Welcome to Dave Tutelman's Club Design Notes

This e-book is about how golf clubs work, from the point of view of an engineer. But you don't have to be an engineer to understand it. There are some science basics early, explained in intuitive terms (see the Principles chapter). That is the only science the rest of the book really uses. You will need to understand simple graphs or tables of numbers -- but if you don't, you're seriously limited as a clubmaker already.

You can jump in where you want, or just read the chapters sequentially. I've tried to be diligent about placing links, so if you jump in and encounter something that depends on what came earlier, you should be only be a click away from what you need.

The Notes were first put on the Web in 1999. There have been a lot of advances since 1999 in our understanding of what makes a golf club work. There have also been advances in hype, legislation (in the USGA and R&A) to limit performance, and some real advances in club technology and instrumentation. It has been a challenge to keep this up-to-date, and what you see here is inevitably behind what I would like it to be. The updates continue; I know I won't catch up, but I'll keep trying.

At the bottom of this page you will find a checklist of modifications: intended, under way, and completed.


Physical Principles
Applying Physics to Golf
Club Length
Lie Angle

Customizing The Clubs

Effects of Clubhead Features
Effects of Shaft Features
Effects of Grip Features
Special Situations
Resources, References, and Bibliography

Status of update:

Restructure directory in preparation for lots more graphics.
Done 10/2/06
More illustrations, definitely. Now I have a scanner, a digital camera, and much better graphics software than 1999, so the capability is there. Under way,
most done
Lots of small editing changes to:
  • Reflect things I've learned since 1999.
  • Use some of the structural changes I'm making, like beefing up Physics and adding Swing.
Under way.
Physics and
Swing done.
Beef up Physics to include F=ma, centrifugal force.
Done 10/6/06
In Physics or maybe Loft, beef up "distance" to include launch angle and spin. See if computer simulations can come up with the same kind of conclusions that are floated as "the truth" today. Done
Fill in Swing. This includes mechanics of the swing and ballistics of impact.
Clarify Length to make it the first, independent choice; then indicate interactions with other specs.
A more intuitive angle on how Swingweight matching and moment-of-inertia matching relate to one another. Done
Something about shaft spines. That has become something of a hot topic. I think it's overblown, but it certainly merits some discussion. This will be in the section on Flex, and will be fairly short. I'll do a detailed article on spine separately. BTW, the section on Flex will be substantially updated when I get to it.
Rest of Flex
not done.
Perhaps a section on instrumentation. Since I have built my own frequency meter, NeuFinder 4 (a deflection-based shaft measurement tool), swingweight scale, clublength rules, etc, I know something about this and would like to share it. Done, but
as separate
articles in
new folder.
Update most of the chapters. This was inspired by Mike Stachura's [expected] mention of my "e-book" in Golf Digest in June 2017. I thought I better get it to the point where it least it doesn't provide misinformation. Updated the chapters on Length, Lie, Customizing, Clubhead Features, Shaft Features, Grip Features, and Special Situations. The last included a major rewrite of the page on Putters. Prefaced the outdated Shafts section with a promise to do better soon. (So much of what we "know" about shafts is different from 20 years ago. This requires a complete -- and I mean total! -- rewrite.) I left the existing Shafts pages alone, but it was a close call; I was and am still tempted to just remove it until I can replace it. Done
May 2017

Last updated -- Mar 3, 2019