The Terrible Twos Syndrome of Golf Club Fitting: Part Thirty-Five

Swingweight testing is now individually completed for the three test golf clubs, with my best, most efficient golf swings being performed over the exact same final swingweight range of D2 to D4 for all three clubs despite slightly different grip sizes/weights being installed on each one.  Now a second, different phase of testing can be performed that will directly compare these three golf clubs side by side.  If no other specific testing can be thought of and wants to be done while the lead tape is still firmly affixed to any of the test clubs and they are still at the higher swingweight values that were previously tested, then lead tape strips can begun to be taken off of each of the clubs.  The tape is generally discarded, as it is usually not reusable at this point, but there are a lot of different factors involved.  If the tape was applied in sufficient symmetrical fashion when on the way up the tested swingweight range, then one should generally be able to remove it with good control on the way down, being able to conveniently access just one strip or swingweight point’s worth of lead tape at a time if desired.  Taking too many strips off at one time may start to peel up any lead tape that is layered beneath it and affect that tape’s bond security.

If not slightly separating the lead tape strips when applying them for testing and simply piling them exactly on top of one another, all of the tape will commonly just come off in one big mass when not wanting to do that, ending up all the way back down at the lowest swingweight value tested.  Since the tape will generally not be reusable, that is a lot more lead tape that then needs to be cut and reapplied before one can begin the next test.  Even when initially applying the tape well there are still times when a lot more of it comes off than desired and it is never fun to have to redo that, but I cannot say it happens regularly.  There are many factors involved not limited to how long the tape has been on the club, the exact lead tape product used, and the base condition and/or texture of the clubhead surface the tape is affixed to.  Because I have many clubheads that have been roughly ground down in places, the rougher surface to begin with and then moisture being able to get in there more easily and rust sometimes forming all potentially contribute to tape not initially sticking as well and/or a bond that can weaken over time.  It should go without saying that cleaning clubhead bonding surfaces of any foreign matter (even using solvent if appropriate) and drying them well are important to get a good, long-lasting (if desired) bond for lead tape application.

In this case sufficient lead tape is removed to get back to the median swingweight value determined for all three test golf clubs, that of D3(.0), with the lead tape remaining on the test clubs ideally still secured well if the tape was initially applied and is subsequently removed well so that one may safely and efficiently hit golf balls if desired (though not necessary) for the next phase of testing.  As I have previously pointed out, applying lead strips in any different positions when testing than when it was determined how much lead tape was needed to achieve the swingweight values to be tested can result in swingweight values that are slightly off from their exact target values.  Even if being meticulous about avoiding this, values can often easily drift one or two tenths of a swingweight point.  So if one test club happens to be D2.8 and another one D3.2 after removing the appropriate number of lead tape strips from those two clubs as an example, that is a spread of nearly half a point between the two test clubs.  Such a spread could be noticeable especially if testing toward the edges of one’s tolerance ranges for instance, and this should be better appreciated as testing continues.  Thus, even after seemingly removing the proper amount of lead tape from all three test clubs, I will always recheck the swingweight values at this point and make any fine-tuning adjustments to bring them all as close to D3.0 as I can in this instance.

This swingweighting aspect is one I might have failed to relate earlier when discussing potentially using compressed air to more quickly install and remove golf grips on a single golf club for such testing, and this adds another element that even further discourages that gripping process for such testing.  I have nothing against using compressed air to install and remove golf grips per se under the right circumstances.  But in this specific case three different golf grip specimens would need to be put on and taken off the same club (more than once as will be seen shortly), with each grip size dimension and alignment (as even round golf grips are not unconditionally perfectly round) reproduced flawlessly each time (virtually impossible just for that).  With each grip switch the club also needs to be gotten into one’s hands in quick succession so one can swing with the memory of the previous test club results still firmly in mind, another critical task for such testing that is doubtfully achievable for the sake of convenience.  And now this task must further include precisely setting the swingweight value of the club at every grip change, with each change being to a different size/weight grip and thus reasonably requiring swingweight adjusting before the club can be put into one’s hands for testing.

Assuming I am doing the swingweighting myself, after just that task I often feel I need to warm up again before swinging the next test club, and even if I do not a solid recollection of my swinging performance with the previous test club is usually long gone by then.  So this particular type of testing is certainly not the time to be using compressed air for more quickly installing and removing golf grips.  The price to pay for such a convenience may be not getting any relevant test results at all.  The test golf clubs with the different grip sizes on them, each grip in exactly the same configuration as it was any previous time the club with that particular grip was swung, and all precisely set to the proper swingweight value, need to be quickly at hand for testing.  The importance of this should also become more appreciated as testing continues.

