“Feel” in Golf: The Feel of Failure by Flatulence

I have previously quite bluntly stated that the generalized expression of “feel” within the golf industry is far and away the biggest excuse word most commonly utilized by those who cannot satisfactorily explain something in more objective terms and are looking for as convenient a way as possible to end the discussion of the particular subject or change subjects.  It is an expression commonly utilized to excuse or relieve oneself from having to gain additional knowledge and/or being responsible for results that cannot otherwise be rationally explained.  I stand by my comments regarding this, and while maybe there has been some miniscule improvement (perhaps due to my previous comments on this issue) since I initially described this flatulence regularly imposed on golfers, it has literally been just a drop in the bucket toward correcting this exceedingly widespread and major issue within the industry.  Now I am not primarily referring to golfers themselves as being the culprits here, especially inexperienced Messrs. Gullible Golfer, as this sort of behavior can naturally be expected from such players.  I am primarily referring here to the entities that these golfers depend on and/or mimic, entities somehow calling themselves professional swing instructors, golf club fitters, and/or clubfitting educators as a few examples.  These supposed experienced entities (some for decades already) are the primary sources of this continuing flatulence.

Though the concept and general parameter of feel is commonly abused in all areas of the golf industry, it is abused particularly badly within the clubfitting trade as an element that is used to try to help fit golf clubs to golfers in an effective manner, thus I will principally direct my attention to this trade regarding the issue of feel.  If the statements I have made early on are kept in mind, what I characterize can be rather easily observed by browsing through any and all clubfitting instructional materials published in the past that one can find.  The typical route taken any time the parameter of feel is brought up is to state this term in the broadest possible manner with little to no completing information concerning what is really being referred to and then moving on to a different subject after often being as vague about feel as possible.  This exact same approach or attitude can continue to be regularly observed to this very day when so-called professional clubfitters or clubfitting educators appear in ongoing publications like periodical magazine articles or newsletters, online forum discussions, and other outlets.

Based upon what I have exposed thus far, perhaps one might get an initial impression that I believe feel in clubfitting might somehow be structurally eliminated from the clubfitting equation in order to better advance the clubfitting industry from many of its continuing pitiful ways.  On the contrary, feel is a critical golf club fitting parameter that is essential toward able overall clubfitting in an expert manner.  And when implemented extremely proficiently, the feel parameter can conceivably have mathematical values connected with it in much the same way other clubfitting parameters are defined for clubfitting purposes.  But the problem is in the superficial, ignorant, and flatulent manners that the clubfitting industry routinely treats the parameter of feel.  As noted above it is primarily utilized as an extremely generalized, convenient, and subjective excuse term when another element cannot be more objectively explained appropriately, where no one really knows exactly what is being referred to with the way the term is commonly applied (and commonly with no one really wanting to know anything further either).  There has never been an industry that regularly exhibits so much flatulence regarding the use and spreading of the general expression feel and where beyond that the same industry is generally so worthless about defining the expression in more specific and usable terms.

Now in reality maybe the feel parameter will never become a totally objective clubfitting parameter to the same extent as one’s measurable clubhead speed to cite just one of many different examples.  But this does not mean the current incompetence of the clubfitting trade on the whole concerning feel cannot eventually become a thing of the past and does not mean the parameter cannot be turned into something dramatically more relevant and useful than it has been previously.  So I will get right to an example and a bit of analysis.  Suppose I am teaching some very basic golf instruction to ten people at a driving range.  These ten people could comprise any kind of mixture from ten of any age and/or gender having never swung a golf club before to ten golf professionals going through a periodic review of their fundamentals to any possible combination in between.  After instructed to warm up these ten golfers are further instructed to independently swing at and (try to) hit a golf ball and then as specifically as possible relate the feel (with no further elaboration given) they each had of the experience.

