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

If a double-sided adhesive tape and solvent or solution combination is well chosen (there are so many possible combinations I could barely begin to fully address that here), there should only be a need to wet the tape in one pass, whether it is from the butt side to the clubhead side or vise versa.  And in fact I do not recommend making multiple passes along the length of the grip tape as this could potentially do more harm than good in more situations.  From a physical logistics perspective that includes details like where one generally stands in relation to where and how a taped golf club is clamped in a vise for gripping, it is generally easier to apply the solvent starting at the clubhead side where the tape wrap ends and work back toward the shaft butt end.  Doing it the other way around often results in one’s hands and/or the golf grip obscuring one’s vision of where one is trying to go with respect to applying the solvent along the taped area of the shaft.  In addition to just being easier to apply the solvent, this suggested method also corresponds with that previously noted of keeping the mouth of the golf grip wettest in order to achieve the best overall gripping results in that the very end of the shaft butt will also be the wettest and slipperiest when starting the golf grip on the shaft.

For added reference here, I do often try new products when they come out as I find them, but to this point I most often return to using the solvent naphtha (that is usually readily available locally) for gripping.  It is a solvent that is somewhat on the mild side for solvents with an adhesive-neutralizing or cutting strength similar to that of mineral spirits, but it dries much more quickly and is often used for applications involving adhesives.  Needless to say, be extremely cautious and safe if using it and heed all label directions.  I have happily tried some non-flammable solvents through the years (that have varied in types and names) sold by golf supply shops, as well as some water-activated gripping tapes while I am on this subject.  But given the amount of gripping I do even for just my own clubs (or at least used to do before I began the WaggleWeight® Company), the small container sizes available and their costs were not very efficient for me, plus in at least one case the directions said I had to shake the stuff first.  I could not decide how often I wanted to do that (when I remembered to do it at all) and I was not very keen on doing it for every club, so I did not try it for very long and I do not recall how it worked for me.  The various options available are many and one is hardly required to use a golf-specific supply house for all that one needs and uses (including the vise discussed).  Some products from golf supply houses can be pretty bad sometimes, and when I discuss lead tape more shortly I will note this again.

Here are a couple of final notes that might be helpful toward making certain decisions regarding the procedure and/or material(s) used for grip installation.  For double-coated adhesive tapes that contain a “harder” adhesive that is generally more solvent resistant to any given solvent, a grip might initially slide on quite easily with little to no adhesive displacement due to factors including the initial slipperiness created through the solvent application and the general technique typically used to slide grips on.  That part can be really nice.  Yet once on, grips may be more difficult to move/turn to align satisfactorily.  And when the time eventually comes to regrip, such tape and/or its remaining residue can be more difficult to remove from shafts before regripping can be performed.  Softer adhesives on the other hand can initially grab more and it might be more difficult to slide grips on with more adhesive displacement being exhibited, yet once on grips may be easier to move/turn to align.

It can seem odd and contrary as to how this can happen and the details of how it can is beyond the scope of this discussion, but just be aware of it for informational purposes to potentially make adjustments or changes if and when encountered.  (Any such effects may manifest themselves quite differently due to the variable elements involved like exactly how fast the specific solvent used evaporates as just one of many examples).  In an undesirable case, so much adhesive may be pushed down when the grip is pushed on that there may be little if any adhesive left to bond the grip to the tape/shaft up at the butt end.  Finding a combination to achieve the best overall gripping performance among the exact tape model and solvent or solution used, plus all of the other elements involved like the exact grip and shaft specifications and the grip installation method used, is important.

