Weight and Weight Distribution

Length might be our first fitting consideration since it affects so many others, but a close second fitting parameter would be weight and weight distribution as they as also related. Length provides for solidness of contact, speed, distance, and accuracy, while the key contributors to weight are speed, tempo, distance, and accuracy. Hmm…they sound remarkably similar, don’t they?

If you wanted to hang a picture, you first need to anchor a nail into the wall. You may have at your disposal several different hammers to choose from starting with a tiny brad hammer all the way to a sledgehammer. Obviously, a sledgehammer will be too long and heavy to drive a small nail and not put a large hole into the wall. Once again, the key is to use the right tool for the job. And in this case, it is the weight which goes together with length.

Weight might seem self-explanatory, but there are several types of weight to consider. One of which is static or overall weight and there is swing weight and moment of inertia too. We will go into more detail later in the text. We will also go over the individual component weights and their importance and contribution to the overall picture.

Exploring the Various Component Club Weights

Head Weight

Let us start our conversation on head weight. Before we do, we should explain first that the terms weight and mass are often loosely interchanged. The correct term is mass. Weight is a force which factors in the gravitational pull. However, most readers will be familiar with the term weight just in case you see them both listed.

One of the key contributors to how far the ball will go is the head weight. This not only includes the actual head but any additional items you add to it like lead foil tape, tip pins for swing weighting or different weight screws. 

To give an example of the significance of weight, let us look at drivers as this will be one of the most often fit clubs. In the Cochran and Stobbs book Search for the Perfect Swing, there is a well-known calculation for ball speed with drivers assuming the loft is not much greater than 10 degrees and of course solid contact is made. This is a variation of that equation.

V(b) = V(h)   x       (1 + e)
                           1 + (m/M)

V(b) = Velocity of the ball immediately after impact

V(h) = Velocity of the head immediately before impact

m = Mass of the ball (46g)

M = Mass of the driver (typical range is between 190-210g)

e = The coefficient of restitution (we will use the 0.83 limit by the USGA)

What we are trying to solve for is V(b) or the velocity of the ball immediately after impact. V(h) is velocity of the head immediately before impact. You understand this as the golfer’s swing speed. Next, we have the lower case m which is the mass of the ball or 1.62 ounces or 46g. The upper case M is the mass of the clubhead. The typical range is between 190-210g for a driver with 200g being most common. As a side note, head weights in general surprisingly have not changed much in the past 40 years, except for putters.

The next value is e or the coefficient of restitution. You might be more familiar with this as the rebound or trampoline effect we often hear about in drivers. For practical purposes we will use the USGA’s 0.83 maximum limit as our constant.

Why is the mass of the head important? Well any change in the mass influences the overall distance a ball will travel. Think about this for a second, with the same amount of speed, a heavier hammer will driver a nail further than a lightheaded hammer. So let us use a couple of examples to show this effect.


Clubhead Speed Head Mass Ball Speed Ball Speed Distance
100 mph 190 g 66.3 m/sec. 147.3 mph 250.4 yards
100 mph 195 g 66.6 m/sec. 148.0 mph 251.6 yards
100 mph 200 g 67.0 m/sec. 148.9 mph 253.1 yards
100 mph 205 g 67.3 m/sec. 149.5 mph 254.2 yards
100 mph 210 g 67.6 m/sec. 150.2 mph 255.4 yards


The first group of data will show a golfer whose clubhead speed is 100 mph or 45 meters per second. 200g is a typical driver weight across the industry, but lately you do see some variation. For example, some ultra-light drivers may weigh in at only 190g or a 5% reduction in mass than a standard driver. From the chart we can see the results if the clubhead speed remains at a constant 100 mph. I will get into that later, but the ball speed will reduce by 1.6 mph (lower Smash Factor) and subsequently there would be a reduction in the theoretical distance of less than 3 yards. Of course, this is assuming all other factors are the same such as loft, length, etc.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, you might hear of some heavier driver heads called a Thriver which weigh 210g or 5% greater for added control. Even though they are higher lofted, we can still use the example to illustrate the difference when it comes to head weight.

Again, assuming all other factors are the same such as loft, length, etc., the 210g driver would increase the ball speed immediately after impact by 1.3 mph (higher Smash Factor), which in turn increases the theoretical distance by a little over 2 yards.


Clubhead Speed Head Mass Ball Speed Ball Speed Distance
80 mph 190 g 53.0 m/sec. 117.8 mph 200.2 yards
80 mph 195 g 53.3 m/sec. 118.4 mph 201.3 yards
80 mph 200 g 53.6 m/sec. 119.1 mph 202.5 yards
80 mph 205 g 53.8 m/sec. 119.5 mph 203.2 yards
80 mph 210 g 54.0 m/sec. 120.0 mph 204.0 yards


Now let us see what happens when the clubhead speed is 80 mph using the same head weights. As you can glean from the chart, the differences in ball speed and distance become proportionally less as a result of the reduced swing speed.  So why even bother carrying about head weight to begin with?

That is why most drivers are a fixed weight with just a narrow range. Or why there are only a few heads manufactured in multiple weight options or with adjustable weights? Even those people who have clubs with adjustable weights rarely even change from the factory settings or purchase additional weights to experiment with. 

Shaft Weight

Over the years the overall weight of clubs has changed, but mostly due to advances in shaft technology. One staple of the golf industry has been the “standard weight” steel shaft or models they weigh approximately 124g or more. An example is the Dynamic Gold, an offshoot of the original Dynamic shaft, which dates back 60 or so years. In fact, prior to the early 1970's, all shafts were made from steel, and all were of a similar weight from one design to another. Not until the introduction of lighter steel alloys could shaft manufacturers produce lightweight steel shafts, so club manufacturers could gain the ability to make a change in the total weight of a golf club.

This added a new dimension to club fitting. By lowering the weight of the shaft, it in turn decreased the total weight of the golf club. Players were now given the opportunity to increase their clubhead speed without having to swing any harder at the ball. 

Shaft Weight Ranges

Type Steel Graphite
Standard Weight > 124 g > 90 g
Lightweight 110 g - 123 g 70 g - 89 g
Ultra Lightweight 90 g - 109 g 51 g - 69 g
Sub Ultralightweight < 89 g < 50 g


The potential assurance of greater distance due to increased clubhead speed from the lighter overall club started a rush among shaft manufacturers to develop lighter and lighter shafts. Using these lighter steel alloys and modern composite materials, the hope of delivering greater distance to all golfers became a reality. 

The shaft material that can produce the lightest of all shafts is graphite or a blend of ultra-light composites fibers embedded with an epoxy resin. Due to its high strength to weight ratio, graphite can yield shafts that weigh less than 50 grams and yet be quite durable. However, with the development of new and diverse composite materials that shaft makers have at their disposal, not all graphite shafts are lightweight. This is especially true of the heavier weight graphite shafts designed with the better player in mind. Certain graphite shafts are manufactured at the same weight as standard weight steel, but due to increased wall thickness, provide better vibration absorption at impact. 

Grip Weight

For years and years and years, the 50 - 52 gram range was the weight of a standard men’s grip. Occasionally you would find exceptions, but they usually did not last exceptionally long. In the 1970’s, larger sized butt end steel shafts required special thinner walled and lighter grips installed onto them. The reduced wall thickness of not only the shaft, but the grip too, resulted in more harsh vibrations transmitted to the hands. As a result, the shaft and grips did not last long on the market.

