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Counterweighted Putters: The Anchor Ban Answer?

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By Dave Wolfe

Here to Stay?

Counterweighted, or counterbalanced, putters stuck their extra-heavy heads and shafts into the putter arena in a big way this season. In 2013, Golfers were presented with multiple counterweighted putter options from the golf gear juggernauts TaylorMade, Ping, and Odyssey.

Their entry into the market helped boost the interest in already existing counterweighted products from smaller companies like Bobby Grace Putters, Boccieri Golf (i.e. Heavy Putter) and Tour Lock.

Could the promoted increased stability that comes with the counterweighted design fill the void left by the anchoring ban? Is this a technology that can help all golfers improve their make percentages? Are counterweighted putters the next really big thing in putters, or just the latest in a long line of idiotic golf equipment fads?

Is 2013 the year of the counterweighted putter?

My god, that’s a lot of questions. Let’s chase down some answers.

It’s Not New

Settle down angry-reader-dude. I know that counterweighting golf clubs is not new. I bet you were getting ready to let me know about how Jack Nicholas used to duct tape Krugerrands under his grips to counterweight them. Again, relax; we know it’s not new. The concept and the practice of counterweighting have been around for decades, what makes it different now is that the golf big boys are now promoting it. Regardless of your feelings about Odyssey, TaylorMade, or Ping, what they do and say makes a huge impact on the golf world. That’s the truth, and that’s why the “new” counterweighted putter design trend warrants further exploration.

Rather than just spew forth my opinions on the significance of counterweighting, I turned to the experts for clarity. I sent the following list of questions to the putter makers at Bobby Grace PuttersBoccieri Golf, Odyssey Golf, Ping, and TaylorMade. Additionally, I sent the questions to Tour Lock Golf, whose weight systems allow for any club, not just putters, to become counterweighted.

Here’s What We Asked:

1.  What is the primary advantage to playing a counterweighted putter?

2.  How does counterweighting change the “feel” of a putter?

3.  Although the idea has been around for a while, why has the presence of counterweighting increased in 2013?

4.  Does this increased presence represent a real, lasting market change, or is counterweighting just the putter trend of the year?

5.  Is this a technology that can benefit ALL golfers?

 

Bobby Grace Putters

Bobby Grace is not new to the putter game, nor is he new to counterweighting, or Back Weighting as he refers to the practice. Bobby’s website tells the story of how he was making back weighted putters for PGA players, such as Fred Funk, as far back as 1995.  You can follow this LINK to Bobby’s page on Counter Balancing/Back Weighting to see a couple of video clips with Bobby himself explaining about the concept.

How much does Bobby believe in back weighting putters? Well the F-22 Back Weight shown below is the model he currently games. It says something if someone who can make any putter that he wants chooses a back weighted model. Bobby’s use of the Tour Lock weighting system also allows him to customize the back weight, something that is not easily possible with some of the other putters.

Bobby Grace Putters F-22 Back Weight 38″

Bobby Grace F22-1

 

5 Counterweighted Questions: Bobby Grace Putters

1. What is the primary advantage to playing a counterweighted putter?

The primary advantage is slowing the hands, which results in an increase in distance and direction consistency. I have worked with hundreds of Tour Players doing just this.

2. How does counterweighting change the “feel” of a putter?

This I have always termed as “Tuning the shaft” in the putter. This is in part due to raising the balance point in the shaft closer to the middle of the putter shaft. Balance Certified, who perfected this technology in the early 1990’s, taught me a tremendous amount while working on the PGA Tour fitting Tour Players to this concept. When you counterweight a putter that has a metal face it not only increases how solid the feel is but it also makes the metal feel significantly softer.

3. Although the idea has been around for a while, why has the presence of counterweighting increased in 2013?

The increase comes from a few reasons, The Belly putter ruling which caused some further experimenting with longer shafts, bigger grips, and heavier heads as an alternative to anchoring. What was known was that the backweighting steadies the hands, what was never tried was to grip the putter below the back weight. The discovery of the increased inertia of the entire club was very evident once you worked with it for the first 5-10 putts.

