Equating Ball Travel Result Success to Swing Performance Success: Simpleminded Clubfitting Incompetence

Unlike most other entries, this particular one is essentially a follow-up communication regarding wcgolf and his original inquiry that I initially addressed in my previous entry. He responded to me and offered some welcome feedback, both of which I am grateful for, including taking issue with my very harsh criticisms of the golf industry and clubfitting trade rather than potentially treating them with more kindness and leniency, and he also added another question or two. My follow-up entry to wcgolf is as follows.

Regarding my “bashing” of the industry as you termed it, suffice it to say that I did first try a nicer way for years. And I was routinely met with rude, obnoxious, and/or uppity greetings and comments from the likes of Wishon, Tutelman, and many others within the industry (in addition to having to suffer through their naive, inexperienced, and flawed clubfitting [and golf swing] principles that most people still gullibly believe in). Some of those experiences have been more specifically detailed elsewhere in my work. In fact, those interactions were vital motivating forces that compelled me to establish the Waggle Weight Wisdom™ body of work in the first place. And in that regard I am profoundly thankful to all of these people. So I have tried it their way, and nobody has had more patience than I have with these people and the industry as a whole. Now we will do it my way, and I have not even begun to have some real fun yet with these clowns that have hurt the game of golf so much (and the industry in general for being so foolish to believe much of the nonsense produced by these people).

I am largely just bluntly and factually telling it the way it is without any sugar coating, frequently also adding in some well-deserved sarcasm and satire. (I know that can be especially hard to take for such a generally prideful and stuffy industry that appears to be predominantly unable to laugh at and have a sense of humor about itself). But within my work are also the answers that the trade needs to be able to recover and grow. I point out here that the trait(s) responsible for my sarcastic and satirical nature (perhaps not all that different from your second-guessing nature) can be related to the trait(s) that have helped me learn answers that others before me were not able to learn. Thus, for those not able to tolerate and even embrace and enjoy my particular approach or style, they would fittingly need and/or prefer to ignore my work, strictly follow the works of people not limited to Wishon and Tutelman and their badly flawed materials in critical areas, and see what level of success (or lack thereof) that brings them in the areas of golf playing and/or business performance.

With that said, when the industry makes the changes it needs to in order to recover and grow (it will ultimately have to if it is going to survive, but how long that will take is another matter), I will be the first to congratulate and praise the trade, and with the same intensity that I currently criticize and ridicule the industry the way it truly deserves to be.

(I note here that the particular clubfitting process details recently implemented on wcgolf do not really bear repeating here, as they were quite poor and very typical of that enabled by most clubfitters today). Regarding the clubfitting process you recently went through, I am not quite sure why you felt my previous entry (which specifically stated certain steps that should be performed far differently) was rather technical in nature. (Even though it might not be that technical, if it is something totally new, unfamiliar, and perhaps even unexpected, it could nevertheless take multiple readings [for anyone] to firmly grasp the material). I always strive to break components down into the smallest of elements to try to keep them as simple and clear as possible, but I will try to simplify a few components even more here, perhaps from a broader approach instead of certain detailed specifics.

Fitting a golf club to a golfer’s ball travel results is fitting a golf club to a golfer’s ball travel results, no more and no less. And fitting a golf club to a golfer’s swing is fitting a golf club to a golfer’s swing, no more and no less. Do not confuse or try to equate the two. Very broadly, swinging well and getting poor ball travel results, and alternately swinging poorly and getting great ball travel results, are common, everyday occurrences and a regular part of the game (at any level of play). They are two completely separable clubfitting aspects with two totally different clubfitting processes required to be able to successfully accomplish each. Both can be comprehensively combined in a competent and effective clubfitting process.

A decently knowledgeable and skilled clubfitter can easily and intentionally manipulate a golf club in any number of ways to help you achieve better ball travel results (the quality of club/ball contact is an element of ball travel results) while at the same time get you to swing worse with a more uncoordinated and inefficient motion (and vice versa). This is hardly a magician’s secret, as such experiences tend to become rather commonplace and should be realized rather quickly even if having minimal experience at playing the game. To illustrate, consider a relatively simple combination of lie angle and swingweight value alterations of an iron (noting here that causes and effects of various club specifications and specification combinations can be somewhat different from golfer to golfer due to various factors).

In scenario one, the swingweight of the club is set to the ideal value for my base swinging motion, and the lie angle of the clubhead is set far too upright for me. In such a case, I would generally tend to address golf balls considerably toward the heel and hosel of the clubhead (and return the clubhead there when swinging) to the extent that I would shank (hit off the hosel of the club) basically everything and essentially not be able to hit a ball at all. And yet because the swingweight value of the club is set properly for me, I would nevertheless be swinging the club with well-coordinated motions and about as good as I possibly can, consistently achieving my best swing speed and control with that club.

