Monday, February 22, 2010

Science or Art or .....

Late night tonight working to build a set of clubs for a younger player. He in fact is doing a school science project related to clubfitting, shaft frequencies, impact measurements, etc. It is fun to watch him learning some of the elements of fitting, and I would be shocked if his project did not go really well for him.

For sure there is a lot of science to clubfitting. But I believe that to be REALLY good at it there is also a lot of Art to doing great fittings for golfers. There seems to be to always be something Just a little different about each fitting, and without experience in seeing lots of different situations it would not be easy to create good fitting results.

I was remembering tonight the first real class I took related to clubfitting. It was in the fall of 2007, and introductory fitting class offered by the Professional Clubfitting Society. I think I learned a lot from the class, but I also walked out of the class wondering if I could ever get good at fitting.

I have been fortunate since that first class to have had opportunities to learn a great deal about fitting - from AGCP members, from doing fittings for clients, from my efforts to fit myself for clubs. Now I would say I am a pretty good clubfitter - not great measured against a lot of the folks who I know are at that level, but now at a level where I am pretty confident that I can help most people find clubs that will improve their games and enjoy golf more. And for sure a high level above my skill level when I took that first fitting class in 2007.

And for the engineer I am trained to be, thinking of myself as a bit of an Artist is kind of fun!!


Monday, February 15, 2010

When Is Light Right?

One of the big rages at the PGA show this year was lighter clubs and grips. A couple of the major companies are marketing grips a lot lighter than standard, and you probably are also seeing some companies saying they now have the lightest driver available - and suggesting you will get great improvements in distance with those clubs.

Is lighter ever really better? I would say that if someone suggests that making a club lighter AND longer is going to really help that you should be wary. However, there can in fact be conditions where lighter is worth looking at.

I built a slightly different driver for myself this past week that seems to help me reduce some of my major "misses." My usual poor miss with the driver is to the right. Most times when I do this I have been able to "feel" that I have not closed the clubhead. I have always thought this was largely a swing fault...............and most likely there is some element of that. But the driver I just built for myself is an SMT Nemesis....................a smaller head (around 400 cc) and easier to "close" than typical 460 cc heads. And I also built this club about 40 MOI points less than my previous driver - roughly 4 grams less head weight than I had been using.

Results? This past Sunday I drove the ball MUCH better than I had been. A few misses to the right but a lot more draws and straight shots. And also a greater feel for the clubhead and feel for the ability to close it when I hit the ball. Now if it would ONLY stop being so cold when I play.....(37 degrees.....).

So maybe it is possible that a lot of your typical misses are not fully the result of your swing...........or at the very least you can find a combination of clubhead size and club MOI/swingweight that can make your driver FEEL easier to swing.


Monday, February 8, 2010

The Wall Street Journal and Clubfitting

Yesterday I got to play golf in Oak Ridge, TN in beautiful 37 degree weather (at least it was supposed to be that warm....). Afterward, one of my golf friends said that he read an article in the Wall Street Journal about the benefits of clubfitting. The link to that article is provided below:

There were at least a few things in that article that peaked my interest in terms of benefits to golfers (besides the obvious overall view of the article that everyone should be fitted for clubs):

1. The article suggested that to some club fitting is "daunting and incomprehensible." I had never thought that that might be true for some golfers. But maybe that thought is worth considering. Personally I always attempt to make the fitting process as understandable and even fun as possible. But maybe it would be a good idea to keep working to identify ways to make the process more understandable.

2. "Any fitting is better than no fitting." While I understand the intent in this statement, a fitting that for example puts a golfer in a shaft that is two flexes too stiff (I have seen this) is not really better than no fitting.

3. The part of the article that I liked the most was when he describes a recent fitting that he had done for him. As part of this the fitter actually found that his driver and 3 wood were a pretty good fit for him, and that for the most part his irons were a good fit. To me this shows the integrity of the person who did this say yep your clubs are actually pretty good for you. I have had some recent driver and iron fitting experiences where there were similar results, and felt good about the fact that I did not try to "create" a reason to have the person change clubs when it was not really necessary.

Hope you might take the time to read this article, it is enjoyable and informative.


Monday, February 1, 2010

ACCRA Golf and the PGA Show - January in Florida!

My better half and I spent last week in Florida. We are hoping to make this an annual trip, which would be wonderful since we can hopefully coordinate it with future ACCRA Golf outings and with the annual PGA Merchandise Show. In getting to participate in these two events, I think I learned quite a few things that can help me provide better service and results for my golf customers.

ACCRA Golf Outing. I believe this is the 6th annual outing that this company has been hosting. About 100 excellent clubfitters spent a day of eating, golfing, and learning about ACCRA golf products. The two products of most interest to me are the ACCRA wood shaft line and the KBS Tour steel shafts. The wood shafts are designed so that if you fit a player in a specific shaft in his driver, you can use a slightly higher weight shaft with similar flex characteristics for the his fairway woods. I have not used many of these shafts in the past but plan to make them one of my top line shafts for future fittings.

The KBS Tour iron shafts are already in my test shaft group - but now there will be more options with these shafts. In the past the KBS Tour 90 (approx. 90 gram weights) were in taper tip only, but now the Tour 90 shafts will come in parallel tip versions - meaning it will be possible to control the flex of these by tip trimming them.

A wonderful added benefit of attending this event was getting to see Jamie Sadlowski - two time World Long Drive Champion - hit some balls. Like 220 yard 7 irons, and drives over 300 yards with a 30 inch long (yep!) driver, and absolutely nuking his 47 inch gamer driver. It was an awesome show of bombing the ball!

2010 PGA Merchandise Show. This was my first opportunity to spend time at one of these, and it was well worth the effort. I believe there were something like 60 aisles of companies showing clothing, golf equipment - you name it related to golf. For me it was a chance to visit some equipment companies and learn some things to help my business. Some of the things of most value to me were.....

1. I visited the Fujikura golf shaft booth. A big win for me was to learn that I can purchase these shafts - top quality - through M.L. Wilson Company, an AGCP sponsor. I now have access to the full line of Fujikura shafts, and I will consider recommending them - along with Aldila, ACCRA, and SK Fiber shafts - in future driver and fairway wood fittings.

2. There were a LOT of booths where putters and putting improvement aids were featured. Two of the best are the Rife putters and the Contour putters. Both are great custom putter options for players.

3. I visited the Nippon steel shaft booth. Though I have not used these in the past, they have some very light 75 and 85 gram steel shafts that can be good alternatives for players desiring to continue to play steel shafts but want lighter weights.

4. In the grip world, Winn, Lamkin, and Golf Pride showed some excellent new products. Pure Grips and Global Tour Golf - which market Star Grips - are additional options for excellent rubber composite grips.

5. Hireko Golf makes a great driver fitting product that I plan to start using when it is available (April). They have a test driver head and shaft insert system that allows you to vary driver face angle - something that is an important variable in driver fitting.

6. Finally, I visited the Zelocity launch monitor booth and purchased the most recent upgrade to my Zelocity Pure Launch software.

All in all I visited about 50 different golf equipment booths during my day at the Show. It was in the end a tiring but productive day that should help me provide better service to my fitting clients!!