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

While still fundamentally linked to main subject at hand here, I want to slightly branch out for just a moment and first ask a question of everyone reading this.  I will give you a choice of two different golf club specifications to use on one’s golf clubs.  For the first specification, one will not be able to effectually sense the specification’s measured value for the first time (and thus cannot begin to act on it if desired) until one’s golf swing is virtually finished already, during the so-called release of one’s hands during the forward swing around the time of golf club/ball impact.  (I am talking about one’s direct pure golf swing performance here and not some indirect process like seeing when golf balls are hit more solidly on a clubface through the use of impact tape and through that “assuming” one’s swing coordination is better [as more solid impact may be achieved even as one’s swing becomes more poorly coordinated if a club’s weight is increased as one example]).

Even here, the theory of this first golf club fitting specification is highly questionable at best regarding whether the specification’s measured value can really potentially be sensed by one (even if only for an instant due to what the specification actually measures and the way one manipulates a golf club when swinging, and if so what in the world is the value of implementing such a specification at the tail end of one’s golf swing), plus other very problematic theoretical statements regarding this golf club specification.  For instance, even if these other elements can be justified first, then there is the fact that the measured value of the specification is only relevant for full, hard golf swings and does not come into play at all (for any golfer I have ever seen) for smallish golf strokes.  In other words, anyone who believes in this first specification is assertively implicating a fundamental belief that the specification’s value does not fit one for smallish golf strokes and/or that such strokes are not as important as full, hard golf swings.  Remember this underlying stench that is always given off by anyone believing in this first clubfitting specification.

For the second specification, one will be able to effectually sense the specification’s measured value (and thus act on it as such) at absolutely any point within one’s golf swing, that is at any point in one’s backswing, and at any point in one’s forward swing.  And I will add that this second specification’s measured value is equally relevant for every golf swing one performs, from the fullest, hardest of swings down to the smallest, most subtle of golf strokes (if one cares about such things) and everything in between, with the smallest strokes being the foundation for all larger swings that one will develop.  Now given a choice of one or the other, which golf club specification would you choose to use for one’s clubs?  If you prefer the first, then you prefer MOI (Moment of Insanity) golf club matching in its present form.  If you prefer the second instead, then you prefer swingweight golf club matching, as the descriptions above provide very broad synopses of the theories of what these two golf club specifications comprise without getting into some of the finer details.  I will terminate this very brief technical assessment of these two club specifications by saying that if you take anything away from this assessment at this time, firmly take away that MOI (Moment of Insanity) golf club matching is not in any way, shape or form an advancement or improvement of long-proven swingweight matching, but rather it is a completely opposite or backward golf club specification to swingweighting in both theory and practice.

Now while it is nice to reveal at least some supporting technical information at this time instead of just continuing to ask one to act on faith when I publish that MOI golf club matching should rightfully be called Moment of Insanity, I had nevertheless hoped to avoid getting into this particular type of information until later due to all that needs to be covered in this post sequence as it is (and I will surely repeat this specific information later).  But I am becoming increasingly concerned especially for newer people entering the game and those that can still be considered somewhat undeveloped at swinging a golf club efficiently and/or clubfitting that are being subjected to MOI club matching garbage.  I have certainly noticed more recently that many people in golf that used to be staunch supporters of MOI golf club matching have come to realize the error(s) of their ways and no longer support the specification (at least publicly and perhaps partially due to some of my work).  Still, there remains a faction of what I can easily call groupies (because the specification really has no mathematical or common-sense merit respecting golf swing performance when analyzed of one’s own volition) that still loyally (yet often blindly) preaches and/or utilizes MOI golf club matching.  And with so many relative newcomers to the game still first being exposed to such nonsense but bound to later find out the truth, a potential backlash against the industry might be so severe that the clubfitting trade for example might have to yet endure a long-term reputation (based on performance history) that is even poorer than the one it already has (if that is possible).

More inexperienced golfers and/or clubfitters naturally tend to consider anyone that has written a clubfitting book as an example to be an automatic expert on the subject when in fact some such authors can be very inexperienced themselves in certain areas and largely responsible for the shambles that the clubfitting trade in particular has become in recent decades.  For instance, in order for one to completely ignore the strong logical evidence that MOI golf club matching in its present form is an extremely poor club specification, one might be strongly affected by one’s hormones (so unintelligibly fixated on distance that one is blinded as to how to best achieve that distance) and/or one’s pride (the need to keep a golf swing [and/or any given connected club specification] more complex than the games other people play, when in fact athletically speaking a golf swing is about as easy as it gets).

