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Category:  Equipment Tips

Is the Problem You or Your Clubs?

 

Equipment Tips

from Jeff Jackson


Author, USGTF Member, and
Club Fitting Expert


 

Is it You or Your Clubs? 
5 Reasons You May Not be Getting the Most from Your Equipment

By Jeff Jackson, for use by “Hometown Golf”

 

You practice or play a couple times a week. You
have taken lesson after lesson. You’ve done all the right things…worked on your short game, practiced putting on the carpet until your spouse is convinced you’re crazy, you’ve even purchased the latest instructional books and videos. But, unfortunately your game is still not what you want it to be. Perhaps there is one key element that is not part of your game improvement program…your equipment. Just because you have purchased the latest in equipment technology does not necessarily mean that technology matches your game. Maybe it’s not your skill that’s holding you back; maybe it’s your equipment.

 

Matching the clubs you play with your swing characteristics is a sure way toward game improvement. All too often a player assumes that high-dollar clubs will immediately take strokes from their score. In just about every case this is flawed thinking. Golf equipment is produced on assembly lines to a series of “stock” specifications. While these specifications might fit certain players, the chances they fit any one golfer are slim and none. It’s not that the clubs are “bad”, it’s that their specs just don’t quite fit the player. With a few upgrades, the clubs actually can help you play better. Here are five reasons why you may not be getting the most from your equipment…

 

Driver Launch Angle…High Launch/Low Spin: If you haven’t tested your driver on a launch monitor, you are behind the performance curve. Most players can add distance with no sacrifice in accuracy by finding a combination of loft, head CG, shaft and golf ball. No longer should you just choose a driver based on loft and shaft flex. While doing so might result in the proper club for you, there are a few other very important parameters to consider as well. While driver loft is the single most important factor when considering how far a driver will hit a ball, the CG of the head plays an important role A club with a CG closer to the face or one with a CG higher in the head will result in lower launch angles. This is not good for most players. The vast
majority of golfers can immediately add distance with a higher launch angle. This can result from either a higher club loft or a CG lower in the head or farther away from the face. Many of today’s drivers feature weights toward the back of the head to help increase launch angle through a change in head CG.

       

 

Don’t overlook the shaft and the ball when trying to improve your performance. Today’s shafts are made with specific launch characteristics in mind. While flex is important – faster swingers require stiffer shafts – the launch parameters of the shaft are keys to how far a drive can be hit – especially with today’s balls. Composite shafts allow manipulation of kick points to create specific launch angles for each shaft. Today’s balls are categorized as high-spin, low-spin or somewhere in between. Finding the best match between head, shaft and grip is what launch angle optimization is all about. Going through a launch monitor fitting session will provide you with this information. The session consists of hitting different balls with a combination of driver lofts and head CG’s and different shafts. You will also hit your driver to compare your current launch angle with your ideal launch angle the 30-45 minute session is time well spent and will ensure that your driver is working to yield the most distance and accuracy possible.

 

Shafts Too Stiff or Two Weak: Now that you have a driver that optimizes your launch angle, you need to take a look at the shafts in your irons. Regardless of what flex the shaft bands may tell you that the shafts are, it is important to keep in mind that nearly all manufacturers have their own method of measuring shaft flex. That means that what company calls a stiff shaft might be what another calls an “R.” If you are experiencing any of the following, the shafts in your irons might not be the proper flex for you…inconsistent shots, shots too high or low or feel that is too “boardy” or whippy. A hit testing session on swing computer will help determine what iron shafts best match your game. Much like the launch monitor session, this will take little time and can make a huge performance and feel difference if it is determined that your iron shafts are not the proper flex for you.

 

Poorly maintained or improperly Sized Grips: Grip size plays an important role in making sure a player’s hands maintain consistent contact with the club throughout the swing.

 

 

Many players do not realize that grips are available in different sizes. If you play with grips that are too large or too small, there is a chance that your hand position on the club will change somewhere during the swing.

