Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Wishon: What length should your clubs be?

The Meat of the Fitting: Putting it all Together to Come up with the Initial Fitting Spec Recommendations
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The information in the blue boxes reveals what observation/measurement inputs are to be consulted to make the decisions for what each of the 12 key fitting specs should be for each different golfer. With 12 separate specs to determine, one might think that it would take a very long time to consider each input, one at a time, to come up with each fitting spec. Not so to the trained and experienced clubfitter.
Here’s why: If you look closely at all the inputs for each of the key fitting specs, you will see that many of the key fitting specs rely on some of the same inputs. For example, the golfer’s transition is a swing characteristic in which the golfer starts the downswing with either a strong/forceful/aggressive move, a smooth/passive/rhythmic move, or somewhere in between.
Once the experienced clubfitter observes the golfer’s transition move to start the downswing, his training leads him to make initial decisions for the length, shaft weight, total weight, swing weight/MOI, shaft flex and shaft bend profile SIMULTANEOUSLY. The key difference between the GOOD clubfitter and the not-so-good one? Multi-tasking!
The good clubfitter not only knows that the transition move reveals a lot of inputs that contribute to the decision for each of these six key fitting specs, but he also knows what direction the golfer’s specific transition move indicates.
The more forceful the transition, the shorter the wood/driver length may need to be. The heavier the shaft weight, total weight and swing weight, the stiffer the shaft’s butt-to-center section may need to be as well in relation to the golfer’s club head speed and shaft swing speed range.
A smooth/passive transition move points toward a possibly longer driver/wood length, lighter shaft weight, total weight and swing weight, and a softer flex in relation to the player’s club head speed and shaft swing speed range.
The not-so-good clubfitter might not know what actual specs are determined by the golfer’s transition force, and he may not even know to observe the golfer’s transition move as an important fitting input to begin with.
The point is this: the best clubfitters not only know what key fitting spec each of the different swing characteristics and fitting inputs point to, they know what specs the inputs point to and they can keep them all circulating in their mind at the same time while they observe and measure the golfer. A proper fitting is NOT done by taking the golfer through each of the fitting specs, one at a time. Proper fitting involves knowing what golfer inputs contribute to what fitting specs and thinking about what each fitting spec should be simultaneously as indicated by each input.
I’ll put it a different way. With knowledge of what golfer inputs indicate what key fitting spec outputs, the very best fitters have a general idea of what the initial specs of the golfer’s test clubs should be by the time the golfer has finished hitting warm-up shots with different clubs. They are observing the golfer’s swing characteristics while he warms up and hits balls on the launch monitor and thinking about what each of the swing characteristics point toward in terms of specific fitting specs.
Now let’s take a quick look at the cause and effect for each input for each of the key fitting specs starting with length.
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The Wrist-to-Floor measurement gives us ONLY a starting point for what lengths will becomfortable for the golfer to prevent him/her from bending over too much, crouching down too much, standing too straight and otherwise putting the golfer into a position that is less than optimal for their stance, posture and swing from a comfort standpoint. The FINAL lengths become a matter of combining the analysis of the other six points in the above chart with this basic credo in mind.
  • The more forceful the transition, the faster the tempo, the more outside-in the swing path, the more upright the swing plane, the more the golfer has problems with off-center hits, and the worse the golfer’s athletic ability, the SHORTER the lengths need to be within the golfer’s comfort level over the ball and in relation to the starting point for length from the wrist to floor measurement.
  • Conversely, the smoother the transition and tempo, the more square to inside-out the swing path, the flatter the swing plane, and the better the golfer’s athletic ability,the LONGER the lengths could be beyond the wrist-to-floor measurement starting point. Remember, it’s COULD BE — not should be — because longer lengths beyond what the swing characteristics and comfort considerations dictate do contribute to a drop in shot consistency, swing repeatability and a decrease in the center hit performance.
The very best clubfitters also know which of each of these seven inputs for length fitting carries more weight with regard to making the final determination for the best lengths for the golfer. In addition, far more thought and analysis is placed on these inputs for driver and wood fitting because of one more basic club fitting credo related to length fitting.
The longer the length beyond what is necessary for golfer comfort and consistent stance/posture position, the more difficult the club will be to swing consistently for EVERY golfer. 
Following is a compilation of additional points about fitting length that we teach to clubfitters to help them become more and more proficient.
  • Not more than 10 percent of all men should ever try to play with a driver length that is longer than 44 inches.
  • Most average male golfers should consider a driver length of 43 inches to 43.5 inches.
  • Virtually no women golfers should try to use a driver length longer than 43 inches, most women should use a driver length shorter than 43 inches.
  • When in doubt, err on the side of shorter length for the driver.
For a male golfer to be correctly fit into a driver length longer than 44 inches or a woman golfer to be correctly fit into a driver length longer than 43 inches, the golfer should possess the following swing characteristics:
  1. Smoother Transition Force and Smoother Swing Tempo
  2. Inside-Out-to-Square Swing Path
  3. Later-to-Very-Late Release
  4. Average-to-Flatter Swing Plane
  5. Above-Average Golf Athletic Ability
The second longest wood should never be longer than 43 inches for men or 42 inches for women — the second longest wood is lowest lofted wood that the golfer can consistently hit for shots off normal fairway lies. More will be covered on this in loft fitting, but you never want to fit a golfer into a fairway wood loft that he/she does not have the ability to get well airborne with good consistency. So for some golfers, their second longest wood might be a 3 wood, but for most and others it may be the 4, 5 or even a 7 wood.
  • If the golfer’s best driver length is shorter than 44 inches, the second longest wood should be 1 inch shorter than the driver. If the golfer’s handicap is more than 15, make the second-longest wood 1.5 inches shorter than the driver.
  • The length increment between fairway woods should not be less than 1 inch. Less can contribute to compressing the distance gap between woods.
  • The wrist-to-floor measurement is a good way to start the length fitting process for the irons or hybrids, but not for the driver or woods. Driver and wood length is purely about what lengths offer the most control, consistency for the golfer’s ability.
  • Being taller than average height does not mean you have to play with lengths that are longer than standard. It is the combination of height + arm length + posture and stance that determines each golfer’s best iron and hybrid lengths.
  • It is the golfer’s swing characteristics and golf athletic ability, however, that determines each golfer’s best driver and wood lengths.
  • Hybrids should be fit to the same length as the irons being replaced with hybrids.
Exception: A hybrid can be longer than an iron of the same loft when the player wants the hybrid to replace a fairway wood.
  • Using 3/8-inch increments between the irons can be good for all golfers to offer more comfort and stance consistency with the higher loft irons to result in better shot consistency and accuracy with the higher loft irons.
  • There is no specific rule for wedge length fitting – golfer comfort and golfer stance/posture is the guide for wedge lengths after the PW. Increments of 1/4 inches, 3/8 inches, 1/2 inch or even same length are all acceptable depending on the golfer’s comfort, stance/posture and manner of play with each wedge.

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