A guest post by Pat McTigue – GolfTEC Tulsa Owner, Director of Instruction, Accountant and Janitor (a true renaissance man) – discussing the topic of club fitting.
Club fitting is too broad a topic to be covered adequately in one article, especially one that is supposed to be entertaining and likely read by people with as short or shorter an attention span than the author. That said, I’ll try to cover a few of the more salient issues as they relate to different types of golfers. Please note that the information below is the opinion of said author, and may not accurately reflect fitting concepts endorsed by GolfTEC, equipment suppliers, bloviating club geeks, or people who read too many magazines.
My definition of club fitting
CF (I’m already tired of typing that out, so I’ll abbreviate it) is largely misunderstood, so let’s define what it is: I like to think of CF as simply helping the client get what is best for their game.
If I have a client interested in new equipment, the CF process starts with an assessment of their ability level, shot shape, dreaded miss, and desired improvement. Equipment is produced by most suppliers that range from ultra-game-improvement clubs on one end of the spectrum to muscle back blades that should only be played by .00001 of the golfing population. (probably doesn’t include you or me)
As it pertains to beginners, CF is as simple as game improvement clubs that will help:
- Get the ball up in the air
- Provide a very large effective hitting area
- Help square the club at impact.
In the case of an abnormally short or tall beginner, fitting for length is an issue. Shaft flex is a simple function of clubhead speed, which is generally low. Beyond that, we need to get the grip size correct, and not worry about lie angle as that requires a repeating swing. I like to get this player into a relatively cheap set as they will either improve and need new clubs, or discover how brutally frustrating the game is and runaway screaming.
With intermediate players, once the proper clubs are selected, fitting is a bit more involved, mainly as to lie angle and length. Again, shaft flex is pretty simple, being a function of swing speed and tempo. With these players, the fitter should be making both static and dynamic measurements, and a key decision is to ascertain if you’re fitting a client for where they are at or where they’ll be with their game in the future.
With more experienced players, it’s important to understand where their current set is on the playability spectrum, and where the new clubs should fall. It is important to fit a client with what they need, but not necessarily what they want. I’ve heard many people tell me that they want “blades” because they want to be purists and learn to hit the ball properly. These are the people that are probably using a slide rule or abacus for math problems, and say “if it was good enough for Hogan, its’ good enough for me.”
Golf is hard. And golfers should take any advantage you can get. If you’re one of the lucky ones (or GolfTEC clients!) where your swing advances beyond your equipment, then upgrade at that time.
Single-digit to scratch golfers are easily the most demanding for their fitting needs, and will likely put the CF’er through their paces. You better know what you’re doing with these guys, because you can’t guess and you can’t be wrong. True blades are for players that hit most every shot on the sweet spot and have the ability (not simply desire) to manipulate ball flight. If a player doesn’t move the ball around much, they can benefit more from perimeter weighting, and don’t need blades.
One common misconception
Ultra-game-improvement clubs are generally designed to help with miss-hits toward the toe, while blades are more geared toward compensating for shots in the heel. This concept is not largely understood, and goes for drivers as well.
A few extra tidbits
- As to fitting drivers, a launch monitor is a necessity to measure ball speed, launch angle and spin to identify the club that produces optimal launch.
- The most ignored variable in driver fitting is length. Drivers are standard at 45 to 46 inches in length, and keep getting longer, but the funny thing is that the average driver length on Tour is 44.25 inches. I’ve got junior and women golfers that are under 5’6” that have drivers longer than mine. They don’t have a swing problem, they have a geometry problem. That, however is fodder for another post down the road.
The above is a rather simplistic explanation and view of CF. You can get much more technical and complex, investigating intricacies of flex point, MOI, CG, and variable weighting, but personally when I do that my eyes roll back in my head and I pass out. Leave those discussions to the bloviating club geeks.
Fairways and Greens.
If you have any questions or comments about Pat’s post, leave them here. Check out Pat’s GolfTEC Tulsa Blog to see what’s on his mind and give him a shout.