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Thursday, September 25, 2008

Torque Advice for Beginners: Graphite vs Steel Shafts

Golf Club Components-Steel vs Graphite Shafts
Something that I was often asked about when I worked at a golf shop was 'torque'. I'm talking about torque when it comes to shafts, steel golf shafts and graphite shafts for golf clubs.

We carried a lot of golf club shafts for club-making and repairs. And we had a lot of different brands of golf shafts for sale. Some of the popular brands that we carried were: Aldila, Fujikura, Grafalloy, Graman, KB Tour, Mitsubishi Diamana, Nippon, Paragon, Rapport, True Temper, and the ever popular UST shafts.

Torque Analogy
Ok, back on topic. Now we are not talking about the torque like that of an automobile engine, however that is a good analogy, so I'm going to use it. I'm not an engine expert, so please just go along with my explanation, because I know that torque is so much more than what I am about to describe.

The engine in our cars, when revved up, twists, due to the moving parts inside the engine! Especially is the twisting evident when the engine is quickly revved at high RPM's. If the engine was not bolted to the frame, it would twist itself right out of the engine compartment. Even with the engine bolted in, the torque of the engine can cause the vehicle to move. For example, if you press the brake and the accelerator at the same time you will see and feel the car move due to torque.

Golf Shaft Torque Explanation
This sort of describes what happens to a golf shaft when a load is applied to it. We apply torque, for example, to our driver or fairway woods shaft, when we quickly go from our backswing to our downswing. The quick motion applies pressure on the shaft causing it to twist.

At this point, I need to clarify that we are not talking about shaft flex, but rather shaft twist. The twist of, or rather the torque of the shaft is measured in degrees. The higher the number the more the shaft will twist. Conversely, the lower the number, the less amount of twist.

The number of degrees range from 1 to about 8. A steel shaft falls between the ranges of 2 to 4 degrees, whereas a graphite shaft can range from 1 to 8. So you can see that a steel shaft doesn't really have much twist, whereas a graphite shaft can be extremely rigid or it can really twist a lot.

What Degree of Torque Should You Use?
Well then, that brings up a good question. What degree of torque should I look for? You really don't have to worry about shaft torque when it comes to steel, since steel doesn't really have a broad range of torque. However, if you are thinking of using a graphite shaft you will have to consider your swing. If you have an extremely aggressive swing and you release the club late, then you want a shaft with torque no greater than 5. If you have a smooth tempo then you don't want a shaft lower than 4. The majority of graphite golf shafts available today fall between the ranges of 3.5 to 5.5. Most people will do well with a shaft that falls within this range.

Hopefully this explains what torque is all about when it comes to golf shafts, both graphite and steel.

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