The Terrible Twos Syndrome of Golf Club Fitting: Part Fifty-Five

With this entry I finally bring this post title sequence to a close at this time.  Despite this, I still consider this original version to be essentially open-ended so it can be augmented, further clarified, and/or corrected based upon additional testing, changes in technology, and more in the future through supplemental work as warranted.  As just one of countless possibilities, it is assumed here that the 14-inch fulcrum location of the current golf club swingweighting system is a superb fit for me, and based upon observation with just the naked eye it appears to be.  But if it is scientifically found that my rotation point location is in fact in a notably different position (the waggle weight golf club specification is still not sufficiently developed to precisely determine this at the time of this posting), then one or more results might also be notably different than that disclosed here to date.  Plus I am the first to admit that I still have an awful lot to learn yet and I could henceforth find one or more errors in my past work needing to be corrected.

I wish to genuinely thank the millions of people (or maybe it is the tens, as interpreting online statistics is hardly my specialty) that hung in there with me through the formation of this post title sequence.  Perhaps the disclosed information might have been revealed more easily by one who actually knew what he/she was doing, but it was hard for me at times to decide exactly what to reveal and how to reveal it, especially since (to the very best of my knowledge) much of the information presented was presented for the first time anywhere with no other precedents to reference.  In the topics posted immediately prior to this post title sequence and in sarcastic symbolism (not meant to be taken solemnly), a large number of consecutive postings were configured to precisely 999 words within the computer program used, satirically wondering whether golfers (including clubfitters and others in the golf industry here) would be able to comprehend any more than that at once.  And based on some of wholly irrational beliefs that continue to be taught and listened to regarding a golf swing and clubfitting to this day, that symbolic gesture might have more underlying truth to it than even I realize despite its satirical intention, with no convincing indication of when this perception about the golf industry overall might someday change.

At any rate, in anticipating that this post title sequence might be a bit longer than subjects addressed previously, a leap of faith toward golfers and the golf industry had to be taken, raising the word count to 1,100 in the beginning.  And even with that, I still anticipated at the outset that I might need as many as seven or eight entries to get through the material I thought I needed to.  Well here I am finally finishing, fifty-five posts later with numerous entries along the way considerably exceeding three times the 1,100 figure I started with and two even exceeding 5,000 words.  So in the end I guess I was off just a bit from what I initially anticipated, but again I worked into much uncharted territory that often justified supplementary explanation.  An overriding attitude of mine has been that I would rather have repeated the same thing ten times over again instead of missing something essential just once, with such repetitions at times helping me determine whether I missed anything important.  All told, for elements that were repeated multiple times I hope I was able to at least offer some various viewpoints regarding such elements in addition to ideally drilling these elements firmly into one’s mind with such repetition.

But even with this overriding stance, in broadly looking back now I am quite convinced I still (unintentionally) completely overlooked relevant elements along the way that should have been included and that I will think of after the final period is placed on this post title sequence, though at this point I would say that any such elements are relatively minor in nature and nothing that would have a major impact on that which has been disclosed thus far.  Any such elements can still be introduced later to supplement that already disclosed.  (Generally speaking, unless a grammatical or content error or something else specifically catches my attention, to date I have rarely gone back and reviewed previous post entries, although it would seem wise to eventually do so in light of newer material produced.  But at this point in time I am typically intensely focused on forming the next post entry to the exclusion of most all else.  [I am always prone to start changing things any time I inspect my past work, even if merely for reference purposes for a future work.  Plus, whenever I reexamine past work of mine, I am frequently generally less impressed with it than I was when it was first finished and as such I offend myself and hurt my own feelings.  I try not to subject myself to that too much].  To that end, repeating critical details can serve as a quick base review to help determine what to compose next if past work is not referenced).