Now this information is hardly intended as a thoroughgoing A to Z attempt to explain golf club gripping procedure.  That would take far longer still, because I have not even mentioned certain variations and nuances away what I have discussed that I actually engage in myself.  But the specialized details disclosed can be thought of in more of a supplementary context that deepens certain gripping details previously barely adequate and corrects other details prescribed by others that are inappropriate for use within the high quality work expressed within Waggle Weight Wisdom™.  And if not made right, critical clubfitting errors can occur later.  Similarly, all of the other clubmaking aspects I covered before gripping regarding test golf club construction might be viewed in the same supplementary context and not as an encyclopedic effort.  So in accordance with the specifics that have been discussed to this point, address what needs to be attended to before any grips are installed (so that the clubs hopefully do not have to be unnecessarily regripped again [and again] if any test club insufficiencies are uncovered later), install the grips in accordance with the specifics discussed, set the clubs aside to dry, and prepare to begin implementing golf club fitting in a manner that has never been experienced before, that of the correct manner.

So finally a point has been reached where I feel I have comfortably addressed certain clubmaking fundamentals I really needed to in order to effectively help the understanding of the clubfitting principles about to be covered and make the following testing highly successful.  But while I am letting my grips dry so to speak I feel I must go over some information of a different type that is important for one to remember well in order to progress to good purpose at playing the game of golf.  First, an inquiry should be asked and answered to help get and keep one on the right track of whether one should ever trust and believe in someone with respect to one’s clubfitting knowledge that is not and has never been much of a golfer.  Here is a different way a phrasing this: Do I believe one that has no experience whatsoever at playing golf can actually be taught to be an expert clubfitter to help a golfer?  In pure theory, I suppose the answer to this can be essentially yes, but only if, if, if, and if all of the knowledge given to such a person is theoretically and practically correct and given in such a comprehensive and flawless manner that it even stretches the use of the word “theoretically” to such a limit that it barely applies.

From a more realistic perspective, however, for any information that such a person obtains that is incorrect or incomplete, no matter how seemingly minor, what may start out to be a minor problem not recognized can quickly grow into a very major problem when filtered through the mind of someone that does not have certain real experiences, experiences that generally accumulate more the more one actually works at personally trying to improve at playing the game.  Such information might be gotten from clubfitting books of the past, clubfitting “schools,” online golf forums (among the worst outlets to get dependable information from), et cetera.  And as I have perhaps mentioned once or twice before, many of the clubfitting theories and practices regularly taught in the past and continuing to this day are extremely poor, thus creating a truly bizarre situation when such information is put into the hands of one that does not have certain real-life personal experiences to draw from.  And so is born “Mr. Credulous Clubfitter” that tries to fit golf clubs to Mr. Gullible Golfer, a pairing that is rather appropriate for this Halloween Day.

This scenario is regularly shown to be true through the constant observing of so-called professional clubfitters harping on how much they are praised by their customers for their clubfitting skills, only to then observe these same clubfitters perpetrate such ridiculous information regarding some golf club fitting theory or practice that it could only possibly be formed and believed by people that never achieved a certain level of playing ability at any point in their lives.  This is a very real and haunting issue within the clubfitting trade.  Just a mere few of the inexperienced and astray remarks still thrown about the industry that cement this trade as being the worst in all of sports, some of which I have previously noted and some not, are that golf club length (or lie) is the most important fitting variable, swingweighting was an early attempt to MOI (Moment of Insanity) match golf clubs, wearing a golf glove or wrist watch significantly reduces the effective swingweight of a golf club, choosing one’s best golf grip size to achieve one’s best performance should be chosen by how “comfortable” a grip feels and/or how much grip pressure one applies to the grip, swingweight is a function of shaft flex, the best face angle of any of one’s clubs should be chosen based particularly on ball flight results (a faulty analysis that can lead to other critical clubfitting errors [and/or poor swing performance]), and much, much more.  No launch monitor on the planet will noticeably help the capacity of a clubfitter that has such flawed underlying beliefs.