In the late 1990’s and early 2000’s, large butt graphite shafts were introduced, some as large as 1” in diameter. Again, thin walled slip-on grips or synthetic straps were required. Well, I should rephrase that, there were a few shafts that required no grip at all. This was done to save additional weight with the idea the club could be swung faster, and the ball would go further.

The demise of the large butt graphite shafts was due to several things. One was the lack of variety in the grips. Secondly was the difficulty of installation of at least the slip-on models. Lastly, you really could not customize their sizing. If you conduct a lot of re-gripping in your shop, you may encounter some of these large butt shafts and find yourself unable to replace the grip for your customer.

Once again there is renewed interest in lightweight grips. But this time around it is now possible to reduce the weight by using less dense materials. These grip weigh half as much or a mere 25g for a men’s standard sized model without having to resort to larger diameter shafts and thin walled grips.

As shafts are about as light as they can be made at the present, grip weight has become the new frontier to further reduce the club’s weight. Plus, it is far cheaper to put a 25g grip onto a club than it is to shed 25g from a shaft to achieve the same weight savings.

Even though you hear about lightweight grips or light in general, surprisingly the grip industry has not ventured into a much more diverse range of weights than ever before. Larger putter grips have become more popular to help take the wrists out of play for a more pendulum stroke. This phenomenon has now carried over into the non-putter grip category too. One series of grips that is marketed at the time of writing are even larger than traditional jumbo grips and weigh as much as 120g or double that of a normal sized grip.

I do not want to confuse or mislead you because the difference in weight between the lightest and heaviest grips has to do with their size. The lightest grip, which is 20g, is a ladies size, while the 120g grip is a super jumbo size. Unlike shafts which can vary by 60 grams and still be the same flex, these two grips would not be used or recommended for the same player.

Where grip weight is more prevalent in in putter fitting. Putter grips can also range widely in weight by over 200g. That is right! This is more than the combined differences in the head and shaft weights. Again, the weight is dictated by size with smaller grips being the lightest and super jumbo or longer-than-normal grips being the heaviest. However, there are some lighter weight low density grips that are jumbo sized yet weigh the same as a grip much smaller in size.

Miscellaneous Weight

These are such items as epoxy, ferrule and a single strip of double-sided grip tape which are normal part of assembly and account for little additional weight. Heads that use an interchangeable shaft adapter sleeve (including the screw) should be classified as part of the head weight. Adding extra layers of build-up tape for grip sizing should be included with the grip weight.


Another type of weight is the use of alternative weighting principles to alter the overall weight and balance point of the club. Once a taboo subject, counterweighting is becoming a little bit more mainstream than what it used to be.

Some may argue that alternative weighting is only a quick fix for a poorly fit club. On the other hand, you cannot deny in some cases it can make a difference – sometimes huge.  For instance, you might not know, but the great Jack Nicklaus had his clubs counterweighted throughout his career. Counterweighting is simply placing weight at the end of the shaft to move the center of mass closer to the hands. We will get into why you would back weight or counterbalance a club later along with our next topic.

Mid Weights

Like counterweighting or another form of alternative weighting is what I like to refer to as mid weighting. Mid weighting is positioning weight somewhere between the club head and the hands. While we can add weight to the head with lead tape or maybe heavier screws, we can also add weight onto the shaft or inside with a little creativity and as long as that weight is permanent, it is permissible within the Rules of Golf.

Overall Weight

Now that we have gone over all the individual component weights, next we need to talk about the overall weight (sometimes called static weight). It is the total combined masses of the head, shaft, grip and even the clubmaking supplies to build the clubs.

When we talk about the overall weight of a driver, it is common to see them in the 310g range or slightly less than 11 oz. We have our 200g head, 55g shaft, 50g grip and 5g for the miscellaneous clubmaking supplies. In contrast, a typical steel shafted 5-iron with a Dynamic Gold shaft may weight 425g or 15 oz. We have our 256g head, 114g cut shaft, 50g grip and 5g for the miscellaneous clubmaking supplies.

Each club becomes progressively heavier the shorter it is in the set. I will tell you why in a moment, but why is it important to choose the correct overall weight club or components to build up the club? Selecting what weight you need is a universal problem regardless of subject. To give you an example, let us look outside of golf for a moment and pick another sport such as bowling. What is the first thing you need to go bowling? That is easy, it is the ball. If you are like me and do not own your own bowling ball, you are in the bowling alley staring at a bunch of balls on a rack trying to decide which one to use. While the color of the ball might steer you to a particular one verses another, it is the weight that will ultimately have you decide which one to use.

The rule of thumb in bowling is to select the heaviest ball you can comfortably use while maintaining the proper speed. The funny part is in golf, we do not talk about selecting the heaviest club, rather the lightest one we can control.

When we hold in our hands two different drivers to compare, we feel its weight immediately. The difference between a heavier and a lighter driver is not the head weight as you might think. Rather it is the shaft.  Why? Well, remember most drivers or the same numbered wood or iron weigh pretty much the same from one manufacturer to another, so the biggest difference you feel is actually in the shaft weight, unless of course one was shorter or longer than normal.

Weight and Fatigue Factor

Going back to our bowling example, what happens if you were to pick too heavy of a ball? One of the tell tales signs will be frustration, which leads to low scores. The player will become fatigued and even cause injury to themselves or others. Now, let us go to a different sport. If you were Google “How to select a tennis racket,” one of the critical choices is selecting the correct weight. Guess what if you pick the wrong weight what will occur? The list includes frustration, poor scoring, fatigue or even injury. Have you ever heard of tennis elbow? That is caused by using the wrong weighted racket for a player’s game.

Many tennis professionals prefer to use heavier overall weight rackets because they are more control orientated. There is a lot of cross over when you look at golf. On the men’s circuits like the PGA and Korn Ferry tours, the shafts that they use in the woods are often heavier than the standard 50 or 60 gram models used in the stock club for the general public. It is not surprising to see them use 70, 80 and even 90g graphite shafts for their woods.

Game improvement tennis rackets feature oversized heads and are lightweight and longer. Sound familiar? It sounds like a game improvement golf club. The lightness is needed for those with slower swings for more power and maneuverability.

 Now, what happens when you use the wrong overall weight golf club? Well, I bet you can guess the answers starting with frustration in the game leading to higher scores, fatigue, and injury to oneself or possibly property like a condo window or a windshield in the parking lot from a stray golf ball. Most golfers assume the overall weight is what helps dictate just how fast you can swing a club, at least on the surface.


When a golfer picks up a club at the grip end, the first thing they feel is the heft or they are assessing the weight. Remember what I said before about weight that it is a force. What they are feeling is the torque about their wrists.  This force is produced by the center of mass of the object located at a particular distance away. 

We will need to factor that we hold the club @ 5” down on the grip. In this example we show a club supported at less than horizontal to the ground or similar to how we might hold a club.  The center of mass or balance point of the club is indicated in the diagram and the distance is 23” from the hands. The balance point can easily be found by balancing the club on your finger or some other object.

diagram of man holding a golf club by the grip and showing moment arm or forcesdiagram of man holding a golf club by the grip and showing moment arm or forces

If the weight of this driver is 11.25 oz. or 319g, the moment about the hands is 258.75 inch-ounces. That is a measure of the heft or weight of the club we feel when we pick up the club. I should note if you are trying to plug in numbers, you will have to factor in the angle the club is held at so it might be easier to calculate if you hold the club parallel to the ground.

