The topic we are going to try and look at this week is swingweight. Swingweight is talked about often in golf, especially in relation to custom golf clubs, but very few golfers actually understand what it means or how it works.
Essentially swingweight is a measure of how much of a clubs overall weight is in the head vs. how much is in the grip end of the club. For example, if you add lead tape to the head of your 9-iron you are increasing the percentage of the clubs overall weight that is in the head. The swingweight will increase. Conversely, if you replace a light grip with a heavier grip you are increasing the percentage of the clubs weight that is in the grip end, the swingweight will decrease.
Swingweight is measured in alpha-numeric units. The lightest unit of measure is A-0 and the heaviest is G-10. Most men’s clubs will have a swingweight somewhere around D-1 and most women’s clubs will be about C-3. This means that on average a women’s club is 8 swingweights lighter than a men’s.
Now there are many variables that can impact the swingweight of a golf club. Here are some of the general rules:
Changing the head weight of a club by 2 grams will result in a change of one swingweight. Adding weight to the head will increase the swingweight.
Changing the grip weight of a club by 4 grams will result in a change of approximately one swingweight. A heavier grip will decrease the swingweight.
An increase in shaft weight of about 9 grams will increase the swingweight by one point.
Shortening the length of a club by 1/2″ will decrease the clubs swingweight by three. Alternately, lengthening a club by 1/2″ will increase the swingweight by the same amount.
A change in lie angle of 3 degrees will result in a change of one swingweight because the weight in the head of the club is moved relative to the fulcrum. Flattening the lie angle will increase the swingweight.
Balance points of a shaft can also change the swingweight of a club but these are much more difficult to measure.
So what does all this do for you? Well, it depends. Most golfers will not be able to detect a swingweight difference of one or two units so, as you can see, some pretty major alterations to a golf club can be made without affecting the swingweight in a drastic way.
Adding to the confusion is the increased focus on overall or total weight. Many manufacturers are reverting back to this as an important specification rather than swingweight. They feel a lighter weight shaft will have more benefits for the average player than any offsetting effect in swingweight.
A similar argument comes from those who promote counter-weighting. Counter-weighting is basically adding weight to the grip end of the club. Now we know that this can decrease the swingweight of the club which many fitters would recommend against, however, those who promote counter-weighting insist that placing more weight in the hands of the golfer improves feel and control.
I get a number of customers who ask me what swingweight they should be using and really there is no right or wrong answer. Swingweight mainly comes down to a feel issue; do you prefer a heavier feeling club to a light feeling club? If you don’t have an opinion on the matter or aren’t sure if a club feels too heavy or too light then just leave the swingweight alone.
The most important consideration with swingweights is to have consistency in your set. Swingweight in your driver, fairway woods, hybrids and irons should all be the same or within one or two points of each other. This is important to ensure a consistent feel from club to club throughout the entire set. As long as you have this consistency in your set the actual measurement of swingweight isn’t as important.
The one exception to this rule is your wedges. Wedges on average will be two to four points heavier to promote a slower tempo around the greens.
For most players swingweight is more of an ideal than a necessity and there probably is no need to be overly concerned with. As long as a club feels good and works for you stick with it.