roughly 75 feet, and most amateurs never even get close to that height! I would say that most of my average players hit their long irons in the 45-60-foot range, with landing angles in the 20’s and 30’s. At that height, golfers simply do not hit the ball high enough to hold the green, which leads to hitting less greens in regulation. 

#8:  If your misses tend to be thin and right with long irons   The thin miss with a long iron comes from the player trying to lift the ball into the air, causing the hands to flip prematurely. This moves the low point of the swing too far behind the ball, and in an effort to avoid pounding the club into the ground, the player catches the ball thin.  There’s three reason why hybrids help to eliminate this miss:

  1. The center of gravity is further back and lower, which helps lift the ball into the air.
  2. They’re less intimidating. Golfers know, from experience, how much easier and more forgiving higher-lofted woods and hybrids are to hit up into the air, which instills confidence.
  3. Vertical gear effect, will help increase spin on shots hit low on the face.  

#7:   If you’ve noticed your club head speed lagging over the last few years...    While losing a little swing speed isn’t earth shattering, hybrids will be more convenient as your speed decreases. The slower your swing speed, the less ball speed you can achieve, and the flatter the ball will launch; all bad things if you need to stop the ball on the green. Most of the time, and especially in this circumstance, adding height increases distance.

#6:  If the course you play has mostly elevated greens    Whenever you’re hitting into an elevate green, your ball is naturally coming in flatter due to the rise of the slope and the reduced decent time of the golf ball from its apex. Therefore, a golf ball coming in higher will help offset the negative effects of the slope on your approach, and the ball stop quicker on the green. Hybrids offer that solution. 

#5:  If your long irons tend to chase off the back of the green after landing...    Whenever you have a lack of speed, a lack of apex height and a lack of spin, you will have a flatter launch angle and thus, a flatter angle of descent into the green. Why would you want your longer irons chasing? Hybrids will allow the ball to stop because it counters all the above factors. However, if you play in hard and windy conditions, then it might be a good idea to have the long irons handy, because if it gets too blustery, a high and spinning shot will balloon. Approach shots are all about controlling angle of descent.

#4:  If your course has tight fairways    Hybrids for the average player are easier to hit, we know, and this helps a player make better swings on more difficult driving holes. Your worst long-iron swings are almost always worse than your worst hybrid swings. Hit 1000 shots off the tee with each, and I’ll bet you put more hybrids in play.   From a more scientific standpoint, the softer landing angle and added spin produced by a hybrid will keep the ball from running too much when it lands. Tour pros use driving irons (which are basically part long iron/part hybrid) because they have a touch more versatility than hybrids when it comes to shaping shots and changing trajectory. The tour pros don’t need the forgiveness, they need the control — but we aren’t tour pros. 

#3:   If you play a two piece “distance” ball    If you play a distance ball, chances are that you don’t have the club and ball speed necessary to spin the ball and get the ball up high enough. The carry distance between irons should have consistent separation throughout the bag. The last thing you want to see during gap testing is your shots separated by 7-12 yards in all your irons until you reach a certain length of iron, then have your carry distances close in while the run out increases. Once you start seeing the plateau, that’s where you should start adding in hybrids. 

#2:   If you struggle hitting the ball solid with your irons    Hybrids can work with varying angles of attack unlike long irons — some good players are more sweepy, while others are a touch more diggy.  As discussed, hybrids are designed with this in mind: they have a wider sole, a lower and further back center of gravity, plus bulge/roll on their faces, which aids gear effect. These are all great designs that help the average player with impact and control. From a psychological standpoint, if you think something is easier to hit, you will make more relaxed golf swings. Relaxed swings are usually better, and most importantly, lead to shots that are findable!

 #1:  If you want to play better    As little as I play (about 10-15 times per year if I’m lucky!), and the frequency of my practice time (zero), I need all the help I can get. Hybrids do this for me — they make it easier for me to find my shot around the green, not off in the rocks or desert.  I need something that does not require me to hit a million practice shots in order to have some idea where the ball is going to land — not to mention the fact that I just don’t hit long irons high enough for them to be useful under typical playing conditions. I am very honest about my abilities and Trackman has shown me what weaknesses I have. Why fight it when there are clubs that can help?

Golf is hard enough without letting our egos get in the way!


  3/24/2015:  Locating Shaft Spine by Carter Penley

(This is a reprint of an article one can find at the Penley shafts website.  I just thought it was another excellent way to state the preferred location of a shaft's spine by another expert)

There are varying opinions as to where the spine should be located in a finished club. Based on tests I had conducted years ago, I defined two planes in a golf shaft:  the droop plane and the swing plane. The droop plane is parallel with the clubface and the swing plane is perpendicular to the clubface. For our purposes, the spine of a golf shaft is the stiffest plane of the shaft.

Finding the stiffest plane can be performed by several different methods. One method is by using the Lockie board. When a shaft is placed on the board and bent, a state of equilibrium exists when the weaker plane is the bend plane. The stiffest plane (spine) is on the sides of the shaft and perpendicular to the bend plane. Equilibrium exists because the stronger plane is not in a state of compression and tension simultaneously (as it is when it is bent). Performing the same test on a long flat ruler is the easiest way to visualize this. A shaft with a very dominant spine resembles the ruler. The weaker plane bends easily and the "spine" of the ruler is on the sides since it is more difficult to bend.

Another method is using the Autoflex Machine. The Autoflex machine performs the same basic test as the Lockie board, but bends the shaft up instead of down. The Autoflex then marks the inside of the curved shaft (the weak plane).

