steel vs. graphite

steel vs. graphite

Post by Walter F. Gassne » Fri, 15 Nov 1996 04:00:00


I'm a new player, male, 6 feet.  I'm told that I need steel shafted
irons, for better consistency, while my wife needs graphite shafts for
more whip.  Is there any truth to this?


 
 
 

steel vs. graphite

Post by Thomas Dalze » Sat, 16 Nov 1996 04:00:00


Quote:

>Subject: steel vs. graphite
>Date: Thu, 14 Nov 1996 14:59:18 -0500
>I'm a new player, male, 6 feet.  I'm told that I need steel shafted
>irons, for better consistency, while my wife needs graphite shafts for
>more whip.  Is there any truth to this?


No.  This is based on the idea that graphite will give you greatter distance,
and that greatter distance is an advantage.  It is also based on the idea
that steel is more consistant.  None of this is necesarilly true, and less of
it is true if one is talking about cheapper equipment.

Whithout writting a book on this, i would say that if you have natural
distance as some athletic people do, then heavier shafts/clubs, normally
steel graphite, give some people beter feels, and make it easier to hit the
ball solidly, and you won't loose much distance, if any.  If your wife has
difficulty with distance, or getting the ball up.  higher lofts clubheads, and
tip flex shafts will help, personally I haven't found graphite much help, but
if the club is just too heavy, then lighter shafts might help her.  Once you
get to the point where either of you can whale it into the fairway with your
drivers, then extra distance from a graphite driver (usually doesn' add up to
much) may help.  Distance into the rough or a hazard is a disadvantage.  

Shafts really matter.  Fit, and quality are the most important.  Graphite may
help, but cheap graphite is usually a poor performer.  If money is no issue,
there is no reason not to try graphite and if it fits, it might be the best
club you try, just lucky.  Most beginers should probably count on needing new
gear when they improve in order to maintain shaft fit.  In this reguard, a
good quality $6 shaft in steel is a better value than a $20+ shaft in graphite.

 
 
 

steel vs. graphite

Post by Dave Tutelm » Sat, 16 Nov 1996 04:00:00



Quote:
>I'm a new player, male, 6 feet.  I'm told that I need steel shafted
>irons, for better consistency, while my wife needs graphite shafts for
>more whip.  Is there any truth to this?

Maybe and maybe not.
Who told you this?
 - If a qualified teaching pro, it's better than 50-50 to be true.
 - If a salestype in your local Nevada Bob's or Sports Authority, then it's
   better than 70-30 to be false.
 - If it's a PCS Class A clubmaker, it's 90-10 to be true.
 - If it's a random golfing acquaintance, it's 90-10 to be false.

I realize this is ad-hominem reasoning.  While ad-hominem is not logical,
it's amazing how often it gives the correct answer.  ;>

Here are a few off-the-cuff facts.  For more information, check out my
Club Design Notes at dunkin.princeton.edu.
 - Steel shafts are more consistent, shaft-to-shaft, than graphite.
 - The very whippiest graphite shafts are whippier than the very whippiest
   steel shafts.  But you can get AWFULLY whippy (probably more so than your
   wife needs) and still find a steel shaft with the proper whip -- for less
   money and better consistency.  (For instance, check out the True Temper
   "Release" steel shaft.)
 - BUT... most COMMON steel "L"-flex shafts are indeed noticeably stiffer
   than most common graphite "L"-flex shafts.
 - Your wife MAY need a lighter swingweight than steel can provide.  That
   would be a good reason -- IF TRUE -- to go to graphite.  Whip is not,
   unless the need for whip approaches that pathological.

Hope this helps.
Dave

 
 
 

steel vs. graphite

Post by Glenn Gerstne » Mon, 18 Nov 1996 04:00:00


Quote:
> I'm a new player, male, 6 feet.  I'm told that I need steel shafted
> irons, for better consistency, while my wife needs graphite shafts for
> more whip.  Is there any truth to this?

Like most myths, there is a kernel of truth in your statement.

Traditionally, steel will be more consistent and graphite will provide more
distance.  But recent developments in the manufacturing of graphite shafts
have made this more fiction than fact.  Graphite shafts can now be
manufactured so that they perform much like steel, so this generalization
is not as true as it once was.

Some other RSGers may disagree with my take on this, but the shaft v. steel
arguments boils down to three "facts":

(1)  Graphite shafts are lighter than steel.  To make a long story short,
this means that other things equal, a graphite shafted club will hit
further than a steel shafted one.  But how much?  If it's 5%, that's a lot.
 Which means for the average player, graphite should be used in your
distance club (the driver) but is not necessary in the other 12.