 

 

Any time hand position changes on the club, there is increased likelihood that the club face will be returned to impact in an open or a closed position, leading to errant shots. In much the same way that improper size leads to hands slipping on the club, grips that are worn or slick do the same thing. Maintaining grips by washing them often and by having them replaced at least once a year improves consistent hand position and thus will almost surely help lower your score. Grip replacement is quick, easy and very affordable. If you haven’t had your grips replaced (or sized) in the past year, there is no better time than the present to make your clubs feel new and to improve their performance at the same time.

Reshaft for More Distance

 

Equipment Tips

from Jeff Jackson


Author, USGTF Member, and
Club Fitting Expert


 

One of the most common performance upgrades you can do to your equipment is re-shafting your driver. Major manufacturers use shafts aimed at fitting most players with “average” swings. Any of us who have ever watched a few foursomes tee off at our local club know there really isn’t any such thing as an “average” swing. Based on this simple fact, it makes perfect sense to check into having your driver shaft changed to match your swing – not an arbitrary “average” swing as prescribed by the major OEM’s. Let’s explore some of the things to consider when upgrading the performance of your driver towards the Ultimate Driving Weapon!

 

Many of us choose a shaft as a result of trying someone else’s club and hitting it well. It is important to keep in mind that the shaft itself is only one part of a successful re-shafting experience. Your driver’s head design plays a key role too. If the loft on your driver is not the same as the one you test hit, ball flight can be very different. If the length of the “test” driver is not the same as yours, consistency will differ. If the bore type and depth of the two clubs differ, feel and performance will likely differ as well. It’s very important to remember that when selecting a new shaft, you look not only at the shaft, but at the driver head as well in order to get your desired results.

 

A first key specification in your performance upgrade search is driver length. Any change from your current driver length will potentially change your setup and impact position – which could be a good thing or a bad thing. Swinging the longest driver that you can return to impact consistently should be your goal. If you are used to a 44” driver and you have it re-shafted to 45”, directional and consistency problems may result. Make certain you and your fitting professional determine what length driver is best for you before making changes.

 

Shaft frequency, of flex, is the next parameter in making sure your newly shafted driver performs as it should. A first thing to realize is that not all companies measure the stiffness of their shafts in the same manner. What one company labels as a stiff shaft, another may actually call an “A” flex, or a full 2-flex difference. The same applies to shaft torque. Torque is the resistance to rotational twisting in a shaft. Torque is labeled in degrees, with 2.0 being considered “low” and 6 degrees or more being considered “high.” But, here again, there is no standardization in how torque is measured from one company to another, making the number somewhat meaningless for comparison. What this does mean is that your fitting professional will need to be aware of the differences in flexes and torques from one company to another. He or she should also provide you with demo clubs fitted with specific shafts so that you can be sure that the shaft you think you want feels and works as it should for your game.

 

Be sure to consider a shaft’s launch characteristics when having your driver re-shafted. A shaft designed with a stiffer tip for lower launch is fine for certain drivers, but if yours is a 7-degree model, this low-loft head, low-launch shaft combination might not be enough for you to consistently get the ball airborne. The opposite would be true if your driver is a high-lofted model. If you combine it with a high-loft head and soft-tip, high-launch shaft, you may end up ballooning your drives and losing distance as a result. You may have heard the terms “high bend point” and “low bend point”. Bend points have relatively little to do with the actual launch angle of a shaft when compared to its tip design, but bend points do play a role in how a shaft feels. Low bend point shafts tend to feel softer than do high bend point models. Typically high launch shafts will have softer tips and lower bend points than will lower launch design shafts.

 

While there is no specific swing speed/club loft/launch angle formula, the chart below provides general guidelines of what many expert launch monitor fitters consider to be “ideal” launch and backspin conditions. Keep in mind that all players swing differently and the chart is to be used as a generalization only as actual launch monitor results may vary.

