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

But unless one or more anomalies are taking place and assuming the testing conditions are properly produced, one should have little trouble observing (even through ball travel results if necessary) that one will generally play better golf when one’s grip size on any given golf club gets progressively larger as one’s swingweight value on the same club gets lower (and vise versa).  One of the fundamental keys to being able to understand and then apply this concept is of course first being able to make a precise determination of what one’s best median swingweight value is despite the fact that one can generally make well-coordinated golf swings over a range of swingweight values.  Once comprehending this, one might better see how inept on even a very basic level any so-called professional clubfitter or clubfitting educator is and how shallow his/her clubfitting knowledge truly is if and when making what can now be considered the “infamous” statement equivalent to, “No one can tell the difference in a club that varies by only one swingweight point.”

This is an extremely foundational analysis of the equipment specification relationship(s) existing at either end of an elongated object (in this case a golf club) with respect to the performance (in this case golf swing performance) of one using the object.  This analysis hardly applies only to golf clubs and a golf swing and the solutions arrived at in golf are generally quite consistent with that of other activities.  There is nothing extraordinary taking place in golf in this regard despite what many people might believe.  Now as a practical matter, one would never reasonably want to go outside of a best swingweight range unless some very specific research were being done for golf club component design as one example.  So while how much grip sizes would need to change for given amounts of swingweight change (especially when getting outside of one’s best swingweight range) might be good background material, that goes well beyond the scope of the foundation being laid here and I personally have never done such testing.  But the general concept needs to be firmly grasped at this point or else one might have difficulty comprehending other concepts that follow.

More evidence of this natural functioning of a human golf swing, which basically centers on how well one is able to physically accomplish what one wants to mentally accomplish, along with additional proof of how poor the clubfitting industry in particular continues to be at satisfactorily comprehending this important relationship and implementing it into clubfitting, can be further supported through the following.  There are various sources of clubfitting information that have developed clubfitting diagnoses charts or the equivalent.  Such charts are customarily formulated in terms of ball travel results, listing various ball travel characteristics (other than the obvious goals of solid, long, and straight) that might be undesirable or may want to made better, along with one or more potential suggestions of how to alter one’s golf clubs to try to help one’s ball travel results become better.  The displaying of such charts in terms of ball travel results is generally okay at the start of this analysis despite the fact that ball travel results can be extremely misleading and provide no direct information and no apparent concern regarding one’s actual swing performance.

But even so, there can be some broadly correct information from such fairly standardized charts that can be used to prove certain points.  To start, know that for any golf swing not performed theoretically perfectly to the extent that the affiliated golf ball travel result will also theoretically exhibit an incorrect and/or less-than-perfect ball travel result, for every incorrect ball travel result there will also theoretically be an identifiable change in one’s swing performance that should be detectable through one’s own perception(s) and/or one or more external devices.  Any such external devices can be used to supplement what is personally perceived by one and/or used as a substitute if perhaps one’s own golf swing perception(s) is deficient and/or cannot be sufficiently related to a clubfitter.  Because personal perceptions (even of the same golf swing element) can currently be described wildly differently by different individuals and because there are no developed “standards” laid out for such perceptions (I will address this topic in due time), such perceptions will only be vaguely described here for now as one or more identifiable perceptions of direct golf swing performance that can be associated with an identifiable golf ball travel result.

(It is to be noted that a perception of direct golf swing performance is being associated with a ball travel result here because this specific analysis involves clubfitting diagnostic charts that are based on ball travel results.  But a perception of direct swing performance does not have to be associated with a ball travel result and could have some other frame of reference, again to be discussed more later).  As I am particularly discussing golf grip sizes and clubhead weights or swingweight values, I will limit this analysis to these two club specifications in terms of commonly depicted ball travel results in typical clubfitting diagnostic charts associated with comparative changes to these specifications’ values, and a vague perception(s) of direct golf swing performance that can be associated with each ball travel result.  I will also principally limit this discussion to one generalized ball travel result, that of being missed out to the right (for a right-handed golfer) when wanting to hit a golf ball straight.

Within this context, it has been commonly known for a long time that effects of utilizing a grip size too large on a club can include a physical decrease and/or delay in one’s hand rotation during one’s golf swing to a level that is less than one psychologically desires.  With a golf club (head) normally being manipulated from a more open to a more square position (relative to a desired target line) during one’s forward swing, these noted effects will generally tend to promote a more open clubface at club/ball impact as one’s grip size gets larger.  This in turn will generally tend to promote a ball travel result that is further out to the right than one desires, although within this broad context and depending upon other factors also the exact ball travel can take on many different forms while still ending up out to the right someplace.  This is not an overly difficult relationship to figure out with only a smallish amount of golfing experience.  And as described before, a swing alteration(s) of some sort that can be identified directly within one’s swing performance is associated with this ball travel result through one’s own perception(s) and/or other means, whereby often-unreliable ball travel results do not have to be depended on.

