Dear Old Caddie,
Here is a bit of info from Golfsmith
"WEIGHT (Swingweight vs. Overall Weight)
The swingweight and overall weight of a putter are determined mostly by personal preference. Generally speaking, the shorter the putter the heavier the head should be. The standard head weight for a 35-inch putter is approximately 320 grams. Whereas the standard head weight for a 34-inch putter is approximately 340 grams. Based on the experience of fitting thousands of players, we are seeing more putters at 34 inches and under, as opposed to the industry standard of 35 inches.
Recent player testing performed by Golfsmith's Research and Development team indicates that many golfers may actually benefit from playing with a putter that is shorter than 35 inches in length. In the study, more than 100 golfers attempted five-foot putts with five different putters (all the same model) ranging from 32 inches to 36 inches in length. An artificial putting surface with no break was also used to make the playing field even.
Collectively, the golfers, who are average to better players, made 88 percent of their putts with the 33-inch putter, 84 percent with the 34-inch putter and 81 percent with the 32-inch flat stick. In comparison, only 78 percent of the putts went in the hole with the 35-inch putter and just 72 percent of the putts with the 36-inch putter found the bottom of the cup. Although informal, this test shows that the standard 35-inch putter found in most golf retail stores may not be the best fit for everyone.
The trend toward custom fitting is sometimes overlooked in this process. That is a mind-blowing statement considering that the putter is the club a player uses most in any given round of golf."
Here is a little more insight from Todd Sones
Swingweight is the most overlooked aspect of putter fitting, mainly because it is not visible. Swingweight has to do with feel. It is the feel of the putter head as it swings. Swingweight influences the distance the putter travels on the back and forth stroke. It influences tempo as well as the path the putter head swings. Swingweight is crucial to the fitting of a putter.
The swingweight of your putter should be close to the swingweight of the rest of your golf clubs. Industry standard for menŐs swingweight is D0-D2. WomenŐs is C6-C8. Whenever you alter the length of a golf club by cutting it down, gripping down it or even adding length to it, you change the swingweight. When you shorten a club, you decrease swingweight. When you lengthen a club you add swingweight. For every inch you alter the length of a golf club, you change the swingweight by 6 points. 1 swingweight equals 2 grams of weight. Ultimately, if you have shortened your putter or even grip down on your putter by one inch, you decrease itŐs swingweight by 6 points or 12 grams of weight. 6 swingweights is enough to drastically change the feel of your putter, your tempo and your stroke.
Another factor that most people arenŐt aware of is that when you buy a 33 or 34 inch putter off the shelf, the majority of computers use the same head gram weight no matter what length, which serves their purposes for reducing inventory of putter heads and increasing their profit margin. Using the same putter heads benefits the manufacturer, however it is a detriment to the player."
Golf Galaxy, based on Ralph Maltby
, "weighs in" on this issue thus:
"Many heads on putters today are simply too light. The swing-weight scale is used simply as a way to determine if a putter head is too heavy, too light or in the acceptable range. The proper swingweight range for a putter is between C-4 and D-6. Ideally, C-6 to D-4 would be best.
The proper putter headweight promotes
the proper feel of the putter and, more
importantly, is another major factor in
Too light a putter mainly hurts
consistent distance control but is
also a factor in directional control.
Too heavy a putter usually does not
affect directional control but it seriously
affects distance control.
The proper swingweight range for any conventional style putter in any length is very important it is another key putter fitting variable that most golfers are not aware of, but one that can benefit them immensely."
This is Ralph Maltby's discussion on his Blog
"The trend has been to shorter length putters with heavier head weights. Heavier head weights in the range of C-8 to D-8 (D-2 is ideal) are necessary for consistent distance control with the putt. Research and testing with golfers has proved this out."
This is a Ralph Maltby page on Putter Fitting
This is a rather interesting and technical discussion from HorsePowerGolf
"Need to know what a "Swing Weight" is first?
