DOES YOUR EQUIPMENT GIVE YOU A FIT?

Mar 03, 2011 No Comments by

TOM HENDERSON, PGA – HEAD PROFESSIONAL

At the 2011 PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando, Florida, there were countless equipment companies displaying their wares.  Each manufacturer displayed their equipment with the help of lavish booths, celebrity endorsers, and claims of game improvement.  But how do we, the consumer, sort through the confusion when selecting our own equipment?  We first must eliminate the Wrong Reasons for buying equipment and focus on Sound Fitting Principles.

THE WRONG REASONS FOR BUYING NEW GOLF EQUIPMENT

Your Favorite Player Plays a Particular 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 the equipment.  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.

Expanded Sweet Spot

It seems with the introduction of bigger club heads and perimeter weighting; “expanded sweet spot” has emerged in many ad campaigns.  This is probably the most inaccurate claim used in the industry.  The “sweet spot” is exactly that; a point where two axis intersect.  It cannot be enlarged or expanded.   Simply put, larger club heads have simply given the golfer larger hitting areas to strike the golf ball with.

Everybody Is Doing It

The fact that your friend is playing better with hi/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.”

The idea that your father and your father’s father only play a particular brand doesn’t carry much weight when selecting your own equipment.  Focusing on sound fitting principles should be your ultimate concern.

SOUND FITTING PRINCIPLES

“All people are not created equal” is my mantra.  Find a qualified PGA Professional (preferably your instructor), well-versed in sound fitting principles, and who uses actual ball flight in the fitting process.  Here are some of the areas to focus on:

Lie Angle

Lie angle cannot be effectively determined from a static position (ex.) address or standing erect.  It MUST be 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 clubhead 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 clubhead and cause a directional error to the right of the target.

Club Length

Club length directly influences lie angle, trajectory, and centeredness 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.

Shaft

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.  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.

Loft

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 decrease, loss of balance and directional error increases.

Head Design

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 marketplace.  Choice of material depends on the individual’s preference and playing environment.

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.

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.

Tom Henderson, is a PGA of America Member & Master Club-fitter. Tom is the Head Golf Professional at Round Hill Club in Greenwich, CT, and the President of the Metropolitan Section of the PGA.

Golf Instruction

About the author

Randy Cavanaugh, co-founder of The Avid Sportsman, became a Quarter Century Club Member of the PGA of America in 2007. Randy has USA, European, Asian and South American PGA Tours experience and has taught thousands of lessons. When not on the course, he often can be found fly-fishing in shallow saltwater.
Comments are closed.