What Is The Cause For Shaft Vibration At Impact, Senior Golf Tip

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.

Get custom fit

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.

What is the Cause for Shaft Vibration at Impact?

What is the Cause for Shaft Vibration at Impact?

Every golfer knows the feeling of shot that just didn't quite come off perfectly. When you make contact with the ball, the shaft vibrates up into your hands, and the result is a rather uncomfortable sensation all the way out to your fingertips. This type of shot can go from uncomfortable to downright painful when the weather happens to be cold. Since this is obviously an experience you would like to avoid, there are a couple of obvious questions to ask – what causes this vibration in the first place, and how can you prevent it from taking place?

In this article, we are going to aim to answer those questions. By the time you are finished with this piece, you should have a clear understanding of this topic and some actionable steps you can take to reduce the vibration in your game. We aren't promising that you can eliminate these types of uncomfortable shots – every player deals with them from time to time – but you can reduce their frequency by taking some logical action.

To start, let's explain why the shaft vibrates so badly in the first place. A shot which leads to significant shaft vibration is one which misses the sweet spot. It really is that simple. When you strike the ball with the sweet spot of the club, there should be almost no vibration whatsoever generated at impact. The shot will feel great when it leaves the face, and it will probably head in the general direction of your target. There is no need to worry about vibration when you catch the ball just right, which is why the feeling of these kinds of solid shots is so addictive.

As you know, it is impossible to hit your shots on the sweet spot each and every time. Golf is a difficult game, and you are bound to make some mistakes along the way. When you do make a mistake, you could be punished not only with a bad result, but also with a painful feeling in your hands and fingers. You can think of this as golf's way of punishing you for a poor swing. It isn't enough that you have to deal with the outcome of the shot, you may also be shaking out your hands for several minutes to come.

In terms of vibration, some mistakes are worse than others. By far, the worst mistake for creating shaft vibration is hitting the ball thin. These are the shots that leave a stinging feeling in your hands for several minutes, if not longer. Unfortunately, a thin shot that leads to a stinging sensation can affect your play for a few more shots while you try to get the feeling back in your hands. Any kind of miss-hit shot has the potential to create vibration, but it is the thin shots that do the most damage.

All of the content below is based on a right-handed golfer. If you happen to play left-handed, please take a moment to reverse the directions as necessary.

The Root Cause of Thin Shots

The Root Cause of Thin Shots

We now know that it is thin shots which are the enemy in this situation. If you can take the thin shots out of your game for the most part, you will be able to avoid excessive shaft vibration. Of course, if you currently hit a lot of thin shots, taking these mistakes out of your game may seem like a rather daunting challenge. It doesn't have to be. If you consult the list below, you can make significant progress toward avoiding thin shots in your upcoming rounds.

  • Poor ball position. The first place to look for problems when you are hitting thin shots is in your ball position. If the ball is too far forward in your stance, you will be much more likely to catch it thin on the way through. The golf swing is an arc, meaning it bottoms out at some point before moving back up away from the ground. If the bottom of your arc is roughly near the middle of your stance, and the ball is placed forward of the middle, you will be likely to catch the shot thin. By experimenting with different ball positions, you should be able to find a spot which makes it easy for you to achieve solid contact.
  • Poor balance. It seems that balance comes up in just about every discussion of the golf swing. That should be no surprise, as there are few things – if any – in golf more important than remaining properly balanced throughout the swinging motion. If you can keep your weight in the center of your stance while the club rotates around your body, it will be rather easy to achieve a clean strike at the bottom. Players who are hitting thin shots are usually guilty of leaning back away from the target as they swing down toward the ball. Focus on staying right on top of the ball as you swing down, and finish your swing with the majority of your weight on your left side. By improving your balance, you will not only take most of the thin shots out of your game, but you will simply be a better golfer overall.
  • Poor tempo. Along with balance, tempo is another one of those issues that seems to come up over and over again in golf instruction. The biggest mistake with regard to tempo is rushing through the swing. Amateur golfers are guilty of this on a regular basis, whether it is a result of nerves or simply excitement. You should do your best to stay in the same rhythm all day long, from the first shot to the last. If you can avoid rushing through your swing, it will be easier to make solid contact with the ball.
  • Poor lie. This is one that is not your fault – at least, not completely. When you have a poor lie, you will be more likely to hit the ball thin because you'll be trying to pull the ball up out of a tough spot. A great example of this is when the ball is sitting down in a divot in the fairway. You won't be able to cleanly get at the back of the ball, so you will be hoping to get just enough to avoid hitting it thin. To find the best results in this situation, you should adjust your approach and try to hit a lower-than-normal shot which emphasizes solid contact above all else. You will have to give up some distance when taking this approach, as you will be hitting down into the ball more steeply than usual, but it is really your only good option. Should you try to hit a regular shot, it is very likely that thin contact will be the outcome.

It should come as no surprise that avoiding thin contact really just comes down to improving your golf swing overall. Swinging with better balance, better tempo, and better ball position is going to lead to improved outcomes. None of this should be surprising, but it is a good reminder of the importance of fundamentals on the golf course. Also, decision making plays a role here, as choosing to hit a smart shot when you have a bad lie will help you avoid the dreaded thin contact – and the stinging feeling that comes with it.

The Role of Equipment

The Role of Equipment

Equipment has a role to play in all golf instruction discussions. While it is a mistake to believe that you can buy a better golf game, it is true that you need to pick out equipment which is well-suited to your needs. There is an amazing variety of clubs on the market today – some of which will work beautifully for your game, and some of which will be a poor match. Finding the right clubs can make the game a bit easier, even if you don't spend thousands of dollars in the process.

So how does equipment relate to the discussion of shaft vibration? Let's take a look at that topic in the points below.

  • Blades are trouble. One of the first things you will learn about golf equipment when you get serious about the game is that you need to be an accomplished player to use a true set of blade irons. Blades are thin iron heads which offer little in the way of forgiveness. They tend to provide excellent feel – which is why most professional golfers use some form of blade irons – but that feel can go wrong if you miss-hit a shot. Anyone who has struck a blade long iron low on the face on a cold morning can speak to just how painful the experience can be. If you tend to hit thin shots and create a lot of shaft vibration, you will be better off sticking with cavity back irons for the time being.
  • Steel shafts are less forgiving than graphite. If you are in need of some forgiveness in your game – that is, less vibration coming up through the shaft on miss-hit shots – you will want to consider using graphite shafts in your irons rather than steel. The graphite shafts used in golf clubs do not transfer vibration as efficiently to your hands, so you will feel less of an effect when you hit the ball thin. Using graphite is not going to take away all of the vibration, but it certainly will help. There are other advantages to using graphite shafts for amateur golfers as well, including a lighter overall weight (in most cases), softer flex, high launch angle, and more.
  • Grips can help. As the last line of defense against vibration, you might want to think about installing softer grips on your irons. If you stick with hard, relatively thin grips, you are going to get most of the vibration from the shot right into your hands. With softer grips – of which many more options have come onto the market in recent years – you can take away a bit of the sting. Again, this shouldn't be seen as a cure-all method, but rather just another step toward softening the blow when you do hit a bad shot.

You don't want to pick out your equipment solely for the purposes of reducing vibration in your hands. With that said, vibration should at least play a role in your thinking, along with the other elements that you need to weigh such as distance, trajectory, spin rate, and others. Any equipment purchase should always be a balance of the various pieces of the overall puzzle that is your golf game. When you make choices that are going to decrease the amount of vibration you feel after a poor shot, you just might be able to have a little more fun on the course.