VISTA, Calif. – Golf club fitting has come a long, long way from the days of trial and error.
In the old days golfers might try a friend’s club. Or perhaps hit a beat-up demo club from a shop. Or maybe buy a club without even hitting it first.
The whole process was distinctly unscientific and unrewarding.
Enter launch monitors and sophisticated swing analyzers. Finally golfers were able to compare clubs with a measure of precision.
Today’s launch monitors are elaborate and complex. They are a major fitting tool for golfers of all levels and abilities.
So what is the next frontier?
At Fujikura Composites, a leading designer and manufacturer of graphite shafts, the future appears to be contained in a promising new club-measurement package call Enso.
Enso includes 10 cameras and is capable of capturing images at a rate of 2,000 frames per second.
Here is how Enso is different: Instead of focusing primarily on the player and ball flight, Enso adds a dimension by looking at the golf club itself. With hundreds of readings it can tell a fitter exactly how every part of the club is performing and reacting during the swing.
This may sound ...
Pay attention to proper gapping between clubs. And pay attention to proper lie angle.
Those are among the messages of Michael Vrska, director of product development for Adams Golf.
Adams has earned a reputation for developing innovative mixed sets that contain irons and hybrids. Tim Reed, vice president of research & development, is the main man in the company’s creative design efforts. Vrska is one of Reed’s lieutenants, frequently serving as a spokesman during the introduction of Adams clubs.
The newest mixed set from Adams is the Idea Tech V3 hybrid irons. There are two versions – the Forged Set and the All Hybrid Set. Both have sleek black heads. Skilled players will be interested mostly in the Forged Set, with four normal short irons (8 , 9, pitch and gap), a mid-hybrid 7-iron and three full hybrids (4, 5 and 6).
Vrska makes no attempt to hide his infatuation with hybrids in general and the Idea Tech V3 in particular.
“We’ve got the gapping right,” Vrska said. “We designed these clubs very precisely. Most golfers will have a gap between clubs that is 8 to 12 yards. It’s no secret that anybody can play better if they know ...
Rob Burbick can be found in Nike Golf’s PGA Tour van, where he helps some of the world’s top golfers find the right equipment.
If there is one lesson that translates from players on the PGA Tour to ordinary golfers, Burbick believes it is this: All golfers should take advantage of a launch monitor when getting fit for golf clubs.
“You need to match your golf clubs to your ball speed,” he said. “The slower your ball speed, the more spin and higher launch you need.”
Some amateurs don’t achieve maximum distance because they don’t use drivers with enough loft. And they need to create enough spin to keep the ball in the air.
Launch monitors measure ball speed, launch angle, spin and other parameters. They measure or calculate carry distance. They can help golfers understand the performance of their golf clubs, particularly drivers.
In the past, finding the proper driver required a large selection of drivers – different heads, lofts, shafts.
Now, thanks to adjustable heads such as Nike’s STR8-FIT, Titleist’s 910 series and TaylorMade’s R11, the process has been greatly simplified. Even fairway woods and hybrids in which the loft, lie and ...
With belly putters becoming all the rage on the PGA Tour, I was wondering how the equipment manufacturers were fitting players.
Not everyone is like Adam Scott, who goes to a golf shop and picks out a putter without a fitting and becomes successful.
Especially since a belly putter is so different than conventional models.
Larry Silveira, a putter expert for Titleist's Scotty Cameron putters, took me through how he fits a player for a belly putter. Though it's not rocket science, it isn't an easy process, either.
First, Silveira has the player grab the shaft of the new putter like it was a normal-length putter and then extend the shaft up to the belly. Since the player is not changing his posture very much, the approach generally works well as a starting point.
This easily can be done by the fitting system that extends the length of the shaft to properly fit the players.
Once the length is fixed, the player then can pick the proper head and adjust the weights as necessary for feel and balance. There are limited heads available for belly or long putters. In discussions with various manufacturers, more putter-head variety is ...
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. - Choosing a golf ball may appear to be simple. It isn’t.
The subject of ball fitting is so important to Titleist that the company has launched a major campaign to educate golfers.
“For golfers of all abilities, they have to focus on the fact that the golf ball is used for every shot in a round,” said Mary Lou Bohn, vice president of Titleist golf ball marketing and communications. “Most players don’t want tradeoffs. They want a ball that performs well on long shots, on short shots, on all shots.
“It’s not so simple that you push a button and some machine spits out your swing speed and a recommended ball. You have to have confidence in the ball for your scoring shots – into and around the green.”
Also attending the 2011 Players Championship and contributing to the discussion of Titleist golf ball fitting were Megan Morgan, director of leadership communications, and Fordie Pitts, a Titleist PGA Tour rep and golf equipment fitting expert.
“It may not sound very profound,” Morgan said, “but every golfer needs to use the ball that will help them shoot the lowest score. If you don’t hit ...
On June 6, TaylorMade announced it had signed instructor Hank Haney to an endorsement contract.