Without any further specific defining of what feel should relate to and instructed to form one’s own interpretation if need be, a couple of these golfers might comment on whether or not their swings generally felt coordinated regardless of how well they hit the golf ball.  A couple others might comment on how solid they felt club/ball contact was regardless of the general coordination of their swings.  A couple more might comment on some noticed characteristic felt about the golf club swung without regard to either swing coordination or solidness of club/ball contact.  Another might comment on a movement or position felt regarding just one specific limb of one’s body during one’s swing while an awareness or concern of general golf swing coordination comprehensively may not have been present, and another might comment on some stinging or other physical sensation felt in one or more limbs of one’s body as a result of club/ball impact.  And then there will probably be the class clown or two, with one maybe quipping that one felt terrible when swinging due to a recent argument with one’s spouse and another maybe quipping that one felt one was very nearly knocked over when swinging as a result of the gust of wind developed by the swing speed one produced.  But I asked, and the truth of the matter is that every one of these reports of feel still easily fall within the extremely broad definition I provided for the parameter.  So I got what I asked for.

But suppose I asked instead for a description from each golfer of “the feel of the intensity of physical vibration in the little finger of the top gripping hand when not wearing a golf glove upon impact between the golf club and ball” as just one of uncounted possibilities.  Now in this instance there would still undoubtedly be some subjective differences in the descriptions given by each golfer, as for one thing based upon total life experiences and circumstances what one person considers to be a small amount of physical vibration can be justly more intense to another person.  Nevertheless, the ten descriptions given would logically be immensely closer together in scope than when feel as a stand-alone term was defined far more broadly.  And the information now obtainable utilizing a feel parameter that is more specifically defined can actually have some legitimate usage in the course of determining certain golf club components and/or club specification values as examples.  In fact, this particular feel parameter has been so explicitly defined that it would not be unrealistic at all to additionally assign a numbering system to it such as 1 to 10 for one to potentially convey the intensity of the vibration felt, with 1 perhaps defining a minimal intensity and 10 a maximal.  That information could be of even greater value.  And with such a numbering system, this specific feel parameter could be applied toward any given clubfitting task essentially as effectively as any other clubfitting parameter that might be expressed in mathematical numbers to potentially help toward efficient clubfitting.  Such a numbering system, however, is not mandatory in order to implement the feel parameter extremely effectively, and there can actually be one or more desirable advantages in not reducing the parameter to numbers.

So here I describe a part of clubfitting that should be hopefully becoming quite clear by now.  The more broadly any given feel parameter is defined, the more subjective in nature and the more open it is toward a much wider range of human interpretations (thus less usably effective within a clubfitting context), whereas the more narrowly any given feel parameter is defined, the more objective or scientific in nature it is and can be turned into (thus more usably effective within a clubfitting context).

And without wasting any more time and as an extension of the statement just provided, I proceed to the next, equally important statement(s).  There is not just one or even a few select feel parameters, rather there are many, many different feel parameters in golf that can be applied to golf club fitting in many various and very critical ways.  Any given feel parameter might be specifically defined as a physical sensation, a mental sensation, or a combination of both, might be specifically defined as a feel related to one’s body (which can be further limited to a specific limb of one’s body), or instead might be specifically defined as a feel pertaining to a golf club (which can be further limited to a specific golf club characteristic) just to initiate the subject.  And then a time element might be specifically defined, which by itself can completely change the essence of the feel parameter even if otherwise identically defined.  Many of these feel parameters (when defined well enough to really be of some tangible use) are so different from each other (despite that they might all have a common denominator of containing the word feel in their definitions) that it is like trying to relate entirely different activities of totally different natures to each other that really have nothing whatever in common.

At some point perhaps I can consider adding an appendix to Waggle Weight Wisdom™ that defines in exacting detail a considerable number of different feel parameters that are all extremely relevant and can be effectively applied toward an overall better clubfit for one and/or other purposes within the golf industry.  Any number of these individual feel parameters may be so explicitly defined they might even have numerical values assigned to them.  And the number of feel parameters independently defined might be substantial enough to warrant appointing reference numbers and/or abbreviated descriptions to them in a well-arranged structured manner.  But that project is beyond the scope of what this particular entry is destined to convey, so here I will mainly finish clearly explaining why such an appendix for various feel parameters should credibly be formulated to begin with in the best interest of the future of the game.

In continuing, I again reference the golf club specification of swingweight, a specification that when investigated is quite commonly associated with the term feel in one manner or another.  Now first we have the many supposed professional clubfitters and/or clubfitting educators that still just very broadly state that one’s swingweight value should be chosen based upon one’s feel.  Oh, that is really helpful, particularly to one that is actually trying to become the best golfer one can be but is still lacking certain experiences and currently needs to depend on others for learning certain information.  If pressed further, these so- called experts would commonly be unable to specifically define exactly what feel is being referred to in useful terms, frequently stating in vague terms that feel is a very subjective term that can be interpreted in very different ways by different people, making it fruitless to elaborate in more detail and just leaving it at that.  These supposed experts suffer from extreme flatulence and should be avoided at all costs.

