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

For anyone getting a notable difference in any golf club specification values for golf glove on and off circumstances when clubfitting, another aspect of distinction is that this can open up a whole new can of worms so to speak.  One might have to refit any of one’s club specifications each time a different glove model is worn or even with the identical model if it fits a little differently or is in different states of condition over its lifespan.  That is not a very desirable circumstance for either a golfer’s physical or psychological state.  Again this is not meant to specifically discourage one from proceeding in a certain manner.  There is really not much choice but for one to wear a golf glove when being fit for golf clubs if one regularly wears a glove and it is determined that one or more club specification values are different enough to cause an unfavorable playability difference when fitting a club(s) while not wearing a glove as opposed to wearing a glove.  These are just indications of repercussions that can be associated with getting fitted golf club specification values different enough to cause playability differences for one depending on whether one is fitted with or without wearing a golf glove.

While more of a minor logistic and something that in and of itself should certainly not be the sole determining factor as to whether or not to wear a glove when fitting clubs, I can add here that certain golf club adjustments made in an ongoing fashion when fitting clubs can be rather inconvenient to make with a golf glove on.  Just one clear example is in the application of lead tape to golf clubs, a task that is routinely performed during clubfitting.  All I can say in this regard is that I am glad I am not a surgeon having to do surgery on someone while wearing a golf glove, as some detailed work can become clumsy enough that I need to switch to using my other hand to do certain things.  This is due to both golf glove construction aspects and the type of work associated with certain clubfitting tasks.  Of course there is always the option of removing the glove every time the swingweight is altered on a club, which could literally be dozens of times during any given clubfitting session, but that can get pretty tiresome even if it is deemed extremely important to wear a glove during such clubfitting exercises.  And of course this assumes that one is doing one’s own clubfitting work and not having such adjustments made by another clubfitter, in which case what is addressed in this paragraph can be viewed in a different light.

Now I have personally done ample work and research regarding glove-on versus glove-off conditions many times in the past, for instance testing a pair of irons for a particular clubfitting element while not wearing a golf glove and then testing a pair of woods while wearing a glove, and the next time similar testing is performed wearing a glove when testing the irons but not when testing the woods.  To date I have not found any instances where I got clearly different results for any given golf club specification depending upon whether I was or was not wearing a golf glove while fitting the specification.  In breaking this aspect down more, the following items can be noted.  In the same way that a golf club’s measured swingweight value (a measured force existing at the butt end of a golf club) does not change and the measured force is sensed directly through a golf glove (worn in a normal manner), the solid, unchanging grip diameter does not change either and is sensed as the same diameter through any glove whose material moves around with and essentially becomes part of one’s hand.  Nor does the static weight of the golf grip change or one’s perception of that weight just due to the wearing of a golf glove, and as stated earlier the weight of the golf grip is an extremely relevant factor toward whether certain golf club specifications will be any different.  And the same is true of the shaft’s weight, the golf club’s total weight, and other club specifications as well that would not be perceived as being notably different depending on whether a golf glove is worn or not.

Wearing a golf glove can lead to physical positional changes in either or both of one’s hands when one grips a golf club over not wearing a glove, and such positional changes can indeed be a factor in trying to arrive at one’s best club specifications.  But this factor alone is hardly the only element that determines whether any changes in any of one’s golf club specification values will result.  The factors noted above are all major elements that contribute to whether any of one’s golf club specifications might be better at a different value.  And because these major elements are not really perceived as being any different regardless of whether a golf glove is worn or not, this reasonably lessens the chance that any club specifications (at least major specifications that can directly and critically affect one’s golf swing and not just ball travel) will turn out to be markedly different in value depending upon whether one does or does not wear a golf glove during clubfitting.  But there certainly can be exceptions for golfers even for major golf club specifications for so many different reasons that an entire book might be needed to analyze just this particular aspect thoroughly.  This information serves as merely an introduction to initially consider and potentially reference later if and when different and/or inconsistent clubfitting results occur.

