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I Counterbalancing a golf club

  1. May 3, 2016 #1
    Hello,

    I'm posting this question here to eliminate the confirmation bias of golfers, as I want a more real scientific answer to counterbalancing.

    My theory on counterbalancing a golf club is that it is beneficial in reducing the sway on the club head caused by the swing itself. In other words during a golf swing the club head due to its design will causes small vibrations and movements that can alter the impact on the club face. By using a counter weight these vibrations and movements are reduced and therefore allow a more consistent impact on the club face.

    I am not trying to measure ball flight, distance, or what have you based on a counterbalance. I think this is an incorrect way to measure the effects of a counterbalance (hence why I'm posting this here vs a golf forum). To correctly measure the effects of counterbalancing my thoughts are the measurement of the impact on the club face. Does it help shrink the impact zone allowing for a more consistent strike, or is there no effect, or does it worsen?

    Also at what weight would the amount of a counter weight be needed? My thoughts on this are the minimum needed would be the total weight of the shaft. My thoughts for reasoning are by using a counter weight equal, or near equal, but not heavier than the overall weight of the shaft, you cancel out the feel of the shaft and therefore would only feel the weight of the club head. To support this I have two examples.

    Example one: Sergio Garcia is reported to use a 100+ gram shaft and also uses a 100g counter weight. In my mind this explains why he benefits from the counter weight.

    Example two: Boccieri Golf makes a heavy driver which uses a 57g shaft and also uses a 50g counter weight. In my mind this also explains why there would be a benefit.

    In summary based on the two examples, there would be no benefit to a counter weight that is 10g lighter than the weight of the shaft, and 10g heavier than the shaft. Therefore; maximum benefit to improve the consistency of the impact on a club face will result from the use of a counter weight equal to that of the shaft's weight.

    Question 1: Does counter weighting improve the consistency of the impact on the club face?
    Question 2: Does the counter weight need to be equal to the weight of the shaft for maximum benefit?

    Thank you for the help. It is greatly appreciated.
     
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  3. May 4, 2016 #2

    Simon Bridge

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    You should counterweight to compensate for the way your arms work. So you have to try out different weights until you feel comfortable.

    The center of the swing is not the butt so the extra mass there should affect the MOI a bit.
    Backweights tend to be less than 100g though so probably not much.
    There's a rotation in the wrists during a swing though right? That would affect the "feel" in your hands, which affects confidence - so you'd instincively put more oomph into the swing.

    It's like the counterweighting in a sword this way ... more weight at the end for a more solid blow, and more at the hilt for more manoverability and speed.

    iirc double-blind trials with backweighted clubs have been inconclusive.
    You can get big effects when the trials are not blind ... depending on if the player thinks backweighting is good.
    That should tell you what you need to know.
     
  4. May 4, 2016 #3

    russ_watters

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    I'm a medium-avid golfer and can honestly say I had no idea people counter-weighted their clubs. To be honest, the explanation of what they do sounds like gibberish/snake oil. Since the counter-weight is almost exactly at the pivot point of the club, by your wrists, it doesn't appear to me that it could do much of anything except increase the mass swung by your arms. Any significant counterweighting would increase the moment of inertia of the club and reduce club head speed.

    That said, a heavier club may provide more feel, enabling more consistency in the swing. Along those lines, at one time I used graphite shaft irons, but later switched to steel because I feel like I can get more power and consistency even with lower swing speeds.
     
  5. May 4, 2016 #4

    Simon Bridge

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    I thought a golf swing went like this:
    swing.gif
    ... for our purposes the blue dot is the counterweight.
    The pivot there is an annoying double-thingy because two hands.

    It's probably reasonable to adjust the weight of the club to suit the swing - but you still need a consistent swing.
    Wrists shouldn't rotate until after striking the ball right ... I think a heavy handle may feel nice. May be interesting to check - I've only used counterbalanced swords.

    http://www.tutelman.com/golf/swing/golfSwingPhysics3a.php
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 17, 2017
  6. May 4, 2016 #5

    russ_watters

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    I'm not sure about the last sentence, but yes, that graphic is correct (er; realistically, it is missing the lever arm between your spine and shoulder, but that is often omitted...). The blue dot is your left wrist and the red dot is the clubhead. Since the counterweight is right at your left wrist, all it does is increase the weight swung by your arms, which can slow down that part of your motion (your waist/shoulder pivot).

    Notice that through most of the swing, the club shaft is at a right angle to your left arm, so it matters very little where you add weight as far as your shoulders are concerned. In other words, regardless of where you add weight, the impact on your torso/shoulder twist is the same. But the impact on your wrist snap is vastly different if the weight is added at your wrist vs in the shaft or at the club head.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 17, 2017
  7. May 4, 2016 #6
    So it seems in reality that a counterweight on a club appears to have no viable evidence of universally helping anyone out, and that it may or may not help someone without trying it.

    This all makes sense. Thanks for the important info. Considering where the counterweight is, the only affect it has is on the hands if I understand that correctly.

    I now have a follow up question. Will a counter weight help keep that 90* angle between the arm and club shaft much later in the swing? In golf when that 90* angle gets larger it is called a release. My thoughts then are how does the counter weight affect that. Will it cause a later release or earlier release? I'm guessing here, but due to the added mass of the counterweight itself, along with the higher MOI it would release much later, depending on how much weight is used.

    The bit on using a counter weighted swords is interesting. I would imagine the same principles apply for a full swing with a sword.

    Thank you all very much for the information.
     
  8. May 4, 2016 #7

    russ_watters

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    Well, since it is attached at a pivot point, I find the term "counter weight" to be inaccurate and all of the implications it implies kinda go out the window.
     
  9. May 4, 2016 #8

    Simon Bridge

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    Sometimes the weight goes at the butt - sometimes it is distributed over the handle via lead tape. The butt is usually at the left wrist right?
    So a distributed weight is actually forward of the pivot - so I'll have to agree: counterweight and back-weighting are misnomers.

    The more I look at this the more I suspect the grips and swings of those club players endorsing the approach.
    There may be a more "solid" feeling to the swing, and a distributed weight may help control the swing for players where this is an issue.
    The solid feel may encourage the player to put more effort into the swing - the wing is only slower for the same effort but humans don't work like that.
    Would a regular golfer notice a 100g increase in weight at the handle though? ie. how much is the swingweight actually changed?

    If you want to increase weight to get more range, put it at the head... buy a heavier club, or, lengthen the shaft.
     
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