4. Does this increased presence represent a real, lasting market change, or is counterweighting just the putter trend of the year?

There is no question that this is a lasting market change. This is a real awakening and expansion of a very significant technology that has been proven over the years and now (Thanks to the media of today) the cat is out of the bag.

5. Is this a technology that can benefit ALL golfers?

Yes it certainly can benefit all golfers. Most people have a back swing with their putter that is way too quick, the term “Low and Slow” is not a new concept and it is found most all of the top players who play this game. For instance Loren Roberts has one of the best putting strokes in the game. He is known for taking the putter back extremely low to the ground. He also takes it back very slow and with great tempo. This is a perfect example of “Low and Slow”. The Back Weighting system slows the hands down and promotes better tempo and and more consistent pace. You will find a huge difference in feel and consistent solid putts when your putter is counter-weighted properly.

 

Boccieri Golf/Heavy Putter

Obviously, Heavy Putter has been all about manipulating the weight of the putter for some time. Perhaps the first clue is that they put out a product called the Heavy Putter. Here is a great LINK to follow to get a read on their philosophy about what the heavier head and backweighting system does for your putting stroke.  Their new Extended Length (EL) putter line is the latest addition to their large inventory of counterweighted golf clubs. They also make the Secret Grip  allows you to add some weight to the grip end of your current clubs and putter. Here are some shots of the EL Series Q2-M that we had in for the Most Wanted Blade Test.

Heavy Putter EL Series Q2-M

Heavy Putter 5

 

5 Counterweighted Questions:  Boccieri Golf

1. What is the primary advantage to playing a counterweighted putter?

Our testing over the past 9 years has proven a counterweighted putter is better than a conventional one. The areas where we saw the greatest advantages were path and velocity, both becoming more consistent.

2. How does counterweighting change the “feel” of a putter?

By adding counterweighting to a putter you are increasing the putter’s total weight along with affecting the balance point. The total weight engages the larger muscles and the higher balance point puts less stress on the hands during the stroke, which helps a golfer from flipping or breaking down at impact. Instead of the putter head controlling the stroke you now can let the larger muscles move the putter, this is how we see increased consistency, as Eddie Merrins use to say “Swing the Handle.”

3. Although the idea has been around for a while, why has the presence of counterweighting increased in 2013?

The other OEM’s are now recognizing counterweighting and its benefits, which is directly related to the new ruling on anchoring. We certainly have been perfecting the technology for the past decade but I am glad the OEM’s are now validating the technology. Our EL series (Extended Length) putters were developed in 2006 for the Japanese market and now Odyssey claims to have invented this new technology with the introduction of the Tank. Same goes for TaylorMade and their new Daddy Long Legs.

4. Does this increased presence represent a real, lasting market change, or is counterweighting just the putter trend of the year?

Yes it is real and because of the new ruling golfers will begin to recognize the advantages of counterweighting because the major OEM like Callaway and TaylorMade are producing a product that is counterweighted. It was difficult for me to lead the charge and win the war but now the other OEM’s are embracing the technology more golfer are going to give it a try. Once they do they will recognize it is a better mousetrap and it will be here to stay. As a side note I believe our new EL series is the best putter we have produced and if you are interested in seeing more about the EL and how it works please visit our website. Look for the EL tab.

5. Is this a technology that can benefit ALL golfers?

Yes this technology is based on simple physics and regardless of the players handicap the advantages are the same. We are just getting back out on the PGA Tour and we already have players using our new Secret Grip on both putters and swing clubs. Once we explain the benefits of the EL Series and the number of players using belly and long putters are looking for a substitute, I think you will be hearing a lot more on counterbalancing in the near future.

 

Odyssey Golf

Odyssey Golf introduced two counterweighted putters to the marketplace this year.  First came the TANK #7 mallet, followed a few months later by the TANK #1 blade. If you just look at the heads, the TANK #1 can easily be mistaken for a standard Odyssey #1 model. It looks similar, just heavier. The TANK#7, on the other hand, definitely has its roots in the classic #7 shape, but there is some new architecture there as well.