(2)  Graphite shafts provide more shock absorption than steel.  Players who
hit hundreds of balls and/or those with arthritis or other physical
problems in their hands will benefit from graphite shafts since there is
less shock upon impact.

(3)  Clubs with graphite shafts are more expensive.  The wholesale price of
a pro-line steel shaft is about $6, high quality graphite shafts start at
$25 and go up to $70 or so.  This translates into a 30-50% higher retail
price of graphite clubs vis a vis steel.

In my opinion, the economics of this discussion dictate that average player
should play graphite drivers and the rest steel.  But if you can afford it,
there is no real "consistency" argument that should prevent you from
playing graphite in all your clubs.

Glenn

 
 
 

steel vs. graphite

Post by F. Ro » Mon, 18 Nov 1996 04:00:00

In short: use what feels right.

Quote:



> >Subject: steel vs. graphite
> >Date: Thu, 14 Nov 1996 14:59:18 -0500

> >I'm a new player, male, 6 feet.  I'm told that I need steel shafted
> >irons, for better consistency, while my wife needs graphite shafts for
> >more whip.  Is there any truth to this?


> No.  This is based on the idea that graphite will give you greatter distance,
> and that greatter distance is an advantage.  It is also based on the idea
> that steel is more consistant.  None of this is necesarilly true, and less of
> it is true if one is talking about cheapper equipment.

> Whithout writting a book on this, i would say that if you have natural
> distance as some athletic people do, then heavier shafts/clubs, normally
> steel graphite, give some people beter feels, and make it easier to hit the
> ball solidly, and you won't loose much distance, if any.  If your wife has
> difficulty with distance, or getting the ball up.  higher lofts clubheads, and
> tip flex shafts will help, personally I haven't found graphite much help, but
> if the club is just too heavy, then lighter shafts might help her.  Once you
> get to the point where either of you can whale it into the fairway with your
> drivers, then extra distance from a graphite driver (usually doesn' add up to
> much) may help.  Distance into the rough or a hazard is a disadvantage.  

> Shafts really matter.  Fit, and quality are the most important.  Graphite may
> help, but cheap graphite is usually a poor performer.  If money is no issue,
> there is no reason not to try graphite and if it fits, it might be the best
> club you try, just lucky.  Most beginers should probably count on needing new
> gear when they improve in order to maintain shaft fit.  In this reguard, a
> good quality $6 shaft in steel is a better value than a $20+ shaft in graphite.

 
 
 

steel vs. graphite

Post by Dave Tutelm » Mon, 18 Nov 1996 04:00:00


Quote:


>> I'm a new player, male, 6 feet.  I'm told that I need steel shafted
>> irons, for better consistency, while my wife needs graphite shafts for
>> more whip.  Is there any truth to this?

>Like most myths, there is a kernel of truth in your statement.

And apparently there is more than one myth on this subject.
In demythologizing some of the misinformation about shafts, Glenn has
propagated a few more...

Quote:
>Traditionally, steel will be more consistent and graphite will provide more
>distance.  But recent developments in the manufacturing of graphite shafts
>have made this more fiction than fact.

I don't know what you mean by "consistent".  I can think of at least two
possibilities, and your statement has to be taken with a large grain of
salt either way:
 - Consistency shaft to shaft:  I spoke with Jeff Summitt less than two
   months ago on this very subject.  (He's the co-author of "Modern Guide
   to Shaft Design", the most thorough study I know on the subject.)  He
   says that graphite shafts STILL have nowhere near the consistency of
   steel.
 - Promote consistent shots:  This probably has to do with torque.  While
   it is now possible to get graphite shafts with the torque of steel,
   those tend to be expensive shafts, and NOT the ones you will get in
   off-the-rack graphite shafted clubs.  You won't get them unless you
   know exactly what to order, and are willing to pay premium bucks to
   get them.

So, IMHO, the fact of superior consistency with steel still massively
outweighs the fiction.

Quote:
>(1)  Graphite shafts are lighter than steel.  To make a long story short,
>this means that other things equal, a graphite shafted club will hit
>further than a steel shafted one.

Not always true.  I'm not at all sure if it's even usually true.
 - Graphite shafts CAN be made lighter than steel.  This means that they're
   lighter, nothing more.  Some people can generate more distance with
   lighter swingweights; others generate more distance with heavier
   swingweights.  It depends on your swing.  IF you have a swing that
   doesn't require more weight to regulate it (like to prevent casting),
   then you can get more distance with a lighter shaft and clubhead.
 - The graphite shafts that "perform like steel" frequently have weights
   comparable to that of steel.  No distance change there.

