The Terrible Twos Syndrome of Golf Club Fitting: Part Forty

This cumulative effect that takes place when multiple golf club specifications are altered simultaneously, while primarily related in ball travel results previously, now leads nicely to analyzing such cumulative effects when discussing one’s pure golf swing performance.  In the same way that multiple simultaneous golf club specification alterations will have a cumulative effect on ball travel results, so too will all such alterations have a cumulative and “workable” effect(s) on one’s pure direct golf swing performance.  In other words, if the state of one’s pure golf swing becomes less efficient as a result of one swinging a golf club with any given club specification value that is less than ideal and that specification value is left alone, then one’s pure golf swing might be returned to a more efficient state through the alteration of one or more other golf club specifications.  Even I am capable of comprehending this.  And this foundational clubfitting discipline can be effected through an independent analysis of one’s direct swing performance, without needing to depend on any indirect, superficial ball travel information that can be notoriously misleading and/or plain erroneous on a regular basis respecting how well (or poor) one is actually swinging.

This clubfitting discipline is the only way in which fitting one’s club specification values to one’s golf swing (a totally different skill[s] than fitting according to ball travel results) can be properly bounded within its intended scope, with any club specification values fit based on ball travel results (including the quality of club/ball contact) comprising fitting one’s club specification values to one’s ball travel results and nothing more.  As perhaps noted before and highly dependant upon the particular club specification being fit, fitting any given golf club specification value to ball travel results will often alter one’s true base golf swing (whether intentionally or inadvertently).  That is not a discipline of fitting a club specification value to one’s golf swing.  Clubfitting by that doctrine will typically not improve one’s golf game as much (if it is improved at all and not made worse) as it would be if clubfitting were performed at a higher, more comprehensive skill level.

The distinguished discipline of fitting any club directly to one’s golf swing performance requires that the most critical golf club specifications that can foundationally and directly affect the quality of one’s golf swing coordination are worked with first.  (Compare this with the current fairly common route within the clubfitting trade of choosing one’s club length first [and through the absurd stand-at-attention clubfitting ruler method on top of that], which is essentially an irrelevant factor toward the underlying quality of one’s golf swing coordination).  A sound and thorough clubfitting process strategically applies these swing-affecting foundational golf club specifications in a manner that allows distinctions to be made between poor, good, and even better swinging performances relative to one’s currently developed base golf swing when various club specification values are applied.  And it is done in a manner not involving highly fallible ball travel results very early in a clubfitting process, which can critically influence one’s direction thence.

There are extremely crucial foundational elements to be learned about and/or solved for regarding one’s base golf swing and base equipment fit during such an early phase, which if not learned and solved for properly early will make things worse when considering error-prone and undependable ball travel results (a misconceived indicator of one’s true golf swing performance quality).  Among other things, multiple clubfitting errors can be compounded resulting in not only poor final clubfitting results but horrible clubfitting theories and practices put in place for arriving at such results, and/or club specification values may be configured based on ball travel results that should instead be chosen based on pure golf swing performance, with potentially drastically different results in each case.  While multiple elements regarding the perception(s) of one’s golf swing to enable one to competently fit a given golf club specification to one’s true golf swing have not yet been discussed, suffice it here to say that one is not in an enviable position if one is not able to skillfully fit such a club specification directly to one’s root golf swing performance and if one has only limited knowledge and depends upon secondary ball travel results to choose a club specification(s) value that should be chosen based on pure golf swing performance.  Golf ball and ball condition characteristics, launch monitor calibration, and certain golf club specifications and specification values are among many elements that can produce horrible ball travel results even as one is actually swinging quite superbly and vice versa.

Fortunately, such discrepancies are not present in the testing presented here to potentially misrepresent results.  To that end, in analyzing the most basic clubfitting testing one can possibly conduct with one’s base golf swing, and portraying the same results differently from the testing performed thus far, my pure golf swing becomes less efficient (and even downright awkward depending on which specific pair of test clubs are compared against each other) when I swing a test golf club specimen having a grip size one size too large for me on it (at my best [median] swingweight value).  But my swing returns to a higher level of efficiency when reducing the swingweight value of the larger-gripped test club specimen slightly.

