The Terrible Twos Syndrome of Golf Club Fitting: Part Twelve

Now I am hardly saying that you should forget about being as detailed as possible and seeking perfection with respect to golf club lie while remaining greatly detailed about everything else.  I am simply saying here that because a predominant element of this particular testing revolves around golf club swingweighting and because this automatic correction exists between golf club lie and swingweighting, a detailed analysis of golf club lie (which could, should, and will be addressed as its own major clubfitting topic) is not warranted at this stage.  In assuming that the same model clubheads are used for the test clubs herein and that the clubhead lies are within the manufacturers stated tolerance for that specification, then the lies of the test clubs might safely be ignored during this specific testing.

If encountering other conditions, however, more attention may need to be given to the test golf club lies, for it is just common sense that if anything is off far enough there can be unwanted causes and effects that may affect results.  Such conditions may include but not be limited to using different style clubheads for the various test clubs having lies that are noticeably mismatched, performing the testing herein and determining the solution(s) based upon golf ball travel results (which this testing does not do) instead of pure golf swing performance, or having golf club lies that (even if consistent) are so far off for any given player that they cause readily observable (even to beginners) changes to take place relative to any of the player’s normal address and/or swing movements and/or positions.

Under such conditions, more may need to be learned about golf club lie (which I plan to address separately later) and then this testing sequence perhaps revisited again at a later time.  As long as technology advances (which will presumably be forever), clubfitting should never be approached as a one-time event and basically become a perpetual process anyhow.  Another valid reason for this approach is that golfers’ swings will normally tend to change over time for various reasons that should be fairly apparent.  While many might label this swing flaw development that should be corrected, I tend to think of it as a very natural evolution that may be more beneficial if left mostly or entirely alone.  Regardless, even if clubfitting is performed superbly at any given point in time, it should justifiably be performed again at some future point, and again, and again in the normal course of one’s golfing “career” so to speak to see if and when any golf club specifications might warrant change.  This continuous process thus routinely takes into account the newest clubfitting technology, one’s latest golf swing evolution(s), and any betterments of one’s clubfitting knowledge.

Now I have already recently offered a brief explanation of the following regarding why golfers should learn as much clubfitting on their own even if a hired clubfitter could do an excellent job.  And offering the following different perspective(s) on this subject will add a bit more time before actually starting to swing the test clubs and getting clubfitting results.  I can emphatically assure you that no one is more anxious to get into that actual swinging and clubfitting more than I, as anybody else is potentially capable of disclosing the same clubfitting information before I release it here and I absolutely do not want that to happen.  But I feel that presenting the following concepts is extremely important to do as part of this journey and worth the risk of a slight further delay, so I shall get right to it.

From a golfer’s perspective, learning clubfitting on your own is in the end one of the best means through which to understand and develop your golf swing and develop confidence in your golf swing.  And confidence in your swing is perhaps the single most important overriding factor of being able to most correctly and effectively combine golf swing and equipment-fitting performance toward achieving your best and most consistent golfing.  Perhaps you think you really believe in your swing, but if you do not swing acceptably even on isolated occasions due to a clubfitting issue and you cannot positively determine what that clubfitting issue is on your own (or whether it is even a clubfitting issue), then diminishing confidence in your swing will usually surface.  This is by nature inescapable.

Learning clubfitting well is in fact a very integral part of learning a golf swing well, both its physical and mental aspects, and not satisfactorily comprehending both and how they relate to each other commonly means not satisfactorily comprehending either one alone.  I see repercussions of not sufficiently comprehending this relationship(s) all the time.  I regularly see players with excellent physical golf swings (that I would not change at all) that are capable of breaking par every time out even with little or no customization(s) of their golf clubs (largely due to their lack of clubfitting knowledge).  And because they personally remain quite unaware of certain very basic clubfitting tasks that could and should be performed (even by themselves) and that could produce game-changing data for them, they really have nowhere else to turn after experiencing such struggling with their games except to often-unnecessary swing change(s) and/or instruction.  And I am talking here about even many tour-level professional golfers that go through this fairly regularly, not just amateurs.

There is a direct, scientific connection between one’s golf swing performance and certain golf club specifications.  If as a golfer you are not going to make an equal effort toward understanding clubfitting on your own (as that of understanding your golf swing on your own) and how clubfitting can so deeply affect your swing performance, then there is little cause for making any effort toward understanding and improving your golf swing alone.  It makes no sense whatsoever to pursue golf swing improvement on your own and yet not pursue the element of clubfitting on your own (although not necessarily simultaneously)  that can literally and swiftly make or break your golf swing performance that you work so hard on.  I often see very strange scenarios of golfers stating they are low handicap players already through considerable, hard practice over time and now they are about to head off to their very first clubfitting session.  They ask about what to expect from the process and in so doing display a kindergarten-level understanding of clubfitting, quite odd considering the level of playing success already achieved.

