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

(Referring to shaft installation numbers, there has been some reference information compiled in the past by various sources independent of the golf shaft manufacturers themselves.  Depending upon the exact source, such information may be extremely generalized and meant to be universally applied to “all” golf shafts or may be very specific for specific shaft models that could vary from shaft model to model.  Ralph Maltby is one source that immediately comes to mind with respect to attempting the latter.  Supported by analysis and based on certain shaft and clubhead measurements, installation information is provided for the purpose of hopefully achieving normal or designed golf shaft performance [however that might be defined by any given entity].  Like I have recommended in other areas, however, I would exercise much caution and resist the urge to automatically accept that such shaft installation information is correct.  This can understandably be hard to do [even for me] when there are few if any competing references that suggest otherwise.  But through my own experience and research, I have found such figures to very often be incorrect and the reasoning[s] used to arrive at them flawed.  This is yet another one of the many reasons why the clubfitting industry has been an underperforming trade since essentially its commercial inception about the mid 1970’s, when several comprehensive “first edition” endeavors at clubfitting theory and practice began to appear.

Of major note is the use of a clubhead ground/sole line and shaft centerline intersection measuring point for golf club specifications such as club length and clubhead lie, yet the use of the physical heel of a clubhead when discussing and determining shaft installation.  Depending upon the exact design of the clubhead, that inconsistency in measuring points can cause discrepancies in various golf club measurements ranging from almost zero to half an inch or even more.  With respect to clubfitting, disparities like that can be quite noticeable and can have devastating consequences when trying to implement structurally sound clubfitting, particularly when considering one’s direct swing performance to be a higher priority than ball travel results [which it always should be].  But having said that, going straight to the shaft manufacturers for such information may not be any better of an option depending on exactly where the information is coming from.  I mean look at some of the major golf grip manufacturers and some of the ridiculous information they put out about how to professionally fit one’s golf grip size.  You would think that the companies actually making these things would know best how to use the product, but that is just not always the case, or at least the readily available information might for example have been produced and dispersed by the marketing departments, increasing the chances that at least some of the wanted technical information may be potentially incorrect.

This specific information is not immediately critical [assuming that identical clubhead models are used for the test clubs] for the particular testing here and what needs to be learned by it, and what is most critical right now is getting the test club shafts installed extremely consistently with each other regardless of what specific reference point about the clubhead[s] is chosen for referencing shaft installation.  But ultimately it will come into play in a crucial manner and in the long run it will be quite harmful toward the best possible clubfitting results to follow the above-cited shaft installation recommendation and accompanying dimensions published by various other sources.  I divulge this here in case you might be partial to any of these other published sources and you are considering making one or more “adjustments” to the shaft installation process detailed throughout this post sequence.  While many of the shaft models disclosed in prior reference material are in fact not even produced anymore, the underlying thinking and determining of golf shaft installation procedure have to the best of my knowledge not authoritatively changed since that material was published.  I do confess however that I have not yet inspected a couple of the most recently published so-called clubfitting manuals, not even to see if any infringement of my work has taken place in them, but I will eventually have to do that.

Under no circumstances should past shaft installation procedure as that described above be used.  It is incorrect and flawed with respect to the determination of other interrelated club specifications and hurtful toward trying to determine one’s best swing performance [regardless of ball travel results] through clubfitting.  It promotes inconsistency when one wants to use the same shaft at the same final club length but in a different style club head for example, and it will ultimately prevent one from achieving the best clubfitting success one can.  The shaft installation procedure as detailed in this post sequence should always be applied regardless of what dimension is chosen between the clubhead ground/sole line and selected shaft reference point along the centerline of the shaft of any given golf club.  Regarding what shaft installation dimensions my experience and research have shown for specific shaft models and an explanation[s] of how arrived at [which can also be applied to shaft installation in general], that is a subject where a good amount of time could be spent on certain details and I would likely get a bit too far away from the theme at hand.  So I will defer any more about that for a different time, perhaps when some specifics of golf shaft fitting might be taken up).

