Counterbalancing golf clubs seems to become a hot topic of conversation amongst keen golfers every few years. Normally, it is when a famous Professional starts using a counterbalanced shaft in their driver. However, this is a concept that has been used in golf club design for a very long time.
With modern technology and in depth computer testing, manufacturers have been able to push the boundaries of performance and customization for each golf club. Through custom fitting this allows every individual to create a unique set of golf clubs designed to optimize their performance. Counterbalancing is one of the ways they can be tailored to your specific golf swing.
An article from the PGA Tour in 2018 referenced how Rory McIllroy and Tiger Woods had begun using a counterbalanced golf shaft and that it had started to become more popular on Tour again. So, what is counterbalancing and how could it potentially improve your game?
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What is counterbalancing?
A counterbalanced golf club is simply one that has been weighted towards the grip-end of the golf club. This can be achieved in two different ways. Either you can add additional weight to your grip or you can get a shaft with a balance point towards the grip-end.
Heavier golf grips are commonly seen with putters. Many golfers may even use heavy and chunkier putter grips without even realising what they are doing is counterbalancing their putter. Another common method is to use heavy tape wrapped under the grip area.
The same effect can be achieved with counterbalancing golf shafts. Each shaft has a centre of mass, where the weight can be balanced on a single point. Counterbalancing shafts are weighted so that the balance point is higher up, shifting the weight towards the grip. Project X HZRDUS Smoke Yellow and Mitsubishi Tensei CK PRO Orange are both examples of excellent counterbalanced shafts.
How does counterbalancing work?
Traditionally the significant weight of a golf club is in the clubhead. As mentioned above, a counterbalanced golf club is one weighted at the opposite end. Doing this makes the clubhead itself feel lighter and some golfers feel as though it allows them to swing faster.
Try it out this way; flip your standard golf club upside down and take a normal golf swing, except holding the clubhead end. You will probably notice that the club feels lighter than normal and you will get a good ‘whip!’ through the impact zone. Yet, the golf club is still the same weight. You have just relocated where the weight is in the golf club.
This is the principle used for counterbalancing a golf club.
What are the benefits?
When used correctly counterbalancing can result in improved control, accuracy and distance.
Adding more weight to the grip area creates a more solid feeling in your grip and helps you keep the clubhead square through impact. Less clubhead rotation is especially important for golfers with faster swings when using maximum power. The result of more stability improves accuracy for a much tighter dispersion.
One of the benefits to making your clubhead feel lighter is that it allows you to compensate with additional weight to the clubhead. This creates a heavier total weight, but maintains the same overall swing weight. Provided you can swing the club using the same swing path and speed, which you should be able to in theory, then this will result in more inertia and create longer distances.
A golf club with additional weight in the grip can help golfers that struggle with cocking their wrists too early in the swing. This will help to maintain width on the backswing. With a lighter feeling clubhead it becomes easier to complete full rotation at the top of the backswing also. Combined these components can help create a more powerful and complete golf swing.
Counterbalancing can also help you with your short game. Golfers that struggle with steady hands and struggle with the ‘yips’ can benefit from having additional weight in the grip. This allows more stability in the hands by keeping them quiet through the stroke or chip. Some golfers do not like the feeling of a lighter clubhead with their wedges or putter, so one alternative to fix this would be to add weight to the clubhead using lead tape.
Should I get Counterbalanced Golf Clubs?
Counterbalanced golf clubs are not going to suit everyone. It is a science that works in theory, but as with a lot of golf equipment, your unique golf swing and how each club feels plays a vital role in whether you will reap the rewards.
The use of counterbalancing for additional distance is likely to be more effective for lower handicappers and golfers that already have powerful swings. The heavier total weight of the golf club will likely become burdensome for golfers that naturally lack strength and can result in a lack of feel and control.
The key to determining whether counterbalanced golf clubs will improve your performance is to get your clubs custom fit. When at a fitting you should try out options that put the weight towards the grip. This will allow you to feel the difference first-hand as well as assessing the data to determine any performance benefits.