I will openly state the following here.  Given all club component models in existence, most of which I have never personally tested, and on top of that all golf glove models having various designs, materials, thicknesses, the way they each initially fit, break in, wear, and so on, I have still personally tested only a minuscule amount with respect to trying to make a definitive determination of whether any of my club specification values would notably change under any conditions regarding golf-glove-wearing versus golf-club-absent clubfitting results.  And as a whole these various ingredients appear to grow in number or change in design essentially on a daily basis.  Now there is no reason to think that I will not reveal any other future testing and research I might do in this regard.  But based on what I know to this point, it would seem unrealistic to authoritatively conclude that I would never encounter any club specification differences between the two testing scenarios, even if it might relate to a minor ball travel issue and not one that might more importantly physically impact my swing mechanics.  So in concluding this, and also concluding that any club specification differences found between glove-on and glove-off clubfitting testing will be sufficiently minor so as to produce little if any club playability difference under either circumstance unless and until proven otherwise, any decision as to clubfit with or without a golf glove on comes down to whether or not one is comfortable with the exact amount of any differences in any club specification values between the two testing conditions and/or any particular beliefs and/or preferences regarding such matters.

So for golfers that exhibit little if any apparent difference in golf club specification values when being fit for clubs either with or without wearing a golf glove, a decision (a very important decision that could have other consequences later on) should be made as to whether to wear a golf glove or not while clubfitting (again assuming golfers that typically do wear a glove when playing and/or practicing).  There are two basic choices.  One is to fit for club specifications while wearing a glove and hope that a situation is not produced where any of one’s club specification values might be notably different due to the glove’s style, fit, and/or condition as examples as opposed to wearing no golf glove.  The other is to fit with no glove on and accept the possibility that situations may come up where when wearing any given golf glove (including the glove’s related characteristics as derivatives of the decision to fit with a glove on) a less-than-best clubfit may be present.

Now I fundamentally still consider myself to be a golf glove wearer even though I have not done so much in recent years.  And even though I assume that there are circumstances in which I myself would get different clubfitting results for any given club specification depending upon whether I wear a glove or not (even though my own personal results have not confirmed this yet), I have preferred for quite some time now to go over and set all of my golf club specifications based on not wearing any golf glove during clubfitting sessions under the premise that this will result in the best overall clubfitting for myself.  In addition to the tangible results I have gotten in the past as I have described, I can also add the following experience and concerns that have contributed to making this decision.

Even if choosing what I believe to be a perfectly fitting golf glove to myself of any particular model, there is an issue that even within the identical size I do not think I have ever met two gloves that were ever sewn and/or fit in exactly the same way, and that is certainly a concern for me for something as critical as fitting my golf club specifications on a fine-tuned level consistently.  They can often be inconsistent in other ways also not limited to discernable differences in glove material thickness.  Golf gloves often break in and wear inconsistently as well, in part due to the other inconsistent elements mentioned.  Such inconsistencies can certainly lead to undesirable errors when fitting for golf club specification values, further supported by the following.  Notwithstanding that I have yet to get any clubfitting specification results that are notably different for myself regardless of whether I am wearing a golf glove or not, there is often an initial adjustment period that can last multiple swings where I swing “funny” before I get acceptably used to any new or different golf glove I put on (even of the same model) that I must be extremely cognizant of, or else clubfitting errors are virtually guaranteed.

When testing even for one single golf club specification, there are often many different values to test such that only a few swings per value are typically reasonable and then one must move on to the next value while keeping the results of the prior value(s) firmly in mind.  So if wearing a glove during clubfitting, it is important to make sure that the same glove is used (after initially getting used to it) throughout the specific testing sequence once started in order to attain consistently reliable results.  If changing gloves in the middle of such a sequence for whatever reason(s), testing continuity can easily be lost.  As noted, I usually have to stop and make a few swings just to become accustomed to any individual nuances that often accompany such a change before I can continue gauging results justly, and even then I may still feel so different in any number of ways relative to when wearing the previous glove (including having trouble retaining a relative sense of what the previous results were like) that I might be persuaded to go back and begin the specific testing sequence all over again.  That possible testing situation does not appeal to me either.  And that can be when working with the identical golf glove model and size.