If customers are indeed able to play better golf after being fit for golf clubs by a clubfitter that has developed any of the above beliefs or attitudes, any of which displays a glaring lack of deep, competent understanding regarding clubfitting, then one can only imagine how much better still these customers would play if being fit by a clubfitter that has a better grasp of the field.  So while this all but proves that the ideological situation of being able to teach competent clubfitting to one that in effect has never even seen a golf club before is not realistically achievable, striving for such an unattainable goal anyway might still help elevate the overall competence of the trade to a higher level over time over what it is today.  I can only assume that this is a goal of the clubfitting trade, as it is somewhat obvious that this trade will indeed take money from one who never saw a golf club one’s entire life and issue clubfitter credentials in a matter of days (if not perhaps hours in some instances).  But based upon the sheer number of erroneous beliefs not limited to those stated above that are still habitually strewn about by those within the clubfitting industry, this is pretty compelling evidence of how far away this trade really is from coming close to attaining that ideal goal.

So if not able to totally fit oneself, the book(s) read and/or school(s) attended by a clubfitter in order to obtain any clubfitting certificates or diplomas are currently very poor indicators of clubfitter competence.  Now I have nothing at all against certificates, diplomas, or other credentials per se, and some are indicative of being highly qualified in any given field.  But there are far more worthless credentials than there are truly worthy ones.  And given the current overall state of the clubfitting trade, such credentials in this particular field at this particular time can be an indication of a clubfitter that is actually less qualified in the field than one who learned clubfitting primarily through one’s own real experiences in golfing and other relevant pursuits and does not have such “official” qualifications.  Be well aware of this.  Clubfitting organizations (sometimes based on the work of an individual author) that attempt to teach and sanction clubfitters have to date primarily comprised some scattered, sometimes feuding factions that form but might later disband (some independent and some disguised as independent but having ties to a given company).  And to this point they have all been seriously deficient in one or more critical areas of what they teach regarding so-called professional golf club fitting.  If knowledge can be labeled a “product” here, the product has been very poor with no surprise here as to the lack of success of such organizations.

Even long-existing organizations are not immune from the perpetual disaster known as the golf club fitting trade due to the unwise acceptance of faulty past clubfitting theories and practices.  Many flaws within these past teachings are quite easy to perceive using elementary logic even for beginning golfers.  So it is strange why such flawed theories and practices were initially accepted as being fundamentally correct by the golf industry and even stranger why they are still being heralded as correct.  This is pretty revealing about the golf industry, mostly revealing a pretty embarrassing industry overall to those more knowing of sound clubfitting principles.  Even current and/or prospective PGA members apparently continue to be fed the same inaccurate information with respect to any golf club fitting theories and/or practices being taught through that organization.  So seeing a credential of one being a PGA member is not comforting either and might even be worse yet if and when outside clubfitting help is needed.  And the party has been joined of late by many major golf club manufacturers (that previously did not but have now developed their own clubfitting programs), component manufacturers, retail stores, and various publications reporting more on the subject of late.

Now I could have missed one or more relevant industry segments, but this pretty much paints a comprehensive picture of a golf industry that overall is just not very good at fitting the very equipment used in the game to the people playing the game.  The same causes and effects are uniformly universal among all of these entities in that they all still universally apply the same flawed clubfitting fundamentals that were formed eons ago and never competently corrected them, resulting in the same universal outcome of golf scores not improving (particularly in recent decades) to the degree that certainly should be expected given the gargantuan advances in other equipment technology during that same time period.  A decisive lack of increased and corrected clubfitting knowledge during that same time period is plainly the universal reason for this, also contributing to some degree to the universal struggles of the trade in recent times as this long-festering and severe inadequacy at golfer clubfitting has finally caught up with the golf industry.

In light of this information, if one needs any outside clubfitting help above and beyond that which has been and will be covered in Waggle Weight Wisdom™ and one wants to look for credentials, one might instead look for proof as to what kind of accomplishment at playing the game a clubfitter achieved at some point.  I am not saying that this premise cannot change and that certain other specific credentials cannot be highly depended upon in the future, because many outstanding golfers are in fact horrible clubfitters as will be discussed next.  My main point is that typical clubfitter certifications or diplomas that are currently around are the last things one should take seriously when searching for quality outside clubfitting help (club “making” can be considered a different trade for the purpose of this discussion).  Even personal recommendations are quite limited in their value if the recommenders do not really know whether proper clubfitting theories and practices are being applied, which most do not.

