Golf Club Fitting: Can You Feel the Static?
Before evaluating certain individual golf club specifications and how go about choosing a best value for a golfer, there are a few universal concepts that need to be understood and applied well throughout the clubfitting process. Once these concepts are comprehended correctly, many golfers, clubfitters, teachers, and others will be enlightened to such a degree that their skill(s) regarding clubfitting will be greatly improved even before any individual club specifications are discussed. Consequently, understanding these universal concepts well is very critical to knowing clubfitting well.
The first of these concepts centers on dynamic golf club fitting versus static clubfitting. Any time a static clubfitting process is used to attempt to fit a golf club specification to a golfer, know that this has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with fitting that club specification to the golfer’s swing, simply because the golfer is not swinging the club during the process and the specification is not determined based on any part of the golfer’s swing performance. After reading this statement it appears like such an obvious, no-brainer fact that it is entirely ridiculous to even print. But alas, there are so many people in golf that seem to not understand this simple principle that it must be put into print anyway.
Two of the most commonly used static clubfitting procedures that remain in full force today and heavily contribute to the grossly underachieving clubfitting trade as a whole are the grip-on-a-stick method of fitting golf grip size (or an equivalent procedure to measure the size of one’s hand[s]) and the “stand-at-attention” clubfitting ruler for determining one’s alleged ideal golf club length. Whereas for decades these clubfitting procedures were considered essential standards and rarely questioned within the golf industry, in more recent years there has started to be a hedging by clubfitters (I cannot speculate as to whether Waggle Weight Wisdom™ may have contributed to this trend) toward these procedures being “only starting points” for these golf club specifications (from which point they can be fine-tuned further). However, these cheap, quick, mail-order-type clubfitting procedures routinely provide such worthless and irrelevant results that even considering them to be starting points for what might be best for a golfer for these club specifications are major errors in clubfitting protocol and can render an entire clubfitting process rather useless.
To illustrate, when utilizing the grip-on-a stick method and really getting down to the heart of the matter, the grip-on-a-stick method is actually an attempt to fit one’s golf swing to a determined grip size and not an attempt to best fit a golf grip size to one’s golf swing. (One’s golf swing is a complete unknown and completely irrelevant as far as the grip-on-a-stick method is concerned). So exactly how is this method supposed to provide even a ballpark estimate of best golf grip size for one’s golf swing? Similarly, the usage of a stand-at-attention clubfitting ruler is commonly an attempt to fit one’s golf swing (through club length) to somebody else’s idea of what one’s “perfect” posture or spine angle should be when one addresses a golf ball (a method that might affect one’s base golf swing [not the goal of clubfitting]) rather than fitting one’s club length to the way one swings a golf club (of which one’s natural posture at address is an important [though not the only] element). I assure you there is no such thing as a perfect address posture and this will be discussed more later. So how is a stand-at-attention clubfitting ruler result supposed to provide even a ballpark estimate of the best club length for one’s golf swing when it does not take into account one’s golf swing at all in the first place?
Anyone that claims he/she will fit a golf club to your golf swing and then fits any club specification to you in a manner that has nothing to do with the way you actually swing a golf club is making an incorrect claim. I can reasonably state that such misrepresentation is not intentional on the part of most clubfitters, but rather it is an unfortunate ignorance of one or more important details. This ignorance includes a belief that taking one or two such (shortcut) liberties out of numerous golf club specifications is okay for certain club specifications and is insignificant toward the final result. But the truth is that an entire clubfitting process from beginning to end can be profoundly influenced and different (in both process and result) when just one such static procedure is implemented in a manner (and/or sequence) that is inaccurate, irrelevant, and not conducive to sound clubfitting.
If one wants to achieve one’s best golf through clubfitting, nothing less than a dynamic fitting for every possible golf club specification should be tolerated. Now I am all for the development and utilization of the most efficient methods possible as long as they supply competent results, but in the case of the two club specifications related here, I will soon elaborate more about how downright absurd these (and other clubfitting) methods are and how they have contributed so much to the clubfitting trade’s history and reputation of poor performance. I have formerly noted that there are some expert individuals in golf, but for certain reasons as a generalized mass the game is more loaded than other activities with pretenders who think they have an equal (or even greater) degree of knowledge of swing and equipment-fitting performance, accurate perception of the difficulty of various performance aspects, and comprehensive experience and talent relative to those involved in more traditional athletics for instance (which is even more absurd). And these are very often the people most responsible for developing, teaching, promoting, and/or using such inexpert golf club fitting procedures.
In further defining the term dynamic for the purpose of golf club fitting, starting any kind of movement associated with a golf swing and intentionally stopping it at some point to take a certain measurement or analyze a specific item that might otherwise be difficult or impossible to accomplish is to be considered a function of dynamic clubfitting and not a static procedure. Similarly, a temporary stoppage of movement in the natural course of preparing to make or making a golf swing (the top of the backswing can be one example) is also a function of dynamic clubfitting. These are totally different situations than the static golf club fitting procedures described above that attempt to determine one’s best grip size and club length but that are completely disconnected from and inapplicable to one’s actual swing performance.
Additionally, comprehensive clubfitting through dynamic swing performance must by default include everything that takes place from the time a player first touches a golf club until a golf swing is deemed to be totally finished. This includes what occurs during the period known as the pre-swing, which under typical circumstances comprises all that goes on before the instant one’s backswing begins. There are in fact multiple, critical golf club specifications specifically founded within and based upon a golfer’s pre-swing movements and/or positions. This includes but is not limited to a rotation point (fulcrum) location that the club specifications of swing weight (swingweight) and waggle weight are based on. While this point can ultimately affect one’s golf swing in a dramatic way, the point in fact only exists during the pre-swing and its location can only be determined during this period, because the point literally disappears once an actual golf swing begins. Consequently, a term like “swing performance” with respect to capable golf club fitting must include all that occurs during the pre-swing period as well as during the swing itself.
Opposite to that described above, here is a circumstance where an embarrassing number of people in golf consider swingweight to be nothing but a static golf club measurement when in fact it comprises a critically dynamic swing performance movement. Anybody declaring that swingweight is nothing but a “static” measurement provides hard evidence of a severe, widespread, and continuing unawareness within the golf clubfitting industry.