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

Thus far a couple of extremely basic tests have been performed with the three test golf clubs that have been constructed.  The first was independently taking each club through an acceptably wide range of swingweight values and determining the swingweight range through which one makes one’s best golf swings.  Each test club has a slightly different grip size installed on it.  Then, with the clubs’ swingweight values set right at the middle of the swingweight range determined (the same swingweight range and thus middle value was determined for all three test clubs), the clubs were swung and compared side by side against each another, one distinct pair at a time, to further determine which golf grip size one made one’s best golf swings with.  In my case (used as an example), the results were a median golf club swingweight value of D3(.0) with a men’s standard size golf grip.

I reaffirm here that results were based on pure golf swing performance, broadly defined as the comprehensive coordination of one’s swing performance(s) relative to one’s swing performance(s) with a (theoretically) perfectly-fitting golf club in hand (only achievable with no golf club or other substitute device in hand).  Golf ball travel results should be deemed irrelevant during this foundational phase of clubfitting to one’s golf swing for a multitude of reasons, some already described.  One not yet described is that I can make superbly-coordinated golf swings when I am attempting to swing right down my intended target line, intentionally on an in-to-out swing path relative to the target line, an out-to-in path, with a golf ball (or simulated golf ball) well forward or backward in my stance, with the same golf ball positioned on totally bare ground or teed up around the height of my waist, and more.  Golf swing performance coordination can never be directly determined by how far and/or straight a golf ball goes, and these varying swinging circumstances can help define whether one is truly swinging well or not regardless of any ball travel results.  Clubfitting that is foundationally based on ball travel results whether by launch monitor numbers or other means is a very shallow and fallible process with respect to fitting golf clubs to one’s actual base golf swing performance, and no true expert would ever consider ball travel results to be an accurate indicator of one’s swing performance.

Yet another perspective is that anyone who has ever worked hard at making one’s golf swing better and succeeded to develop some level of confidence in the developed swing would tend to depend more on one’s very golf swing performance as the best indicator of whether one is swinging well or not.  There is a direct correlation between how much belief one has in one’s golf swing and how likely one is to engage in and/or believe any third-party indications of how well one is swinging (again focusing here on pure golf swing performance and not ball travel results).  That is why to this day many players confident in their swings have never bothered to get on a launch monitor (or at least not taken the results too seriously), as they already know full well whether they are swinging well or not and such devices make no difference whatsoever toward that most important part of playing well.  This is not to say that ball travel results are irrelevant in the overall scheme of clubfitting, because that is certainly not true and devices like launch monitors (when in competent hands) may help fine-tune certain clubfitting elements better than without such devices.  I am only saying that far more important considerations must be taken care of first.  The following testing comprises elementary basics of clubfitting to one’s base golf swing, yet elementary basics that launch monitors do not and cannot even touch on despite how technically advanced they may be.  This is simply because, as I have repeatedly and correctly stated, swing performance and ball travel results are two completely separable elements.

Now regarding the “low-tech” results gotten thus far, am I a long-time, experienced golf professional that knows my swing well and knows what to look for through such testing, backed by valuable experience acquired in several other applicable areas also?  Yes I am.  But do I think that virtually any other golfer, even a beginner, is not capable of detecting what I detect?  No, I do not believe that for one second if the proper testing conditions are set up for any given golfer.  I cannot say that I am a particularly proud person overall, and the fact is I see people all the time at driving ranges and on golf courses that are clearly beginners, sometimes being there for the first time, with such well-formed golf swings already that are every bit as good as mine that I would not touch that particular aspect of their golf ability.  My own daughter is a typical example of this.  She has played perhaps six rounds of golf her entire life and hit golf balls at the range only occasionally (mostly when I used to practice and my family came to support me) to help alleviate the boredom of just watching me practice.  I simply taught her early on how and why to hold onto a golf club the way it should be held onto and let her swing develop around that grip, and it did not really take too long for her to develop a well-formed golf swing.

There are certainly other issues that would need to be worked on in her game if she were to play more, one of them being that, like many inexperienced players, she still performs almost full swings when chipping and the rest of us often have to duck when around the greens while playing with her.  And, while it is not my intent here to confuse because this post title sequence is based upon swingweighting working for one, swingweighting in its current form is a golf club specification that she cannot take advantage of because it does not work for her at the present time, so adjusting would be needed in that regard at least for a while.  I may have commented earlier that it is fairly common for swingweighting to not work that well or at all for golfers when they are less experienced and still learning the game, but that the specification will often become a better fit for them as they play and practice more.  But I will not detail that further here.

This circumstance generally should not cause irreparable harm to one’s golf swing, and once fundamentally sound golf swing and clubfitting principles are learned and applied (the sooner the better naturally), one can better overcome various issues including this particular inequality.  But this circumstance can produce delays in the development of one’s golf swing and game potentially to the point of perhaps persuading one to give up or lessen his/her participation in the game out of frustration, when one might otherwise not have if one at least understood what was going on.  Suffice it to say here that if I were to try to encourage my daughter to be more involved in the game, the last thing I would subject her to at this point would be MOI (Moment of Insanity) golf club matching.  That would be the equivalent of me trying to encourage her to get out of the game as so many people have already done in recent years.  Whether having any connection or not, it can be noted that the reintroduction of Moment of Insanity golf club matching “again” and a rather substantial decline in the participation in and/or popularity of golf have coincided almost exactly over the same time frame, about the last decade.

