The Search for Pain-Free Golf.
Intro to a Multi-Part Series
Late last year, I started to feel pain in my left arm. Usually with this kind of pain, I would wait for it to go away. It did not go away and the more I played the worse it became. Push came to shove, and finally I went to see a doctor.
I proceeded to offer up all the cures I had read on the net, elbow braces, sleeves, homeopathic mixtures, stretches, I mean I went full wikipedia on him…
He then looked at me and said…
"There is only one cure. It is rest. Which also means...
The only way for me to get rid of it was rest which meant little to no golf.
HA! That was not happening.
The past efforts of just cursory looking at other people talking about golfer’s elbow and shooting pains now became intense searches for ways to make golf pain-free. Desperation will do a number on one’s psyche, starting to take the words of random strangers on the net as surefire means to keep playing golf comfortably.
Get More Rubber... ha.
One of the things I came across was the idea of going to thicker grips. The premise was sound: with more vibration absorbing rubber on the butt end, there should be less shock and vibration transmission to the hands.
So you add 6g to the grip side of the club, now the swingweights on all my clubs were off. So to counter act the 1-2 swing weight point change, I added 2-4 g of lead tape to get my irons back to where I like them. Now I’ve added anywhere from 7-11g of total weight to the club, thus negating the benefit of playing my long-time goto shaft: Modus 120. While I could live with the idea of a slightly lighter club, a fix that made the club heavier was not tenable. The extra weight actually exacerbated the feel of pressure on my lead arm, so $95 later, it was time to try the next thing.
Graphite is for Old People, Bro.
In the old days, graphite shaft options were for older folks. Shafts designed with much higher torque values, and much lower kick points, were what that demographic wanted, or needed.
The biggest problem was how light they made irons. Torquey, light, inconsistent.
But as shaft technology has evolved, so has the perception on graphite use.
Being in the golf industry, I had a lot of graphite shaft demos to my disposal. The first one I picked up was the Accra I Series Tour since it had the Ti mesh and it would perform like steel and not like the traditional graphite. The matte finish looked great and I was excited to put them in play.
Shaft 1 Experiment at a Glance:
Accra iCWT Series
Weight Class: 95g
Finish: Matte Black
Accra Graphite Shafts
My first impressions were not great as they felt harsh when I hit them indoors but I knew I had to give them a chance outside. The first few rounds with them were decent but the feel was hard to explain. They did not produce the feel I wanted and the spin was actually lower than my Modus 120s. I pulled those out and went back to the steel as my dispersion started to suffer which I think it was because of the weight.
How About Elbow Sleeves?
So, the first experiment with graphite did not go well. There’s much more to come about other graphite experiments, but let’s touch on an idea that I got from several people. You’ve seen the commercials, Copper Sleeve, wound with superhuman infused gold, or those chunky Scotty McCarron elbow braces.
If you couldn’t tell by now, I was desperate to find ways to play golf pain-free. It’s one thing to have the pain and grit your teeth through it, but nothing draws the ire of the wife when you complain of elbow pain, then come back from a round of golf in pain, with her looking at you with those disapproving eyes. If only she only shared the love golf I did… wait. That would mean double the purchasing, never mind.
The arm attachments, or as we like to call them, golf riot gear sleeves, did very little. Actually, they did nothing at all, because while in theory it may help, it did very little.
Funny or not, we all use tour use as validation for our pedestrian golf swings. When Jason Dufner looked like Brad Faxon on the greens with a jumbo SuperStroke grip, we all tried it. When Rory put a SIM hybrid in his bag for maybe half an event, we went scrambling to try it. When Phil put two drivers in his bag for the US Open, we all… eh let’s not get carried away.
But when I saw Abraham Ancer, a young and great swinger of the ball, put Mitsubishi’s MMT shaft in his bag, I wasn’t the only one who noticed.
Before I left for Thailand Mitsubishi introduced their new MMT shaft. Instead of using Ti Mesh or Steelfibers they actually wrapped sheets of metal into the shaft. No one had the taper MMT shafts to try so I went on a whim and bought the 105s shafts. When I received them, I was shocked to see that they were shiny and not matte like the parallel version. On to the build. Once I was able to get the shafts on the clubs, I felt like they ran a little on the heavy side for 105.
But unlike with some other shaft experiments, getting the SW dialed in without too many compensations vs. installing a steel shaft was pretty straightforward.
We have to talk about the price for a second though. These things were expensive.
The first few swings with them were inside of a fitting bay. They felt stout, what did they infuse these things with?
But, I had to take them out before beginning to even fathom formulating an opinion on them.
I’ll say this. I saw a dramatic reduction in the pain I felt during my rounds with these irons. Many of my buddies gave me grief saying it was a placebo effect of just hitting the ball well and spending less time at the range, but when I pulled out old faithful s300 for the Retro Bag Feature, that pain came right back.
So where do we leave this conversation?
We at Tees and Coins test tons of equipment, and the thing is, it takes only a few swings to know when something is NOT for you.
But conversely, when we think something has promise, we run it through the ringer.
When we do club reviews, we don’t spend half an hour in a hitting bay, grab a few launch monitor numbers, and then throw it up.
We build the clubs ourselves, we test them for days indoors, then play them in real rounds, casual and competitive for weeks before we claim to be able to give our membership an idea of how they perform.
We embrace the responsibility of knowing that reviews can influence peoples’ purchasing decisions, we ourselves have fallen victim to making purchasing decisions based off of “reviews” which turned out to just garbage filler content. We are better than that.
MMT testing is thoroughly underway, and come back soon as we will have our first full equipment review up soon.
One thing is for sure, graphite shafts, when built correctly, show promise in alleviating that shooting pain that plagues our love for golf.
We will continue to test several shaft options and let you know how we do.
We will also be testing treatments, massage methods, and other ways going forward.