Why Club Fitting Should Be An Integral Part Of Your Teaching
As instructors, we hold the “keys to the kingdom” as it were, in that we have the opportunity to take a student and open up the possibilities of learning and playing better golf. But, what if said student’s equipment is a poor fit for him? Can it make a difference in his ability to execute a certain task or skill? You bet it can.
As instructors, we need to be able to check a player’s equipment at least to the point that we feel confident that the equipment is not prohibiting completing the task that the player asks of it or causing negative results to happen. This is not only frustrating to the instructor, but even more so to the player, and given enough negative results, can eventually lead to another player leaving the game. Why? Potentially, because his equipment was ill fit!
Let’s look at just a few examples of what poorlyfit equipment can cause in relation to hitting a good golf shot. We’ll start with something as simple as club length. The length of shafts has progressively gotten longer. The concept is that longer shafts will generate greater clubhead speed. This is only true if the golfer is able to swing the longer shaft with the same swing speed. Our organization did a two-year study with shafts in excess of 45” compared to shafts less than 45”, and only found six (6) golfers that were able to generate the same clubhead speed with the longer shaft as the shorter shaft. Of those six (6), not one hit the center of the clubface with as much accuracy with the longer shaft as they did with the shorter shaft. The result was loss of ball speed, and therefore overall distance. What does too-long a shaft cause? The most common problem is an over-the-top swing. Because the shaft is too long for their particular physique, they have to make more room for the arc, and by taking it outside the line they accomplish this.
If they were to try and drop it into the slot, they are more than likely going to hit a “fat” shot. There are several other compensating moves to accommodate shafts that are too long. These include but are not limited to raising up on the toes; standing up by losing knee flex; raising up and losing correct spine tilt, and lifting the hands up at impact.
Have you ever taught a golfer who has a pretty good swing and still hits weak fade shots no matter what you try? I have, and it’s frustrating to the golfer. Take a look at the player’s lie angle. It could be something as simple as the club being too flat. Contrary to what the popular thought is, lie angle is not predicated on the swing path that a player has, i.e., flat or upright. Lie angle is a relationship of speed, force, and the resistance of the shaft tip to the downward force, toedown effect, and release. A player who has a lie angle that is too flat will experience toe drag on the turf, which results in the heel passing the toe and the face opening, which then imparts clockwise spin and the ball will fade or slice.
This is not to say that all golfers with lie angles that are too flat will hit fades. Some of these golfers have developed very strong forearms and literally will overpower the resistance of the ground and do not let the clubface open. However, when you give them a ball on the tee, they still have the overpowering forearm rotation and generally hit big hooks or a shot on which they are not taking a divot.
There are many more examples of how poorly fitted equipment can have a negative impact on the performance of a player. In fact, the information would make a good book and be too lengthy for an article. The purpose of this article is to stimulate your thinking that incorporating fitting into your teaching will help you become a more efficient instructor, and it can also open up avenues for additional revenue. There are several organizations and books that can help you gain knowledge and useful information relative to club fitting. It is worthy of consideration, and hopefully you will avail yourself of them!
Doc Griffin is the owner of Doc Griffin Golf in Columbia, South Carolina, and is a certified fitter with a number of club companies, including many that are USGTF industry partners. He has been named one of the Top 100 International Master Fitters.