Gone is the step from the top to the cavity. Instead, the TANK #7 has a smooth transition from face line to tail tips. This, along with the long dual sight lines, makes for a very visually appealing head. If you are a fan of their Versa line, a W/B/W Versa-fied version of the TANK #7 showed up recently on the Oddssey Golf Europe twitter feed.

Odyssey Tank #7

Odyssey TANK 7-4

 

Odyssey TANK #1

Odyssey TANK 1-5

 

Counterweighted Questions:  Odyssey Golf

1.  What is the primary advantage to playing a counterweighted putter?

It helps take the hands and wrists out of the stroke.  Combined with the heavier head weight, heavy shaft, counter weight and overall balance, we’re able to create a putter that becomes more stable throughout the entire length of the putter and not just in the head.  Being able to increase the entire club’s MOI keeps balls online.

2.  How does counterweighting change the “feel” of a putter?

Feel is so subjective and really it’ll be slightly different for everyone.  Most will feel like the stroke becomes much easier and calmer.  They’re not feeling the push and pull impulses of the left and right hands as much.

3.  Although the idea has been around for a while, why has the presence of counterweighting increased in 2013?

With the announcement of the imposing anchored ban, golfers are looking for alternative methods.  Because of Odyssey’s market and Tour position, counterweighting combined with our insert and alignment technology exposes it to more players than ever before. Also, while the weighting has been out there, it’s not been presented to the consumer in the fashion that it is now. Most of the offerings out in the past had extremely heavy heads or counter weights and it created a strange unbalanced feel for many players. Keep the balance point as close to traditional as possible eliminated an extremely foreign feel while still helping deliver performance.

4.  Does this increased presence represent a real, lasting market change, or is counterweighting just the putter trend of the year?

We believe this will be a lasting market change, and expect continued acceptance and success on tour.

5.  Is this a technology that can benefit ALL golfers?

In theory yes, but putting is such a personal thing.  Will it help you steady your hands and make the putter more stable, yes.

 

Ping Golf

It was just a few days ago that Ping announced that they will be producing the Scottsdale TR Senita B in a counter balanced model. Ping entering the counter balanced arena definitely speaks to the likelihood that this is a technology that will be around for a while as they are not as prone to jumping on golf equipment fads. I believe that the Ping counter balanced entry has two real strengths that may set it apart from the competition.

First, like their other mallets, the Scottsdale TR Senita B can be configured with a shaft that will match a straight, slight-arc, or strong-arc stroke, thus allowing them to fit a wide range of players. Additionally, the putter can be purchased with Ping’s adjustable shaft option. I see this as a huge advantage, allowing the player to adjust the neck so that the counter weight is positioned for that individuals ideal feel.

Ping Senita B

Ping Senita B-5

 

5 Counterweighted Questions: Ping Golf

1. What is the primary advantage to playing a counterweighted putter?

A counterweighted putter has 2 primary advantages. Primarily, the counterweighting moves the CG, or balance point, of the assembled putter closer to the player’s hands. This creates a putter that requires less torque, stabilizing the handle of the putter, similar to having an anchor point. The counterweighting promotes a release pattern that leads to more dynamic loft, and a more upward angle of attack of the putter head. A more upward angle of attack, or “rise angle”, can create better launch conditions – leading to a smoother roll. Additionally, the total weight of a counterweighted putter is substantially heavier than a standard length putter. PING’s counter-balanced Senita B weighs over 700 grams, compared to standard length putters which weigh between 500g-550g. The increase in mass by over 30% gives the counter-balanced Senita B higher inertia characteristics. To the golfer, this translates to more “stability” – and can help make a putter stroke smoother, especially for golfers who may experience fast-twitch muscle fibers firing during their putting stroke.

2. How does counterweighting change the “feel” of a putter?

Statically, a putter with counterweighting will have more mass. However dynamically, or when swinging the putter, counterweighting makes the weight feel more evenly distributed through the length and more stable above the point where you grip the putter. This is due to the higher CG and lower MOI around the shaft axis where you place your hands. The dynamic influence is what leads to a more stable handle and more upward “rise angle” of the putter head.

