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

Now that I have gone over some details regarding trying to accurately predict final golf club swingweight values on a regular basis before the clubs’ grips are actually installed and hopefully imparted some confidence to you regarding how to do so, let me now see if in one fell swoop I can take it back and at least temporarily reduce any such confidence.

The plain facts are that I have in the past come upon golf grips of exactly the same model and core size (I will go into grip core sizes shortly) and that were also exactly the same total weights, yet upon actually installing them I obtained final golf club swingweights that were markedly different given the comprehensive circumstances.  To the best of my recollection I sometimes got swingweight values that were at least a quarter-point and possibly as much as a half-point or even more apart between them, noting here again that most of my prior experience was with the use of the predominantly popular Victory golf grip model.  Even before installation I might visibly notice that one grip may have been a little longer than another, that one may have appeared to be a little thicker under the top-hand portion of the grip nearer the grip cap, and/or that one or more differences in the surface design patterns of the grips were present.  But even with such differences being initially observed, I was still often astonished at how far apart the final swingweight readings were (on otherwise identical golf clubs) after the grips were installed.  When doing certain clubfitting testing and/or fine-tuning, such swingweight differences can indeed come into play and such grip inconsistencies among even identical weights of the same grip model would seem to render everything that I have gone over with respect to swingweight prediction essentially worthless.

Now I do not pretend to know anything really relevant about the specifics of golf grip manufacturing.  It could have been that changes in the specific grip model’s design were implemented at any given time and I just happen to get both designs at that specific time.  Or it could have had something to do with the individual molds involved in making each of the grips (other than an intentional design change[s]) being different in one or more ways, whether because one of the molds might have been worn more than the other (if that even happens) or because individual molds could not be duplicated as precisely as desired.  Or perhaps it had nothing at all to do with the molds themselves and some other manufacturing process(es) contributed to such differences in the grips even though their final weights turned out exactly the same.  But what I do know is that these experiences have taken place, they took place not all that long ago, and it is reasonable to conclude that similar inconsistencies still exist today to varying degrees and that they will never completely become a thing of the past.

Fortunately, I cannot claim that the above experiences were an everyday occurrence.  I bring up this information here not to discourage one from using what has been discussed in the way of swingweight prediction, but just to disclose for you to be aware of how imperfect things can be at times in so many different areas if and when something pops up that cannot be immediately explained satisfactorily.  One may apply a swingweight prediction method perfectly only to get the next batch of same-model grips that could be very consistent with each other and yet unknowingly very different in one or more ways (aside from any total weight differences) from the previous batch.  One may not realize that such happenings can still easily occur in this day and age and then be stumped when final club swingweight values using one’s previously chosen slit reference grip do not seem to agree with final swingweight values of actually gripped clubs as accurately as before.  Do not dwell on this too much as I am getting into some extremes here that may be rare, but keeping it in the back of one’s mind might be useful toward solving certain inconsistencies or other problems if and when they arise.  So hopefully you are already getting some confidence back if you temporarily lost some, as the swingweight prediction techniques gone over can still be extremely valuable over the long haul toward one’s club making and/or fitting exploits, especially if one also understands some of the nuances and variances that are associated with the techniques and can account for them well when any such need arises.

In addition to being aware of “non-perfection” elements that everybody has to deal with, be mindful of and use common sense regarding other “normal-course” variant elements and experiences that may need to be accounted for and adjusted to on an individual basis with respect to the topics I have covered.  (When I refer to non-perfections here I am not just referring to physical golf grips, but potentially every component that exists as well as imperfections in labor that makes and/or fits golf clubs in this instance).  There could be one or more elements I have unintentionally overlooked and there are others I am aware of that are common-sense considerations and should not really have to be particularized.  As one example, I went into how many rubber or rubber-type grips will tend to grow a bit shorter (resulting in other effects also) as the same grip is stretched over larger diameters.  However, if you have not experienced it, cord grips (as well as some other grip materials [of which there are new materials constantly coming out]) will generally not exhibit this shortening characteristic, at least not to the same degree.  So cord grip users for instance might need to adjust their thinking and/or specific procedure(s) with respect to certain of the swingweight prediction method aspects discussed.

Now that I have essentially finished the subject of swingweight prediction at least for now, I will throw you another curve by saying that, relative to other clubmaking projects, gripping golf clubs is a fairly uncomplicated project that does not require inordinate skill, needing just some select knowledge and practice regarding a few tasks (that I will discuss more shortly) in order to perform well.  Taking off a golf grip, making an adjustment to the ungripped club if one’s initial prediction of final swingweight was off (assumes a non-adjustable clubhead), and regripping is not all that big of a deal.  So why, might you ask, did I go through all of the trouble and spend so much time detailing how to try to predict a golf club’s final swingweight value before its grip is put on?  Well perhaps my biggest motivating factor, and one you would do best to remember well, is to impress upon you the fundamental importance of not trimming a golf club shorter than you want or need it to be in an effort to, as one example, achieve a target swingweight value.  Expanding on that stated above, this assumes the use of a clubhead where one cannot or does not want to alter it particularly with respect to its weight and where the clubhead is already bonded to the shaft.  This is a subject area that should still be learned well even though so many clubheads now have weight ports in them for more conveniently adjusting weight.

