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

Briefly, in my immediately prior entry I noted that while much of the knowledge I am disclosing here I have known for a very long time, I am still learning new details and some of the information presented was learned not long before it was published within Waggle Weight Wisdom™.  I noted that I will be forthright in correcting any errors that come to my attention and advancing any theories and practices as applicable (unless I suppose I need to keep something temporarily to myself in order to first secure certain intellectual property rights).  I noted that the biggest surprise to me was not that well-known educators of the past had inflicted a good amount of incorrect and/or incomplete clubfitting knowledge at the start (they may still be admired for their pioneering efforts), but that little to no correction and/or revision in some clubfitting areas, even extremely basic areas that feasibly should have been learned better later, had been implemented through very long lines of publications.  I do not really want to have or develop that kind of reputation.  As these educators are frequently also involved in other areas besides golf club fitting (often much more heavily so and often in areas not particularly conducive to developing and/or upgrading clubfitting theory and practice expertly), this might help explain a great deal including why so much of their clubfitting information was incorrect and/or incomplete to begin with, why it has never been substantially corrected even on a very foundational level over such a long period of time, and perhaps where clubfitting education really ranks in priority among all of the areas they are involved in.

To that end and in stating that none of the other theories and practices I have disclosed to this point are affected, yet still being an extremely critical issue toward obtaining future results that are as accurate as possible, I proceeded to state that in still playing and testing fairly regularly, I may have made a recent error and talked myself into a slightly heavier swingweight value than I should be using, originally stating D3, but certain recent test results pointing more toward D2.  At this particular time, however, it appears I may have confessed to something that was not incorrect, with the most recent results pointing back to D3 again.  While I have learned still more and more details out of these tests and results, they are details that do not come into play in this particular discussion, but I will certainly add this information recently learned at the appropriate time.  Beyond that and despite the fact that I can barely wait to finish this particular post title sequence and move onto other topics (although I cannot be remiss regarding remaining details that I need to include), this particular posting was composed concurrently while formulating a critically important patent application response needing to be worked on and finished and which severely limited my available time for composing this specific entry.  If all goes well, that application may turn into intellectual property rights that should have a major effect on at least the clubfitting trade in the years to come and be a strong force in turning around this trade that has deservedly had such a poor performance record and reputation for so long.  Despite the extraordinary importance of that task, I surely hope this entry has not notably suffered as a result.

But having now stated that I will continue to openly disclose any new and/or corrected information as I move along, I cannot help but note that I simply do not do the amount of testing now that I did when I was seriously pursuing playing golf for a living.  Although I still have a good deal more to divulge concerning clubfitting theory and practice that I have already learned but just have not revealed yet and I will continue certain research and experimentation, it is already vaguely in the back of my mind that I have (or will have by the time I have disclosed certain other topics yet to come) advanced the science and art of golf swing development and clubfitting a particular amount and perhaps soon it will be time for someone else to pick up where I leave off so I can actually do something I enjoy more.  Part of my reduced testing is due to a loss of interest in the game in general (especially after reaching a point where I did not desire to pursue playing the game for a living anymore), part of it due to substantial time invested in developing this column and other WaggleWeight® Company aspects, and part of it is related to just how plain costly it is now (for normal people) to buy golf club components and related tools and supplies for testing.  Even discrete components have become so pricy in many cases that buying certain items is not even really justifiable as a business research expense anymore for the return that is gotten out of them.  I purchased a rather small selection of just golf grips for experimentation recently and the purchase seemed to be more expensive than an entire set of completed golf clubs not all that long ago.

Now to try to be somewhat fair to the golf industry, when I spent a good deal of my youth going to Wrigley Field, general grandstand admission was perhaps $2, and on occasion when I had a little extra money I might treat myself to a box seat that was closer to $4, but that was pretty rare.  Or I might opt for the cheaper seats with no backs and farther from the action (the bleachers) for 50 cents.  (And the park was generally so empty back then the upper deck was rarely open, getting a fun treat when it was).  Well I do not go much anymore, but last month my wife and I were offered complementary tickets so we went, sitting in what used to be the last row of box seats before the grandstand began (it is likely configured differently now).  I literally could not believe my eyes when seeing the face value of the tickets, which were $70.  For that price I should not have to bring my baseball glove and go chasing after foul balls (I did not, and my seat might have been gone if I did): they should just hand me one.  But there are still some major differences, as I can still “play” baseball for considerably closer to the same cost as when I was a kid (although I am nowhere even close to being in running shape even though I still fairly regularly play golf and always walk the course, so in the end I am just a spoiled golfer).  But playing golf these days is another matter altogether.  If I could roll back the clock to when I started golfing and if at that time the game’s expense was comparable to today, I am dubious about whether I would have been able to take up the game at all, even with the moderate middle-class income we had at the time.  I can only guess as to whether golf might need to go through a (financial) correction equal to or even more severe than the real estate market has gone through in recent years if the game is to survive and grow.