3. Although the idea has been around for a while, why has the presence of counterweighting increased in 2013?

There are several converging factors that have led to the rise in popularity of counterweighting. The most recent and obvious is the popularity of belly-putter anchoring, at the professional and recreational level, combined with the announcement by the USGA/R&A to ban anchoring. Counterweighting offers a similar feel to that of an anchored stroke – and as mentioned above, gives you higher overall putter mass that boost inertia and can lead to a smoother stroke. Putter headweight and total weight have been steadily increasing over the last 50+ years, a more long-term trend factoring into the increased popularity of couterweighting. The category of counterweighting and overall heavier putters are part of the evolution of the equipment – we are just now experiencing a small bump in this evolution.

4. Does this increased presence represent a real, lasting market change, or is counterweighting just the putter trend of the year?

There are real benefits to heavier overall putters from a physics standpoint, but it must be balanced with golfers ability to absorb the weight increases and adjust their feel and distance control. Counterweighting is a method that is easier for golfer to adjust to quickly, because of the higher CG and the influence of an easier release pattern. We see this as a lasting technique, but it may take some time to grow in popularity.

5. Is this a technology that can benefit ALL golfers?

We see this technology as being beneficial to several groups of golfers. Firstly, for golfers who “drag the handle” in their putting stroke. In other words, for golfers who have too steep of an attack angle and/or have too much shaft lean. These type of putters may see the ball driving into the ground and bouncing too much. Counterweighting will help their release pattern to achieve a more upward, or shallower, angle of attack. It is also beneficial for golfers transitioning from anchored belly putters, and golfers who may need an overall heavier putter to smooth out fast twitch muscle fibers. It is not necessarily for everyone. There are a good percentage of golfers putting with traditional, standard length putters, with more traditional weighting.

 

TaylorMade Golf

TaylorMade also brought two counterweighted putters to the market this year: the Daddy Long Legs mallet and the Spider Blade. Maybe the count should actually be three since the Spider Blade comes with slant and plumbers neck options. It’s interesting that Justin Rose should be the pro that really was the harbinger of counterbalanced putter. Justin Rose is not that great of a putter. Sure, he can drop bombs when it counts. Just ask Phil Mickelson. His Ryder Cup putting when it counted last year was epic. However, I think that it is fair to say that Rose is no Stricker or Snedeker when it comes to the weekly putting stats on tour. That being said, he did win a major with the Spider Blade Slant this year. That’s some serious scoreboard for the putter, especially considering Rose’s tour putting stats.

 

TaylorMade Daddy Long Legs

Daddy Long Legs-5

 

TaylorMade Spider Blade Slant

Justin Rose TaylorMade Spider Blade10

 

5 Counterweighted Questions:  TaylorMade Golf

1.  What is the primary advantage to playing a counterweighted putter?

A counterweighted putter makes the putting stroke feel much more stable with the added weight of the grip.

2.  How does counterweighting change the “feel” of a putter?

The added weight at the grip end gives the putter higher MOI creating a more stable feeling stroke,

3.  Although the idea has been around for a while, why has the presence of counterweighting increased in 2013?

With the official ban of belly and long putters by the USGA, this new method is a fantastic option for those players not ready to jump into a traditional style putter. The feel of stability will be there without having to anchor the putter.

4.  Does this increased presence represent a real, lasting market change, or is counterweighting just the putter trend of the year?

We believe this represents a real, lasting change as we’re seeing more and more players migrate towards this concept and it has even won a major already.

5.  Is this a technology that can benefit ALL golfers?

Absolutely. All golfers can benefit from this technology. Who wouldn’t want a more stable feeling stroke?

 

Tour Lock

What if you don’t want to buy a new putter? Some of you really are attached to your putter, but you are curious about what counterweighting can do for you. Don’t worry, Tour Lock can help. I don’t mean help like they have one counterweight that you can try. One quick jaunt to their site (HERE) and you will see that they have lots of weights that you can try. Not just for putters either.