There are not too many possible conclusions that can be come to from these scenarios.  One is that these players have been very fortunate that off-the-rack clubs are already apparently a pretty good fit for them with no major customization(s) needed (always a legitimate possibility even though such clubs often have some design features geared toward higher-handicap players) and no custom golf club fitting previously warranted.  Another is that their handicaps (assumed true yet can be deceiving) were figured on an extremely easy golf course(s) (or perhaps a miniature-golf course[s], but in all fairness here my wife and daughter occasionally beat me at mini-golf.  I often try to blame the putters I am given, which are often crooked and/or noticeably heavier or lighter than I am used to, but I get little sympathy).  And another is of course that they are “exaggerating” their handicaps to put it kindly, something not exactly unheard in the often fantasy world of golfers.  So these scenarios seem quite strange and, if factual, usually do not bode well in the long run for such golfers that lack even very basic clubfitting skill(s).

Again, the concepts and reasonings presented here should always be firmly in place for golfers that want to play their very best, even under an assumption that the clubfitting industry generally performs superbly.  Know that this is not meant as an “all or nothing” proposal, as no matter who the golfer is there will at times likely be tasks for which the clubfitting trade might be justifiably utilized.  But it should be obvious that the more a golfer personally knows about clubfitting and its effects on swing performance and ball travel results, the greater his/her advantage is.  And the grim reality is that the golf club fitting trade as a whole currently remains the worst in all of sports, and even if this were not generally true there would still potentially be encounters with unqualified individuals.  This is where a substantial benefit(s) is reaped by golfers adhering to the above concepts.  For those able to apply these wisdoms, the laughable clubfitting trade is no big tragedy.  Such players know through their hard work in the appropriate area(s) the most important element(s) they need in their golf clubs to help them achieve their best golfing, they are able to confidently dictate this, and they are easily able to see through and disregard the clubfitting trade that so often exhibits less knowledge and experience about some topics.

Comprehensive future improvements encompassing the clubfitting industry (if that ever happens) would somewhat diminish the seriousness of implementing these concepts as soon as possible (a seriousness that is currently essentially at an emergency level), but even with such improvements these concepts will always remain extremely important.  Even casual golfers that do not take their golf swings and/or clubfitting as seriously as those who might make their living through the game might still improve their enjoyment of (and success at) the game by just being aware of the concepts and issues noted herein.  Other points can be derived from this analysis, including that while working on your golf swing, it is quite straightforward to see what you are getting, which is knowingly working directly on your golf swing.  When clubfitting, however, it can be hidden that your swing is in fact being profusely worked on, and this is typically brought about in an unconscious manner, masked by the extremely common singular goal of accomplishing a specific golf ball travel result.  This is horrible and notably unskilled clubfitting technique.  Learn here that your golf swing may be altered more during a clubfitting session (and while not even being consciously aware of it) than when consciously trying to work on your golf swing performance independently.

Golfers, even very good golfers, can easily leave a clubfitting session with a better ball travel result then they came in with and simplistically be happy with that, yet not realize that the better ball travel might be temporary and that longer-term swing effects initiated at the clubfitting session may soon take hold that may hinder further efficient golf swing development or even take them backward in that regard.  This is a frequent occurrence when dealing with a clubfitter (and/or clubfitting system) that fits golf clubs merely to superficial golf ball travel results (and/or other dubiously devised clubfitting parameters such as always being “comfortable” with various golf club specifications) and is not able to fit clubs based on a deeper root understanding of underlying golf swing performance.  Recollect that pure golf swing performance and ball travel result are two different clubfitting elements that can and should be skillfully separated.

In certain respects, golf club fitters really need to be considerably more qualified than golf swing teachers, possessing vital understandings of both golf swing performance and clubfitting and how the two interact toward effectuating good golf swings and ball travel results.  (Depending upon your point of view, however, I suppose that the exact opposite could be argued instead, with swing teachers needing vital understandings of both and clubfitters only requiring clubfitting expertise).  But in arguing for the former, this is a well-defined problem for the clubfitting industry in that a large percentage of so-called professional or certified clubfitters are clearly less qualified at what they do (rather than more qualified) than their swing-teaching counterparts.  A playing competency test is at least required of many swing-teaching association members, while none is required for any so-called accredited clubfitters to the best of my knowledge.  While in and of itself this aspect is not something that should wholly determine the qualification of a clubfitter, consider that I have observed so-called professional or certified clubfitters conversing first about how they fit golf clubs to their customers, then ending their conversation with a discussion of when these clubfitters themselves will be taking golfing lessons next so that they in essence can learn how to play the game decently.  And the dialog regarding fitting others inevitably contains ample evidence that vividly confirms such inexperience.  If this does not persuade you to solemnly consider the thoughts published in today’s post, then I am not sure what will.