Now I want you to understand an important concept about weight. How can the same weight object feel lighter? If you do not believe me, then pick up that same club, but pick it up from the head end. I guarantee it will feel much lighter. Remember, the static or overall weight of the club had not changed at all. 

As you can see from this diagram, the balance point is now only 3” in front of the hands rather than 23” as before when held at the same angle. By virtue of the weight being closer to the hands it feels lighter when in fact the mass has never changed. Again, it is not just weight but where that weight is or the term weight distribution.

diagram of man holding a golf club by the shaft slightly above the clubhead and showing moment arm or forcesdiagram of man holding a golf club by the shaft slightly above the clubhead and showing moment arm or forces

Swing Weight

Another type of weight you hear about often is swing weight (also known as swingweight), works on the same principles as we discussed as it is a measure of the overall weight, balance point and distance to a fulcrum point. There is even a specific scale to measure the force quickly without doing the math.

technical diagram of a golf swing weight scale with dimensions and weights for a D0 swing weighttechnical diagram of a golf swing weight scale with dimensions and weights for a D0 swing weight

The fulcrum or pivot point is slightly different on a swing weight scale than when you hold a club. When you hold a club as if you were going to swing it, you would be grabbing the club @ 5 inches down from the end of the grip. The swing weight scale measures at a point 14” from the end of the grip. This is the same club as before in our example. The overall weight is 11.25 ounces. The balance point is 33” from the end of the grip or 19” in front of the fulcrum point. If we multiply our mass times the length from the fulcrum point, this produces a moment of 213.75 inch-ounces.

Again, this is a measure of the heft or weight of the club we feel when we pick up the club. Well sort of as the pivot point is slightly different than holding it in our hands, but it is consistent from club to club.  Instead of saying this club has a swing weight of 213.75 inch-ounces there is a conversion which makes it easier to say. In this case, the measurement 213.75 inch-ounces converts to a D0 swing weight. 

For each swing weight higher or lower there is a 1.75 in-oz. difference. To put that in perspective, approximately 2g of head weight is one swing weight. It is closer to 1.6g for a 45” driver and closer to 2.3g for a wedge, which is why 2g is used as an approximation. 

Let us say in our example, that the head weighed 200g. But what happens if we changed it to a 190g head at the same length? If it takes 1.6g of head weight for one swing weight at 45” and we are reducing the head weight by 10g, so the swing weight will reduce by 6 points down to a C4, which would feel lighter in our hands.

Now what happens if we go to the opposite extreme and use a heavier driver head that weighs 210g?  The additional 10g of head weight will increase the head weight by 6 points and now become D6. For some this will feel like the club is too head-heavy.

Swing Weight Conversion Chart

Swing weight ounce-inches gram-inches Swing weight ounce-inches gram-inches Swing weight ounce-inches gram-inches
A0 161.00 4564 C0 196.00 5557 E0  231.00 6549
A1 162.75 4614 C1 197.75 5606 E1 232.75 6598
A2 164.50 4664 C2 199.50 5656 E2 234.50 6648
A3 166.25 4713 C3 201.25 5705 E3 236.25 6698
A4 168.00 4763 C4 203.00 5755 E4 238.00 6747
A5 169.75 4812 C5 204.75 5805 E5 239.75 6797
A6 171.50 4862 C6 206.50 5854 E6 241.50 6847
A7 173.25 4912 C7 208.25 5904 E7 243.25 6896
A8 175.00 4961 C8 210.00 5954 E8 245.00 6946
A9 176.75 5011 C9 211.75 6003 E9 246.75 6995
B0 178.50 5060 D0 213.50 6053 F0 248.50 7045
B1 180.25 5110 D1 215.25 6102 F1 250.25 7095
B2 182.00 5160 D2 217.00 6152 F2 252.00 7144
B3 183.75 5209 D3 218.75 6202 F3 253.75 7194
B4 185.50 5259 D4 220.50 6251 F4 255.50 7243
B5 187.25 5309 D5 222.25 6301 F5 257.25 7293
B6 189.00 5358 D6 224.00 6350 F6 259.00 7343
B7 190.75 5408 D7 225.75 6400 F7 260.75 7392
B8 192.50 5457 D8 227.50 6450 F8 262.50 7442
B9 194.25 5507 D9 229.25 6499 F9 264.25 7491

Club Length Versus Head Weight

The golf clubs that are available today are the result of over 500 years of evolution. There is a rhyme and the reason each club in the set is a different length and weight. As you will find it is nearly impossible to alter the length of the club significantly without changing the balance of the club. 

The major factor that alters swing weight is length. For every ½” increase of length, this changes the swing weight by @ 3 points. This is again another reason as the clubs become shorter, that the head weights increase. If we simply made the 190g head 1” longer or 46”, we would add back our 6 swing weights and have a D0 swing weight. Conversely, on our 210g head example, if we shortened the club by 1” down to 44” we would reduce the swing weight by 6 points and back down to a D0 swing weight. 

See how this is tied in? This is the reason manufacturers suggest certain lengths based on the components they use so they feel the same in your hands to make a matched set. It is most common in sets todays that the driver, fairways, and hybrids are graphite shafted while the irons, wedges and putter are steel shafted.

A clubmaker can normally add weight during the assembly process, but here is the catch. There is a limit to how much clubs can be increased in weight unless the customer does not want a gob of lead tape all over the club. If the weight is too much, most clubmakers do want to go through the hassle of grinding material from the head which might not only affect the cosmetics, but playability as well.

The reason each club is a different length and even lie angle is a direct result of head weight with the longer golf club requiring a lighter head weight. That relationship between length and head weight is also tied to creating so-called standard swing weights or a swing weight range. This happens to be Hireko’s standard length chart. 


 Club / Number Weight Range Men's Graphite Men's Steel Ladies Graphite Ladies Steel
Ultralight Driver 190 g 46" 45" 45" 44"
Standard Driver 200 g 45" 44" 44" 43"
Thriver 210 g 44" 43" 43" 42"
2 Wood 205 - 210 g 43.5" 42.5" 42.5" 41.5"
3 Wood 210 - 215 g 43" 42" 42" 41"
4 Wood 215 - 220 g 42.5" 41.5" 41.5" 40.5"
5 Wood 220 - 225 g 42" 41" 41" 40"
7 Wood 225 - 230 g 41.5" 40.5" 40.5" 39.5"
9 Wood 230 - 235 g 41" 40" 40" 39"
11 Wood 235 - 240 g 40.5" 39.5" 39.5" 38.5"
13 Wood 240 - 245 g 40" 39" 39" 38"
15 Wood 245 - 250 g 39.5" 38.5" 38.5" 37.5"


  • Drivers based on 65g shaft, lighter or counter-balanced shafts may require longer lengths