(This discussion assumes grip size changes using golf grips of the same model, style, and/or material[s], thus also getting heavier in weight as getting larger in diameter and vise versa.  Recall my earlier statement that grip weight is a critical factor in choosing one’s best golf grip diameter or “size.”  Thus, integrating golf grips that are larger in diameter yet lighter in weight would require another complete dimension being brought into this discussion.  That is not done here because the most basic concept[s] needs to be thoroughly understood first before any additional elements are considered).

Similarly but migrating down to the other end of an elongated golf club, when a clubhead weight or swingweight value too heavy is utilized, one commonly experiences another circumstance of being unable to rotate the golf club as a whole (or the clubhead if that terminology is desired) from more open to more square during one’s forward swing to the degree wanted (there can be other possible effects as well related to such specification alterations).  This too would generally promote a travel result of a golf ball more out to the right of where one desires it to go, as in essence the mind is willing but the body is just not able to physically perform the desired task.  (One will naturally attempt to adjust one’s swing to try to straighten out such a ball travel result, but the general price[s] to pay can be high even if succeeding often, altering one’s swing performance coordination to a degree where both distance and club control will generally be diminished).  Here again, an identifiable swing change(s) should be able to be detected directly within one’s swing performance, independent of and yet that can be associated with a particular ball travel result out to the right.  A directly-detected swing alteration for a ball travel result out to the right, whether through self-perception or other means, may or may not be determined to be of the same specific character for any given golfer depending upon whether caused by too large of a golf grip, too heavy of a swingweight value, or some different cause or combination of causes.  But a deeper analysis of such elements is not really necessary for this particular discussion and will be taken up as appropriate later.

This effect of golf ball travel out to the right, two potential causes of too large of a grip size and/or too heavy of a swingweight value on a golf club, and potential solutions of reducing the grip size and/or swingweight value of the club are typical entries contained in clubfitting diagnostic charts or equivalents put out by various sources.  Such charts generally contain what can be considered commonly experienced causes and effects and suggested equipment alterations that as noted above are hardly limited to the game of golf.  The same causes and effects can be applied to fitting baseball bats for hitting, tennis rackets, and can even apply to equipment that is not even elongated in nature when such charts are interpreted and modified using just some common-sense reasoning.  Here is yet another example of where so many people think the rules of performing and equipment fitting apply so differently to golf than they do to other activities.  The fact that so many golfers (and even clubfitters) seem to dispute some of these generalized and well-proven causes and effects is part of a body of evidence indicating that golfers on the whole have never been comparatively athletic.  I experienced many of the causes and effects listed in such diagnostic charts long before I ever touched a golf club, as one example when trying out and practicing with different baseball bat models when in my teens or perhaps even earlier.

One (but not the only) reason that causes and effects generally listed in such clubfitting diagnostic charts are often deemed broadly incorrect by so many non-athletic golfers if and when they experience different ball travel results is due to inexperience with respect to having been involved with other pertinent activities aside from golf to help substantiate certain universal principles.  (The term “pertinent” is important here, as there can be truly superb athletes that are still clueless about many golf swing and clubfitting principles if as one example a particular athletic activity does not have any elements in common or comparable with elements in golf).  This circumstance is fairly common among golfers as a whole, with the game often being taken up relatively later in life when one customarily has a better financial ability to play the game and even when one was never athletic at any time, as golfing readily allows that condition.  This rather substantial segment of golfers (in this particular instance golfers also referring to many others involved in the game in various capacities) is but one general source of some of the horribly illogical and incorrect (sometimes laughably so) golf swing and clubfitting theories and practices  that embarrassingly persist to this day within certain segments of the golf industry.

Now I am not saying that I am in agreement with all of the (ball travel) causes and effects and suggestions come up with in various clubfitting diagnostic charts as developed by various authors, as I have not closely inspected any such charts in a very long time.  But in defense of the efforts of these authors and as a note to golfers in general, such charts are typically formulated under the very rational assumption that only one given golf club specification is being altered at a time and that all other designated club specifications remain unchanged.  This is such a common-sense assumption that authors generally do not even specify this condition.  Yet there seems to be such a large number of golfers and even so-called professional clubfitters so personally inexperienced regarding activities beyond golf and thus certain universal causes and effects respecting equipment fitting (even equipment fitting that is much more basic than and easier to determine than in golf) that this assumption must be particularly pointed out.  Diagnostic chart causes, effects, and suggestions should never be considered and/or analyzed unless this condition is met.