Even larger inconsistencies can be introduced if and when any other golf glove models are used, even of the same manufacturer.  Some of these models can be so different in their material thicknesses, fit, and multiple other design, manufacturing, and/or wear characteristics that I sometimes wonder whether it is my own hand I see and/or sense for a time immediately after putting a different golf glove on.  Even being able to relatively quickly get used to each one is still not very acceptable when trying to gauge something else in detail simultaneously.  This issue is not encountered when performing clubfitting without wearing a golf glove by intent.  It should be understood that similar-type inconsistencies are produced and initial adjustment periods often judicious immediately after switching between wearing a golf glove of any kind and using no glove.  It should also be plainly understood here that, while trying things under extreme conditions can be very helpful in guiding one as to how to proceed with certain elements, clubfitting should fundamentally be performed under the most ideal conditions possible, where one should really have no difficulty in securely holding onto a golf club absent a golf glove unless one is quite insufficient at that skill.

Now on the downside, I often do more swinging during clubfitting sessions while not wearing a glove than I do during regular practice sessions when not specifically doing any clubfitting, occasionally feeling that running sprints might not have been as bad.  And as previously inferred, these gloveless clubfitting sessions have often resulted in more top-hand soreness, painful blisters, and/or the development of calluses and/or splitting skin by way of no golf glove use and increased swinging.  It is times like that when wearing a golf glove would be quite helpful, yet I routinely intentionally do not do so under such conditions, which would seem to be counterproductive.  But I consider this practice to be a “temporary” sacrifice in order to achieve better long-term results, and this short-term sacrifice does have some advantages associated with it.

As a case in point, even callus buildups on one’s hand(s) can change one’s hand position when gripping a golf club.  But any such occurrences generally manifest themselves more gradually and do not encourage some of the funny swings I often initially make when encountering more abrupt differences as frequently happens after switching between some individual golf gloves.  So gloveless I do not have any concern over inefficiently interrupting a clubfitting sequence right in the middle, at least as far as the element of potential golf glove inconsistencies is concerned.  Other types of potential hand injuries, however, are an unavoidable concern if following this course and may or may not be worth it (even if temporary) to any given individual based upon many physical and psychological factors.  Any formed calluses can subsequently be removed and a golf glove introduced into the equation after clubfitting if desired, which may still be very beneficial in the long run.  Or, such calluses can be left as part of getting one’s hands in “golfing condition” that can actually help prevent future hand injury if one intends to regularly play and/or practice without wearing a glove.

In addition to the physical considerations just described, I have to this point evolved into the psychological position of preferring to know that my club specification values were determined while wearing no glove at all, even if I fundamentally plan to wear a glove on the course.  It just gives me personally the most confidence in the fit of my golf clubs through all kinds of potentially imperfectly fitting and/or conditioned golf gloves and the option to abandon them all if desired and positively know that my clubs will be in a best-fit condition for my swing under those most foundational circumstances.  Yet I would not hesitate to alter my position and rewrite this topic should additional evidence dictate such a change.

Now having gone over these aspects, I will divulge here that this information surrounding golf glove use can be applied in what amounts to a reverse order than what is considered to be the “traditional” manner (traditional not implying correct here).  Traditionally, one stands by the golf glove display and fits one’s glove size by trying on various sizes and making one’s own determination or following someone else’s guidelines as to what the best size would be.  Golf glove sizes come in rather traditional size designations yet often have an added parameter designated as either “regular” or “cadet” that indicates slightly different hand shapes.  Size chosen, a determination is then made as to whether to wear the glove or not during the clubfitting process.  The reverse of this would be to first best fit one’s golf club specification values under the most basal condition of wearing no golf glove (even if one ultimately intends to regularly wear a glove), and then fit one’s golf glove by wearing different glove sizes while swinging the club(s) that was fit while not wearing a glove, choosing the golf glove size that produces the best swinging and/or ball travel results as desired.  Another way to state this is to choose the golf glove size that best replicates one’s performance when no golf glove was worn and without making any further alterations to the golf club(s).

