Rich Beem gives ’em the shaft

I think we all enjoyed the recent PGA Championship and watching a new face rise to the top. As a teacher and club designer, I noticed a couple of things that I’d like to comment on this week.

First, Rich Beem’s swing was excellent. He kept the shaft on plane the entire round, whereas Tiger Woods was getting outside the line on his takeaway. Beem swung within himself and did not try to set distance records with his club selections.

I think Tiger was. Tiger’s swing didn’t smooth out or get on track until the 15th tee, and look what happens on the way in: 4 birdies on the most difficult home stretch of the tourney.

Secondly, I noticed his shafts right away – graphite. For those of you who have given thumbs down on graphite as a shaft hard to control, too whippy, or too this or that, need to weigh the evidence of this recent exhibition.

When I first started making golf clubs, graphite was a weak shaft – it had not yet been perfected. Today, graphite shafts are much more than just graphite. There are a combination of other materials in those layers other than carbon graphite which makes them as strong, or stronger, than metal. They give you so much more than steel can, and they don’t rust.

Steel shafts, especially in this tropical climate, rust inside the barrel and rust adds weight. This weight takes the clubhead more out of balance. So rust sneaks up on us and changes the playability of our golf clubs. And then one day they crack at the weakest point and accidents can happen. Of course, this can happen with graphite too, but graphite has a longer life.

Shaft frequency, oscillation and tone.

I’ll just touch on these lightly but basically what you need to know is that graphite does not have a spine in it. I know what you’ve read, but that is a misnomer. I’ve made graphite shafts myself in the foundry and did everything possible to create a spine only to find that I could reach perfection in just five-percent of the time so it was deemed impossible.

Therefore, the shaft needs to be oscillated when it is connected to it’s component. Then, and only then can it be lined up. Then, and only then can it perform equally as well as the next club to it or the rest of the set.

Steel and graphite give off tones which are sent up your arms. Graphite is much better for the tissues and joints than steel because of steel’s high pitch which seems to cause a lot of “tennis elbows.”

Mr. Beem, thanks for the excellent illustrations of a solid golf swing and just what graphite can do for the dedicated golfer.

I think we all look forward to seeing him join Mr. Woods and Els here for the Poipu Picnic. By the way, Poipu Bay has done a lot of work on their course just recently. If you haven’t noticed, get out there for a round and see what the big boys are in for come November.

Today’s Golf Tip

Swing within yourself. Cut your swing speed down to 80% to get the best out of it and reduce the tension as well.

…jbcodde is the founder of Codde Golf and a club designer of International recognition. His studio is in the Lihue Town Plaza on Rice Street here in Lihue. Jb’s famous for his “Tall Stix” and the creation of low profile metal woods.


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