For instance, if trying out a larger golf grip (again assumed of the same grip design and thus also heavier) on any given golf club, the swingweight value of the golf club will assumably decrease.  So the swingweight needs to be reset to the same value it was at with the smaller grip on in order to make a systematic determination of whether one’s ball travel results might or might not comparatively agree with a clubfitting diagnostic chart that relates golf grip sizes to ball travel results.  Otherwise there is no continuity toward making any kind of useful diagnosis.  A large number of people will change to a larger, heavier golf grip, just leave the swingweight value alone to go down to wherever it does, and then with the club in a state of having multiple specifications changed simultaneously try to relate just golf grip size to ball travel results in accordance with such a chart.  This just cannot be done dependably.  Such charts become essentially worthless as diagnostic tools when any specifications other than the one expressed within any given diagnosis are altered.  This is a classic example that involves the very two golf club specifications I am discussing here (grip size and swingweight) that have been long proven to be critical golf club specifications with respect to one’s golf swing and playing performance.

(A club’s shaft frequency will change when resetting the club’s swingweight upon altering grip sizes whereas the frequency value would not change if the swingweight value were not reset after altering grip sizes.  It might be argued that such a change in frequency is undesirably changing a different club specification value [in addition to altering grip size] that should not change and that any such change would similarly render golf club fitting diagnostic charts inaccurate.  To this point in time, however, golf club swingweighting [in which part of its normal use includes a resultant change in club/shaft frequency value] is a recognized and designated golf club specification with a long-proven successful track record whereas frequency value alone is not [although some people (often very confused people) might dispute that].  This is particularly stated in terms of the frequency value’s effect on one’s direct golf swing performance and not ball travel results, which again are separable considerations.  If and when any designated golf club specifications change, this topic can be revisited as necessary.  For instance it is fully expected that waggle weight will replace swingweight in the future as a more accurate golf club specification).

In a case of not resetting a club’s swingweight value to what it was before changing to a larger grip size, the larger grip size cause and effect on one’s ball travel (if all else were equal) would commonly agree with the diagnosis in clubfitting diagnostic charts typically indicating a ball travel result more to the right.  Differently, however, where a heavier swingweight value than that originally tried would as stated also promote a ball travel result more to the right, now we have a situation where the swingweight value is lighter than that originally tried.  There is no ultra-complicated analysis needed for this particular condition, and a lighter swingweight value than that originally tried (if all else were equal again) would generally promote a ball travel result more to the left than the original ball travel result, again with one or more swing changes occurring that can be associated with such a ball travel result and yet could be directly detectable in one’s golf swing through various means already described without actually needing such a (secondary) ball travel result for diagnosis.  Vaguely speaking, direct golf swing characteristics associated with too light of a golf club swingweight value may include but not be limited to swinging too fast overall and/or with certain parts of one’s body such as one’s arms and/or hands, swing characteristics that can be more prone to physically delivering a clubhead to a golf ball in more of a closed position than that which one intends.

Ultimately, a cumulative effect of these two golf club specification changes takes place, one of the changes generally promoting a ball travel result more to the right (the larger grip size) and one generally promoting a ball travel result more to the left (the lighter swingweight value).  The combination of these elements (related in terms of just ball travel result for the moment) might essentially cancel each other out and cumulatively produce a generally straight ball travel result, or (since other ball-travel factors are also brought into play when basing clubfitting primarily on ball travel results like clubfitting diagnostic charts typically do) one of the two changes may remain dominant over the other to a variable degree.  So as a result of not resetting the swingweight golf club specification to its previous value when trying out a larger grip size, one might actually get a ball travel result that generally goes more to the left as one specifically looks into the diagnostic cause and effect for a larger grip size (which commonly indicates a ball travel result prone to go more to the right) and one may find oneself quite confused and/or in (inexperienced) disagreement with such diagnostic chart information.

Poor clubfitting experiences are excessively numerous, creating a very poor image of the clubfitting trade as a whole in the way of what this trade teaches from the ground up and how it performs from the top down.  Now if you happen to think that this trade’s failure to comprehend and act on this first-grade-level association between golf club grip size and swingweight value may be insignificant respecting one’s golfing performance, I guarantee that you will think differently after what follows and this introductory knowledge is built upon further.