Swing Type Plays a Huge Role in Club Fitting
Clubfitting is and always will be about tailoring the specifications of each golf club so they best match the various swing characteristics of each different golfer. To think that a golfer can play as well with clubs bought off the rack made to a series of standard specifications represents complete ignorance of what custom Clubfitting is and can do for any golfer from beginner to advanced.
Next time you head to the driving range when most of the hitting stations are in use, stop and look at the differences in how all the different golfers swing at the ball. Inside-out/square/outside-in swing path – fast/medium/slow swing speed – hitting down/swinging level/hitting up on the ball – forceful, aggressive to average to smooth, slower swing tempo – slice/straight/hook – push/straight/pull – early/midway and late release . . . And on and on.
The vast differences in how golfers swing at the ball all translate into a requirement for different Clubfitting specifications for the golfers. This is precisely why the golf industry’s typical business model to build their golf clubs to one series of standard specifications for most of the fitting specifications is so utterly flawed. It is why so many golfers who buy golf clubs off the rack never achieve all they can be as a golfer
Now don’t get me wrong. Proper fitting is not likely to put you or me on the first tee of nest year’s US Open. But it darn well can make the difference in whether a golfer plays to the best of his/her ability as well as how quickly a golfer can adapt to swing changes when taking lessons. Improperly fit clubs do get in the way of golfers being able to play their best. And not just a little.
Let me share a few of the relationships between specific swing characteristics and proper fitting specifications:
The clubhead speed is a critical part of shaft flex fitting. It is also an important element in determining what spacing of club lofts will deliver what amount of distance difference between clubs. And it is also a big factor in choosing the set makeup in terms of how many woods or hybrids vs how many irons should be in the set. Clubhead speed also affects the amount of backspin any golfer will achieve with any clubhead or shaft design.
Downswing Transition Force and Downswing Tempo
Golfers differ in how aggressively they start the downswing from very sudden/abrupt/forceful to very smooth/passive/gradual and all places in between. They also vary in their swing tempo from smooth/rhythmic to aggressive and in between. Downswing Transition force and the Tempo are major factors in choosing the right driver and wood length, shaft weight, total weight, swingweight, shaft flex, shaft torque.
Point of Wrist-Cock Release
Golfers differ in terms of when they start to unhinge the wrist cock angle from immediately after the start of the downswing (early release) to very late in the downswing (late release) to also many different positions in between. The point of release is a big factor in choosing the right driver and wood length, shaft flex, shaft bend profile, loft and set makeup.
Again, golfers exist with swing path variations from very outside-in to square to very inside-out and all variations of the swing path in between these extremes. The swing path is a critical factor in determining the golfer’s best driver and wood lengths and face angle for the woods and hybrids.
Angle of Attack
The Angle of Attack determines whether the golfer swings downward, level or upward to the ball. Angle of Attack is a key swing element in determining the best driver and fairway wood loft, the best clubhead center of gravity design and clubhead sole design as well.
So the next time you encounter a golfer who thinks he or she is not good enough to benefit from custom fitting, clue them into the fact that the more differences they have in their swing characteristics, the more fitting can step up to help them play better golf and enjoy this great game more.
Thanks for the feedback. As much as I have tried just aabout everything else previously, I will give it a shot. Before I invest a ton of money, I thought about a test run. Today, I bought a used Wilson staff 14 degree driver that has a D4 weighting. I am having the Proshop club maker find me a good 75g 43″ shaft (not easy, I am told) and put it on the driver head. I can’t wait to try it out. Thanks again for the feedback and I am telling everyone about your site.