Now since I am recommending that you might pay attention to the performing achievement of others, it is only right that I reveal at least a brief synopsis of certain of my own accomplishments to look at and that I may not have revealed previously.  Most of my trophies are from playing baseball in my younger days, being heavily involved with my playing performance with respect to helping get a couple of them for the team, with one or two straggler trophies from this or that activity.  I do not think it is possible to make you realize how critical this other experience has been toward knowing what I now know with respect to golf club fitting.  I took up golf seriously relatively late (not until in college) and admittedly struggled in my attempts to play the game for a living for years.  That struggling was principally due to my lack of clubfitting knowledge, because I have had unshakeable belief in my swing throughout all but my earliest golfing years.  This has been in large part due to prior accomplishments at far more difficult things mainly in baseball, against which golf swing difficulty in and of itself is little more than a joke, no matter what you might have heard elsewhere.

Regarding the clubfitting information that was available at that time (which is pretty much the same stuff taught today), it was of little use toward the level of play that I was working toward accomplishing.  I probably entered less than twenty tournaments total because I could never play up to my own expectations and the same level of achievement I had accomplished at other activities first before seriously competing against others in golf, which I wanted to do very badly.  And now that I do know clubfitting considerably better after nearing fifty years of cumulative learning about such things, I have lost much of my desire to compete (at least at playing golf).  Such is life I guess.  But thus far I have retained a desire to publish much about my work, experiences, and findings as allowable in part to help others potentially become more successful at golf (and/or enjoy the game more) and avoid the flawed materials and errors I made along the way.  Some of those errors were directly related to these flawed materials and some were not.  My low golf scores have been a pair of 65’s to this point, not great for being a golf professional for as long as I have, but it is what it is.  These days my playing is more research oriented for the WaggleWeight® Company than score oriented, often playing with different club specifications every time out.

Perhaps the most profound thing to take note of here is that I readily concede that when I shot those 65’s I knew absolutely nothing about clubfitting compared to what I do today.  So I know as well as anybody that a score one has shot or is capable of shooting is hardly a dependable indication of one’s clubfitting knowledge.  Nevertheless, given how bad the commercially-taught clubfitting trade still generally tends to be even at the most primary level of golf club fitting, the odds might be slightly better in one’s favor of getting a better fitting when leaning more toward playing credentials and experience over current school-taught clubfitting credentials.  This recommendation is based primarily on the widespread flawed principles I know are still currently being taught in school-like settings, and I will certainly let it be known if and when that situation changes for the better.

The most natural succession of events for one to most effectively and thoroughly learn golf club fitting fundamentals comprises the same person first learning how to efficiently grip and swing a golf club, thoroughly learning the details of that swing and developing good confidence in that swing along the way, and then striving for a pinnacle by learning how to fit golf clubs to that swing in such a way that the maximum can be gotten out of that swing when playing golf.  This is the unabridged core process of effectively learning clubfitting fundamentals.  Without all of these elements being present and in the proper order, one or more parts of this critical core are missing, meaning that even if clubfitting is being taught by one having the proper personal experience, things could still easily be misconceived via instruction if being taught to one that has not personally been through this “natural order of learning golf club fitting.”  Since clubfitting can be considered an advanced element of this core of learning to play one’s best golf, so-called professional clubfitters quite frankly should welcome and be able to pass certain developed types of playing ability tests or skills that are harsher than that required to become a PGA member (just hypothesizing for a moment that the clubfitting entity involved teaches clubfitting principles better than the PGA does to its membership).  Now where are those credentials on the clubfitter’s wall?  If such credentials existed, the erroneous clubfitting statements noted above and many more such statements would be much rarer rather than being so common and Mr. Credulous Clubfitter would thankfully begin heading toward extinction.