Anyway, I point out that (as much as I endeavored to include every relevant detail) many additional relevant details can be known by one experienced enough (in any field) and yet innocently forgotten unless and until a specific occurrence arises that brings such details to the surface again.  And this dormant knowledge when prodded may still be available to properly associated entities while it might not be to others.  Therefore, I will take one last opportunity in this post title sequence to stress how important it is to search out and not settle for less than the WaggleWeight® or Waggle Weight Wisdom™ name when desiring the finest products and/or services not limited to golf club fitting/making devices and/or services and even golf swing instruction.  Partly due to this particular work being initially published for free, as its content becomes more widely known and appreciated, one will feasibly find many clubfitting entities for example scrambling to make alterations.  This might include hiding their grip-on-a-stick displays under their counters and/or changing their orders of fitting golf club specifications to try to disassociate themselves from their own past practices and be more in line with the principles brought to justice here instead of the inferior protocols they applied in the past.

Some of these entities will likely claim they never before fit golf clubs in a substandard manner and that they always knew the principles disclosed in Waggle Weight Wisdom™.  But behind such superficial facades, whether put up by the clubfitting arms of major club or component manufacturers, independent clubfitting organizations and/or the clubfitters certified by them, or any number of other golf club fitting entity types, could easily be the same people utilizing the same deficient knowledge, clubfitting practices, and/or attitudes that have resulted in fitting clubs in an inferior manner for an untold time period already.  The only way to guarantee the genuine clubfitting experience by any entity that through and through renders the more correct clubfitting theory and practice originally disclosed and first disclosed here and is required to comply with its principles is to locate an entity that is legitimately associated with the noted trademarked names.  (These principles could potentially include certain details of certain clubfitting elements that are not published via means such as this particular column for various reasons).

I very specifically note here that the information revealed in Waggle Weight Wisdom™ should not be considered a clubfitting “system” in the same light as so-called proprietary clubfitting systems of others.  Rather, the clubfitting knowledge contained here comprises the most fundamentally accurate golf club fitting theory and practice from the ground up that can be applied to any so-called clubfitting system because the disclosed theories and practices are finally disclosed correctly, whereas on the whole they were badly flawed in the past.  And due to various related intellectual property protections that may be in force at any given time, certain products and/or methods for example may not be legally usable by a clubfitting entity not properly associated with either of the noted trademarked names (referring to a commercial clubfitting entity here, but even individuals not associated with these names are prohibited from using protected intellectual property [the reproduction of this very article for instance]).  And it will certainly be undertaken to search out the finest personnel to represent the above trademarked names.  Finding these names will guarantee that the soundest golf club fitting theories and practices will be adhered to all through the clubfitting process and not just through what appears on the facade of a clubfitting entity.

How some of the irrational beliefs and attitudes about a golf swing and golf equipment came to be in the first place and why they continue to persist can be difficult to pin down precisely, particularly since multiple sources can oftentimes be pointed to over time for developing something poorly in the first place and then keeping it going.  I have reported previously that I am quite fond of some traditions originating from the United Kingdom.  I am in fact slightly more hesitant than I used to be to simply take my family downtown (Chicago) in my own country due to increased violence of late especially with gunplay, sometimes finding myself daydreaming about what living in a countryside house in the UK would be like.  But in limiting the rest of this discussion strictly to golf, it is generally promoted that the birthplace of golf was in Scotland of the United Kingdom.  Because of these deep roots, it is not unreasonable to think that some of the invalid perceptions about the game began there.  For example, golf swing difficulty is a very relative term.  A golf swing is a very arduous activity for a human relative to relaxing and having afternoon tea.  On the other hand, it is an activity that is so easy it is basically a joke relative to trying to swing at and hit a moving object where one’s competitor at a distance initiates the object’s travel, purposefully trying to prevent one from hitting it and regularly possessing the skill to manipulate the travel of the object so as to intentionally fool one and/or even test one’s courage at performing the activity.  I dare say that around the entire world such common and fun activities are played far more often and by far more people than play golf.

