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

I will begin today by strongly emphasizing that anyone claiming to be a golf club fitter or fitting educator in any capacity and believing that one’s best golf grip size needed to perform one’s best golf swing should remain the same as golf shaft weight varies for an otherwise like golf club (with shaft weight being largely responsible for a golf club’s total weight) is a clear contributor to why the clubfitting trade has a well-deserved reputation for being the worst in all of sports.  This includes anyone fitting one’s golf grip size using the absurd grip-on-a-stick method (or any comparable method that typically determines one or more measurements relating to one’s [top gripping] physical hand size under static and non-swinging conditions.  This mail-order-type method can generally be gotten away with (even for in-person clubfitting) because the golfing population in general is far less aware (than performers in many other activities) of the importance (and even existence) of equipment fitting to a performer and how to properly approach that task.  No one using (or recommending) such a method of fitting for one’s best golf grip size deserves to have the term “professional” attached to his/her title in any way, shape or form.

If looking to be fit for one or more golf clubs, one owes it to oneself to stay as far away as possible (perhaps finding out in advance if one can) from any so-called professional clubfitter that fits golf grip size (one of the most critical golf club specifications there is) in any other manner than that prescribed in Waggle Weight Wisdom™, which comprises solid fundamental clubfitting in place of shortcuts that can take one’s golf game backward instead of forward.  Any clubfitter practicing grip size fitting in any such shortcut manner is not worth the paper that any certificate or diploma he or she has is printed on.  At the speed with which a golf club can be swung and manipulated by one, even one who is a beginner, differences, often drastic differences, can generally be perceived in the quality of one’s golf swing with grip size alterations that are quite small.  Now if one’s golf grip size is poorly fit to begin with then there is a pretty good chance that some improvement may be obtained in choosing any other grip size next, even through the trivial let-us-take-advantage-of-naive-golfers grip-on-a-stick method of determining one’s grip size based on the size of one’s top gripping hand while one is in a totally sedentary state (sedentary with respect to actual golf swing performance) or alternately basing one’s choice of grip size on the “comfort” of various grip sizes when one is in the same state (an even more absurd notion).

But if looking for a quality of clubfitting so well done that one ideally comes away from such a fitting believing that one does not really need any more golf swing lessons and that one’s swing ability is sufficient to succeed at and/or enjoy the game suitably just as it is, well one is certainly not going to accomplish anything even close to that if one is fit for golf grip size the way the clubfitting industry has settled into doing it essentially since the commercial inception of the trade.  While it is not (and should not be) the most dominant element of developed confidence in one’s golf swing, competent clubfitting to one’s golf swing can nevertheless be an important element toward the confidence (and how much confidence) one hopefully ultimately develops in one’s golf swing.  (There should ideally be an underlying core of confidence in one’s golf swing based upon one’s development and/or understanding of appropriate golf swing fundamentals regardless of whether one’s clubs are properly fit or not, but that is understandably much easier said than done, and competent clubfitting can help in achieving this desirable goal).  Merely one part of this competency includes knowing that any time one’s golf swing changes or further develops after completing any given clubfitting process, the process must be repeated in order for one to reestablish one’s best possible overall golfing performance.

No individual clubfitter or organization for instance properly associated with the names WaggleWeight® or Waggle Weight Wisdom™ would ever provide or sanction golf club fitting services (including but certainly not limited to grip size fitting) using such shoddy procedures that the clubfitting industry as a whole has become synonymous with over its commercialized history.  While other distinguished benefits of searching out these names in connection with various entities (including those offering golf swing instruction) will be revealed in due time, now seems like an appropriate time to announce that by seeking out these names one will not be subjected to the traditional (and traditionally ridiculous) “formal clubfitting interview or questionnaire” at the outset of any in-person clubfitting session.  Such a procedure is customarily taught to so-called “trained” clubfitters, to be conducted as if a clubfitting customer might best show up wearing a suit, be interviewed for a regular job first, and bring a change of clothes for afterward.  Such sit-down-type interviews and/or questionnaires can be quite uncomfortable for one (even for already-skilled players let alone lesser-skilled players), potentially being to some extent stressful, intimidating, and/or demeaning depending on who is doing such an interview and/or the specific questions asked on many such pre-formed player interview sheets.

