When a golfer swings through impact they are occasionally greeted with a finger numbing vibration traveling up the shaft.
Painful (especially during the winter) and most acutely felt when striking shots with irons, shaft vibration can cause a senior golfer not only aching hands but an aching head as well when the ball veers off target. Shaft vibration occurs on any shot but the sweetest vibrations, the ones that come from a pure strike, will only occur when the ball is struck from near the club’s ‘sweet spot’.
The sweet spot, officially known as the centre of gravity, is only about the size of a pin head. The term sweet spot is vastly overused and cannot grow bigger or smaller, it is and will always be the size of a tiny dot. However, the nearer a sweet spot a senior golfer can strike the ball, the greater the ‘moment of inertia’ (MOI) will be. MOI is the amount a club face twists at impact. The nearer the sweet spot a ball is struck, the higher the MOI and the less a club face will twist.
Once a senior golfer begins to strike balls from outside the sweet spot area (usually located in the middle of the club), the lower the MOI will be and more the club face will twist. It’s the extra twisting of the club which causes the bad vibrations. Missing the sweet spot on a driver by about an inch will lose a senior golfer about five to seven miles per hour of ball speed. This might not sound like much but it translates to about 14 to 20 yards.
It is a similar story with the irons, a strike half an inch away from the sweet spot on a 5 iron will lose a senior golfer 10 yards in distance.
Where are you hitting the ball?
Striking the ball with the sweet spot will produce the most consistent and powerful ball flights. Impacts on the toe, heel, bottom or top of the club will produce bad vibrations as the club head twists at impact.
To test where the club face is striking the ball, use face tape or sprinkle practice balls with talcum powder. After hitting the ball, the powder will leave a mark indicating where the ball hit the face.
An important thing for the senior golfer to consider is getting custom fit for their clubs if they want to strike the sweet spot more often. Getting clubs fit for the individual will greatly increase the chance a senior has of increasing their MOI through impact.
Differences in design will also affect the amount of MOI a club has. A cavity back club has it's weight distributed more to the perimeter when compared to a bladed iron. Therefore, a cavity back iron will give fewer vibrations than a blade.