The H.O.A.M. (Harmonic Oscillation Analysis Modeling) machine finds the spine in a much different and more precise manner than either the Lockie board or the Autoflex machine. It has a strain gauge that measures the force required to bend the shaft. The H.O.A.M. machine analyzes the force readings, finds the stiffest part of the shaft and prompts the user to mark that as the dominant spine. If the long flat ruler were placed in the H.O.A.M. machine, it would treat the unbendable side as the spine.

There are varying opinions as to where the spine should be located in a finished club. During the days of  Penley Sports, we conducted a series of field tests with the spine located in either the droop plane or the swing plane. And this is what we discovered in our extensive testing:

Someone driving the ball about 350 yards with the spine located in the droop plane gained only a yard or two when the spine was located in the swing plane. Based on drive distance alone, there is no significant reason to position the spine in the swing plane. Additionally, the players could feel and react to the club more easily when the spine was located in the droop plane, placing the weakest plane in the swing plane. It was much harder to control the club if the droop plane was the weaker plane.  Our second position is that by having the spine in the droop plane, the shaft has a more positive and consistent reaction at impact than when the weak plane is in the droop plane.

Based on the testing (with more coming shortly) the club performs and feels better with the spine located in the droop plane. Since Penley shafts are checked on the Autoflex machine which marks the weaker plane, graphics are placed on the shaft with Penley located 90° from the Autoflex mark (on the spine). Once again, visualizing the ruler, Penley shafts would be printed on the unbendable side, and the flexible plane of the ruler would be in the swing plane.


1/6/2015:  Graphite vs. Steel for your irons?  Here is a question I am asked all the time and it’s really a tough question to answer.  The only time it’s easy to answer is if cost is super important because steel is typically much less costly than graphite unless you can accept a cheap graphite shaft and this is a total waste of money.  The other easy answer would be if arthritic shoulder, elbow or wrist joints are a concern.  Graphite shafts transmit far less vibration up the shaft to the player’s hands than steel shafts.  This is due to the increased wall thickness which has a dampening effect.

Now, some golfers claim graphite adds distance.  Tests have shown that graphite shafts that reduce the shaft’s weight can add somewhere between 2-4mph swing speed.  Basically, the lighter the shaft whether it be steel or graphite, the greater one's swing speed.

Let’s go back to the wall thickness of graphite shafts.  The heavier the shaft the thicker the wall will be; the thicker the wall the greater the dampening.  I hear so many players tell me graphite in their irons feel dead or boardy. They have to feel this way because of the wall thickness.  Look at the tip end sometime if you ever get the chance to the thickness of the wall on a steel shaft, a 60g graphite and a 95g graphite iron shaft.  Once you do this this pretty much all makes perfect sense?

So why not make lighter graphite shafts for irons?  The problem is, how can one make the shaft’s torque low for maintaining control and accuracy if I reduce wall thickness which I must do if I want to lighten the shaft.  I can’t!  The torque of most steel shafts for irons ranges between 1.9° and let’s say 2.5°.  To make a graphite shaft with a similar torque in the low 2s the weight of this graphite shaft will end up being in the 85g to 105g range.  Once I go lighter than say an 85g raw weight shaft the torque starts creeping up above 3.0°.  There are some great low torque graphite shafts but the price can get pretty high.  Not so for the Alpha Platinum 60 for irons.  With a price at my store of $25.00 one is getting a lot of shaft but to be honest, it's too light for me.

I just recently reshafted a couple of my Alpha RX1 irons with Alpha's Platinum 60 graphite shafts in S flex.  I generall play an R flex shaft so I soft stepped the shafts so that the S flex frequencies out nearly the same as the R flex.  I measured the torque of these shafts on my equipment at 3.2° which is amazingly close to Alpha's 2.9° especially since I normally measure torques higher by as much as 1° - 2° from what many manufacturers advertise the torques at.

I already have my left knee and left hip replaced and I found the light weight shaft almost effortless to hit than my remaining irons with 100g steel shafts.  I am eating a little crow here since this is the first time I have ever suggested graphite might be better than steel, especially for us senior citizens.  Since this little experiment I have reshafted my playing irons with Alpha's new PT85 constant weight shaft and this is what I will play going forward.  The Platinum 60 was a little too light for me but this 85g shaft is just awesome.

I watched The Golf Channel last night featuring "John Daly's Full Swing" and the real reason was John is playing Nventix Nunchuk graphite shafts in his irons as well as Nunchuks in his driver and fairway metals.  I want to see if I could see the Nunchuk logo on his shafts and sure enough, he's playing Nunchuks.  Keep in mind this is a $49.00 shaft with a weight of 104g.  I have tried the Nunchuk and it's too heavy for me and felt a little boardy but then my swing is not quite the same as "Big John".

Should you decide to try light weight graphite shafts in your irons please do not waste your money on inexpensive shafts.  Find a good low torque like the Alpha Platinum 60 or splurge and go to the PT85 or PT95.  All three of these shafts are a great value and for the complete story behind the new Alpha PT85/95 give me call.  


1/6/2015:  Truth about shaft weight:   I have been telling players of just about all skill levels for years that the weight of the shaft and for that matter the weight of a grip has very little if anything to do with distance.  I have written about shaft weight previously and how I was not a big fan of the newer ultra light-weight shafts (those under 50g) that are advertised to give your driver more distance. 