Now I relate this clubfitting information based upon pure golf swing performance back to fairly common clubfitting diagnostic charts or their equivalents put out by various entities and typically based upon ball travel results to help conclude my discussion of such charts.  Again noting that such charts generally contain some very fundamental and long-known causes, effects, and suggestions pertaining to equipment fitting that are hardly limited to the game of golf (but adjusted for named golf club specifications), such diagnostic charts have been around seemingly forever and certainly long before launch monitors were even a dream in someone’s mind.  Yet despite this very rudimentary chart information being right in front of the nose so to speak of the golf club fitting industry, despite the fact that such charts are generally written in “ball travel” terminology (which is really no excuse for this trade’s inability to develop and implement better fundamental clubfitting theories and practices through the years), and despite the widespread use of advanced technology like launch monitors now, this trade as a whole still manages to make it known to the rest of the world that it cannot really understand some of the basics of its own profession.

This industry can look at ball travel results gone to the right of where desired and when diagnosing the fit of one’s golf club (perhaps with the aid of the noted diagnostic charts) might be able to independently determine that one’s golf grip size might be too large or one’s swingweight value too heavy.  But when combining and considering just these two golf club elements and no others cumulatively and regardless of whether considering the cumulative effect in terms of ball travel result or pure golf swing performance, this trade still does not seem to comprehend (based on the industry’s clubfitting methods developed to date) that one of these elements can offset the other at the opposite end of a club with respect to one’s golfing performance.  This combined and offsetting effect involving one’s golf club grip size and swingweight value has been positively and consistently proven in Waggle Weight Wisdom™ testing, and proven without any interference from secondary ball travel results, which for multiple reasons can be extremely poor substitute evidence for gauging the quality of the real thing, which is one’s golf swing performance directly.  Other aspects that continue to portray the clubfitting trade in a very poor light are that this specific clubfitting relationship would have been much easier to determine back when the selections of golf club components were generally much narrower in scope of design than today.  Plus even though diagnosing golf swing performance through indirect ball travel results can regularly add inconsistency and confusion to the diagnosis, swing diagnosis through ball travel results is a very simplistic and thus widely used procedure that would still broadly tend to produce similar results over time that could be analyzed.  Yet even under those circumstances this critical relationship between these two club specifications has never been satisfactorily detected until authoritatively revealed here.

But this is what (rightfully) happens to an industry that chooses to continue to use a mail-order-type, higher-profit-margin, but wholly inferior and pathetic clubfitting method like the grip-on-a-stick method of fitting grip size, where a club’s swingweight value basically at its other end is not even taken into consideration.  I mean just for a minute consider the loft of a golf club head, another club specification.  It is not chosen by determining how tall one is, with that making an estimation of how vertical one’s golf swing might be, and with that choosing one’s loft.  More often than not it is chosen by swinging, hitting golf balls, analyzing ball travel results, and making any desired changes in the golf club’s loft.  And loft is a golf club specification that does not fundamentally impact the coordination quality of one’s golf swing performance at all.  Yet a decision is made to fit golf grip size, a specification that can have a direct and dramatic impact on the coordination quality of one’s golf swing performance, in a manner in which no swinging is performed at all in determining one’s grip size.  Go figure.

Before being duped by more recent recommendations that such a static method of fitting for golf grip size should merely be “a starting point” (not even good for that, commonly providing a false sense of being close), do some due diligence research to determine if the specific source always recommended that or might now be trying to change the tune (but maybe still not really believing it) to perhaps avoid some embarrassment based on what the source previously recommended.  But regardless, the very statement is just as inept as the grip-on-a-stick method itself.  The only effective starting point for determining one’s best golf grip size for one’s golf swing is to pick up two strategically constructed test golf clubs having different grip sizes on them, swing them, and ascertain which club is swung better, or if not able to ascertain that, which club produces better ball travel results.