There are numerous weighting systems to add weight to the end of your clubs, or even at various points in the shaft. My Tour Lock test putter was a Odyssey Versa BWB 90• #7. The cutting tool included with the weight kit made removing a round section at the end of the grip very easy, facilitating the entry of the weight into the putter shaft.

Tip: Make sure that you get any tape fragments out of the way before inserting the weight. That will make insertion and removal of the weight much easier. Once the weight is in, you turn the hex screw with a hex wrench and it locks in place. I started with the 60g weight and I really didn’t feel a huge difference, so I removed that one and went to the 100g. That definitely changed the feel! Overall, having the extra weight in the grip really calms the hands and promotes a smooth feel in the stroke. I was not pleased with the stock feel anymore after I removed the weight. That #7 is now permanently Tour Locked.

Tour Lock Weights

Tour Lock Pro-5

 

5 Counterweighted Questions:  Tour Lock

1.  What is the primary advantage to playing a counterweighted putter?

I believe the number 1 advantage of a counterweighted putter or club is that the balance point of the club is raised leading to better control of the club. When ideal balance point is found together with ideal static weight, best results will follow.

2.  How does counterweighting change the “feel” of a putter?

This is 100% subjective. I could write a book on this….

For me I feel I have the ability to slow the putter stroke from start to finish. With more feel around the hands this allows me to “calmly” swing the hands putting less focus on what the stroke is doing. Now, when I putt with a non counterweighted putter or one that has a “standard grip weight or low balance point, I loose feel and awareness of the overall putter causing me to waive at it or I become disconnected with the stroke pace leading to an anxious feeling or the yips.

3.  Although the idea has been around for a while, why has the presence of counterweighting increased in 2013?

The future ban on anchoring (alternative) and Jack Nicklaus talking back weighting on the golf channel.  Rose winning US Open will help putter sales but the counterweighting snowball started well before that.  I have been patiently waiting for this to happen since 2004.

4.  Does this increased presence represent a real, lasting market change, or is counterweighting just the putter trend of the year?

This is just the beginning of counterweighting / Optimizing golf clubs. The better the testing equipment gets simply justifies why Optimizing golf clubs is here to stay and not going anywhere. I believe every club in the near future will have simple access to the butt end of the shaft allowing for true Optimization.

5.  Is this a technology that can benefit ALL golfers?

This technology absolutely benefits ALL golfers. Our Tour Lock Optimization fitters have better then 80% success rate relating to more consistent contact and better shot control. The golfers not benefiting usually can’t make contact or their equipment just does not allow for improvement because it simply does not fit them.

Tour Lock weight in the Bobby Grace F-22

Tour Lock weight in the Bobby Grace F-22

 

Is Counterweighting really the Anti-Anchoring Answer?

Based upon what we are seeing here, counterweighting is indeed a serious option. Will the anchored players…Keagan Bradley, Adam Scott, Web Simpson, and of course the average belly putter guy on your home course (it could even be you) switch to counterweighted models? That’s a question that will only be answered if/when the counterbalanced putter establishes more of a broad presence on Tour, and at your home club.

Golfers try lots of different putters it the search for the one that will make them more proficient. Anchored putters were the answer for many players. Maybe the stability gained by counterweighting will smooth the yips of the golfers who sought solace in the anchor. Again, we need to wait and see. They are racking up tour wins though, and some big ones at that.

Justin Rose winning the US Open with the Spider Blade Slant was big. Perhaps not as well known, but still significant, was Thomas Bjorn’s European Master’s win in September while using the Odyssey TANK #7. The interesting story there was that he bested Craig Lee in a playoff to win. Why is that interesting? Craig Lee was rolling the TANK #1.

Regardless of what the future may hold for their long-term prospects, you really should head to your local shop and try out one of the counterweighted putters. Although companies like Bobby Grace Putters, Boccieri Golf, and Tour Lock have been making counterweighted products for a while now, the entry of big boys Odyssey, Ping, and TaylorMade into the counterweighted putter game could impact the market significantly.