The above information regarding swingweighting and golfers that are less experienced is very broadly stated and there are in fact many beginners for whom swingweight is a very effective golf club specification right from the start depending upon the comprehensive experiences of any given individual.  Contrarily, there are also very accomplished golfers for whom swingweighting does not work well either.  But such discrepancies are limited in number and cannot account for the complete lack of test results within the clubfitting trade like that produced within this testing.  Such results have not been usably published by this trade as a whole simply because such testing has never been put in front of golfers by this trade.  This is a trade that among other things uses the fact that there is generally a range of swingweight values one can swing well at to be extremely lackadaisical with this foundational golf club specification.  As will be seen below this is an error of ignorance, not that it really matters much given how this trade also routinely chooses one’s golf grip size using the meaningless grip-on-stick method.

Before continuing further I will again note that the grip sizes chosen for this testing have been very carefully chosen for very specific reasons, and for any given golfer these grip sizes may be nothing even close to what is best.  If, for instance, one’s best golf grip size is a men’s jumbo size at around eight sizes larger than the grips being worked with here, it is conceivable that all three grip sizes used in this testing will be so far off and so small for one that there may not be any perceptible swinging differences between any of them.  Ideally this would not happen, but do be aware of such possibilities.

The results thus far as they relate to direct golf swing performance are sound and there is nothing magical about them, just comprising straightforward logic and the work needed to obtain such results.  But wait.  What has been done to this point is mere kindergarten-level stuff from a perspective of understanding a golf swing and/or clubfitting skillfully, and I certainly have not disclosed what I have thus far to stop at this level.  So with what has been learned thus far it is time to move along to the next instructive level.  Perhaps I previously stated that even if testing results are turning out to be logical and consistent, one should nevertheless occasionally return to the very beginning after any given amount of testing has been performed.  This is to reevaluate one’s process in light of the testing performed to date and/or the results gained through such testing to see if anything might have been missed or incorrect along the way and/or if the process can be made better still.

So let me go back to the beginning and reexamine what I have done to this point to see if I potentially missed anything and/or did anything wrong.  The very first phase that I went through was to take three specifically-constructed test golf clubs and independently test each one over a sufficient range of swingweight values so as to be confident the range of values I swung my best over would be the correct range for my golf swing.  However, a very specific goal of test club construction was to make each of the three test clubs to be in essence the same exact golf club.  Thereafter, systematic changes to certain golf club specifications of the test clubs as befitting can provide a platform from which to perform some critical golf club fitting procedures and obtain critical solutions that at best can only be guessed at via other means with respect to fitting golf clubs to one’s base golf swing.  In assuming this test club construction goal was successful and now considering the three test clubs to be one and the same golf club with different grip sizes then being tried on it, the first phase of clubfitting as detailed can now be defined in a different way.  It can be defined as analyzing whether any changes are required at one end (clubhead end) of the same elongated object (golf club) based upon one’s golf swing performance and a given swing-affecting object specification (swingweight) value at that end as managed changes (different grip sizes) are made to the other end (grip end) of the same elongated object.

Well now that is all good and fine as far as it goes, but when defined in this new manner and thought about some, one might hopefully realize that there is an extremely important element missing from this type of testing of this type of equipment.  The specific testing described above really only comprises half of a larger overall testing concept that really needs be performed in its entirety if one is to obtain a more complete understanding of any relationships that exist between components and/or specifications residing at either end of the elongated object and how any such relationships are connected with one’s golf swing performance.  Stated more practically, grip sizes were intentionally altered at one end of (in effect) the same golf club to see what if any (swingweight) modifications were needed at the other end in order to retain one’s best golf swing performance (swingweight being the golf club specification that determines the golf club’s effective clubhead-end weight), but no testing has been performed where the swingweight specification value at the clubhead end is intentionally altered to see if any changes are needed at the grip end in order for one to retain one’s best swinging performance.  Not knowing such testing and test results is not knowing some of the most primary principles regarding golf club fitting and golf swing performance, as this is still first-grade-level educational material being revealed here.  If one does not comprehend correctly at this level, one will not be able to move beyond this level correctly.  So it is time to finish what has only been half done thus far to see what else might be learned.

Before commencing the next testing sequence I offer the following generalized structure of this clubfitting phase, which I will simply call phase three.  Phase three testing requires the first two clubfitting phases to be completed at some point and their results obtained first or phase three cannot really be competently performed and its results will comprise essentially meaningless information.  Without phase one testing and the determining of one’s swingweight range and median swingweight value for one’s best swinging, one will have no idea of where to set test club swingweight values for phase three.  And without phase two testing and the determining of one’s best golf grip size based on the results of phase one testing, phase three results would have no meaning and no value whatsoever.  Operationally speaking, phase three testing is essentially the exact opposite of phase one testing, with the result of phase two serving as a base of reference for results obtained in phase three.