 

Ball Speed

Launch Angle

Backspin

Ball Speed

Launch Angle

Backspin

130_140mph

14.5*

3600_4000rpm

130_140mph

15.5*

3400_3800rpm

140_150mph

13.5*

3200_3600rpm

140_150mph

14.5*

3000_3400rpm

150_160mph

12.5*

2800_3200rpm

150_160mph

13.2*

2600_3000rpm

160_170mph

11.5*

2500_2800rpm

160_170mph

12.2*

2300_2500rpm

170_180mph

10.5*

2300_2500rpm

170_180mph

11.2*

2150_2300rpm

180+mph

9.5*

2100_2300rpm

180+mph

10*

1950_2150rpm

 

Re-shafting your driver to improve its performance is one of the best investments you can make in your equipment. Before you make the change to the latest shaft that is popular on Tour or that your playing partner is touting, make sure you and your fitting professional analyze the characteristics of not only the shaft you are contemplating, but the characteristics of your swing and the specifications of your driver head as well. Doing so will ensure the best possible head/shaft/player combination, leading to a successful driver re-shafting performance upgrade.

Length and Lie Angle?

I am looking at a set of clubs that are three degrees flat and 1/2 inch long. Will the length offset the flatness at all?   Frank

 

Frank,

 

Each extra 1/2″ in length will effectively make the clubs play – not measure – 1 degree flat. Thus if you are after a 3 degree flat effective lie club at 1/2″ over, you’ll need the club to be 4 degrees flat.

 

Jeff

10 Reasons to be Fitted

 

Equipment Tips

from Jeff Jackson


Author, USGTF Member, and
Club Fitting Expert



An Equipment Must

TEN REASONS YOU CAN’T AFFORD NOT TO BE CUSTOM FITTED

 

OK, it’s time to buy a new set of clubs…You have a ton of choices….your local pro shop, ebay, internet stores, big box discounters and custom clubmakers – just to name a few. Regardless of your final buying location, you’ll be much better off by having your new set custom fitted for you in person by a fitting professional. Not ready for a new set yet? Why not go to that same fitting professional and check out what performance upgrades might be available for your current set – especially if it wasn’t custom fitted for you when you purchased the clubs in the first place. The key element is that your clubs – new or your current set – fit you.

 

Here are ten reasons you can’t afford to not make that happen…

 

10. YOU’LL HIT HIS IRONS STRAIGHTER

The vast majority of golfers are using irons with incorrect lies. A miss-matched lie of just a degree or two can mean directional issues of more than a couple of yards. While it may not be a big deal to hit a #3 iron off line by 4 yards, that same accuracy problem with a wedge may mean the difference between a birdie putt and a sand wedge shot. A simple lie board test that will take only a few minutes can immediately identify directional issues due to your irons and hybrids – making sure you have the proper lies on these clubs will immediately make it easier for you to hit the ball more accurately.

 

9. YOUR DISTANCE CONTROL WILL IMPROVE

While the clubs are bing adjusted for proper lie angle, the lofts should be checked at the same time. Lofts that are consistently gapped will make sure you hit each iron a consistent distance and that distances between clubs are consistent as well. Do you have two irons in your set that you seem to hit almost the same distance? It may have nothing to do with your swing if the lofts of the clubs are “off.” Making certain your lofts are correct virtually guarantees better iron control. And remember that lofts and lies can get out of adjustment through every day play – having them checked at least once a year is a wise idea.

 

8. YOU WILL DRIVE THE BALL LONGER AND STRAIGHTER

There are literally hundreds of driver choices on the market today. Golfers are inundated with advertisements from every golf company touting their driver as the longest in history. Look for a fitting center that has a launch monitor that can show you launch angle, ball velocity and spin in addition to clubhead speed. You should be able to try a number of head and shaft combinations from a variety of manufacturers in order to determine which combination provides the best combination of distance and accuracy. If you have not been on a launch monitor yet, you’re well behind the fitting and game improvement curve!