Well, finally, someone has conducted an actual test and not to my surprise the conclusion is shaft weight does little to impact drive distance.  As a matter of fact, the 60g shaft overall produced the longest drives with a least differential off target.

To read the complete test result go to:   http://www.golfwrx.com/266973/study-do-lighter-shafts-increase-clubhead-speed/ 

For me about the only exception to using a shaft weighing less than 50g is with slow swingers and/or players that have a minimal loading of the shaft. 

  • Ultra light-weight shafts have the following flaws.  The wall thickness is so small these shafts break easy, especially by strong players who have absolutely no business playing such as shaft.  How do you make a light-weight shaft?  By reducing the wall thickness.

  • Ultra light-weight shafts typically have the highest torques among shafts of different weights.  As one starts decreasing wall thickness to reduce shaft weight the torque can only go one way – higher.

  • Control or accuracy can be diminished with decreased shaft weight.  Doesn’t this just seem logical?  

The weight of a driver which includes the head typically around 200g, the shaft with an ideal weight of 50g-65g and the grip with an average weight of 50g determines the actual weight of the club.  This is not swing weight.  Swing weight is affected mostly by head weight, shaft length or club length, and grip weight.  Making one’s driver longer increases the swing weight making the club feel and play heavier.  Making the club shorter or using a heavier grip which is a form of back-weighting, makes one’s club feel lighter and play lighter. 

Can you believe there is even one component supplier that markets a 175g driver head that suggests playing the driver at 47.0” so that the driver swing weights properly?  Forget about the lighter heads, the super light shafts, the lighter grips.  They do very little to increase your driver distance.  In actuality, they most likely will do more harm than good to your game.


9/30/2014:  Butt Frequencies:  Every once in a while supplying too much information can get one in trouble, especially when the individual trying to process the information does not understand the concept in the first place.  Case in point:  Shafts come in all different  lengths and for drivers typical raw shaft lengths are from 46.0” to 50.0”.  The only way to compare butt frequencies of different length shafts is to correct all the shafts to one common length and I do this to 46.0” since it is much easier to shorten a shaft for frequency measurement than to lengthen the shaft.

I measure the butt frequency of all .335” tip diameter shafts used in drivers and fairway metals I choose to profile using a 205g tip weight held in place using a 5.0” butt clamp.  In other words, I am measuring 41.0” worth of shaft for this butt frequency measurement.  The only thing that really matters is the length of the portion of shaft that is being measured.  It needs to be 41.0”.

A couple of weeks ago I shipped out a Graman UL440 S flex shaft that I measured the butt frequency at 258 cpm.  The raw length of this shaft was 48.0” so I had to adjust the shaft’s placement in my clamp so I was only measuring 41.0”.  Essentially I was using a 7.0” butt clamp for this measurement.  Again, all that matters is I was measuring a length of 41.0”.

The problem arose when the end customer read a tag on the butt end of the shaft showing a frequency significantly lower than my 258 cpm.  I leave these tags on Graman shafts because there also is a line on this tag showing where the Optimum Flex Line (spine) is.  Few manufactures provide this reference for proper shafting orientation.  Can you see where this is heading?  Graman measures their frequencies for the entire 48.0” length.  I do not even know what tip weight they use or what width butt clamp they use when they measure their shaft frequencies and I really do not care since I measure all shafts coming into my store the same exact way so I can compare one shaft against another under the same measurement technique and standard.

Alpha, another one of my shaft lines uses a 205g tip weight but a 6.0” butt clamp so all of their measurements are for a shaft length of 40.0” which means their numbers will be a few cpm higher than my measurements.

In order for you to compare I must do them all the same way and the butt frequency numbers on my website are referenced this way if people will just read.   I am very specific on the top of each shaft page to display the standard I use, 205g tip weight, 5.0” butt clamp and 41.0” measured length.  If customers do not see this and/or understand this I am sorry butt I cannot accept the blame for messing up a shaft.  It is 100% the responsibility of the club builder to check and know the frequency and profile of the shaft they are installing.


7/22/2014:  Bulge & Roll:    Bulge and roll, what is it and what does it do you you?  Simply defined, roll is the curvature to the face vertically and bulge is the curvature to the face horizontally.  For years the standard has been 10" X 10" or thereabouts.  If one was to take a 20" diameter circle the radius of that circle would be 10".  A bulge and roll of 10" X 10" means the face of that driver would have the same arc both vertically and horizontally as that 10" radius circle.  The main thing to understand is the larger the number the flatter the face.

What bulge and roll does is first of all slightly add strength to the face but it really is quite minimal with today's titanium drivers and the technology incorporated into the construction.  The main purpose of B&R is to create gear effect to assist in bringing the ball back towards the target on off center ball strikes.  Have you ever hit what is called a "toe-hook"?  The ball was struck way out on the toe of the face but the gear effect actually brought the ball back to target and more.  Understand the gear effect on a right handed driver's face brings a toe hit back to the left and a heel strike back to the right.  I often hear players blame a toe hit for the ball going right.  Actually, the ball is going right because the face was open and even though the ball was hit out on the toe with the face open all the gear effect in the world couldn't bring the ball back towards target.

Why don't most head manufacturers include bulge & roll numbers in their specs?  Mainly because it's too confusing to most people and hopefully the driver has undergone significant testing to determine the optimum B&R in order to optimize the heads performance.  On the other hand, I find it nice to know and I personally find I hit a driver with less bulge better than a driver with more bulge.  A driver with less bulge to me has a larger horizontal sweet spot and since I don't find the sweet spot on every drive the larger the better.  I am a 9 handicap and if I can't hit the driver dead in the center of the face everytime, how can someone with a handicap of say 20 or 25?

