Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Three Key Specifications of Driver Fitting (and a few more that will help as well).

What golfer doesn’t dream of owning that “magic driver” which enables them to hit the ball longer and straighter?

Tip number one: the very best driver for every golfer is never selected by its brand or model name or model number. It is chosen by its fitting specifications and how those individual factors are matched to the golfer’s size, strength, athletic ability and most of all, to their swing characteristics.

Driver Length:
I’m going to be blunt. The standard driver lengths of 45.5 to 46.5 inches offered by the standard made golf club companies are too long and are preventing at least 75%of all golfers from achieving their maximum potential for distance and accuracy. For men with an average to fast tempo with an outside/in swing path, 44” is the maximum length; women, 42.5” to 43” should be the limit. There’s a very good reason the average driver length on the US PGA Tour from 2004-2010 has been 44.5” and not 45.5” to 46.5”

Driver Loft:
Driver loft must be matched to the golfer’s swing speed and their angle of attack into the ball. The slower the swing speed and the more downward the angle of attack, the higher the loft of the driver has to be for maximum distance. While each golfer has to be individually analyzed to know which loft brings the most distance, here is a basic chart to use as a guideline. The first column of numbers is driver swing speed, the second column is best driver loft in wet conditions, and the third column is best driver loft in dry conditions for more roll-out.

50 21 20
60 18 17
70 16 15
80 14 13
90 12 11
100 11 10
110 9.5 8.5

Based on Level Angle of Attack and Average Release. For golfer' who make contact on the upswing, a lower loft may be better and vice versa - golfer's who make contact on the downswing definately need more loft.
Best Loft for Carry for Wet Fairways.
Best Loft for Roll Out for Hard, Firm Fairways.

Driver Face Angle:
Few drivers sold off the shelf offer options in the face angle to reduce the golfer’s tendency to slice or hook the ball. There is no better way to reduce a slice than to fit the golfer with a more closed face angle in the driver/fairway woods. For more severe slices, the golfer can be fit with a driver head with both a closed face and an offset hosel design. The rule of thumb for face angle change? At a carry distance of 200 yards, each one degree more closed the face angle is than the golfer’s current face angle represents a reduction in the slice of about 4 to 5 yards.

And a Couple More for Covering Your Golfers’ Driver Fitting Needs . . .

Total Weight and Swingweight:
The stronger the golfer physically and the more aggressively they swing, the heavier the total weight and swingweight will need to be. The opposite is true for the weaker and much less aggressive swinging player. Matching the “weights” of the driver to the golfer’s swing strength and aggressiveness is critical for swing tempo consistency and the highest incidence of on-center impacts.

Here’s the facts about the shaft. While the weight, the overall flex and the stiffness bend profile of the shaft has to be fit properly to all golfers, the shaft flex and bend profile are more important for golfers with a late release of the wrist-cock angle in the downswing than for golfers with an earlier release. Don’t worry, we’ll dig deeper into shaft fitting on its own in a successive column.

Comparing a custom fitting to a car wash.

What Kind of Car Wash Do You Want?

More and more golf club companies are starting to emphasize custom clubfitting as an option to their typical marketing to golfers to buy their clubs in standard form, bought off the shelf.

Custom fitting is very definitely for average golfers and not just for single digit handicap players. When done properly, custom fitting can reduce and offset some of your swing errors. In addition, proper custom fitting makes it easier to take swing coaching advice and make the changes in the swing to hit the ball better.

If you are thinking about custom fitting for your next driver or set of clubs, there are a few things you need to know to ensure you really do end up with properly custom fit clubs that will improve your game. A colleague of mine in the golf business put this in the right way when he said that custom clubfitting can be much like having your car washed.

On one hand, if your car needs a bath, you can pull out the hose and just spray water on it to wash off the obvious surface dirt. You can also fill a bucket with suds and scrub the dirt off the surface with a sponge. Or, you can pull out all the stops and scrub, detail and wax it. All three examples could be called a car wash.

Custom fitting in the golf industry today is much the same. There is fitting, and there is professional custom clubfitting. Examples of a fitting include “6 questions on a web site”, 15 minutes hitting a few balls with a swing computer, or 3 measurements and a response from a golf sales person to the effect of, “I know what you need.”

On the other hand, professional custom clubfitting is going to involve a pretty fair amount of your time, often more than one trip to have your swing analyzed in detail so that ALL the possible specifications that make up a set of golf clubs can be pinpointed and selected to match with your strength, size, athletic ability, and especially, the way YOU and only YOU swing. Professional custom clubfitting really is like the scrub, wax and detail car wash I mentioned before. The other types of fitting are not going to get you really matched well to your clubs to really result in the level of improvement that a real custom fitting can and will do. In other words, which “car wash” do YOU want for your money?

To find more about professional custom clubfitting, please contact me at or 403-529-0704. You will be happy you did and your club buying money will be well spent.