The Terrible Twos Syndrome of Golf Club Fitting: Part Fifty-Two
Due to these clubfitting factors plus golfers being spread out over a wide range indeed of playing skill and knowledge levels regarding clubfitting, an immense number of golfers genuinely needing clubfitting services at any given time will not need to be fit or refit for the whole shebang of golf club specifications every time they might consider seeking out any such service. In a great number of cases circumstances can dictate that only one or a very small number of specific golf club specifications and specification values should be addressed and it would be quite wise to leave other specifications alone at any given time. This further relates critically important reasoning why skilled clubfitting services should be centrally performed on a time and not package basis. I will repeat again that elements traditionally applied by the fitting industry like the typical “clubfitting interview” and the “set package price for fitting more than 20 different clubfitting variables” (commonly all that is available) are elements principally geared toward beginner golfers (many of which reasonably are not at a juncture where they should even be fit for golf clubs yet anyway). Such protocols make the clubfitting industry look extremely amateurish overall, with a presumptuous odor emanating from this trade that golfers cannot basically live without this industry and learn clubfitting basics on their own essentially just as effectively and with minimal expense (not difficult to do when learning from a properly qualified entity).
Uncounted golfers already “partly” qualified to some degree regarding clubfitting theory and practice might perhaps ponder utilizing this industry’s help for fitting or fine-tuning just certain golf club specifications, but only if enough justification can be found to do so. And with many of the clubfitting industry’s current protocols it is almost as though this industry is purposely trying to repel such players, perhaps a blessing in disguise for such players given the general lack of foundational skill of the clubfitting industry as a whole. Countless such golfers that are even only partially qualified regarding clubfitting, when seeing these and other traditional protocols of the clubfitting trade developed by entities that are nowhere near as qualified as the golf industry overall generally believes and that are actually of little benefit to even beginner golfers, would commonly tend to avoid this industry, and rightly so. So the clubfitting trade, based on many of its current protocols, has little to no appeal to a notable number of golfers that know clubfitting is critical, but golfers that do not exactly come under the heading of Messrs. Gullible Golfer. Such golfers are not as easily swayed by the superficial glitz of launch monitors and the like and first need to see evidence of solid foundational clubfitting skills behind the use of such glitz, which the clubfitting industry as a whole just cannot currently provide.
Today’s typical clubfitting industry providers and/or customers are more along the lines of those who might not even know that clubfitting actually existed before the advent of launch monitors, do not believe that the service can be performed expertly (and feasibly even better) in a very low-tech environment, and/or who really think (very wrongly so) that launch monitor “numbers” factually indicate how good or bad one’s direct golf swing performance actually is and that such numbers should be the basis for golf club fitting to one’s golf swing. All of this contributes to the ongoing reputation of the clubfitting trade as being the worst in all of sports.
This is not to say that all available golf club specifications cannot be gone over for any given golfer if desired and the needed time wants to be spent on the process. But unlike a clubfitting package structured at a set price, when foundationally based on time instead the time needed to fit every available golf club specification to any given golfer can vary enormously based on a multitude of factors from whether the golfer is a beginner or tour-level player and/or what degree of clubfitting precision is desired, to the current level of golfer (and/or clubfitter) clubfitting knowledge and experience, to what test clubs and/or tools are available to work with, and more. Making even vague guesses here regarding the time needed for such an individualized process would be hollow, although an initial communication between parties should help arrive at a reasonable estimation of time (as well as cost, as clubfitter rates can also vary considerably) in advance (this is something entirely different from the clubfitting interview typically used by the clubfitting industry as already discussed).