The initial player interview is yet another clubfitting tradition that appears to be derived from a mail-order-type clubfitting process initially but is now routinely integrated into in-person clubfitting as well.  Mail-order clubfitting comprises many “guesses” to say the very least that are typically masked by so-called “scientific” procedures that are in fact completely static in nature, completely irrelevant to, and have nothing whatsoever to do with the way one actually swings a golf club.  Such a fitting is traditionally supplemented with a questionnaire asking for additional information that might help to determine such mail-order guesses regarding certain golf club specification values, but questions that are utterly ridiculous to ask during an in-person clubfitting.  (The mail-order fitting of any golf club specification is never recommended for legitimately successful clubfitting to one’s golf swing [or even to one’s ball travel results].  From a quality of fit [not a profit-making] perspective, because one’s actual golf swing and/or ball travel results cannot be summarily observed and analyzed while using different golf club specification values and thus no meaningful [clubfitting] interaction can take place between golfer and clubfitter, mail-order-type clubfitting is really reserved for the most inexperienced and gullible of golfers.  I was never foolish enough to go that route even in my earliest golfing days, largely due to already having equipment-fitting experience in other activities).

Note here that mail-order clubfitting is not the same thing as ordering a custom-made golf club(s) through a clubmaker when one already knows the exact club specification values one wants and is able to dictate or express that to the clubmaker.  Without getting too far off topic, this can be a worthwhile subject in and of itself that perhaps can be discussed at a later time, as if two different golf professionals preferred the exact same driver length of forty-five inches for example, one might simply specify a finished golf club length of forty-five inches while the other may specify a particular way of installing the shaft in the clubhead and a particular amount of shaft length to be cut off the butt end.  In the latter case the club will (if done correctly) also have a finished length of forty-five inches even without mentioning that length when ordering, and with certain other details attended to that might be completely different if only a finished golf club length were specified upon ordering.

Anyway, if a mail-order-type clubfitting process is nonetheless utilized, one would think it would be developed in the best way possible as a derivative of a competently-structured in-person clubfitting process and not the other way around where the in-person clubfitting process is developed as a derivative of the superficial, quick, and cheap processes come up with for a mail-order clubfitting process.  But that is precisely the current state of the in-person clubfitting industry regarding how multiple golf club specifications are fit, and this includes, as described above, the traditional clubfitting interview or questionnaire to be filled out by a golfer initially.  Many of the inquiries made are obviously derived from forms to try to fit golf clubs through a mail-order process (with others not derived from a mail-order process but just plain dumb).  Many of these questions can be preposterously needless when one’s golf swing and/or ball travel results can be observed and analyzed in person and one can be communicated with directly.  Answering such ridiculous questions in person may bring out a feeling in one before actual clubfitting even begins that perhaps one should have instead opted for going through a mail-order clubfitting process, even if one is already acutely aware of the general worthlessness of mail-order clubfitting.

Fortunately, I need no brilliance of mind to perceive that which few others have appeared to perceive about one who plays golf.  This perception is that one typically wants to come away from any given in-person session of clubfitting or golf swing instruction being able to swing as well as possible given one’s golf swing capability and hit a golf ball as long, straight, and solid as one can with any given golf club in hand.  To that end, such formal (now many will change it to “informal,” but make no mistake that it is the same dreaded concept) oral interviews and/or written questionnaires (perhaps called one’s player profile or some other name) that commonly comprise completely unnecessary questions for an in-person session that make the clubfitting industry as a whole look quite amateurish just by asking them, can be and are fundamentally eliminated by entities properly associated with the trademarked names above, addressing pertinent questions and issues as relevant during the actual session.

Now at this point most of the major impact statements with respect to this particular post title sequence have been made, and an actual end to this sequence is something that can be anticipated in the foreseeable future.  Nevertheless, there are important details yet to be discussed that will fill in some missing gaps and better complete what has hopefully been learned thus far, supplemented with a final review of what the clubfitting industry continues to be like in light of what has been disclosed more correctly in Waggle Weight Wisdom™ with respect to certain elements of competent golf club fitting.

So to continue, I have noted and be sure to keep in mind that using an air compressor for installing and removing grips and trying to get away with having only a single specimen of any given golf shaft model available for testing for fitting one’s best grip size for that specific shaft model is an extremely poor choice of clubfitting protocol and will virtually guarantee failure (although grip installation and removal using an air compressor might be fine under other circumstances).  Repeatedly getting the exact same grip on and off the exact same shaft in exactly the same alignment, which is critical for such testing (even so-called round grips are not absolutely perfectly round and this can be influential from initial installation to any reinstallation), plus reproducing the exact same grip stretching and thus diameter each time, are in and of themselves virtually impossible to accomplish and cannot be considered accurate enough for a clubfitting process of determining one’s best golf grip size.  And then even beyond that, with each grip change time must be taken to precisely readjust the club’s swingweight value, a task seeming to take hours compared with one having otherwise identical clubs with different golf grip sizes on them readily available side by side for switching between at will.  When swinging the next test club chosen, one must always have the best, most recent recollection possible firmly in mind of what swinging the previous test club was like in order to most successfully determine one’s best grip size for any given shaft model.