Then there are supposed experts that do improve on this totally inept clubfitting theory and practice, yet still not to an acceptable degree to say the very least.  These people or organizations might state that swingweight should be chosen based not just upon “feel” but rather upon “clubhead feel.”  But within a context of clubfitting, clubhead feel is still a woefully insufficient term.  For instance, there is clubhead feel at address before one’s swing even begins.  And then there is clubhead feel as one starts one’s forward swing or downswing after making one’s backswing (alternatively referred to as one’s “transition” from one’s backswing to one’s forward swing).  These two clubhead feel parameters and the cause and effect elements regarding each are completely different in nature from and totally unrelated to each other.  What is trying to be felt under each particular condition (commonly accompanied by an analysis of potential consequences [on one’s golf swing performance for instance]) is so vastly different that now even the more specific term of clubhead feel means little to nothing toward choosing one’s golf club swingweight value.  Thus, even one who chooses to use the term clubhead feel over simply feel in discussing golf club swingweight remains quite flatulent in not defining the particular feel parameter in a manner that is specific and decipherable enough under the circumstance in which the parameter is being discussed (evidently being unable to define the parameter fittingly).

Or when the broad term feel or even the more specific term clubhead feel is aired by yet another so-called expert within the context of swingweighting, perhaps it is “swing feel” that is really meant but aired unskillfully.  To explain, the clubhead feel and swing feel parameters might very haphazardly be stated and/or accepted interchangeably with little thought by one insufficiently skilled.  But these two parameters are in fact very different in their base meanings.  While both of them can easily be defined in more specific terms, analyzing just their broader scopes as presented within this paragraph already reveals one prodigious difference between them.  By common-sense default, the term clubhead feel always requires a golf club or golf club substitute to be in hand.  Otherwise, no clubhead feel could possibly be present and determined.  Swing feel on the other hand, while a golf club may be present, does not require a golf club to be in hand in order to determine, and this is a monstrous difference in the way these feel parameters each need to be presented and applied.

I will not repeat the definition for swing feel word for word here that is presented in US Patent Application Number 13/654,440 (this application may not even be published by the USPTO yet on the date of this posting).  But swing feel basically requires an intense focus directly on one or more limbs of one’s body when swinging and not on any part of a golf club or substitute device in order to determine the swing feel parameter.  It is further mandated by definition that one’s base swing feel be determined only through limb-only swinging and without a golf club or substitute device in hand (the only way to absolutely guarantee the absence of any ill-fitting and/or ill-made golf clubs at all times and really determine the essential quality of one’s base golf swing performance).  One’s base swing feel can then be compared to one’s swing feel with any golf club or golf club specification value in hand for the purpose of fitting golf club specification values to one’s base golf swing.  The best fit of a club specification value directly to one’s base swing occurs when one’s base swing feel and swing feel best match each other (patent pending).

With that hopefully fittingly explained and understood and now on a very fundamental level, what do clubhead feel and swing feel have to do with each other?  Nothing, as the two parameters are completely different from each other.  I positively state here that the excessive flatulence within the golf industry pertaining to the use of the extremely broad feel parameter in the manner in which it has been used and the widespread failure of the industry to comprehend and adequately define various feel parameters more specifically continues to be a considerable factor in the failure of the industry to correctly understand certain elements over time.  Just one example of this is ironically the very specification being referenced right now of golf club swingweighting, a highly effective and yet very basic and simple golf club specification that continues to be widely misunderstood to this day, even some eighty years after its introduction, partly due to the industry’s inability to distinguish between feel parameters like clubhead feel and swing feel through the years.  This just seems like too long of a time for an industry to be so flatulent, but perhaps not.

