Clubfitting 101: A Combination for Confusion

I ended my previous post by stating how certain golf ball flights regularly associated with certain swing traits, while oftentimes reliable, are associations that result in far too many inconsistencies and/or errors on too many occasions to justifiably depend on them toward effective clubfitting.  One example comprises knowing when I release the clubhead a little too early (rotate my hands/wrists during the downswing earlier than planned relative to my best swing), frequently resulting in a pulled and/or hooked ball flight to the left.  This is not an uncommon correlation for me (and many others), under certain conditions.  However, there are a multitude of circumstances that can render this common association totally useless, including many extraneous conditions that have nothing at all to do with golf swing performance.  Citing just a couple of virtually unlimited instances, I might happen to be fudging the ball a little bit further back in my stance for a particular shot to make extra sure I do not hook the ball out of bounds to the left, or the golf ball might have some debris on it.  Under each of these circumstances, I may find myself walking down the left side of the golf course after making an “early release” swing and losing sight of the ball, only to eventually find my golf ball on the right side.  It would not be considered rare to observe golf ball travel consistently to the left at a driving range, then without making any conscious changes hit the golf ball predominantly to the right when actually getting on the course.  The potential reasons for such happenings could probably fill up a book by itself.  Thus, attempting to presume swinging characteristics by way of golf ball travel, or vise versa, are rather unreliable and inefficient schemes under which to attempt golf club fitting.  (And as you will see, such associations are just as ineffective, perhaps even more so, in the course of learning a golf swing).

The simple explanation for why this compound clubfitting strategy is so inefficient so often is that there are just too many possible variables at work emanating from different sources when attempting to combine all of these elements into a single unit of analysis.  To begin with, the two different actions of golf ball travel and swing performance each have their own set of variables, variables that must be independently addressed to achieve the most successful clubfitting.  Considering them as one might be more “convenient,” but it is also a first step toward avoiding certain tasks and introducing variables coming from two different sources at the same time.  (Most people have trouble understanding either one these actions as stand-alone entities let alone both of them working together).  To this initial “mix” is then added a third element, a group of associations that endeavors to accurately connect the first two.  Looking at these “connectors” independently from the other two elements reveals that they are hardly entrenched in mathematical-type scientific precision, adding yet more variables from a third source.

“Swinging too fast” is an example, with one general ball travel result associated with this action of “pulling the ball to the left.”  But consider a golfer with an upright swing and strong leg drive and a golfer with a flatter swing and a much stronger and more dominant upper body.  Determinations of what degree of ball travel to the left for each player, or even for the same player depending upon “how much too fast,” are highly variable and scientifically very unreliable.  It is not even an absolute truth that any given “swinging too fast” will result in golf ball travel going to the left.  So when combining these three elements that all have their own innate variabilities, a person may become confused and might never find correct solutions to what is trying to be achieved.  But disconnecting ball travel and swing performance properties allows working within one specific, more simplified setting at a time when trying to determine solutions.  Additionally, such an intentional separation virtually eliminates having to make associations between the two, associations shown to be unreliable on enough occasions that they should be considered statistically invalid when it comes to formulating a highly effective clubfitting program.

Those who fit by ball flight as their primary goal and/or consider ball travel and swing performance to equate with each other may, as a typical clubfitting technique, be able to force a better ball flight if a change in wood club face angle measurement is made for a golfer.  Based on such a clubfitting doctrine of belief, there is then a presumption that the better ball flight has also forced a better golf swing to be made by the golfer and that such a fitting procedure will accomplish improvement today and that will last for the golfer.  But I will tell you in no uncertain terms that no one who truly understands the workings of a golf swing and clubfitting would come to any such conclusions.  Golf club face angle fit to a golfer in such a manner is not only a short-term, cover-up fix, but such protocol by the custom clubfitting industry promotes more swing troubles down the road for golfers who are striving to become better.  More time then often passes before undisguised golfer improvement is realized than if the club specification were competently fit to begin with.  Fitting golf clubs to one’s swing (and I am talking about really fitting clubs directly to one’s swinging performance and not the indirect and often incorrect assumptions that the clubfitting industry currently shells out), will routinely result in different face angles, grip sizes, swingweights, and much more as opposed to fitting according to the predominantly one-sided clubfitting by ball travel approach presently recommended.  Correcting and/or completing many clubfitting theories and practices from the past that are still very poorly understood will not only lay the groundwork for achieving better golf performance now, but this will also open the door wider for better improvements in the future.