Putter Shafts - Do they really make a difference?

TonyGIG

True custom club fitter & putting coach.
Bruce thank you for this article. I guess the thing to me about what you write is - is there some way to actually measure tip stiffness for putter shafts, or do you just try different putter shafts and see which feels differently and "connects" with your stroke? Tony
 

bogie

Member
I have two Putter Lounge shafts. They are TT putter shafts with PVD coating. I thought the coating might stop oscillation or vibration in the steel shafts. I wonder if anyone has ever checked that? BTW, nice article!
 

bargolf

Well-known member
Bruce thank you for this article. I guess the thing to me about what you write is - is there some way to actually measure tip stiffness for putter shafts, or do you just try different putter shafts and see which feels differently and "connects" with your stroke? Tony
Tony-We started out using an old shaft deflection board. It allowed us to see the bend point and profile.
 

T. J.

PUTTERS!? We no need no,,, wait,,, si , we do !!
Staff member
************* Stupid Questions Warning! ********************

1) What effect does the flex have on the feel of the putter?
2) Does the shaft flex enough in a putt to have any effect in direction control?
3) How does the shaft flex point affect feel and direction control?
 

bargolf

Well-known member
Hey TJ
1. Reduces or increases vibration frequency post impact. If you can compare apples to apples - same putter head, grip and same weight - the response we got was a softer feel from the slower vibrations. A little firmer or crisper feel from a stiffer shaft. Nike measured all of this a number of years ago, and that testing triggered some of my own. We also found that all things the same except flex, that the feedback that the softer shaft felt heavier. Remember in all these tests there was a full flex different putter to putter. We called it soft, medium and firm.
2. We did not or could not see any rotational influence from the shaft. Having said that we did not test any putts more than 25 feet. But all were steel shafts with the same nominal torque of 1.8 degrees, but none of the putts we hit would come close to applying the amount of stress used to obtain the measured rating. I suppose if you had a graphite shaft with a higher torque measurement you might see some on longer putts.
3. IT IS MY OPINION flex point will influence feel but I can't prove it ....yet.

I apologize it this is a little vague. I am working on some things that, for now, I should keep to myself. Having said that i encourage you to try some things out. Byron has tipped shafts for me in the past.
 

T. J.

PUTTERS!? We no need no,,, wait,,, si , we do !!
Staff member
Hey TJ
1. Reduces or increases vibration frequency post impact. If you can compare apples to apples - same putter head, grip and same weight - the response we got was a softer feel from the slower vibrations. A little firmer or crisper feel from a stiffer shaft. Nike measured all of this a number of years ago, and that testing triggered some of my own. We also found that all things the same except flex, that the feedback that the softer shaft felt heavier. Remember in all these tests there was a full flex different putter to putter. We called it soft, medium and firm.
2. We did not or could not see any rotational influence from the shaft. Having said that we did not test any putts more than 25 feet. But all were steel shafts with the same nominal torque of 1.8 degrees, but none of the putts we hit would come close to applying the amount of stress used to obtain the measured rating. I suppose if you had a graphite shaft with a higher torque measurement you might see some on longer putts.
3. IT IS MY OPINION flex point will influence feel but I can't prove it ....yet.

I apologize it this is a little vague. I am working on some things that, for now, I should keep to myself. Having said that i encourage you to try some things out. Byron has tipped shafts for me in the past.
Great,,,,,,, now I got the urge to experiment,,,, time to go look for a decent putter and start playing with grip/shaft combos,,,,,
 

Mr. Doug

Here we go!
Staff member
In an upcoming article, I'm going to take the same head with 3-4 different shafts and find a way to document the differences. Should be really interesting!

@bargolf Maybe I can come out to you and we can do it together? Should make for a great video.
 

bargolf

Well-known member
That would be fun. Here is how we did one of the tests.

1. Build 4 putters with the same length, loft, head weight and grip. Use the same type shaft without tipping, then build one tipped 3/4 of an inch, the one 1 1/2 inches, then on 2 1/4.
2. Set up to a flat putt with NO TARGET. No target is important because the player is less likely to change his stroke due to a miss. For all those web people who test putters, this is the biggest problem with your testing. Player reaction to target.
3. Put a piece of masking tape on the ground to promote a consistent aim point. Now hit putts, try to hit them a similar length. We just asked them to try to match the first putt. This will create a grouping. Mark that group and start over with the next putter. Mark that grouping. Proceed to the end. compare the venn diagram you create. make your own judgments as to effect of the shaft flex.