 

7. YOUR WEDGE GAME WILL IMPROVE

How many wedges do you carry? Do you know for sure what the loft is on each of them? What about the bounce? Have your fitting expert make sure the loft gaps are consistent and there is no duplication of lofts in your wedges. Just because a wedge may say SW, GW or UW for example does not necessarily ensure that the lofts are evenly gapped. Plus, a look at the bounce on your wedges is a good idea. More bounce is better for courses with soft sand, while less is good for harder sand and firmer fairways. Checking and making any necessary adjustments to loft and bounce of your wedges should immediately will improve your short game.

 

6. PUTTING WILL GET BETTER

Most golfers are OK with the concept of custom fitted equipment. What they often ignore is the fitting of the single most used club in the bag, the putter. An increasing number of companies are offering putter fitting as a custom option. By ensuring the lie, length and loft of your putter matches your swing, accuracy, distance control and feel will improve. Your fitting professional should show you putters of various weight and balance positions in addition to the previously mentioned specifications. If you haven’t been fitted for a putter before or if you like your current putter, but it just doesn’t perform like you think it should, look into putter fitting – the repeating sound of the ball going in to the hole will be well worth your time!

 

5. YOUR CLUBS WILL FEEL BETTER

When your shoes and clothing fits you, it feels good. The same applies to golf equipment. When shafts and grips match a player, the clubs “feel good” and the player’s perception of the game is improved. A conservative estimate by industry experts has more than 50% of players using shafts that are too stiff and/or grips that are not the proper size. By matching shafts and grips to the golfer, feel improves and likely ball flight does as well. Your clubfitter, using feedback information from you combined with launch monitor data, will be bale to offer you options that will improve the feel of your equipment leading to lower scores.

 

4. YOUR MODERN CLUBS WILL MATCH YOUR MODERN SWING

Regardless of how good of a player you are, if your clubs do not match your swing, game improvement is compromised. This is especially true if you have clubs – especially a driver – that is 10 or more years old. Equipment technology has grown by leaps and bounds over the past decade and that equipment has made it easier for you to shoot lower scores. Hybrids, high-MOI drivers, higher launch shafts and lower/deeper center of gravity heads have improved the game for most players in recent years. Make your scoring ability improve by modernizing your equipment with the help of your fitting professional.

 

3. YOU’LL SAVE MONEY BY BUYING WHAT”S RIGHT FOR YOUR SWING AND NOT THE LATEST NEW CLUBS FROM COMPANY “X”

How often have you purchased the latest and greatest golf club only to find out that a few weeks later it didn’t improve your game and now it’s a used club worth less than half of what you paid for it? We’ve all been in that situation before, but by being fitted properly the chances of that happening are greatly diminished. During the fitting you will be hitting a club that will at least be very close to what you will be buying – if you can hit the club outdoors, it will further reinforce the fact that the club will be suited to your swing. Custom fitted equipment will actually save you money since you know what you are buying will work for you and you won’t have to be continually searching – and paying for – that mythical magic club that never really exists!

 

2. YOU’LL LEARN SOMETHING DURING THE FITTING

During the fitting, the fitting professional should be telling you what he or she is doing. You’ll likely learn how club specifications influence ball flight and what adjustments in those specifications do to improve your game. You’ll be exposed to the latest in equipment technology related to heads, shafts and grips and you’ll be able to determine what technology works best for you. Ask the fitter any questions you may have; nearly all clubfitters are happy to talk about their craft. You’ll come away from the fitting not only with a better set of clubs, but with more knowledge of equipment and how it works best for you.

 

1. AND THE NUMBER ONE REASON TO BE CUSTOM FITTED…YOU’LL PLAY BETTER GOLF!!!

Properly fitted golf clubs are matched to your unique swing. You wouldn’t buy a suit or a wedding dress without making sure it fit would you? The same applies to golf equipment. There are thousands of clubs on the market today – without being fitted to determine which of those clubs is right for you, your game is bound to suffer unless you get really lucky and pick the right clubs off the rack. If you want to play better golf, take a trip to a good club fitting establishment and let them analyze your swing and your current equipment and make any necessary changes or recommendations for improvement. If you want to play better, there is no substitute for custom fitting.

