Swingweight is an important spec in your golf clubs.
Knowing where the head is when you swing the club will help you at impact. Sadly, not many golfers but the "techies" seem to care about it- but they should! First, though, we should discuss what it is.
What is Swingweight?
Technically-speaking, swingweight is the head's heft. It's how much weight is on the head end of a 14-inch fulcrum. They look something like this:
The weight is then displayed as an alphanumeric code. The earlier the letter in the alphabet and earlier the number, the lighter the head will feel as measured. For example, A9 is lighter than C2. B9 is lighter than D5. The table below will show all possible swingweights:
Available Swingweights- Even The Outlandish Ones!
Most "women's clubs"
Most Fall Here
Be sure to swipe left to see all the columns if you're on mobile! Also, many of these are theoretical... that's why they're called "outlandish"!
As the table states, the majority of golfers fall into the "D" range of the swingweight scale. D0 to D5, with the average being D2. Most of the clubs designed for women fall in the late-C range... but women- especially stronger, athletic, golfing women- tend to get hosed in many of their options. Remember, ladies: "just being a woman" doesn't mean squat; golf clubs don't care what gender you are, only the physics you apply to them. Don't automatically assume you need light weights and/or L-flex shafts!
On a personal note, I've had one driver build a customer wanted that really deviated from that. He wanted a 65-gram shaft installed in a lightweight driver head (175g) that was to be built to 43". The resulting swingweight was B9... very, very light!
You can calculate swingweight if you know your components specs. This equation is courtesy of Dave Tutelman, someone I hold in the same esteem as Tom Wishon... and if you've read any of this blog, you'd know that's pretty high!
Anyway, his calculation looks like this:
SW = ((Lc*(H + S/2) - 14*(H + S) - 10G) / 50) - 124
- SW = Swingweight with respect to D0. That is:
if SW = 2, then swingweight is D2.
if SW = -4, then swingweight is C6
- Lc = nominal club Length (inches)
- H = Head weight (grams)
- S = trimmed Shaft weight (grams)
- G = Grip weight (grams)
Note: S is found through a second equation:
S = raw (uncut) Shaft Weight x (Cut Shaft Length / Raw Shaft Length)
Note 2: this will give you an approximation of swingweight. It's not as percise as using a measuring device, but if you don't own one, it'll get you close enough.
A Second Method to Calculate Swingweight
Yeah, there's a second way to do it. There's a little less math, but it's easier to perform, so long as you have something to balance your club on and a scale.
You balance whatever club you choose on something, like a piece of angle iron. Wherever it balances, measure from that spot to the butt end of your club; after that, subtract the measured number by 14.
So, let's say you measured the balance point of your driver to be 33.5". 33.5 - 14 = 19.5.
You weighed your driver, and found it to be 310 grams. So we then multiply 19.5 by 310, which gives us 6,045 inches/grams (in/g). The table below will tell us our driver's swingweight:
Swingweight to Inches/Gram Conversion Chart
In our example driver, we'd be just shy of D0; close enough to call it that, anyway.
What Does All This Mean For You?
The point is, having a driver- or any club, really- that allows you to really feel the head throughout the swing will help you hit longer, straighter shots.
It's similar to what we talked about in the post about proprioception; being able to feel where the club head is at throughout the duration of the swing is tantamount to letting your body learn when to start the downswing, and when to release the club head.
Your swing will be more in sync. Your tempo will improve- meaning, you'll have more control over it. Your release will be later, which means the fastest part (the release) will happen later, closer to the ball.
All that adds up to the longer, straighter shots I mentioned above.
How to find your ideal swingweight
The easiest way to find your ideal swingweight is to hit balls. Now that you know your club's swingweight, you can add or subtract mentally.
If your swingweight is too heavy
If you find that the head heft of your club is too heavy, simply grip down. Start by gripping down 0.5 inches. Hit balls. How does it feel? What's your impact look like- is it more centered? Most importantly: how does the ball flight look like?
When testing for this, it can be difficult, since you're really testing two variables at the same time: swingweight and length. If you know whatever length your club is is the right one for you, you can disregard it and focus on the head heft.
If your club head's heft feels too light
On the flip side, if the head feels too light, follow these steps. First, you'll need some things:
- Lead tape (like this, available from Amazon via the Golfworks)
- Alternatively, you could use these tungsten/rubber pads, also from Amazon (via Golfworks)
For the tape, a 4" piece will equal one swingweight "point". For the rubber sticker pads, one square pad equals one "point".
Add a strip/pad, and hit balls. How does it feel? How does the ball flight look? You can add strips/pads to your heart's content- well, at least until everything feels good and the ball flight is to your desire.
Don't fret about where you put them- it'd take at least six strips or pads, all layered on top of one another, to effect the club head's Center of Gravity (CG) enough to mess it up. You can shift the CG towards the heel, toe, front or back, but the amount of stickers needed will put a damper on your ability to contact the ground!
You'll know how you altered the club by the number of strips/pads you added. So, if you found you have a D0 swingweight from the earlier calculation, and you added 4 pads, you've changed the head heft to D4.
How to Adjust the Head Heft
Each component of your golf club will have an effect on how heavy or light your club head feels. Each can be altered to make adjustments, as well. First, though, we need to know what they are and by how much.
Make SW Heavier
Make SW Lighter
Amount of Change
0.5" = 3 "points"
2 gram = 1 "point"
9 grams = 1 "point"
4 grams = 1 "point"
*= if possible, switch to a lighter head (or heads). Weight can be ground off with a belt sander... but once it's gone, it's gone. Grinding from the wrong spot can hurt the club's playability, as well!
**= mid- and oversize grips will weigh more. This can "trick" the scale into thinking you have a lighter swing weight. If you have to have larger grips, make sure the club's other specs are to your liking; you'll have to "live with" the lighter scale reading.
If, in our example, you found an extreme amount of head weight change created the best results, it's usually best to swap out some components as opposed to adding a boatload of tape. Using the table above, you can decide how to go about adding or removing swing weight in a cleaner fashion.
What's Your Ideal Swingweight?
Do you prefer a lighter head heft? Do you like a heavier heft? Let me know in the comments!