“Haney will represent the TaylorMade brand by playing and teaching with TaylorMade equipment, wearing the TaylorMade logo on his headwear and shirt sleeve and using a TaylorMade staff bag,” the announcement said.
Nothing unusual there.
However, on June 7, Haney talked with Golfweek about his new priority – playing the game, rather than teaching pros.
“I am playing a lot of golf,” Haney said, “and I intend to continue playing as much as I can. I just love to play golf. When I had the opportunity to teach Tiger, I pretty much decided he was going to be my last student. I don’t teach private lessons any more.”
Haney is deeply involved with junior golf, but mainly he wants to be just like the rest of us – crazy about playing golf.
So what advice does this famous instructor have about golf equipment and choosing golf clubs?
Hybrids, hybrids, hybrids. TaylorMade pretty much kickstarted the modern hybrid movement with its Rescue clubs, and Haney is a huge fan of hybrids.
“I feel like if you don’t have two hybrids in your bag, the only possible ...
Machrihanish, Scotland - It seemed a long way to go for a tip on golf club selection, but the sun was shining, the wind was down, and it was a glorious day in western Scotland.
The golf tip, coming from a major champion, was just a bonus.
Walking briskly around the corner of the clubhouse at Machrihanish Golf Club, there he was, Bob Charles, the 1963 British Open champion. Thrown over his shoulder was a carry golf bag.
“Let’s go,” he said, quietly. “Let’s make some birdies.”
Charles, 74 at the time, would carry that bag for 18 holes and never whimper. He has aged well and looks remarkably like the young man who won the Open nearly 50 years ago. Oh yes, he would make five birdies and easily best his age on this day.
One of those clubs was the Bulls Eye putter closely identified with Charles for virtually his entire career. He began using a Bulls Eye as a young touring pro, and he never switched.
The putter was the source of the tip from Charles: “I would tell any golfer to find a putter that feels right and keep using it. Over a period of ...
Columbia, S.C. - Here’s a 21st-century concept: Whatever your favorite golf club may be, however complicated the specs may be, make sure you have it duplicated.
This is one of the specialities of Doc Griffin Golf in Columbia, S.C., and it makes sense with today’s hectic lifestyles.
If your nearest and dearest club is lost, stolen or damaged, you have a replacement. Furthermore, while obtaining a duplicate club, you also are given a list of its exact specifications.
Knowing for sure what you are swinging can help in the purchase of other clubs. Knowledge about your golf clubs can be a powerful tool in playing the game as expertly as possible.
Doc Griffin Golf (www.docgriffingolf.com) is one of those intimate golf spots where a golfer is likely to receive a golf philosophy lecture as well as practical advice on clubs.
Lynn Griffin, known as Doc, has lots of opinions on lots of subjects to go along with lots of knowledge about golf clubs. Griffin can talk endlessly about golf and golf equipment.
“I don’t think there’s another person on earth who has more knowledge or passion for golf clubs than Doc,” says teaching ...
At 26, Matt Killen already lists Kenny Perry, J.B. Holmes and several other touring pros among his students. Obviously, Killen is talented. He also is unafraid to question conventional wisdom or formulate his own theories.
Killen’s analysis of wedges might be called revolutionary, because he is an outspoken advocate of high-lofted wedges for skilled players. His advice flies in the face of conventional wisdom.
“Get the ball on the ground and let it run,” we are told of chip shots. “Lower is more reliable than higher.”
To this day some older golfers such as Tom Watson limit their high-loft arsenal to a 56-degree sand wedge. Higher lofts are often viewed with suspicion.
Not so fast, Killen advises. He likes lob wedges of 60 and 64 degrees that enable golfers to carry their ball to a point nearer the hole. He even urges hitting flop shots a certain way – ball forward, hands low between the legs, extra knee bend. From there, he advocates setting the wrists early and maintaining that wrist angle as the body rotates through the shot. This limits any wrist action and, according to Killen, reduces the inconsistencies of the lob shot.
At the 2009 Masters ...
Finding the perfect 3-wood may be the most difficult equipment assignment in golf.
The biggest reason is that 3-woods are expected to perform double duty. They often are used on tee shots, and they frequently are used off the turf.
Designing a club to perform both these functions can be devilishly difficult. Having the ability to hit both kinds of shots is, of course, another heavyweight challenge.
Which explains why Tom Wishon, an acclaimed and outspoken golf club designer, says that sometimes the best option for a 3-wood is to go without one.
“Golfers should not automatically think No. 3. Often they need to think 4-wood, or 5-wood, or even 7-wood,” said Wishon, of Tom Wishon Golf Technology in Durango, Colo.
It’s a matter of distance. If a player can’t hit a 3-wood up in the air with a proper trajectory, then a higher-lofted fairway wood might provide more distance.
Keep in mind that 3-woods are widely available in lofts ranging from 13 to 15 degrees. A 13-degree 3-wood can be much more difficult to use than a 15-degree 3-wood.
Wishon says all golfers need to be truthful with themselves. They need to determine the identity of ...