There are a few component heads out there with a 14" bulge and roll and I wish there were a few more as personally I think such a driver is more forgiving with a larger sweetspot even though one would sacrifice the gear effect correcting factor.  I also wish someone would do this with a 1-2 degree closed face perhaps in a 12-13 degree loft.  There are so many more recreational golfers that fight the dreaded slice and this would go along way to helping them straighten it out.  I'll see what I can do to make this happen.    


 7/7/2014:  OEM clubs vs. Component clubs:    Is it really possible for someone to be so stupid to believe that this year's OEM heads from Callaway, Ping, TaylorMade, Mizuno and the others are better than their heads they introduced last year and the year before and all the years before that?  If so, why didn't company XYZ introduce this years head last year?  Does that slot in the sole of the iron really increase the speed of the ball coming off the face of the iron or does it just collect and pack tight with dirt with each and every shot one makes?  I find it just amazing that every year there are new club models just like the old days when the car manufacturers brought out their new model each and every year with all the new performance claims.  Ever wonder what it actually costs to retool and redesign a new looking product each year?  It's all marketing or "smoke and mirrors" as it's called in the trade.  Are this years clubs really longer or are the lofts just lowered? 

Alpha Golf does occasionally introduce new component models but they are then around for years because they don't become obsolete within a year.  I have replaced so many members OEM sets of irons at my golf club here in Arizona with Alpha RX-1 or RX-2 irons I have lost count.  I provide demo clubs for the members to test drive and once they discover the performance they never go back to the cost of OEM clubs.  I personally play the Alpha RX-1 irons and it is about as good as it gets for most players with a handicap of say 6+.  For lower handicap players there is the RX-2 along with my Alpha forged irons.

What about clones?  I seldom offer what I consider clones.  To me this is just the same as stealing.  We accuse China of stealing our technology here in the States, what is selling clones?  Besides, clones are typically just inexpensive low quality copies.  I do offer component heads from Silver Diamond which is Alpha Golfs lower end brand.  The great thing about Silver Daimond is they are not clones but original designs and they will not go out of availability at year's end like most clones do.  Honestly, I wish all golf clones would just go away.

Remember, however, it's not only the head that makes the difference.  One absolutely must have the proper shaft in their heads.  To elaborate:  The butt frequency of an R flex 130g steel shaft will be considerably different than an R flex 100g steel shaft.  I personally play in a True Temper Dynamic Gold shaft an R300 flex but in the FST Microstep I need to play the S flex.  If I were to play the R flex in the FST Microstep (I have tried it) it plays way to weak.  The butt frequency differential between the TTDG R300 and the FST Microstep R flex is more than 30cpm.  This is huge.

Call me with questions.  Call me for pricing.  Call me for shaft selection.  Call me for frequency profiles.  I can help you play better golf!


5/7/2014:  Star Grips:   The number of grips for sale today boggles one's mind.  I at first tried to select and stock a large number of choices but with grips that were once available in only black now available in a multitude of colors it now has even gotten more difficult.  I personally have tried so many grips I couldn't even begin to count them all.  The price of these grips I have tried most likely ranged from around $3.00 to over $12.00 per grip.  Regardless, I keep coming back to the Star Tour which is a modified wrap in that the taper is less than most standard grips which for me with large hands is more comfortable for my lower hand.  I can't imagine ever playing something other than a wrap, especially a Star Tour Wrap.

A few years ago when I was first establishing Tempo Golf Components I got pretty heavy into Pure Grip.  You might notice it is no longer on my website.  Yes, they have all the colors in the world but the grip doesn't even begin to compare with the quality of Star.  Pure grip is actually an offshoot of Star Grip which explains why Pure Grip is also manufactured in the Phoenix Metro.  Problem with Pure Grip for me has been the grips have a real tendency to become chalky sitting on my inventory shelf especially in any of the colors and even many of the black grips turn a yellowish color over time.  Never do any of these conditions exist with Star.  They make just a wonderful grip product in several styles, all black but the best.  I call it "Best grip on the planet".

The best part of using the "Best grip on the planet" is they can be installed using compressed air.  As a club builder this is just fantastic as I can install the grip, check the swing weight and if necessary pop it off and adjust any weight added to the butt end if necessay.  Doing a repair I can save the grip and reinstall.  When it's time to regrip there's no tape to remove which in my opinion is the worst part of regripping.  Bottom line, to me it just makes no sense to use any grip that requires tape and solvent.

One last feature:  Star grips are made in the USA.  When it comes to golf components not too many are made in the USA.  Nearly all heads come from China or Taiwan.  Most shafts are from China, S. Korea, Bangledesh and Viet Nam.  Most grips are from Mexico or China.  Isn't it great that something you can use on your club is made in the United States of America?


 4/6/2014:   FST 90 vs FST Pro 125:  A member of the local golf club I belong to asked me last week to make him up a set of irons so he could have a set here in Arizona and leave his other irons in Colorado where he spends the summers.  His chosen shaft was the FST Pro 125 so without questioning his choice I made the irons up and I thought that was it, job done.  Mick played a couple rounds with his new irons and was quite upset with the results.  He was hitting shanks, lost considerable distance and ball flight was to the right.  I knew immediately it was the shaft or should I say the wrong shaft.  I had Mick bring his other set of irons over so I could take some frequency measurments to compare to the identical length clubs in his new set.  The shaft bands had been worn off so I could not easily see what steel shaft was in his older set but it was obvious they were lighter steel shafts and considerably weaker.  I weighed the clubs of identical length and the differential was around 25g right down the line iron for iron.  I pulled all the FST Pro 125 shafts from Mick's heads and shafted the PW and 6 iron up with an FST Microstep 90 R flex and Mick went out to the range.  Night and day difference, now Mick's shots were back to straight and if anything maybe slightly longer.  One happy player!

