Friday, August 20, 2010

End of Season Suggestions

Our lessons at the United States Golf Academy have a similar pattern. We typically start with a mid iron, a 6 or 7 iron, and hit a few so we can get an idea of how the player swings the golf club in a broad sense. We discuss fundamentals and the different techniques that might help them improve their ball striking abilities. Then about half way through the lesson we almost always get a comment like, “This is great but my real trouble is with the driver.” So we haul the driver out of the bag and after about 4 swings I am usually walking back into the Academy to find a driver better suited to their style of play. I think we have seen enough players to write this with no reservations. The majority of amateur golfers are playing with drivers that do not fit. They blame the golf swing when the problem is the equipment.

In the old days there was a natural progression to your equipment. The shafts were the same weight and make up, and the average length of a driver was 43 inches. The driver fit was an extension of the iron fit. Today the average length is 45 inches and there are thousands of loft, face angle and shaft combinations available. Besides getting the right combination of components, it is important to understand that this difference in dimensions changes posture and setup from the irons to the driver. While the motion is similar - it still looks like a golf swing - the task is much different. For an iron, the ball is on the ground, with the modern driver the ball is teed 3 inches off the ground, to compensate for that change alone you have assume a difference in the fit of the equipment.

Now a word of caution, just because someone says they are a club fitter, doesn’t mean they know what they are doing. We do more refits than we do first time club fitting. Before you make the decision to be fit, do some homework. First, look for club fitters who are also instructors, or work in conjunction with an instructor, or are willing to work with your instructor. If the fitter knows what they are doing they will have no problem working within a team atmosphere. Second, go to a serious fitter who has made an investment in the technology available. There is no substitute for the accuracy of a good launch monitor or any other technology that can help. Third, don’t be afraid to ask why? The fitter should expect their customers to question every comment they make. They should understand the science behind the suggestions and feel obligated to explain. Finally, have an open mind. Don’t let marketing and branding, influence your decision. Some clubs perform better than others for different individuals and a good launch monitor will separate the good from the bad for you.

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