But my diminishing interest in the game goes far beyond its current cost.  To specify an example, the grip size testing I have exposed to date was portrayed using Golf Pride golf grips, which for a very long time was my go-to company as having the biggest selection of nice, functional golf grip models at reasonable prices.  Yet now they are a company I actually try to avoid if at all possible, with immoderate prices, the discontinuing (at least to the general public) of popular and functional grip models through the years along with a general decreasing selection of various grip sizes, and the introduction of multicolored and solid-colored often loud, Halloween-type grips that I would never be caught playing with on a golf course.  Not that other grip manufacturers appear any better, with some substantially embarrassing themselves and the golf industry by providing the equivalents of totally inept grip-on-a-stick grip size fitting charts presumably geared toward selling as many golf grips as possible in the shortest amount of time without regard to the playing success of poor golfers and for which such grip makers and the golf industry as a whole richly deserve to be ridiculed.

Similar to my earlier satirical statement that many golfers expect to be so “comfortable” that they expect a club to swing itself, the “color generation of golf” as I will term it can be considered another latent feature of what is a somewhat deep-rooted golfing culture that just happens to be coming a little more to the surface in recent times.  I cannot tell you how often in recent times I have browsed through Internet golf forums for instance, especially regarding clubfitting, seeing numerous discussions regarding what color grips, shafts, and/or clubheads to use, a couple actually about painting clubheads and/or shafts different colors.  And many of these people probably consider such topics to be serious clubfitting issues without actually knowing what any real golf club specifications are in a more technical sense.  I can only speculate about whether the “instigators” of the current color craze are the component makers such as but hardly limited to Golf Pride trying to force such grips upon golfers all year round and not just around Halloween (when first encountering some of them I really thought they were very temporary in nature produced more as a publicity stunt for selected occasions), or the golfers themselves as a whole demanding such colored golf club components and refusing to purchase anything else.

But there are certain things I do not need to speculate about.  Among them are that there used to be only a select few golf club component companies that were begun and/or run by individuals who at least had some semblance of what golf club fitting was about, with these companies generally offering all or nearly all of what was available in the industry.  Using golf grips as an example, most every available model in most every available size was frequently available, easily allowing one to test and obtain the results that have been disclosed in Waggle Weight Wisdom™ to date (if one had the proper base of knowledge to work from).  Today, however, there are uncounted component companies often begun and run by people with the hope of profiting who observably barely know a golf club from a cave man club and apparently choose what product offerings are to be made.  Additionally, in the same way that far more component companies have surfaced in more recent times, so too have more manufacturers surfaced (using golf grips as an example again), making it much more difficult for even better component companies to choose exactly what golf grip models to offer.  In a nutshell, what has resulted from all of this is that it is becoming much more common now to find just one core size of grip in three or more different model colors being offered than to find just one color(s) golf grip in three or more different model core sizes being offered for grip size fitting purposes.  In this regard, the golf industry as a whole and the clubfitting trade more specifically appear to be moving backward rather than forward concerning certain golf club fitting theories and practices.

But there are no easy turnarounds to be suggested for changing certain parts of the golf industry’s image and technical competence (especially surrounding the golf club fitting trade) for the better, because the unadorned truth is that even among golfers that are fully aware of various golf club specifications and how important they can be with respect to one’s golf swing and playing performance, for many of these golfers it is simply far more important to look “pretty” on the course than it is to play their very best.  This is rather obvious throughout many areas of the golf industry, for example in the way golf apparel manufacturers have traditionally advertised their wares.