One last step in my work was to measure the shaft frequency of the FST 90 shafts cut to exact playing length to compare to the pulled Harrison Pro shafts pulled from the heads.  There was consistently a 20 cpm difference between the shafts.  To put into perspective, this is equivalent to about a flex and a half.  Both shafts were R flex within their specific shaft model but one is a 125g raw weight shaft and the other is 98g.  One shaft has a high balance point and the other low balance point.  My whole point of sharing this story is to emphasize the importance of chosing the right R flex steel shaft.  R flex doesn't mean anything unless compared to maybe an S flex shaft of the same family but not when compared to a different model steel shaft.  For me, the only way to really represent the flex of a shaft is with frequency in cpm.  It makes no difference whether its graphite or steel, shafts for woods, hybrids or irons, there are huge differences between shafts and how they play.  The only sad point to this story is I keep wondering how many golfers are playing the wrong steel shaft in their irons and don't even know it.  Instead, they just think they are poor ball strikers.


10/1/2013:  Back weighting your driver:   Component driver heads keep getting lighter, shafts keep getting lighter and longer and grips keep getting lighter.  I guess this is all in an effort to gain distance, at least that is how they are promoted.  All these light weight ideas do is create problems for most of us.  The super light weight shafts typically have pretty high torque numbers because the shaft's wall thickness is reduced and most are above 5° which is too much if you have a fast tempo, quick swing profile.  Component heads are now being introduced with weights as low as 164g whereas the standard driver head still weighs 200g.  The lighter heads means we need lighter grips to maintain our D1 swing weight or whatever one thinks they need for their desired swing weight. 

My response to all of this is forget all of this light weight garbage and investigate back weighting and shortening your driver.  Jack Nicklaus back weighted his clubs to gain distance and openly promoted the concept.  A shorter driver say in the 44.5" length along with a really heavy grip or butt end counter weights will give you a lighter swing weight and this will increase your club head speed far more than decreasing the natural weight of your driver.  Understand, it's the swing weight of your clubs you need to be concerned about much more than the natural weight or gross weight of your clubs. My driver is currently gripped with a Tour Star Midsize grip and around 30g of back weighting.  It now feels so light compared to my other drivers without any back weighting.

For me as a club builder the ideal shaft weight in one's driver for playability, performance, lower cost, etc. is from 55g to 65g.  Then find a component driver head you like with a standard 200g weight and use a heavier grip of at least 50g along with some back weighting and finally make sure it is less than 45" in length and take it for a "test drive".  Play a swing weight of C5-C9 and you might just be amazed how good it feels and you will gain distance.


 9/11/2012:  Driver heads: Forged vs. Investment Cast:  All driver heads today are manufactured from either a forged process or investment cast process.  Is there a difference?  Absolutely, not only in manufacturing cost but also in performance, especially over time as the head is played.

The majority of driver heads from brand name companies the likes of Callaway, Cleveland, Ping, TaylorMade, Mizuno and  Titleist are made with one piece investment cast bodies.  The face is then welded into the body.  The OEM’s volume for any given head is large, usually in the thousands, and by using the investment cast process the heads will be extremely consistent and dimensionally precise.  Even with high volume, cast heads are considerably more expensive to manufacture but there are many advantages that make it worth the additional expense.  However, I am seeing more forged heads from the brand name companies lately and to me this just means they have discovered greater profitability by going the less expensive route but if they discover too many head replacements under warranty they will return to the cast construction. 

The majority of driver heads from component companies today are manufactured using a multiple piece forged process.  The exception is Alpha.  Nearly every Alpha driver head is investment cast.  Forged heads typically consists of a sole, crown and hosel piece being shaped and plasma welded together to make up the body and then the face is welded into place just as in the cast head.  Forging techniques have greatly improved in the last few years and the pieces being welded together today are quite precise so the consistency from one head to the next is better than a few years ago but still not equal to that of a cast head.  The welds holding all the pieces together in a forged head create an inherent weakness in a forged head.  Plasma welding is good but any slight flaw in the welded seam will eventually result in fairure.  Investment cast heads fail too but it's nearly always where the face is welded to the single piece body.   Forged heads have four times as many weld joints. 

Speaking of strength, let’s look at this a little closer.  Investment cast heads are mostly cast in a titanium alloy called 6A4V titanium.  While pure titanium is a very light metal it is not very strong unless it becomes an alloy by adding the 6% aluminum and 4% vanadium as is the case with 6A4V titanium.  Now it is strong as all heck and a great material for making the driver face in a forged head but the problem is it cannot be shaped for the all the pieces such as the hosel and sole pieces that make up the forged head.  Solution in a forged head is to make the shaped body pieces of grade 2 titanium which is inexpensive, easy to shape but not near as strong as a titanium alloy. 

