Progressing from Unclean to Clean Hands for the Clubfitting Trade to Survive: Part Two

The process that began to be described in Part One that is related to direct (not indirect, which can be very deceiving and inaccurate) swing performance might seem to at least partially negate any advantage(s) of lighter weight shafts. This could be true depending upon any number of various elements that come into play, and in the end it is simply not reasonable to expect that one will be able to swing any better and stronger than one is capable of even when using a lighter weight shaft. But shafts that are lighter in weight could nevertheless still be advantageous (provided that a club[s] overall is fit to the actual swing capability of a golfer in accordance with valid clubfitting principles).

It is both funny and sad at the same time to see so many players, especially (but hardly limited to) less experienced players, crudely working to find different component grip sizes or making some other adjustment(s) when gripping their driver/woods and irons to try and get them to all end up with the same outside diameter of grip size. It is especially telling about the clubfitting knowledge and experience (or lack thereof) of anybody who does this when combining light weight driver shafts with standard weight iron shafts as one example. A consistent outside finished grip diameter among all of your golf clubs is NOT a valid clubfitting procedure to automatically pursue if your ultimate goal is to be able to swing consistently well among all of your various clubs.

Consider for a moment an analysis by somewhat simplistic ball travel results, and consider the golf club attributes of weight and grip size as they pertain to clubfitting. Now there are uncounted various elements involved that on the whole could produce different results than the following under any given circumstances. But very generally speaking, and when considered separately, most people are roughly aware that (with all else being equal) either a club weight being too heavy (this can apply to swingweight and/or total weight values) or a grip size being too large for a golfer can broadly have a tendency to produce ball travel results more to the right than desired for a (right-handed) golfer. This has been one longstanding and quite sound finding (hardly applying only to the game of golf) that remains widely valid to date. It vaguely results from a golfer not being able to rotate or turn the clubhead and/or golf club as a whole as well as desired toward the event of club/ball contact due to the noted club attributes. And this in turn commonly results in the clubface being left more open and/or the club as a whole being swung more outward than desired to some degree at the event of club/ball impact.

So it stands to reason that as the weight of a club becomes heavier, the grip size of the club needs to become smaller in order for ball travel results to be brought more in line with what is typically desired. This is pretty first-grade-level clubfitting stuff, yet still does not seem to be decently understood by many so-called or self-proclaimed clubfitting “experts.” And beyond this, what is also currently not well understood by the clubfitting industry as a whole is that causes and effects that can be analyzed by simpler (but less accurate) ball travel result observations can also be analyzed (and thus addressed) by fitting a golf club directly to the pure swing performance and mechanics of a golfer with no regard whatsoever to ball travel results. This is predominantly because the trade does not even know how to fit a golf club to the actual swing mechanics of a golfer to begin with. (Ball travel result clubfitting is addressed in a separate subsequent step[s]).

While it is still quite possible to be deceived and fooled into faulty clubfitting decisions under various circumstances when fitting according to golfer swing performance directly, overall and for valid reasons it is considerably less likely than when trying to clubfit to golfer “swing” performance by way of indirect ball travel results. This is why “literally” fitting a golf club to a golfer’s swinging ability and mechanics (if capable of doing so) is foundationally a superior method of clubfitting. As I have perhaps described previously, anyone having the proper knowledge regarding the relevant golf swing and clubfitting performance principles can easily manipulate a club(s) of any golfer to help him or her obtain better ball travel results and yet at the same time get the golfer to swing notably worse than he or she is capable of, and vise versa. (An element like where clubface/ball contact occurs, which many entities seem to associate [very indirectly] with how well or poorly a golfer is swinging, is an element of ball travel results and as per the above is not a legitimate indictor of how well or poorly a golfer is actually swinging).