If you like the feel of the counterweight, but love your putter, look into a weighted putter grip from Boccieri Golf, or the more customizable Tour Lock weight system. You have now have lots of counterbalanced options in the putter corral, and one of them may be just what you are looking for. You’ve heard the experts, now go roll one. 2013 may indeed end up being referred to as The Year of the Counterbalanced Putter.

{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

RoverRick October 9, 2013 at 1:13 pm

Great article.

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Jim October 9, 2013 at 3:10 pm

Nice article that outlines a lot of options. I’ve played around with counterweighting this past year and found that using a long 17″ Winn grip (130 g) is also an option that works pretty well. Overall counterweighting adds some stability to the putter and helps to avoid fidgety hand action with the putting stroke which is something I fight. So far so good, but as the article outlines there’s a few options – just try a few and you’ll be amazed at the outcome.

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Christopher Kee October 9, 2013 at 3:59 pm

Good article and I like counter weighting. Note to anyone who is interested in trying it out, just tape weight to the end of your current putter and see if you like how counterbalancing feels. It’s not for everyone.

I have a 340g blade head with super lite grip and 60g added to the top of grip at 35.5″ total length and I choke down 1/2 inch. Feels stable and confident.

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Doug October 9, 2013 at 11:36 pm

I got my driver, 20* hybrid, and putter done without really knowing what I was doing when the tourlock guys were at my local track. Haven’t really got the driver dialed in, but the hybrid and the putter are definitely better. I actually threaten the cup now and then!

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Yohanan October 10, 2013 at 1:44 am

1 Tank #7 with that new milled Metal X face at 36″ . . . Please
Thanks

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Juno October 10, 2013 at 2:31 am

My friend has a heavy putter and he swears by it. I tried it out and it just wasn’t for me. Thing with putters is that it’s completely subjective. The stroke is so small and the angle that you need to hit to put the ball in the hole is so small that it really comes down to technique and experience.

I don’t get why there hasn’t been anyone in a marketing department that pitches this angle: All putters are good. But ours fits your eye the best.

That’s all it is. A good golfer that says “I feel this putter more because of the counterweight” could hole just as many putts with another putter that he likes that isn’t counterweighted.
Maybe it’s just me, but the gimmicks are getting pretty old. Just putt the ball. Chances are regardless of what you put in the shaft, in the grip, on the head, you’re gonna three putt anyway.

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S Hoch October 11, 2013 at 5:26 am

Don’t know about you but I maybe three putt once a round.

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Fleeter October 10, 2013 at 11:05 am

I’ve heard counter weighting can really improve the putting stroke and I’m anxious to try it out. Would love to drop a weight into the grip of my driver too, just to see. Maybe some day every club in the bag will be counter weighted!

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john October 10, 2013 at 12:09 pm

I was pretty cranky about the anchoring ban on the belly until I tried this tech. I cut 5″ from my 45″ Thomas belly, put on a Winn 17″ Putter Grip and added a 100 gram TourLock weight. Results: aim the butt at your belly button, great feel for me, lagging better than ever and making those shorties. I have already forgot that I was using a belly

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bumb October 10, 2013 at 2:18 pm

If you miss a lot of short putts to the left then you should counterweight

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froneputt October 11, 2013 at 9:53 am

I’ve used a counterweight with positive results. I would like to try a 38 inch putter, and grip at my regular length of 35 inches, and use a CB weight. I’ve also found the right SuperStroke grip also takes the hands out of the stroke.

Perhaps a combo is best. I’d try SuperStroke first, and then add a CB weight if needed

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Charlie October 11, 2013 at 10:25 am

A question comes to mind about whether it is a back weighted putter or the Cleveland square alignment. Does this mean that all the putter training aids are now obsolete?

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Braden Powers October 16, 2013 at 7:54 pm

I have tried a couple and I really want to get the bobby grace ass kicker. I just have a problem dropping that much cash on a putter I cannot tryout first.

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Chaz March 25, 2014 at 6:11 am

Good article. Looking more into this myself after trying out the Odyssey 7 Tank. One question on the Tour Lock though. Do you just install a weight at the top of the grip or did you also insert into the shaft as well? And how easy was it to switch them in and out to test and see which was your optimum weight? Thanks!

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