It is the hope of every golfer when they purchase new golf equipment that they are going to get better. Buying the latest and greatest new driver or set of irons is what is going to take their scores from the mid-90s into the 80s. Sometimes that happens. Unfortunately, too many times, scores and games remain the same.
The reason that new equipment doesn't improve a player's game isn't necessarily the equipment. New technology is wonderful. Golf clubs today are definitely easier to hit and go further than just a few years ago. The problem lies in the fact that the equipment may not "fit" the individual player. If a club doesn't suit a player's swing or physique, it is very difficult to hit the club consistently well.
One of the great attractions of the game of golf is that you and I can play the same courses and use the same equipment as Tiger Woods and Annika Sorenstam. However, while we can play the same set of irons, we probably wouldn't have much success using a set with the same specs as Tiger or Annika. It would be like trying to play basketball with a pair of Michael Jordan's shoes. We could probably walk in them, but to run and jump would be difficult.
When talking about club-fitting with players, there are a couple of questions that I am frequently asked: "I am working on my golf swing. Shouldn't I wait until I change my swing until I get fit?" Or, "My swing is not consistent, how can clubs that are fit help me?"
If a player's equipment doesn't fit, he cannot make an efficient golf swing. A player will make compensations in the golf swing to try to correct poor ball flight caused by the golf club that does not fit. With correctly fitting equipment, a player has the greatest opportunity to make an optimal golf swing.
When a player goes through a club fitting, the following are the variables that need to be considered and there effect on ball flight:
The length of club a player should use is influenced by a combination of a player's height and the length of a player's arms. The length of a club has a great deal of influence on how consistently the player can return the club to impact. If a player does not have clubs that are the correct length, it is very difficult to get into correct posture at address. When a player is not in correct posture, or balance, the player will seek balance during the swing and change the path of the golf club.
The shaft is the engine of the golf club. A shaft is simply a timing devise that allows a player to square up the club face at impact. When the shaft flex does not match a player's swing, it will affect both trajectory and the curvature of the ball. The correct shaft flex in a golf club will maximize distance and tighten shot dispersion.
The lie angle of the club is the angle of the shaft of the club relative to the sole and the ground. The lie angle of the club has a huge influence in ball flight. If a club is too "flat," the toe of the club will impact the ground and the ball will tend to push to the right (for a right handed player). If the club is too "upright", the heal of the club will impact the ground and the ball will tend to pull to the left.
The loft of the club influences the trajectory of ball flight. Trajectory effects distance. In irons, lofts are somewhat standard. However, within a set of irons, the loft needs to be calibrated correctly so that the distances from club to club are consistent.
Loft is extremely important with drivers. If a player is going to optimize distance, he must have the correct loft on the driver. It is a commonly held misconception that less loft equals more distance. The belief is that if the ball is hit lower it will roll more and go farther. In truth, with optimal trajectory, the ball carries farther, rolls less, but overall distance is greater. The longest hitters in golf launch the ball very high.
The size of the handle of club affects the amount of hand rotation. Correct grip size allows a player to square the club face at impact. If a grip is too large, it inhibits hand rotation and promotes a slice. Grips that are too small increase hand action and promote a hook.
Luckily, club fitting has become prevalent in the last several years. Every major club manufacturer offers custom fit clubs and most golf professionals are capable of club fitting. Best of all, custom fit clubs are the same price as, "off the rack," clubs.
A work of caution, however, a club fitting should be done outside when the player and club fitter can see ball flight and compare shot patterns with each club. A club fitting done inside without seeing true ball flight is not as effective or efficient.
If you are thinking of new clubs this spring, take the time to go through a club fitting. With the investment that must be made in golf clubs today, it is foolish not to be fit. Give yourself the greatest opportunity for success.