THE GOLF CLUB HOSPITAL COMPANY
COMMON SENSE GOLF CLUB FITTING: WHAT REALLY MATTERS
Are you confused about the significance of the many terms and measurements thrown
at you by the golf club manufacturers and salespeople? Join the club! We finally begin to
grasp a rudimentary understanding of "shaft spining" and suddenly "COR" becomes critical.
No sooner does that term become part of our lexicon when "MOI" makes an appearance.
Each of these effects can be measured by sophisticated scientific equipment, but I contend
a well-struck ball is more of an art than a science.
Today, many people believe a computer analysis spit out by a launch monitor will give them the
best possible fit. As a golf club repairman and custom fitter, I have had to make a conscious
business decision between using high tech equipment (launch monitors) or relying on basic fitting
aids, customer feedback and extensive experience. The computer approach appeals to today's
reliance on technology as a cure for all our ills. Being fitted on a launch monitor is fun, interesting and
often convinces us that we now have the perfect club. It also adds a lot of expense and results in a
large percentage of of disenchanted buyers who hit the ball no better or even worse than with their
previous clubs. All these numbers offered up by the computer are open to many interpretations
and are subject to the salesman's personal agenda.
Don't get me wrong! Fitting of golf clubs is very important. After 34 years of full time experience
in this business, I am positively certain the following measurements are critical to a good fit.
In descending order of importance:
1. SHAFT FLEX as determined by club head speed and tempo
2. SHAFT LENGTH
3. WEIGHT of overall club and the shaft in particular
4. LOFT of driving club
5. LIE of irons
6. GRIP SIZE
7. TORQUE of graphite shafts
8. OFFSET features
9. VOLUME of heads
10. APPEARANCE of club at address
Other variables such as MOI (moment of inertia), COR (coefficient of restitution), and "spining"
(the most stable orientation of a shaft) are all factors though while measurable, are not significant to
our everyday results. Anyone with a background in the sciences or engineering will tell you that not
everything we can measure is "significant." For example, do you honestly believe that 1/8" in shaft
length, 1/4 of a swingweight or 1/4° in iron lie, each of which can be measured, are significant?
Of course not! The reason is our human inconsistencies intervene long before those small
differences impact the result. On one occasion the first measurement might work slightly better and
the next time the second measurement would serve one better.
The following chart is a common sense attempt to quantify these measurements:
CHARACTERISTIC BEING MEASURED LEVEL OF SIGNIFICANCE (plus or minus)
Shaft frequency 4 cpm
Shaft length 1/4"
Torque of graphite shaft .5°
Loft of driver .5°
Grip size 1/64"
Lie of irons .5°
Swingweight 1 point
These plus/minus ranges pertain to the very good players and could probably be doubled
for bogey+ golfers.
In summary, golf fitting today, as it was fifty years ago, is more of an art than a science. What else
would explain all the frustrated clients coming into our shop after being fit by "Tour Van" technicians,
Launch Monitor operators, or nationally acclaimed fitting experts in white lab coats? Success for the
golf professional as well as the weekend warrior will always be the result of a good golf swing
and the appropriate equipment. Next time you are measured for clubs have an experienced fitter
address the significant categories detailed here. Then take lessons and practice, practice, practice.
In a never ending search for a better golf game, customers show up in droves this time of year
seeking a better shaft. This Holy Grail quest, while not limited to driver shafts, is most often focused
the clubs, but we'll examine specifically how they pertain to
the big stick: the driver.
The golfer looking to upgrade their driver shaft should
first determine what their priorities are. My first question to them invariably is: "Are you looking to hit
it farther or straighter?" Their response is predictable: "both." Unfortunately, the cruel reality is these
two goals are often mutually exclusive (unless the golfer was very poorly fit with the existing shaft).
HIT IT LONG: Distance=Mass x Velocity Squared is a time-tested scientific principle which also
applies to golf. To increase distance of your shots, you must either increase the mass (weight) of
the club or increase the velocity (club head speed) of your swing. Many golfers mistakenly believe
they're addressing the increased mass issue when they get a larger volume titanium head. In truth,
today's larger titanium heads weigh virtually the same as the old wooden ones, approximately 198
grams. Furthermore, increasing the static weight of the club has proven to be counterproductive
because it decreases club head speed. The only effective way to increase the distance of your shots
is to increase that speed with a longer and lighter shaft. The downside of this combination is an
almost inevitable loss of control.
HIT IT STRAIGHT: Physics dictate that the further from the hands the ball is, the more likely a
impact not only the direction but also the distance achieved.
