Is Your Equipment Properly Fitted?
At the PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando, Florida or Las Vegas, NV
Countless equipment companies are hawking their wares. Each manufacturer displayed their equipment with the help of lavish booths, celebrity endorsers, and claims of game improvement. But how do you, the consumer, sort through all the confusion when selecting our own equipment? First we must eliminate the Wrong Reasons for purchasing equipment, let’s focus on Principles of Sound Club Fitting.
WRONG REASONS FOR BUYING NEW GOLF EQUIPMENT
Your Favorite Player Plays this brand
There is a very good chance that your physical make-up and talent level is not comparable with that of your favorite player endorsing thee quipment. There is even a better chance that that particular player is getting paid a lot of money to claim his/her equipment is the best.
Sweet Spot Expanded? (heh heh, yeah right)
POPPYCOCK…with the introduction of bigger club heads and perimeter weighting; “expanded sweet spot” has emerged in many ad campaigns. Undoubtedly the most inaccurate claim used in the industry. The “sweet spot” is exactly that; a point where two axis intersect. It cannot been enlarged or expanded. Simply put, larger club heads have simply given the golfer larger hitting areas to strike the golf ball with. Thinner faces have allowed for a certain amount of rebound, giving the appearance of being more forgiving. When all that has really happened is the thinner face has allowed for slightly more distance.
Everybody Is Doing It…(uh… if everyone jumped off a cliff?)
Just because your friend is playing better with his/her new equipment doesn’t necessarily mean that his/her equipment will work for you. In fact, the reason your friend is playing better golf is most likely attributed to a better “fit.”
Brand Loyalty — “I can only play a particular brand.”
I made that mistake…with the technology that’s out there, you will do yourself very well to be VERY PERSNICKETY in getting fit with the RIGHT EQUIPMENT FOR YOU! The idea your lineage, family, or friends have only played a particular brand doesn’t carry much weight, especially when selecting your own equipment. Focusing on sound fitting principles should be your ultimate concern.
Ask your PGA Professional who is the Club fitter of the year in your PGA Section and go see him/her, it’s worth the trip. Ask them to specifically do this…. Please help me to make the decision, then tell them, ” I do not want to know what brands of clubs I am testing. I only want the final results. After all is said and done, after we have done your tests, and only AFTER you have compiled the results, then can you give me the best brand for me.
After you have gotten the results go back to your club pro and order the clubs. Be prepared to pay for a comprehensive test, the best ones cost around $200.00 but they are worth every penny.
Personally, I send my students to one guy and one guy only. And I personally normally give them a free preliminary club fit.
I said it before…BE PICKY. Clubs are expensive now, the marketing hype is off the hook. And every two years there is “The newest Greatest Club in the World” BUT, who can really afford to buy clubs every two years. Not many, without facing the wrath of the other half anyways. And all the more reason to get them playing as well.
SOUND FITTING PRINCIPLES
“All people are not created equal” is my mantra here. Find a qualified PGA Professional(preferably your instructor), well-versed in sound fitting principles,and who uses actual ball flight in the FITTING AND TEACHING process. Here are some of the areas to focus on:
Lie angle cannot be effectively determined from a static position (ex.)address or standing erect. At most it can only be guessed! It is IMPERATIVE that you are evaluated dynamically at “the moment of truth,” IMPACT. This test should be tested outdoors where actual ball flight can be observed and with the use of a Lie Board. The Lie Board will help define the condition of the club head at impact. In general, a club that is too upright will hit the board on the heel and cause directional error to the left (for a right-handed golfer). Conversely, a club that is too flat will hit toward the toe of the club head and cause a directional error to the right of the target.
Club length directly influences lie angle, trajectory, and center of hit. The more length that you add to the club, the more upright, the higher the trajectory, and the greater the dispersion of the golf shot.
When selecting a shaft, look at material, flex, and kick point.
Steel and graphite are basically your choices in shaft material. Although great strides have been made with graphite, steel is still believed to be the most consistent material available. However, if you are sensitive to weight or experience pain in your joints (ex.) “golfer’s elbow”, graphite may be the best option for you.
Flex directly influences trajectory and direction. Most shaft manufacturers offer a variety of flexes from Ladies to Extra Stiff. In general, the weaker the shaft,the higher the trajectory.
Kick Point influences trajectory and is offered in three categories: High, Mid, Low. A High Kick Point influences a lower ball flight while a Low Kick Point influences a higher ball flight.
Especially in woods, make sure your driving club has an adequate amount of loft. For many golfers, lack of loft is a major destroyer of the golf swing. As loft decreases, loss of balance and directional error increases. The old adage goes…less loft = more dispersion
Head Design effects trajectory and direction. There are two basic head designs to select from: Offset and Non-Offset. For a right-handed golfer, Offset influences direction to the left and contributes to a higher trajectory. Non-Offset influences direction to the right and contributes to a lower trajectory.
Total Weight vs. Swing Weight
Total Weight is more important than Swing Weight. Determine the optimal Total Weight (gram weight) for each club. Swing Weight (the relationship of the club head to the entire club) means very little if the total weight of the golf club is too heavy or too light for the individual.
Grips: Material and Size
There is a variety of materials to choose from when selecting a grip. Rubber is the old stand by with synthetic leather making inroads into the market place. Choice of material depends on the individual’s preference and playing environment. Keep one thing in mind and ask your self a simple question here…Are your hands a different size? What I mean to ask you here is if one hand significantly bigger than the other? Probably not. Since that is the case…why would you consider using a taper grip?
Size does matter. The correct-sized grip will allow for proper hand action during the golf swing. A grip that is too large will slow down hand action while too small of a grip will allow for too much hand action. OK here we go…heh heh.. Since the very first ball flight law Directly relates here. The very FIRST ball flight law says “Club face position at impact = that being 90 degrees square to the target at impact” Hands to fast equals OB…Hands to slow equals weaker shots to the right, and maybe worse.
As you can see, buying golf equipment involves more than appearance or hype. To get the most for your dollar, have your PGA Professional evaluate your motion and use the above fitting process to help select the best equipment for you. Golf equipment that “fits” gives you the best chance of attaining your golfing goals.
Next issue…Ball flight laws one by one. Until then, Happy golfing and have a great day.
Robb Nunn, PGA Professional