One is an absolute fool for providing any clubfitting business whatsoever to an entity that fits one’s golf grip size through the grip-on-a-stick or comparable method that physically measures some part(s) of one’s top gripping hand, even if stated it is only a starting point.  This statement in and of itself implies that one’s best grip size will be fundamentally close to that starting point and can be influential in that regard.  But this is not a fundamentally accurate statement and any clubfitter that believes this statement is as bad as the grip-on-a-stick method is to begin with.  Whenever I am visiting a “clubfitting asylum” (a term that fits most clubfitting entities nicely) and see the traditional grip-on-a-stick display that is usually around somewhere for testing for one’s golf grip size, the display sticks out and comes across as something that is more apt to be played like a musical instrument to get different tones out of rather than a tool for serious golf club fitting purposes.  Similarly, one is also a total fool for giving any support to an individual or organization that teaches such poor clubfitting theory and practice in such a manner and should be very wary about what any such entity teaches in the way of other clubfitting theory and practice (and also wary of the entity’s knowledge of related golf swing theory and practice) when a primary clubfitting element like grip size fitting is botched so badly.

To this day the rather uncomplicated and yet critical relationship(s) existing between the clubhead and grip ends of a golf club that needs to be well understood as part of expert clubfitting skills has never been usably documented by the clubfitting trade as a whole.  Such missing documentation contains crucial information to help one better understand and implement very fundamental golf swing and clubfitting principles, and not having it is like attempting to comprehend an instructional manual when certain pages are missing, perhaps not even created yet.  No wonder the clubfitting trade overall is like a wandering, lost child that is nowhere near being able to take its proper place in the game of golf yet.  Part of this missing documentation comprises the fact that once one’s swingweight value and golf grip size are properly chosen at essentially opposite ends of any given golf club, a change of merely one swingweight point, even if remaining within a swingweight range where well-coordinated swinging still takes place, will nevertheless require a change in grip size in order to obtain one’s best swinging.  Another significant part of this missing documentation is that as one’s swingweight value gets lower, one’s grip size must get larger in order to attain one’s best golfing performance and vise versa.

There is also missing documentation of a very elementary and critical nature pertaining to other clubfitting subjects.  But in concluding this particular subject first, I may have noted previously that certain golf club specifications might be fit to one through either pure golf swing performance or ball travel results, with the fit value of any given club specification potentially being quite different depending upon which direction is taken.  Plus the order in which club specifications are fit can also be a factor in the chosen value of any given golf club specification.  And then there are those preposterous means (from a perspective of high quality clubfitting procedure) that involve fitting certain golf club specifications to neither pure golf swing performance nor ball travel results but usually to some method that is static in nature relative to one’s real golf swing performance.  The grip-on-a-stick method of fitting one’s golf grip size certainly falls within this category and is one of the worst procedures ever devised for the fitting of equipment to a performer.  The “missing documentation of golf” as revealed by Waggle Weight Wisdom™ is information of a very elementary level that should have been universally disclosed essentially since the start of the more commercialized clubfitting trade but never has been.

As the first-grade-level testing performed here has never even been put in front of golfers on a widespread basis by the clubfitting industry to this point in time, thus dismissing the knowledge to be gained through such fundamental testing, I guess it is no great surprise that even very rudimental clubfitting information has never been revealed before by the clubfitting trade as a broad, singular entity, as one cannot teach what one does not know.  The lack of such foundational information coming from the clubfitting trade displays this trade’s continuing poor comprehension of some very primary clubfitting and related golf swing principles even in an overall general manner first let alone when these two aspects of golfing are broken down into finer elements for more detailed analysis.  If the missing documentation of golf revealed here that involves both golf swing and clubfitting basics was more widely known earlier, both one’s golf club swingweight value and golf grip size would be fit quite differently (and much more proficiently) than they regularly are at the present time.  To this end, where a great many clubfitters know and have always known full well that they are taking advantage of inexperienced golfers in using the unsound but quick-profit and mail-order-type grip-on-a-stick way of fitting golf grip size, in the long run the joke has really been on the clubfitting industry itself for not being able to cognize certain fundamentals of its own profession due to the use of such a method.  A first-grade fundamental of one actually performing one’s swing in analyzing for one’s best golf grip size should not be a foreign concept to this trade, but it still largely is.

