Frank Thomas is a former technical director of the United States Golf Association. He has written several books about golf equipment, the most recent being 'Just Hit It: Our Equipment and Our Game.'
If you have a question about golf equipment, e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What do torque and kick point on the shaft mean in relation to a lady golfer with a 19 handicap?
Thanks, Al and Charlotte
Al and Charlotte,
Torque is a twisting force. Imagine a screw cap on a bottle of wine (some good ones nowadays come without a cork). To remove the cap, you would need to twist it with enough torque to break the seal.
In golf, torque measures a shaft's resistance to twisting. Some shafts may only twist 2° (low torque), while others may twist 6° (high torque). The torque varies in graphite shafts, depending on how the fibers that make up the shaft are oriented. (Steel shafts do not vary enough to worry about.) Low-torque shafts are generally more difficult to make and more expensive because the graphite fibers must be carefully oriented to maintain the proper weight and flex.
The correct "twisting stiffness" is important because the clubhead must rotate on the downswing into the proper hitting position. For 99% of golfers, a shaft with 3° to 4° of torque is sufficient. Some very fast swings (120 miles per hour or higher) may need very low torque shafts.
Now for kick point. If you were able to push on both ends of a shaft at the same time with quite a bit of force, it would bend under the load. Because the shaft is tapered, it would bend at a point closer to the smaller-diameter tip end than to the larger-diameter butt end. A low-kick-point shaft has this flex point closer to the tip and produces a higher launch angle; a high-kick-point shaft has this bend point only about 5 inches from the low kick point, closer to the butt end of the shaft, and produces a lower launch angle.
Having said all this, a 19-handicapper like yourself need not worry about torque or kick points. Standard clubs from name-brand manufacturers will be fine. When you qualify for the tour, it will be time to think about tweaking ball flight with kick points and special low-torque shafts.
For more from Frank Thomas, go to franklygolf.com.