Clubfitting 101: A Better Bench for Clubfitters
I restate here that, centrally, Waggle Weight Wisdom is not written from the viewpoint of a club component designer, engineer or “technical consultant,” marketer, or many other primary career paths that might be considered merely “incidental” to truly trying to play golf at a high level. Nor is it written by a teacher of clubfitting or a golf swing at heart. Rather, it is written by a very competitive athlete at heart who has very narrowly focused much of his life working toward being the best performer he could be and playing to win (within the true and proper spirit, context, and priority that activities like sports belong). In fact, for the first fifty-plus years of my life in which I principally pursued a baseball career during the first half and a golfing career the second, I have actually gone out of my way to not divulge many of the most important things I have learned about performing and equipment fitting. This attitude is an integral part of the spirit of competition. And I assure you, there is no better way of learning such skills than to personally engage in as much serious competition as possible, and lose very painfully. (I have finished in first place more than my fair share, and these experiences do not generally motivate one to work on further improving one’s skills as much as losing does).
Because I have recently migrated some toward the non-playing side of golf, however, it appears that much of my knowledge and experience to date concerning performing and equipment fitting facets should now be disclosed if the Waggle Weight Company is to develop and succeed. But since I have not totally closed the door to actively competing at this point in my life, I admit that I am proceeding in revealing some of this information begrudgingly, reserving the right to change my mind at any time.
Now during essentially the first twenty-five years of my life working toward becoming a professional baseball player, I encountered countless times where a particular bat handle diameter felt more comfortable to me, only to find that I performed better with a different size than the one I was most “comfortable” with. Of course I could have chosen the most comfortable size, but my personal performance and consequently that of the team would have suffered, possibly even earning me some “comfortable time” sitting on the bench. Fortunately, I felt both a personal desire and an obligation to the team to become the best player I could. There are always exceptions, but those who put more of an emphasis on their bat handle size being most comfortable above other priorities or base its sizing on where their fingers end up on the handle in relation to other parts of their hands, are those more prone to regularly sit on the bench, chase the foul balls, pick up the bats, and/or keep track of the scorebook of those who are actually playing.
This is just one of many naturally occurring athletic and life experiences that seriously calls into question the qualifications of most of today’s “professional clubfitters” and their teachers who sanction such absurd methods as those currently used to fit golf grip size. Yet not only do clubfitters and clubfitting instructors promoting these concepts somehow remain in business despite very poor track records and even poorer future outlooks due to such clubfitting theory and practice, but they are actually congratulated by golfers and/or clubfitters for coming up with these and other methods guaranteed to prevent golfers from achieving their maximum potential through clubfitting. Fitting golf grip size by what feels “comfortable” is similar to claiming a car engine will be more efficient based on the comfort of the car seat, and it is one of the biggest avoidance ploys there is by somebody inexpert at performing or teaching clubfitting.
I will go on the record here to say that virtually all of my sharp, well-deserved criticisms of the custom clubfitting industry are deeply rooted in sarcasms I direct at myself, having much personal insight concerning the particulars I expose. For instance, even after years of learning how to choose the baseball bat(s) I performed best with (yet when I was still too young to accurately reflect on how well or poor I accomplished that task), I still used the grip-on-a-stick method to fit my grip size during my early golfing days because that is what the fitting “experts” said I should do. But due to the “elasticity” of hands and golf grips and the very small differences in diameters between successive grip sizes, I could easily get the middle fingers of my top hand to barely touch or miss the heel of that hand when wrapped around a grip (the most commonly prescribed method for fitting grips) for perhaps five successive grip sizes. I spent years using that loony procedure, with the most bewildered look on my face when I saw myself in a mirror (using golf glove or hand size instead is basically the same idea).
Additionally, I always had a very empty or superficial feeling about that process after spending years fitting my athletic equipment in a more dynamic way and environment. In retrospect, using the grip-on-a-stick method easily ranks within the top ten dumbest things I have ever done in the athletic part of my life. I certainly deserved some bench time for that one. Now being a rank amateur (as I certainly was at golf at that time) and doing that is one thing. But to call oneself a “professional” clubfitter or organization and to perform or teach clubfitting utilizing such an unskillful method is something different. It is too bad that clubfitters and/or their teachers cannot be publicly “benched” due to the inadequate performance and success that so many of these individuals and organizations have in trying to help golfers reach their maximum potential through effective clubfitting. Perhaps a system of this sort will be justifiably devised in the future.