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On & Off the Course

May 27, 2006

On and Off the Course: Getting correct shaft is most important

TERRE HAUTE — Have you ever watched somebody swing a golf club and it looked like the shaft was going to wrap around his or her head? Back when my sister Kathy and her husband lived in Terre Haute, we used to play golf with them a lot, and it was always an adventure. Both Kathy and John had cheap sets of clubs that they had gotten at Service Merchandise, which meant they both had standard, regular flex steel shafts. For Kathy, that worked fine, but John was a big man, ex-marine, and weight lifter.

No little regular shaft was going to stand up to his swing. He might as well have had rubber hose for a shaft. He had no club head control at all, so it was always a mystery as to which direction the ball was going to go. He could slice the ball over the houses that bordered the course to the right or hook it to the next fairway on the left. He never played No. 8 at the Country Club from anywhere but the second fairway. If he ever hit it straight, it would go a mile, but that wasn’t something that could be counted on. One time he hit the ball so hard but to the left, that it hit the ball washer next to the tee box, made a golf-ball-size hole in it, and popped back and rolled to his feet before the water gushed out. He would have benefited from stiffer shafts, and a pro’s club-fitting.

In today’s world, when you buy a new set of clubs, the first thing you are most likely to do is pick out the brand and look of club head that you want. That often is the only thing golfers think about. They’ll say, “I’m getting a set of Cleveland TA7’s” or Mizuna MX-900s, or whatever. If asked, they will know whether they’re getting graphite or steel shafts and what kind of flex.

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