Conforming drivers today all must meet a specification called C.O.R. (coefficient of restitution) with a maximum measured number value at .830.  This has to do with the elasticity or trampoline effect of the face.  Exceed that value and the driver will be considered “hot” and will not make it to the USGA’s Conforming list of drivers.  It’s pretty easy for manufacturers to achieve this C.O.R. value when the driver is new but something happens to the face over time as all drivers are played.  It becomes slightly softer from all the impacts and the C.O.R. value increases.  At the same time in a forged head made up of multiple pieces of relatively soft pure titanium the head deforms losing its original shape, perhaps ever so slightly, but additionally contributing to the C.O.R. number increasing until the driver no longer conforms.  On top of that, eventually the welds will fail and you will be sending your cracked head in for replacement hoping it will be covered under the usually standard 12 month warranty.

For the brand name companies sending out warranty replacements is costly and angry customers cost them even more in brand loyalty and product reputation.  Components companies are much smaller, can handle the head replacement issue with little difficulty and the initial profitability of making a forged head was so great for those expensive over $200.00 forged heads replacing a few heads is no big deal.  The recreational golfer plays only a few rounds a year so chances are there will be no problem to begin with for this golfers regardless of what driver head he/she plays.  Companies known within Long Drive circles such as Geek, Krank, Bang and others who offer nearly all forged construction heads can easily replace the cracked heads and still make out ok because their margin on the original forged head sale was so great.  Remember, check out their warranty before you buy it.

Every head offered from Alpha Golf has a one piece investment cast body made from the super rigid 6A4V titanium alloy and then finished with a welded in face material of either SP700 or 15-3-3-3 Beta titanium, two of the most expensive and highest performing titanium alloys for driver faces.

When Dr. Jim Yeh first started Alpha Golf in 2000 his driver heads were of the forged construction process.  “Doc” as he is called by his peers learned the hard way and today refuses to cut corners by offering any of his Alpha drivers made from a process other than investment cast.  He told me, “if one wants the highest performing driver it has to have its body origins from the highest quality investment casting”.  Makes perfect sense to me.

Hopefully now you understand why one driver head can cost $250.00 and another head can be picked up for say $60.00.  Are they both good heads?  Most likely, especially when new, but what about over time after say 100 rounds?   Most important, before you drop a couple hundred bucks on any component driver head, find out whether its body is forged or cast.  I personally would never pay much over $100 for any component head if it’s of forged construction. 

Finally, check out the warranty.  I think it will be difficult to find anyone offering more than a twelve month warranty on any forged construction head. 

All trademarks, product names and company names cited herein are the property of their respective owners."


7/21/2012:  I had my left knee replaced a couple weeks ago so I’m sitting in front of the TV watching the British Open instead of being out on a course on a sunny Saturday morning here in Green Valley, Arizona as normally would be the case.    Tiger Woods hit his driver twice in round 1, once in round 2 and just hit it for the first time on the par 5 6th hole in round 3.  Point is, it’s not about distance; it’s about hitting fairways and staying out of trouble.  Every week without fail I receive at least one phone call or email asking me what shaft can I put in my driver to give me more distance.  Seldom do I receive a request asking what shaft can I put in my driver to help me hit more fairways or what can I do to my driver to help me hit more fairways.  What is this obsession with driver distance that most amateur golfers have? 

First of all, without seeing your swing profile as well as your ball’s flight profile I have no idea what shaft might add a few yards.  What advice I can offer however, is this.  Forget about the notion that increased distance off the tee is going to make you a better golfer.  Instead, do the following to your driver:  (1) Shorten your driver to something between 44” and 45”.  This will help maximize "smash factor".  (2) Add a little loft to your driver.  It’s easier to hit a straight ball with an 11° driver than a 9° driver.  You will also be more consistent with a little extra loft and you will  hit more fairways.  (3) Find the right shaft for your newly lofted driver to offset the increased  loft on the face.  A shaft with a stronger lower portion of the shaft will bring that trajectory back down.  You might also need a shaft with a slightly lower torque number as torque does contribute to trajectory whether you want to believe it or not.  Be careful though and don't go too low on the torque and never play a shaft that is too stiff.  


3/10/2012:  Smash Factor (SF):  I get asked more and more about something called “Smash Factor” especially since making a strong committment to promote the Alpha Titanium Driver lineup which I personally believe are the best driver heads on the market today.  They are expensive and not for everyone but if you are a competitive player Alpha should be strongly considered. 

"Smash Factor” is a term that applies to drivers and its definition is simply the ball speed measured right after impact divided by the club head speed right before impact.  The higher the ratio the better the SF and around 1.5  is the maximum that can be achieved utilizing USGA legal balls and driver.

To achieve the highest SF the club face needs to make impact square to the club head path and most importantly make contact within the “sweet spot” on the club face.  The sweet spot on high end drivers should be the softest spot on the driver’s face.  The golf ball at impact undergoes tremendous compression and as a result there is a deformation of the driver’s face.  This compression of the ball causes it to lose energy which results in loss of ball speed, hence loss of distance.

The challenge for club makers is to make the sweet spot on the face of the driver softer to minimize the ball's compression.  A softer sweet spot means the ball will remain on the face slightly longer with less compression of the golf ball resulting in greater ball speed leaving the face.  If the face deforms from the impact of the ball there is no trampoline affect as the ball has already left the face before the deformation begins its recovery.

One last point:  Tour Players have discovered that in order to achieve the highest SF ratio they must hit the sweet spot on the face of their driver.  Any off center strike and they lose distance, more than they can ever make up from playing a longer shaft.  There is a reason why the average driver length on Tour is less than 45 inches.