I emphasize again here that the fundamental “package” business model of the clubfitting trade is extremely poor protocol. It tends to have the fitting of all golf club specifications (specifications that seem to become more numerous daily) condensed into a set or desired time frame, and that is commonly accomplished by utilizing one or more quick, cheap, highly inaccurate, and/or sometimes downright irrelevant methods to fit certain golf club specification values to golfers, even concerning critical club specifications that directly affect one’s swing performance and not just specifications of relatively less importance to playing well. I will further note here that the typical “complete” fitting package protocol used by the clubfitting industry today is not all that complete in that it typically comprises several complete packages for various clubs or club types like one’s driver, irons, putter, and so forth. This results in unnecessary redundancies among these so-called complete packages, can give Mr. Gullible Golfer the impression that there always is and/or should be a remarkable difference in all of one’s club specification values among these different club types, and helps squeeze out a little more profit for the clubfitter. But the fact is that one’s best club specification values (or at least characteristics) are basically one’s best values at any given point in time (especially when the clubfitting is foundationally based on one’s direct golf swing performance and not ball travel results), with regularly no more than minor differences being needed and made between such different club types. There can very easily be no difference whatsoever in one’s best club specification value for one or more golf club specifications among all of these different club types, including one’s putter and even if one chooses a very lightweight golf shaft for one’s driver and standard weight shafts of a completely different style in one’s irons as examples. In fact, this is the way it should ideally work for swing consistency to be achieved among all club types.
This complete fitting package business model is therefore quite contributory to many of the clubfitting industry’s current inept clubfitting practices, which I would currently not recommend utilizing to any golfer on the planet. Such packaged clubfitting cheapens the clubfitting process that is so critically important, making it seem (to Messrs. Gullible Golfer) that the golf club components and/or assembly of those components to determined club specification values are on the whole more important aspects than the clubfitting aspect when it comes to golf clubs that golfers can consistently swing and play well with. But golf clubs that are competently fit will more often help golfers swing and play better even when utilizing extremely low-tech and/or cheap club components as opposed to utilizing the most high-tech and/or expensive club components available and as little as one single golf club specification is incompetently fit. So it is simply not true in the overall scheme of things that the club component design and/or construction aspects are more important than the clubfitting aspect. Yet the clubfitting process routinely continues to be speedily gone through using multiple bungling procedures readily accepted by both Messrs. Gullible Golfer and Messrs. Credulous Clubfitter so that desired golf clubs and/or club components can be bought or sold as soon as possible (routinely resulting of course in no remarkable improvement in golfing performance largely due to the clubfitting process where rather regularly ignorance is bliss).
I reemphasize again here that no clubfitting entity properly bearing the WaggleWeight® and/or Waggle Weight Wisdom™ names would ever fit golf clubs in this kind of manner that demeans the critical importance of clubfitting and exhibits little respect for the golf swing any given golfer has developed up to the point of the clubfitting (by way of fitting through static processes and/or ball travel results often to the complete ignoring of one’s actual direct swing performance [yet still regularly but very wrongfully claimed as club fitting to one’s golf swing]). And I again ask you to remember and support these names as those being responsible for originally developing these improved business practices so badly needed and transforming previous clubfitting theories and practices associated with the current debacle called the golf club fitting industry. Even in the case of any beginner clubfitting package special that might deviate from a foundational time-based clubfitting service and be offered by any such entities, an approach that is radically the opposite of that currently taken by the clubfitting industry (that of basically a one-upmanship loony approach that essentially consumes the clubfitting trade in currently proclaiming fittings of more and more golf club specifications to golfers [as many as 20 and still seemingly rising]), will be implemented.
Any such special program will provide for the thorough and capable fitting of a minimum of the most important golf club specifications so as to not overwhelm such golfers. These golfers will be able to see noticeable betterment in their games in stages of clubfitting in a more understandable and less complicated manner (generally no different from learning how to efficiently make a golf swing [or learning how to do anything efficiently for that matter]). Stupid, inaccurate, and/or illogical static clubfitting methods and devices would not need to be utilized as done when trying to get through the fitting of a larger number of golf club specifications within a desired time period. And superficial and deceiving ball travel information, considered yet properly separated from one’s base swing performance, can easily be put into its rightful place within such a program, providing the same respect that even beginner golfers deserve for their swings as better players generally receive.
