Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Club Fitting-Two Perspectives

Arnold Palmer is one of the great golf club tinkerers of all time. He fervently believes that a perfect set of clubs exists and with that set, a perfect game is possible. As someone who watched him hit many golf balls, with many different clubs, I am in no position to argue. As I watched him, it was very clear the golf clubs had as much influence over the ball flight as his swing. One driver would be very hard to hook and then the next would be impossible to fade. Changing the lie angle on a set of irons even by as little as one degree would change the trajectory and curve of the ball in flight. He was doing this with a low tech set of clubs compared with what is available today.

However controversial this may seem, with the technology available today, equipment can have more influence on the ball than the golf swing a player uses. I can fit a club that gives you more distance with the same swing and a club that reduces spin so the ball curves less. We can buy clubs that launch the ball higher or lower, all with the player using the same technique creating the same swing speed. I can even influence your putting stroke and change how the ball comes off a putter! Technology is a great thing for the consumer because it increases your purchase options, but it does not guarantee improvement, just change.

There are two directions you can go when fitting golf clubs.

1. You can use technology to fit your golf equipment as a way to correct a problem.

2. You can fit your equipment to maximize your ability.

At this point, I often get the blank stare and the question, “what is the difference?” Fitting to correct is limiting at best. Take for example a draw-biased driver; it helps eliminate your slice but always at the cost of distance. If you make a swing that slices the ball, the club corrects the spin, but because it is essentially a glancing blow, you get slower ball speeds coming off the club and less distance. If you make your best, fastest and most efficient swing, the ball does what it is supposed to do and hooks because of the bias built into the club. It flies so far left you never want to use that swing again. Imagine waiting your whole life for that one moment of golf swing perfection only to bounce the ball off a condominium to the left of the fairway.The other problem with golf clubs that correct ball flight or “assist” your putting, is that you lose the feedback required to know if you made a good swing or not. Success in golf starts with hitting the ball with the center of the club. If you cannot feel that at impact, and the results are acceptable, you never look to improve. With clubs fit to correct, you get what you settle for but no more. In fact clubs built to correct a problem, literally train you to make the ineffcient swing.

In order to be the best player you can be you need clubs that match your best posture, with shafts that fit your swing type so that the best results come from the best swing. Do you swing the club or hit the ball? How much feedback are you willing to sacrifice? Most important, be sure to ask yourself the most important question. Are you as bad as you think you are, or do you not play to your potential? Do not let your clubs be part of the problem.

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