Editor’s note: This is an update of an article originally printed in the January 2005 issue of Clubmaker. We thought it was time to refresh your memory about a shaft fitting aid you’ll find exclusively in our catalogs: RSSR rating. Here are Golfsmith Clubmaking Schools Manager John Mathieson’s answers to the most frequently asked questions about RSSR.
Q: What is RSSR?
A: RSSR is an acronym for Recommended Swing Speed Range. It’s our best advice concerning which swing speeds will benefit most from a particular shaft. For example, a shaft with an RSSR of 65-75 is recommended for golfers with swing speeds between 65 mph and 75 mph.
Q: Why does Golfsmith use RSSR (listed under mph in recent Golfsmith catalogs) and not the flex letter code on the shaft?
A: Our responsibility as the world’s largest clubmaking supplier is to help you overcome the confusion that arises from each shaft manufacturer having different flex designation parameters. Because flexes are not standardized within the shaft industry, one manufacturer’s S (stiff) flex may be significantly softer or stiffer than another’s S flex. By independently testing the hundreds of shafts in our catalog, we can provide you with accurate comparisons between shafts, regardless of the manufacturer’s chosen flex letter.
Q: How do you determine RSSR?
A: We profile each shaft using multiple frequency readings throughout its length, as well as its torque measurement, to establish a base RSSR number or starting point. From this starting point, we make comparisons with other shafts in our computer database and identify similar shaft profiles. Player testing is our final step in confirming the RSSR. Additionally, we review player and customer comments throughout the year and if needed, retest the shafts.
Q: Why is the RSSR different for woods than it is for irons?
A: For almost all golfers, the longer the club, the higher the swing speed. In other words, golfers swing woods faster than irons. The RSSR listed for each wood shaft represents the recommended driver swing speed, while the RSSR listed for each iron shaft represents the recommended 5-iron swing speed.
Q: Why should wood and iron shaft RSSRs be considered separately? Why can’t a golfer simply find their swing speed with the driver and then select an iron shaft by matching it to their chosen wood shaft?
A: The relationship of iron shafts’ stiffness to their matching woods’ stiffness is inconsistent from brand to brand. Some shaft manufacturers’ philosophy is that the iron shaft should be much stiffer than the woods, while other companies believe that iron and wood shafts should be closer to each other in stiffness. Selecting an iron shaft simply based upon the corresponding driver model may not give you the best performing shaft. This difficulty is compounded by the fact that two players may have identical swing speeds with the driver but different swing speeds with the 5-iron. Always remember that the wood and iron shafts should be fit independently.
Q: Can I play with a shaft whose RSSR does not match my swing speed?
A: Yes, but we strongly recommend that you don’t select a shaft that has a higher RSSR than your swing speed. Having a shaft that is too stiff can be exceptionally detrimental to your game. A shaft that is too stiff can lead to loss of distance, loss of trajectory and a significant loss of clubhead feel. It can lead to a loss of accuracy, also, as a player who loses distance may attempt to regain it by swinging harder. It is more acceptable and in some cases beneficial to select a shaft that has a lower RSSR than your swing speed, as these shafts may offer better clubhead feel at impact. This is especially true for golfers who have smooth tempos and no problem with accuracy.