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

I do not think I can stress enough how important it is to stay away from any entity that fits one’s golf grip size through utilizing the grip-on-a-stick method or an equivalent like physically measuring the dimension of one or more features of one’s top gripping hand, even if claimed it will be only a starting point toward determining one’s best grip size.  This is hardly limited to shunning from very small independent clubfitters to major club manufacturers that “custom fit” golf clubs and everybody in between, club component manufacturers and/or suppliers recommending such grip fitting methods, plus entities that teach the use of such an extraordinarily bad method of clubfitting where it is essentially attempted to be a “prophet for profit” in trying to determine what golf grip size one will swing best with without actually having one swing at all in determining one’s grip size.  Notwithstanding that “science-based” measurements (a sound idea) are gathered in using the grip-on-a-stick method, it is an extremely poor scientific method for fitting grip size.  Giving any business and/or support to such an entity (or its sponsors) will regularly result in one’s golf grip size (one of the most critical club specifications) being poorly chosen, will assure that the clubfitting trade overall will continue its present downward spiral in both quality of performance and reputation, and is contributing to the delinquency of the still rather novice clubfitting trade.  If not thoroughly convinced of any of this yet, you surely will be as I eventually discuss other features of proper golf grip size fitting.

Although golf grip size is a more important clubfitting element than golf club length (grip size can directly and greatly alter one’s golf swing coordination quality while club length generally just alters one’s swing plane, the higher priority of which should be obvious), if the clubfitting industry wishes to end its own misery and perhaps put itself totally out of business it might want to collectively consider creating an international pictorial symbol of another of its entirely absurd traditional fitting methods, that of the stand-at-attention clubfitting ruler for determining one’s golf club length.  An image of a golfer, standing at attention and having a dazed look or perhaps blindfolded so as to not be able to (or want to) see what is going on, with a clubfitting ruler standing alongside the golfer to measure a distance from the ground to a predetermined point on one of the golfer’s hanging hands, would be an apropos symbol of the way the clubfitting trade continues to operate overall, even with the interjected use of more modern implements like launch monitors.  Adding wording to the symbol in the form of a comment or question that the method is merely a starting point would only serve to further heighten the awareness of how the clubfitting trade functions at a very fundamental level with its traditional choice of such a comical method for a clubfitting starting point.

Such a symbol can elicit many generalizations beginning with the clubfitting industry but then spreading like a wild weed to other facets of the game of golf as well, and while this symbol is very satirical in nature by express intent, such generalizations can nevertheless have an underlying truth to them that cannot be rejected and that would never be evoked without such a sarcastic symbol.  For example, even non-golfers looking at this particular symbol might conclude that golfers (golfers in this instance referring to anyone involved in the game in any capacity) might predominantly be leftovers spit out by other activities and not allowed to play in other (even free) activities, but basically anyone that can afford to financially pay will be quite welcomed on a golf course (and a driving range, and in a clubfitting shop, and so on) to play the game and can even call oneself an athlete (as often judged by another golfer) if desired.  With due respect to everyone, such a generalization is undeniably often true, with the generalization suggesting a widespread lack of and/or incorrect knowledge with regard to golf swing performance and related equipment fitting.  The proposed symbol can portray all of this and more at a single glance even to one who might be rather inexperienced about the subject matter being symbolized, perhaps giving pause to one regarding whether to take up the game or stay in the game in some capacity.  A conspicuous display of such a symbol can also better portray how one segment of an industry, in this case the clubfitting trade (that overall performs quite poorly and has a poor reputation) of the golf industry, could influentially help drag down the entire golf industry.  This has been slowly happening over decades whether apparent to one or not.

