One inch is a precise measurement, right? You would think, but no.
In the golf equipment industry, sometimes an inch isn't exactly an inch. For that matter, a degree isn't exactly a degree either. 15° of loft, that's fairly concrete, isn't it? Not so fast. In past years 15° could have meant anything from 13° to 17°. Units of measure that the rest of the world treats as absolutes, the golf equipment world often handles with all the precision of baseball's in the neighborhood play.
Spec sheets tell one story, but until you measure - consistently and accurately - it's hard to know exactly what you're swinging.
More Tools = More Data
Late last year we announced a partnership with Golf Mechanix, the industry leader in equipment measuring tools and gauges.
As we continue to expand our testing program, it becomes even more important to understand the correlation between stated specs, actual specs, and the impact they have on performance.
The following table contains the measurements taken for the fairway metals included in our 2017 Most Wanted Fairway Wood Test. Where it makes sense to do so; we have provided both the manufacturer's stated specification alongside our actual measurements.
Before we get to the data, there are a few points that should be considered.
- Every manufacturer has tolerances. While we've observed that clubs are being built closer to spec than in the past, manufacturers allow for ½° or more of wiggle room on loft and lie, and several grams worth of head weight.
- Differences between stamped loft and the actual loft are very often intentional. Vanity lofting (manufacturing with more loft than suggested by the markings on the club) is intended to circumvent our ego-driven need to play less loft than many of us need.
- In some cases, differences between spec and measured length can be attributed to how a given manufacturer measures. Some use USGA-standard 60° rulers; some don't. Some companies measure before the grip is installed, others measure from the sole to end of the grip. The reality is, there isn't even universal agreement on something as basic as how one should measure the actual finished length of a 43" fairway wood.
*AirForceOne and SMT do not specify swing weights
*Some of the heads feature a glued hosel design, we did not measure the head separately
*Shafts were measured to the nearest 1/8"
*All swing weights are in the 'D' range except the SMT 455F (C SwingWeight)
- The average weight of the heads measured was 209.3 grams.
- The average measured length of the fairways was 42.93" while the average spec length was 43.02".
- Notably, the AirForceOne DFX measured almost a 1/2" shorter than spec.
- Nine of the 16 fairways measured right on spec.
- The longest fairways measured (43.125") include:
- The shortest fairway measured (42.50") is the AirForceOne DFX.
- Our measurements suggest vanity lofting may be on the decline. The average stated loft is (14.9°), while the average measured loft is (14.8°)
- Swing Weight measurements also showed a small deviation from spec:
- The averages stated swing weight was (D2.2), while the average measured swing weight is (D2.5)
- Almost all measured swing weights came in heavier than stated.
- Given the number of factors that impact weight; the head (and any weight pieces), tip adapter, shaft, grip and the glue and epoxy that hold everything together, I suppose greater variance is to be expected.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR YOU?
Understanding the actual static differences between clubs and how those differences influence performance is important. Across the averages of an entire test pool, the differences between clubs can appear minimal, but on an individual basis, these static factors often lead to significant performance differences. Unfortunately, despite what's often suggested, there's no single right answer - no right length, right loft, and right swing weight that's perfect for everyone. We're all, to varying degrees, different. Your best results will come when you find the combination of variables that works for your swing profile. A golf lesson probably wouldn't hurt either.
To produce the measurements referenced in this article, we used the following tools from Golf Mechanix.
- Auditor Professional Digital Swing Weight Scale
- Auditor Ultimate Digital Lie & Loft Measuring Gauge
- Deep Throat Club Length Ruler with Lie Angle Gauge