The Terrible Twos Syndrome of Golf Club Fitting: Part Eleven

I first want to add certain information here as sort of a continuation of my preceding post because I focused so much there on launch monitors for clubfitting.  In further supporting my earlier statement that only a few select basic tools are needed to accomplish superb clubfitting, and in keeping with my declaration that the golf shaft is not the “nothing-else-matters” component that many make it out to be, other clubfitting devices that are often overrated are not necessary either.  These include but are not limited to shaft frequency analyzers, devices to help determine a given orientation of a golf shaft when it is fixed to a clubhead, and even simpler old-fashioned shaft flex boards.

To support why and serve as a partial review to this point, these devices are inherently geared toward golf ball travel results and not (the more important) underlying golf swing performance, two fitting facets that should be decisively separated as I have explained.  Stressing the use of such devices while minimizing or completely avoiding foundational tasks related to fitting golf clubs directly to one’s actual golf swing attests to the fact that the clubfitting trade overall (as well as other segments of the golf industry) still just does not have a proper grasp of certain swing performance factors.  The first truth is how “not difficult” it is to develop and perform an effective golf swing relative to other (everyday) activities that require considerably more physical and/or psychological ability.  There can be more than one reason why the opposite, utterly false belief has developed over time.  One may be just a carryover attitude that could have been formed early on in the game’s development.  With the birthplace of golf traditionally considered to be Scotland of the United Kingdom, the “tradition” that a golf swing is hard may have been started there based on its difficulty for golf participants of the time relative to their other activities.

Much more recently, the PGA of the United Kingdom decided to use clubfitting material for reference that was produced by one whose deficiencies at comprehending certain golf swing and clubfitting aspects should be easily recognizable by such an entity but are not.  And then there is the United Kingdom (Intellectual Property Office), which was recently the only country applied to that denied patent protection because it failed to understand a profoundly important yet simple advancement of golf club swingweighting that even a child can fundamentally understand.  Of course speculating that a single organization like the UKPGA is a true representation of the overall golfing knowledge within the country or that the UKIPO is a true representation of the general understanding of the country’s citizens is perhaps unjust and left open to reevaluate at some time.  But in searching for an answer that might be impossible to conclusively find as to how an entire culture (of golfing) can possibly come to believe that something as easy as a golf swing (athletically speaking at least) is so routinely and traditionally looked upon as being so very difficult, broad speculation is sometimes all one has to go by.

An independent factor (as I have no idea whether golf was cheap or costly to participate in during its early days) is the “rich and spoiled” factor of influence.  A rich and spoiled factor is always going to be an inherent part to some degree of any activity (not just golf) that is more expensive to participate in, and golfing has certainly qualified for that for a very long time already and seems to be getting worse by the day.  Accordingly, there will always be a higher percentage of people born financially wealthy to begin with within such activities that may develop an associated belief(s) different from those not born so.  This might be a belief that activities for the richer (richer frequently [but often wrongly] associated with being smarter) are expected to be more complex than activities for others.  So it is (perhaps unconsciously) made so, with a proud denial that could be in place at any mention that a certain aspect(s) of the “richer” activity is actually considerably easier.  Sarcasm fully intended here, in order to develop a frame of mind that a golf swing is so much harder than it actually is and so much more complex than other common activities, one just has to wonder whether the hardest thing attempted other than learning how to swing a golf club effectively is learning how to enjoy tea.

Now having said that, I will also strongly reiterate here that the fitting of golf equipment truly is more complex than in any other activity I am aware of, and this facet of the game can certainly make it appear that a golf swing is more difficult than it really is, even to good people within the industry that hardly qualify for a rich and spoiled categorization.  Among other unique differences, golf club fitting has an additional element of multiple individual golf clubs being used during play, whereas a good and consistent golf swing (human, not machine) can basically be turned into an inconsistent mess instantaneously during an actual round of golf if matching the multiple golf clubs to each other and to a golfer’s swing is not understood and applied proficiently.  Partially because this kind of element has no precedent to reference from other past activities, this specific element of clubfitting still has facets to it that even so-called clubfitting experts have not understood to date but that should become clearer by the end of this post title sequence.

The severe overestimating and/or misunderstanding of how difficult efficient golf swing performance is, feasibly leading to an underestimating and/or misunderstanding (or plain just not knowing) of certain clubfitting basics, can help explain why the clubfitting trade is still essentially operating at a first-grade level of fitting performance regarding certain critical tasks like grip size fitting and club matching (despite a proven matching method being around for about eighty years now).  And from this information can also be taken that the golf industry overall has certainly never been bred from legitimate athletes to be sure, because if that were true the present circumstance would not likely have occurred.  Just like launch monitor use, adding the clubfitting devices noted above adds virtually nothing when root fundamental clubfitting is performed so inadequately to begin with.  And while adding such devices can add benefits when used on top of solid fundamental clubfitting, the better the knowledge of fundamental golf club fitting to start with, the less of an impact such devices will have on the final clubfitting result even if they are added.  This should not really be hard to understand for anybody, even within the golf industry.

Anyway, I left off with the construction of the test golf clubs starting to discuss various ways of trying to predict what a golf club’s final swingweight will be before the grip is installed for real in case test club length trimming wants to be (further) adjusted first.  To supplement what I have discussed thus far, particularly after stating the final swingweight values that I recommended men’s and women’s completed test clubs should start at, I add here the possible option of using clubheads specifically made for women’s or children’s clubs on men’s test clubs.  Such clubhead models are usually designed with lighter overall weights to begin with, and using them may allow one to both reach a typically standard men’s club length and not have to grind off any additional weight (or at least not as much) from the test clubhead(s) in order to achieve the desired starting swingweight value.  (If expecting real golf balls to be hit with the test clubs, some investigation would be prudent to determine if the clubhead design would stand up to and be safe for usage in men’s test clubs).  The downside of this can be that women’s and children’s clubheads may typically have hosel bore sizes that are smaller than that often required to accept typical men’s golf shafts, so the hosels of these heads may need to be enlarged through drilling.  Depending on the tools available and one’s experience, that process can range from being easier and quicker than grinding weight off of a clubhead to being a substantially more tedious task, with potentially ruined clubheads if the bore is inadvertently made too large, but it is just another possible option.

Another element I will just briefly interject here is on the subject of golf club lie, which is the angle of a clubhead’s sole as it sits properly on the ground relative to the centerline of the golf club’s shaft.  The main reason I will not discuss golf club lie in more detail at this time is because a golf club’s swingweight value (regardless of whether utilizing a scale or mathematically calculating it) in fact automatically adjusts for golf club lie angle.  Given the otherwise exact same golf club, bending the lie of its clubhead flatter (which moves the toe end of the clubhead a bit further away from the fulcrum location) will increase the swingweight reading (by roughly one point for every four or five degrees of flattening).  The opposite will occur if making the lie of the golf club more upright, which physically brings the toe end of the clubhead a bit closer to the fulcrum location and has the opposite effect on the swingweight reading.  These automatic adjustments in swingweight balance readings for any variances between golf club lies are experienced by a golfer just as they are measured on a swingweight scale, part of understanding swingweighting correctly.