To put some additional work into developing my symbol, I first restate here my genuine fondness of certain things that have emanated from the United Kingdom and how I sense they have been good influences in my life.  For all I know, no one in the UK may have had anything whatsoever to do with developing the stand-at-attention clubfitting ruler method of fitting for golf club length (I have no idea who started that) that I am utilizing as my symbol here.  Nevertheless, if the pictorial image of the golfer started above for the clubfitting trade is now fitted with a suit or uniform as well to represent the ultimate in an ultraconservative, unprogressive process, this can further specifically symbolize perhaps the worst intellectual property office I have dealt with to date related to trying to improve the game of golf, that of the United Kingdom Intellectual Property Office (UKIPO).  I used to think stories about societies so much more overly proper (to ill effect) than others were considerably exaggerated, that is until I experienced it firsthand here in the twenty-first century.  Rules and regulations of this particular office (that represents the country of Scotland that is widely purported to be the birthplace of golf) include broadly prohibiting patents for innovating the way a game is played (seemingly promoting a culture that may lack motivation and/or have an apathy toward improving any such game that might have been invented in the country in the first place) and prohibiting mailing communications concerning applications directly to an applicant, requiring such communications to be mailed only through a third-party, in-country, mail-forwarding entity.

While mainly speculative, an apparent culture within the UK of deeming game playing sufficiently unimportant toward the future development of its society to the point that it prohibits procuring certain intellectual property rights for improving the play of a game, could help explain a core heritage of poorly-developed golf swing and related equipment theories and practices and even some game rules that have shown essentially no sign of advancement over a long period of time.  Similarly to above, a poor state of the game of golf in a single country (albeit in this example one in which a ruling body of the game is located and yet certain game-improvement intellectual property rights are not obtainable) could be considerably influential in dragging the game down to the state it is currently in worldwide.  But many individual circumstances cumulatively come into play in what can be a rather complex situation.  What is not speculation, however, and as partially noted previously, the above-noted and other rules and regulations of the UKIPO were certainly contributory toward that office being the only office applied to that could not understand and/or grant patents for some of the most important advancements the game of golf will ever know in the areas of golf swing development and related equipment fitting.  This included a simple technical improvement for golf club fitting that was not even bound by the rules and regulations for prohibiting game-playing patent issuance.

To say it is ironic that this only happened in the very country where golf was supposedly invented to begin with is an understatement of conceivably monumental impact, with a resultant reputation forming that is similar to the clubfitting trade.  What effect(s) such occurrences may have on any recovery and future growth of the golf industry in separate countries and worldwide overall in the short and long terms remains to be seen over time.  Of course I reserve the right to further develop my international image that satirically yet accurately visually symbolizes the current state of various segments of the golf industry worldwide as circumstances dictate, but even after it might be deemed completely done I am not so sure at this point whether or not it would be a symbol I would ever want to own and/or be associated with as a trademark even if in a strictly sarcastic or comical manner.

At any rate, back to the specific subject at hand, I call attention to one more item before taking the next step toward understanding one’s golf swing and clubfitting better.  Despite being disclosed in terms of swingweighting (a golf club specification that works well for many golfers), do not develop the mistaken belief that the effective clubhead weight and grip size relationship(s) disclosed (values determined in part through essentially dividing a golf club’s length into two sections through swingweighting) is only appropriate when applying the club specification of swingweight.  That is not true.  The foundational head side to grip side relationship(s) is not dependent upon and not limited in its application to when golf club swingweighting is applied, although certain details can be different when different equipment specifications are employed.  Consider factors of how one’s human body is constructed and utilized, including but not limited to how one can capably learn to use multiple joints and limbs together (commonly at different times) within one’s body.  This regularly occurs just in the very basic throwing of an object and the swinging of an object with a purpose to hit another object as examples.  Then consider any number of options available on an elongated object to be swung that a non-elongated object does not have.  Among them is an option to change the object’s characteristic(s) at one end while either changing or leaving the object’s characteristic(s) alone at the other end (assuming any given game’s equipment rules permit this).  Each option will potentially change the swinging characteristic(s) of the object in a different manner and potentially change the way a human swings the object.