You want to know which shaft worked best for you? What shaft produced the tightest grouping? Which shaft flex gave you the grouping closest to a line perpendicular to the aim position? Which shaft required the least amount of effort to match each putt. Pretty sure by the end of the test you will know.

Your results might not match mine. We used different people, but I promise you will learn something about your preferences. If you have ever seen the picture of the 9 Profile putters, those are the models I used to build the Burnt Edge System.

We have a much more sophisticated system now to determine best shaft weight flex combination, but I am not sure it is better than the original test.

If you are a manufacturer or teaching professional out there and use this test. Please remember where you got it when you report your findings.

Thanks

P.S. We found the reason that most players think there is no difference is that they never had an opportunity to compare.
 

PJ

Member
Bruce, I was interested in the comment above that a softer shaft contributes to a heavier feel (all else equal).Is this why manufacturers have seemingly gone to firmer shafts as head weight has gotten heavier (my perception anyway, looking at classic shafts like Head Speed vs today)?
 

bargolf

Well-known member
PJ - I believe the same thing. One manufacturer currently admits it was about using the cheapest option. So if you think in terms of production costs, you want the grip to fit without build up tape. So if you don't tip the shaft from the bottom, you get too far down the taper and the grip doesn't sit correctly. That makes the shaft much stiffer if you trim from the bottom. So making them stiffer was cheaper as it is cheaper to build heavy putters than it is lighter.
 

cueist

Active member
I have to admit that I’m curious about putter shafts. Being that “feel” has always been my biggest concern, it is also the most unpredictable quality. Especially considering that “feel” can’t be measured, it has to be felt.
 

Zbeekner

New member
It’s definitely an interesting topic and I found that being able to build that type of test isn’t feasible for most but with the amount of speciality putter shafts available through KBS and what odyssey and Toulon are doing, I’m very intrigued by this type of test.
 

bargolf

Well-known member
For most "tests" the results are only applicable to the humans performing the tests.

We have found that feedback can be predictable. For example we can predict that in comparison a player will slow his tempo with a Mills pencil shaft when compared to a similar model with a stock over the hosel shaft. Can't predict exact measurements but we see the trends pretty clearly.
 

A.Princey

New member
Take this for what it's worth, but I've grown to love lighter putters, but also balanced putters with counterweight. For those who gave counterweight a try at normal weights, with a steel shaft and hated it, might want to try a graphite option as well, the lessened static weight could be a game-changer. I currently game a Byron Longneck DH89 at 32.75", 338g headweight, 60g Pingman, 50g counterweight, and a stiff graphite shaft that is about 45g installed. I've got a putter now that is about B-0 swingweight, at 495g total weight. The *feel* with this putter is amazing and my distance control & overall putting in general has NEVER been better. Ymmv
 

Maverickping

Well-known member
For most "tests" the results are only applicable to the humans performing the tests.

We have found that feedback can be predictable. For example we can predict that in comparison a player will slow his tempo with a Mills pencil shaft when compared to a similar model with a stock over the hosel shaft. Can't predict exact measurements but we see the trends pretty clearly.
I have some putters with pencil shafts and will be looking for this. Really something I never thought of before. Would you think it might be a mental concept, as the shaft is more delicate in appearance?
 

Oneputt

Member
Take this for what it's worth, but I've grown to love lighter putters, but also balanced putters with counterweight. For those who gave counterweight a try at normal weights, with a steel shaft and hated it, might want to try a graphite option as well, the lessened static weight could be a game-changer. I currently game a Byron Longneck DH89 at 32.75", 338g headweight, 60g Pingman, 50g counterweight, and a stiff graphite shaft that is about 45g installed. I've got a putter now that is about B-0 swingweight, at 495g total weight. The *feel* with this putter is amazing and my distance control & overall putting in general has NEVER been better. Ymmv
I believe the putter industry has "evolved" to producing putters with too heavy of a head. The heavy heads have created a demand for heavier grips, and, or, counter balance weights at the butt of the putter shafts.
I think that about 15 years ago consumers started to like heavy head putters, mostly because a mishit with a 350 gram head "sounds better" (feel at impact) than a mishit with a 310 gram putter head.
 

A.Princey

New member
I believe the putter industry has "evolved" to producing putters with too heavy of a head. The heavy heads have created a demand for heavier grips, and, or, counter balance weights at the butt of the putter shafts.
I think that about 15 years ago consumers started to like heavy head putters, mostly because a mishit with a 350 gram head "sounds better" (feel at impact) than a mishit with a 310 gram putter head.
I agree with most of what you said, and I'll add that for me, with less weight overall and less in the head I'm more able to putt with my finger-tips and less with my palms, if that makes sense.
 
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