In addition to rechecking and if necessary readjusting the swingweights of the three test clubs, I will usually clean all of their grips again before I begin swinging, especially if I am continuing testing on a different day and the clubs may have been laying around here or there for a time.  I generally check the swingweights first and then clean the grips just before I begin testing.  My primary reason for this is that my current setup for weighing up clubs usually has me resting any given part(s) of the golf grips on a floor that may not be very clean while I am adjusting clubhead weights.  But one could argue that the grips should be cleaned first, because if they are dirty the clubs’ final swingweight values could change slightly after the grips are cleaned and then the clubs’ final swingweight values might be checked (assuming that each task is only performed once).  Here I am getting into elements that may be so small in detail that it might not really make any difference which is performed first, and one will have to analyze one’s individual circumstances and make the best procedural decision(s) one can based on those circumstances.

So one can now start to have some more fun.  With the three test clubs all set up properly and close by, I am ready to start swinging again.  Having personally done this many times before, I will make the following suggestion as to generalized procedure yet provide sufficient information for one to proceed differently and learn different things if desired.  While three test clubs are currently present, remember that this is done for very specific purposes in connection with this testing and that in many cases such testing may only be performed with two clubs (the minimum required).  Thus, I suggest that one get into a frame of mind of working in twos as though there are no other clubs in the world other than those two when testing them.  Once a sufficient amount of information is obtained from that comparison, then a divergent pair of clubs might be moved onto in order to gain additional or different information, and so on.  One should not be overly anxious to move on before gaining what needs to be taken away from testing any given pair.

This should always be a base or fallback principle that can and should be returned to at any point if one gets ahead of oneself for instance (which all of us tend to do at times) and results do not make sense and/or are confusing, not moving further forward until the results make more sense and are understood.  For example, if it is determined that one is doing one or more things wrong in the course of any given phase of clubfitting and any change(s) is enacted at that point, this could critically change the results of any given previous phase of clubfitting and one might find that one has to go all the way back to the most simple beginning possible in order to ultimately get everything right.  This taking a step(s) backward so to speak is quite a natural process that can help one learn better and applies no less to the finest golfers on the planet than it does to beginners.  As another example, if I unintentionally overlook an important detail or not explain one adequately, returning to the most basal learning conditions possible will give one the best opportunity to learn correctly on one’s own from the very start if no other quality help is available.

Anyway, to keep a somewhat logical progression of testing going, I will after preparing myself begin swinging with the M62-gripped test club again (now set at D3), the same club I started with when going through each of the test clubs individually to check for my ideal swingweight value(s).  Not unexpectedly, since I already tried many swingweight values with this club and previously determined that I made my best, most coordinated golf swings over a swingweight range that did include D3, I do indeed find that I swing excellently with the club right from the start.  After making a few swings with it, I set it aside, take a quick breath if needed, and then switch to the club having the next larger grip size, which is the M60-gripped club.  If not mentioned previously, the S300 golf shaft model being used in these particular test golf clubs have a shaft butt size that is (ideally) .600 inches in diameter (although like virtually everything else this also has tolerances associated with it).  Thus, the final grip size of the M62 test club just swung is theoretically (in traditional golf grip size nomenclature) one sixty-fourth of an inch smaller (undersized) in diameter than a traditionally-published men’s standard size grip.  (Published decimal reference numbers of various golf grip sizes at various locations along the grips can be found at various other sources).  The M60 test club has a men’s standard size grip on it, and the M58 club has a grip size on it that is one sixty-fourth of an inch larger (oversized) in diameter than a men’s standard size grip.

So in continuing and based on the swingweight testing results gotten earlier, there is no reason to believe that the M60 test club would not be swung equally as well as the M62 club.  Sure enough, right from the start shortly after making some swings with the M62 club, I make excellent golf swings with the M60 club as well and continue to do so until I decide to put it down perhaps a few swing later.  So far this is mere child’s play.  Now at first thought it might be deemed time to move on to the M58 test club to give it a try, but recall from above that one should really not move on to a divergent pair of clubs before being quite sure of the results with the present pair, and I am not so sure that swinging one club of the present pair and then the other without ever returning to the first one for more solid verification constitutes a sound testing sequence.

Perhaps I am influenced by uncounted experiences of the past where I found that I swung any given golf club really well on one occasion and yet swung the same (unaltered) club really bad on another occasion.  These experiences go all the way back to when I was a total novice at the game but in fact they continue to this day, the main differences being that I did not want it to happen back then and I did not understand why it was happening, while today I often work to make it happen on purpose in the name of research, and my knowledge regarding the causes and effects of such occurrences is far superior compared with back then.  Such experiences (under an assumption that there is nothing wrong with one’s golf swing and thus dealing with golf equipment that seems to be so efficiently fit one moment and so inefficiently fit the next moment) have sufficiently convinced me that the above initial comparison of the M62 and M60 golf clubs is hardly conclusive enough.

