What is spine aligning?
First, every golf shaft has a "spine", and that spine is stiffer than the rest of the circumference of the shaft. (Nobody should argue that the spine is not the stiffest part of the shaft, but proof can be seen when rotating a shaft on a frequency machine. You get a stiffer reading when the spine is oriented the direction the shaft is deflected.)
The theory of spine aligning is that the golf shaft will perform better if the shaft is aligned in the clubhead so that the spine is "downline" with the direction of the golf shaft (so the spine would be in the 3 o'clock or 9 o'clock position - also called the neutral position.)
Indeed it does seem to make sense that if the stiffer spine is in the 1 o'clock position within the shaft (or 2 o'clock, or 5 o'clock, or 7 o'clock, or 11 o'clock, etc.), then it is highly likely the shaft won't perform as well as if the spine is in that downline 3 o'clock or 9 o'clock neutral position.
It is interesting to clamp down a properly spine aligned club into a club vice, and pull down hard on the head, and release it. The clubhead moves rapidly back and forth in a reasonably straight path. Then try it with a club that is NOT properly spine aligned. The difference is amazing.... the shaft/clubhead bounces all over the place, in about 50 different directions. The shafted club with the properly aligned spine position moves in a much straighter path.
We're not aware of any hard data that proves the validity or significance of spine aligned clubs. However, for sure, many of the top clubmakers, many shaft experts, and many really excellent golfers are convinced that the location of the shaft's spine in the golf club will have an affect on the overall performance of the club; including having an affect on shot dispersion and accuracy; having an affect on results from mishits; and most definitely will affect the feel of the club.
And last but not least, if your entire set is spine aligned, then your clubs should play more consistently club to club.
Are there any negatives to spine aligning?
1. It is a fairly time consuming process, so it costs some money. (It's not very expensive if you're starting with a new set of custom clubs, But if you want to spine align an existing set of clubs, it can get quite costly.)
2. When spine aligning graphite shafts, the logo/graphics (most likely) will not line up perpendicular with the clubhead.
Cosmetically, it will look like your clubmaker was "drunk" when he/she put your clubs together. If it's a choice between cosmetics or performance?????? you need to make the call.
UPDATE: We have spine aligned a whole lot of sets/clubs during 2007; and have gotten some really good comments back from our customers. Every comment has been favorable in that they really like their clubs and the performance.
What do we charge for spine aligning?
For new clubs we assemble:
Driver, fairway woods and individual clubs: $5 each
A set of irons: $29
If you are ordering clubs online, and want us to spine align, just indicate this in the "comments" section.