Again, this is very elementary clubfitting knowledge. But the ignorant, one-dimensional approach of the commercial clubfitting industry (still relatively young and inexperienced) of ball travel (commonly indicated as launch monitor) results basically equating to swing performance is about as lame as a trade can get, with a very poor performance record and reputation to bear this out. Some clubfitting entities throw out the extremely generalized term of golfer “feel,” where to such entities getting any kind of golfer feedback (routinely very poorly defined or totally undefined) essentially comprises fitting a club to a golfer’s swing. This is merely one of countless examples describing how the clubfitting industry is currently about as feeble as it can possibly get. The terribly schooled trade continues to blindly follow horribly flawed clubfitting theories and practices of the past, many of which were originally developed by clubfitting “hobbyists” or “marketers” (commonly to try to help sell related products of theirs). And unfortunately, they were in fact quite underqualified at knowing the relevant golf swing and clubfitting principles properly.

But with the commercial clubfitting industry (this title can apply to anybody publicly involved with clubfitting products and services, including education, from the largest of organizations to the smallest of independent entities) still being so immature, and golfers being such a foolish group as a whole that seem to believe just about anything for various reasons, there would appear to be no quick end to the disgrace known as the clubfitting trade. Being involved in this particular industry currently makes many otherwise good people look like idiots within their chosen occupations. There are actually a considerable number of people these days stating their belief that the commercial clubfitting industry figuratively never even existed and/or never really became competent until the advent of launch monitors. But the opposite is closer to the actual truth, with the clubfitting trade regressing to an all time low with respect to foundational fitting knowledge and expertise, performance, and reputation since launch monitor usage has basically become the norm.

One big claim to fame that can be attributed to more widespread launch monitor use in recent times is that rather than helping the commercial clubfitting industry become better as a whole, it instead appears to have helped launch the destruction of the trade that might ultimately occur (based upon the direction[s] the trade has gone in since the extensive use of such monitors has become more prevalent). The blame for this does not really lie with launch monitors themselves (as their advanced technologies can certainly be put to good use when in the right hands), but rather with the humans behind the use of such devices (including device designers) that lack the proper knowledge regarding how to correctly fit a golf club to a golfer even on an extremely rudimental level. This situation has already badly deteriorated the commercial clubfitting industry in recent times and will continue to deprecate the trade unless and until the humans behind the use of such (fundamentally unneeded) “toys” are actually taught and learn how to fit golf clubs to golfers properly.

One item to firmly learn here is that golfer swing data as obtained directly from swing performance, and launch monitor data (frequently referred to as “numbers”), are two distinctly different types of data and pursuits (additionally explained further below). Launch monitor data might of course include ball travel results, but it might also (or instead) include as examples a position and/or direction of travel of a clubface at one or more determined points of a swing and/or where club/ball contact occurs on a clubface. It really does not matter how accurate this type of data is, as it is still a totally different type of data (club data) that has rather limited use overall and has nothing whatsoever to do with actual golfer swing data.

In addressing a more specific element here to soundly support the above, another glaring blind spot of apparent unawareness, which is largely right in font of the noses of so-called professional clubfitters (especially those who have been around the game and clubfitting for a little while), is the general increase in the size of golf grips that are being sold and used that has paralleled technological reductions in shaft weights. Yet despite this proven, correlation, and instead of the clubfitting industry fitting golf grip sizes (one of the most critical golf club specifications there is) based on the actual swing performance of golfers, the trade simply continues its ways of folly. The industry still prominently hands over “fitted” grip sizes based on static hand measurement sizes or irresponsibly allows golfers to choose their own grip sizes based upon “comfort” (however that might be defined) as couple of dominant procedures.

As conspicuous as the relationship is between grip size and shaft weight as it pertains to golf swing performance, the ongoing ineptitude of the commercial clubfitting industry as a whole is even more conspicuous, with the poor performance history and reputation of the trade not the least bit surprising to anyone that has a competent comprehension of the relevant golf swing and clubfitting principles. I just feel so bad for poor golfers trying to get better as I conclude this specific entry, sensing that maybe a few more might actually consider abandoning the game after assimilating this particular information. But I will conclude this particular topic with my next entry of Part Three, and it might help provide a new dawn for some regarding the clubfitting industry.