High Balance vs. Low Balance Shaft: What's the point with High Balance?
A relatively new trend that is becoming apparent in shafts are so-called high balance shafts. These have - as the name already reveals - the centre of gravity more in the grip section. This can be achieved, for example, by making the shaft a little thicker at this point or by making it slightly heavier with materials such as tungsten. The idea behind this is simply to make the swing weight lighter without changing the club head, grip or shaft length too much. Or that you can increase the total weight of the club without making the swing weight much heavier.
In this test we equipped our test player with an Oban Devotion 04 shaft and an Oban Devotion HB 04 shaft. These shafts are very similar and only the balance point varies. For the player we chose a swing weight of D-2.5 and for the HB version the club head had to be made correspondingly heavier to achieve this swing weight. The difference is usually 2 swing weight points and about 5g when you do not change anything on the club head and only change the shaft.
The two shafts in comparison
Basically, this test is not simply a comparison of shafts. After all, you have to adjust the club accordingly to make it comparable. With the HB version, the player has to get by with significantly more total weight. The swing weight is identical but the total weight is not. And a player should notice the difference here.
Our player had a relatively clear tendency to the left with the Oban Devotion (lower balance version). Bad shots always missed the green on the left side. Our player has a solid swing path of 3.4° from the inside. If the clubface is too closed the ball tends clearly to the left. If the clubface is open, the ball stays on the right side. All in all the hitting pattern was relatively far left. The other values are quite good for a wood 3 with a launch of 11.4° and 3118rpm backspin.
The striking pattern changed significantly with the High Balance version. On average the balls landed very centrally. The mistakes left of the green were significantly reduced or did not have such a serious effect. On the other hand, the bad shots landed further to the right and the tendency to "block" was increased.
The impressions of the player
Apart from the obvious data from the test, the player felt much safer with the HB variant. This is not surprising, as the club is also significantly heavier. It was much easier for him to accelerate which can also be seen in the 1mph more club head speed. What was also noticeable is that the player was overstrained with the weight because after 15 shots the first signs of fatigue appeared. This aspect should not be ignored. Even just a few grams more weight must be moved more. And more weight also means that a rotation of the club head (normally) becomes more difficult. Therefore it was more difficult for our player to close the clubface and the too strong draws were avoided. On the other hand, it was also found that some shots had a too open clubface position.
Test result and recommendation
For our player both shaft versions were not ideal, whereas the High Balance version with more weight in the club head was much better. This is not necessarily shown by more length, but already by identical length with more spin. This allows more control when hitting the greens, e.g. on long par 5s.
The player showed very clearly what we could expect from this test in advance. More weight in the club head can make sense and to make the swing weight not too heavy for heavy club heads, such a high balance shaft is a good choice. We wouldn't recommend a high balance shaft to our player, but one that comes close.