Now I confess that I am not specifically familiar with many types of activities in the UK, either back when golf was first invented or even today.  But I certainly have divulged that relative to everyday activities I have personally participated in and/or witnessed to date, a golf swing requires less physical strength to perform well, less hand-eye coordination, no reflexes whatever, and is also less demanding (including psychologically) in other ways compared with many other very common activities that humans have striven to excel and succeeded at.  Those feeling that a golf swing is difficult and/or complex apparently have rather limited experience participating in a broad array of activities, particularly activities where objects are swung at (even if only with one’s hands or feet as examples) in trying to hit the objects as part of the activities and where accurate comparisons of the difficulty of the swings in the various activities could be made between the activities similar to that outlined above and the activities where the objects are unmoving when swinging at them.  It is within the realm of possibility that the UK culture did and/or does not have the depth of various activities through which the above comparisons could be soundly established.

This hypothesis could be well supported through the noted book emanating from the UK titled The Search for the Perfect Golf Swing by Cochran and Stobbs (Copyright 1968 by The Golf Society of Great Britain).  There may be no other book that complexitizes a golf swing to such a high degree regarding its analysis of and recommendations for effecting the activity considering how it comprises swinging at a golf ball that just sits motionless while swinging at it.  And in offering some views on the matching of golf clubs that can profoundly affect one’s golf swing performance and the consistency of that performance, continued complexitizing leads to assumptions and guesses (very incorrect assumptions and guesses).  If following the recommendations given, virtually all golfers of all playing abilities would swing ineffectively when golfing when taking into account all golf stroke types typically required, even if following the golf swing recommendations made within the swing analysis and instruction portion of the book.  In just learning that this book was republished in 2005, that just happens to be the same year I first published the article that finally correctly broke down the traditional golf club balancing method of swingweight or swing weight after around 75 years of basically a constant misunderstanding of this very basic club specification and introduced the club specification of waggle weight.  While an interesting coincidence, that is as far as it goes, with the above book analyzing golf club matching quite incorrectly and my article published in the same year doing so correctly.

Furthermore, the United Kingdom Intellectual Property Office based on my experiences has been one of the poorest and most antiquated intellectual property offices I have ever encountered to date, starting with the fact that this office was the only one applied to that could not understand (all the way up to the head of the office) and therefore did not issue a golf-related patent for one of the most important improvements the game has seen thus far, that being for the advanced golf club specification of waggle weight and its affiliated devices to help best implement the specification.  I have never witnessed so many strange comments from any other intellectual property office, including one regarding a different application where the primary examiner declared his belief that an improved method of clubfitting and the resultant making of golf clubs that fit golfers better is an invention that cannot be made or used in any kind of industry and thus lacks industrial application, then declining any further interactive discussions to quickly relieve himself of the application.  And beyond that, among other very telling protocols of this office that in effect represent the entire UK nation’s culture(s) and present a certain reputation is the current protocol of broadly prohibiting the granting of patents that improve the efficiency of playing games, as if game playing of any kind is a frowned-upon activity deemed nonessential and even detrimental to any future cultural development of the nation as a whole.  This prohibition and other related regulations are cited at every possibly opportunity to deny the issuance of intellectual property rights for improving the structure of how a given game is played.

Potential connections could exist between such regulations, a major rules-making body for golf being located within the UK, and why the game continues to have many outdated and antiquated protocols and customs for playing that have feasibly taken a toll on golf worldwide (especially in more recent times).  With this specific game-influencing body actually having the name “Ancient” within its title, there are presently no apparent signs of imminent structural changes to potentially a considerable number of protocols and/or customs that could help make golf overall more appealing, gratifying, affordable, and/or otherwise effectual to help improve the game for the future.  Comprehensively, therefore, if wanting to maintain such protocols and customs of golf for its own UK citizens that is fine, but any other nations might thoroughly consider whether adhering to such protocols and customs developed by and/or supporting a rules-making body embedded within such a culture is in the best interest of golf’s future worldwide (this culture characterized here largely through the regulations and recent performance of the UKIPO [United Kingdom Intellectual Property Office]).

