On Friday I describe the elements of what most golfers are talking about when the subject of “feel” is brought up. The sensation of impact . . . the feeling in your hands of the ball coming off the clubhead . . . is what most golfers are thinking about when they are asked how a club feels. But there’s a much more important aspect of feel that no one really talks about at all. It’s the overall feel and balance of the club in your hands, and a property called “motion feedback.”
In a golf club, what “motion feedback” means is the sensory feedback to your nervous system when the club is put into motion. In other words, the quality of input you have as to exactly what the clubhead is doing – how fast its moving, how far back you took it, the path of the motion of the clubhead, the face angle that is resulting, etc.
When you are over a short pitch, chip or any putt, you make practice strokes to “rehearse” the swing or stroke you envision making to execute the shot you are planning. You feel the club going back and through at a given pace and path that will produce the results you have in mind for this particular shot. And they are all different. The club’s qualities that allow you to really feel those practice swings or strokes with the intent of reproducing it for the shot are crucial to your short range performance.
So, what makes for improved motion feedback qualities in a golf club? First is the overall weight of the club. Generally speaking, an increase in overall weight will increase the quantity of motion feedback, but that needs to be tempered to each golfer. If some of your clubs are dramatically different from the others, you will have inconsistent feel in this area, and it will be difficult for you to develop consistent touch.
The second factor is the swingweight of the golf club. Historically, wedges and putters have heavier swingweights than the irons and woods, because they are used at slower swing speeds and more often with partial shots that require improved motion feedback to the hands to gauge those shots. Scoring clubs that are too light overall, or too light in the head, will compromise your experience measurably.
The final element in the equation are the shaft’s physical qualities. A softer shaft will flex more when put into motion than a stiffer shaft. But in the scoring clubs, that softness needs to be in the upper section of the shaft as opposed to the lower section, so that full-swing trajectories are not adversely affected. The shaft flex in the scoring clubs is not talked about by many, but I’ve always been a huge believer that it is critical to a good fit. And it’s not just about swing speed. A golfer with slower swing speed, but quicker short game tempo might need a little firmer shaft than a stronger player with a very slow tempo. Only trial and error will tell you what feels best.
The other side of the shaft equation is the material of the shaft itself. I’m a fan of graphite shafts in wedges, simply because carbon fiber has improved transmission properties than tubular steel. If you get the weight right, a good quality carbon fiber shaft is amazing. We’ve been out on the Champions Tour with SCOR clubs a few times this year, and even some of these guys are opting for our new GENIUS 9 graphite shaft in their wedges because of the improved motion feedback.
So, there you have the other half of the “feel” equation. Give that attention next time you are choosing scoring clubs and you’ll see immediate improvement in your short range performance.