The Terrible Twos Syndrome of Golf Club Fitting: Part Forty-Eight

Through Waggle Weight Wisdom™ (or other means as this particular column may have a limited lifespan after certain golf swing and golf club fitting theories and practices have been gone through), I will make every effort through some branch of the WaggleWeight® Company to disclose and publicize any further research done and any alterations and/or improvements discovered that should be implemented in these theories and/or practices.  As I have perhaps noted previously, it seems that not a day goes by without still learning something new about my current profession, most often (but not always) minor details after a certain level of knowledge and/or experience is reached yet details that can still have a major impact in the end.  I have already been kind of bored and/or disgusted for a long time already with many aspects of the game, including but hardly limited to some of the more notable people that are publicly involved in and exert influence on the game in various capacities.  To this end, I might be out of here in a heartbeat if I ever felt I had nothing else to learn about this profession.  But I do continue to learn rewarding things, thus some of what I have written in the past (as honest as it was at the time) may already be outdated some.  Perhaps this even qualifies me as a Mr. Credulous Clubfitter.  In fact, before I am even done with this particular post title sequence, I already have a change to effect as described below.

For multiple reasons, I do not really want to scramble back and make certain alterations (even relatively minor alterations that may largely go unnoticed) to what I have already published, not the least of which is because some of my most precious personal memories are embedded in the mistakes I have made and failures I have had I the past, often more so than victorious accomplishments, and keeping them and the timeline in place actually can be more beneficial for everyone over going back and quietly replacing certain items.  So I am all for revising and/or correcting even myself as necessary in order to advance, including right here.  To elaborate, while none of the actual theories and practices I have disclosed to this point have any fundamental errors in them to the best of my knowledge, it does appear that I have made a somewhat recent mistake in the selection of a personal golf club swingweight value for myself (the error uncovered partly through some of the theories and practices I have already disclosed and partly through some that I have yet to disclose but will in time).  I previously reported that my ideal (or midrange) swingweight value was D3(.0), but it now seems I was slightly in error regarding this and that it should be D2(.0) at this point.  As I may need to directly refer to my own personal swingweight value or value range when discussing any theory or practice not disclosed yet, it is best to update this detail now to avoid possible confusion later.  What is most important to know before continuing is that none of the other data and relationships previously discussed are changed in any way as a result of this slight swingweight value change, including my best golf grip size (M60) and my best golf grip sizes when purposely altering my swingweight value one or more points in either direction (but from D2 now).  My golf swing (with no conscious physically implemented changes) is just virtually undetectably different now.

Most of the golf swing and clubfitting theories and practices I have disclosed to date I have known for a rather long time, among them being that even a change in value of a single swingweight point will generally require a change in one’s golf grip size if one means to swing one’s very best (assumes that one’s best grip size is chosen for one’s best swingweight value to begin with).  I have been quite familiar with this cause and effect on one’s base or root golf swing for I would say considerably more than a decade at this point.  Other particulars disclosed thus far, however, have been more recent discoveries, and the presentation of this column is such that one cannot really tell whether any given information has been known for twenty-five years or just since yesterday.  Anyway, with respect to the above-noted swingweight versus grip size relationship that reveals one had better get one’s mid swingweight value right even though there is a range of swingweight values over which one will typically swing acceptably well, I struggled for years (perhaps decades is more accurate) when it came to getting consistent results for my swingweight value range.  Knowing that a difference of only one point would likely require a slightly different grip size for me in order to swing my best, I struggled in a major way when it came to getting consistent swingweight results for myself.

I got D5 for a time when I was younger, although back then I was so inexperienced I had no idea what swingweight was all about, so unskilled at working on my golf clubs that my grips might have been insecurely installed and moving around as I was swinging, my hand positions and/or swing were perhaps considerably different than they are now, and more.  With more time and experience I eventually found myself producing my best golf swings at around a more traditional swingweight value of D2 for the most part.  But even then, for what seemed like an eternity I never achieved the level of consistency I believed I should.  I sometimes swung well at up to D4 and terrible at D1, prompting me to go to D3 (being partly influenced also by playing D2 in some tournaments and experiencing a rather light-feeling effective clubhead weight plus hooking the ball like crazy, although there were also other elements involved not limited to poorly installed grip alignments).  On other occasions even D3 felt a little heavy and I seemed to hit the ball better even at D0 (though I never typically swung well at a D0 swingweight value).  The inconsistency was baffling and I could not figure out why it was happening.

