Counter Weight

Quantifying feel in golf is impossible, period. Player preferences in regard to feel are as unique as fingerprints. What feels good to one golfer may feel lousy to another. One player may prefer the soft feel of a pixl insert, while another prefers feeling a click at impact that only a metal face can produce. Another golfer might select steel shafts for the weightier feel, while his playing partner favors the feel of graphite.

One aspect of fell all golfers can agree on, however, is the feel of a shot hit dead centre on the clubface or a swing that is perfectly executed. When we stroke a perfect putt, or nail a tee shot, if we don’t speak the words along, they reverberate through our mind. “Oh, that felt good.”

In golf, feel is an expectation that we have for our swing and the moment of impact between the golf ball and the clubface. We know what we expect to feel and we anticipate feeling it. Unfortunately, our expectations aren’t always realized.

At times, our swings or strokes might feel a little wobbly or off balance. As we swing, we can hear the subconscious say, “No, no, no, this isn’t right.” As we fight to maintain control or adjust the swing to try and save the shot. We also know the feel of nasty vibrations that travel through the hands and arms and the poor shoot results that come from connecting with the ball on the toe or heel of the clubface.

Now, players can lessen the instance of negative feel and poor shot results and can increase the instance of great feel and positive shot results with a simple technology commonly known as counter balance weight or butt weight. Two well know companies that focus on such technology are Balanced Certified Golf (http://www.balance-certified.com/) and Tour Lock Pro (http://www.tourlockpro.com/)

In our years of fitting data collected, we do see that counter-weights aid golfers in substantially improving distance and consistency off the tee, stabilizing and tuning putters, and garnering added control and spin with iron and wedges.

Counter weighting golf clubs is not a new idea. However, If you have not heard of counter-weighting, you’re not alone. Golf folklore says that Jack Nicklaus applied lead tape under his grips and Ben Hogan played with clubs that were much stiffer and much heavier than any of his contemporaries. Unfortunately, you will never hear big brand names singing about this technology as their supply chain model cannot provide this level of customization and the number of possible weight combination.

Golfsmith conducted a test in 2004:

  • Over 30 testers, a mix of Harvey Penick teaching pros and students
  • Age range about 40 to 80 years
  • Handicap range scratch to high mid-handicappers
  • Two test drivers used:
    • Both 10.5 degree loft with a Spine Aligned, 65 gram graphite “R” flex shaft at 45 inch length
    • Clubs were identical except one had a 65g butt weight
    • Swing weights were D2 and B3 respectively
    • Butt weighted average club swing speed 2 mph higher, launch angle 1 degree higher, and carry distance was 9 yards more
    • Over 70% hit counter-weighted club farther
    • Average distance gain was 14 yards
    • 15 of 23 testers gained more than 5 yards
    • Directional accuracy was improved

Why did the butt weighted club appear to be better?

At the time no one could explain it in a way that most golfers and club-fitters could relate. Now, several years later, our explanations include:

  • Counter-weighting was not needed very often in the past because golf clubs were heavier than today’s clubs with graphite shafts and lighter grips and the player could feel the club
  • As golf club total weight was reduced by lighter shafts and grips, many golfers lost club feel and weight addition was needed to improve swing dynamics
  • Counter-weighting restores the feel needed to maintain swing plane and to more easily feel the golf club • Counter-weighting increases total weight of the golf club and moves club balance point closer to the grip. Some players feel head weight loss, but most do not.
  • Butt-weighted shafts were tried but limited because it was one weight fits all
  • Counter-weighting results in a substantially higher mass in the butt and it gives the fitter different weight options. The swing speed increase from lighter shafts is not adversely affected because the added weight is in the hands
  • Bottom line is that more club weight from butt weights restored feel and control without any swing speed reduction

Types of golfers that benefit

  • Aggressive Transition move: Potential for substantial improvement in accuracy and control. Counter weights increase the club total weight and gives these golfers more feel and control of the golf club
  • Very Quick Tempo’s: Counter-weighting for this golfer creates a “smoother” tempo which leads to better control and accuracy
  • Early to Midway Release: Many of these golfers increase their swing speed and club center contact increasing ball speed and distance. Additionally, swing path and face angle at impact often improves
  • Outside-To-Inside Swing Path: More weight in the hands, often improves swing path considerably. More weight in the hands reduces the golfers ability to “Cast” the club outward and helps them “Drop” the club into the slot. Last year Keith Chatham reported he had seen a 50% improvement in a few golfers with Out-to-In swing paths. He said, “their final swing path is still Out-to In, however, now they play a controllable fade instead of their dreaded slice.”
  • After testing for Length, those Golfers whose on-center hits are very close but just not quite on-center.

At Wiz Golf, every fitting session includes a “tweaking session” to test if the golfer will benefit from counter weighting. After competing the normal fitting process, we will build a test 6 iron to conduct counter-weighting tests during a follow-up session. Ball striking tests are conducted with different counter weight, from no weight to 40g in 4-10g increments. The data will tell which weight is best.

Conclusions for counter-weighting

  • Certain golfers see improvement in ball striking:
    • Swing speed, ball speed and distance increase
    • Better swing path, contact quality, distance control, direction and feel. Distant control for putter.
    • 30% increase distance 70% direction and distance control
    • Counter-weighting changes swing weight, but not golf club MOI as seen from the club handle.
Club Benefits realized with counter weights
Putter
  • Increase club/stroke stability
  • Prevents wrist breakdown during the stroke
  • Promote a pendulum swing
  • Eliminates vibration
  • Promotes a smooth stroke and proper tempo
  • Increase distance consistency
  • Produces more center hits for better accuracy
Irons/wedge
  • Improves swing and shot consistency [repeatability]
  • Decreases shot dispersion by promoting more center hits
  • Produces a solid feel at impact due to increased centre hits
  • Produces more stability during the swing
  • Produces positive results from hard-to-hit irons [2,3,4] due to enhanced club control
Driver
  • Increase in ball speed off the clubhead without the need to increase swing speed, resulting in more distance
  • Improves swing and shot consistency [repeatability]
  • Decreases shot dispersion by promoting more center hits
  • Solid feel at impact – more centre hits
  • Produces more stability during the swing
  • Adds more load in the shaft for increase power, long ball flight and longer shots