Every golf club has three essential parts: the grip, the shaft, and the head. Below we’re going to go into each golf club components at some length.
The grip as mentioned is the part of the golf club you hold. The grip is typically padded in some fashion with the amount of padding being dependent on the preferences of the player. In the early days of club design, the grip was composed of leather straps that were wound around the shaft at an angle, and there are still a few modern golf clubs that utilize a leather wrap over the foam core of their grip to provide a throwback look and feel. Most clubs today however long ago made the transition to padded sleeve design. The one-piece sleeve is slid over the end of the shaft and affixed using various adhesives. Most golfers agree this design provides superior comfort and makes it easier to maintain a consistent grip throughout the swing.
The Rules of Grip
There are rules pertaining to what type of grip you can have and they’re spelled out in the rules of golf. According to the RoG, every grip must maintain the same circular cross-section throughout its length, although the diameter can vary. Grips may taper from top to bottom, and indeed there are many that do, but they are not allowed to have a ‘waist.’ That is, a section in between the top and bottom that is thinner than the sections above and below it. Bulges (a thicker section with thinner sections above and below) are also forbidden. Slight variations in the texture of the grip are also allowed. “Slight” or “minor” being the operative words.
The shaft is the long tube, typically tapered top to bottom, which runs between the golf club grip and head. The job of the shaft is to allow the player to generate the maximum centrifugal force possible so as to effectively strike and launch the golf ball.
Flex is defined as the amount a shaft will bend during use. Shaft makers typically offer a variety of flexes for their shafts with the most common being the Lady/Women’s, the Soft Regular, the Regular, the Stiff and the X; which is designed for serious players who demand extra club speed (typically above 100 mph) to send those drives 300 yards. The earliest known golf clubs had shafts made of hickory. While hickory shafts were beautiful and could easily withstand the forces at play during a golf swing, they also exhibited a lot of flex and so only the most skilled players were able to get consistent results from them.
Before steel shafts became the norm players had to develop different swings for each shaft, not just each club since each hickory shaft is slightly different. Steel, however, put an end to that problem and made the game one that it was much easier to prepare for. You simply developed a swing for each type of club, and that was that.
Graphite first appeared on the scene in the early 70s but was considered experimental. Slowly however it found its footing and by the mid-1990s was being employed on almost all woods produced by the major manufacturers as well as a number of irons. Graphite is capable of generating incredible clubhead speed although accuracy may suffer a bit in comparison to steel shafts. Steel, in fact, is still preferred by some for irons and short game clubs where accuracy is a paramount concern.
The forces applied to the shaft of a golf club can cause the shaft to twist and the club head to strike the ball less than square. Shaft designers have long known of this tendency but until recent years their only real weapon to fight it was to use stiff, steel shafts. Today manufacturers are building a certain amount of torque into the shaft itself in order to minimize the twisting that occurs during the swing. Typically this built-in torque occurs near the bottom of the shaft where it is thinnest and the twist is greatest.
The Club Head
The club head must have only 1 striking face. Putters are allowed to have 2 faces, but they must be identical and opposite one another. The face of the club head is vitally important in transferring the energy from the club to the ball. The number of each club, in fact, refers to the slope built into the face of the club with a higher number (9 iron for instance) having a face with a greater slope that one with a lower number (say, a 5 iron). The sole of the club head is designed to minimize twisting within the head, particularly if the ball was not struck squarely. Woods have rounded soles so that the head doesn’t take a bite out of the ground. Irons, however, are designed to hit the turf and cleanly remove a divot.
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