Anyway, back to reviewing certain facets of the test golf club construction to be utilized here, all of the clubs must be trimmed to the exact same determined length after shaft installation for the best results before any grips are installed in a final assembly.  If the shafts are installed and trimmed properly, all of the shafts will also match precisely from their butt ends on downward with respect to the locations of any shaft steps or diameter change(s).  Additional information respecting many of these facets was provided earlier.  Clubhead lofts and lies can be checked for consistency if desired, although these elements are not quite as critical as the others just reviewed.  But there is, however, one exception to obtaining redundancies regarding test club construction, at least at the start.

This exception (albeit temporarily), is in the starting swingweights of the test clubs.  I previously noted that, based predominantly on golf club history, for men’s clubs a good starting swingweight on all three test clubs would appear to be around C5 (with the clubs gripped), with perhaps C0 or even a little lower for women’s clubs.  It is important to note here that even though this testing surrounds proper golf grip fitting, the testing will be consummated by keeping all test golf club specifications (including the specifications of the installed golf grips [of different sizes]) unchanged throughout the testing except for the clubs’ swingweight values.  While test club swingweight values will eventually be set meticulously to final values like everything else, an integral part of this testing involves altering the test club swingweight values from their chosen starting values via the use of lead tape or an acceptable substitute for the work required, which will be described more shortly.  To that end, it makes little difference whether the starting swingweight of one of the (men’s) constructed test clubs is initially at C5 and another is at only C2 for example.  They will both eventually be set to final and consistent swingweight values through the subsequent use of lead tape application (to the clubheads).  As long as all of the other prescribed redundancies are efficiently produced and as long as none of the test clubs are initially higher than C5 in swingweight value when gripped (assuming that is the chosen starting swingweight value), then that is where one needs to be at the starting point with respect to test club making.

Now this review of test club making information still does not conclude with finality everything that has to be decided and implemented with respect to their construction.  Exact grip models and core sizes (which I will cover immediately following this) still need to be chosen.  Grip sizes/weights will vary, as in the end the grips will be the only elements different on the test clubs (club specification-wise), and the chosen grips may be influential with respect to the final test golf club length before the final testing grips are installed.  Given that technology has exploded in recent years regarding the available selection of grip styles (especially a wider selection of grip weights than in the past), this is an aspect of test club construction that needs to be given its fair share of attention when perhaps it might have been more taken for granted in the past.  One may desire to predict (through perhaps a swingweight prediction method) what the final swingweight values of the test clubs would be with the lightest and heaviest chosen golf grips on them and with that make a determination of what the (identical) final test club lengths will be made to.  Again this aspect would be more relevant to attend to when nonadjustable clubheads are used in test club construction.

And again bear in mind that broadly speaking golf club length in and of itself is nowhere near as critical as many people make it out to be when just a little logical common sense is applied.  The exclusive use by many if not most clubfitters of the laughable, static, and mail-order method of the stand-at-attention clubfitting ruler (even for in-person fittings) has unfoundedly contributed to the false importance given to the specification through the years.  Of late the use of this tool (which attempts to define the level of talent of both the clubfitter and golfer by way of having the golfer stand erect and measuring the distance between the ground and some point on the golfer’s hanging hand) is more and more being called “just a starting point” (perhaps because of some of my work), whereas it used to be the “final decision” of golf club length determination.  But this recent migration of the clubfitting trade is far too little and too late to reverse the long-standing embarrassment to this trade brought about by entities that have recommended and/or used such a ridiculous and irrelevant clubfitting device for so long.  With respect to a golfer’s posture at address (which is linked to the use of this device), perhaps I have previously reported that as long as one is not tilted back over one’s hind end when addressing a golf ball, one is in a fine starting position from which to begin and produce a highly efficient golf swing.  But the consistency of length dimensions among the test golf clubs is paramount to this testing.