The responsibility for defining precisely which feel parameter is being discussed and/or applied essentially rests with the so-called teachers and educators in the field, including but not limited to swing teachers, clubfitters, golf swing or clubfitting educators, and so on.  (Anyone working on one’s own on any golf swing and/or clubfitting elements is of course responsible to oneself for specifically defining a feel parameter for efficient use).  Any given feel parameter (there are untold other and often vastly different feel parameters beyond those related here that can be explicitly defined and used effectively) should be defined so clearly that essentially anybody can decipher it in an understandable manner.  Looking for the term “professional” or comparable to be attached to any such titles is not really helpful and should certainly not be depended on, because the term professional is used throughout the golf industry in a very similar manner to that of the broad term feel.  In other words, in and of itself it is a rather useless term.

Unless the context of a particular discussion pointedly indicates otherwise (such as what this particular post is specifically pointing out), any entity that just flatulently passes the broad term feel around and that is not readily able to more explicitly define any given feel parameter is quite deficient in a highly critical area of golfing knowledge and the entity’s name should not rightly have the term professional attached to it.  But it is done all the time and there are no governing regulations that I am aware of concerning this titling in the golf industry.  (As one possible alternative of language usage regarding this particular topic, the broadest feel parameter term can still be considered a notably critical parameter overall, as long as an understanding is displayed that the parameter is not really usable in a reasonable manner in that broad form and that more specific sub-categories and/or sub-definitions [in instances much more specific] need to be particularized and implemented in order to effectively utilize the feel parameter).

There are generally a few different clubfitting topics that can be considered more closely than others to help tell if one is a more skilled clubfitter (or clubfitting educator) or more unskilled (like how one explains swingweighting and proper grip size fitting just to name a couple), which can give pretty immediate indications of how correct certain golf swing and clubfitting theories and practices are understood.  And perhaps one of the best clues of one’s clubfitting skill, knowledge, and/or attitude is the way in which one approaches the feel parameter.  This can apply not merely to written clubfitting instruction, but also to any verbal communication for instance before determining whether to give a particular clubfitter any business.  One clubfitter (or clubfitting educator) might exhibit a certain air through utilizing the feel parameter in an extremely broad and flatulent way (which could be deliberately or unwittingly) as basically an intangible element that can never really be specifically defined any better for realistic clubfitting purposes and yet might notably and unpredictably affect final clubfitting results (a typical excuse usage).  Another clubfitter might exhibit a certain air by demonstrating a deeper understanding of the feel parameter and being extremely detailed in defining one or more specific feel parameters that can be effectively implemented during clubfitting.  It is generally not difficult, even for one less experienced, to gain a good intuitive sense of the difference(s) between these clubfitters due not only to what is shown on the surface, but with potential implications beyond that surface information that might provide an even deeper sense.

This extreme flatulence continues to be widespread within the clubfitting industry, from the clubfitting arms of the major golf club manufacturers, to retail stores, to home-based clubfitters, and to everybody in between.  But it is the broad entity that can be referred to as the independent clubfitting trade (actually basically composed of a number of smaller, often competing groups and/or just individuals) that can be broadly looked upon as being most responsible for or influential toward creating this flatulent situation and can also be broadly looked upon as the entity most responsible for correcting this situation.  After all, this is the entity that generally publicly lays claim to advancing the science and art of the clubfitting trade for the future good of the game for golfers, clubfitters of the future, and others through available educational materials, training programs, and/or other devices, whereas the major golf club manufacturers (for example) that perform clubfitting would generally freely concede that it is neither their role nor desire to publicly educate golfers and/or others about the skills of the trade.

This excessive flatulence regarding the feel parameter is merely one of many examples where the independent clubfitting trade should be leading the way out from the debacle it has in fact created for itself over time, making an enormous positive impact on the future of the clubfitting industry, forming needed, able leadership, and setting worthy examples to follow for not just others in the same industry like major golf club manufacturers, but also for those in other industries.  But the independent clubfitting trade continues to flop right on its face so to speak, with little more than a few scattered factions that sometimes feud with each other, the continuing implementation of multiple poor clubfitting theories and practices that move the clubfitting industry as a whole more backward than forward, the continued widespread following and support of certain so-called clubfitting educators (both individuals and organizations) that have been largely responsible for the ongoing debacle within the clubfitting industry in the first place, and more.  This trade frequently seems to just follow the lead of some major golf club manufacturer clubfitting processes, implementing comparable quick, cheap, and fallacious mail-order-type processes.  But alas, technically I might currently be considered part of the independent clubfitting trade that I state is supposed to be most responsible for correcting such errors.  Well I for one accept such a responsibility, so I shall continue correcting such errors of the past.