Clubfitting 101: Secondary Clubfitting, or Primary Convenience?

Last post I talked some about fitting one’s golf club length using a clubfitting ruler.  Most people in golf know that changes in club length can cause discernible differences in ball travel, but fewer may be aware that changes in length can also be responsible for altering one’s golf swing, due to both the club length itself and/or other golf club characteristics that become different as a result of any length modifications.  Choosing club length is an instrumental part of fitting, but using a clubfitting ruler to select length is another issue, as the method does not address either of golf’s two major playing considerations directly.  Preferred club length can be very different depending on what shaft, club head, grip size, and so forth is chosen.  Of course the biggest advantage of a tool like the clubfitting ruler is in the wonderful “convenience” it can be for the clubfitter.  It is suggested that with its use and while golfers stand at attention, it can be accurately predicted as to what golfers’ individual address and/or swing postures will be/should be, what kind of athleticism and hand-eye coordination they possess, and much more, and it can be done so very quickly.  Now if you honestly believe that, there is no telling how much I might be able to sell my 1988 Dodge Omni to you for.  The clubfitting ruler is a secondary, unsuitable gadget that recommends golf club length based neither on how one is swinging a golf club nor golf ball travel characteristics in a direct manner.  Seeing one using a clubfitting ruler can be a fairly good indicator of how (un)knowledgeable the clubfitter may be with respect to many of the details I have covered and/or how much “convenience” the clubfitter is interested in.

And talk about a “method of convenience” for fitting a particular golf club specification, from a different perspective I look here again at the grip-on-a-stick method of fitting grip size I named earlier.  This scheme is also purported to be good clubfitting technique using neither golf ball flight nor swing performance attributes.  Ultimately, however, choosing grip size based upon hand size is like choosing shaft flex based on one’s height or weight.  But oh how much easier, quicker, and more convenient it is to wrap one’s hand(s) around several grip-on-a-stick golf grip sizes and observe where finger positions lie as opposed to analyzing one swinging completed golf clubs with various grip sizes installed on them.  Utilizing the grip-on-a-stick method but using grip “comfort” as the guide for choosing grip size, whatever that is supposed to mean, is even worse and somewhat evasive of an extremely important golf club specification and performance factor.  Any grip size will feel uncomfortable for a time if one has gotten used to a different size, and it generally does not take long to become comfortable with a grip size that one performs better with.  Even for any beginners reading this and while not under the immediate influence of a “professional clubfitter,” do you really think an acceptable way to fit one’s golf grip size, technically or otherwise, is by holding a “disconnected” golf grip without any swinging?

Now the word “performance” can be defined in multiple ways and I will not elaborate on that here, but is the most primal thought of fitting grip size based on one’s actual golfing performance a foreign concept to golfers and clubfitters?  Do you honestly not know that a noticeable difference in golf club length (or other club specifications that shall remain unnamed for now) commonly requires a different size golf grip in order to achieve one’s best performance?  This common-sense knowledge may help one realize how ineffective and inaccurate the grip-on-a-stick method of fitting grip size can be.  And a lack of this knowledge might lead one to other procedures like the backweighting of golf clubs and potential disadvantages of that process when it may be unnecessary if the proper golf grip size were chosen to begin with.  It is not done intentionally of course, but are you truly not aware that most of the individuals and/or organizations given the highest acclaims for their “expertise” in clubfitting matters are in fact the very ones responsible for golf scores not markedly improving year after year and for less success than the clubfitting industry can achieve?  I am hardly the only one who, upon seeing the grip-on-a-stick method used for fitting golf grip size, shakes his head wondering why golfers and clubfitters in general are anything but the best in the realm of fitting playing equipment for their specific game.  Perhaps this observation is of little concern to most golf club fitters as long as an easy, convincing, and convenient way of fitting grip size can be exploited, rather than doing what even many beginning golfers know really needs to be done for the best fitting of golf club specifications such as grip size and club length.

Hopefully you are now more aware of how many potential problems and wrong turns can be made when using an indirect means of trying to solve something.  This is of course not just true of golf club fitting.  Using secondary methods very often requires some probable inferring but nonetheless unproven hypotheses to be made at the start, which then may or may not turn out to be accurate truths in the end, scientifically or otherwise.  Sadly, many assumptions-presumed-facts exist in golf that are simply incorrect, yet another one being that Moment of Insanity club matching (sorry, Moment of Inertia matching [MOI]) is an advancement of the long-proven swingweighting system.  The plain truth is that the two club specifications are complete opposites in every respect in both theory and practice, with MOI being a step backward for golf, but that is more for another post.  Next I will return to the two major and direct approaches to fit golf clubs to golfers and apply some analysis to them in order to start establishing the best-outlined means for effective clubfitting.