Club / Number Weight Men's Graphite Men's Steel Ladies Graphite Ladies Steel
Hybrid 216 g 41.5" 41" 40.5" 40"
Hybrid 223 g 41" 40.5" 40" 39.5"
1 iron 229 g 40.5" 40" 39.5" 39"
2 iron 236 g 40" 39.5" 39" 38.5"
3 iron 243 g 39.5" 39" 38.5" 38"
4 iron 250 g 39" 38.5" 38" 37.5"
5 iron 257 g 38.5" 38" 37.5" 37"
6 iron 264 g 38" 37.5" 37" 36.5"
7 iron 271 g 37.5" 37" 36.5" 36"
8 iron 278 g 37" 36.5" 36" 35.5"
9 iron 285 g 36.5" 36" 35.5" 35"
PW / GW 291 - 295 g 36" 35.5" 35" 34.5"
SW / LW 296 g + 35.75" 35.25" 34.75" 34.25"


  • Hybrids vary more than any category and best to go by their weight
  • Wedges may be all the same length or progress in ¼” increments shorter
  • Putters run the gamut for weight and length, but typical stock putter lengths are 34” or 35” and popular head weights in the 330-350g

I should note emphatically that each manufacturer or component supplier had their own chart that may vary from this. This is why we go the extra route and add the head weight column as a precautionary measure when you might be working with another manufacturer’s club. As with any club fitting, you can adopt your own set of standards. It is your business, and you have a right to establish your own standards. Just be aware of the head weight limitations you might have unless you have your own heads produced to your specifications or the heads you are working with have adjustable weight capabilities.

Let us say you or your customer wanted an ultra-long driver such as 46” or longer. Well, you may need, or I should say want, a lighter weight head so it does not feel too heavy. You may be fortunate to find 190g driver heads, which are becoming more popular at the time of writing of this text. On the flip side of the spectrum you or your customer cannot handle a longer driver or even a standard length one for that matter.  You may need to find select heads that are weighted for the shorter assemble such as a Thriver or other clubs which could add weigh to help the player increase their solidness of contact.

It used to be commonplace to see fairway woods, like the 3, 5 and 7 to assembled in length progressions of 1” between each club. That is not a given anymore as today as many OEMs have adopted ½” gaps in some of their lines, essentially creating what used to be the 3, 4 and 5 wood set.  Their head weights will weigh accordingly.

Hybrids can be found in a myriad of different weights, which gives several fitting options. While some hybrids are the same weight as the corresponding numbered iron, others might be as much as 7g or 14g lighter than the same numbered iron. In those cases, they are suggested to be assembled ½” and 1” respectively longer than and iron of the same number. 

On top of that, the length between successive hybrids may not be 0.5.”  You are starting to see some OEM hybrids now progress throughout the set by ¾” increments and their head weights are altered to allow for standard swing weights. Someone sensitive to using longer lengths, selecting a lighter hybrid at a shorter length may not offer sufficient head weight.

Wedges can also pose a challenge. If you want progressively shorter wedges as you drop down from the 52, 56, 60 and even 64 degree lofts, look for heads that are progressively heavier weighted. However, if you prefer your wedges to be all the same length, then try to find them where the weights are relatively close to one another.

In putters, shorter, mid-length or long broomstick putters really require heavier head weights, thus eliminating many possibilities to choose from. 

Golf Club Length Through the Years

Club 1950's - 60's 1970's - 80's 1990's - 2000's 2010's
Driver 43"  43.5" 44-45" 45.5+"
3 Wood 42" 42" 43" 43"
4 Wood 41.5" 41.5" 42.5" 42.5"
5 Wood 41" 41" 42" 42"
7 Wood N/A 40.5" 41" 41.5"
1 Iron 39" 39.5" 40" N/A
2 Iron 38.5" 39" 39" N/A
3 Iron 38" 38.5" 38.5" 38.75"
4 Iron 37.5" 38" 38" 38.25"
5 Iron 37" 37.5" 37.5" 37.75"
6 Iron 36.5" 37" 37" 37.25"
7 Iron 36" 36.5" 36.5" 36.75"
8 Iron 35.5" 36" 36" 36.25"
9 Iron 35" 35.5" 35.5" 35.75"
PW 35" 35.5" 35.5" 35.5"
GW N/A N/A 35.5" 35.5"
SW 35" 35" 35.5" 35.25"
LW N/A N/A 35.5" 35"
N/A indicates these clubs did not exist

Club Length Versus Shaft Weight

Swing weight or balance is caused by shaft weight too. As most of the shaft hangs over the fulcrum point of the swing weight scale or is forward of your hands, any change in the mass influences the feel. If you select a lighter shaft, the swing weight, overall weight, and the moment arm all reduce. It takes about 7 grams of shaft weight given that the balance points of the shafts remain a constant and the length is 45”. By multiplying 7g times 7 inches it equals @ 49 g-in (1.75 oz.-in) or one swing weight.

At lengths shorter than 45”, the weight required to change 1 swing weight increases proportionally. For manufacturers, they would rather alter the length than have to manufacturer a heavier head when using a lighter shaft. This is another reason you see the lengths increasing. Do not be surprised to see graphite-shafted irons be up to ½” longer than their steel-shafted counterparts.

technical diagram of a golf swing weight scale with dimensions and different shaft and their swing weighttechnical diagram of a golf swing weight scale with dimensions and different shaft and their swing weight

Shaft manufacturers can intentionally alter the balance point of the shaft as well. Tip heavy shafts will increase swing weight as a greater proportion of weight is positioned closer to the head. Conversely, butt heavy shafts shift the weight closer to the butt end to reduce swing weight. Grip weight also has an influence on swing weighting, but I want to address this separately a little later.

Why Use Lighter Golf Shafts?

Why are more drivers becoming not only lighter and lighter, but longer too? That is an easy answer – to give golfers added swing speed and leverage so they can hit the ball further. This is not only happening with drivers but also trickling into the other club categories too.

It is simple physics. You have seen this formula many times before that force equals mass times acceleration. All acceleration is velocity over a given period. However, we are only concerned with that split second prior to impact, so we can concentrate on velocity. Most of you understand if you can swing the club faster you will hit the ball further.

Force = Mass   x   Acceleration

Acceleration =     --------

There is a caveat to that – the player still needs to make solid contact. Back peddling to our discussion much earlier, is using a lighter or heavier head going to help or hurt distance? Well, it all depends on whether the change in weight can be compensated in the velocity and acceleration.

Using our 200g head as a baseline, if one were to swing a 10.5° driver solidly at 100 mph, then the ball speed would be @ 149 mph and result in a 253 yard drive. We stated that reducing the head weight by 5% or 10g would reduce the distance with the same speed. But the whole idea of using a lighter weight head is to be able to use a longer length club at a reduced overall weight. If we are able to generate an increase of more than 1% in velocity just prior to impact, the ball will travel further.


Break Even Point (Head Weight vs. Swing Speed)

Head Mass Velocity Ball Speed Ball Speed Distance
190 g 101.0 m/sec. 67.0 m/sec. 149 mph 253 yards
195 g 100.5 m/sec. 67.0 m/sec. 149 mph 253 yards
200 g 100.0 m/sec. 67.0 m/sec. 149 mph 253 yards
205 g 99.6 m/sec. 67.0 m/sec. 149 mph 253 yards
210 g 99.2 m/sec. 67.0 m/sec. 149 mph 253 yards


On the flip side, let us look at using the heavier weight head. Chances are with the heavier head; the manufacturer is going to suggest a shorter length as I explained when talking about swing weighting. If the person does not generate less than 1% of their speed at impact, they should not see any decrease in their distance. A shorter driver is recommended for someone who struggles with a normal length driver, so even if the velocity is slightly less, the distance may be more than made up for in the solidness of contact. For every golfer, there is a bell curve. They will find a shaft weight that produced the best result. Shafts heavier or lighter will start to see a slight drop off. Do not assume a lighter weight shaft (or club) will automatically increase swing speed.