While informing that the clubfitting trade is generally geared more toward golfers with less clubfitting experience and implements protocols that generally persuade golfers with more clubfitting experience to avoid this commercialized industry, I will review here that it is generally less advantageous for golfers of lesser playing skill to be fit for golf clubs (although there can be warranted exceptions to this based upon individual circumstances and it can certainly be done effectively at any given point in time if desired). The hot air frequently blown by the clubfitting industry that it is actually more important for such players to be fit for golf clubs is just that, hot air and salesmanship to try to drum up more business. There is no legitimate truth to and there should be no concern to golfers having less playing skill regarding the often-made statement that it is easier to get into “bad golf swing habits” when not getting fit for clubs early on in the course of learning how to play golf. This is pure rhetoric and a much more truthful statement would be that any specific attribute(s) of one’s golf swing (presuming a golf club[s] fits one’s current swing poorly) might further develop somewhat “differently” than it otherwise might through the use of such a club(s). But this does not mean develop “worse” by any stretch of the imagination (any such experience[s] may ultimately prove better for one’s total golfing development) and/or does not mean it cannot be further developed (or changed if preferred) through a further clubfitting(s) if one desires. With such a good chance of getting an incompetent clubfitter as the industry stands today, and with inexperienced golfers generally knowing little about even basic clubfitting and commonly being completely unaware of whether a clubfitter is qualified or clueless, getting fit for clubs too early is a risk that might take the games of inexperienced golfers more backward than forward overall in playing progress.
Two base review items to reinforce this are first that one’s root golf swing should always, without exception, be established by one swinging with no club at all within one’s hands, the only circumstance in which all imperfectly fit and/or made golf clubs (there is just no such thing as a perfectly fit and/or made golf club) can be extracted from the complete golfing equation so one’s true base swing can be exposed and worked with. This “limb-only” condition is commonly practiced in all kinds of activities hardly limited to golf and other sporting activities, where one might notice a baseball pitcher practicing his pitching motion or a basketball player practicing his shooting motion without any ball present as examples. And these are circumstances where the exact same ball is utilized and thrown during play of the respective games, yet it can still be beneficial to apply such limb-only exercises. Well in golf, where any of 14 different individual clubs might have to be used for one’s next swing, with each individual club having at least slightly different nuances and each of which could notably influence one’s base golf swing performance differently, it becomes not merely beneficial but fundamentally mandatory (or at least 14 times more important than in these other games) to accomplish and know one’s true base golf swing under such limb-only conditions for highly critical reference purposes in both the further development of that swing and clubfitting to that swing.
Whether commonly known and understood through the years or not, this concept is the whole and very logical reason behind the traditional formation of a very unique structure of forming a golf grip in which one’s hands are partially overlapped or interlocked. This structure allows extremely efficient limb-only reference swings to be performed by one. This gripping structure was certainly not devised because a golf swing itself is “difficult,” because as I have repeatedly stated athletically speaking a golf swing is about as easy as it gets. The primary reason for such a gripping structure can be traced to the extremely critical aspect of fitting golf clubs well to one in order for one to play one’s best. Two unique elements of golfing of the traditional gripping structure taken on golf clubs and the regular occurrence of switching between individual clubs on successive swings are directly connected with each other and so powerfully intertwined within the clubfitting process that the relationship actually critically influences base golf swing development. My previous sequence titled Decoding One’s True Golf Swing DNA can be referenced if desired for more information regarding this, plus recently updated US Patent Application Number 13/654,440 (I confess I do not know when it will be published by the USPTO) has updated information in it as well for purposes of better golf swing development and clubfitting efficiency.
