Club Fitting Today: A Veritable Laughingstock

As recorded last time, the concept of “dynamic” golf club fitting and the golf club specification of swingweight, presently badly misused in golf club fitting, are just two of several applications that are poorly executed when attempting to fit golf clubs to players.  Consider the club specification of face angle for example, a parameter traditionally applied only to woods, but any golf club can be affected by this spec if its clubhead has certain design characteristics.  (Face angle is a different specification and concept from the loft of a golf club/clubhead, and if not familiar with it there are multiple other sources from which one can learn about its basics).  Clubfitters predominantly fit face angles based on golf club/ball impact data during one’s golf swing as obtained through launch monitor analysis and/or subsequent golf ball flight determination.  Face angle is most often specifically utilized to try and straighten out or otherwise intentionally alter one’s ball flight.  This “system” has been pretty standard fare forever.  The fact is, however, that the fundamental principles of face angle go much deeper than its superficial fitting by ball flight or the clubface angle surrounding ball contact.  Face angle goes right to the very heart of how a golfer makes a swing and can be a determining factor in how well a player is just able to make contact with a golf ball, let alone which way it flies assuming good contact is made.  It is a golf club parameter that is as misinterpreted as swingweight.  Consequently, face angle is regularly mishandled and abused, all too often fit to golfers in such a way as to more negatively affect their overall playing success.

One big reason that specifications like swingweight and face angle are still so poorly understood is because of the dominating premise that golf clubs be fit based on “ball flight, ball flight, and ball flight.”  Occasionally, a reference will be made to the “feel” of a golf club in the course of a club fitting process, yet a definition and a description of what that word means or is supposed to mean in terms of the fitting of golf clubs is badly lacking and moreover never attempted.  This leaves ten different golfers (or clubfitters) with ten different impressions (or guesses) of what that term implies and how to possibly apply it to fitting clubs.  The truth is that fitting by “ball flight,” while it is one way of fitting golf clubs to players, is a method that lies only at one extreme end of club fitting prospects.  There is also a totally diametric end of the realm of fitting golf clubs, one that in other respects is far superior to fitting by “ball flight.”  This other “end” of the golf club fitting domain and process is rooted with different goals, priorities, and solutions.  The almost exclusive focusing on ball flight as the preferred method of fitting clubs to golfers is precisely the reason why specifications like swingweight and face angle have never been comprehended the way they should be.

Or perhaps you would rather I talk about the fitting of grip size, oh the poor fitting of grip size.  Your very “dynamic” fitting process almost always takes one of the most important golf club parameters that exists and fits it utilizing a totally static process, by examining where certain fingers of your top-hand grip are in relation to the palm of that hand when simplistically staying still and wrapping your hand(s) around a grip.  (Other methods are often substituted, all with the express purpose of gauging one’s hand size).  I searched and searched for the least offensive and most respectful word to use in the next statement, but I just could not find one.  This predominating method for fitting golf grip size to players is nothing short of pathetic.  This one action by itself, putting aside everything else already mentioned, virtually guarantees that just as many golfers will come away from a custom clubfitting session playing worse than they would with off-the-rack clubs.  So much for a “dynamic” fitting done by those who actually think they invented and/or adequately understand this concept and are using it on you.

I will assume that you believe your typical clubfitter knows what he is doing.  So when you do not see the expected and professed level of improvement in your game after going through the clubfitting process I portrayed, perhaps you will be more convinced than ever about how difficult a golf swing is and how insufficient yours may be when the clubfitter says so.  Maybe a “typical” golf swing instructor or swing aid might be recommended for you to pursue.  This integrated “loop” just stagnates while errors are contained within it.

The best launch monitors, shaft analyzers, and a multitude of other tools using the very latest in computer technology, supply limited or even no help at all while such “human-brain-dictated” practices, the most critical seeds, remain at the nucleus of how to fit golf clubs.  The procedures I related are currently rampant within the golf clubfitting industry, and there is much more.