I am often very eager to publicly assert some of the above and other clubfitting (and/or golf swing) information to correct much of the ridiculous and inaccurate information I often come across (especially regarding extremely basic elements that are badly botched before even considering more advanced issues) posted in places like online golf forums by many pretenders.  This is particularly true when I see poor souls that are obviously beginners at golfing or clubfitting looking for answers and being duped by people that these beginners have been led to believe are experts in the field.  But there is a legitimate business issue to contend with of getting this information down and copyright registered as a product of my own original work first before publicly stating it elsewhere, or this information could be picked up by any of these pretenders, claimed that they always knew it and that it is their very own, and be more difficult for me to prove otherwise if and when necessary.  With original material being published daily worldwide in this day and age due to the outlet of the World Wide Web, compared with paper book publishing for instance where publishing is not as frequent, observing the dates of when any given knowledge is published can be quite enlightening regarding who is providing insightful original material and who the pretenders are if trying to later claim such insight as their own.

Due to these circumstances, and because I am not sure at this time when I will get to a more thorough discussion of swingweight and Moment of Insanity golf club matching, I felt compelled to record the above-stated information right here and now.  Maybe I have noted in the past that my heritage is largely of Polish decent, and I recall a very common practice of hearing (and telling) Polish jokes when I was a kid.  Although I cannot recall any of them specifically, I do remember some of them being pretty funny.  Now I plead compete ignorance as to whether any such joking may have ever been and/or is warranted to any degree, and whether it was in good taste or not it was one of uncounted elements that was just there to deal with when growing up, but I do know I can poke as much fun at myself and my own heritage (and/or profession) as I want to.  And along these lines, as much as I can poke fun at my own Polish roots, often being portrayed as an uninformed and backward people, that ridicule is not even a close contender to what can be satirically stated about certain characteristics of golfers frequently seen and more particularly here the clubfitting trade.  Nowhere is this more evident than when swingweight and MOI golf club matching are debated in clubfitting.  As such, being sure to take this in the facetious spirit in which it is intended, what is the difference between a Pole and an MOI golf club fitter?  The answer of course is that the thinking of the Pole is not so backward as to use or recommend Moment of Insanity golf club matching.

The clubfitting industry can be analyzed from various perspectives partly by subdividing the industry.  Particularly referring here to the so-called independent clubfitting trade as differentiated from being associated with a specific golf club manufacturer’s clubfitting program, no trade has had more and better opportunities to make a powerful impact and a name for itself in golf to date through fitting golf clubs to golfers more comprehensively, correctly, and with better quality than what club manufacturers are commonly known for.  But this trade, currently comprised of multiple smallish factions of which none appear to understand even rudimentary golf swing and clubfitting theories and practices capably in light of that revealed by Waggle Weight Wisdom™ (with more to come), has prominently flopped thus far and actually regressed clubfitting theory and practice in several respects.  This peculiarly includes but is hardly limited to the continuing use and/or recommended usage of the totally irrational (with respect to one’s direct golf swing performance) MOI golf club matching specification by numerous entities within this trade.

Anyway, back to where I left off in Part Forty-Five.  While discussing certain elements of shaft design with respect to grip size fitting, now is a good time to bring up so-called “aftermarket” shaft design changes that are implemented on purchased golf shafts in an effort to improve one’s golfing performance.  By this I am referring to that not limited to inserting one or more devices into the inside of an already-purchased shaft.  This might comprise the addition of backweighting, which is generally one or more weights inserted into and placed at some determined point(s), usually more toward the grip end of a golf club and located within the span of one’s hands inside the golf shaft, or somewhat more recent aftermarket devices meant to be secured inside a golf shaft more toward its tip end to help stabilize the shaft more.  Any time, and I mean any time that any such device is inserted at any point along a golf shaft and as a result the shaft is essentially redesigned, competent clubfitting requires that one should always retest for one’s best golf grip size.  A resultant change in one’s best golf grip size will commonly take place.  If, for example, one wants to try a 25 gram backweight in one’s club(s) with that amount of weight placed five inches down from the butt end of the club/shaft, then both test golf clubs (assuming two are used) must be set up with the exact same amount of backweighting in the exact same location, and testing for one’s best grip size must be redone under those conditions (presuming grip size testing was first performed without backweighting).

The same process would again need to be repeated if then wanting to test for a 50 gram backweight, where one’s best golf grip size that results in one’s best swing performance(s) would commonly be at least slightly (yet critically) different than when either a 25 gram backweight was used or no backweighting was used.  Then, and only then, can legitimate comparisons using sound clubfitting technique be made between backweighted and non-backweighted clubs (assume the otherwise identical golf shaft being used here for greater simplicity).  One’s best golf grip size (first determined independently for each condition through direct swinging comparisons) is installed for each of the non-backweighted and backweighted conditions, and then comparisons can be made and results gotten between the various aftermarket shaft conditions that can be better understood.  Compare this with the typically inept (and typically opposite again) clubfitting process of removing a golf grip, installing some backweighting, merely reinstalling the same grip type/size back on the club (one’s grip size typically chosen through some incompetent static method and simply stuck with throughout [as it is easier and quicker]), and making a backweighting decision based on that process.  In the end that is only a partial, inexperienced, and inept process that produces inferior clubfitting results.  (If not confident and/or the amount of backweighting or any other aftermarket shaft conditions become a concern for one, one might also reevaluate for one’s best swingweight range values as part of such testing to see if any relevant changes take place in that regard).