If air-compressor grip installation and removal working with a single golf club was an effective means of determining one’s best golf grip size, then the information provided here pertaining to the relationship between golf shaft weight and one’s best golf grip size on otherwise like clubs would likely have come to the forefront before being disclosed here, as air-compressor grip installation and removal has been around sufficiently long enough already for such a relationship to surface.  But it did not surface, and this fact can be considered strong evidence that such a process is not efficient enough for a clubfitting task that needs to be prepared and executed more painstakingly in order to be successful.

This requisite of having at least two identical shafts of the same model readily available (utilized in the construction of two identical test golf clubs [except for grip sizes in this particular testing sequence]) for the best clubfitting results, can be a difficult thought to initially digest as it is implicitly impossible to have even one specimen of every available shaft model let alone two.  But this thought can be tempered by the fact that shafts in and of themselves are simply not as critical in the overall scheme of superb golf club fitting as golf shaft manufacturers and many undereducated golfers (inclusive of clubfitters here) claim they are.  And once this is clearly comprehended, striving to procure one each of as many different shaft models as possible can in fact become a comical circumstance at an undetermined point and actually quite counterproductive if achieved, often then spending an inordinate amount of time on shaft fitting to the exclusion of more critical elements of clubfitting that can directly impact the coordination of one’s actual golf swing.

As I have also noted already, those that place the most importance upon the golf shaft as being the most critical ingredient of clubfitting are commonly those that have the least amount of relevant knowledge regarding other critical clubfitting elements surrounding that golf shaft, including but not limited to the elements covered within this particular post title sequence.  With golf club specifications selected correctly for one at both ends of any given golf shaft, one will be able to consistently perform golf swings to the very best of one’s ability regardless of whether the shaft is a space-age, ultra-expensive model (that might have specific flexing characteristics engineered into many different sections of the shaft) or a tree branch that might fall at one’s feet for free, with the shaft being a factor in ball travel results but not one’s inherent swing quality (at least one better hope not ideally).  This still makes a golf shaft important and make no mistake about that, but not as important as many people believe and certainly not so momentous that a clubfitting shop must purchase one each of 100 different driver shaft models rather than two each of 50 different driver shaft models or even three each of 33 different models (assuming for simplicity that all of the shaft models are priced the same, which in reality is certainly not true).  A truly skilled clubfitter will ultimately be able to get more out of one’s golf swing performance capability (including via ball travel results) in the latter two cases over the former case (associating the former case with depending upon using the grip-on-a-stick method of fitting golf grip size whereas the latter two cases are not dependant upon that ill-founded [with respect to one’s actual swing performance] mail-order method).

Similarly, the information presented here will hopefully help one realize how absolutely worthless launch monitors are in and of themselves.  A launch monitor is fundamentally a supplemental tool that is an extension of and only as good as the clubfitter using it.  It is a device that can aid in fine-tuning golf club specification values for one during clubfitting and that might help send one out the door with a slightly noticeably better clubfit when in the hands of a truly knowledgeable clubfitter.  It is certainly not a device that is expected to or capable of effectively performing the foundational and most critical clubfitting work for one.  To that end launch monitor use is hardly a make or break consideration even for tour level fine-tuning performance considerations.  And to that end it is also a device that can easily help one produce a substantially worse clubfit than if no launch monitor were used at all when such a device is in the hands of a clubfitter having inadequate golf swing and/or clubfitting knowledge.  Launch monitors can help gather information beyond what humans senses can perceive and display that information in a way that can be perceived and analyzed by humans, but they can only gather and display information that is put in front of them by a clubfitter.  For instance, for as long as they have been around now, I have yet to see a launch monitor decipher that as a golf shaft gets lighter for an otherwise identical golf club one’s golf grip size needs to get larger in order for one to produce one’s best golf swing motion.  Launch monitor data would easily and consistently support this if relevant testing were presented to such a device, testing that would rationally include one swinging with various golf grip sizes on golf clubs having various weight golf shafts but otherwise alike.

