Torque comes up all the time in shaft selection. What is torque? Is it important? What”s the right shaft torque for you? Should you even care?Torque is a feature in shaft selection and you can usually find a shaft’s torque in the catalog of the shaft or club manufacturer. But, what is torque?
The basic definition for torque in a golf shaft is a measure of the shaft”s resistance to rotational twisting. Many golfers who come to our shop ask questions like:
“What rotates? How does torque work?”
“Is low torque better than high torque?”
“Is torque important?”
“What shaft torque is right for me?”
We sought out the experience and knowledge of our contacts at Titleist, Harrison Shafts, Fujikura and A.J. Tech to get answers to these questions.
What rotates? How does torque work?
The mass of the clubhead is much greater than the mass of the shaft tip. The clubhead resists being put into motion at the takeaway and resists reversing direction during the downswing. This resistance causes the shaft to flex and the tip to twist. As the tip twists the clubhead rotates.
Referring to the Harrison Shaft website (www.harrison.com) article about shaft lead and lag:
“On the down swing, at around the 10 to 11 o’clock hand position, a golfer will generally engage his initial load. “Load” is the force you exert to bring the club down toward the ball. In response, the golf shaft will lag. Shaft lag results as the golf shaft bends backwards in the direction of the swing plane.”
This causes the clubhead to rotate out.
“Upon reaching the peak of his initial load, the acceleration rate will drop while the player’s swing speed continues to increase. Therefore, at around the 9 o’clock position, the shaft will transition into a leading position, bending forward in the direction of the swing plane.”
This causes the clubhead to rotate in.
Since the center of gravity (COG) of the clubhead is not in line with the axis of the shaft, there is both a bending and twisting force applied to the shaft during the swing. The lower the torque value the greater the shaft”s resistance to rotational twisting and, consequently, the less the clubhead will rotate as well.
“Is low torque better than high torque?”
The answer to this depends on your swing. Torque values are not measured like shaft weight or kick point. Shaft weight is measured with a gram scale. Kick point is measured with a flex machine. These values are not arbitrary. Torque is different.
Torque is measure by clamping a shaft at both ends and then twisting the butt end (where the grip goes). The number of degrees the tip of the shaft rotates from this twisting is the measure of torque. So a torque value of 4.5 means the tip rotated 4.5 degrees when the shaft was twisted. However, who decides how much pressure or force is applied during the twisting? Obviously, a force of 50 pounds twisting the shaft will rotate the tip more than a force of 5 pounds. There is no standard measure of force used to determine torque, which means that it may be “relative” to the force of your swing.
Since the center of gravity (COG) of the clubhead is not in line with the axis of the shaft the shaft will bend and twist in every swing, regardless of speed. However, the faster the swing tempo the more the shaft will move.
Again, from the Harrison Shaft website article:
“During the swing the golf shaft will stay leading unless the golfer engages a second force, commonly known as delayed release or wrist snapping, at 7 to 8 o’clock hand position. A moderate delayed release will likely bring the golf shaft to a relatively straight position. The shaft will lose power at this point. A strong delayed release will cause the shaft to lag again. This results in a powerful kick to the ball at impact.”
In general, the golfer with the quicker tempo and faster swing speed will benefit from a lower torque shaft if he can release his hands properly. The stronger his delayed release the faster the shaft recovery he needs to optimize the performance of his club. A higher torque shaft won”t get the clubhead square quickly enough for his swing.
Golfers with moderate swing speeds or smooth tempos don”t generate as much force as their faster counterparts. For these golfers a low torque shaft will tend to lead forward at impact and may not let the clubhead rotate enough to provide the kick they need to get extra distance. For slower golfers or golfers who cannot release their hands quickly a low torque shaft is likely to cost them distance or reduce the playability of a club.
“Is torque important?”
There are four criteria for evaluating a shaft: 1) Weight 2) Flex 3) Torque 4) Kick point. Torque ranks third in importance. A lower torque shaft that resists bending and twisting will prevent the clubhead from rotating and that should result in more consistent ball dispersion.
We know that torque measures are somewhat arbitrary. This factor reduces torque”s importance as a reliable indicator of shaft value. Nonetheless, the more expensive shafts have torque measures less than 5 degrees, irrespective of weight and flex. If you are willing to spend $50 (or more) for a replacement shaft, or $30 (or more) upcharge for a non-stock shaft then torque is probably important.
What shaft torque is right for me?
As clubheads have gotten bigger the tendency for the clubhead to rotate has also increased. Yet, getting a shaft with the lowest torque–”a shaft with the least amount of twisting”–may not be the answer to getting longer, straighter drives.
In general, a good rule of thumb about shaft selection is as follows:
Low clubhead speed + consistently square ball strike
=>medium torque, light to medium weight, light to regular flex
Low clubhead speed + inconsistent ball strike
=>Med/high torque, light to medium weight, light to regular flex
Moderate head speed + consistently square ball strike
=>medium torque, medium weight, regular flex
Moderate head speed + inconsistent ball strike
=> med/high torque, medium weight, regular flex
High clubhead speed + consistent ball strike
=>low torque, heavy weight, stiff flex
High clubhead speed + inconsistent ball strike
=>medium low torque, medium heavy weight, stiff flex
Low torque values are less than 3.0 degrees. In general, shafts with torque values under 2.5 degrees are too difficult for most golfers to use.
Medium torque values are between 3.0 and 5.0 degrees. These are the most common torque values available in high quality shafts.
High torque values are over 5.0 degrees, and are common in inexpensive shafts.
The better golfer you are, regardless of swing speed, the more you will notice differences in torque.
At Klees Golf Shop we carry shafts from Fujikura, Graphite Design, UST Pro Force, A J Tech, Grafalloy and Harrison. We have nearly 100 years of experience shafting clubs and know what works and what doesn”t. We also have an Accusport Vector Pro launch monitor to help you test which shaft is best for your swing.
If you have a question about a shaft or would like to schedule an appointment to use the Vector Pro, call us toll free at 866-241-9687 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 866-241-9687 end_of_the_skype_highlighting. Ask for Charlie or Duffy.
Much of the information in this Tech Talk article came from the following sources:
Dave, Harrison Shafts
Chad, Fujikura Shafts
Al, A.J. Tech
Chris McGinley, V.P. Marketing, Acushnet Golf