This is not to imply that my home USA has consistently done better, oftentimes taking concepts that others like the UK may have started and making things worse rather than better.  Regarding a golf swing first and while there is no reason to believe the majority of swing instructors are not aboveboard and care about helping their students, there will perhaps always be individuals, organizations, and others that basically thrive on willfully keeping a golf swing more difficult than it really is.  Keeping a golf swing difficult and/or complicated is how they stay in business, and as long as there are Messrs. Gullible Golfer around to believe such allegations this segment of the golf industry will probably always exist to some degree.  (I am not referring to the teaching and learning of sound, proven golf swing principles, fundamental facets of the game that are extremely important, must be implemented well for golf’s success, and that should always have a prominent place within the game).

While some of these entities are very successful at constantly finding new ways to make and/or keep a golf swing as hard (and/or as different) as possible for Mr. Gullible Golfer in order to attempt to increase business, it is rather shortsighted because first a golf swing is simply not as difficult relative to many other commonplace activities and when the real truth of this becomes more commonly known there might be a backlash of unprecedented proportion against the industry.  Second, with attributes concerning the game of golf that generally make it (with options to further make it) not as physically and psychologically demanding than other activities considered more athletic in nature, and with many golfers preferring to keep it that way including simplifying golfing elements as much as possible, revealing the true essence of golf swing difficulty might in the long run help retain more players already in the game and help attract more new players at the delightful expense of ridding the golf industry of those trying to make a golf swing more difficult than it really is.

And regarding golf club fitting, several American authors have written clubfitting books to date meant to be comprehensive (assumed to be of basically original material but I am not certain of this point and whether any of these materials were at least partly repeated from clubfitting instruction originating earlier and from somebody else), comprising their theories and practices concerning the science and art of golf club fitting.  These books as a whole have been instrumental in bringing golf club fitting out of the closet so to speak, made it more public so the trade could potentially be practiced by more people if desired, and helped opened doors that were perhaps previously closed.  Beyond that, however, all of these books contain flawed clubfitting information ranging from minor to very major depending upon the specific subject matter, a fact solidly proven because the information in these books has been primarily used by so-called professional clubfitters to date and has been shown to improve golfer scores nowhere near as much as should be expected, often making golfer scores worse instead of better.  With somewhat minor differences in specific teachings, these books all very broadly tend to mirror each other.

There is a common lack of correctness and/or depth displayed by these authors regarding several clubfitting topics, largely but not entirely due to the one-sided approach of fitting according to ball travel results to the basic exclusion of direct golf swing performance as discussed frequently here.  Until now, there has not been any new clubfitting material of any real merit published to reference against and challenge these clubfitting theories and practices of the past published primarily by just a few individuals within the field that are questionably qualified.  And so, especially for those less experienced at even just general concepts of equipment fitting let alone golf club fitting (clubfitting in golf is indeed more difficult and complex than equipment fitting in most other activities, basically the reverse of golf swing difficulty), there has been essentially no choice but to believe in these past clubfitting books and other publications in their entireties, that is until now.

Just grabbing a somewhat random figure as an example, even if only twenty percent of golfers would at some point enlist the services of a clubfitting entity, this trade has to date accumulated such an overall poor performance record and reputation that even just this twenty percent of dealings within the industry is notably dragging down the entire golf industry with no end in sight (though this is hardly the only issue the golf industry needs to deal with).  Incorrect and/or incomplete clubfitting theories and practices range from golf club matching to grip size fitting to face angle fitting, leading to widespread absurd statements by misinformed Messrs. Gullible Golfer and Messrs. Credulous Clubfitter ranging from wearing a golf glove substantially reduces a golf club’s effective swingweight value to MOI (Moment of Insanity) golf club matching is related to and is an improvement of golf club swingweight to swingweight is related to golf shaft flex.  These are just a few examples partially exposing the many poorly developed clubfitting theories and practices that make the American clubfitting industry overall look even worse than the UKIPO at times.  I note here that these various books on clubfitting theory and practice by various authors that regularly contain some of this and other flawed information are widely used by not only individuals, but also clubfitting organizations to certify so-called professional clubfitters, professional golfer associations of various countries to certify PGA members, and others, putting an awful lot of poorly trained clubfitters on the streets everywhere.

