Swingweight is one of the simplest specifications of a club to comprehend, yet it is one of the most misunderstood by many players. Questions such as these abound… How heavy are my clubs? Are too heavy, too light or just right? How do I know what the swingweight of my clubs are? What swingweight should they be? What if I want to put a new shaft in? Let's try to answer these and other questions related to swingweight. We'll start with an explanation of what swingweight is, then look at how to determine its effect on the playability of a golf club.
Beginning with a definition of swingweight, we find it to be - in layman's terms - the relationship of the weight distribution between the head and grip ends of the club. That is, the more weight that is in the head end relative to the grip end, the higher the resulting swingweight of the club. The opposite is true as well. A club with a heavier grip will typically have a lower swingweight than will one with a lighter grip and/or heavier head. Swingweight is expressed in alpha-numeric units. These units are expressed as C-9, D-0, D-1 and so on, with C-9 being the lightest swingweight and D-1 being the heaviest, for example. A swingweight scale reads from "A" ranges for super light clubs all the way to "G" ranges for the heaviest of clubs. Most ladies' clubs are in the "C" range; most men's clubs are in the "D" ranges.
Swingweight is measured by using a swingweight scale. Scales are based on a 14" fulcrum or balance point. The grip end of the club is to one side of the fulcrum; the head and most of the shaft are on the other. All of the weight toward the grip end of the fulcrum is considered to be "grip weight". All of the remaining weight of the club to the head end of the 14" balance point is considered to be "head weight." Obviously, related to all adult length clubs, there will be more weight in the head end than the grip end of the club. Any change in the weight of the head, shaft or grip will cause a swingweight change. A change in club length or the installation of a shaft with a different balance point will also cause a swingweight difference.
Just how much weight are we talking about when we talk about swingweight? It will depend on where the weight is placed. Looking at the club head itself, an addition of two grams to the head is the equivalent of one swingweight point. Most players, regardless of their abilities, cannot discern between single swingweight points. That is, it is nearly impossible to determine which club is heavier when comparing a D-2 club with one that weighs D-3. To test this yourself, tape a dime on the back of the club. A dime weighs very close to 2 grams. Most likely you will not be able to tell to which club the dime was affixed. Most players however, can tell 3-swingweight differences. If two clubs, one weighing D-0 and one weighing D-4, are handed to a player, he or she will most likely be able to tell the D-4 club is heavier.
If a new grip is installed on a player's club, it could have some effect on the club's swingweight. Let's say a jumbo grip weighing 66 grams is installed in place of a standard sized grip weighing 50 grams. Each 5 grams of weight change in a grip equates to an approximate 1-swingweight change. The heavier grip places more weight in the grip end of the club, making that end of the club heavier in relation to the rest of the club. The heavier jumbo grip used in our example will yield a 3-swingweight lighter change in the club. In an example of a 39-gram lightweight wrap style grip being installed in place of the 50-gram grip, the swingweight would increase by approximately 2 points as this new grip weighs 11 grams less than the previous grip. Any time a grip change is made, the player should be aware of the potential swingweight (and feel) change in the club. If a player is switching from a large to a small grip or vice versa, it's a good idea to install the heavier or lighter grip on just one club and allow the player to take it to the course to test hit it. This will tell if the new grip is acceptable to the player or not.
A shaft replacement can change swingweight noticeably, especially if the change is one from steel to graphite or vice-versa. For each 9 grams difference there is between shafts, there will be an approximate 1-swingweight change in the club, provided no change in its length is made. For example if the shaft in a driver is changed from a True Temper Dynamic steel shaft weighing 125 grams (raw weight) with a Grafalloy Blue graphite weighing 62 grams, a weight decrease of 63 grams will occur. This will yield a swingweight reduction of approximately 7 points. Most graphite shafts are assembled at least 1" longer than steel versions. A 1" change in length equates to a 6-swingweight change in weight. Thus, the reshaft to Grafalloy's Blue will weigh virtually the same as the steel-shafted club if it is assembled to a length 1" longer. A player must be aware of the great changes in weight that are possible when changing clubs from one shaft to another.
Yet another factor is swingweight is a changing the lie of a club. If lie changes of 3 degrees are made, an 1-swingweight change occurs in the club. If the lies are made flatter, the swingweight increases by 1 point, if the lies are made more upright the swingweight decreases by a point. This change is caused by the position of the weight in relation to the balance of the club. Flattening the lie moves weight away from the fulcrum of the scale, creating a heavier club. The opposite is true when making the lie more upright.
OK, now that you know the effect of head weight, grip weight, shaft weight, club length, lie and shaft balance point on swingweight, how can we calculate swingweight when making a shaft or grip change on a club? In all honesty, the process, which seems daunting at first, is very simple. If you know a baseline weight for each component along with a baseline weight for each club length, calculating finished swingweight is quite easy. The following chart is useful in any and all club swingweighting calculations.
The chart above can be used to calculate swingweight changes during a reshaft, regrip or length change. All you need to know are the weights and lengths you are using. Add or subtract the weights from the weights in the chart and you will get very close to the final swingweight after the repair is complete. Two examples follow:
Reshafting With Graphite
The swingweight changes:
The swingweight changes:
Swingweight is easily understood and calculated using the material provided above. The balance between the head and grip end of the club is its swingweight. By calculating that weight prior to any specification change, a player is able to determine the viability of the equipment change. Swingweight: The mystery has been solved.