These are critical elements that need to be considered of an elongated object to be swung regardless of whether something like golf club swingweighting is applied as in this case, some other specification is developed that might divide an object’s length into different sections for equipment fitting purposes, or even when no such specification is applied and an elongated object is simply listed as an object of so much total weight as an example.  To the best of my recollection this more simple total weight attribute was all that was available when choosing what baseball bat(s) I used for hitting, yet even totally absent a specification like swingweighting the characteristics individually at each end of the bat and cumulatively came into play in essentially the same manner as when discussing golf clubs and when swingweighting is employed on a club(s).  A human manipulating one end of any elongated object in order to try to achieve a desired result with the other end of the object brings out certain causes and effects that might be considered universal in nature as they specifically relate to human performance and the swinging of elongated objects.  Recall again that golf fundamentally operates the same way as any other activity but with a few unique elements (which most different activities have) that just need to be understood correctly, often not accomplished in golf for reasons already elaborated on.  And without the human perception(s) element, the causes and effects discussed to this point would not even exist in the first place.

To that end, it can first be said that even the most inconsistent human golf swings are far more consistent toward determining best club fitting and design solutions based on one’s base golf swing than any device (no matter how technically precise) not able to correctly interpret the human perception(s) element.  (As sophisticated as today’s devices are and as long as they have been around already, not one of them has ever correctly revealed the fairly simple grip size versus swingweight relationship[s] of a golf club relative to human base golf swing performance before it was revealed here in Waggle Weight Wisdom™).  Second, the essential human perception(s), which will be discussed more “scientifically” later, does not even come into play unless and until one actually performs one’s swing.  This further supports why one must actually perform one’s swinging motion when fitting for any given golf club specification value (the task is nowhere near being rationally or properly completed without doing so) and further shows the stupidity of fitting any golf club specification value in a static manner as the symbol constructed above so eloquently demonstrates.  That the head side to grip side relationship(s) of an elongated object to be swung is not just exclusively a function of golf club swingweighting (a specification that may not be adequately understood yet) is extremely important to remember and will be brought more to light right now.

So hopefully the exposed relationship(s) between a golf club’s grip size and swingweight value with respect to one’s golf swing performance, whereby one’s best grip size needs to become larger as the golf club’s swingweight value becomes less (and vice versa) in order to obtain one’s best golfing performance has been sufficiently drilled into one’s head and one is becoming more comfortable with this very basic clubfitting concept.  While these two golf club specifications can and should be fit independently of one another (and in a particular order for the best clubfitting results based on research results already obtained), the cumulative result of fitting these two club specifications uncovers a greatly important relationship(s) between one’s golf club swingweight value, grip size, and pure golf swing performance.  The utter failure of the golf industry to capably reveal what are in essence such beginner clubfitting relationships previously has been substantially due to the still-standard grip-on-a-stick method of fitting golf grip size, where no actual swinging is the model in the course of choosing one’s golf grip size.  This is a kindergarten-level error that has contributed to the development and use of some rather funny and embarrassing clubfitting theories and practices through the years.  The complete failure of the industry to also capably separate one’s pure golf swing performance from ball travel results (two elements that can regularly bear contrary results out of the same stroke) has also greatly contributed to the current widespread deficiency in clubfitting (and golf swing) theory and practice knowledge within the current overall mess known as the clubfitting trade.

But wait.  I certainly have not traveled to this point just to end at the beginner clubfitting fundamentals disclosed thus far.  So in logical succession I shall now move on to the next phase.  Now that the relationship(s) has been explored between the golf club specification values of grip size and swingweight at essentially opposite ends of an elongated golf club in the simplest manner possible, that is where identical golf shaft properties were utilized in determining a most foundational head side to grip side relationship(s), I will now begin to account for the third primary component of a golf club, that of the golf shaft.  In view of what has been learned to this point, I will now consider changes in a golf club’s shaft to see what if any differences there are from the relationship(s) already discussed and if anything different or additional needs to be taken into account.  This is still an extremely basic clubfitting process, as currently one is not really even close yet to being able to take useful advantage of something like a launch monitor.  What I am now entering into shall best exhibit why this post title sequence is named what it is.  It will profoundly show why striving for only a single test specimen of each golf shaft model in an effort to achieve the largest possible number of component combinations for the investment outlay is another grave clubfitting error that will preclude one from competently performing even the most elementary clubfitting tasks to help one consistently perform one’s best golf swings.