Still another part of deeply embedded golfing culture that makes the industry as a whole look rather foolish at times is its “handicap” lifestyle, which portrays a somewhat similar culture as the comfort or color golfing cultures.  As one very prominent example, in using Internet golf forums as a reasonably accurate representation of the industry in general and in all my years of observing how people promote their “qualifications” when asking and answering questions, not one single time have I seen an “expert” responder list his/her golfing qualifications in unclouded terms of what his/her typical golf score is (for all of one’s play like the rest of the world generally has to do, with supplemental golf course difficulty, golfer age, or other viable facts as justified) instead of a silly handicap number.  Yes, golf courses can vary quite a bit in difficulty (like weather conditions), but so can the playing fields of all kinds of other games that perhaps may not be so visible on the surface.  The handicapping system in golf appears overly complex for just a game and seems to be administered by people that have way too much time on their hands and take the game way too seriously.  But the biggest “comfort” of the system is that from fifty up to more than eighty percent of one’s worst scores get to be eliminated (depending on the number of rounds played), plus other possible adjustments to lower one’s score(s), pretty plainly making one generally look better than one is.

I sure wish I could have half the times I made outs (I would particularly like strikeouts wiped off my record if I have a choice) and half the errors I made in baseball eliminated and my batting and fielding averages respectively reconfigured.  But I suppose in the end I would still know the real truth regarding my talent level.  Now I have nothing against handicaps per se.  I had an official handicap in bowling for a number of years (based on the average of all of my games as I recall, not just a portion of them).  And on a more informal level as a kid, I gave runs or points (depending upon the particular game being played) and I took runs or points all the time (depending upon who was playing who and other factors).  It often made playing the games more fair and fun.  (Other than trying it for a brief period, I never maintained a handicap for myself in golf [unless I was required to figure and submit one to get into particular tournaments] mostly because my goal was always to play the game for a living and handicaps are irrelevant in that particular arena).  Handicaps for those playing in golf leagues for instance, where actual competition takes place and a method is used to try to put players of different talent levels on a more equal level, may help make play fairer and more fun for everyone.  And I do know that figured handicaps are often required for one to get into certain tournaments, because I have been there.  Handicaps can be quite appropriate under certain circumstances.

What does not reflect so well on golf is the sheer number of golfers that abuse such a handicapping system (those that really have no cause to keep an official handicap at all, not being in a league or not entering any tournaments as examples) to make themselves look better than they really are.  (Actually, the golf handicapping system can be viewed from opposite extremes as being either extremely pampering to players in making them appear better than they are, or extremely tough on players by not providing them with enough strokes in many instances to make a really fair competition against better players.  I am exploring the pampering side here).  This is particularly true when golfers are trying to portray themselves as being “experts” in any given area and representing their playing credentials in terms of a handicap number.  I have news for all such golfers.  Any time any one of you represents your playing qualifications (as part or all of trying to portray being qualified to answer a golf swing and/or clubfitting question) in terms of a handicap number (the very expression of “handicap” connoting that one is less than qualified), you look like an idiot (I am expressly referring here to those answering the questions and not those asking them).  In an atmosphere where those asking the questions are simply trying to literally be the best they can be, a responder representing a handicap figure that serves no purpose whatsoever outside the realm of certain direct competitions and which can be extremely deceiving is suspicious.  Those asking the questions might want to keep this in mind when reviewing any responses they receive.

These are some but clearly not all of the aspects that frequently broadly portray golfers and the golf industry as a whole in a certain light(s).  Much of this is naturally occurring due to some of the inherent characteristics that have become associated with the game of golf.  It is far more expensive to participate in than many other activities.  To this end it is geared more toward those that are better off financially.  It is also a game that requires far less athleticism.  To this end it often attracts people that have not otherwise been athletic and/or older patrons that may have been very athletic in the past but cannot participate in other activities anymore largely because of the aging process.  These attributes can also frequently be linked to people that also like to be more “comfortable” in various way and often linked to people that overall have insufficient experience and knowledge regarding equipment fitting, in some cases thinking that they are heavily involved in and successful at the task when choosing what color golf grip to use.  Beneath all the sarcasm this is not meant to assign particular blame, and generally speaking I have nothing against and there is nothing wrong with any of these lifestyles and/or attitudes.  They are just cultures that are somewhat different from other cultures, and again many of these characteristics are in fact natural manifestations related to inbred characteristics regarding the game of golf.

But they are nonetheless fairly conspicuous manifestations that many people are just not used to and/or not very attracted to that might persuade many people to think about but reject thoughts about becoming more involved in the game, people that maybe the golf industry would like to attract better but cannot.  And these are contributing reasons as to why I will “probably” not do as much testing in the future and sometimes wish I would have gone into anything but golf.  Still, even if I do no further testing there is much more advanced information to be revealed from testing and experience already accumulated, so I will try to get back to that in earnest.