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What is the Flex and Frequency of a golf shaft?

Golf shafts can seem like a black box of mystery. Understanding what makes up a shaft and how it affect your golf swing can easily turn into a dog pile of technical terms and physics jargon. But shafts are an element part of your game. The golf shaft connects you with the club head and transfers massive amounts of energy. This energy in combination with the properties of your equipment causes several movements of the club head in different directions during the course of the swing. Because of the complexity of these movements, specifications are used to describe the characteristics of a golf shafts. Here, we'll focus two important specifications: Flex & Frequency 



What is Flex and Frequency of a golf shaft?

The flex marking represents a general stiffness measure. There are 5 commonly used flex markings: Senior, Ladies, Regular, Stiff, X-Stiff. Flex can be somewhat misleading however because the actual measurement of the stiffness of a shaft is in the frequency. The frequency of a shaft is the number of cycles per minute a shaft will oscillate when one end is fixed (clamped) and the other end is pulled down with a weight attached to it. 

Ideally a flex (such as Stiff, Regular, or X-Stiff), should correspond to one frequency number. But because of manufacturing tolerances, some shaft brands can have up to several units above or below that specified frequency number.


How does it affect my launch?

The most optimal launch occurs when your club head makes impact with the ball in a square position. You can check to make sure your club head is square if you were to draw a line between you feet and the plane of the face of the club is perpendicular with the line at impact. If the face were open or closed, then your swing will likely result in a sideways trajectory. When your club frequency (as a whole, not just your shaft) is too high or too low for your swing, then you may experience loss of speed and distance as well as an off-center trajectory path.


What's the right frequency for my swing?

The right frequency for your swing depends on the speed and acceleration of your swing as well as WHEN you release the club (when you stop accelerating). When we discuss frequency, we start out with the shaft frequency. But what really matters in the end is the golf club frequency as a whole. 

At the start of the downswing, you are accelerating the club to gain speed. During this period, the shaft will bend, causing the club head to lag behind your hands and body. Then at some point between the top of the swing and before you make impact with the ball, you'll release the club and allow the club head to come back to square. It is at this moment when we find the club head is moving at its top speed and the club will transfer the maximum amount to energy to the ball. 

Physics tells us that 1/4 of the vibration period of a club is the time it will take for the club head to return to the square position. Working with a club-fitter who can measure the dynamics of your swing (how and when you release and how fast you swing), can help determine what this time period exactly is, and thus what would be the ideal club frequency for you.


What is frequency matching?

Frequency matching refers to building all the clubs of your set to equally spaced increments of frequency. Longer clubs will have lower frequency, while shorter clubs have higher frequency (because of the time it takes to return back to square). Club-fitters can fine tune the frequency of each club to be appropriately spaced and thus allow the golfer to bring the club back to square at impact, no matter which club they are using in the set.


Where do I find the shaft flex and frequency? 

Most shafts have a marking with the flex (A, L, R, S, or X). This will give you a rough range of what the frequency could be. To find the exact frequency of a shaft, you will want to bring the shaft to a club-fitter who could measure it with a frequency machine.


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