One might select a markedly different golf glove size if applying this reverse procedure.  In plain fact, this procedure is essentially a miniature version of what this entire post title sequence develops, which is the taking of something customarily fit in a purely static manner (in this case a golf glove) and transforming into a much more desirable dynamic fitting, which will always produce superior results.  Now for one who gets observably different clubfitting results for conditions of glove on and off, following this procedure that reverses questionable tradition may still not achieve a condition of getting the same golf club specification values for either testing circumstance, and one may still have to clubfit with a golf glove on in order to achieve the best clubfitting results.  But even in such cases, applying this procedure in determining the best fit of one’s golf glove size provides one with the best opportunity to achieve the minimum of golf club specification value differences between glove-on and glove-off conditions, which I would think every golfer would like to achieve.

If clubfitting oneself, one will still likely have to purchase and experiment with multiple glove sizes.  Even if stores allowed golfers to swing actual clubs while trying various golf gloves and then return them to the packages (which they customarily do not), this would not really be a best fitting circumstance anyway, as golf gloves commonly need a bit of a break-in period to best conform to any given golfer’s hand and before any testing results should be reliably depended on.  This reversal of procedure that might customarily be considered backward by the clubfitting industry (wrongly so) can also be implemented extremely effectively regarding other golfing elements such as in analyzing one’s other golfing apparel, and I will discuss this further later.

Consider this information regarding golf glove use thoroughly before one’s first swing is even attempted for the following testing and of course keep it in mind as information to reference beyond that.  From a standpoint of relative relationships between certain club specifications, nothing will be affected or learned differently regardless of what one’s preference is regarding golf glove use unless potential inconsistencies like that described associated with golf glove use are allowed to come into play in the middle of gathering and/or analyzing information used to determine results.  From a standpoint of absolute results, different golf club specification results are possible depending upon whether a golf glove is worn or not during clubfitting due to all kinds of various reasons.  Such specification differences can affect club playability, sometimes substantially so, if a golf club is fit while wearing a golf glove and then played while wearing no glove and vise versa.  But even so, given the context of the physical presence that a golf glove has and how it is put to use relative to the overall scheme of things, one should reasonably expect any literal differences in golf club specification values between glove-on and glove-off situations to be rather small, even if rather large playability differences can sometimes be noted depending upon the particular specification involved.  (It is commonly stated that removing one’s glove will increase one’s sense of feel [confirmed by my earlier statement about certain detailed tasks being more clumsy with a golf glove on], but this does not equate with one’s ideal club specification values being any different in either situation).

This knowledge is critically important to help give one the Waggle Weight Wisdom™ to shrug off with a chuckle certain buffoonish comments made by some clueless so-called clubfitting experts regarding golf glove use, mainly that wearing a golf glove reduces a golf club’s effective swingweight value by a substantial amount.  Such a statement is essentially equivalent to saying that a one-pound weight will feel substantially lighter upon lifting it if a glove were worn as opposed to not wearing one.  If this embarrassing claim had any merit to it, then every golfer on the planet for whom swingweighting works would swing and play considerably different depending upon whether or not a golf glove is worn, but this does not happen.  Sadly, the “if it does not sound reasonable it probably is not reasonable” axiom often seems to not take hold in golf.  There are so many Mr. Gullible Golfers and Mr. Credulous Clubfitters still listening to “Mr. Clueless Clubfitting Coach” regarding multiple nonsensical clubfitting theories and practices (that should be dismissed in an instant as amateurish but are not) that again I had no choice but to address this subject matter at this particular point.