Moment of Inertia

The next topic is called the second moment of inertia or the force which you feel when you waggle the club back and forth with your wrists. The second moment of inertia is the sum of all the individual components weights and their distances squared from the center of rotation plus the MOI of each piece around its own center of gravity. This might be the most important consideration of all when you swing the club.

To explain this, look at the diagram for a moment. On the left side a player is holding our 11.25 oz. driver. The center of mass or balance point is located 33” from butt end or 28” from the hands. 

On the right side of the diagram, we have added 10g of weight to the head to that same club. Not only is the club going to be heavier by 10g, but the balance point is going to move further from the hands. This will increase the swing weight by close to 6 swing weights. The mass is now 11.6 ounces, and the center of mass is an inch further from the hands. The higher second moment of inertia will now make it harder to waggle the club back and forth about the wrists. 

diagram of two golfers waggling a club about the wrist with one driver 10 grams heavier than the otherdiagram of two golfers waggling a club about the wrist with one driver 10 grams heavier than the other

Adding Mass to the Club Head

To see the importance of this, here is an experiment I did with a range of golfers from a 3 handicap up to 36. We used 3 different weighted 5 irons with all things else being the same. I wanted to see what would happen to swing speed by changing weight.

You will see impact decals as these were hit with the 3 head weights. On the left column is a graphite-shafted 5-iron that weighs 257g or standard. The swing weight is C6 due to the length. In the middle column is a head that weighs 267g and the swing weight is D1. Lastly, the 3rd column represents a 277g 5-iron resulting in a D6 swing weight.

The surprising part was the swing speed barely even changed by more than 1 mph. After all our bodies can only torque around our spine so fast at a given length. No, the biggest surprise was how the head weight influenced the solidness of contact on the face. Some golfers fared well with a lighter swing weight and others heavier.

contact shown on impact labels with 5 different golfers hitting 5-irons of 3 different swing weightscontact shown on impact labels with 5 different golfers hitting 5-irons of 3 different swing weights

Handicap had no factor on head weight as it is strictly on an individual basis. To see what may work best, lead foil tape is available to apply to the head. It is easily removable too, but one word of caution, one strip of tape will not do anything. You will need to add a lot to see and feel a difference.

How Swing Weight Influences Ball Direction

In another test conducted several years ago, I used a driver head which had two weight ports to accept various weight screws. The beauty of this experiment was nothing changed such as the length, clubhead, shaft, grip, etc. except for changing swing weight and observing ball flight as well as impact position on the face as we did in our previous example.

As we mentioned earlier, by adding weight to the head we are creating a higher MOI making it harder to maneuver the club back and forth at the wrists. It should come as no surprise that the more head heavy the club became it would be hard to square the club face and result in blocked or pushed shots. Using the same club and reducing the screw weights, we would gradually see the ball flight go from a push, back to straighter and when enough weight was removed, the same club would produce a pull. Swing weighting not only controls how much weight we have, but more importantly where that weight is located.

Releasing the Golf Club

You may have heard the term “releasing the club.” It is an uncocking of the wrists on the down swing. Not only how much weight you are swinging but also where the center of mass is located is extremely critical to when and where you release the club.

Releasing or uncocking the wrists too early causes a rapid decline in power because maximum clubhead speed had been achieved too early and the club is decelerating going into impact. This can be caused by an imbalance in the club.

 Think about this for a second, if the club is too head-light or the MOI is too low, there might not be enough resistance to release the club at the right moment causing control problems. Somewhere there is a happy median that allows a golfer to release the club at the right moment just before impact, maximize speed and encourage solidness of contact.

diagram illustrating where and early release and a late release occur during a golf swingdiagram illustrating where and early release and a late release occur during a golf swing

Counterbalancing the Golf Club

Counterweighting is simply placing weight above the hands to move the center of mass closer to the hands. In our diagram we show the before and after. The “after” on the right shows the addition of a 16 gram counterweight. This shifts the balance point 1” closer to the hands and reduces the swing weight by 4 points. Furthermore, this adds 16g of mass to the club rather than a swing weight reduction alone. 

The mass is now 11.81 ounces, and the center of mass is 27” from the hands. Yes, we have added weight, but the 2nd moment of inertia will stay essentially the same since the weight is so close to the hands.  The balance point moved closer to the hands should now make it easier to waggle the club back and forth at the wrists.

diagram of two golfers waggling a club about the wrist with one driver with a counterweight and the shift in balance pointdiagram of two golfers waggling a club about the wrist with one driver with a counterweight and the shift in balance point

I have witnessed on many occasions where the counterweight works, and other times is a total disaster for a player and makes a perfectly good club go bad. One day I was testing an individual unaware of what I was handing him.  I had handed him a 45” driver with a 60g shaft and 50g grip with head weights of 190, 195 and 200g. In all cases he felt like he had to wait in the club, not because it was too flexible, but rather too light. Consequently, the ball flights were all weak fades.

Next, I took each of those same clubs and added a 26g counterweight. Instantly the player noticed a positive change to the feel of the club and the ball flew straighter and further. By adding 26g to the club, the player made a better swing and distance was increased. I have done this experiment with many others and the end result varies with each person.  

Even those that saw a huge benefit in the driver found that same amount of counterweight in another club, like a mid iron, broke down their swing and created a power vacuum – one that cost the player dearly in distance, trajectory and feel. Why? Well, it all comes back to balance and where the weight is distributed, and we will discuss this further a little later.

MOI, Swing Weight and the Impact on Grip Weight

I want to revisit grip weight for a second because this is nearly the same as counterweighting. Instead of a plug, the weight of the grip is extended over a 10 or 10 ½ inch span but the center of mass is remarkably close to the hinge point of the hands.

It has been several years ago when I conducted a 3 club challenge on identical 5-irons except for the grip as a new breed of grips became available. One 5-iron had a 57g midsize rubber grip, one had a 26g midsize Winn Lite grip and the 3rd has the same 57g midsize grip but with a 20g counterweight. This created a 51g or almost 2 oz. change between clubs and yet all had the same grip size.

Enlisting several players, all said the same thing, they felt similar by holding them in their hand even though there was an 11 swing weight differential. The only noticeable difference was the texture of the WinnLite grip over the other two clubs. Did the heads become heavier? No. Did the club become longer? No. Did we “trick” the swing weight scale? No.

technical diagram of a golf swing weight scale with dimensions and how grip weight created one swing weighttechnical diagram of a golf swing weight scale with dimensions and how grip weight created one swing weight

These reason for this is the fulcrum point on a swing weight scale is located 14 inches from the butt end and the fulcrum point is what the club pivots around. For each 5g of grip weight equals 1 swing weight point. The swing weight scale was created to measure the relation of weight distribution of a club. A higher swing weight will mean that a greater amount of the weight is toward the head side of the club. It is easy to understand that the use of a lighter weight grip will help the club feel more “head heavy.”