However, because of the way lead tape can be put on and taken off clubheads relatively quickly and becomes stable essentially instantaneously and because of the way golf grips traditionally need a more complex procedure for installation including needing to be set aside to dry for a time, phase one and phase three testing need to done using procedures that are quite different from each other.  For instance, phase one testing can, over time, be done using a single golf club that is regripped several times and allowed to dry each time.  The club with each grip on can be tested through a range of swingweight values, with the perception(s) of each swingweight value being retained more effectively while swinging at various values due to the rather rapid changes of swingweight values allowed during each clubfitting session.  But phase three (and phase two) testing, being a trial where a determination of grip size and not swingweight value is made, needs to have multiple test golf club specimens having very stable grip installations readily available for side-by-side swinging comparisons.

(I have already described how using an air compressor to more quickly and conveniently install and remove golf grips is not recommended for such testing for multiple reasons and I will not go into that again here.  With advancing technology and interchangeable shafts and clubheads becoming more popular in recent times, perhaps such technology will eventually be used to develop different ready-to-swing golf grip sizes that can be quickly exchanged on the same shaft model.  But multiple identical shaft models would still be required if connected toward the clubhead [which kind of defeats the purpose of interchangeable systems to begin with] and other keen engineering would be required if connected toward the grip [this may not be fully understood until this post title sequence is completed] to effectively implement such an interchangeable grip-sizing system that is actually swingable as a complete golf club.  Plus other complications can still be present in common with air-compressor grip changing anyhow, so the construction of multiple discrete test golf clubs [and the work involved] currently appears to be the best way to proceed).

With that background given and proceeding more practically, fortunately the test golf clubs needed for the next phase of testing are already in place and with some strategic modification can be used to perform phase three exquisitely.  In fact, as a somewhat natural extension of phases one and two, only minor, simple modifications are needed to the test golf clubs after phase two to start performing more swinging comparisons and gaining some additional testing results that can considerably increase one’s knowledge regarding golf swing performance and clubfitting.  If justified, review the details of test golf club construction and how careful one should be during the construction process, emphasizing here as examples that even same-model shafts far enough apart from each other (even if still within the model’s published tolerance range) and/or seemingly minor variances in shaft installations can result in swinging two test club specimens differently even with the identical golf grip on both clubs, thus rendering this testing invalid at best.  So what I have to work with at this point is the three test golf clubs, all set to D3(.0) in swingweight value, and each with a slightly different grip size on it.  I have determined that with the clubs set up in this manner my best golf swings are made with the test club having the M60 core size golf grip on it.  This happens to be the middle golf grip size of the three test sizes and also a standard-sized men’s golf grip as per the fact that the M60 core size grip is installed on a .600 shaft butt size.

In accordance with completing a comprehensive testing process discussed above where one can learn about and verify certain relationships existing between club components and/or specifications existing at opposite ends of one’s golf clubs, the swingweight values of all three test clubs now need to be modified a given amount yet must be kept identical, reiterating that one is considering all three test clubs to effectively be the same golf club, and the then clubs compared again with respect to one’s golf swing performance.  With phase one completed and its results (the same for all three test golf clubs) firmly secured showing that swing coordination is very poor when getting outside a swingweight value range of D2.0 through D4.0, there is logically no reason to set the swingweight values of any of the test clubs outside of that range for this particular test.  But what can be done, as little a detail as it may seem at this instant, is that all of the test golf clubs can be set to either D2.0 or D4.0 and swinging comparisons performed again.  In this instance I shall choose D2.0, and direct swinging comparisons can again commence.  Would you predict at this time that the test club having the M60 golf grip on it would again be swung best?  If you said yes, you are certainly part of why the clubfitting industry is the worst in all of sports even at a very rudimental level.

In following the same order of testing that I did previously, the first clubs tested side by side are the M62 and M60 test club pair.  Producing the same results as when all of the test clubs were at D3, when they are all now at D2 the M60 club is swung perceptibly better than the M62 club.  Now in continuing the succession of next comparing the M60-gripped test club side by side against the M58-gripped test club, if one is not careful one might preconceive that this would and should produce the same result as when all of the test clubs were set at D3 and not test thoroughly.  But that is just not the case this time.  When now set to D2, the M58 club, the club with a grip size that is one size larger than the one chosen when all of the test clubs were set to D3, is now is clearly swung better than the M60 club.  And oppositely, when it is instead chosen to set all of the test clubs to D4.0 instead of D2.0 and the same structure of testing is followed, the M60 club is swung better than the M58 club (the same result as when all test golf clubs were swingweighted to D3), but the M62 club (having the smallest grip size of the three and one size smaller than the M60 club) is now swung better than the M60 club (a different result than when the test clubs were all at D3) and is now the best golf grip size for my golf swing when all of the test golf clubs are set to a swingweight value of D4.