If you can think of an object's weight as a measure of its resistance to being lifted. Then think of the swing weight as a measure of a club's resistance to being swung in a circle.
To a physicist, the proper term is "moment of inertia". The swing weight of a club is basically determined by the length of the shaft and the mass of the club head. Although other parts of the club make some contributions.
Anyway, clubs come in all different swing weights and it is important to match the swing weight of a club to your natural swing speed. Otherwise you'll get poor results.
If you have an easy-going, graceful swing, a heavier swing weight is called for. If you swing very quickly, then you need a club with less swing weight so that the club can rotate around your pivot point as fast as your body is rotating.
Swing weights are expressed according to an arbitrary scale that was created in the 1920s by Robert Adams. His scale (called a "Lorythm") includes: A, B, C, D, E, F. Each of these is further divided into tenths. So, a typical women's club will be close to C-4. A men's 7-iron might have a swing weight of D-2. Stick some lead tape onto that club head to make it more massive and its swing weight might jump to D-5.
Adams was a club maker for Francis Ouimet and Bobby Jones. He knew that (in principle) the golfer would be able to use the same cadence and swing from club to club if the clubs were matched according to their moment of inertia.
But through trial and error he came to modify the pure theory with a practical compromise that resulted in matching clubs according to a static measurement approximating moment of inertia about a point 14-inches from the butt end of the shaft. There is nothing magical about the Lorythmic Scale. It was just an arbitrary method of expressing the modified moment of inertia for a particular club.
For those of you who are technically inclined, the swing weight of a club is actually a measure of a club's moment of inertia about a point 14-inches distant from the butt-end of the shaft. Swing weight scales are designed to pivot around that point despite the fact that the hands actually rotate the club only about six inches from the butt end. Adams found, through trial-and-error, that "14-inches" was a good value to use when building clubs for professional golfers. It has been the accepted standard for 8 decades.
You might ask what the difference matters when the scale is arbitrary anyway.
For changes to the length of a shaft or to the mass of the club head, there really is no difference between results obtained with the 14-inch pivot-point and the 6-inch pivot point. Adding a given mass of lead tape to the club head will change the swing weight of a club by just about the same amount no matter which pivot point is used.
But changes to the grip mass will not be measured equally. Switching from a regular grip to a jumbo grip will lower the club's swing-weight. But not as much as indicated by a swing weight scale with a 14-inch pivot point.
Here's an example of what can go wrong due to the use of an industry-standard 14-inch pivot point swing-weight scale.
Say you've got this driver that you really like. The swing weight is just perfect for you.
But your hands are no longer as strong as they once were and you want to replace the regular grip with a jumbo.
So the fitter first measures the swing weight of the club to be D4.
The jumbo grip is installed and the club now measures at a D1 swing weight.
To restore the D4 swing weight, the fitter applies lead tape to the bottom of the driver head.
You go out to the range and find that the club just doesn't swing right. The club feels "too slow".
Switching the grip from a regular to a jumbo appeared to lower the swing weight of the club by three units, according to the swing-weight scale. But that reading is false due to the fact that the change in mass occurred within the 14-inch pivot point. I.e., the scale saw the entire weight of the grip to lie on the butt end of the pivot point.
But that's not where your hands actually rotate. On the driving range, only about half of the mass of the jumbo grip resides above your pivot point and almost as much of the grip's mass actually rests below your pivot point, almost fully cancelling out!
In other words, switching from a regular grip to a jumbo grip doesn't really change the "feel" of a club during a swing. yet, the swing weight scale suggests that the change does have an effect.
Fortunately, there is no permanent damage. Most or all of the lead tape is removed and the club's "feel" is restored to normal even though the swing weight is now D1 and not D4!
MORE TECHNICAL STUFF
So the question begs: Why does measuring the swing weight at 14-inches from the butt end of the shaft work better than a purely engineered approach of matching the scientific moment of inertia?
