Clubfitting 101: The Missing Link
Here I will specify and elaborate a bit more about exactly what parts of previously taught clubfitting information are good and/or available and what parts are quite poor and/or missing. One universal statement that can be made about the current clubfitting industry is that it performs acceptably with respect to fitting golf clubs according to ball travel results (even excelling in certain areas), yet oppositely it is totally incapable of fitting clubs directly to the way a golf swing is performed. This statement pretty much sums up why golf scores have not appreciably improved for decades (and even gone backward in some respects), despite golf club and clubfitting technology that has perhaps improved threefold over this same time period. If you are naive enough to not know that swinging to the best of one’s ability is far and away the most important part of playing to the best of one’s ability, then perhaps you should learn this now. And while I may not have said it directly to this point, golf clubs can profoundly affect a golf swing. Any swing at any level of development can be fit for clubs to help bring out the best in one’s current ability, yet I do not advise custom clubfitting (even highly successful clubfitting) for everyone. I will explain this further later on.
At any rate, if you are looking for information on how to fit clubs “as the ball travels,” then consulting most clubfitting materials currently available should suffice. Fitting for most specifications, while often interjecting some procedure(s) that may not really seem related to ball travel, is still predominantly focused on that end result. The authors of such material usually readily admit as much in the course of revealing what they know. Not only is much of this information relevant and useful in such respect, but some items are detailed so much that it could even be considered overkill toward things that in the end are of relatively minor natures compared to more major clubfitting issues. Take shaft flex for instance, which is but one of many shaft characteristics that can be separately extracted and analyzed. I will not dissect this element thoroughly here, but I will give you a strong clue that “matched” sets of golf clubs have forever been produced with a wide variation in shaft flexing, a range through which golfers are not only able to swing well with, but swing exactly the same with. I am not saying here that shaft flex has little or no relevancy with respect to playing golf most effectively and that the specification cannot be taken advantage of to some extent. But shaft flex variance is in large part an unavoidable byproduct of different golf club lengths. Other golf club components and/or specifications are then adjusted to overcome this phenomenon and obtain set consistency.
Through concepts like swingweighting (if understood and fit well), clubs with widely varying lengths, total weights, and shaft flexibilities can all be swung equally well, yet I believe I saw a comment from one shaft designer not too long ago saying that his designs were based on how the shaft flexes at six different points along its length. We are still talking about swinging at an object that does not move when swinging at it, a task I have seen many (even very uncoordinated) people perform decently when they essentially could not hit a moving ball if they tried all day long. Modern shaft flexing information offered (that in the end can affect ball travel but for several legitimate reasons should not alter swing performance) includes different types of shaft “profiling” data and techniques for both raw shafts and swings in motion to aid in fitting shafts. By themselves, certain of these advanced techniques are very good and I support them. But applying a concept like shaft profiling to clubfitting before understanding the critical importance of making various golf clubs all feel the same when first simply addressing a golf ball is like trying to implement rocket science when not even knowing how to simply ride a bicycle yet.
While ball travel fitting knowledge can be abundant, though, sadly there is currently much missing and/or wrong information regarding learning and/or teaching even the most basic fitting concept(s) with respect to fitting clubs directly to swing performance. Very bluntly, the fitting trade has a long-proven history of being unable to explain and perform some very fundamental tasks that need to be performed in order to ensure truly successful clubfitting even at an elementary level. There can be several reasons for this situation. In some cases it is felt (wrongly so) that achieving a desired ball travel result will achieve, or at least promote, good swing fundamentals, and so that shallow route is predominantly emphasized. In other instances it may be felt that both swing performance and ball travel results are important, but that the two are so inherently intertwined to such a degree that they cannot be separated, which is also not true. Whatever the reason(s), the bottom line is that the right combination of knowledge and experience(s) regarding clubfitting by way of swing performance does not currently exist within the fitting trade.
The clubfitting trade’s comprehensive knowledgebase is still primarily comprised of the materials propagated by just a few “reputed” clubfitting experts to this point and mostly rehashed by a few more “not-so-independent” organizations. Even materials concerning golf swing performance, perhaps numbering in the hundreds, have yet to uncover critical golf swing issues that Waggle Weight Wisdom will soon address, so perhaps one might imagine how much crucial knowledge may still be lacking respecting clubfitting. I again urge you to take a good look at the hard statistics of what golfers’ scores have really done under the guidance of those who have preached clubfitting in recent times. Next time, I will show what happens when already deficient information from the very top flows on down through forum “experts” and “sponsors” trying to sell their goods and/or services.