To finish up this post title sequence I will provide some brief statements or paragraphs formed from my remaining notes from this sequence.  This is hardly meant to be a total review but mostly comprises some isolated information that I thought most important to repeat one last time before moving forward.  While most of the following information has already been detailed more thoroughly in previous posts of mine (not necessarily limited to just this post title sequence), other statements may be somewhat new in anticipation of other subjects projected to follow.

It is certainly a thankless job to disclose how poor the clubfitting industry has been and continues to be and I do not particularly cherish the task, but somebody sure needs to do it in order to help stop the seemingly endless downward and often embarrassing spiral of this particular trade that has actually been developing for decades.  As nobody else chose to step forward to address these particular issues that concern the golf industry and more specifically the clubfitting trade (and maybe in a much nicer way) for whatever reason(s), I guess that leaves me.

The Terrible Twos is hardly limited to the specific examples presented here and broadly represents the utilizing of at least two side-by-side test golf clubs where the values of all club specifications are ideally matched identically except for the one specification whose value is being sought.  This is fundamentally necessary for the expertly accurate fitting of many (though not all) club specification values, and despite also being categorized as trial and error clubfitting, this is the ultimate in scientific methodology with respect to fitting golf club specification values to the way one actually swings.  There are in principle just no shortcuts that will not potentially bring drastic errors into a process that really needs to be void of such errors with respect to the critical importance of one’s swing performance.  While not technically part of the test clubs, yet an element that can affect one’s gripping structure, even an element such as a golf glove (presuming one is normally worn) must be thoroughly contemplated regarding its style, thickness, fit, wear, and more in determining whether one should be worn during clubfitting testing.  This is especially true if multiple individual gloves might be worn over the course of testing, where the consistency of all of the above glove factors can become a concern.  (As a note of reference here, some club specifications can affect one’s swing performance directly, some will basically affect golf ball travel results only, and some can affect both).

As just a couple of brief examples, precise testing for any swinging differences between an S300 and an S400 shaft would necessitate one club with each of these shafts installed (in identical manners) with all other specifications of the clubs such as swingweight, grip size, length, and so on set equally (the double-whammy effect described earlier regarding swingweight makes it possible to distinguish swing differences between two such shafts.  In a different test, the same shaft model might be installed differently on different clubs, and if all other club specification values are set identically and depending on if and where any step patterns or diameter reductions of the different shaft installations are positioned directly underneath one’s hands when the clubs are held onto, changes in one’s direct golf swing performance between such clubs could be observed rather easily.  Other types of clubfitting tests not even mentioned in this particular post sequence can be implemented using this proper clubfitting methodology and can be extremely valuable toward learning about and applying not only clubfitting effectively but also learning about and applying one’s golf swing effectively.

Given that some great golfers having played this game have had swings that were awfully funny looking (some of which feasibly could never swing right down the target line when wanting to as well as other golfers), the typical term “swing flaw” or any similar to it is a highly inappropriate term that should never really be used in the teaching or learning of a golf swing.  At best, a more appropriate expression would be that one’s golf swing is just not as developed as some other swings, a simple change in terminology and yet one that can dramatically change the way golf swing instruction is given and taken in the future.  Repeating what I previously stated, because a golf ball just sits still when swinging at it there is a far greater range of diverse swinging techniques that can work to hit a golf ball extremely effectively as opposed to activities where one needs to be ready to act in a split second when trying to hit a moving object for instance.  This is just plain common sense.

While advanced devices like launch monitors can be useful when in the right hands, they cannot replace sound underlying clubfitting knowledge, and the biggest claim to fame of launch monitors to date has been that they have helped to expose how poor the clubfitting industry as a whole is behind these monitors.  To illustrate, unless one’s best swingweight and grip size values for one’s golf swing are properly determined for every golf club/shaft tested on a launch monitor (grass-roots processes that a launch monitor is not needed for), any data collected from the monitor toward potentially selecting one’s best golf shaft for instance would be basically worthless.  On the other hand, if one’s swingweight and grip size values were properly determined for each club/shaft tested before getting on a launch monitor, then the launch monitor data would be, well, still essentially worthless, because two of the major and most critical club specifications for the golfer’s swing have already been determined with no need for the launch monitor.  At best the data from the monitor would be able to provide some fine-tuning information that in the end might be barely if at all noticeable on a club over a club fit by a capable clubfitter using no launch monitor at all.