But eventually I made some progress in first making a broad discovery about my apparel.  Coming from the Midwest and largely wanting to avoid potential slow play, I have often played a substantial percentage of my yearly rounds in the colder spring and fall weather when the course is generally less crowded.  This means that a substantial percentage of my rounds have been played in conditions where I had to wear winter-type hats, gloves, and/or clothing of multiple and/or thicker layers.  But I never really did any clubfitting under comparable conditions and thus never dressed comparably when testing for any of my golf club specification values.  (In hindsight I certainly should have but I just did not know any better at the time).  And I did not realize that my most coordinated swinging would take place over a different range of swingweight values (lower) as my clothing in general became thicker and/or tighter to a degree where my golf swing became restricted or in effect shortened.

It has always been important to me to confirm certain clubfitting results that I get while clubfitting under driving range or backyard conditions under actual playing conditions, partly because clubfitting under exactly the same lie and terrain conditions as examples may allow one to more readily adapt to and potentially choose one or more incorrect club specification values.  (In other respects, however, clubfitting under the identical lie and terrain conditions has distinct advantages, such as being able to detect differences in club specification values with more precision than if every successive swing were made under different such conditions).  So with this viewpoint and largely due to my geographical residence location, my dress as a whole (particularly during actual play) was substantially contributing to inconsistencies I was encountering regarding the best swingweight value for my golf swing.  Perhaps it could be stated that I did not have as much confidence in my clubfitting ability during this period as I did my actual golf swing, if I did I would have trusted my fitting results for certain clubfitting tasks at the driving range or just in the backyard (fitting conditions that can be debated as to whether they are any better or worse than other clubfitting conditions), and through that trust I would have still learned what I needed to know about the effect(s) of my apparel on my swing and maybe learned it even sooner.

Perhaps there is some truth to this, as I have had a good deal of confidence in my golf swing for a very long time, much of that acquired through certain things I accomplished in baseball previously to taking up golf seriously.  But that same level of confidence did not and could not extend to equipment fitting, as there are some very unique differences, additions, and potential complications associated with golf club fitting that do not come into play regarding the fitting of baseball bats for instance.  But even if there was a delay in learning about this particular factor correctly due to a potential confidence issue, I am somewhat comforted in that while struggling with the inconsistent swingweighting issue described here I probably learned other crucial clubfitting details that I never would have otherwise learned, with some of these details likely already having been disclosed within Waggle Weight Wisdom™ original material.

But at any rate, while knowing the swingweight versus golf grip size issue well for quite a long time already, knowing the swingweight versus apparel issue is still relatively new for me, becoming more firmly aware of it only somewhat recently just before publishing certain Waggle Weight Wisdom™ articles.  And since that discovery and based upon past experience, I initially became quite convinced that my best swingweight value would be D3, so much so I foolishly skipped testing certain fine-tuning swingweight values, which certainly could have contributed to my apparent error.  And the somewhat limited testing I have been able to do since (partly due to time consumed writing this column) seemed to confirm that D3 was correct.  But alas, it seems I may have indeed fooled myself slightly (feasibly easier to do if one is close to what is best rather than far away from what is best) because various test results to help confirm what is best for me have begun to break down some recently and now indicate that D2 is a better fit for me (unless for instance a severe neck muscle strain I have been battling lately [caused by not being warmed up adequately before swinging hard] and which has been slow to heal is playing a role, but I would tend to say no at this time).  In the midst of all of my prior inconsistencies, that is what I have predominantly gotten for myself for a very long time now.  But this is always subject to review and revision again for any number of reasons, not the least of which is that as I age further any given golf club specification value might best be changed for me at some point.  I shall not hesitate to revise and/or correct such information, even with respect to the underlying golf swing and/or clubfitting theories and practices disclosed.

While on the same general subject of revising past information and with all due respect again to authors like Ralph Maltby and Tom Wishon that have disclosed their particular clubfitting theories and practices through the years (or perhaps variations of pre-existing theories and practices of others), I am unquestionably most bewildered by the following.  While basically knowing only vague information about them, from that I will generalize that each of these individuals produced first editions of their clubfitting knowledge when about in their thirties.  Now in some cases one can be extremely experienced and truly an expert already in any given field when in their thirties.  In my specific case, looking back now I was so inexperienced and bad at knowing golf swing and clubfitting fundamentals correctly in my thirties (yet calling myself a professional golfer) it is sidesplitting.  Now in all fairness I did not take up the game, particularly seriously, until relatively late in my college years, and part of calling myself a professional back then was linked to knowing the theories and practices published by individuals including Maltby and Wishon that I depended on as being correct but were often not.  All told, it is fairly understandable how certain errors and/or inconsistencies could be present in certain types of works initially done at such an age and how certain missing experiences of the authors might more often be perceived when analyzing such works.  Indeed, even though my golf experience was somewhat limited around the time these authors’ first clubfitting works were published, I still had sufficient experience in other activities to almost immediately know that certain content these individuals published regarding golf club fitting theory and practice just did not logically add up even on a very basic level.

