Progressing from Unclean to Clean Hands for the Clubfitting Trade to Survive: Part One
An individual with the member name of bjp1 on the Worrisome Reasonless Xenogolf website forum posts that he has been fitted over the years by many “credible” establishments as he currently perceives them. Yet after a time playing with each of the suggested golf club specifications by the various fittings, he begins to struggle with tempo and swing speed issues. He broadly inquires whether or not the shaft weight could be responsible for what he is experiencing, inquiring about both swinging and ball travel result attributes (two distinctly different considerations) within his posting. The swing performance attribute can at least be addressed for bjp1 as follows.
First, as it stands at this particular point in golf history, the clubfitting industry as a general whole is anything but the advanced and proficient technological trade that many believe it is. The commercialized clubfitting trade is actually still so much in its infancy regarding being properly educated about certain even extremely basic golf swing and clubfitting theories and practices that the trade is figuratively still in diapers. An element like glitzy launch monitor use has (temporarily) helped to cover up this true fact, even for more experienced individuals and/or organizations that should (but seemingly do not) know better. But eventually the current ineptness of the clubfitting trade will become much more publicly known and understood by everybody.
In light of this, your commenting that “Cool Club, Club Champion, local top fitters” that you have apparently all been to comprise “credible” clubfitting establishments is anything but the truth and a very uniformed statement. Universally, the trade claims to be able to fit golf clubs to the swings of golfers. But it is wholly incompetent at doing so, basically just fitting clubs according to ball travel result numbers spit out by a launch monitor and claiming that the process is comparable or equivalent to fitting clubs to the actual swings of golfers. This is an extremely inaccurate claim by a very ignorant industry. And yet the trade somehow still cannot understand how it continues to have a longstanding very poor reputation, regularly sending golfers away from the process swinging and playing worse than when they began, even if ball travel results might (commonly temporarily) be a little better.
Based on the above, establishments in the game of golf as a cumulative whole that practice and/or teach clubfitting, including but hardly limited to those you listed, in essence actually practice and/or teach the “Swing Degenerative Method of Clubfitting.” This method categorically sacrifices the achieved swing development of golfers at the expense of blindly pursuing some golf ball travel result(s). And because this description is so very accurate in nature (and will remain so unless and until the clubfitting industry is able to straighten out its current debacle), it might enlighten better regarding how and why the clubfitting industry has markedly contributed to declines in the popularity and reputation of the game.
Furthermore, disastrous deficiencies in the theories and practices currently implemented by the clubfitting industry comprise essentially first-grade-level knowledge (it is hardly genius-type material that is difficult to uncover and/or comprehend). So it is not hard to speculate that there might be uncounted others within the golf industry that already know and understand at least some of the information in question but have “unclean hands” so to speak. By this I mean that they may have sufficient fundamental knowledge of the relevant material(s) to really make a positive impact on the future of the game of golf. But they choose to not disclose and/or implement the information due perhaps to try to avoid embarrassment of how wrong they previously were, prevent at least a temporary regression in their financial and/or business situations, and/or otherwise try to suit their particular agendas. (There still appears to be a greater number of self-interested people involved with the game of golf on the whole than in many other activities).
If the game of golf is to survive and grow, even as some derivative of what it comprises today (and this is somewhat questionable based on the poor performance of the industry as a whole in recent times and those responsible for it), one aspect of the game requiring a complete overhaul for sure is the commercial clubfitting industry. Right now the trade overall is about as bad as it can possibly get in terms of clubfitting technical procedures, expertise, success, and reputation, notwithstanding the common availability and use of advanced launch monitor devices in the course of fitting.
While there would still be room for “artistic” differences between brands of clubfitting, a technically and foundationally competent process of fitting golf clubs to golfers must be comprehended and universally carried out by the clubfitting trade as a whole. Compare this with the different (and sometimes feuding) clubfitting factions scattered about today (all of which commonly share certain technically inept foundational clubfitting concepts despite varying in other style elements). Fortunately, such a competent method is already basically available (described a little below). It is not as if the clubfitting industry really has any choice. The industry will ultimately have to implement the method because it is so correct compared with the essentially backward technical procedures currently utilized or the commercial clubfitting trade will essentially die. (Actually, it largely has already due to that described above). But such change will feasibly be slower in coming as long as Messrs. Gullible Golfer supports the clubfitting industry as it currently functions and fails.
(It is noted here that there are presumably well-meaning clubfitters and/or organizations having some connection to clubfitting that are of high integrity [somewhere]. And they might but cannot make needed corrections and improvements in the procedures they use and/or recommend because they are simply unaware of the material[s]. They are largely limited in knowledge to materials presented by their predecessors, predecessors that have commonly been unqualified at knowing and teaching about golf swing and/or clubfitting theories and practices properly. Helping such entities to become aware of any discovered information that most anybody could tell is more correct and advanced would hopefully help to bring a badly needed transformation to the clubfitting industry a little sooner).
With that said, you would help yourself by firmly and correctly learning a clubfitting basic or two here and now. The importance of shaft weight within a process of competent clubfitting is, for one thing, very strongly tied to how skilled you (and/or your clubfitter) are at fitting for your best golf grip size. To illustrate, regardless of how your grip size is to be fit (that is by hand size, ball travel results, comfort, or some other preference), and if the perception is that the chosen grip size should fundamentally remain the same on all of your clubs, then I would agree that the shaft weight chosen for you for any given club(s) can be an important factor.
If, however, you (and/or your clubfitter) are experienced and knowledgeable enough to know that longer and/or lighter shafts/clubs will require larger grip sizes in order for you to consistently perform your best possible swinging, and if the proper grip size for your swing is chosen for any given club, then shaft weight becomes essentially irrelevant. Bear in mind that I am referring here to the pure golf swing capability and performance of any golfer, at any level of play, and without regard to any ball travel characteristics (which can be extremely deceiving relative to how well you are actually swinging). Again, these are two distinctly different elements that need to be addressed separately.
This is hardly unique new information. Going back in time a bit to before graphite and other shaft materials came into being, and to a span where basically only one (steel) shaft was available for golfers for roughly fifty years, shafts for woods were commonly produced with larger butt sizes. This was not done to make it inconvenient for golfers and get them to scramble to find different grip sizes to put on the woods and irons or perform some other grip-sizing adjustments(s) between the clubs when installing grips. It was done because it was learned even back then that in order for golfers to make their best swings with both the woods and irons, the grip size needed to be a little bigger on the woods. So with that particular design attribute applied to the shafts, golfers could more conveniently just install the same grip on the woods and irons and swing equally well with both.
And the same principles basically apply to lighter shafts also, even for finished club lengths that are identical. As technology continues to advance and lighter and lighter shafts are produced (with no real reason to believe that this will end anytime soon), it might be noticed that broadly speaking shaft butts also become larger and larger. (This is not always true, however, and can vary substantially among shaft manufacturers and/or models for various reasons). And this is generally the way it really needs to be if you (theoretically) have hopes of using the same component grip model/size on all of your clubs and hope to be able to swing all of them equally well when switching among them. Even more enlightening information will be presented in Part Two.