Matching the Correct Shaft

 

Equipment Tips

from Jeff Jackson


Author, USGTF Member, and
Club Fitting Expert


 

Shaft Frequency:  An Absolute Measurement for Shaft Matching

Jeff Jackson, for publication in Golf Tips Magazine

 

What is the flex of your shafts? A golfer used to be safe in saying that shafts were stiff, regular or ladies flex. That simply is not the case any longer. Most manufacturers have their own method of shaft measurement. What this means is that one company’s “S” flex shaft may actually be softer than another’s “A” or even “L” flex. How is a player to know how to choose shafts if there is no manufacturer standard? In a word: Frequency. The next time you choose a set of clubs – or even a single club – have a frequency check done to make certain the shafts match not only your swing, but each other as well.

 

Frequency is an absolute measure of the flex of a shaft. It is measured in a specialized machine and is defined as how many times per minute a shaft oscillates either vertically or horizontally. The units of frequency measurement are known as cycles per minute, or cpm’s. A shaft with a higher frequency is stiffer than one with a lower frequency. By using frequency as a method of comparing two different shafts, it is obvious which shaft is stiffer and by how much. Typically there will be 10 cycles between shaft flexes. Thus if one shaft registers 250 on a frequency machine and another is 270, there is a 2-flex difference between the shafts – regardless of what flex the manufacturer claims them to be.

 

By assigning a specific frequency number to a shaft, the shaft can be closely matched to a player. For example, a player finds a driver that he hits very well, but wants the latest in club head technology. The current driver shaft’s frequency can be determined and when a new club is purchased, the frequency of that shaft can be made to match the shaft the player hits best. Correspondingly, if the player wants fairway woods to match the flex feel of the driver, frequency can be used to determine what shafts to use and how to trim them to match.

 

The rules of golf state that a shaft is be manufactured with the same bending and twisting properties along its entire longitudinal axis.

 

 

In other words, golf shafts are supposed to be symmetrical. However, due to manufacturing tolerances, it is not always possible to make symmetrical shafts. By testing the cpm’s of a shaft in various planes, the club repair specialist will be able to identify the cpm that matches the desired flex for a particular player. That desired cpm reading should be positioned in the clubhead parallel to the target line to best match the shaft to the player.

 

        

 

When it comes to irons, a similar scenario applies. In a typical set of irons, shafts become stiffer as the clubs become shorter. That is, the shaft in your wedge is actually stiffer than the shaft in your #3 iron. The wedge won’t feel stiffer since the #3 iron is longer and the head is lighter, but the shorter shaft may measure 25 cycles or more stiffer than the longer one. Since the shaft length varies through a set of irons, each shaft will have a different stiffness, creating a sloped gradient of frequency through the set. In this way frequency plays a key role in matching the feel and playability in a set of irons.

 

A matched set of irons will have a similar number of cpm’s between each club in the set. The exact number will depend upon the shaft type, but there will be uniform increments between each club. This ensures that each club will feel and perform like all others in a set. Frequency can be used to duplicate a favorite iron set in the same manner as when choosing a driver. The cpm reading of a favorite club can be taken and a set made with that frequency reading as the target. This process is known as frequency matching.

 

It is important to realize that there is no flex standard in the golf industry today. Frequency provides an absolute way to measure the stiffness of a shaft. Shafts can then be matched to a player’s swing to improve performance. Frequency offers the ability to duplicate a favorite club, a demo club or a friends’ club that the player hits well. By duplicating this feel and playability and matching it through the set, frequency provides a concise measure of shaft performance. If you are still buying shafts based on them being “R” or “S”, think again. Have your clubs frequency checked and matched. The resulting feel and performance improvements will put you well on the way to lower scores.

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