For many years the golf industry has over simplified and in many ways discounted the importance of torque in golf shafts. Over the past two years UST Mamiya has invested a significant amount of time researching torque and related shaft characteristics. Through this process we have assembled extensive data relating to the significant influence that torque has on distance and controlling dispersion. In addition, our data also confirms the significant influence torque has on what players of all skill levels perceive as "feel ".
Torque and Distance
The relationship between torque and distance is essentially a slingshot effect created when the torqued clubhead and shaft returns to the closed position during the swing. The rapid closing of the torquing clubface and shaft at impact adds to clubhead speed creating additional distance.
Torque and Control
Conversely, the ability of torque to control dispersion is based on minimizing the clubhead and shaft torquing (opening and closing) during the swing. Clubheads and shafts that are designed to control the torquing effect maintain better alignment of the clubface to the target resulting in more control and less shot dispersion.
Torque and Feel
Feel is infinitely more complex, starting with defining what feel is, and then how it can be measured. Is it the flex players are feeling, the weight, torque or something else? USTM spent two years working with tour players and amateurs isolating each parameter of the shaft in order to define what players associate with feel. We started by creating shafts that were identical in all aspects except for weight, or flex or torque. What we discovered was that players who thought shafts were stiff or soft were not necessarily feeling the flex of the shaft but the torque. Consequently, by raising or lowering the torque without changing the flex, players noticed a significant difference between the shafts. Words like boardy, or soft, weak or harsh were used to describe the differences they felt.
In addition, the stiff or soft feel created by raising or lowering torque was not isolated to a player s swing speed or physical strength. To the contrary, we discovered that many high swing speed players actually preferred high torque and many slow swing speed players preferred low torque. In support of this discovery, we observed firsthand many long drive champions using high torque shafts, and senior players choosing low torque shafts.
Equally as important, we also observed that the performance of a shaft is associated with what we call Swing DNA. Like human DNA, every swing is different. Some swings are smooth, others fast, some steep, others shallow, some flat and some upright or a combination of hundreds of other variables.
With hundreds of Swing DNA variables, fitting becomes a critical aspect of achieving peak performance. Previously, club fitting revolved around two main attributes, weight and flex addressing only two dimension of Swing DNA. By adding torque as the third aspect of fitting, USTM has created a three dimensional fitting system that is much more precise and accurate.
The Three Dimensions of Club Fitting
The first dimension is weight. Weight gives a shaft a sense of presence in the players hands, depending on what a player prefers, light or heavy. The second dimension is flex. In many cases, swing speed has been the only criteria used for choosing flex when in reality flex touches many more aspects of a players swing than just speed. During the swing the shaft flexes or bends in several directions and whether the shaft is stiff or soft depends on how much force a player can generate onto a shaft and how that shaft will react to the player. This is very evident in still photo's taken of players during the swing where you see the shaft bend during the downswing and impact.
The third dimension is torque. Clubhead rotation around the shaft is, for the most part, involuntary, but also understated. Since the player turns his body during the swing, the shaft inevitably develops additional rotational forces as well. The shaft rotational motion during the golf swing is more commonly noted as twisting forces in the shaft that open or close the club face. This twisting or rotational force directly relates to the torque in the shaft. Similar to flex, torque can either work to stiffen the shaft or soften the shaft. However, stiff or soft in flex terms is not the same as stiff or soft from a torsional perspective.
The chart below shows the results of how much the face opens and closes during the swing when placed on a mechanical swing robot. The critical element is the rotation of the face between the nine o'clock position on the down swing to impact, the shaft will rotate on an average of three degrees. Depending on the player s swing path, speed, hand rotation, strength, and the shaft torque, the results of this sequence will vary from player to player, thus proving how important torque can be in the golf swing. ( Note: one degree open at impact can result in as much as 15 to 20 yards off target 280 yards down range).
New Design Techniques Create New Torque Options
In the past, good players have associated a high torque shaft (4.5 degrees or above) as a shaft that feels soft. This is because weaker flex shafts were historically designed with high torque. Today we can design a very stiff shaft relative to flex, or what some people would consider an X flex, but also add higher torque. Conversely, we can design a very flexible shaft, an A flex for example, with a very low torque (2.5 degrees), and depending on the player's Swing DNA, both shafts would enhance the feel of the shaft for the player.
To measure torque, we clamped both ends of the shaft, then rotated one end with a constant force to see how much it will rotate. The resistance of the shaft in rotation is measured in degrees.
In the photo below the shaft measures 3.1 degrees of torque, well within the tolerance standards. Unfortunately the golf industry has never established a set of standards for measuring torque, so each manufacturer may measure torque at a different span or with a different load, hence the reason manufactures have different torque values.
In our research at USTM, we measured every competitor shaft in an effort to understand exactly what design specifications other shaft manufacturers were achieving and what claims they were making in their brochures. What we found was a significant difference between marketing torque and true engineering torque data. With this information we were better able to understand why tour players preferred certain shafts and why others were not as acceptable.
The Benefits of Three Dimensional Fitting
Now that we have isolated and identified torque as an integral part of the golf shaft technology, USTM has developed a system that fine tunes player fitting at any level. The UST Mamiya 3- Dimensional fitting system identifies each player's Swing DNA, and matches it to the correct shaft via weight, flex and now torque.
Using this system, professional club-fitters can identify a sequence of weight, flex and torque that will increase ball speed up to 6 mph and decrease your dispersion by as much as 30%.
Proforce VTS, The World 's First 3-Dimensional Fitted Shafts
Working from a much more finely tuned understanding of how weight, flex and torque work in concert to create distance, control and feel, UST Mamiya has designed a new category of shafts specifically to take advantage of the 3-dimensional fitting system.
The new Proforce VTS shafts use tri-bias technology to create three unique torque sections in each shaft. This design smoothes out the
shaft 's linear GJ Curve (torque) along the entire length of the shaft, not just in the tip section, thus optimizing the energy transfer at the point of impact, creating increased clubhead speed, higher ball speed, greater distance and reduced ball dispersion.
By balancing the weight, flex and torque of each shaft 3-dimensionally, Proforce VTS shafts create additional power and control. From A flex to X , club-fitters can use Proforce VTS 3- dimensional fitting system to match each player's swing DNA to the correct torque for their unique swing.
In many cases, the Proforce VTS 3-Dimensional fitting system will turn traditional fitting techniques upside down. Players with average or low club-head speeds can now leverage the advantages of lower torque previously considered only for power players. Conversely, since the stiffness, or soft feel created by torque is not necessarily related to swing speed, power players may actually benefit from a higher torque Proforce VTS shaft.
The secret lies in the Proforce VTS shaft design and the 3-Dimensional fitting system that includes literally dozens of shafts designed to allow club-fitters to quickly hone in on each players swing DNA. The result is more distance, great control and better feel regardless of a players swing DNA.
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