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How technical is OEM assembly? Custom fitters? Cut and glue?

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I am fascinated by the technology of club making. There seems to be so much information out there, and I'm trying to get a sense of how much "effort" a typical OEM puts into their clubs versus that put in by an actual custom fitter versus a cut-and-glue type setup.

I suppose I'm mostly talking about shafts. How much work does an OEM put into matching shafts in an iron set? Do they spine or FLO? Frequency match? MOI match? Or do they just build to a swing weight and call it good?

What about custom fitters? Do most spine / FLO? Do they frequency match or do they assume shafts are within specs from the manufacturer? I know places like Golfworks charge extra for the SST pure-ing process, but do they do any general spine alignment if that is not chosen?

And obviously, cut-and-glue is probably the most beginner friendly, but caveman-ish in terms of technology. Is this still a viable option assuming manufacturing tolerances are met? A beginner could go to Hireko and basically building a brand new set for 4-GW for less than $150 or so. If you spent a little more, you could upgrade to shafts, grips and heads with even tighter tolerances.

I suppose that in the past manufacturing tolerances were worse, so it made sense to add these extra checks. Are they still necessary? 

I just have been looking at getting into making/modify my own clubs as a winter component to my golf hobby, but there's so much out there and hard to know where to start.

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EDINGC,

I've tested what you are saying with several OEM clubs. My findings are NO, they do not Freq. match, FLO or sort by weight putting the heaviest toward the back. Its a throw and go for many. You speak of the cut and glue as caveman" it can be however, I find the drying machine I have that cures the epoxy was one of my best investments. I take less time and distributes the epoxy around the shaft. I'am guess convention is at work there.

 I had one person in not happy with a new set of clubs, well swing weight as 4 weights apart going all the way down into "C" weight. He ordered D3. We fixed that right up. The biggest complaint I have with OEM is what is being used for swing weight ballast. I see sand, metal shavings and stuff I have no idea if the EPA should allow. Worst part is trying to bend hosels with this crap, sands the worst IMO. I wont bend several OEM clubs due to snapping hosels.

 There are several YT vids showing OEM manufacturing, the employees know what they are doing and, are really good at it, however, its just a pile of heads, shafts, ferrules glued together. I don't see the love/detail you would get from a good club. 

 The folks at GolfWorks are craftsman, old time golf guru's who pass down the craft. If GW cant fix it, move on!!

 

All the above is MY OPINION!!! 

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Good question.

OEM's are limited to what price point they sell their equipment at. If labour costs for measuring and assembly are not controlled to a tolerance you have two possible outcomes:

1. Clubs built to a really high tolerance will be reflected in their cost - expensive.

2. Clubs built to a low tolerance will be of poor quality and will not sell in large volumes.

Neither of these is really what most major OEM's are looking for. Instead, they are looking to build a club to an acceptable cost to quality ratio that consumers will empathise with. How much this tolerance actually is can be variable but for most OEM's they can be pretty sloppy compared to the "blueprinted" published specs.

This can mean for length +/- 1/4" -  for swing weight +/- 1 point - for loft and lie +/- 1 degree - for flex +/- 5cpm. These are relatively acceptable tolerances for OTR sets and at the limits of what the average golfer can detect with the human eye and swing. Modern manufacturing techniques can keep the tolerances fairly tight and consistent, but if anything is selling at an RRP lower than average, then you can bet that the tolerance will be lower as a result and/or the material/component cost/ quality  - some pretty sloppy iron sets get the the consumer on a regular basis. Thankfully, the big OEM's (insert your favourite brand here) are usually pretty good when it comes to material and component quality. The don't peddle junk because their brand reputation depends on it. Of course, there are always some horror stories from some OTR clubs that are compared to spec and are WAY off...

If you want a set of clubs to be spot on for spec - what we call "blueprinted" or what the actual published specs say - then unfortunately the consumer will have to bear the cost of this level of scrutiny and precision of assembly - major OEM's simply can do this at an acceptable cost to the consumer. Also if you have a sophisticated and costly assembly process, you get to pay for that too. Hand finishing, grinding, polishing, stamping, etching, engraving etc all add up to the final value - not to mention custom options. You basically get what you pay for - well, most of the time anyway.

If you really want a set of clubs that are built to your exact requirements then you really need to be fitted by a professional and built by a professional - which may not be the same person in many cases. As for the tech - it's all pretty basic really. You just have to have attention to detail and measure everything - and I mean EVERYTHING. Cut and glue? Yes, but measure the cut AND the thickness of the cutting wheel - and measure the weight of the glue. Don't guess - measure it. Grips, ferrules, tape often get missed in the grand scheme of things. Flo and spine? yep - especially if you're building a SET rather than an individual club. Once you have the precision to build to spec, you can then reap the benefits of the precision the components offer (eg aftermarket shafts). If your precision is off, the rest of the build will suffer as a result.