If you have ever done this by accident (and I certainly have at times), it is one of the most discouraging mistakes one can make in clubmaking and you would understand better why I have spent so much time on swingweight prediction methods.  Initially leaving a shaft a bit too long and having the patience and foresight to trim it down a little at a time until it is exactly where one wants it (even if one needs to grip the club, test it, remove the grip, trim the shaft slightly more, and repeat the process again [and perhaps again]) is a whole different ballgame than trimming it too short.  Too short is past the point of no return, in which case the best solution is often, unfortunately, removing the shaft, installing a new one, and then trimming it (too short?) again.  And if you have ever gone through that with the time, effort, and potential expense (even when you do it yourself) of reshafting, you will know even more why I spent so much time on swingweight prediction methods.  The thorough discussion of such techniques is highly relevant toward being able to trim golf club lengths efficiently, helping to lessen the need for multiple grippings like above and lessen the chances of trimming shafts too short.  The Waggle Weight Wisdom™ that has been disclosed regarding such methods will help equip one with the knowledge needed to ideally prevent these noted situations, or at least keep them to a minimum.

Of course there are always items like shaft extenders available if one accidentally cuts a club too short, right?  Well, not really.  Now in this particular testing where the exclusive goal is to learn about proper golf grip sizing, if all three of the test golf clubs in the course of construction were accidentally cut exactly a half-inch too short, if all three then had the exact same shaft extenders installed in them in a consistent manner, and if all three were then cut exactly to the originally determined club length, then that is a situation where certain acceptable results might still be obtained when comparing various grips on the test clubs.  However, it is only this specific post sequence that deals with golf grips and their sizing.  The Terrible Twos Syndrome will later be applied to other clubfitting facets also, including in the selection of one’s golf shaft(s).  One example of this might be trying to choose between a Dynamic Gold S300 and S400 shaft.  These shafts are identical but for their total weights, and in that respect they only differ by about two grams.

In using the example above of extending the test club lengths using shaft extenders, one might then have the exact identical lengths one desires.  But first, the half-inch section that extends past the butt end of each original shaft will virtually always be of a different weight than the original shaft, with a discrepancy (commonly an unknown discrepancy) between the two that can be relatively large depending upon the exact specifications of the original shaft and the extender.  Then, there will be an overlap where the extender fits into the original shaft that will probably be a couple inches long give or take a little from what I remember (yes, I also used some extenders at one time).  Along this section, the effective weight of the shaft will be more than its designed weight.  While shaft extenders can be quite light, so too can modern day golf shafts, so this can still comparatively alter the designed weight of the original shaft throughout the overlapping section substantially.  And then where the extender ends inside the shaft, the shaft will abruptly be back to its designed weight.  And in talking strictly about shaft weight discrepancies here I am even disregarding the fact that the outer diameters of the shaft and extender will commonly not match each other and it may be difficult to get them to match as well as they should.  And all of these disparities will regularly be present under a golfer’s top gripping hand, a very critical area with respect to affecting and gauging swing performance and certain facets of golf shaft performance.

With that it should be rather easy to comprehend how a golf shaft’s originally designed specifications will typically be substantially altered with the use of a shaft extender in it and why one should never even seriously contemplate testing a shaft for performance (particularly respecting swing performance and not ball travel performance, again two distinctly different and separable elements) with a shaft extender in it let alone attempt to choose one under such circumstances.  And I am not just referring to better players that can detect such differences.  So can beginners if the test conditions are set up properly.  I will actually be discussing a little more about a certain shaft characteristic as it relates to golf grip sizing even in this post title sequence a bit later, and with that you will hopefully better appreciate the shaft extender aspects just discussed.

So the use of any shaft extender is an absolute no-no a little further down the road when testing and choosing between various golf shafts.  Using shaft extenders can presumably also result in inconsistencies and/or inaccuracies in the course of fitting other golf club specifications, but no additional evidence is really needed for that when it is already quite clear of the problems extenders can cause when trying to test and best fit golf shafts (still an important consideration although not the fateful decision that so many people make it out to be).  Since extenders should unconditionally be avoided when seriously testing and fitting golf shafts, it would be in one’s best interest to learn to avoid using them from the very beginning in the course of all earnest clubfitting tasks to achieve the best results.