Based upon this, if one’s golf grip and swing structures are developed and practiced in a limb-only manner (as they fundamentally always should be to achieve one’s best overall golfing development according to that brought to light within Waggle Weight Wisdom™), then playing with poorly fit and/or made golf clubs even for an extended period should ideally not affect one’s swing development to the point where one’s swing develops in a markedly different manner than if one had perfectly fitting and made golf clubs all along. However, and secondly, even if the prescribed swing development process is not applied and one’s golf swing does develop drastically differently due to an extended use of a golf club(s) that is poorly fit and/or made for one (and remember well that differently does not mean worse), know that there is no golf swing of any style or at any stage of development that cannot be fit expertly by a clubfitter that is truly qualified and understands clubfitting principles correctly.
No high-tech glitz is needed, predominantly comprised of devices for supplemental fine-tuning purposes, not intended to replace and being quite useless anyhow without knowing and being able to perform fundamental low-tech or grass-roots clubfitting correctly first. In fact, no clubfitter can be associated with either of the noted trademarked names unless and until sound clubfitting comprehension and skill is proven under the most primitive of conditions first. His/her launch monitor and other high-tech “toys” would in essence be taken away like from a little kid, allowing their use again only after admissible clubfitting competence is displayed without the use of such devices. This would help prevent the use of such devices to literally take the games of so many golfers backward rather than forward through clubfitting. That is often the case when so many clubfitters completely incompetent at knowing and applying even rudimentary clubfitting theory and practice correctly first are permitted to use such devices. Again such devices are mostly meant to serve as supplements for fine-tuning certain golf club specification values that should be basically known already, they are commonly overrated and can only be of some added benefit when utilized by competent clubfitters to begin, and they are not meant to and cannot function as replacements that can overcome inept clubfitters and/or underlying clubfitting theories and practices.
As I have implicated previously, one will oftentimes instinctively become aware of when the appropriate time is to get fit for golf clubs. There is no need to really force the issue and doing so could result in one’s golfing progress going backward instead of forward for the reasons explained. Still, even “natural” instincts can be affected by what one further learns, thus I add the following supplementary information also. Another very common problem within the golf industry has been the consistent failure to define certain words or expressions much more explicitly when applicable so they can actually be put to use in a more meaningful manner. Certain terms are consistently used within the industry in such broad manners that nobody understands what is meant, and many people in the industry would like to keep it this way, for as I have recorded these terms are convenient “excuse” terms to use when one cannot satisfactorily explain something. Certain of these terms I have already defined better with others yet to come, but here I will relatedly address the expression often stated that golfers should not be fit for clubs until their swings become more “consistent” (a rather irrelevant statement to begin with even on a broad level since the industry fundamentally fits golf clubs based on one’s ball travel result and/or clubhead path as examples, neither of which comprises any data directly related to one’s base golf swing performance data).
But at any rate, when getting a little further into the details, there are many different kinds of consistencies. Defining the exact type being referred to must be achieved far better or the information is totally worthless to a golfer having less experience, and the statement above raises a grave concern as to whether the one spouting such a statement even has a legitimate clue as to what he/she is really referring to. To illustrate, when taking the golf clubs out of the hands of a beginner golfer and a tour professional and having them each make ten consecutive golf swings, there would generally be little remarkable difference in the swing consistency of each golfer, just one motion that is basically more developed than the other. But this is a “short-term consistency under conditions where no ill-fitting golf clubs are assured for both golfers” and needs to be defined as such or even in more detail than I did here. A golfer that is a complete beginner can essentially be fit as easily and/or well for a club if wanted as a tour-level golfer under such circumstances. On the other hand, if each player were given an ill-fitting golf club ideally off a corresponding degree for each and both made another ten swings, then the type of consistency analysis would have to be explicitly redefined. And under this condition it is not unreasonable to believe that the beginner would generally (though perhaps not always) be less consistent at overcoming his/her ill-fitting club while swinging than the tour-level golfer would be.