Swing Weight Examples Using Different Grip Weights and Fulcrum Point Positions

14” Fulcrum Positioning with Standard Weight Grip

 Let us say we have a 38.25” graphite-shafted 5-iron. The head weight is 257g, cut shaft 83g and our 50g grip. If you were to balance this club and mark the position, you might find that this point is 29.5” from the end of the grip. The swing weight scale measures the moments about the fulcrum point which is located 14” from the butt end.

technical diagram of swing weight scale and how golf components produce a D0 swing weighttechnical diagram of swing weight scale and how golf components produce a D0 swing weight

This would mean that the balance point of the club is 15.5” in front of the fulcrum point. By multiplying this amount times the overall weight of the club, it produces a torque or moment of 6045 g-in or 213.23 oz.-in. When the sliding weight of the swing weight scale is shifted until the whole club balance out, the tick mark on sliding weight will be positioned at D0. It is that simple. Again, the swing weight scale does all the calculations.

Now let us see what happens when we change the grip from the standard 50g to 25g. For starters, the head weight, shaft weight and length did not change, so all that occurred was the overall weight of the club was reduced by 25g. If we were to remove the club from the scale and were to rebalance the club and mark the position, you would find that balance point is 31.35” from the end of the grip. This is how the club becomes more head heavy as a higher percentage of the overall weight of the club is shifted closer to the head.

technical diagram of swing weight scale and how golf components produce a D5 swing weight with 25 gram griptechnical diagram of swing weight scale and how golf components produce a D5 swing weight with 25 gram grip

This would mean that the balance point of the club is now 17.35” in front of the fulcrum point. By multiplying this amount times the overall weight of the club, it produces a moment of 6307 g-in or 222.47 oz.-in. When the sliding weight of the swing weight scale is shifted until the whole club balance out, the tick mark on sliding  weight will be positioned at D5. 

Introduction of 4” Fulcrum Point Swing Weight Scale

If we made a swing weight scale with a fulcrum point that pivoted 4” from the butt end rather than typical 14” to come closer to replicating the position of your hands, it would look similar to this.

 Note that nothing has changed on the club. Each component and the overall weight are the same as our first example. The balance point is the same too. The only difference is the moments about our new pivot point. This same club that produced a moment of 6045g-in is now 9945 g-in (350.79 oz-in) using the new calibration. We would no longer have our standard alpha-numeric designation to fall back on like D0 or D2, so we will have to use the moment measurements instead.

technical diagram of swing weight scale with a 4" fulcrum point and how 2nd moment of inertia is calculated with 50g griptechnical diagram of swing weight scale with a 4" fulcrum point and how 2nd moment of inertia is calculated with 50g grip

Let us take our example using the 50g grip and replace it with the 25g grip and see what happens. While we saw a substantial change in the moments using our swing weight scale with the 14” fulcrum point, we will not see the same thing with the same scale but with a 4” fulcrum point. This same club that produced a moment of 6307g-in is now 9957 g-in (351.22 oz-in) using the new calibration.

 swing weight scale with a 4" fulcrum point and how 2nd moment of inertia is calculated with 25g grip swing weight scale with a 4" fulcrum point and how 2nd moment of inertia is calculated with 25g grip

How Counterweighting Influences Swing Weight of a Golf Club

When we add a counterweight, we are adding to the overall weight of the club. Yet at the same time we are also reducing the swing weight. We learned that for every 5 grams of grip weight we added accounted for a reduction of 1 swing weight point. 

 Counter-balancing does the same, but not at the same proportion because the counterweight is placed in a concentrated area at the very butt end of the club rather than spread out over a 10” or 10.5” span. In this case each 4g of counterweight reduces the swing weight by 1 point. The club before the addition of the counterweight was D0 and 390g. Now we are at a C5 swing weight and 410g.

technical diagram of swing weight scale and how golf components produce a C5 swing weight with a 20 gram counterweighttechnical diagram of swing weight scale and how golf components produce a C5 swing weight with a 20 gram counterweight

To simulate the feel by the golfer, we suggested that the fulcrum point be located 4” from the end of the club rather than 14” to replicate the position of your hands on the club. This same club that produced a moment of 5806g-in is now 9906 g-in (349.42 oz-in) using the new calibration.

 swing weight scale with a 4" fulcrum point and how 2nd moment of inertia is calculated with 20g counterweight swing weight scale with a 4" fulcrum point and how 2nd moment of inertia is calculated with 20g counterweight

Below is a table that recaps the moments with each club. Our control club with the 50g grip and no counterweight measured 9945g-in, our 25g grip club (9957 g-in) and finally the 50g grip with 20g counterweight (9906 g-in). In each case the change was very nominal. The club with 25g grip is a little more head heavy than our control club and the club with the counterweight less head heavy. To put this in perspective, if we were to add 10 or subtract 10 grams of head weight to achieve the same affects as altering the grip weight in these two examples, we would have seen a 3.5% change in the moments. Therefore it can be said that theoretically changes in grip weight should have no noticeable effect on the feel of the club. This is why some clubmakers prefer to match clubs by moment of inertia rather than swing weight.

  4" Fulcrum % Change
Moment with 50 g grip, no counterweight 9945-g-in Control club
Moment with 25 g grip, no counterweight 9957-g-in Plus 0.1%
Moment with 50 g grip and 20 g counterweight 9906-g-in Minus 0.4%

How Does Counterbalancing a Golf Club Translate in Real Life?

As with any theory, you want to test it. In the 3 club challenge test the golfers all felt the same when allowed to pick up and waggle the clubs even though there was an 11 swing weight differential. Again the only noticeable difference was the texture of the WinnLite grip over the other two clubs. In a perfect world it would have been great to be able to use the same grip, but that was not possible in this situation. Next each player hit balls with each club to see if there was any difference in ball flight, solidness and contact as well as feel. Impact labels were placed on each club and the player hit 3 balls toward a designated target. I repeated the test to eliminate any possible anomalies.

There was one golfer who said the club with the 26g grip felt stiffer and the club with the 57g grip and 20g counterweight felt the most flexible, even though they were not as the head weight and length were not altered. However, the golfer said nothing of the weights of the clubs. Interesting how the perception of feel can change amongst different individuals.

There were also subtle differences in impacts on the face and ball flight by changing only the grip weight, but not its size. One thing I would like to mention about grip weights, if you use lighter weight grips, make sure the swing weight is higher than normal. If not, then the center of mass and second MOI may not be sufficient to feel the club during the swing.

While the counter-balanced club was the heaviest overall this did not affect the distance for most of the testers as the balls were landing in the same spot as the balls hit with the non-counterbalanced iron with the 50g grip. Many also felt (but not all) the impact position was the tightest and this club felt the most solid. From testing many golfers with counterweights, don’t be surprised to see a slight increase in swing speed (2% or less) despite the overall weight of the club being heavier.

technical diagram of centrifugal forces in a golf swingtechnical diagram of centrifugal forces in a golf swing

 As I mentioned, impact location on the face changed by only altering grip weight. The same goes for counterweighting in general, but why? Looking at this diagram we see the golf swing is a double pendulum. One is where the arms rotate around the spine and the second is where the club rotates around the grip (G). The center of mass (Cm) is a certain distance from the grip influenced by the weight of the components and their distances. Decreasing grip weight will shift the center of mass closer to the head, while increasing grip weight and/or any counterweights will shift the center of mass closer to the grip.

