Clubfitting 101: A Better Impact (Tape) on the Golf Industry

After the two major and direct ways of fitting golf clubs to golfers, there are a number of instructed, “indirect” concepts whose merits rate from suitable to worthless.  A few may be considered fair supplemental ways to help achieve the two primary goals of golf club fitting, if properly utilized.  But because they are often “roundabout” in nature, they can be very problematic, especially in inexperienced hands.  One such method is in the use of impact tape on clubfaces to help determine the quality of contact between golf club and ball, (although this process could be considered somewhat a part of fitting directly to ball travel).  It is another common (and not totally unreasonable) assumption that the better the club/ball contact made the better the golf swing performance, but in the end this is an assumption of a secondary nature, and one that very often does not hold true as I have previously explained.

More solid (or center) golf club/ball contact is not an indicator of better golf ball travel or consistency of travel after impact, and it is especially not a predictor of how well one is swinging.  There are better ball strikers who, for various reasons, do not golf better and vise versa.  Because it is an indirect fitting method (defined particularly with respect to determining swing performance), it is fairly easy to be fooled into not just inaccurate, but detrimental choices when using clubface impact tape results to ascertain certain golf club specifications.  For instance, shortening a golf club can oftentimes help improve golf ball contact even if another of the club’s parameters becomes more ill fitting in the process.  Thus, when testing for golf club length, there is no reliable association between impact tape results and swing performance.  Another example is when clubs are made heavier, wherein the general experience is often more solid club/ball contact, with at least the possibility of slightly more distance even as swing speed might begin to decrease.  Yet golf swing coordination and stamina can quickly deteriorate under these circumstances.

Then there is the point that as swing repetitions increase with the same club, even while certain adjustments are being made to the club in between swings, better club/ball contact (not to be confused with better swinging) can result by virtue of one getting more used to other of the golf club’s characteristics that are not changed.  Even in playing the devil’s advocate against myself and supposing I am completely wrong on these issues, there are still other considerations that come to mind.  One of the most critical aspects of playing golf well is the achievement of swinging different golf clubs on successive swings (clubs that typically comprise differing total weights, lengths, shaft flexes, and more throughout a set), and swinging them all equally well.  So if you like, you could spend all day using impact tape to fit a single golf club under the premise that it is a superb method to apply.  But if swingweight balancing is used to match your set of golf clubs (the most proven and prevalent club-matching system) and it is unknown whether your golfing motion matches that system’s fulcrum point location accurately, then impact tape testing can be a rather “dubious, empty, and misplaced” procedure.  In granting that the specification sought is perfectly chosen by way of impact tape testing for any given golf club, subsequently you may get an unexpected, unwelcome, and different swing (and club/ball contact) outcome when using a second club from your set, and then a third outcome for a third club, and so on, finding yourself right back at square one for each club.  From this perspective, impact tape testing has a very limited scope of application, and that is for a single golf club only, unless far more important principles are understood and applied first.

Using impact tape in the proper sequence of a qualified clubfitting program may still be helpful.  Waggle Weight Wisdom teaches to never come to the conclusion that the best club/ball contact proves that the best swinging is taking place, thus altering how impact tape testing should best be utilized, if it is really advantageous to use it at all.  Impact tape is a direct and good way of determining where a golf ball is being contacted on the face of a club.  Beyond that, however, be very mindful about how you apply that information within the two main focuses of what you are really aiming to accomplish, especially that of working toward swinging to the best of one’s ability.

For whatever reason(s), the most fundamental approach, that being the best swinging is the main root of the best club/ball contact, and the skill(s) to directly fit golf clubs in that manner, are conspicuously missing from most present clubfitting theories and practices.  Clubfitting tied straight to swinging action is rarely if ever performed in the course of others’ impact tape testing procedures (or their other clubfitting methods for that matter).  At best, a conclusion that ball striking efficiency equals swing efficiency is a roundabout resolution that attempts to decipher how well one is swinging.  At worst, it is just a plain guess as to how well one is swinging.  In either case, the unfortunate result can be golf club specification selections that affect one’s swinging motion for the worse.  Having the ability to directly fit golf clubs to a swing eliminates the need to make such a secondary association between club/ball contact results and swing performance.  Thus, the potential errors described herein cannot occur.  To sum up, the best clubface/ball impact achieved through impact tape testing is voidable if the best swinging is not behind the best impact, clubface/ball impact test results are not an accurate indication of how well (or poor) one is swinging a golf club, and better clubface/ball impacts can indeed be accompanied by poorer swinging and vice versa, such errors the result of trying to predict an indirect, secondary, and often inaccurate relationship between these two elements of golfing.