In short, because the clubs are not treated 100% alike.
The driver, woods and long-shafted irons are struck with a sweeping motion, with the ball placed up in the stance (closer to the left foot for a right-handed golfer). The wedges and short-shafted irons are struck with a more pronounced downward motion with the ball positioned at the rear of the stance (closer to the right foot of a right-handed golfer).
These differences emphasize the need for distance with the long-shafted clubs and the need for accuracy, spin and control with the short-shafted clubs.
If all the clubs in a set were truly matched for moment of inertia, a golfer would have to strike all the clubs the same manner with the ball located the same place in the stance regardless of club. While that is not necessarily a bad thing, the golfer will quickly find that clubs are not designed to be struck that way. You sure don't want to take a divot with a long-shafted club.
So realize that Adam's swing weight invention was the result of empirical results gained through trial-and-error after beginning with a sound scientific principle.
More Info on Swing Weight
Swing Weight is the measurement of clubs balanced at the 14Ó fulcrum. It is an industry standard. It ranges from A-0 to G-2. The average standard of the major OEMs are at D-0. Swing Weight is actually more a feel of the club rather than performance. Clubs with different Swing Weight can feel the same due to the characteristics of the shafts that are assembled onto the club heads.
D-0 is the within the range that feels comfortable to the majority of golfers and that is precisely why OEMs make their clubs around this range. It does not necessary means that a person must use a particular Swing Weight. The higher the Swing Weight of the club, the more resistance you will find when you are changing from the Back Swing to the Down Swing. This means that those golfers who are stronger can handle higher Swing Weight. There is however a threshold for every golfer. The tolerance range differs between golfers.
Swing Weigh is constant from the 3 iron to the 9 iron. The pitching wedge and sand wedges normally have 2 to 3 swing weight points higher that the last. As it is measured at the 14 inch Fulcrum, extension of golf clubs in length will increase the Swing Weight.
Weight of shafts, club heads and grip affects the Swing Weight of a club. Changing to a lighter grip cause an increase in Swing Weigh but a reduction in Dead Weight which is a major factor in the performance of the clubs."
This is an interesting although not too detailed video clip of Ralph Maltby explaining the effect of swingweight on putting
Here is a little discussion about tungsten weights dropped into the shaft as a technique to correct for lost swingweight from GolfWRK.com
Nov 2 2007, 03:15 PM
So I found this little nugget online (pay special attention to #3-6):
1. All Swingweights are based on the raw weights of the club's components. The shaft is not to be cut to length in order to pre-calculate swingweight.
2. The balance point of the shaft, particularly certain graphite models, may change the final swingweight by several points. A lower balance point will increase the swingweight; higher balance points lower it.
3. A change in the head weight by 2 grams will yield a 1-swingweight change in the club. Heavier heads increase swingweight; lighter ones decrease it.
4. A change in shaft weight of 9 grams will yield a 1-swingweight change in the club. Lighter shafts decrease swingweight.
5. A change in grip weight of 5 grams will change swingweight by 1 point. Lighter grips increase swingweight; heavier ones decrease it.
6. A 1Ú2" change in the length of a club causes a 3-swingweight point change. Lengthening a club increases swingweight; making it shorter lowers it.
So given the above information, if I want to go from a C5 to D3 swing weight, I need to add approximately 16 grams of weight to the head of my putter (makes even more sense considering the original swing weight on this putter is D1-ish and 1" was cut off, decreasing it 6 total swingweight points). That's waaaaaaay too much lead tape, so I will definitely be dropping a few tungsten weights down the shaft and doing it that way."
This is some of what Frank Thomas
has to offer:
I read in one of your archived columns that wearing a golf glove adds swing weight. I only wear a glove during wet or extremely humid conditions in order to keep my hands dry. Will going from no glove to wearing a glove affect my swing in any way because of the added swing weight?