As this is the likely last time I will comprehensively review the elements of test golf club construction for this specific testing, I will assert here to use some good sense in applying the material discussed and any material not discussed (not limited to any potential safety and/or injury concerns when working on or testing any clubs).  In this subject area also, I might have inadvertently overlooked one or more elements I should have addressed (and so I must again lawfully absolve myself from any responsibility in the application of what is disclosed in Waggle Weight Wisdom™) and there are other elements I am aware of that I did not bring up just due to the particular circumstances of this testing.  As one of many possible examples of this, another option too for reducing clubhead weight can be drilling down the clubhead hosel hole with a properly selected drill bit size (normally done before the shaft is installed).  But only a limited amount of weight can typically be removed with this method, and with a proposed swingweight value of C5 for a starting point for the test clubs, hosel drilling was not even worth detailing under these particular circumstances.

Keep this information in mind plus keep an open mind for new knowledge that can be applied to best supplement your needs.  Predicting and adjusting for golf clubs’ final-gripped swingweight values using the strategic method can for instance be a quicker proposition especially when working with a larger number of clubs and if there is a convenient means provided on a swingweight scale to place and leave a grip while just changing ungripped clubs in the scale.  Alternately, using the model method with a split reference grip would require the reference grip to be put on and taken off each club individually.  But if the “convenient means provided” (used as the strategic location) on the scale is not correct (perhaps unknowingly) for the grip used, then the final-gripped swingweight values if the same grip were actually installed on each club, while they would be consistent with each other, would be different from the predicted values when applying the strategic method.  And alternately, although more laborious, the final swingweight values would more closely match the predicted final values if using the model method (assumes a correctly chosen reference grip for the grips that will actually be installed).  So adjustments might be made regarding certain procedures based on the specific knowledge one has of the particular circumstances at hand.

Respecting other elements, however, potential adjustments in procedure should never be made or even considered due to the foundational principle(s) involved.  For instance, one should never, ever put a golf club (either ungripped or gripped) in a swingweight scale for measuring purposes that is in any position but the butt end of the club being in contact with the designed backstop of the scale.  There is simply no intelligible reason to ever consider intentionally leaving a gap between the two if one understands the gist of what is going on, and nothing but problems will result from doing so.

With three identical test clubs almost assembled, the task now turns to installing grips on the clubs.  As indicated above, the grips will ultimately be the only variables on the clubs with respect to golf club specification values for testing purposes.  And with that one can not only learn about the golf club fitting aspect of proper grip sizing in ways not possible without the specific redundancies called for, but one can also learn a great deal about one’s golf swing itself if the testing is conducted properly, since the two elements of golf swing performance and clubfitting are straightforwardly related to each other.  Thus some background is now in order regarding golf grip elements that differs from grip elements discussed earlier.  Despite no longer being generally available to the public of late, I have conducted most such testing in the past using then-traditionally and then-widely available black with green paintfill Victory model golf grips, rubber compound grips made under the name of Golf Pride.  As it was with the True Temper Dynamic golf shafts, Golf Pride Victory grips were pretty much the accepted standard in golf grips from the time slip-on grips overtook wrap-on leather grips and for decades thereafter.  The Tour Velvet model may be Golf Pride’s most popular grip today, but this is always subject to change for any number of reasons.  (These various company and model names are assumably registered trademarks of the respective owners).

Now even though this post title sequence is fundamentally about learning how to choose one’s best golf grip size, there are certain grip-sizing elements that will not really even be discussed yet.  These include the most critical factor(s) that is responsible for what one’s best golf grip size will be, plus the true purpose of having a rib (a slight bulge along the length of a golf grip), another very poorly understood element.  This testing provides a highly structured means of testing various grip sizes under very specific circumstances and provides results for forming foundational grip sizing principles, staying focused on the topic at hand as best as possible.  But these other extremely important grip and grip-sizing details relevant toward choosing one’s best grip size will certainly be addressed in more depth and will also be much more appreciated after the present post title sequence is aired in its entirety.