Quote:
>(2)  Graphite shafts provide more shock absorption than steel.  Players who
>hit hundreds of balls and/or those with arthritis or other physical
>problems in their hands will benefit from graphite shafts since there is
>less shock upon impact.

Shock absorption is true.  But medical benefit remains a myth.  It's a myth
I believe in, but there isn't a shred of published medical evidence to
support or deny it.  (About a year ago, an MD active in sports medicine
published an article that said about the same thing.)

Quote:
>In my opinion, the economics of this discussion dictate that average player
>should play graphite drivers and the rest steel.  But if you can afford it,
>there is no real "consistency" argument that should prevent you from
>playing graphite in all your clubs.

I agree that it's mostly economics.  But the consistency argument remains.
In order to get graphite shafts that compete with steel for consistency,
you have to go to the high end of the price range for graphite, and even
then know what you're asking for.  You also ought to have the clubs made
by someone with a frequency meter who knows how to use it, if club-to-club
consistency matters to you.  (This can be achieved cut-and-glue with steel
shafts, but requires custom t*** with almost all graphite shafts.)

IMHO, the only proven performance reason for graphite is weight.  The
shock-absorption is a personal thing; some like the feel, some don't, and
the medical benefits are intriguing but so far unproven.  And lighter weight
may or may not give more distance.

For more details, see my Club Design Notes at dunkin.princeton.edu.

Cheers!
Dave

 
 
 

steel vs. graphite

Post by Thomas Dalze » Tue, 19 Nov 1996 04:00:00

Quote:
>>In my opinion, the economics of this discussion dictate that average player
>>should play graphite drivers and the rest steel.  But if you can afford it,
>>there is no real "consistency" argument that should prevent you from
>>playing graphite in all your clubs.
>I agree that it's mostly economics.  But the consistency argument remains.
>In order to get graphite shafts that compete with steel for consistency,
>you have to go to the high end of the price range for graphite, and even
>then know what you're asking for.  You also ought to have the clubs made
>by someone with a frequency meter who knows how to use it, if club-to-club
>consistency matters to you.  (This can be achieved cut-and-glue with steel
>shafts, but requires custom t*** with almost all graphite shafts.)

There was a horendous example of inconsistancy in graphite in a recent
Golfsmith mag article.  Pro Verplankt wasn't satisfied with the consistancy of
his steel weight UST graphite shafts.  He thought something was wrong (and you
would guess that he would have the pick of the UST litter since he plays for
them).  Turned out that while the frequency of the irons was identical when
measurered with the ***in the clamp, it was different when measured with the
head end of the shafts in the clamp.  Very sneaky shafts.

Thomas

 
 
 

steel vs. graphite

Post by Belinda J. Kendl » Tue, 19 Nov 1996 04:00:00

Quote:

> I'm a new player, male, 6 feet.  I'm told that I need steel shafted
> irons, for better consistency, while my wife needs graphite shafts for
> more whip.  Is there any truth to this?



I am 5'3", female and I use both graphite shafts and steel shafts.  My
irons are graphites but my fairway woods are steel.  Just kept trying
clubs and that's how it turned out.  Also my graphites are men's regulars
and the steel shafts are womens so I'm all mixed up!!

take care,
belinda
cupertino, ca

 
 
 

steel vs. graphite

Post by John Dav » Wed, 20 Nov 1996 04:00:00


Quote:
>I'm a new player, male, 6 feet.  I'm told that I need steel shafted
>irons, for better consistency, while my wife needs graphite shafts for
>more whip.  Is there any truth to this?


Not totally, but somewhat.  One of the reasons that most tour players play steel shafts is because
of their consistancy and flex.  But, new shafts are on the market that are like light steel shafts but still
have the great vibration-dampening effect as graphite.  For your wife, a graphite shaft is probably better,
for it will give her higher trajectory and greater distance, but their are also steel shafts that are light and whippy.
I hope this helps,

John Davis

 
 
 

steel vs. graphite

Post by Anssi Ala-Nikkol » Thu, 21 Nov 1996 04:00:00

Quote:

> There was a horendous example of inconsistancy in graphite in a recent
> Golfsmith mag article.  Pro Verplankt wasn't satisfied with the consistancy of
> his steel weight UST graphite shafts.  He thought something was wrong (and you
> would guess that he would have the pick of the UST litter since he plays for
> them).  Turned out that while the frequency of the irons was identical when
> measurered with the ***in the clamp, it was different when measured with the
> head end of the shafts in the clamp.  Very sneaky shafts.