A glove has the same effect as adding weight to the grip of the club. Wearing a glove and gripping the club is in effect adding weight to the grip. This will decrease the swing weight by as much as five points.
The point I was trying to make in my exposure of this fact was that this will not affect your swing much at all from the point of view of the clubŐs balance. Without the glove you may be inclined to grip the club with a little more pressure which may not be good but from the point of view of otherwise affecting your swing, it has a negligible effect because the weight has been taken from the axis of rotation of the swing during the last phase just before impact.
The point is that swing weight, if used correctly, is a good first step in matching clubs. Counterbalancing by adding or subtracting weight to the grip is not a good idea as this may appear to have been balanced on a swing weight scale but may be dynamically significantly different when it comes to swinging the club. The overall weight and MOI of the club when measured about an axis a little above the grip is a better check of dynamic feel than abusing swing weight by counterbalancing.
Peter, donŐt worry about wearing a glove or not. If you need a better grip on the club and a glove does this for you, do it without concern.
I have been told that if you cut a putter down you change the swing weight. A former pro at our club would not cut a putter to make it shorter. He said I should send it back to the manufacturer and order one length you want. If you grip down on the putter, does it have the same effect of cutting it shorter? What do the manufacturers do to make a 32-inch and a 35-inch putter the same swing weight? Last, if it feels good, what does it matter what the swing weight? Thanks for any help you can give.
You are so right it hurts me. If you grip down on a putter it is the same as if you cut it down. Too many people pay too much attention to swing weight and in putters it is not nearly as important as in other clubs.
One of the newer golf enhancement products in recent years are (Balanced-Certified) drop-in weights to form a counter balance in your golf shaft. The product claims to improve center hits and to increase head speed in your woods and irons and a smoother stroke in your putter. Can you tell me more about this approach, how it works and whether or not this is truly being used on the PGA Tour? Isn't this similar to placing tape weights at the butt end of your shaft under the grip to make the club head fell lighter? What impact will it have on swing weight and should I care?
Adding weight to the grip is equivalent to wearing a heavy glove or a wristwatch. These will both in effect decrease the swing weight but have little to no effect on the swing dynamics or club frequency. If you like to tweak your clubs experiment with weight then get some lead tape and find something you may like. We have come to the standard weighting system after 400 years of trial and error. It can't be all that wrong.
I've been reading much about the "swing weight" of a club, but I don't have a clear idea of what that means. I play a natural fade (which sometimes turns into a full-blown pull slice) and have read that using lead tape to change swing weight, and the placement of the tape near the toe or heal of the club, may help to control this tendency. What can you tell me about this? -- Tom Abramson, Escanaba, Mich.
Swing weight is a static balance, not the dynamic measure it implies. If a club is placed on sharp edge 14 inches from the butt end of the grip, and a weight is attached to the end of the grip to balance it in a horizontal position, then this weight determines the swing weight of the club. This is based on a conversion table, changing it to the numbering system we have all heard of (i.e. C9, D1, D2, etc.). Unless the overall weight of the club is also considered, the swing weight is meaningless. Putting weight in the shaft tip or the grip to make the scale read the right number is not the solution -- a swing change or trying to be consistent with what you've got might be though. Hope this helps.
I have seen the term "swing weight" used in Golf Digest quite often. Can you give me an explanation of this term and how it is defined? Thank you! -- Anon.