Fitting golf clubs directly to one’s golf swing requires one to think in terms of fitting golf clubs to one as an extension of one’s body and physical and psychological attributes and requires one to focus on the way one swings rather than golf ball travel results (which can still be attended to after the more important aspect of clubfitting directly to one’s swing is addressed first).  Fitting clubs directly one’s swing comprises a completely different set of goals and protocols, totally different from fitting to ball travel results where the motion of one’s true base golf swing is commonly altered in the process.  That is not fitting to one’s golf swing.  If one currently has an out-to-in base swing path, fitting a golf club to that swing such that the base swing (path) is duplicated will help assure that one attains one’s best clubhead speed and control with the fit club.  Many may call this protocol worthless and contend that altering one’s base swing through clubfitting to accomplish a certain ball travel result is right.  But if ball travel fitting were right, one needs to be fit for clubs, and one’s base golf swing is already efficient, the question becomes whether the clubfitter is capable of fitting a golf club to one’s swing in a manner that does not alter the essence of one’s base golf swing.  When it comes to virtually every so-called professional clubfitter on the planet today, the answer to this question is a resounding no, and that is trouble for all concerned.  Golf club fitting is not simply about trying to obtain a desired ball travel result at the expense of altering one’s developed base swing at the time of the clubfitting.

If one is thinking that clubfitting is the “easier” task to perform after presumably working hard at developing one’s golf swing and hopefully developing confidence in that swing, then one is gravely mistaken.  The fact is learning and performing clubfitting well is an advanced task in the natural sequence of learning to play golf well (though it can still be performed expertly on even a beginner’s swing by a skilled clubfitter if desired) that can be physically and mentally intense and time consuming.  One might look back on one’s total golfing experience and realize that the clubfitting phase was harder and more time consuming than one’s swing development phase.  Making a few qualifying statements, I am referring here to the natural sequence of clubfitting, comprising first going through a swing development phase, and when becoming confident in that swing naturally starting to consider the better fitting of one’s clubs toward further improvement.  Golfers having less playing experience yet wanting to be so-called professional clubfitters and attending clubfitting schools for certificates would feasibly not have the same experience(s).  I am also referring here to clubfitting practices that legitimately fit golf clubs to one’s actual golfing performance and not the quicker, fallacious mail-order-type practices that most clubfitters still routinely utilize today.  Finally, in my particular case clubfitting learning time was extended profusely due to having to overcome multiple poor clubfitting theories and practices that still widely exist to this day (a big reason why I do this so others after me will not have to endure that particular experience).  When completely corrected, the learning phase at least should be less frustrating if not shorter, however truly competent clubfitting will still be a lengthier but a more authentic process than it typically is today.

Whether fair or true or not, I cannot help but often speculate that if the game of golf did not have as one of its characteristics the general need to be in class financially better off than the norm to participate, many of the fallacies still commonly associated with a golf swing and clubfitting might no longer exist.  If golf could be played for free (even for a somewhat temporary period) by a more common class of people that had to (figuratively) continually fight for everything they have just to survive to tomorrow, it somehow seems that many of the distortions still existing in golf would disappear in a hurry.

This officially brings this post title sequence to a close.  At least as far as the major issues I wanted to address within this sequence my notes are fairly empty now, but I still could have unintentionally overlooked one or more important topics.  I can and will supplement and amend this material as appropriate hereafter.  I will now move on to other clubfitting subjects that remain poorly comprehended to this day, correcting and/or completing them and through such revelations further supporting what I have already revealed to this point within Waggle Weight Wisdom™.