But such testing never has been and never will be presented in front of a launch monitor by a clubfitter believing that the same golf grip size (commonly chosen in a horribly inept manner) should be used by one regardless of all other golf club specification values and launch monitor data that should be looked for after such an inept beginning is what golf shaft weight works best with the chosen grip size.  (Actually, it routinely gets even worse than this, as oftentimes one’s shaft weight is chosen before any attempt whatsoever to try to determine what golf grip size one will make one’s best golf swings with).  This type of extremely flawed clubfitting protocol will be brought up again shortly, and with this and other fundamentally faulty clubfitting processes continuing to be very widely utilized and accepted, a rather familiar saying can be readily applied.  This is that if garbage testing is put into to a launch monitor to begin with (as commonly occurs with so many clubfitters around that are very unskilled at knowing even extremely basic golf swing and clubfitting theories and practices correctly and competently addressing these rudimentary elements before fine-tuning devices like launch monitors should even justly be brought into play), then irrelevant garbage information is what will be gotten out of the launch monitor.

A launch monitor can be a very helpful advanced supplemental tool provided that what is done leading up to launch monitor use is done competently, and it can be a worthless and even harmful clubfitting tool when what is done leading up to launch monitor use is done incompetently.  Underlying support for my statement that the clubfitting industry is the worst in all of sports is that in light of incredible advances in other golf club technology in recent decades, average golf scores have sure not improved to the degree that should be expected given such advances (with certain statistics maybe even regressing backward regarding particular elements of overall golfing proficiency).  The essentially paralleling growth in launch monitor use has been considerably responsible for (or more accurately the industry behind such launch monitor use has been considerably responsible for) why golfer improvement overall has lagged so badly behind such technological advancements.  “Glitzy” launch monitors that can more easily grab the attention of the uninitiated (and this can apply to Mr. Credulous Clubfitter as well as Mr. Gullible Golfer) have gradually promoted even more of a focus on secondary, very often misleading ball travel results.

This is almost to the complete exclusion these days of any focus on one’s pure golf swing performance as the first priority of clubfitting (with ball travel results being a secondary priority as part of a comprehensive and competent clubfitting process) and has been an unfortunate byproduct of launch monitor development and use to date.  And even before launch monitors existed there was already a general approach of too much attention paid to ball travel results first and direct golf swing performance second, largely because of an insufficient understanding even then of how to fit golf clubs directly to one’s golf swing performance.  And that early misunderstanding was not helped and in large part further promoted by much incorrect and/or incomplete golf swing and/or clubfitting theory and practice produced by predecessors to the far more correct information revealed in Waggle Weight Wisdom™.  Perhaps one can see how even a small amount of wrong information promoted early on could potentially lead to much more substantial misjudgments later on.  One such example comprises just one person somewhere along the line making the single statement (perhaps in print) that golf club swingweighting is a function of shaft flex, and look what has happened since then, with uncounted undereducated (regarding golf swing and related clubfitting theory and practice) golfers, clubfitters, and others grabbing hold of this untrue statement and passing it along over time like spreading a virus.

Perhaps the biggest advantage to date that has come from the widespread implementation of launch monitors in recent times is that they have been able to successfully cover up to some extent (or reveal depending on how good one’s fundamental clubfitting knowledge is) the fact that the foundational clubfitting expertise of the clubfitting industry as a whole that underlies launch monitor use is quite deficient.  Launch monitor use to date has been far more successful toward revealing horrible deficiencies in the underlying clubfitting trade than actually helping to appreciably improve golfer scores over what was achieved before such launch monitors existed, though this will change in time in large part due to the theories and practices disclosed in Waggle Weight Wisdom™.  But until then, how long such a cover up can be sustained is yet to be seen.  If the same golf club technology existing today were otherwise available at a time when launch monitors were just a dream in someone’s mind, it is not an unreasonable stretch based on a comprehensive evaluation of the clubfitting industry today to think that golf scores after clubfitting would have been better then than now.

Launch monitor use has been instrumental in the development of some newer golf club fitting procedures that have actually taken the trade distinctly backward in some respects.  These procedures are mainly derived from the increased focus as noted above that launch monitors place on ball travel results while one’s actual swing performance has taken even more of a back seat to what it did before such devices came into being.  I do not think I can repeat enough times that superbly-coordinated golf swings can be made while at the same time desired launch monitor numbers can be terrible, launch monitor numbers can be perfect while one’s golf swing coordination is terrible, these circumstances are not rare but occur regularly, and one’s direct golf swing performance and ball travel result are not exclusively connected elements.  And in case one has not figured it out yet, one’s direct golf swing performance is most important toward how well one does or does not perform.  That which has just been detailed regarding golf grip size fitting is merely one disclosure of how inept the clubfitting industry continues to be overall at as basic a level as there is at competently fitting certain golf club specification values to one one’s actual golf swing.  It is not like launch monitor use can make much of a difference in clubfitting under these circumstances, and indeed statistics that come out every once in a while about the state of various segments of the golf industry certainly bear this out.