And then there is the longer term to contemplate. Even under the condition of limb-only swinging where the equivalent of perfectly fitting and made golf clubs are always had and the swings of all golfers will be at their most consistent (the only condition in which these particulars will foundationally always hold true), yet combining this condition with the element of longer elapsed times between swinging, inconsistencies can still happen. For instance, six months from today, another ten swings made by the tour-level player, as one whose swing can be assumed more fully developed, would be basically the same as ten swings made today. But for the beginner golfer whose swing will generally take time to develop in various ways, while ten consecutive golf swings made six months from now would be adequately consistent with each other, those swings would probably be more different than ten swings made today relative to ten swings made six months apart by the tour-level golfer (assuming some practicing was done in the interim by the beginner).
This can also be considered a tangible “inconsistency.” But it is an inconsistency of a totally different nature than that described above and which needs to be very discretely defined in detailed terms in order to be of some usable value for golfers of lesser skill to aid in determining when they might choose to get fit for golf clubs if the determination is based in whole or in part by golfer swing “consistency.” Now I used a beginner golfer in my example here, but this issue in golf is certainly not limited to beginners. So-called professional clubfitters and others often exchange very broad and useless language with each other to the extent where, as noted above, nobody truly knows what is being uttered. An excellent example of this is the well-worn statement that the inventor of the original swingweight scale chose the fourteen-inch fulcrum location of the scale in an “arbitrary” manner, a convenient vague term regularly used and suggesting by those who are totally clueless about exactly what this basal dimension defines that any further investigation into the matter would and should be futile (just because they could not figure it out).
There is yet another current factor worthy of review and relevant to comparing packaged clubfitting at a set price (that encourages multiple improper protocols) versus time-based clubfitting, though this specific factor will diminish more over time compared with other factors discussed. This is that unlike a golf swing itself that has many precedents to learn from for accurately ascertaining true golf swing difficulty and technicalities, the fitting of golf clubs, by virtue of the fact that different individual clubs are routinely utilized within successive swings, has few if any precedents from which to draw knowledge of the trade. Resultantly, to this day there are extremely basic clubfitting concepts still not understood well or at all even within the very industry trying to apply them. It is hard to objectively determine whether this lack of precedents alone is the main cause of such continuing poor comprehensions of certain rudimental golf club fitting theories and practices and whether a similar circumstance would likely exist for a comparable period in any activity having no apparent precedents from which to learn, or whether the general golfing population, commonly less experienced regarding just general athletic performance and equipment fitting even without the additional element(s) brought by golf club fitting, is contributory to this circumstance and if so by how much. (It is pretty clear, however, independent of the fact that it has had no precedents from which to learn, that some of the behavior of the clubfitting trade has been inexcusable). Regardless, these poor understandings continue to persist on a very widespread basis and they are what they are at the present time. But as noted above, this specific influence will diminish with time as proper clubfitting theory and practice is eventually learned better throughout the golf industry. Notwithstanding this, other factors recorded may still be influential to some degree.
All told, it is equally or even more absurd to think a golfer, especially an inexperienced golfer (but can also apply to a very experienced golfer, just generally to a lesser degree), can in principle go into and come out of essentially a single-session clubfitting structure in a matter of hours having fully achieved every crucial clubfitting element in depth and with the level of confidence needed than it is to believe a golfer, particularly a beginner having never swung a golf club before (but can similarly apply to a professional golfer going through a swing change), can in principle go into a sole-session swing instruction structure and in mere hours come out with the desired golf swing accomplished and the necessary confidence in that swing. The only people believing in such things are those apparently having insufficient experience regarding performance and equipment fitting priorities, processes, and/or efforts to know success in activities where equipment fitting is crucial (even for all activities just in general first before becoming more golf specific). And unfortunately the golf industry seems loaded from top to bottom with such people, from golfers to swing instructors to clubfitters and so-called clubfitting educators to golf journalists to golf company executives and more. Clubfitting that one develops deep and lasting confidence in, just as critical as having the same kind of confidence in one’s golf swing, usually takes place over a much longer time period, similar to working on one’s swing development over untold sessions and reevaluating one’s progress and/or direction on a fairly routine basis, even after swing development might be thought complete.