Backweighting makes a comeback
Since the invention of the steel golf shaft – when shafts first became hollow – golfers and clubmakers have tried to improve the performance of shafts by stuffing devices inside of them.
Old pros were fond of filling their putter shafts with sand, dramatically changing the weight, balance and feel.
In the era before metalwoods and graphite shafts, Jack Wullkotte, the longtime clubmaker for Jack Nicklaus, would load the butt end of the Golden Bear’s driver shaft with lead. This raised the balance point and lowered the swingweight, in addition to creating a different feel.
The process is called backweighting, or counterbalancing, and it is making a comeback as Sergio Garcia and others experiment with weight in shafts.
Garcia is using inserts called Shaft Stabilizers. The stabilizers are made by Balance Certified, founded in 1999 by two former NASA engineers.
“Shafts, grips and heads have all grown lighter, but often they are hard to hit because golfers can’t feel the clubhead,” says Jeff Lindner, president of Balance Certified. “We make the clubs feel better, and we improve the bending capabilities of the shaft. (The stabilizers) are the result of 10 years of analytical and experimental work.”
Since 1996, True Temper has inserted a vibration-dampening mechanism called Sensicore into many of its shafts.
Stephen Boccieri expanded his Heavy Putter franchise for 2011 into a collection of Heavy clubs, including drivers, fairway woods, hybrids, irons and wedges. All are backweighted – 50 grams for the driver, as much as 250 grams for the heaviest Heavy Putter.
Says Boccieri: “With heavier clubs, you know where the club is throughout the swing. This is all about control and consistency, although some players also are hitting the ball farther.”
Heavy Driver and Heavy Irons
The skinny: The driver comes with a 50-gram backweight in the butt end of the shaft. Lofts are 9, 10 or 12.5 degrees, and the stock shaft is Aldila NVS graphite. Stephen Boccieri, founder of Boccieri Golf, believes in traditional iron specs, so the irons (with 50-gram backweights) are slightly shorter in length and weaker in loft than many irons. The reason: improved control and proper shot trajectory.
Cost: Driver $399; irons $749 (seven irons, True Temper Dynamic Gold or GS95 shafts).
Balance Certified Shaft Stabilizer
The skinny: The Shaft Stabilizer, which weighs 23 grams, is available for three categories of clubs (drivers and woods, irons and hybrids, wedges)
Cost: $99 for a three-pack that includes three Shaft Stabilizers, a grip cutter (to cut a hole in the top of the grip), a tool for installation and removal, and a long Allen wrench.