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Wedgie

Counterbalancing Irons

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Long story short is I’ve had elbow pain for a couple of years. I think it is due to some iron shafts that were just too much for me. But that’s not the point. To resolve this my wife bought me some Launcher HB irons with graphite shafts. I currently game the launcher hb irons with steel shafts and have had great success with them.

 

I got them out in early February and had a ton of hits on the heel. When I flushed it I felt I lost some distance from my normal irons. My steel shafts are 95 grams and the graphite shafts are around 65 grams. I went to a fitter and he suggested I chop a 1/4 inch off and add a light weight shaft to increase the swing weight. It helped a ton but my miss was still on the heel just not as frequently. For perspective I’ve never had a heel miss.

 

After the changes I went back and he started adding lead tape to the butt end of the shaft to increase overall weight and again I saw improvement with ball striking.

 

The question is is he leading me down the right path to try to make these work or is there some other reason for the heel strikes? I’ve read heel strikes can be because clubs are too light or too short. Any advice is appreciated.

 

 

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Unfortunately there is no universal rule here. 

However, people react to different weights, swing weights and flexes differently. 

If you are finding that you are striking the ball better with a higher balance point and lighter swing weight, that's perfectly normal. The way your body is feeling and reacting to the club is changing your delivery enough to allow you to make better contact. The same changes you are making to your clubs may have the exact opposite effect on someone else simply because their body reacts to the changes differently. 

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I think he is treating the symptom and not the illness. Your elbow pain is probably causing you to make subconscious swing adjustments leading to your heal strikes.

 

Let’s go back to your elbow for a minute. There are several things that could be going on. It could be one thing or it could be a combination of things. Regardless of the diagnosis the reasons for the pain are pretty much the same; trauma (over use or Father Time) causing swelling which in turn leads to pain. The best medicine is rest! And physical therapy so that your tendons can fully heal. I know “rest” is a nasty four letter word but it really is your only option if you want a full recovery. If this is a chronic issue or more specifically a chronic degeneration the treatment protocol is the same but different. Rest, anti-inflammatories such as ibuprofen or Mobic, steroid injections and physical therapy.

 

Mechanically reducing the stress on your elbow (muscles, tendons, bursa, etc.....) I would suggest significantly reducing grip pressure and developing a smooth swing rhythm. I also recommend a more flexible graphite shaft which will reduce the impact on your joints.

 

 

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I think he is treating the symptom and not the illness. Your elbow pain is probably causing you to make subconscious swing adjustments leading to your heal strikes.
 
Let’s go back to your elbow for a minute. There are several things that could be going on. It could be one thing or it could be a combination of things. Regardless of the diagnosis the reasons for the pain are pretty much the same; trauma (over use or Father Time) causing swelling which in turn leads to pain. The best medicine is rest! And physical therapy so that your tendons can fully heal. I know “rest” is a nasty four letter word but it really is your only option if you want a full recovery. If this is a chronic issue or more specifically a chronic degeneration the treatment protocol is the same but different. Rest, anti-inflammatories such as ibuprofen or Mobic, steroid injections and physical therapy.
 
Mechanically reducing the stress on your elbow (muscles, tendons, bursa, etc.....) I would suggest significantly reducing grip pressure and developing a smooth swing rhythm. I also recommend a more flexible graphite shaft which will reduce the impact on your joints.
 
 
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My swing is what the fitter says is causing the pain. The pain started after four days of playing 36 each day. The pain is really only there when I’m not playing. I guess maybe once I warm up it’s a non issue. Hitting graphite is nice and rest is probably best but man it is hard to not want to go hit balls.


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Unfortunately there is no universal rule here. 
However, people react to different weights, swing weights and flexes differently. 
If you are finding that you are striking the ball better with a higher balance point and lighter swing weight, that's perfectly normal. The way your body is feeling and reacting to the club is changing your delivery enough to allow you to make better contact. The same changes you are making to your clubs may have the exact opposite effect on someone else simply because their body reacts to the changes differently. 


So keep tinkering until I get it right? I should have said he added lighted grips, not shafts to bring the swing weight up. The new fix is adding lead tape underneath heavier grips. I guess that is what you mean by higher balance point?


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My swing is what the fitter says is causing the pain. The pain started after four days of playing 36 each day. The pain is really only there when I’m not playing. I guess maybe once I warm up it’s a non issue. Hitting graphite is nice and rest is probably best but man it is hard to not want to go hit balls.

 

 

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Definitely sounds like an overuse issue. Ice after playing and anti-inflammatory meds can help manage things. Tiny tears in your tendon can take from 2 to 6 months to heal. If you’ve noticed a good amount of swelling you might have bursitis. There is a small sac in your joint that secretes synovial fluid which lubricates your joints. This sac can become inflamed from over use. Once again Ice, Motrin and rest are the secret formula for improvement.

 

You might want to research tennis elbow, golfer elbow, tendinitis and bursitis. The more you understand the etiology the better equipped you’ll be at treating the problem.

 

If you don’t already have graphite shafts I say but a cheap set or even just a couple irons with graphite shafts and experiment.

 

FYI- I’m not a physician nor am I pretending to be one. I’ve worked in the health care field in numerous capacities so I’ve gained enough knowledge to be dangerous.