Tom, just wondering. I have seen several golf videos that claim their instruction is based on the design of the golf clubs. To me that makes sens. That said, the videos are inconsistent. Some say the clubs are designed to remain as square as possible throughout the swing, while others insist the club should be flipped from toe up to toe up. Some videos also claim the irons are designed to be held with the hands in front of the face at address; others insist you should keep the hands perpendicular to the ground so you don’t change the loft.… Read more »
GARY: There is no question that many of the design features of a clubhead or a shaft need to be designed with specific golfer swing characteristics in mind. That’s one of THE main factors in professional clubfitting to begin with. Particularly so with the shaft. While it is very definitely possible for a wide range of swing types to be able to play well with this head model or that one, with the shaft it is all about matching each shaft design element to a specific group of swing characteristics. So if you look at this from the opposite manner,… Read more »
Hi Tom, Need your help and opinion. I am 46 but I am in very good physical condition (Dedicated fitness nut!) both strength and flexibility wise. I am 6’1″ with a muscular build and long arms (wrist to floor is 35.5″ inches). My swing speed has been consistently measured between 99-104 mph and I have a steep swing angle with just a slight hint of inside out swing action. My tempo is fast but my backswing is relatively slow and controlled. I have been playing golf for about a year now with several lessons under my belt and I am… Read more »
DARYL: Whenever I see or hear of a golfer who hits the driver shorter in proportion to his clubhead speed as you do, the possible reasons for this center around one or more of the following things: 1. Using the wrong loft on the driver for the golfer’s clubhead speed AND HIS ANGLE OF ATTACK into the ball. You did say that you have a steep swing angle, so I take this as saying you have a downward angle of attack into the ball. In all cases of a downward A of A, that means the golfer’s optimum driver loft… Read more »
A purely theoretical question. Why did the aluminum shaft go the way of the dinosaur? I still play a few clubs with them from time-to-time. They seem light and have good distance. Also, they seemingly do not cause vibration (pain) to your hands on a bad shot. Why did manufacturers quit making them?
GARY Sounds like you and I are in the same generation because I remember playing woods with aluminum shafts when I was in high school!! The main reason that aluminum shafts went by the wayside was because of the development of graphite shafts. When aluminum shafts came into the game in the mid 60s to late 60s, their entry came because this was a way to offer a shaft that could be lighter than steel shafts. Back then club designers realized the potential benefits for some golfers to use a lighter weight shaft and of course, aluminum has a density… Read more »
Hi Tom I have been reading with renewed interest your acticles relating to finding the right shaft. I have struggled over the years in finding the right driving shaft and have spent $ after $ in finding the answer. I have played off single figures for aver 40 years and for the first time have given up the driver and now hitting a X Hot deep face off the tee with reasonable success. I have this very quick down swing tempo which is aggresive and I do have a 3/4 back swing with an early release that reduces the distance… Read more »
PAUL: Always happy to help the most I can. First off, shaft fitting cannot be done either through a keyboard or by buying shafts that you’ve heard of other players using. For the most success, it has to be done IN PERSON with a GOOD CLUBFITTER who is knowledgeable in the task of analyzing your swing characteristics and then referencing a data base of empirical measurements of many different shafts. Anything less than that constitutes trial and error which as you have found with some of today’s shaft prices, can be very expensive. Do this for me if you would… Read more »
Iron Soles , as I am a bit of a “picker” , sweeper of the golf ball was wondering just what sole grind , width I should be playing. I do prefer a little narrower sole , with the more of a radius-ed & beveled leading edge. As I do have a bit of late release & a fair bit of lag in my swing [I’m 6’5″ tall , about 250 lbs , & played football most of my life , so the weight room & I are friends] was just wondering if a wider sole on my irons would… Read more »
JOHN: Typically someone who sweeps the ball consistently off the grass would be ok with an iron sole design that would be slightly radiused from front to back but with less bounce sole angle. But if the sweeper played chiefly on strains of Bermuda grass they would be ok with some bounce on the sole angle because shots become a little more consistent off Bermuda with a little bounce on the sole. Golfers who are more steep into the ball and take bigger divots need to have more radius from face to back and also a bevel or more pronounced… Read more »