Anon -- I know another guy with the same name, do you think you guys are related? Swing weight is a static measurement, nothing to do with swinging the club. Roughly speaking, it's a measure of how the weight of a club is distributed. Imagine balancing a club on a knife edge (or "fulcrum") at a point 14 inches from its butt end. To make it balance, you'd have to add some weight to the butt end, right? The swing weight is basically a reflection of the amount of weight you would have to add to the end of the club to make it balance on such a fulcrum. Using an arbitrary conversion table, the numbers are converted to an alphanumeric code such as C3, D5, E2 and so forth. The lightest swing weight a club could have is A0; the heaviest is F9. The average is about D0, going up to D2 or D3 for stronger players. This is called the Lorythmic system (whatever that means) and is used by most manufacturers (a clubmaker called Robert Adams invented the swing weight scale in the 1920s, and successfully used it to "match" clubs for players like Bobby Jones and Francis Ouimet). Another system, not often used, employs a 12-inch fulcrum. This, ironically, is called the Official system (it isn't). Because it is a simple balance, swing weight is thus not the dynamic measurement its name implies. It does, however, if not abused, and used with the overall weight of the club, give some indication of the "dynamic feel or balance" of the club. You asked for it, Anon -- perhaps this was not the simple answer you were hoping for! I'll be writing more about swing weight in future columns."
Reviewing the Flatstick Forum posts, I found this analysis
of "backweighting" putters and the effect on swingweight. There are a number of other links in this post.
The technical clubmaking articles by Dave Tutleman
are always interesting, too.
Here are his four factors affecting swingweight
(head weight, club length, grip weight, shaft weight).
These are Tutleman's formulae for swingweight and for MOI
SO, LET'S SUMMARIZE THE ABOVE:
1. Most putters are too long at 35 inches, and 34 fits most people better for better performance.
2. Swingweight in the D-2 range seems about right for most people.
3. A 34" putter with this swingweight has a putter head of about 340 grams.
4. Roughly speaking, there are 4 factors affecting swingweight: head mass, shaft mass, grip mass, and club length, and these affect swingweight about like this:
+/- 2 grams head weight = +/- 1 swingweight point (e.g., + 2g changes D-1 to D-2);
+/- 9 grams shaft mass = +/- 1 swingweight point;
+/- 5 grams grip mass = +/- 1 swingweight point;
+/- 1/2 inch club length = +/- 3 swingweight points
5. Gripping lower on the handle is the rough equivalent of reducing the club length.
6. Backweighting and bigger / heavier grips reduce swingweight, but not as much as people think (the usual formulae don't apply because of the location of the change of mass in relation to the fulcrum point used for swingweight calculations).
7. Swingweight is not really that important for putting.
8. Swingweight only relates to the "feel" of the swinging of the putter when there is some braking or lagging-accelerating of the clubhead slower or faster than an effortless swinging -- kind off depends on how you like to swing the putter.
9. Swingweight from a manufacturing / design perspective is all about matching a "common denominator" swingweight to the "fattest demographic" of potential purchasers.
10. Swingweight from a custom fitting perspective is about optimal dynamics, optimal setup, the golfer's body, green speeds typically played, golfer tempo, and golfer need for "feel" in relation to tempo.
The usual deal is like this: A typical example is a standard putter of 35" with a head mass of 320 grams -- cut the putter 1" from 35" to 34" reduces the length 1" and also reduces the shaft weight a bit (perhaps 1 gram?), so the length reduction costs 6 SW points and the shaft mass reduction costs next to nothing. The 6 SW points are the same as 12 grams in the head mass. This can be adjusted for by a) a new putter head that increases the mass from about 320 grams to 340 grams; b) lead tape on the putter (takes too much tape); c) sand or a tungsten weight dropped into the shaft down to the hosel. It is possible to affect the change by also reducing the grip mass or the shaft mass, but these changes are not really effective (takes too big a change to catch up).
Incidentally, it is very unusual for a human to be able to notice any swingweight change involving less than 10% of the overall weight, so going from 320 grams to 332 grams is too hard to notice (only 12 grams, when 10% is 32 grams). Going from 320 to 340 grams really isn't all that noticeable either. You would probably have to go to 350 or more grams to really notice the change.
Personally, I think a head weight of about 360 grams is better than 340 grams for general purposes, with putter lengths of about 34 inches.
A more precise custom fitting is WAY more nuanced for the individual golfer than the usual deal.
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