Does this mean that the kick point of the shafts were different?
Or what do you others think?

Anssi

 
 
 

steel vs. graphite

Post by Thomas Dalze » Sat, 23 Nov 1996 04:00:00

Quote:


>Subject: Re: steel vs. graphite
>Date: Wed, 20 Nov 1996 14:50:24 +0200

>> There was a horendous example of inconsistancy in graphite in a recent
>> Golfsmith mag article.  Pro Verplankt wasn't satisfied with the consistancy of
>> his steel weight UST graphite shafts.  He thought something was wrong (and you
>> would guess that he would have the pick of the UST litter since he plays for
>> them).  Turned out that while the frequency of the irons was identical when
>> measurered with the ***in the clamp, it was different when measured with the
>> head end of the shafts in the clamp.  Very sneaky shafts.
>Does this mean that the kick point of the shafts were different?
>Or what do you others think?
>Anssi

I don't know.  But the frequency difference doesn't mean this, it simply means
that it vibrated at a different rate when supended by the head, due to a
difference in stiffness, the distribution of that stiffness we can't tell...  
Oops I guess we could tell something.  Can't remember whether they said it was
softer or harder.  But assuming a relatively constant distribution, a softer
tip should be lower and a stiffer tip should be higher.  I would guess,
however,that the relative stiffness would be a more noticeable phenom, than
where the bend point was.  

This difference in tips isn't surprising, there are many different ways of
building graphite tubes, but to the extent that fabric is wrapped arround some
of them and overlaped at a joint, there is a buildup or spine to that shaft
the joint is sanded off on the top, and left on the inside, with the result
that not only is there proportionally a much greatter build up in the tip
(stiffness varies to the cube, so wall thickness affects the distribution of
this affect and could invalibate the forgoing), but in some cases the effect
is agravated because the build up on the interior holds the shaft off centre
during the sanding. Not all shafts are built this way, and golf clubs should
be less affected than say fishing rods since they are proportionately larger
structures.  An interesting fact is that it isn't just inconsistancies in the
tech of manufacturing, but in the orientation of these flaws to the clubhead.  
As I understand it, the label on the shaft is suposed to be oriented to the
spine, but whithout an aparatus this would be difficult to test (we do it all
the time for arrows and rods).  

Thomas

 
 
 

steel vs. graphite

Post by miko » Thu, 28 Nov 1996 04:00:00

I just got around to reading this thread, it's kinda fun to read
2 weeks of offerings all at once. There are lot's of good observations
in this thread, but I have to offer a few addendums ...

RE: Benefits of graphite
[lots o' snippage]

Quote:
> IMHO, the only proven performance reason for graphite is weight.
/////
> And lighter weight may or may not give more distance.

ALSO:
The selection of 'soft/very soft flex' shafts in steel is VERY limited.
I often use composite shafts for those wanting a very soft shaft.

RE: Golfsmiths recent '***flex vs tip flex' ...

Quote:

> /////
> Turned out that while the frequency of the irons was identical when
> measurered with the ***in the clamp, it was different when measured
> with the head end of the shafts in the clamp.  ...

Anssi responded with:

Quote:
> Does this mean that the kick point of the shafts were different?
> Or what do you others think?

I didn't see any other replies so...

Yes, some have argued that the ratio of the ***vs tip flex may be
a BETTER indication of shaft performance then either bend point
OR flex point.

     While bend point and flex point refer to the 'point of
     maximum bending', they are determined in slightly different
     ways. 'Bend point' involves pushing the tip towards the ***
     of the shaft and measuring the point of maximum deflection.
    'Kick Point' involves measuring the point of maximum deflection
     with the ***clamped and a fixed weight suspended at the tip.
     However, the question is not 'what's right'?, but rather what
     has more significance to the 'feel' of the shaft in action?
     Both bend point and flex/kick point are static measurements,
     where as the ratio of the flexs, (tip and butt), is a dynamic
     measurement, and may better relate to what happens during a swing.

Interestingly, Scott Verplank was able to 'feel' the difference!
(That's DYNAMIC).

Thomas Dalzell commented that:

Quote:
> As I understand it, the label on the shaft is suposed to be oriented
> to the spine, but whithout an aparatus this would be difficult to test > (we do it all the time for arrows and rods).

Not ALWAYS, very few manufacturers 'spine' their shafts, and those
that do, generally do not advertise the fact. ('Spine finders' are
relatively cheap, I seem to recall a number of them for sale at the
PCS web site...).

guess that's the end of this thread for a while :{)

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