Every person is built differently as we do not have the same dimensions, physical strength, or our own center of mass. One simple example is a golfer’s arm length may vary from person to the next. We have not even mentioned the player’s signature swing which creates different angles at the arms (a) and wrists (b) when swung. When we uncock our wrists and release the club, we are throwing the club away from our body creating a centrifugal force.

Our body reacts by imparting an  opposing force so we do not fall forward when we swing the club. However, if the centrifugal force of the club is higher than what our body will allow, this will cause our body to shift forward (or on the player’s toes) enough and potentially cause the impact to be made toward the heel of the club.

Counterweighting compensates for this club imbalance and allows the golfer to make a more repeatable swing when equilibrium occurs. It can also control over-the-top moves that result in fades and slices by changing the swing path (generally more inside-out with the addition of a counterweight).

technical diagram of centrifugal forces on a golfer's down swingtechnical diagram of centrifugal forces on a golfer's down swing

Golfers that tend to draw or hook the ball, there is generally not enough inertia in the club, thus more weight or a greater percentage of weight needs to be shifted toward the head.  This is where our next topic comes into play.

Adding Mid Weights to a Golf Club

Let us take our previous example using the 16g counterweight and instead place it 14” from the butt end or @ 4” below the grip. A few changes occur. One, we added 16g of mass to the club making it heavier. Secondly, it moves the balance point closer to the hands. However, it does not change the swing weight. Why? The fulcrum point on the swing weight scale is also 14” from the end of the butt.

The mass is now 11.81 ounces, and the center of mass is 27.3” from the hands now producing a second MOI that is nominally higher. The second moment of inertia is nearly identical to the club without any addition of mass. I find adding the midweight useful when the overall weight of the club is too light, and the player hits the ball all over the place. The further the weight is moved toward the head, the heavier the feel so it is critical not only how much weight is added where that weight is positioned.

diagram of two golfers waggling a club about the wrist with one driver with a mid weight inside the shaft and the shift in balance pointdiagram of two golfers waggling a club about the wrist with one driver with a mid weight inside the shaft and the shift in balance point

There are commercially available mid weights from the likes of Tour Lock (Opti-Vibe) and Balanced Certified that can be inserted into an existing club by cutting a hole in the grip, inserting a various weight, sliding it to a specific area and then tightening it with a tool. Caps are available to close the hole at the end of the grip or one might add an additional counterweight on top of the mid weight.

In another experiment, I added a 40g mid weight to a wedge that could be slid up and down inside the shaft and fastened so it would stay in place when hitting a ball. I had placed it just below the grip of the club. With the addition of weight the ball flight was observed. Not surprising was the flight was straight and created a tight shot pattern. However, this player hit the ball shorter by an average of 10-15 yards than without the weight installed.

Using that same club, we moved the exact same 40g weight only 4” down the shaft. Suddenly, a club that weighed the same went longer, remained straight, and had a tight shot pattern. By moving the same mass further from the hands, the 2nd MOI increased. Lastly, we are moving the weight further down the shaft until all of the sudden this golfer suddenly began shanking the ball. Again, it is not just the weight, but where that weight is located as we discussed when mentioning centrifugal forces.

Tour Lock Opti Vibe being inserted into a golf grip with an opening cut outTour Lock Opti Vibe being inserted into a golf grip with an opening cut out

Moment of Inertia Matched Golf Clubs

In the 1970’s, a club manufacturer by the name Sounder Golf produced a set of woods and irons which had mid weights installed in specific points within the shaft to make them MOI matched. Using a pendulum device that would allow the clubs to swing freely, the Sounder clubs would swing back and forth in exact rhythm. Inserting two swing weight-matched clubs from the same set in the same pendulum device, the clubs would oscillate at different rates.

It was a lot of work to produce clubs that could do that as the weight had to be calculated and carefully installed. These clubs were shortly lived because they did not have the marketing dollars to go against the mainstream ideology clubs were made to. Plus this is an important lesson, even though the clubs were matched to one another, they were not custom matched to the player.

I remember in the mid 2000’s a customer came to me with a broken shaft in an old set of Sounder irons he was still playing. He told me he never found a set that gave him the same feel and performance as those. He was more surprised that someone knew the history of those clubs. I asked for his adjacent clubs, and I was able to duplicate the weighting after a couple of days. See, it does pay to study the history of the game.

Today, electronic MOI measurement devices are sold and used by clubmakers on a small scale to produce MOI-matched clubs instead of swing weight-matched. The cost of these scales is considerably more money than a swing weight scale. Because MOI-matched clubs are not produced by any major golf club manufacturer, there is nothing to drive the consumer to ask or request their set be MOI-matched rather than swing weight-matched, which has been the major form of club matching for more than 80 years.

Clubmakers who have invested into MOI-matching have to explain this concept to their customers who are often less caring about how you are going to build the club, but whether it helps their game. If you are building the player with the exact same components and specifications as you fit them for is really the most critical issue. Consider your time when pricing if you decide to build MOI-matched clubs.

Single Length Golf Irons

One question you may have thought to ask is “Why are clubs not all the same length, wouldn’t that simplify the clubs matching one to another?”  I have been in this business a long time to have been able to say, “been there, done that.” In the late 1990’s, Tommy Armour came out with a set called the EQL. It was meant for the average golfer to make a repeatable swing. The driver and fairways woods were all one length (same as a 5-wood), and the irons and wedges were all one length (same as a 6-iron). To make the clubs match by swing weight (and MOI), each of the woods and each of the irons would have the same weight along with lie angle.  The only parameter different was their lofts in which controlled distance.

The EQL system was a flop, even at the time Tommy Armour was riding high on the 845 series. Why? It was a radical concept - debunking 500 years of history in which each club in the set was a different length. Today, there are several single length golf iron sets to select from. 

Examples of Golf Club Weighting Extremes

Over the years, we have seen other companies who had different ideas on how golf clubs should be weighted and balanced. Some of the concepts were popular for a few years and gain a small market share despite going against the grain. I would like to give you some of those extreme examples, all of which were designed by some very smart individuals.

Pelz FeatherLite golf clubs gained attention in 1984. Dave Pelz, a former NASA engineer, developed a concept utilizing a lighter head weight for the clubhead to be swung faster.  The shaft and grip weights were no different than what existed in the golf industry at the time. In fact the only major change made were the shafts started out much softer to account for the lighter head weights. The head weights were so light the swing weight only registered in the B8 to C0 range.

There was other “feather light” club heads introduced shortly after, but to the demise of the consumer, clubmakers used the normal shaft flexes, which coupled with the lighter heads, made the clubs feel much stiffer than normal. The fad lasted only a couple of years but there were several players who enjoyed the lighter weights for many years afterwards.

Goldwin Golf introduced a line of clubs in 1997 called AVDP (short for avoirdupois). The AVDP system comprised of graphite shafts with a monstrous butt end @ 1.02” in diameter and an ultralight grip (as little as 11g). This created an exceptionally light club that was extremely head-heavy with swing weights ranging from D8-E1. The clubs sold for about 4 years. If you ever attempted to re-grip one you ran into a problem as there were only a few grip choices back them (none now) that would fit over the extremely large butt end.

Boccieri Golf started out as Heavy Putter, a company who produced heavier putter heads and then added a back-weighting system (as much as 200g) to raise overall weight to force the player to use the larger muscles during the putter stroke. Eventually they began to offer products in all the club categories, thus changing their name.