In scenario two, the swingweight of the club is changed to be out of my range of values where my best swinging performance is obtained, and the lie angle of the club is altered to be ideal for me. In that case, my pure swing would become so poor and uncoordinated that it would look and feel like I have never swung a golf club before in my entire life. Yet despite this, I would still generally contact golf balls far better than in scenario one, obtain more desirable club/ball contact results, and broadly get golf balls moving toward my desired target when I could barely make any club/ball contact at all in scenario one.

And again, these circumstances are not rare but very common, everyday occurrences. Thus, if very foolishly trying to use ball travel results as an indicator of the quality of actual and true golf swing performance (which is disastrously pretty standard practice and demonstrates numerous [unflattering] characteristics about the trade), then the club setup in scenario two would be deemed to be the setup that fits my swing better. But as can be seen directly above, that is terribly far from being an accurate conclusion, only being true if the quality of golf swing performance is specifically (and stupidly) defined as being a direct (and reverse) function of obtained ball travel results (which again includes but is hardly limited to golf club/ball contact data).

And what this amounts to is that inadequately knowledgeable and insufficiently skilled clubfitters (virtually every clubfitter on the planet right now), in a typically fixated effort to accomplish certain ball travel “numbers” based on results spit out by a launch monitor and to the virtual exclusion of essentially all else, will routinely unknowingly change the underlying structure and essential quality of a golfer’s swing and swing capability for the worse (even if better ball travel results might be obtained). Ultimately, this commonly results in various devastating effects being experienced by golfers, clubfitters, and the industry as a whole over time, and from the standpoints of both any further clubfitting and/or swing development efforts.

Even for those who genuinely care about the profession, they have unfortunately been very poorly and incorrectly educated regarding numerous golf swing and/or clubfitting theories and practices for what seems like forever. And this defective knowledge is ingrained so firmly into their brains now it is as though it is an actual part of their genes or “Defective Golf DNA” at this point. This succession of faulty knowledge began back before Wishon and Tutelman even arrived, back to the works of Maltby (a respected pioneer to be sure regarding bringing the field of golf club fitting more into the public mainstream) and others even before him. And these materials that are badly flawed in certain critical areas are still being widely used, referenced, and taught by educational entities and countless others in the fields of golf swing and/or clubfitting theories and practices. And to date there has really been no one that has been able to properly make any number of desperately needed corrections (if the industry is going to survive much longer) to these flawed materials since they were originally developed.

And this defective information continues to spread like wildfire (often made even worse along the way) through outlets like online golf forums, which as a whole are notorious for being populated with people far less knowledgeable regarding certain subjects than the people who introduced or produced the original flawed materials to begin with. There is, to spotlight, a common connection between how much further backward in performance and reputation the clubfitting trade has regressed since the appearance of such forums. The belief in many of these materials is comparable to still believing that the world is flat, indicating how much in its infancy the clubfitting trade still is.

Just one of many other items of evidence is that launch monitors, when in the right hands, should certainly be a help toward determining the best values of certain club parameters. Yet golf scores overall have certainly not improved to an extent that might be expected since the use of such high-tech devices commenced for clubfitting, indicating little more than an outward appearance of effectiveness when the actual truth is quite different. Thus, at least to this point in golf history, overall there is a more prominent claim to fame for launch monitors than that of being more effective at helping to fit golf clubs to golfers. And this is that their glitz and flashiness have (extremely effectively) blinded golfers (and clubfitters alike) from seeing and understanding how exceptionally bad many rudimental clubfitting theories and practices are that preceded the arrival of and predominantly still govern how such high-tech fine-tuning devices are routinely applied.

From a pure clubfitting perspective, any alterations in the structure and essential quality (whether intentional or unintentional) that occur to a golfer’s currently developed base swing mechanics in the course of a clubfitting process are to be considered undesirable changes, bad clubfitting technique, and a total clubfitting failure at a most fundamental level. This is true no matter how well any desired ball travel results might be obtained. Clubfitting processes that are based on ball travel results only (and again derivative data including but not limited to clubface/ball contact information is an element of ball travel results) are extremely inexperienced, ignorant, and amateurish in nature. Such ignorant processes commonly produce very short-term improvements in ball travel results (and frequently not even that) before countless golfers are back in the same or even a worse situation than before the original clubfitting (which could apply to any number of clubfitting and/or swinging elements). This typically happens because a golfer’s ingrained swing mechanics at the time will generally surface (or resurface) quite quickly after a clubfitting that is performed by just rather empty ball travel results and not to the golfer’s authentic swing mechanics (reasonably accompanied by changed ball travel results quite quickly also).

