The Terrible Twos Syndrome of Golf Club Fitting: Part Two
The specific testing about to be described will deal with determining any given golfer’s best golf grip size for any given golf club. Because the grip comprises the only direct physical contact between a golfer and a golf club, the specification of grip size is one of the most important parameters to get right in the pursuit of one’s best performance (in any activity [not just golf] where equipment is used in performing and grip sizing of the equipment is a specification allowed to be varied by performers). Actually, while the term “grip size” is the common name given to this golf club specification, you will learn through this testing approach that the weight of any given golf grip model can have a critical impact on the grip size (diameter) that is chosen, and other grip elements such as its surface texture can also be factors in exactly what grip (model or part number) is selected. But I see no real urgency at this time to change the name of the specification from “grip size” to perhaps something like “grip model/part number” in an effort to help make this club specification more understandable.
In addition to learning about the fitting of golf grip size, you might also learn some things about the functioning of a golf swing that you thought you previously knew correctly but maybe did not. After all, the understanding of fitting one’s golf grip size as it specifically relates to one’s swing performance is the express goal of this testing procedure(s) to begin with. The results of this specific testing (or alternately the lack of this specific testing and its results as normal procedure within the golf club fitting trade) will prove how regularly inept this trade is at correctly fitting grip sizes to golfers, will positively show one of the major reasons why the clubfitting industry is the worst in all of sports, and will provide some of strongest evidence that tends to show golfers (and clubfitters) are hardly athletes. I shall begin by making the following foundational and vitally important statement. The fitting for any given golfer’s best golf grip size cannot be done with expected effectiveness unless at least two golf clubs having identical shaft models to that which is intended to be used by the golfer (along with other club specifications that are also set identically) and having different grip sizes on them are reciprocally put to use while analyzing the golfer’s performance.
As I progress through this testing keep the following underlying issue(s) in mind. One broad perspective of the clubfitting trade today can rightly be that it is the application of very modern clubfitting technology such as launch monitors, interchangeable shafts and heads, and so on, which is far more advanced than the clubfitting knowledge of the fitters using it. And in the end, the overall effectiveness of any clubfitting program is generally only as good as its weakest link, which is most often the clubfitter and not the supporting technology. (A good subtitle for this entry might be The Weakest Links of the Clubfitting Trade: Clubfitters). One of the goals of Waggle Weight Wisdom™ and a primary factor in what subjects are chosen and how to approach them is to (hopefully and eventually) turn these weakest links, inclusive of clubfitting instructors (and golfers working to fit themselves [a highly desirable skill that if learned well can give a golfer an enormous advantage over his/her competitor(s)]), into the strongest links. Based on the past (and still current by all indications) teachings of clubfitting entities as a whole, fitters that are accredited by or members of any such entities can actually be the worst of the weakest clubfitting links due to both the teachings and the requirements to obtain accreditation.
In order to establish some critically important concepts and practices regarding grip size fitting, I will actually employ three identical shafts in this test(s) rather than the bare minimum of two that is defined above for testing. I will use fairly standard Dynamic Gold S300 steel golf shafts for irons. This shaft model is made by True Temper Sports. If not familiar with this particular model, simply consider it to be essentially the original steel golf shaft that was dominantly used for golf clubs for about fifty years after steel eventually overtook the use of wooden golf shafts. A golf history authority I am not, and based on several online sources I referenced I cannot tell if True Temper (or its father company) actually invented the first usable steel golf shaft(s) or if that was first achieved by a different entity and True Temper then refined and/or popularized the shaft(s).
I will use the taper-tip version of the shaft in a 5-iron length, which for decades was the 37-inch (uncut) length. But today these shafts are made longer, and I honestly do not know which raw shaft length is currently standardized for a 5-iron (this can be changed anyhow for custom clubfitting). In the case of this taper-tip model, in addition to having a shaft tip that tapers and increases in diameter from the shaft tip upward (parallel-tip versions [sometimes called “unitized” shafts] have constant tip diameters), this taper-tip model has a constant-weight feature (uncut) while being available in different discreet lengths (not every taper-tip shaft model employs this constant-weight design). Taper-tip shafts in the Dynamic model(s) used to be available for woods as well, and in fact I still have them in some of my woods, but I do not believe they are available anymore, at least not through standard channels. Differently, unitized shaft models (always a parallel-tip design as far as I know) only come in one length for irons (and often one for woods), and each shaft is cut progressively more (therefore also progressively reducing each shaft’s weight) for progressively shorter clubs in a typical set of decreasing-length golf clubs.
There are those who believe that better golfing performance will be achieved using discreet-length, constant-weight shafts throughout a set of golf clubs. However, the general word “performance” can be more distinctly defined in a multitude of different ways and on many different levels, so it might take an entire book to analyze constant-weight versus unitized shafts for all relevant golf performance aspects that could be identified. Now I will be talking more about other golf shaft and shaft fitting aspects later on, but there are important relationships between golf shaft design and grip sizing that must be understood, thus I believe this background information is warranted here to help best set up and understand the grip testing that follows.