Their concept was to increase the overall weight of the club by adding weight in two areas. First was a minor increase to the head to increase the transfer of momentum into the ball. Then a much larger amount of weight was added to the butt end. For the full swing clubs, the amount of counter-balancing amounted to 50g. Due to the mass being closer to the golfers hands it would raise the balance point of the club and make it easier to swing, yet swing speed would change truly little.

Frankenstein Clubs

In each of these cases with extreme weighting, there will be a small pocket of golfers who will find no better club on the market as the weight and weight distribution work well with their unique swing. Sadly, when a unique club system is no longer offered, they struggle with the mainstream clubs. In addition, golfers new to the game may not be able to experience what could be their panacea when alternative weight systems are no longer an option.

Over the years I have had at my disposal all sorts of R&D products to test. In most cases they are focused only on one single parameter so we could document the results. One such experiment was the practical use of lighter weight irons. I never did have any luck finding golfers that matched up well with them without adding some sort of mid weight for standard length clubs or for over length applications. But the light heads did allow for me to add arbitrary weights to the head. At the same time, I had cut holes into the butt ends of the grips where counterweights and mid weights could be added and adjusted.

As we saw from our swing weighting discussion earlier in this chapter, it takes approximately 2g of head weight, 5 grams of grip weight and 4g of counterweight to change 1 swing weight. Remember the grip weight is spread over a longer area than the counterweight which is concentrated in one area. For the sake of argument, let us look at the balance of the club in a 2 to 5 ratio of head weight versus grip weight. 

If we added 2g of head weight to and existing club but countered the butt end by 5g, the swing weight remains constant, but the overall weight increases by 7g. If we continue that ratio, we could add 12g to the head and 30g to the grip and again the swing weight will remain the same, yet the overall weight of the club will increase by 42g. There would be an infinite amount of possibilities whether trying to match the swing weight or not.

With my lighter weight iron head experiment, I might have found that during a fitting that the customer needed 14g additional to the head and an additional 40g added to the butt end. This gave them the best overall distance and accuracy. Now when it gets time to build the set you are going to think, “How the heck am I going to add 14g of weight to the head and deliver this product to the customer?” Is the player going to want a load of lead tape all over a brand new head if there are no heads available which are that heavy, not to mention that adding that much weight to the hosel (if possible) may adversely affect the CG of the head? Just one of the many things to consider when building clubs that fit to the customer.

Dynamic Golf Fitting for Weight

Unbelievably, fitting for weight dynamically is done at the same time as fitting for length. They go hand in hand. Dynamically simply means we are having the player hit different clubs to expose them to the various parameters. When fitting for weight we are trying to isolate only one parameter at a time such as overall weight and weight distribution.

If you have a system which allows you to interchange heads and shafts quickly, then that would be the preferred method. For instance you may be able to test for swing weight by adding a light driver head, standard weight model and finally a heavier version on the same shaft.  If not, you can rely on lead foil tape or really any material than can be easily added and removed without damaging the head. For instance, I have used Locktite® mounting putty; the same as you would use as an alternative to nails or glue to hang a poster or drawing from a wall. Play-Doe or modeling clay may work to. Something that might be safer than lead and easily added and removed without falling off. Just use your imagination.

Diagram of a grip plotting the possible combinations of distance and control depending upon the overall weight and swing weight of a golf clubDiagram of a grip plotting the possible combinations of distance and control depending upon the overall weight and swing weight of a golf club

By having a system that allows you to interchange heads and shafts, you already have your various weight shafts from your fitting system that we discussed in the shaft fitting chapter. You could temporarily add weight to the head for swing weighting or on the outside of the shaft to simulate a heavier weight shaft.

You can cut precision holes in the butt end of the grip as mentioned previously to allow for counterweights to be inserted and removed during the fitting. Again, some of the systems will serve as a mid-weight as well like the Tour Lock Opti-Vibe. Make sure to get at least one of each weight for your fitting program. The key to any good fitting is optimizing the system or all the components used to make the customer’s club so it can be swung the most efficiently by the golfer. As we have seen in the examples before, there are a wide range of ideas behind weight. In some cases, these work for some golfers and in some cases not. 

One thing to remember is the time it takes to get fit, especially for weight distribution. You may or may not include that as part of your regular fitting but offer it as an add-on. Many of the golfers that walk through your door will not have a repeatable enough swing to optimize the club when in fact a simply check with basic weight fitting will more than suffice. Of course, if you get a player that slices their driver, I might suggest fitting with a counterweight so see if it is effective. Remember, the customer can always come back to follow up and make any changes at that point.

If you fit an iron set, chances you are only going to fit one mid-iron and then duplicate the results to each other iron. It may carry over to the hybrids if you use the same shaft, but if not, you will have to retest for weight and weight distribution every time you use a different type of shaft.  It is common for a player to have an extremely light shaft in their driver, a slightly heavier model in their fairway woods, yet another heavier shaft in their hybrids, a heavier weight steel shaft in their iron and wedges and yet a different shaft for the putter. The days when a player uses the same shaft throughout the set are long, long gone.

If you do not have an interchangeable fitting system, then you will be more limited to the demo clubs you have on hand. For instance, you may have several length shafts with the same or different heads. If using different heads, your customer could be biased toward the look even though all the other specifications are the same. It is not perfect, but then again you are giving a player something different to experience and see what kind of combinations produce their desired results.

Static Fitting Golf Clubs for Weight

If you are unable to have the player hit balls, such as a surprise birthday gift, on-line transaction, etc. then you will need to use some judgment as well as ask particularly good questions during the personal interview process. This is where the height-based and wrist-to-floor charts come in handy to at least put them into a length that might be comfortable for them the same as others who might have had the same dimensions. It will not be exact, but again better than no fitting whatsoever. From there you can concentrate on weight and weight distribution.

Use a commonsense approach when selecting the weight and weight distribution. For example, if you know the player becomes fatigued during the round, choose components that are markedly lighter than what they are presently using. If the player has directional control problems and hitting all over the place, then a heavier overall club might be in order. This would be the same as if the player has a shorter and/or quicker swing as the heavier overall weight will help pace out their swing. If they player is hitting the ball well with a particular club in their set, make sure to duplicate it even if that means you have to research the component shaft weights on the internet.

I have seen players who slice the ball caused by an over-the-top move with a particular golf club. This could very well be caused by an imbalance in the weight or weight distribution in the club. Using the same club and adding weight to the butt end, that same player all the sudden has the club coming into the ball with a squarer swing path. It might be rare in a static fitting to counterbalance a club. But if the customer as run through all his or her options, again it is in your arsenal.

If you get a player who complains they are not getting any distance and the ball is going extremely high, it could be caused by an early release or flipping of the wrists prior to impact. If you make an error, error on the higher side of the swing weight range especially if the club you are making is lightweight. Hopefully, the head heavy feel will allow them transfer the momentum better.

Items you might need

  • Demo clubs / interchangeable fitting system
  • Gram weight scale to measure overall weight
  • Swing weight scale (or MOI machine)
  • Lead tape to add to head and possibly shaft too
  • Impact decals or impact spray
  • Counterweighting system like Tour Lock or Balance Certified

Modern Guide to Golf Clubmaking

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