Shaft extenders should only be used for emergency purposes (I am referring to playability and not safety issues here assuming they are installed well), temporary use, or for when one really wants or needs to save some time and/or expense over reshafting for instance and is not too serious and concerned about potential clubfitting consequences and errors.  But again they should never be an allowable component in the kind of skilled clubfitting regimen being explored here.  To sum up this topic, trimming golf club length too much is a far more serious and disheartening error than not trimming length enough.  An error in trimming golf club length too short, the reshafting or shaft extender commonly applied to correct that error and the trials and tribulations associated with such corrections, and the understanding of swingweight prediction methods for use that might potentially help avoid such an error in the first place, can all be related.  And hopefully I have provided adequate information regarding swingweight prediction methods and techniques so that such errors will optimistically be less likely to occur for you from here on out.

Now I only have one more relevant topic I need to discuss before I actually get to start swinging, and this could not come at a better time because I feel like my swing might be starting to stiffen up ever so slightly in the time that I have been working on this post title sequence.  The topic involves a little more about certain golf grip design features such as core sizes and certain grip installation issues.  But before I get to that I want to make one final review (even for myself) regarding construction of the test clubs and certain details that I may or may not have made adequately clear earlier, supported first by why such test clubs and testing are needed to begin with.  I have universally defined the Terrible Twos Syndrome of Golf Club Fitting as a condition generally exhibited by the clubfitting trade whereby it regularly tries to deliberately avoid a redundancy of certain clubfitting components and test club setups for cost and/or procedure reasons.  Dismally, and with contributing constituents like “one-upmanship” attitudes of wanting more combinations of components available than the next clubfitter at the expense of critical and common-sense basic redundancies, many clubfitting procedures developed in large part due to this syndrome have largely contributed to why the clubfitting industry has developed into the worst equipment-fitting trade by far in all of sports as of the date of this publication.  The one-upmanship attitudes might be more easily observed in the suggested increases in the number of critical golf club parameters that must be fit to a golfer, which is now into the twenties according to some clubfitters, when in plain fact there are only about a handful of specifications that need to be understood and fit well to accomplish superb clubfitting.

Now I am well aware that there are some extremely hardworking and honest clubfitters around that are really passionate about their work.  Understandably, however, many of these clubfitters have never achieved a certain level of performing ability or experience that teaches certain things to oneself, and thus they are reduced to blindly following the teachings of so-called clubfitting gurus.  They have “heard” that these people are experts or assumed so because these people might have written on the subject, but without having sufficient experience of one’s own to compare against such teachings one does not really know if these people have any idea whatsoever what they are talking about.  And so I come to perhaps the biggest core problem with the clubfitting trade, which is that past so-called clubfitting experts have not been so expert after all (which I will prove forthwith) and are extremely overrated with respect to their knowledge specifically regarding golf club fitting.  In the broadest sense, these so-called experts have been most responsible for creating the Terrible Twos Syndrome by exhibiting in their promulgated teachings some very poor clubfitting expertise in certain areas and some downright horrific clubfitting (and golf swing) concepts.  This starts at the most elementary levels and thus prevents any further fundamental advances from occurring.  Until new leadership is recognized, look for the clubfitting trade’s long-standing problems to continue.

I have specifically noted and noted why that while the science and art of golf club fitting truly is harder than fitting other types of performing equipment and arguably the hardest to do well in all of sports, the clubfitting trade can hardly stand on that argument for its current troubles with some of the laughably ridiculous things it continues to preach and do.  This trade regularly proves over and over again that it is loaded from top to bottom with clubfitters that are not suitably experienced to the point that they can see how poor some of the things are that they are doing on behalf of golfers.  And then there are the golfers themselves, of which a considerable percentage barely know or care about the difference between a clubhead and a grip, are not aware that golf clubs can even be fit to them let alone how important it can be toward playing their best, and are generally hardly athletes that may not even be permitted on the playing field in more traditional athletics.  Sadly, the clubfitting industry is truly a case of the blind leading the blind.

But redundancy and knowing what to do with it is part of what will begin to transform the rightly-ridiculed and embarrassing clubfitting trade into something that can ultimately be admired and emulated by equipment-fitting trades of all kind of activities.  While two test clubs are needed at a minimum that are redundant in multiple ways, three clubs will actually be utilized for much of the following testing to show specific points.  The shafts of all three clubs must be of the exact same model, including their lengths if discrete shaft lengths are available for the specific model.  They must be installed in exactly the same way into ideally three identical-model clubheads (even of the same club number for the best results).  Especially if the exact same clubheads are not available (but even if they are), great care must be taken to achieve the same dimensions along the shaft centerlines of all of the clubs from the intersection points of the clubhead ground/sole lines and shaft centerlines to the same reference point on all of the installed shafts (whether it may be a step position or other identifiable location that can be kept consistent).