3/1/2012:   Taper tip shafts for irons vs. Parallel tip shafts for irons:  Most players and even some club builders really do not understand the true differences between taper tipped shafts and parallel tipped shafts along with the advantages and disadvantages of each type.  Let me try to explain.   

Parallel tipped shafts for irons:  As the words imply, the last several inches of the shaft are parallel and they are typically .370” diameter for the bottom several inches, up to 11” to 12” in some cases depending on the shaft.  This allows the club builder to trim off a length of shaft depending on what iron head the shaft will be used in and also to trim a little more or less to modify the shaft’s playing frequency which is the same thing as shaft stiffness.  As a rule, each inch trimmed from the tip of a parallel shaft increases the butt frequency (overall frequency) of the shaft by 10-12 cpm.  Shaft manufactures provide a trim chart instructing club builders on how much to trim from the tip end of a shaft for each different head depending on what flex one wants to achieve.  This is wonderful as it allows one to easily modify the shaft’s flex and slightly modifying the trim amount will not affect very much at all the balance point or bend point if you prefer of the shaft.  There are far more offerings of parallel tipped shafts out there than taper tipped and usually they are priced a few dollars less.  It is quite common for a club builder to use parallel shafts in taper hosel irons because of their availability.  The entry into a taper hosel is pretty much the same diameter as the entry into a parallel hosel so all that is required is for the club builder to carefully shape a taper on the last 1.25” inches of the shaft taking it from .370” down to .355”.  If one does enough of these it gets pretty easy.  

Taper tipped shafts for irons:  These shafts are typically found in OEM clubs from the big name manufacturers.  Their clubs are made in large volume and off the shelf clubs are offered with flexes pretty much boiler plate L, A, R, S, X and nothing in between unless special ordered.  The club manufacturer will order from his shaft company 100 like shafts specific for the 3 iron, 100 like shafts specific for the 4 iron and so on.  The tips are tapered and the club manufacturer will not do any tip trimming of the shaft.  He just saved himself several minutes of time and does not need to deal with quality control issues resulting from poor measurement of tip trimming as he might need to do if he was using parallel shafts for mass production.  These taper tip shafts also will arrive in different lengths with the short irons perhaps taking a 36” raw length shaft and the long irons getting a 40.5” shaft.  The shaft raw length typically gets 0.5” longer from the wedge down to the 3 iron in consecutive order.  The beauty of this is every club will get the same amount trimmed from the butt end to reach playing length.  Now for the added benefit and the reason many tour players prefer taper shafts over parallel shafts:  Most taper shafts are CWS or Constant Weight Shafts meaning each shaft regardless of its length weighs the same.  This should provide more consistency with regard to each shaft feeling the same and at the same time the shafts in the shorter irons will even perform more precisely because in order to weigh the same as the longer shafts they are made with heavier wall thickness.  How else can you make a short shaft weigh the same as a long shaft?  Answer: More material in the wall.  The short irons are the scoring irons and the tour player likes the preciseness of the taper shaft in his short irons.   

So, can I use taper tipped shafts in my irons which have parallel hosels?  Absolutely!  All one needs to do is use a small brass shim to take up the .015” on the taper tip end and it’s done.  The only disadvantage to using taper shafts in parallel hosels is it’s not nearly as easy to modify the flex or frequency of the shaft since you should not trim the tip end of a taper shaft.  Parallel shafts give the club builder much more flexibility to custom fit.  


2/8/2012:   What irons should I play?  This is a question I am asked all the time so here is my club builder's response.  Irons can be placed into three distinct categories:  (1) Super Game Improvement irons (2) Game Improvement Irons (3) Player's irons.  Few golfers should be playing irons that fit into the Player's category and if you do not belong there don't even think about it.  They will not serve you well.    

Player's irons:  These are usually forged or 304 stainless steel material so the lofts and lies can be easily adjusted to exactly fit the player, have little offset and the average 6 iron sole width is 18mm.  They will either be blades or cavity backed perimeter weighted but almost always will have the thinner sole width.  These irons are also typically the most expensive irons and often will feature a thinner top line.  These irons are designed for players who have the skill set to work the ball and have few off center strikes.  

Game Improvement irons:  Most commonly these will be cast clubs with materials of either 431ss or the softer 304 stainless.  Little adjustment can be made to irons in 431 stainless, it's just too hard.  The sole width on these irons averages 22.0mm for the #6.  The slightly wider sole, about 18%, lowers the center of gravity (COG) adding a little trajectory and making the club more forgiving.  Working the ball becomes more difficult because of the wider sole.  They nearly always are perimeter weighted cavity backed heads.  

Super Game Improvement irons:  These irons will usually be made from 431 stainless and of course are the least expensive irons of the categories.  They have the widest soles with the average #6 iron sole width 28.8mm which is nearly 25% wider than irons from the Game Improvement category.  This lowers the COG even more increasing the resistance to twisting on off center hits.  The wider sole also helps the club head glide across the turf and this helps prevent fat shots.  These irons often have a slightly larger footprint and may be referred to as OS as in oversized.  The only down side I can think of for these irons is if you play a course that has limited irrigation where the turf becomes thin and hard it's difficult to cleanly pinch the ball from this tight lie.  You will really feel the clubs bounce with this wide sole.  

Choosing the right iron head for your game is not as important as choosing the right shaft but it will make it more difficult to play your best golf.  If you need assistance in the selection call me, I'm here for you. 


