Science and Golf II: Proceedings of the 1994 World Scientific Congress of Golf

By A. J. Cochran; M. R. Farrally | Go to book overview

38

Golf shafts-a technical perspective

G.P. Horwood

TI Apollo Limited, West Midlands, UK

Abstract

This paper discusses the importance of various golf shaft characteristics and attempts to differentiate the technical facts from the marketing hype. It concludes that with the present understanding of the biomechanics of the golf swing and the linkage between the golfer and his equipment, the shaft designer should aim to provide the widest envelope of characteristics in his product range along with unambiguous data about these characteristics to allow the club maker to make informed choices. This leads on to a discussion of the significance of new materials in the future development of golf shafts.

Keywords: Golf Shafts, Swing, Bending Stiffness, Torsional Stiffness, Bend Point, Weight, Materials.

Possibly more has been written about golf shafts than any other sporting component of comparable simplicity. Articles appear regularly in golf magazines on how choice of shafts for your clubs can affect your golf game. Shaft manufacturers and independent test laboratories alike claim to have scientifically proved that one shaft will hit balls further than another and the most sophisticated analysis of ball dispersion patterns has been used to prove that shot accuracy can be improved by use of a particular shaft.

Are these claims justified or just examples of advertising hype? What-can be said about golf shafts which will stand up to proper technical examination? A good starting point is to look at the dynamics of the swing which may provide some clues.

The trace shown in Fig. 1 is taken from strain gauges attached to a shaft from which the bending and stress levels in the plane of the swing can be deduced. This trace is typical regardless of shaft design or golfer ability. Note that over half the time covered by the trace, 2 seconds in total, is taken up by the back swing, that very violent vibrations occur in the shaft after impact with the ball and that this impact is an event which lasts a very brief moment indeed. In fact, for a

Science and Golf II: Proceedings of the World Scientific Congress of Golf. Edited by A.J. Cochran and M.R. Farrally. Published in 1994 by E & FN Spon, London. ISBN 0 419 18790 1

-247-

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