At the end of the day, materials are one cost that can be pretty easy to apply a unit price to, but someone's time and expertise are another entirely different cost that a lot of folks simply don't appreciate when it comes to golf clubs. For me personally, my time and expertise doesn't come for free. Typing this costs 30 bucks alone...

Edited by jaskanski
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3 hours ago, 10shot said:

EDINGC,

I've tested what you are saying with several OEM clubs. My findings are NO, they do not Freq. match, FLO or sort by weight putting the heaviest toward the back. Its a throw and go for many. You speak of the cut and glue as caveman" it can be however, I find the drying machine I have that cures the epoxy was one of my best investments. I take less time and distributes the epoxy around the shaft. I'am guess convention is at work there.

 I had one person in not happy with a new set of clubs, well swing weight as 4 weights apart going all the way down into "C" weight. He ordered D3. We fixed that right up. The biggest complaint I have with OEM is what is being used for swing weight ballast. I see sand, metal shavings and stuff I have no idea if the EPA should allow. Worst part is trying to bend hosels with this crap, sands the worst IMO. I wont bend several OEM clubs due to snapping hosels.

 There are several YT vids showing OEM manufacturing, the employees know what they are doing and, are really good at it, however, its just a pile of heads, shafts, ferrules glued together. I don't see the love/detail you would get from a good club. 

 The folks at GolfWorks are craftsman, old time golf guru's who pass down the craft. If GW cant fix it, move on!!

 

All the above is MY OPINION!!! 

 

Thank you. I appreciate the insight. Having never dissembled a club (purposefully, at least), this is very helpful.

 

1 hour ago, jaskanski said:

Good question.

OEM's are limited to what price point they sell their equipment at. If labour costs for measuring and assembly are not controlled to a tolerance you have two possible outcomes:

1. Clubs built to a really high tolerance will be reflected in their cost - expensive.

2. Clubs built to a low tolerance will be of poor quality and will not sell in large volumes.

Neither of these is really what most major OEM's are looking for. Instead, they are looking to build a club to an acceptable cost to quality ratio that consumers will empathise with. How much this tolerance actually is can be variable but for most OEM's they can be pretty sloppy compared to the "blueprinted" published specs.

This can mean for length +/- 1/4" -  for swing weight +/- 1 point - for loft and lie +/- 1 degree - for flex +/- 5cpm. These are relatively acceptable tolerances for OTR sets and at the limits of what the average golfer can detect with the human eye and swing. Modern manufacturing techniques can keep the tolerances fairly tight and consistent, but if anything is selling at an RRP lower than average, then you can bet that the tolerance will be lower as a result and/or the material/component cost/ quality  - some pretty sloppy iron sets get the the consumer on a regular basis. Thankfully, the big OEM's (insert your favourite brand here) are usually pretty good when it comes to material and component quality. The don't peddle junk because their brand reputation depends on it. Of course, there are always some horror stories from some OTR clubs that are compared to spec and are WAY off...

If you want a set of clubs to be spot on for spec - what we call "blueprinted" or what the actual published specs say - then unfortunately the consumer will have to bear the cost of this level of scrutiny and precision of assembly - major OEM's simply can do this at an acceptable cost to the consumer. Also if you have a sophisticated and costly assembly process, you get to pay for that too. Hand finishing, grinding, polishing, stamping, etching, engraving etc all add up to the final value - not to mention custom options. You basically get what you pay for - well, most of the time anyway.

If you really want a set of clubs that are built to your exact requirements then you really need to be fitted by a professional and built by a professional - which may not be the same person in many cases. As for the tech - it's all pretty basic really. You just have to have attention to detail and measure everything - and I mean EVERYTHING. Cut and glue? Yes, but measure the cut AND the thickness of the cutting wheel - and measure the weight of the glue. Don't guess - measure it. Grips, ferrules, tape often get missed in the grand scheme of things. Flo and spine? yep - especially if you're building a SET rather than an individual club. Once you have the precision to build to spec, you can then reap the benefits of the precision the components offer (eg aftermarket shafts). If your precision is off, the rest of the build will suffer as a result.

At the end of the day, materials are one cost that can be pretty easy to apply a unit price to, but someone's time and expertise are another entirely different cost that a lot of folks simply don't appreciate when it comes to golf clubs. For me personally, my time and expertise doesn't come for free. Typing this costs 30 bucks alone...

Thank you for the detailed response. I figured as much -- I know from reading around here that many places (Club Champion, for example) -- dissemble and reassemble clubs to make sure they match the exact specs that were ordered.