And according to your personal description of the process, that is exactly the way you were fit for your club(s) recently, simply superficially fit according to certain desired ball travel results and with no regard or respect whatsoever for your actual swing mechanics and swing capability. (This can be consistent with having a very flawed belief that the altering of certain club specification values cannot change one’s base swing mechanics for the worse once any given level of swing development is accomplished. This is utter nonsense, even for the best players on the planet). That is kindergarten-level inaptitude, not what qualified clubfitting is supposed to be about (though it unfortunately is for most golfers and/or clubfitters, who overall are quite dupable today), and certainly not how to effectively accomplish the task. And the long history of poor performance and reputation of the clubfitting trade as a whole justly helps to support and prove how true all of these statements are.

You yourself indicated that you were quite skeptical about the process and/or results. It is practically impossible to miss and ignore the mass of reviews from golfers stating how bad their commercial clubfitting experiences have been. Even those who state that they were fit well and/or impressed with their experiences clearly have no applicable frame of reference and comprehension (based on their process descriptions) regarding how much better and more successful their experiences could have potentially been if the clubfitter and/or process were not as incapable at fitting a golf club(s). Many become so disgusted with the trade (understandably so) that they turn to fitting themselves, often achieving greater clubfitting success than the commercial trade even if having somewhat limited clubfitting knowledge (and with nothing like a launch monitor ever needed in order to do so). Again, you were merely fit according to superficial ball travel results, one sign of an (industry-wide) unenlightened clubfitting hack.

Among other things, you describe a process where not only were the shafts different in the various test clubs you tried, but one or more other club specifications were also made different as a result, and with you and the clubfitter having absolutely no data regarding what other club specifications were different and by how much. For instance, simply removing and attaching a different shaft to the same clubhead will typically not only alter the flex and/or weight of the shaft, but it will commonly also change the swingweight and/or grip size/taper of the club depending on the specific shaft design. So for the shaft installation where you were experiencing a two-way miss, you are basically just guessing about which club specification(s) was responsible for the results and why. And you really did not have any appropriate “numbers” available with which an informed determination could potentially be made. You had no numbers whatsoever that directly showed how your swing mechanics (of your actual body parts and not any parts of the golf club and/or ball travel results) were changing from one club configuration to another among the various configurations tested.

In taking one more look at the particular clubfitting process you described (again a pretty typical process as implemented today, and repeating the specific steps here would be a waste of time and space), the individual steps you disclosed would, vaguely speaking, be implemented when fitting a golf club to either the ball travel results or swing of a golfer. But, vaguely speaking again, when fitting to the actual swing of the golfer, the steps you disclosed would by and large need to be performed in the reverse order than done for you during the process. And as a result of that, clubfitting results would commonly turn out to be quite different overall. That is rather ironic I suppose and shows how erroneously backward the trade is in certain ways. Clubfitters that only know how to superficially fit to ball travel results and are not capable of fitting to a golfer’s actual swing mechanics are typically very deficient in their knowledge of numerous club specifications, including but hardly limited to how and when to fit the specifications. With both facets being crucial, results are frequently farcical in nature when such facets are implemented wrongly.

Highly successful, competent clubfitting does not alter a golfer’s base swing mechanics (again either intentionally or unintentionally) in an effort to obtain certain desired ball travel results. Instead, highly successful and competent clubfitting demands and ensures that a golfer’s current swing mechanics are correctly reproduced and not changed from the golfer’s core mechanics, through the fitting of certain primary (swing-affecting) golf club specifications. Subsequently, further fitting to ball travel results can be performed as desired through secondary (ball-travel-affecting but not swing-affecting) golf club specifications, while maintaining the golfer’s swing mechanics through the proper fit of the primary club specifications, in order to get the most out of the golfer’s current swing mechanics and capabilities. Anything less, and more specifically any simpleminded clubfitting process and/or clubfitter that considers fitting in accordance with a golfer’s ball travel results (an indirect and immensely flawed manner of trying to determine actual swing performance success or failure) to be foundationally more important than fitting directly to a golfer’s swing mechanics, is an extremely superficial and inadequate clubfitting process and/or clubfitter. Moreover, anything beyond this foundational clubfitting process comprises golf swing instruction, a totally different and separable field than clubfitting within the game of golf.

