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How Your Sticks Affect Your Strokes

By Brendon Elliott, PGA
Published on

It's commonplace for some golfers to blame outside agents for their poor ball striking, or for their poor play. The course conditions, pace of play, bad advice, noisy or annoying playing partners or even their equipment. Most of us know that the truth lies more in ourselves, and the poor play comes from poor form or poor execution.
However, in terms of a golfer's equipment, there may indeed be some truth to the excuses that poor or wrong equipment is to blame for some of the outcomes on the course.
I had a chance recently to chat with my friend, and former student, Jonathan Ullivarri, Store Manager and Master Club Fitter at Club Champion in Orlando. I asked Jon about the influence of equipment on a golfer's performance.
Much of what he shares can serve to be very helpful to golfers of all ability levels.
Starting out, Jon dispels some myths that golfers believe regarding equipment:
I think the biggest misconception golfers have regarding equipment is that clubs are “one size fits all.” I’m not sure if it’s powerful marketing by the club manufactures but many golfers seem to become dead set on a particular club being the ”one" for them.
For example, the latest driver is always “the one” to fix their game. This misconception and a golfers “need” for a particular club could possibly put the wrong equipment in their hands. This can cause certain manipulations within their golf swings to adapt to wrong equipment, not meant for a player of their caliber, and in time will create long term swing flaws.
So, how important is it to consider getting professionally fit for equipment? Jon has strong opinions about it:
I have this conversation daily with golfers. I’ll start my answer on this with a question. How important is it to any golfer to play their best golf?
Golfers of ANY skill level can benefit from a professional fitting. I speak with amateur golfers all the time who believe they “may not be good enough” for a fitting and this thought could not be further from the truth.
I feel the potential for improvement is far greater for the average player, where they could see tangible improvement from professionally fitted clubs, than would be the case for a scratch golfer or tour pro.
I believe if the golfer has the right tools in their hands the probability of having success is always going to be greater for them. It then becomes a snowball effect. Success more often leads to more confidence and then we’re off to the races so to speak.
Another question for Jon and for those curious about getting fitted: If a golfer could only get one of the following only, or if they had to get the following done in stages, which is most important?
  • Putter fitting
  • Wedge fitting
  • Iron fitting
  • Driver fitting
Great question! To be honest getting fit for them all is important. But the putter to me is of paramount importance.
How many times do we hear the story of a round that is a career low but “could’ve been lower”? I’ve heard it a million times, I’ve told it a million times. The fastest way to drop strokes is on the putting green. On average, the putter is responsible for 40% of the strokes taken in each round. It’s far and away the most important club in the bag.
I would then rank the irons behind the putter because they are also used on every hole. Wedges are our best friends when it comes to scoring. Guys like Phil have made a decent living based almost entirely on their short game prowess. The reason I rank irons ahead of wedges, however, is because if the irons are dialed in, a player should be hitting more greens than they were prior.
Last comes the driver. Still an important component in the bag. A weapon for some, however, I think there is more to be gained in getting fit through the rest of the bag first.
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