Start with the basics, before turning to launch monitor data
By: Doug Jensen, PGA, With Editorial Director Tony L. Starks
Over the past several years, I have seen many changes in the clubfitting process – most of which utilize groundbreaking technology. However, I feel many fittings are overlooking what I call the “Nuts and Bolts” of the process.
In many cases, the time spent on correctly fitting length and lie angle has been neglected. The customer and the fitter are so interested in charting data on the latest and greatest launch monitors that they move too quickly through the process of fitting length and lie. In my opinion, my customers benefit the greatest from the proper length and lie angle, the two items that most benefit them in finding the center of the club more often.
Yes, charting the data to decide shaft choice and head design are important, but not as important to someone struggling to find the center of the club face. Spend the time using an impact board, or a line on the ball, to establish the lie angle in the early phase of the fitting, which you can consider the “nuts” portion of the fitting. The length represents the “bolts,” which I feel is the area that needs the most attention in the fitting process today.
The manufacturers are all working with different relationships in lengths between their irons. And the driver standard lengths are without consistency across a single manufacturer, let alone throughout the entire industry. We should take this into consideration when determining the final length of the club for the player.
At the onset of the fitting I will still evaluate the customer with different shaft lengths, even if a customer falls well within the standard length parameters. In doing this, I will ensure that I am fitting them with a club that allows them to find center-faced contact. Many times the customer will find the club face’s center with all options, and that is when the launch monitor illustrating ball speed can be critically important in arriving at a final decision. In many cases there will be a decisive winner, and it may not be the standard length club option. These circumstances are when you need to prove the value of your expertise and support the length change with the data from your launch monitor.
In most cases, the customer has been conditioned to believe that longer shafts and less loft will give them more distance. As fitters, we know that this does not always hold true. The ability to find the club face’s center, and square the club to the intended line of flight, is the most effective way to transfer energy to the ball.
Personally, I have been successful fitting players for clubs with non-standard lengths. Don’t be afraid to entertain that idea if you see the player moving in a direction that tells you they might need something shorter or longer in order to be more consistent in their performance. In my experience, I have been pleasantly surprised when a customer experienced striking a properly fitted shorter iron farther than the standard length version due to centered face contact. I also take pride in exposing a player that is experiencing difficulty maintaining posture to over lengths that might assist in managing this error.
It is in these moments that you realize taking the time to find the correct length and lie for your customer can reacquaint them to the center of the clubface, and in turn showcase the importance and skill in what you do as a clubfitter.