My earliest experiment would be a DIY Driving Iron or perhaps swapping a shaft in a driver. I understand that beyond a simple spine and FLO, this would largely be a dry fit, mark, cut to length, glue type of setup. However, if I ever wanted to rebuild my irons with different shafts, or build a different set entirely, I wanted to know what directions I could head and this answers it exactly. Thanks for your time!

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Interesting topic/discussion.  Wouldn't we all like to know just how much craftsmanship went into the clubs we are playing.  For instance, similar to automotive production, is there such a thing as a set of "Monday Clubs"? 🤔 If my experiences in aerospace are a good yardstick, I'm betting that the level of consistency is much better now than decades ago - particularly for the more mass produced clubs.  

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All I can say or add is my own experience. My fitter also builds each club. Club by club. No, I didn't stand there and watch him to make sure. All that necessary was for me to receive my fitting from him and then step into his shop and listen to him tell me how he builds each club. He also gave me a quick lesson as to how he goes about it. One at a time. I never thought about until today but my clubs are blue printed. That's just what he does. He's a meticulous kind of guy actually. But perhaps more importantly he takes pride in his work and built his reputation on it and his 30 years of experience. I remember while talking to him about the build process and such and me saying something sort of indifferent like it didn't really matter. He stopped dead cold and looked me in the eye saying, "this is the way I build - every club. I don't cut corners. It takes a little more time". I was like... OK man. Gees.. didn't mean to strike a nerve. LOL Anyway... this guy proved to me how important proper club fitting and an accurate exacting build can be. The results were a fantastic playing set of irons in all categories and by all measures. I've played lots of different brands and models through the years but the Wishons I play now are in a class by themself. Of course my fitter could have worked the same magic with most any brand. But in my case it's due equally to the fitting and the build. The Wishon heads I play (771csi) are a great head and rank right up there with any other quality big name product on the market. Maybe even better?

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Edin, I've been doing a lot of work and looking into the same thing. Potentially building some clubs, buying a few tools, etc. I mostly started thinking about this when I started wondering about the swingweight of my irons, because they don't seem right or consistent.

As far as spining, flo, frequency matching, EI profiles of shafts, you can go down quite the rabbit hole. Frequency matching is generally viewed as a good comparison between the same shaft, but can give you bad information if you compare two different types of shafts. EI profiles are great, but you're not going to buy that equipment.

MOI matching is supposed to be a superior way to build clubs apart from swingweight, however the machine is expensive and the build is difficult. Probably outside the means of your average DIY guy.

I think if you want to take the time, learn the craft and build your own stuff, you will absolutely be guaranteeing yourself that you get what you want. Ordering off the rack won't do that. However I would imagine most of the best club fitters can do a better job than you can, so take that for what you will. You can guarantee your weight, proper assembly, loft and lie and as long as those things are consistent, the only excuse you have is your swing!

I would recommend start with changing grips. And then perhaps buy a few cheap clubs at goodwill or a buy and sell site and start monkeying around. It's been a fun way to spend the cold weather so far!

 

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17 hours ago, newballcoach said:

Edin, I've been doing a lot of work and looking into the same thing. Potentially building some clubs, buying a few tools, etc. I mostly started thinking about this when I started wondering about the swingweight of my irons, because they don't seem right or consistent.

As far as spining, flo, frequency matching, EI profiles of shafts, you can go down quite the rabbit hole. Frequency matching is generally viewed as a good comparison between the same shaft, but can give you bad information if you compare two different types of shafts. EI profiles are great, but you're not going to buy that equipment.

MOI matching is supposed to be a superior way to build clubs apart from swingweight, however the machine is expensive and the build is difficult. Probably outside the means of your average DIY guy.

I think if you want to take the time, learn the craft and build your own stuff, you will absolutely be guaranteeing yourself that you get what you want. Ordering off the rack won't do that. However I would imagine most of the best club fitters can do a better job than you can, so take that for what you will. You can guarantee your weight, proper assembly, loft and lie and as long as those things are consistent, the only excuse you have is your swing!

I would recommend start with changing grips. And then perhaps buy a few cheap clubs at goodwill or a buy and sell site and start monkeying around. It's been a fun way to spend the cold weather so far!

 

Thanks. Your thought process currently sounds a lot like mine. I really do think it could be a fun hobby for the colder months, especially, but once you get into the more advanced shaft measurement tech you really are talking a reasonably high startup cost.

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8 hours ago, edingc said:

 

Thanks. Your thought process currently sounds a lot like mine. I really do think it could be a fun hobby for the colder months, especially, but once you get into the more advanced shaft measurement tech you really are talking a reasonably high startup cost. 

Expensive, and from what I have read, not wholly necessary. golfworks has a decent little shop setup kit that you can look at, and even if you don't purchase, it gives you a general idea of what you need.

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