 

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I'm not sure I can help but from my experience, going to a much lighter shaft can alter your swing plane.  I have always liked the feel of heavier clubs.  When I went to lighter graphite as I got older, the club didn't feel right to me and I struggled for awhile.  I was fighting a slight over-the-top move anyway, and the lighter weight seemed to make that worse.  That move did result in more heel shots. However, heel shots can happen from both over-the-top and from too much from the inside swings. I would recommend working on tempo and check your swing plane on video.

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I’m no doctor or coach, I can only tell you what has happened to me. A couple years ago I was having a lot of elbow pain and it was diagnosed as golfers elbow. My pain was in my trail arm, on the inside of my elbow. At that time I was pulling with my trail arm for my backswing and then pulling down and through with my lead arm. I no longer swing like that and therefore I no longer have any elbow pain. However, I did just try this motion again yesterday on the range, and guess what, the pain came back. I didn’t realize that the pain had returned until later in the evening, but it’s pretty much gone today.
As for the heel hits, I call them shanks when I do it, unless of course it is just an inside heel hit, which I would consider a slight mishit from the center...still an okay miss. Anyway, I suffered from the shanks last year and it took me a while to realize what was causing it, but I finally figured it out. At setup I always have my lead arm locked, and continue with it locked throughout my backswing and downswing, only bending it in my follow through. However, when I had the shanks, I realized that I did not have my lead arm locked in the setup or backswing...it was actually breaking down at the top of my backswing. So, I think it was locking at or just before impact, which made the club head slightly further out at impact than it was at setup. Once I realized this...BAM, all the shanks were gone.
I hope that helps.


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On 2/28/2019 at 10:12 PM, Wedgie said:

 


So keep tinkering until I get it right? I should have said he added lighted grips, not shafts to bring the swing weight up. The new fix is adding lead tape underneath heavier grips. I guess that is what you mean by higher balance point?


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Right. And adding weight at the grip lowers the swing weight because it adds weight to the left side of the 14" fulcrum that is used to determine the measurement.

Historically, I believe the effects of counterbalancing/counterweighting has been determined to vary largely from golfer to golfer. 

I agree with @Kenny B. For me, heel hits come often on over-the-top moves. 

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I'm only going to add a comment about counter-balancing your irons or back-weighting as I think it's also referred to. I can't speak to any ailments. As many people probably know; Jack Nicklaus played his entire career with back-weighted clubs. Irons only I think. Meaning he added weight in the butt end of his clubs. Some people still do this and Sergio is another example. There are many ways to do this and one popular method is using a Tour Lock inserted in the butt end of the shaft. Still another method is using a Secret Grip which I tried on my irons a number of years ago. Lead tape is also an option. There may be others still.

Back when I tried the Secret Grip I initially liked them as I thought my distances improved, my ball striking became more solid, and...it felt good. I installed these grips on a set of ill-fit irons I was playing at the time. I later pulled the grips and went back to a normal setup. Why? I had decided to change my game-swing, etc. and commit to just playing better. Therefore, soon after I purchased a set of custom fit and built irons and started taking periodic lessons. Over about a 2 year period I steadily improved and today do not need or want any back-weighting added to my irons. Do I think back-weighting has merits? Yeah... I suppose it does depending on your own situation and the irons you're playing. Maybe a few of our resident club fitters will pick up on this an chime in.

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Long story short - get fitted properly.

Heel strikes are indicative of several different types of issues, but in essence the iron length to your swing path is wrong - which means the length is probably too long for the given swing, hence the strikes tend to be towards the heel instead of in the centre of the face. If the length was too short, the strikes would tend to be towards the toe.

There are several other causes to take into effect, not least of which is the switch from 95g steel to 65g graphite, but the overall flex profile may also  compound the error of length thus making consistent strikes almost impossible. Toe droop on irons is real and a critical factor in getting the length to lie ratio correct in fitting. If you haven't been properly fitted, you will also struggle to get it right.

Two things to take away from this:

1. Don't expect miracles from an OTR set of irons that were never fitted for you in the first place. Get fitted first, then buy irons - don't try to fit yourself into a set. 

2. Always compare apples to apples. Graphite and steel are similar in function but streets apart in how they perform per user.  Graphite is a good choice to reduce stress and fatigue caused by repetitive ball striking, but you have to take the other factors into account to gain the most benefit of their advantages. Hitting towards the heel isn't going onto any list of advantages.

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@Wedgie, the Elbow issue sound like Golfer/tennis elbow. Which i have had, at times.. go to the drug store and get one of the forearm wraps for your upper fore arm.. and try it for a couple of day to see if that helps.. if so, great. But you will need to wear the wrap for a while until the elbow heals.. as far as the heel strikes this might also be a product of the tender elbow.. by counter balancing the club your swinging differently because it feels different thus helping the heel strikes.. 

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Hey guys, thanks for the input.  Just to circle back I got the clubs back today.  The fitter added 18 gram counter weights to the butt end of the shafts rather than going with lead tape.  In my hands the overall weight just felt better.  Since he ordered the weights he built a club for himself and said it worked great for him.  But hey, this is about me.  I hit 8 balls outdoors into a range full of snow in 28 degrees with my winter coat on.  The impact tape showed no heel hits and one slightly on the toe side.  Other than that pretty much in the middle of the club face on 7 hits.

I'm going to play a round in Florida next week with these and see how they do in the real world.  I should add my normal gamers are making the trip as well.

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