“I do not choose your head or your shaft for you based on claims made by the manufacturer. Your head and shaft are determined by the results of testing the various heads and shafts by you hitting them during the fitting process”.
Custom clubfitting for golf clubs is gaining in popularity as more and more golfers learn more and more about what custom fitting really is and how it helps you play better golf. Any custom fitting advice you can get is probably better than no custom fitting at all, but some custom fitting simply doesn't measure up. Tom Wishon wrote an entire bestselling book “The Search for the Perfect Golf Club” and a companion booklet “12 Myths that can wreck you golf game” to educate the public about custom fitting. I would highly recommend that any golfer who is going to purchase even one golf club spend the money to buy Tom's book and read it before you buy the club. I am sure you will agree once you do that it is money well spent. That very small investment may possibly be the best investment you ever make in your golf game. Why? Because Tom explains in a way that anyone can understand the many myths about golf clubs that so many golfers believe to be true. There are so many truisms that simply do not hold up to the light of day when analyzed. Tom devotes an entire chapter to custom fitting and he even gives you a list of questions to ask your fitter so you can judge if the fitter is qualified to do the best job possible fitting you for clubs. Tom offers you different sets of questions to determine if you are going to get a good, better, or best fitting so you know what you are getting from your fitter before you invest. You can read the PDF version here:
In a nut shell the hype surrounding golf clubs it way over the top. Consider that I've been playing golf for nearly 50 years and every year as far back as I can remember some company has introduced a new club every year that will hit the ball 5 or 10 yards farther. Considering that 50 years ago I could hit a tee shot over 250 yards I guess I should be hitting my tee shots somewhere between 500 and 750 yards now if this advertising was true. My grandson would tell me about my clubs: “Grandpa, you bought the wrong stuff”, because I'm not hitting it farther at all but shorter as my age would dictate.
The reality is, how the clubs are weighted, balanced and adjusted for length is more important than the shaft flex to hit better shots. Don't get me wrong, shaft flex is important, but not as important as you are made to believe. Shaft flex is only one of the last tweaks I make when fitting. First I want the total weight of the club as well as the weight ratio and balance point of the club to be right for your swing, then I want the length to be right, then I want to find the best shaft flex and shaft bend profile to put the cherry on the whipped cream.
I'm sure you know what shaft flex is, but do you know what the shaft bend profile? Today most professional clubfitters use mostly frequency curves or some more tweaky types even Ei curves to define where a shaft bends and by how much it bends at any given point. Frequency profiles and Ei profiles are similar and either leads to the same conclusions according to most shaft engineers so it doesn't really matter which is used. Since the introduction of graphite shafts engineers have the ability to manipulate where the shaft bends along its length and by how much simply by the way they wrap the graphite around the mandrel used to build a shaft. Thus you might have a shaft that is flexible in the butt section under the grip and stiff in the tip section that performs almost the same as a shaft with a stiff butt section and a flexible tip section. A persons golf swing will determine what and by how much a shaft needs to bend to allow that particular golfer to get his best performance. What a good clubfitter does is measure the shaft at 7 points along the length of the shaft 5 inches apart with a frequency meter to determine the stiffness along all sections of the shaft. How these measures relate is calculated in a shaft software program based on the golfers swing characteristics. Most fitters use a frequency meter to measure the cpm or cycles per minute, which represents flex, and record the data. Some prefer to use an Ei machine for these measurements but both give similar results. The 41 inch and 36 inch measurement are averaged and this number allows the fitter to assign the shaft a swing speed value. The 31, 26, and 21 inch measurements are assigned a transition or tempo measurement, and the 16 and 11 inch measurements are assigned a release measurement. The fitter can then test your swing speed with a launch monitor, film your swing and measure the film speed to obtain your time interval from the start of your downswing to impact to get a transition or tempo measurement, and also look at where in you swing your wrists begin to un-cock to get a tip measurement. So that is how we know how to fit a shaft to your swing for flex and bend profile.
That explains shaft flex, so let us get back to weight. After fitting hundreds and hundreds of golfers for the past 10 years using both launch monitors and video I noticed that when the total weight of the golf club changes so too does the golf swing change. This isn't true with all golfers but I think more than 90% will show this to be true based on my experience. A golfer will swing a heavier club flatter or more shallow than a lighter club. Depending on the head weight and how the overall balance of the head weight to total weight a golfer will either have a tendency to open the face more at impact or close the face more. Considering MOI is the amount of energy needed to put an object into motion the lighter the head the more likely it is to close the face and the heavier the head the more likely to open the face. Weight will also influence where on the club face the ball strike will occur. The heavier the club the more likely you will be to hit the ball high in the face or if heavy enough hit it heavy or fat and if the club is too light it could cause skinny shots or topped shots.
When you consider that the length of the club will cause too outside in if it's too long and too inside out if it's too short, length too can change the swing path, and can cause some of the same heavy or thin problems as weight. It is important to find the proper balance between weight and length to be able to get consistent solid contact in the center of the clubface where it is designed to be hit. For decades I thought this was simply a swing issue and had no idea the importance of how the club was made played a key role in helping golfers to correct many swing issues. I recall in PGA school way back in the 60s being told that a guy 6 foot 5 is going to swing upright and a guy 5 foot 5 is going to swing flat because all drivers were 43 and a half inches long. Not true today, thanks to titanium driver heads being lighter we can make drivers as long or as short as we need them to be and thanks to graphite shafts we can make drivers as light or as heavy as we need them to be. We have learned that a golfer needs to get into an athletic posture and the amount of spine angle he has is key to him having a powerful and accurate swing. That athletic position is more important for creating power to increase swing speed at some point than the physics that say longer shafts create a wider arc and a wider arc increases swing speed which increases distance. It is the job of the fitter to find the proper spine angle by testing to create the best golf club for any given golfer.
This is why I have the performance based testing system I do. With heads and shafts that can be interchanged to almost any configuration it is easy enough to test for weight, length, flex and bend profile and verify the results using the FlightScope and video. We figure out where to start based on your answers to a basic questionnaire about you game. We then test and evaluate your existing equipment to see how close you are and where we need to go to find your best fit. We assemble a test club and go from there. At the end of the process you should be swinging a club that is very close if not exactly like the one that will be built for you.
Once we find the physical characteristics of the golf clubs best suited for you we then determine exactly what clubs you need in your bag to achieve the best score day after day. In addition to the driver and putter what else do you need? More fairway and less hybrids? More hybrids and less fairways? More hybrids and less irons or more irons and less hybrids? Do you need 2 wedges, 3 wedges or 4 wedges? Based on the way you swing and your golf course conditions do you need clubs with a wide sole or narrow sole, lots of bounce or very little bounce. The most important thing we may do for you is to help you determine exactly what clubs you need in your bag to play your best game of golf. Unlike the predetermined sets offered in most stores I have a very wide variety of set configurations available for you. I have fairways available down to the 11 wood, hybrids from 2 iron to PW and any set of irons you need. You can purchase your set 1 club at a time or all at once, and I only need to build the clubs you need. Some golfers only need every other club and have no need for a full set and we can do that too.