Thus, after swinging the M62 test club well and the M60 test club well immediately after that, a prudent decision is made to retest the M62 club, now being swung immediately after the M60 club, with perhaps still no reason to believe that anything will happen any differently depending upon any given individual’s experience to date.  But in fact, after swinging both the M62 and M60 test clubs superbly (in that order) and then going back to swinging the M62 club literally minutes after swinging the very same M62 club superbly, the M62 club is now swung absolutely horribly, with a swinging motion that is so terribly uncoordinated (deemed so through personal perception and not any outside agency, to be discussed more later) I essentially feel that I never swung a golf club before in my entire life.  Now getting into the specifics or nuances of exactly what makes me perceive my swing to be so horrible at this point is not something I will go into here, as I perceive it to be so bad that figuratively speaking it might take me several posts to get through a single swing.  But what I can note here is that upon initially swinging the M62 club there is nothing else to initially reference against it that might be any better or worse, and the slightly undersized golf grip does not feel either particularly small or large at that point.

In fact, I could play entire rounds of golf with such grips on my entire set and swing superbly with scores to sometimes match as long as I do not have to make some swings with a club that is better fitting overall.  In that case I will usually start to swing horribly in returning to the M62-gripped clubs unless and until I can “lose” the swinging motion I made and got used to with a club that is better fitting overall.  But back to the test clubs, my frame of reference changes (really for the first time) when switching to the M60 club for the first time and being able to swing well with it from the start.  Thereafter, upon switching back to the M62 club, the perception of the M62 grip size is then noticeably smaller than what it was originally, with golf swing adjusting then done relative to swings just made with the M60-gripped test club.

From that point forward I could switch back and forth between the M62 and M60 test clubs a dozen times if desired, and without exception the M60 club will be swung well and the M62 club will not be.  Now it cannot really be said that my swing was initially fooled by the M62-gripped club because that is just not true, and as also stated above I could swing well with it all day long under the right conditions.  But this proves in no uncertain terms that one’s golf swing can adjust and adjust well (not under absolutely any conditions but certainly under some conditions), and as such the very first club and/or the swings made with that club may not be dependable frames of reference for determining which of any two golf clubs one might ultimately swing better with.  This is a critical lesson to be learned right now and one that needs to become firmly ingrained in order to consistently obtain accurate testing results.

Now even going only this far so far, a couple of important items can be explored.  First, this sequence of just testing the M62 and M60 clubs in the order they were shows how any given golf club can appear to fit one’s golf swing really well at one moment and then appear to not fit one’s golf swing at all the next moment, with a profound difference in one’s golf swing performance noted using the identical golf club literally moments apart, should help drive home the following better.  It should help drive home the point even at this relatively early stage of clubfitting how important it is for one to establish one’s true base golf swing motion without any golf club at all (or any other substitute device) in hand for use as a reference swing against swings made with any given golf club in hand.  While such a procedure can be advantageous in many other activities as well, these other activities do not generally encounter the unique circumstances existing in golf that have just been recorded here in greater detail.  These other activities routinely use the identical equipment over and over and over again when performing and the above results are never usually experienced.  I can personally attest to that in virtually every other activity I have ever participated it, which have been many.

But as is seen here, my golf swing (and it is as good a golf swing as any other I assure you) can be performed superbly and seem like it cannot get any better even with certain golf club specifications that in the end are not a best fit for my golf swing.  Thus, well-performed golf swings made with any given golf club in hand should not be considered incontrovertible evidence of the best possible performances of one’s true base golf swing and/or one’s best equipment fit.  In this case it was subsequently established that despite initially swinging superbly with the M62-gripped test golf club, it was in the end not the best clubfit for my swing golf (meaning that it was not my best swinging either) relative to swing performances made with the M60-gripped test club.  Based on this more explicit evidence, the only swings that can ultimately be depended upon as being one’s true golf swing performances are those made absent any golf clubs at all (or any other substitute devices), the only way to efficiently assure that a perfectly fitting golf club is present during every swing.  So what can be advantageous (but not mandatory) in other activities (performing absent one’s equipment) really becomes mandatory in golf if one wants to proficiently learn and secure the functioning of one’s base golf swing and also be able to proficiently fit one’s golf equipment to one’s base swing, the two most important overall aspects of learning how to play golf consistently well.  And once again it is the unusual and curious golf club gripping style traditionally taken on a golf club of overlapping or interlocking one’s fingers that allows these two fundamental aspects of playing the game to be accomplished most effectively.

Another early concern that might pop into one’s head based upon these initial results is whether swingweighting really works at all in the end.  I mean after all, a major premise of this golf club specification is that if one sets all of one’s clubs to the same swingweight value one will be able to swing well (assuming the swingweight value is chosen well) and consistently when switching between any of one’s clubs.  Yet here I am with supposedly the correct swingweight value for myself on just two golf clubs side by side and already I am swinging one of them horribly.  I will again state that this is not where I will discuss the deeper technicalities of the specification, but I will very broadly address this issue before testing continues further.  I have previously stated that swingweighting is not a be all and end all type golf club specification that possesses some mysterious magic.  If that were true in its simplest form then there sure would be a lot more golfers that play better then they currently do.  Now while it is an extremely important foundational golf club specification, swingweight is nonetheless a single club specification that needs to work well in tandem with other club specifications also.