Even the best theoretically possible clubfitting for a golfer cannot make the current swing mechanics of the golfer any better than they are in any way, shape, or form, even though this might at times seem possible (mostly through very wishful thinking) to uninformed golfers (and/or clubfitters). But the current swing mechanics of a golfer can certainly be made far worse by an incompetent clubfitting process and/or clubfitter, and unfortunately this type of result is more the rule than the exception based on the way the clubfitting trade currently functions. In the end, there is literally no such thing as a perfectly fit and/or made golf club. Thus, every club that is ever put into the hands of any golfer can only potentially alter the golfer’s current swing mechanics for the worse, and never for the better. So the quest essentially becomes being able to fit and make a golf club(s) for a golfer that degrades his/her current root/core swing mechanics as little as possible. This very rudimentary concept needs to be competently applied and maintained throughout an appropriate clubfitting process, from fitting a club(s) to a golfer’s swing through fitting the club(s) to the golfer’s ball travel results. Otherwise, the results will be, well, just like the laughable results routinely dispensed by the clubfitting trade currently.

As I have stated previously and strongly repeat here, and for the overall good of the game of golf, the commercial clubfitting trade should be categorically avoided unless and until the trade becomes capable of straightening itself out and does so. The exceptionally poor performance and reputation of the trade as a whole (and which in certain respects is still worsening) continues to weigh very heavily on the game of golf overall. There is simply no clubfitting entity that I am aware of that implements anything even close to a process that is worthy of fitting a golf club to any golfer’s swing. And this goes all the way down to the very roots of the trade, where even the entities that attempt to teach clubfitting to potential clubfitters (both organizations and individuals) are universally so poor in what they know and teach it almost appears as if they are intentionally trying to sabotage the future of the game of golf. Continuing to support the trade the way it currently functions (where endless golfers still leave clubfittings swinging and playing worse than when they went in) will just make things worse than they already are for the game.

Make no mistake. Next to learning how to swing decently, clubfitting is the next most important part and a critical facet of the game of golf (much more so than equipment fitting in most other activities). And a universally competent clubfitting trade can not only help the game of golf recover, but it could potentially incite unprecedented growth in the game beyond anything experienced in the past. But unfortunately, this trade is currently so bad in its performance and reputation that it could almost single-handedly make the game of golf extinct unless the trade learns how to capably fit golf clubs to golfers at some point. A broad (even if unconscious) mindset within the clubfitting trade as a whole (and here I include both clubfitters that fit and golfers that are fit) is that there is a structural swing “flaw(s)” assumed to be present in any golfer being fit for a club(s). And based upon this mindset, a “proper” clubfitting constitutes sacrificing and changing the swing mechanics that the golfer learned up to the point of the fitting process in an obsessed effort to obtain certain ball travel results (done basically through ball travel result manipulations and the total ignoring of the golfer’s presumed “faulty” swing mechanics). Partly because of this erroneous and contemptible mindset regarding the swings of golfers, it is no wonder the trade still enjoys such a bad performance record and reputation.

A far more valid, correct, and professional mindset that a truly qualified clubfitting trade and/or individual clubfitting entity would have would be the following. Unmistakably, there are numerous swing development levels that most all golfers go through, and some swings are clearly more developed than others. From a pure clubfitting perspective, no swing at any possible level of development should ever be considered to have any flawed mechanics in nature, noting extremely important distinctions between the expressions of “flawed” and “less developed” swing mechanics. (I do not mean to start encroaching on the swing instruction segment of the golf industry here and how that particular segment functions at this time, but there are definite connections between certain aspects of swing performance and clubfitting that must be at least briefly touched on here).

Therefore, at any level of swing development, a golf club(s) should be fit in accordance with a golfer’s current swing mechanics under a strict rule that the mechanics are flawless. Otherwise it is no longer a dedicated clubfitting process, and that could cause (and has caused) various undesirable issues like a conflict-of-interest type of issue as one example. To illustrate, it is quite normal (and confusing) for golfers to routinely flip-flop between concluding whether their swing or equipment is preventing them more from reaching the next level of playing performance. And time and time again they end up making changes to both simultaneously, which commonly results in even more confusion and backward steps with either or both (rest assured I have been there). Similarly, any clubfitting process that strays away from dedicated clubfitting and to any address and/or swing changes attempted simultaneously, frequently produces results in a rearward direction regarding clubfitting and/or swinging performance. And again, a golfer’s underlying swing mechanics must conscientiously remain unaltered as skillfully as possible in the course of any club adjustment(s) to seek any desired ball travel results, or the clubfitting performance is inapt.

To help attain a more proper education regarding how clubfitting should be competently performed, there are any number of independent articles about various topics within the Waggle Weight Wisdom™ body of work that can be referenced as desired. Two specific series that provide critical knowledge (and more continuity) regarding certain very vital foundational clubfitting subjects begin at http://waggleweight.com/decoding-ones-true-golf-swing-dna-part-one/ and http://waggleweight.com/the-terrible-twos-syndrome-of-golf-club-fitting-part-one/.