Golf shafts continue to take on what is really an unwarranted air of mystery about them.  To this day they are often fixated on to such a degree by golfers (and clubfitters) that it seems like the shaft is far and away the most critical golf club component to be chosen.  But this is simply not true, particularly with respect to one’s pure golf swing performance.  While I will likely discuss more about certain golf shaft characteristic details later, I will first disclose just what is needed here in a couple of very broad statements that in a few paragraphs may help straighten out some people that have been causelessly obsessed with golf shafts.  First, people that dwell on shafts the most and as being the most important golf club component are typically quite lacking in knowledge regarding other clubfitting and/or related swing performance topics, including but not limited to the grip size versus swingweight relationship(s) discussed thus far here.  The fact is that if one’s swingweight value and golf grip size are correctly chosen for one around any given golf shaft, one will be able to make equally-coordinated golf swings (far and away the most important aspect of playing one’s best golf) despite whether a thousand-dollar exotic-material component or a tree branch is used for a golf shaft.  Under such prescribed circumstances, a shaft’s characteristics are essentially limited to affecting ball travel results and not the quality of one’s pure swing performance.  The shaft is thus still a relevant consideration but of less importance to one that correctly comprehends and prioritizes all other elements involved.

Second, in specifically referencing a shaft’s bending or flexing characteristic(s) to support the above, this is an overblown shaft characteristic often irresponsibly claimed as being conducive to hurting one’s golf swing if not perfectly chosen.  But when ably analyzed, shaft flexing properties are foundationally irrelevant toward the quality of one’s pure golf swing performance and essentially limited to affecting indirect ball travel results.  Stated differently, one better hope that one’s swing is not affected by shaft flexing properties or one’s golf swing and game is in considerable trouble.  A major exception to this, in which “misrepresentative” evidence may sway one into thinking that this foundational statement is incorrect, can be when swinging the identical golf club repeatedly at a driving range as an example.  There, one may eventually adjust one’s swing to club nuances ranging from a grip whose alignment is off or might have a wear mark in it at a particular location, to a club lie that is off, to the way a shaft flexes, and much more.  But that is a very different situation and in certain respects a totally different game from actual golfing.  Assuming a traditional set of golf clubs, there one is constantly switching between clubs and absolute shaft flex (frequency) is changing all the time and different even among clubs having the exact same shaft flex designation.  Additionally, different-type strokes made during play (even with the same club) also change a shaft’s flexing characteristics.

Now if one is unable to distinguish between pure golf swing performance and ball travel results and considers these to be one and the same, and since shaft flex can indisputably affect ball travel results (but to a lesser degree than most people think if other clubfitting elements are competently applied), then one has little choice but to deduce that shaft flex affects one’s golf swing.  But if one’s pure golf swing performance and ball travel results are competently separated and considered independently, then one is not bound by such a statement and shaft flex can be foundationally considered a function of ball travel results and not direct golf swing performance.  Thus, while not attempting to dispose of the golf club specification of shaft flex, its importance is justifiably diminished some if it does not directly affect the coordination quality of one’s golf swing performance as other far more important club specifications do.  So part of the missing documentation of golf includes the base fundamental that shaft flex is theoretically to be considered a club specification that affects ball travel results and not one’s pure swing performance.  This basis can be decisively proven through what has already been published in Waggle Weight Wisdom™ plus what follows.

With this “mini-lesson” about golf shafts that might already contain more pertinent and practicable information than some others’ far more expansive material on the subject, I can further proceed.  Now shaft models, not unlike other club components such as head and grip models, can have multiple characteristics associated with them that, depending upon what characteristic is being detailed, may be listed in terms of a shaft specification value.  For golf shafts, typical specification values listed for various shaft models might include but not necessarily be limited to an aimed-for uncut shaft length, uncut weight, flex or frequency designation, and torque value, which can very broadly be related as a different, twisting type of flex characteristic that can come into play regarding golf shaft performance.  These various shaft specifications each have a particular attribute(s) that can be pertinent toward golf club fitting and that can be taken into account in the proper place and at the proper time.