In the mid 1970s, Johnny Miller often was called the best ballstriker in the world. He won the 1973 U.S. Open and 1976 British Open.
At the time, Miller had strong opinions about golf equipment. He still does. Most golfers, especially seniors, will find his observations interesting if not insightful.
“When you get older, get a club with a lower kickpoint,” he said. “That will help you get the ball up in the air. You want to keep your height (trajectory) as much as you can. That’s very important.
“Most senior golfers shouldn’t carry anything lower than a 5-iron. That’s what I’ve seen. Fairway woods and hybrids are a senior’s delight.
“The other thing I do, I go with a little heavier club. I’ve lost a little bit of my explosiveness, and I make up for with a little heavier head. A little lead tape (on the head) will help you load the shaft and release the club through impact.”
Then Miller attacked the general theory that lighter clubs are always better.
“I hear it all the time: Everybody needs lighter clubs. I don’t believe it,” Miller said. “When it’s cold ...
There are two opposing schools of thought on driver length. One maintains that drivers should be shorter for accuracy, the other says drivers should be longer for distance.
Standard length for modern drivers with graphite shafts has settled at 45 inches.
The average length of drivers on the PGA Tour appears to be slightly shorter than 45 inches, with many pros playing drivers in the 44.25- to 44.5-inch range.
Touting more distance, some golf club manufacturers sell drivers that are longer – a few at 45.5 inches, a few more at 46 inches. Bobby Jones Golf even has a stock 47-inch Super-Lite Workshop Edition driver in its inventory.
Don Trahan, father of Tour player D.J. Trahan and promoter of what he calls the Peak Performance Golf Swing, has emerged as a leading spokesman for shorter drivers. Trahan fits some of his students in 43-inch drivers.
When Sergio Garcia began experimenting with a 42.25-inch driver, Trahan must have been applauding.
“To get distance, you have to make solid contact, and most golfers can’t do that consistently with long drivers,” Trahan said.
On the other hand, Erik Boysen, promotions and tour manager at Graphite Design, a leading ...
For decades Bob Vokey constructed and repaired golf clubs for the best golfers in Southern California. Since 1997 his name has been synonymous with wedges from Titleist.
Vokey splits his time these days between Titleist’s California research and development facility and various professional tours around the world. And often during his travels, especially to the Far East, he’s revered as a golf icon. Much like his colleague Scotty Cameron, Titleist’s putter designer, Vokey draws huge crowds of ordinary golfers and golf fans seeking his wedge wisdom.
Vokey’s name is on all Titleist wedges. In 2010, Titleist made 17 Vokey wedges in each of two groove configurations – the old larger grooves and the new smaller grooves (Titleist calls them C-C, for condition of competition).
Following an edict from the U.S. Golf Association and R&A, Titleist and all other golf club manufacturers stopped making the larger grooves at the end of 2010.
So, in an era of smaller grooves, how does a golfer find the right configuration of wedges? Vokey approached this question thoughtfully in the manner of a scientist trying to explain his field of expertise to untrained observers.
“Well, analyze where you play,” said ...
We hear variations of this theme all the time: “The USGA has introduced so many rules and regulations that golf companies no longer can be innovators.”
It isn’t true. Over the past decade or so, golf club manufacturers have hired a multitude of brilliant scientists and engineers whose mission is innovation.
With all this brainpower in golf, will swingweight become a thing of the past?
Perhaps. Over the history of golf, improvements in golf equipment at times have started with tiny clubmakers and spread throughout the industry. In today’s golf environment, swingweight is increasingly under fire from a few small golf companies.
Swingweight has been around since the 1920s, but it wasn’t until the 1940s that custom clubmaker Kenneth Smith popularized the swingweight scale as we know it today. Little has changed in the past 60 years. Golf shafts are often matched by frequency, although swingweight remains the primary measurement of feel and balance in our golf clubs.
Frequency is a measurement to determine the stiffness in the butt section of a shaft. Frequency numbers are actually cycles per minute. A shaft with a frequency reading in the 290s is very stiff, while a shaft with a ...
Why should all golfers be professionally fit for their golf clubs?
Because fitting is the No. 1 fundamental for providing consistency throughout a set of clubs.
Some golfers produce a workable set of clubs through mixing and matching. At the expense of considerable time and perseverance, they hit many different clubs, always looking for a certain feel or trajectory.
Modern fitting is much easier and more effective. With today’s technology, including sophisticated launch monitors that track and measure a ball throughout its flight, it is possible to identify a favorite club and dynamically match it with every other club in the set.
Customized clubs are in. Off-the-shelf clubs, a thing of the past for serious golfers, are out.
Some skilled players believe they don’t need updated fitting. When clubmaker Lynn Griffin of Columbia, S.C., asked PGA Tour player D.J. Trahan when he last went through a fitting, the 30-year-old Trahan had a quick answer: when he was in college at Clemson.
Yet many top players have discovered that a fitting can provide a more uniform and predictable distance gap between clubs. Because all shafts are precisely matched to perform in the same manner, dispersion often improves ...