Tom, I play Viper Tour (not sure if that was one of your designs) with Rifle 5.5. I have a driver speed of 95-97, moderated tempo and play to a 12 handicap. Recently while my daughter was getting a lesson, I hit her instructor’s Nike Pro Combo VR 7 iron with a X100 shaft. Without warm-up I hit 5-6 of the best irons shots I’ve ever hit. I felt like I knew exactly where the club head was at the bottom of the swing. I thought the shaft would be too heavy and too stiff. The instructor explained that since… Read more »
Lincoln: From my experience in many years of fitting research, 9 times out of 10 when a golfer picks up a different club with a much stiffer shaft and hits it better than his present club, the reason is because either the total weight of the club, the swingweight of the club or the balance point of the club, or a combination of all three, happen to fit that golfer’s sense of swing tempo, timing, rhythm and weight feel better than does his present club. Rarely does it happen that a golfer would use a club with the same total… Read more »
hi tom. am 60 now- 5 ft 6 inches and shrinking. brought up on dairy farm in youth and longer-armed stronger wristed/forearmed than most my size. had to layoff game couple years due to tendonitis in right elbow. tendancy to natural draw- late release- lots of lag. fit for stiff driver, currently r9 from first year they came out and crushing it..average 275-290 yds. oversize grips and 4 wraps under. happy there but need something in 3-4 wood for gap between driver and 3hybrid which is good for about 220-230 yds. will soon be losing speed due to age. will… Read more »
BILL: There are several options that a clubfitter can try to do to help offset a loss of clubhead speed in a golfer. Not all of them are guaranteed to work because some of them rely on the golfer having some very specific swing characteristics for them to work. For example, if the golfer has a smooth tempo, has an inside out to square swing path, and has a later to very late unhinging of the wrist hinge angle on the downswing, going with longer length woods can increase swing speed and can offset the natural loss from aging and… Read more »
Last weekend I went went to a demo day and tried the Taylormade rocketbladez max irons, the eight iron to be specific and used the stock regular flex 55 gram matrix program graphite shaft. My ball flight was very high and straight with these as expected. My driver swing speed can range anywhere from 90-98 mph. The club saleperson said that should get a stiff flex when he watch me swing. So my question is why should I get a stiff flex when my shots were all going really straight?
DON There is no question when it comes to golf clubs, the proof is in the pudding. And the pudding is how well you hit the clubs over 3 to 4 different ball striking sessions or rounds. When it comes to shaft fitting, there is no cut and dried formula that anyone can use which can possibly can say that X mph clubhead speed has to use this or that flex of a shaft. On top of that, because there are no standards in the golf industry for what stiffness is an R, S or any flex, it is very… Read more »
Tom, Thanks for the great blogs. I do have two questions. I have an old (make that ancient!) set of Spalding Elite MV2 irons that I still use once in a while and they hit as well if not better than my high tech cavity backs. When a pro bent the lie he said the faces are bulged or something like that which seems strange. I figured iron faces should always be designed straight across. They are fitted with original Spalding aluminum shafts that feel light and easy to hit. Why did manufacturers stop making these? I really liked them.… Read more »
GARY: A very aged iron, if hit a lot over the years, would typically develop a very slight CONCAVE area on the face, not typically a convex bulged outward condition. However, most people are not aware that one of the very most difficult things to do in iron head production is to be able to produce all the ironheads in a run with absolutely flat faces. With all the extreme heat that both forged and cast irons are subjected to in their production, faces can warp a little bit. Now in looking at an old photo of the MV2 irons… Read more »
Read your blog on when unhinginging happens relating to ball flight, launch ect. late unhinge = getting the desired results claimed on the shaft specs and increased due to ball speed. due to ligimate damaged in both arms creating severa tightness I have a very limited amount of hinge and it releases early also leading to casting and backspin off the T. So if all those characteristics , such as kick points, torque , weight of shaft in grams don’t really effect me since i unhinge so early in my swing what kind of shafts should I consider with a… Read more »
CHRIS Even though you will not see much of any difference in the launch angle or spin/trajectory between shafts of different stiffness design, it still is important to choose the shaft’s overall stiffness and bend profile on the basis of your swing speed and the force you generate on the club through your downswing transition move and downswing tempo/aggressiveness. Getting a shaft that is too stiff results in the impact feel being more boardy and unresponsive, which is not a good thing. It is also VERY important for every golfer, regardless of their swing characteristics, to choose the best shaft… Read more »