If your goal is to stay in the fairway as much as possible, then
reduce the shaft length and increase the shaft weight of your
driver. It is ironic that the pros, who are the best ball strikers in
the game, tend to use drivers a full inch shorter than the
Just for fun, pull out that old persimmon or laminated maple 43" steel-shafted driver you've put
away and see if your ball doesn't stay in the fairway more often.
POINT OF DIMINISHING RETURNS: Golfers need to experiment with shaft length and weight in
order to determine what what is best for their tempo and ability. That 46 inch, 52 gram graphite shaft
may yield excellent distance and adequate control for a well-tempoed disciplined player. However,
most will need to find a shorter length shaft to keep them on those tight fairways, even if it means
sacrificing those extra 15 yards from the occasional perfect strike. Decide what your game will
tolerate: 40% of fairways hit and 15 extra yards, or 80% of fairways hit and 15 less yards.
THE SOLUTION: Golf retailers will love the answer to this dilemma: serious players as well as
weekend warriors should have two drivers. A shorter (i.e., 43 1/2"), possibly steel shafted club to be
used on narrow fairways, when money is on the line, or when you are not at the peak of your game.
Plus a longer 45" or 46" graphite shafted driver to pull out for those courses with wide open
fairways, when you're in scramble tournaments, or when you are playing extremely well.
Remember, just because you have terrific success with that new driver today does not
guarantee that it will be successful for long. Give yourself an option for those slumps that everyone
While regripping is a common repair at any time of year, it always peaks in the spring. Many
golfers will show up over the next few months requesting new grips and, often times, will believe they
need a larger size. Some have tried their buddy's clubs with the bigger grips and enjoyed the
hold the club head up with the shaft perpendicular to the ground while squeezing
their fingers into the palm, as shown at left. The problem with this method is that a
golfer rarely has to hit a shot from a lie 3 feet over their head!
I have a relatively small hand and yet can easily dig my fingers into my palm when
held in this manner,
naturally elongated down the (proper size) grip, and we are hopefully holding it
Too-large a grip poses many problems for a good golf swing. It makes it difficult
for the hands to release, thereby encouraging a block or push. To compensate,
the golfer has to alter their stance, or hand positioning, or tries to muscle the shot to keep it
I have always been struck by this observation: better golfers usually use standard or even
undersize grips while the higher handicappers tend to think they want oversize grips.
grips. If one truly has large hands or has a physical issue (i. e., arthritis, bad
fingers), then a larger grip is in order. Be aware that most regrippers are
installing .580 core grips on .600 butt diameter shafts, which results in a size
already 1/64" over standard.
To summarize, always remember that the large comfortable grip is often not the correct choice.
Good luck and let's all get a 'good grip' on the new season.
One of the few innovations in golf equipment in recent years that has real merit is the
bulge) and irons (heavier weight and shorter shaft). A hybrid tends to be easier to
hit than the testy long iron, usually the nemesis for all but the strongest, most
Hybrids generally are separated into two basic styles. A wood hybrid has a slightly lighter gram
weight, more pronounced sole camber, face roll and bulge, and is fit with a .335 or .350 tip shaft.
They are usually played at a slightly longer length than their iron counterpart. The iron hybrid tends to
have a heavier gram weight, little or no roll and bulge, and a .370 shaft played 1/2" to 1" shorter
than its wood counterpart. Either design can be very effective, and the style may influence which
one you prefer.
The most important criteria in choosing a hybrid is to find one that fits a specific gap in your set.
This is where you may need the help of a knowledgeable golf professional
(Golf Club Hospital) or take advantage of the opportunity to field test your
options. The shaft type, flex, length and grip must be appropriate to your abilities.
The number stamped on the club can be very misleading. A #3 hybrid club will
almost always hit the ball further than a #3 iron because it has a longer shaft and probably a
stronger loft. The loft of the club and the length of the shaft will determine its distance. Also, graphite
shafts may give you several more yards of distance but at the expense of accuracy.
So go ahead and jump on the bandwagon. Get rid of those pesky long irons and stop by the
shop for a custom fitting.
falls under the category of: "If you think it helps you, it will." The principle
but whether it is practical for most golfers is a different story. Spining is another entry in the long line
of "new" innovations in the golf industry that aren't really new at all, such as bore-thru heads, shaft
shock absorbing ,
,and magical pendants. The TrueTemper Company
spining in the 1970's
very limited success,
and there is a good reason why.
No two golf shafts are identical nor perfectly round, and there is usually an almost imperceptible
or spine resulting after manufacture. A metal shaft is welded
its axis, but the resulting
along its axis, but the resulting
torque is so low on a metal shaft that any resulting spine effect is practically inconsequential. A
graphite shaft is produced by the wrapping of several layers, or plies, all beginning and ending at
different points to form the body of the shaft, leaving several seams present. Shaft manufacturers
have made great strides towards perfecting consistency and have nearly eliminated any weak or
strong sides of the graphite shaft, effectively negating the need for spining.