But what is not so understandable is that in subsequent versions and/or derivative works by these authors (which have been numerous for decades following the originals), how apparently little this fundamentally incorrect base clubfitting knowledge (I am referring here to major elements and not minor details) has been advanced through revision by the authors themselves.  Now I have previously conceded that in more recent years I have not purchased the most recent works by these individuals, largely because I have twenty to thirty years of works from these individuals piled figuratively up to my ceiling already that all say essentially the same things over and over with nothing notable that has been corrected regarding sound clubfitting principles.  So it is possible that more recent work of either of theirs has been considerably corrected, but based solely on the content of the substantial number of works of theirs I already own I would speculate that it is unlikely.  I have still yet to observe either one of these individuals coming anywhere even close to explaining certain extremely basic golf swing and/or clubfitting principles correctly even as vague generalizations let alone getting into the finer details, such as what I disclosed recently regarding a larger golf grip size being needed as golf club/shaft weight decreases if one wants to maintain one’s best swing performance as just one of numerous examples.

This is about as basic as it gets when it comes to understanding a golf swing and related equipment fitting.  But it is something that will sure never be learned by anyone believing in and teaching the use of the grip-on-a-stick or similar method of fitting golf grip size where it is believed that one should not actually have to swing in order to determine one’s best golf grip size.  Enough said?  For those that have been around the game for a while, when golf shaft weights were pretty much all the same and considered standard, so too were golf grip sizes predominantly standard in size.  But in more recent decades as shaft weight ranges have expanded considerably mostly in a downward direction, larger grip sizes have considerably increased in popularity.  There is a logical reason for this. And it is not because human hand size (if fitting golf grip size through such an inept manner), golf swing strength, and/or general physical strength have increased that much over a few decades of time (unless artificially induced).  So anyone that did not make the connection between lighter golf shaft/club weights and larger golf grip size requirements with respect to one’s golf swing performance before it was revealed here in Waggle Weight Wisdom™ is questionably qualified as an able clubfitting educator even on a very foundational level.

Most all clubfitting information previously published reflects very poorly not just on the clubfitting trade in particular but on the entire golf industry in general.  This element will continue to be (as it already is) a heavy burden on the industry worldwide until corrected. (Addressing this topic also elicits a thought of how golf will survive and grow [especially effectively] worldwide when a major ruling body of the game is in a country [although a country widely reported as the birthplace of golf] represented by an intellectual property office [United Kingdom Intellectual Property Office] that with other unenviable protocols in essence portrays the game of golf [and all games in general] in an extremely poor and unworthy light).

I honestly do not know if these individuals continue to strongly believe in the exact same flawed golf swing and/or clubfitting theories and practices they initially published when about in their thirties and their knowledge in these specific areas has become stagnant and not appreciably increased and/or corrected (as is indicated within their long timelines of publications) or if there is some other reason(s) that this information has not since been advanced.  (I will note here that certainly not all of the information put out by Maltby and Wishon is flawed, but much of the flawed information is so basic and major in nature that it tends to render even other good work done somewhat useless in that it often heads off in the wrong direction[s] [speaking mainly of clubfitting theory and practice here]).  But whatever the reason(s), this information has evidently not been corrected for quite a long period of time over many editions and/or derivative works.  This is what really surprises me much more so than when one just gets something wrong when they are a bit younger.  Not insinuating in any way that Maltby or Wishon has ever intentionally held anything back, I again assure you here that I will openly advance and/or correct in a timely fashion anything I have previously done if and when I learn it better.

Maybe I have noted before that I have seen both Maltby and Wishon previously remark to the effect that golf club component design and perhaps clubhead design in particular was their greatest passion at least at some point, an entire worthy career in and of itself, whereas I have essentially zero interest in activities of that sort.  I have a considerably narrower focus at the present time on clubfitting whether related to playing or business, getting into areas like the designs of components and/or tools and/or golf club repair as examples only to the extent needed to accomplish a more focused goal of being able to help one play one’s best golf generally with the resources already available from others.  This means knowing and concentrating on a golf swing and clubfitting far more intently than when also desiring to design components and/or tools and/or delve into other branch ventures of what their golf businesses comprise.  Understandably there is a large amount of passionate time expended toward club component and/or tool design and/or potentially other tasks of interest, leaving far less time to focus on reviewing and/or advancing golf swing and/or clubfitting theory and practice.  But ironically in the end (or perhaps at the start is more appropriate), proper golf swing and clubfitting theory and practice is really at the root of effective golf club component and clubfitting tool design, so beginning with improper theory and practice may notably limit or hurt the effectiveness and/or reputation of such designs and/or the companies that produce them.  Analyzing these various aspects could help provide certain answers, like why so much incorrect clubfitting information is still so prominently around and why it has never been corrected to the degree that might otherwise be expected by this point in time, even though the commercial clubfitting trade as a whole can still essentially be considered in its infancy.