Now even though I have tried to add these various elements one at a time, this could still potentially get overwhelming particularly if being introduced to it for the first time, and hopefully the following will help some.  With respect to aftermarket shaft device causes and effects like that just described, having a solid understanding of the proper structure of golf grip size fitting in these more complex situations can naturally help secure a more confident understanding of the proper structure for less complicated situations.  To that end it is feasibly worth the effort to understand the structure well.  But with this said, the fact is that if one has a competent understanding of the proper structure of grip size fitting on a very fundamental level, then implementing more complex backweighting will not normally be helpful.  Backweighting is for the most part only beneficial for those that do not understand basic grip size fitting structure to begin with, such as not knowing that different grip sizes are generally best for a golfer as golf shaft weight changes (the shaft as a whole or just any given part of the shaft).  A common example of this is the situation described above where the identical grip size is automatically (but incorrectly) assumed correct (through a preceding inept grip fitting process) for any amount of backweighting added to the same club/shaft.  A lack of proper clubfitting knowledge might sporadically result in limited improvement in the performance of one’s golf swing via backweighting, but it will typically be less improvement and less consistency of improvement than if the proper clubfitting knowledge were had and applied competently.

Being capable of obtaining one’s best swing performance without needing any golf club backweighting eliminates an extraneous device (and any added complexities that such a device may bring to the overall clubfitting process) over and above the three foundational club components of the clubhead, shaft, and grip (which could be challenging enough to relate to each other properly as evidenced by the history of the feeble clubfitting trade).  Plus any weight that is added to the grip end (through competent golf grip sizing in the form of larger [thus heavier] grip sizes for lighter golf clubs rather than backweighting for example) would be more evenly distributed and/or centered throughout one’s hands instead of more typically concentrated in a single area when backweighting is utilized.

Who could not possibly believe that the more highly skilled golf grip fitting procedure published in Waggle Weight Wisdom™ would regularly produce better golf swing results for one than too small of a golf grip size for one on any given golf club with an added lump of backweighting commonly concentrated at a single location within the golf shaft somewhere within the span of one’s hands?  The level of clubfitting knowledge one has is the difference between these two clubfitting scenarios.  Now to the extent that golf club backweighting can be fundamentally eliminated through capable clubfitting knowledge, perhaps the complexity described above that backweighting adds to proper golf grip size fitting does not need to be expertly known.  However, other aftermarket shaft devices for usage inside golf shafts may be quite different in their intended applications, like shaft tip stabilizers.  As noted above, such devices are the same as backweighting in that one’s golf grip size should be retested for any time such a device is implemented within a golf shaft.  Fortunately, the base grip size testing procedure described above is the same regardless of whether a backweight, a shaft tip stabilizer, or any other aftermarket shaft device is used.  All told, even if one completely comprehends the proper structure of golf grip size fitting when only the three primary golf club components come into play, and even if one has no future intent to use backweighting based upon one’s clubfitting knowledge, I would still say that understanding the more complex fitting structure when aftermarket shaft devices are also involved can be very beneficial to one, and not just toward able grip size fitting.

As a couple of additional notes regarding aftermarket shaft devices being talked about here, such devices are hardly limited to those only placed inside of any given golf shaft.  As one example, placing adhesive-backed lead tape around the outside of a golf shaft for any number of reasons for backweighting purposes is done by some, and this is just as much an aftermarket device with corresponding causes and effects as anything placed inside of a golf shaft.  Such tape placed on the outside of a club/shaft for backweighting or any other purpose and within the span of one’s hands when holding onto and swinging the club can potentially add yet another element to contend with of physically changing the final grip size in one or more areas.  Last but certainly not least, I record here that I am not a subscriber of the complication that different golf swings are performed by one with different golf clubs.  While slight nuances may be evident when different golf clubs are used (in much the same manner as when the same club is used from different terrain conditions), the dominant and essential characteristics that truly define one’s golf swing performance are unchanged among all of these varying outward circumstances that are relatively minor compared with more traditional athletic activities in particular.  To this end and as this doctrine applies to golf club fitting, the clubfitting elements detailed here are equally applicable to every type of golf club from a driver to a fairway wood, hybrid, iron, wedge, putter, or any other kind of specialty club.