12/24/2011:   It’s time to set the record straight about what many shaft manufacturers refer to as  “flex point” or “bend point” in your shaft.  While a shaft may indeed have such a point it really means very little and has minimal effect on the flight or trajectory of your ball.  Exhaustive testing of shafts has shown that a shaft with a high bend point only lowers the balls trajectory 1° over a shaft with a low bend point.  That’s correct; a low kick point vs. a high kick point only amounts to a 1° differential in loft between the two shafts.  

So what could possibly affect the trajectory of your golf shot other than the loft of the club face?  Three things:  Shaft profile, location of the vertical cog (center of gravity) within the club head and to a lesser degree but still important, torque.  All heads, both irons and woods have both a horizontal center of gravity (HG) and a vertical center of gravity (VG).  The intersection of these two points will be the true center of gravity.  This point can also be referred to as the “sweet spot”.  Lowering the placement of the vertical center of gravity (VG) can increase the trajectory of your shot but this means making changes in the distribution of the mass within the club head which is not a very efficient means of raising and lowering trajectory.  Instead, the “sweet spot” has been placed pretty much in the center of most club faces or slightly below and trajectory is controlled much more efficiently by changing the loft of the club face or profile of the shaft.  

Every shaft has a profile but this information is seldom shared by the manufacturer.  Most share the torque value and some share what is referred to as butt frequency in CPM (cycles per minute) but very few if any share the entire profile of their shaft.  Butt frequency is the composite frequency of the entire shaft and is essentially the same thing as labeling a shaft’s flex or stiffness as L, A, R, S, X or whatever.  Unfortunately, there is no standard within the shaft industry for how torque and frequency are measured so it is nearly impossible to compare the numbers that are shared with regard to torque and butt frequency from one manufacturer to another.  A couple examples of these differences between shaft manufacturers that I have discovered are:  Company ABC measures torque by clamping the butt end of the shaft which is the strongest end and measuring the shafts resistance to rotation at the tip end while Company XYZ clamps the tip end and measures the resistance to rotation of the butt end.  The results will be quite different.  Company ABC measures butt frequency using a 5” butt clamp starting at the end of the butt but the raw shaft length is 48” so the frequency measured is that of a 43” shaft.  Company XYZ uses a 5” butt clamp also but the raw shaft length is only 46” so the frequency measured is that of a 41” shaft below the clamped 5” butt section.  The two companies also hang slightly different weights on the tips when making their butt frequency measurements.  How do you accurately compare these two shafts?   It’s very difficult.  Why can’t all the shaft manufacturers get together and establish a true standard of measurement for their industry?  

Back to the shaft profile for contributing to ball trajectory; I take every shaft that comes into Tempo Golf and first measure the torque with my equipment.  I don’t really care what the shaft manufacturer says it is.  If I measure every shaft the same way, than I can compare one shaft against another regardless of the manufacturer.  Now, if someone comes to me and says he wants the lowest torque shaft available from my inventory I can easily pull it up without being concerned about how this measurement was made.  Torque does effect trajectory.  The lower the shaft’s torque the lower the trajectory produced.  I have found that very few recreational golfers are well served by a shaft with a torque less than 3°.  Most of us do best with a torque value between 3.2° and 5.0°.  

I now take every shaft and use a 5” butt clamp starting at 46”.  This allows me to measure all driver shafts without regard to raw length making all shafts equal.  Probably 85% of all driver shafts have a raw length of 46” anyway.  I hang a 454g weight on the tip and now measure the shaft’s frequency at 41”, 36”, 31” 26”, 21” 16” and 11”.  This gives me a nice frequency profile with a measurement every 5” and I can represent it in an Excel spreadsheet and also graph it for a true visual picture of one shaft vs. another.  Typically it is the tip section, the last 11” and 16” that really determines how stout a shaft plays.  The higher the frequency of these sections the lower the trajectory.  I have shafts designated as S flex shafts by their respective makers with tip section frequencies ranging from 712 CPM to 970 CPM.  This is quite a range and there are very few of us out there that could play a shaft with a tip section measuring at nearly 1000 CPM.  

With the combination of understanding the concepts of torque, face angle, and shaft profile in relationship to swing speed, load factor and face angle at impact a professional club builder can far better fit any player than if he/she was to select their clubs off the rack.  Of everything I have discussed in this brief written entry in my Owner’s Corner it is the shaft that makes the single most difference in one’s ability to hit the golf ball long, straight and with the right trajectory provided one started with the proper driver loft to begin with.


11/06/2011:  As a club builder I have grown to dislike super lightweight shafts, shafts below 50g in weight.  To be perfectly honest, I really see little advantage to any shaft weighing less than 50g and to me the ideal shaft weight for nearly all weekend players is a shaft weighing between 55g and 65g in its raw weight.   The only exception might be for ladies.  So what's the problem with the light weights?  Breakage.  Breakage during shipping, breakage during my testing of torque and frequency and mostly breakage by the golfer.  The walls of these shafts are thin.  Just lean on your shaft up on the tee and you'll likely break it.  When I clamp down my 205g tip weight for checking the butt frequency I need to be very careful I don't crush the tip and if I perform a frequency profile I need to be especially careful when trying to measure the tip section because the shaft will snap easily.  So what does a light weight shaft do for the player?  Nothing in my opinion.  Is anyone really so naive to think swinging a driver with a shaft weighing 45g is going to increase one's distance over a shaft weighing 55g?  The same can be said for some of the new driver heads weighing 175g instead of the standard 200g.  Come on?  The secret to maximizing your drive distance is finding the shaft with the correct profile for your swing so it loads properly under your individually unique swing.