The basis of spining or PUREing is finding the neutral plane of the golf shaft
process: from simply clamping a shaft in a vise to see where it
which employs specifictrademarked
proprietary software and equipment.
keep in mind companies that tout spining or PUREing have an expensive
to pay for, and they'll insist you must have it done to achieve maximum performance of
your equipment. The
is different companies will
test results, all
different test results, all
proclaiming theirs to be correct. If
see they can't even agree where
you'll see they can't even agree where
the shaft should be
aligned in the
3:00? 9:00? In fact, using the most popular
12:00? 3:00? 9:00? In fact, using the most popular
shafts available, we doubt any of these companies would be confident to challenge a player to a
$100 payoff if they could positively tell whether their shaft has been spined or not.
A shaft that has been spined or PUREd won't fix a slice or a hook. Ever wonder why
tour players, who have all the latest "can't miss" procedures applied to their equipment, still miss
fairways? Even with a perfect shaft, as incredibly expensive as it would be, the weakest factor will
always be the golfers themselves. Club fitting on humans can never be as precise
as machines can dictate. Only parameters are possible because your swing
speed and tempo today will be different tomorrow, next week, and next month.
Our rule-of-thumb at the shop is: a high quality, low torque shaft needs no
shafting process. Just remember to keep your spine straight, and then confidently strike the ball.
Stepping shafts is a method of reshafting that focuses on a flex between the specific
designations, say, between a regular and a stiff flex. "Hard stepping" would make a shaft stiffer,
"soft stepping," more flexible. The effective change in flex between immediate lofts from stepping is
1/3, or 5 cycles per minute, a practically negligible change in performance for most golfers.
Because each shaft length is different throughout a set, head weights and flex patterns must
iron length shaft with a 9 iron head, it would be way too heavy and flexible.
Conversely, a 9 iron length shaft with a 1 iron head would be too light and stiff.
Assuming original shaft flexes are equal, a 5 iron shaft installed in a 6 iron
head would be soft stepped, made more flexible by a 1/3. A 6 iron shaft
installed in a 5 iron head would be hard stepped, made stiffer by a 1/3.
If stepping from already-installed shafts, the resulting reshafts must then be shortened
or extended proper length, and keep in mind there will be one 'odd man out' head in need of a
new shaft. When step reshafting using raw shafts, simply cut each shaft to proper length, as per
the usual finishing procedure. Stepping can be done with parallel, taper-tipped or stepless shafts.
We see a lot of dusty relics from the 1930's and 40's, and there are more of them out there
than you would think. A common belief is because the clubs are old, then they must have value. Like
all collectibles, a golf club is only worth what one is willing to pay, and more often than not the cost of
refinishing will exceed its value.
"Old" is a relative term, of course. Using wooden shafted clubs as antique criteria, the rarest and
in England or Scotland. Early 20th century clubs made in America
signaled our golf boom. However, any mass-produced club in good
condition, while not rare, will look nice mounted on the wall of
somebody's den or office.
Most golfers like to play the new stuff and admire the vintage equipment.
Here's a general guideline to use for both steel and hickory shafted clubs:
Look for original condition clubs that are clean and well-cared for. Specialty clubs like putters and
wedges are always desirable. Full sets, including woods, irons and the canvas bag are very unique.
Look for classic drivers and fairway woods that were made without face inserts, using elaborate
Unfortunately, many older clubs were stored in the garage or basement, where moisture and
temperature fluctuations distressed them. Metal heads and shafts should be free of rusting and
pitting. Wooden shafts straight, with no warping. Wooden heads shouldn't have cracks and loose or
missing inserts or soleplates. Are leather grips still tightly bound, with the whipping string
intact? Shaft bands were so easily scuffed that finding them intact is unusual.
Be realistic. If you think you have something truly valuable, try a Web search. The professional
collectors are always excited to see what you have.
KZ Golf has found a niche with the custom pro line, a hallmark of component golf club heads.
All of the KZG forged iron manufacturing processes: forging, grinding, plating and
polishing are done solely in Japan, where the highest quality and attention to
detail are the industry standard.
Essentially, all the finished forged and cast heads come directly to us, where
we'll fit you with the appropriate shaft and install it professionally. Your savings are
substantial because you've avoided the middleman (think: retailer). You'll be the owner of beautiful
custom made clubs that rival any in the golf business, and a great deal to boot.
rental clubs, right? Practically speaking, if your handicap is 20 or better, then using
properly fitted equipment is vital to your performance. Above a 20, then the rental
clubs are "same difference."
©StanSteuter2008 All Rights Reserved