1. Introduction

The parts of a club are the shaft, the grip and the head. The clubhead design and loft will determine accuracy and trajectory. However, of all parts of the golf club that affect playability, the shaft is perhaps the most underappreciated.

For the basic set of club clubs, see also: Golf Club Basics

Golf Clubs

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For some shots with a particularly high trajectory such as pitches, the club actually hits the ball in a downward motion, and with most other shots the motion is more or less horizontal. Typically, the greater the loft angle, the higher and shorter the resulting ball trajectory with greater spin. Reversely, a smaller club loft angle produces a lower trajectory and spin.

3. Shaft Flex and Shaft Torque

Shaft properties such as shaft flex and shaft torque, shaft length and weight, influence playability. This is especially true for graphite shafts.

At any given swing speed, the stiffer the shaft, the more accurate the shot, but over a comparatively shorter distance. Reversely, a more flexible shaft will translate in a less controlled shot, but over a longer distance. For more info on shaft flex, see: shaft flex

A high torque shafts are less forgiving of off-center shots as they will allow the head to twist, causing pulls and pushes. Low-torque shafts resist twisting and are more forgiving, but tend to be stiffer and thus require more power for a comparable distance.

For more info on shaft flex and shaft torque, see: shaft flex and shaft torque

2. Loft, trajectory and spin
Golf clubs are designed with the face having differing lofts (the angle between a vertical plane and the clubface when the club is at rest). Loft is the major determinate of trajectory. Perhaps with the exception of tee shots, it is loft that makes a golf ball leave the ground, not an upward direction of swing.
Newton on the Tee
Golf Information Home
Newton on the Tee:
 A Good Walk Through the Science of Golf
by John Zumerchik
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Further Reading:
Newton on the Tee by John Zumerchik. New York: Simon & Schuster 2002.

See also:
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4. Regulations regarding Golf Clubs

The ruling authorities of golf, the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews (R&A) and the United States Golf Association (USGA) reserve the right to define what shapes and physical characteristics of clubs are permissible in tournament play.

Several recently developed woods have a marked "spring-like effect" (i.e. a strong rebound of the ball from the clubface) resulting in very high ball speeds and great lengths of tee shots. Current USGA and R&A regulations differ with respect to acceptable limits of the "spring-like effect". Therefore, a few club types may not be played in tournament or professional play under USGA jurisdiction, but are allowed elsewhere.

5. Types of Golf Clubs

Golf  is played with a set of different golf clubs. There are five major categories of clubs, known as woods, hybrids, irons, wedges and putters. As wedges resemble irons they are sometimes counted among these. For the typical number of golf clubs in a set, see also: the basic set of golf clubs >>

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