Not even modern technologies like launch monitors, interchangeable shaft and clubhead systems, and much more have worked as “good starting points” for helping the clubfitting trade as a whole acquire the correct base knowledge about the noted clubfitting subjects (and others) that sets the foundation for expert clubfitting.  Such technologies have been utilized for more than a reasonable period already at the time of this writing yet have not really helped the clubfitting trade get even close to understanding certain basic golf swing and clubfitting principles correctly.  Evidently, the use of such modern technology (which can be helpful only with an underlying essence of competency) has really better brought to light and magnified how poor the clubfitting trade always has been and continues to be at comprehending and implementing essential golf swing and clubfitting principles first.  I am referring to foundational principles that can be learned correctly with just a limited selection of test golf clubs, a minimum of simple tools and supplies to work on the clubs, and one to swing those clubs.  In many respects the clubfitting trade still has a decidedly failing grade at just this primary level, through which the potential of such aiding modern technology is seriously thwarted.

I assure you that this is not secondhand knowledge and comes with the (good and bad) experiences to back it up.  Part of my experiences include years of working relentlessly on my swing for hitting in baseball and seemingly endless trial and error with different baseball bat models to try and accomplish my best hitting performance.  This extensive work culminated in two or three superb hitting years where I recall leading our league in multiple hitting categories, and I was building confidence at the time that I was headed for a successful career at what many typical middle-class boys of the day dreamed about (and it was not being a professional golfer).  But for varied reasons, my baseball “career” was rather short-lived.  There was a combination of a seemingly constant sore arm and back, probably due to hitting and/or throwing techniques that were inadequate, poorer play, encountering horrific coaching at a college level, at which time I really learned it could easily happen at a professional level, and perhaps some emotional burnout as well in part due to all of these factors plus my intense focus on doing hardly anything else for years.  At any rate, during what could unquestionably be called a transition period for me, I found myself on the baseball field less, accompanied by a diminishing confidence level compared to earlier years, and when I found myself more interested in looking at the girls in the stands than paying attention to the ballgame, that was pretty much the end of my playing career (although I can often hit better in the batting cages today than I could then).

With that experience behind me I entered as essentially a beginning golfer not too long after starting my college years.  While I was certainly already familiar with the critical importance of equipment fitting and I had previously apparently succeeded well at that aspect already in baseball, I was nevertheless experiencing a time of reduced confidence in my ability.  Thus, even though from the very beginning I felt somewhat suspicious (largely due to my previous experience) of using the equivalent of the grip-on-a-stick method for fitting my golf grip size, I embarrassingly confess that I personally used the method for a time.  In addition to still lacking the experience and/or confidence I needed at that time, all I could really find at the time regarding clubfitting theories and practices was the grip-on-a-stick method for fitting grip size.  To the best of my recollection there was just nothing else.  To this day, perhaps about thirty-five years after the fact, I still cannot believe and often chuckle at how utterly stupid I was in using the method, even if only for a relatively short period.

It seemed like hours on end that I stood (and often sat) like a statuesque fool in trying to figure out which grip size resulted in my top gripping hand being in the “proper” position as described by the clubfitting teacher(s) of the day, with no reference at all made to the way I actually performed any part of my golf swing.  (Using the same underlying method but rather choosing grip size by “comfort” can be even worse still).  While maybe not the absolute dumbest thing I have ever done in my life to date, I cannot deny that it does rank awfully high.  Even when I had no confidence whatsoever in my golf swing, inwardly I still always deduced that my swing should be fully involved in the choosing of my grip size (or any golf club specification value), and I always felt very uncomfortable and like something was very wrong if it was not.  Fortunately, my inward deduction was incessant and incontestable and persuaded me to permanently rid myself of that unworthy method in fairly short order.  There is a difference between having no confidence in one’s swing and having no respect for the golf swing one has developed.  Having no confidence in one’s swing is an understandable condition.  But having no respect for one’s swing to the point of choosing one’s golf grip size with no part of one’s developed golf swing being involved is not as justifiable and forgivable.  Do not disrespect one’s golf swing the way I disrespected mine at one time via the use of such a clubfitting method that can take one’s swing progress backward in a hurry (both physically and mentally).