Clubfitting 101: A Critical Separation for Success
The second direct means of fitting golf clubs to golfers is just about as transparent as fitting by ball travel that I discussed in my previous post. This is the fitting of golf clubs to one’s golf swing. However, while clubfitting to golf ball travel characteristics might be reasonably attempted and accomplished with more limited knowledge and experience in certain areas of golfing performance, implementing the fitting of golf clubs directly to one’s swing is quite another matter, really revealing one’s depth of comprehension about swinging, clubfitting, and how the two meld together. Either by itself or in combination with ball flight fitting, the fitting of golf clubs directly to one’s swing, arguably the most important “root” concept of fitting golf clubs, is an area of fitting where correct principles and procedures seem totally unfamiliar to those who have previously attempted to dissect the subject. Let me begin to correct that deficiency.
Another one of the seemingly natural thoughts that often comes to the surface of golfers’ and clubfitters’ minds is to see someone hit a golf ball solid, far, and straight, assuming automatically from this that a great golf swing was made in the course of the shot. But this is far from the truth on a notable percentage of golf strokes. It is true of course that golfers whose swings are more developed/capable are generally more capable of hitting better golf shots. But while it is important to know this theoretically correct assertion, it is equally as critical to know that reality often has different ideas and results in mind for us, so this idealist statement must be digested in a context that also includes hard reality. Blindly accepting the common connection stated above without fail is one sure way to prevent one from being the best golfer/clubfitter he or she can be. Unfortunately, it is not just rank amateurs, but some otherwise very good golfers, clubfitters, and teachers of both who so presume the above generalized relationship as being the “law” that they cannot see other things they easily should. If there is something that I would consider to be a first lesson in Clubfitting 101, it is that there is no exclusive connection between swinging a golf club well and obtaining the desirable golf ball travel, therefore the two clubfitting facets should be distinctly disconnected and approached separately in the course of fitting golf clubs. Excellent golf shots (based on golf ball travel) can be executed with truly lousy golf swings being made at a golf ball, and lousy golf ball travel can result even though an otherwise excellent swing is made. The definition of making a good golf swing does not and should not spontaneously equate to an equally good ball travel result and vise versa. And I am not talking about circumstances that arise only on rare occasions. It happens all the time. Such occurrences take place on a regular basis, whether many people choose to admit it or not.
Let me rephrase this just a bit. For top tier players who are at any given time comfortable with their swings and also have the skill to put and keep properly fitting golf clubs in their hands day in and day out, the number of unacceptable swings for them should be held to a minimum. But as we all learn the game, inching along with discoveries about our swings and equipment and trying all kinds of things on both fronts, an important part of such experience is acknowledging the multitude of occasions of getting a good shot result out of a less than satisfactory swing and vice versa. I cannot count the number of times that I have been given congratulations for a resultant shot, only to feel myself start to turn red with embarrassment because I know what a poor stroke I made at the golf ball, even if the analysis of what I was not happy with was not noticeably evident to those who were observing me (or perhaps even a computer). On the other hand, I have made just as many swings that were as good as I could possibly make them, but for various reasons ended up with unwelcome results. Such cases might include anything from an extremely minor error in clubface manipulation, which could be just enough on a shot that requires perfection to result in a poor outcome, to an excellent physical swing being made and just plain hitting the ball fat because I was mentally getting a bit careless. Isolated situations like these may occur more frequently when practicing with multiple golf balls or rushing to play through somebody as examples, but they can transpire at any time and are not necessarily “flaws,” just like the best baseball hitters miss a thrown pitch every so often.