Not Fit For Purpose……….
More and more I’m seeing the high frustration level of golfers is a leading cause of their giving up the game. I believe much can be done to help golfers better understand the game, and most importantly, improve their enjoyment. In my opinion one of the main sources of this frustration and lack of significant improvement, is style-based golf instruction with an over-abundance of swing tips, as well as confusing and conflicting swing theories offered on television and online, etc. This coupled with the many examples I’ve come across of improper club fitting leads to making the game far more difficult than it needs to be. The
Two of the many areas of the game, that, in my view, desperately need to be addressed by coach’s, fitters and even club manufacturers are;
1: Clubs “APPARENTLY” Designed to Correct Wayward shots
I’ve had several clients take lessons with me over the past few years who had been fitted for clubs from a wide range of club fitters, some good, some not so good!!.
Many of these clients had significant out-to-in swing paths through impact and all were chronic faders/slicers of the ball. The clubs recommended to them in a few cases were “anti-slice” clubs. The woods (especially the drivers) were upright with the sliding weights put in the heel. The irons were “upright” as much as 5 degrees. All of these adjustments were made for the purpose of building in the ability to stop slicing.
Unfortunately and unbeknown to the golfer, a wedge that is fitted 5 degrees upright will really go left, while the 4-iron won’t have as much correction. Additionally, the uprightness of the club significantly reduces the sweet-spot, making the club less forgiving by increasing the chance that the ball will be struck lower in the face (which has a worse effect on long irons than short irons). This generally results in the poor golfer who just spent hundreds of pounds getting new equipment coming to the realisation that the ill-fitted clubs didn’t work that well after all, and his/her 16 handicap is not dropping.
Again, this is only my opinion but, the real answer to game improvement lies in improving the golfer’s impact first, then getting clubs to match this. Simply trying to buy a new game by getting a new set of clubs just doesn’t work. You must work with a coach who truly understands proper impact and is guiding your instruction to improve this first. Then as a hopefully knowledgeable club fitter, fit clubs to sustain that. Unfortunately, in our industry, coach’s and club fitters rarely work together. Golfers are continually being fitted to their improper impact and thus effectively playing with clubs with smaller sweet spots that are ill-designed for what they were originally intended to do.
2: Fitting Irons for Distance
The second problem that seems to be growing in the industry is the focus on increased distance with the irons. I don’t mean to be too blunt here, but who cares how far you hit an 8-iron! Today’s pitching wedge is yesterday’s 9-iron. My pitching wedge is set at 46 degrees, and my 9-iron is 42 degrees (about the standard loft for today’s pitching wedge). The only two clubs in the bag that should be designed for distance are your driver and your 3-wood, all the other clubs should be set for proper gapping and designed to improve consistency and proximity to the hole. That’s why my pitching wedge is at 46 degrees and I only hit it 120 yards (exactly 15 yards farther than my 50 -degree gap wedge). Lots of my students hit a pitching wedge 20 yards farther than I do, but sometimes I drive the ball further than they do. When they get into the 6-irons through 4-irons, their gaps narrow. They have a 175-yard shot, and they don’t know what club selection to make since the 6, 5, and 4 irons all go similar distances.
Through random testing of different clubs I find significant variables in spin rates. My 7 iron spins about 6300 rpm, I launch it around 18 degrees and carry the ball about 155 yards with 84 mph of clubhead speed. OK, I’m retired from playing competitive golf and I’m 58 years old, so I don’t have that youthful club head speed anymore. However, when I try some of the new products that are the top sellers today, I start launching the ball slightly higher but my spin rate drops below 6,000 rpm. Suddenly, I’m hitting my 7-iron 167 yards like my 6 iron. But is this better?
Yes, my peak height gets slightly higher (I do like that), and the ball won’t roll out much differently, even with the lower spin rates. So, what’s the problem you ask? When I start to look at distance control numbers and proximity to the hole, I clearly see higher distance dispersions and thus my proximity to the hole gets worse. Learning to hit the ball pin high is one of the key separators between top Players and those a notch or two below. It’s also a key element in lowering scores.
So, greater distance with my irons actually makes my game worse and it does the same with my clients too, because accuracy and ability to get the ball consistently closer to the hole is negatively impacted.
What avid golfers really need is game improvement. They want to see their handicaps go down, shoot their lowest scores, create personal bests. Sure, there is a bit of “wow factor” they like to have with the new, shiny equipment, but the people I give lessons to and have played with all want a better game! How are they going to get that when in the golf industry coach’s and club fitters are generally separate? Where can golfers go to get the whole experience of tying in their swing improvement that creates better impact with their equipment properly set up? Obviously you can get that at kentgolfacademy.com LOL 😆
So in summary if you really want to see your scores get better, the best way to do this is to work with a coach who knows how to fit your clubs correctly and help improve your impact while keeping your style of swing. And also understands that proximity to the hole is more important in the irons than distance.
Only then can you get the biggest game improvement and take full advantage of hitting better shots.
Improve your impact, improve your game; it really is that simple!