Posts Tagged ‘club fitting’
It’s always nice to get an unbiased opinion from an expert. As a result I recently spent some time with friend and clubfitting guru Ian Fraser from Modern Golf in Toronto Canada, discussing what he deemed to be the top driver and shaft options available for 2013. Ian has no affiliation with any one club or shaft manufacturer so I really value his opinions. Here are his selections for the top shafts available this year:
- higher launch and low spin
- stronger mid-section helps to increase ball speed
- BB – blue bullet
- designed to produce less spin with a lower launch
- designed with feedback from ENSO technology
- lower launching and lower spinning shaft
- excellent price point
I also wanted to hear Ian’s take on the new crop of drivers that have been on the market for a few months now and he had some interesting things to say. Here are his choices:
- improved design and ball speed over the 910 series
- D2 and D3 different in size, yet similar in spin rates
- massive adjustability with very high ball speed
- slightly heavier than the R11S
- highest MOI of any driver available and best paint job!
- slightly less spin and higher ball speed than the G20
I suppose my optimal driver would one that had the looks of the Titleist 913 D3, the stability and matte black finish of the Ping G25 along with the adjustability and ball speed of the TaylorMade R1….one can dream!
Please be aware that going out and simply purchasing and combining one of the above options might not be the best thing for you. I would recommend getting with a professional clubfitter who uses TrackMan technology to find the appropriate head and shaft match for your particular swing. You should be looking for the optimal launch and spin characteristics that match your swing speed.
Read THIS to know where you should be launching and spinning the ball based on your current club speed.
One of the most important aspects of great ball striking is compressing the golf ball. Now, we’ve all heard that statement and we know the feel of a purely struck shot, but what really is compression and how can we do a better job with it? Let’s start by understanding the photograph below. This is a simulated shot where the clubface is just about to reach the back of the golf ball. The red line indicates where the loft or upward face angle is at impact and the blue line indicates the direction the clubhead is travelling during impact. The white line connecting the two represents the amount of compression “experienced” by the golf ball.
The narrower the gap or closer the two lines are the more compression will be exerted onto the golf ball and assuming a decent strike and appropriate launch, the ball will travel further. TrackMan refers to this gap as spin loft and without being too detailed it is the difference between where the face points at impact and where the clubhead travels at impact.
Fredrik Tuxen – one of the founders of TrackMan refers to spin loft as compression itself. To get a better understanding of how the numbers work let me give you a few examples: Jack hits a 5 iron with the face pointing at 16 degrees and the clubhead moving 2 degrees down. Bob swings at the same speed as Jack with his 5 iron and he gets the face pointing 15 degrees up and the clubhead moving 6 degrees down. Jack has a spin loft of 18 and Bob has a spin loft of 21. Both shots are hit well, so which goes further? Jack’s does because he has a narrower spin loft gap and thus compresses the ball more than Bob. What spin loft would create the maximum compression? Zero! However, as we will learn spin loft is in large part responsible for the amount of spin imparted on any shot and a golf ball needs some spin to keep it flying in the air. I have found that a spin loft of 11 is very good for a driver.
Some interesting points about compression or spin loft:
- Hitting down will not increase your compression of the golf ball or the spin on the shot. Invariably this only leads to a shot where the face angle and the clubhead direction both move downward – there is no change in spin or increase in distance.
- A higher spin loft increases spin and generally slows down ball speed.
- If you have similar swing speed, but hit your shots far shorter than your playing partners – this is due to a lack of compression on your shots.
- Shots with a lower spin loft will curve in the air more easily than shots with less compression. That’s why it’s easier to keep a 7 iron straighter than a driver.
- Custom club fitting can help to improve your spin loft simply by delofting either your irons or driver.
Now that we really understand what true compression is we can start to look at methods to help us improve our own ball striking. There are two ways we can compress the ball better – deloft the face angle more at impact without hitting down any more or hit down less without increasing the the loft of the face during impact. Ideally we need to deloft the face without hitting down any more. Notice how in the Jack and Bob example I used above – Bob’s face was delofted more than Jack’s, yet he hit down more and this limited his ability to compress the ball.
To get a good sense of what is required:
- Get in front of a mirror with a 7 iron.
- Grip the club and facing the mirror get the clubhead about 3″ off the ground two feet back from where the ball would be.
- Now slowly glide the clubhead through impact while maintaining the 3″ space between the clubhead and the ground noticing that as you go beyond impact how much your hands need to stay in front.
- When you start hitting balls – start small and hit soft shots off of a tee.
- There should be no ground contact, try to leave the tee in the ground and see how low you can hit these little 7 iron shots.
This is the feel you want! Delofting the face without slamming the club into the ground. And believe it or not this applies to the driver as well. I know it may sound strange and it took me a while to wrap my brain around this, but it is entirely possible to hit up on the ball with the handle/hands in front of the clubhead.
If you have gained something from this article please share it with a friend. Let’s be honest, they could most probably do with the help….
This summer I had the privilege of meeting expert club fitter Ian Fraser from Modern Golf in Toronto, Canada. Ian is the most knowledgeable and passionate fitter I had been around and before long I was peppering him with all my questions and concerns regarding equipment. One question that came up early in our discussions was spin rate off the driver. We both commented that it was far more common to encounter golfers with too much spin than too little and that led to my question, “Were there any drivers or shafts that stood out from the rest in their ability to reduce spin rates?”
Remember that the optimal spin rate for just about all club speeds with the driver is somewhere between 1800-2200 rpm when supported by the correct launch angle.
With Ian’s expertise I have compiled a list of the three commonly available drivers that currently do the best job at reducing spin. Keep in mind that that I said ‘currently’ in that, as with technology, this is a moving target and this list could change very soon.
- The TaylorMade R-11 S: this club is far better than the original R-11 which did very little in reducing spin. According to Ian the R-11 S also ranks right up there in ball speed – she’s a hot one!
- The new Ping Anser: the newest of the three drivers, my testing shows that this may perhaps be the best at reducing spin.
- The Callaway Razr Fit: certainly the simplest, most classic looking of the three heads. This driver also received a nod from Ian regarding a hot face.
As a side note – the new Cobra AMP driver often came up in our discussions regarding both low spin and hot heads and it seemed to be a favorite among many of my students this summer. I would give it “honorable mention” status.
Obviously very soon after discussing low spinning heads I quickly turned to shafts to see what kind of help golfers could get in that department. Here are Ian’s recommendations:
- The Fujikura Motore F1 in the heavier weight (65 gr or 75 gr)
- The Graphite Design Tour-AD BB – the blue bullet and that’s about right
- The Aldila RIP Alpha
So if you’re a golfer who has access to TrackMan or similar radar device and you know your spin rate with the big stick is too high look into one of the above combinations to get you a few welcome additional yards off the tee. And of course, should you be anywhere near Toronto look Ian up….you will not regret it!
Ian and the crew from Modern Golf will be visiting Berkeley Hall in January, so should you be interested in a fitting please contact me to schedule a time.
In the last decade all club manufacturers have invested heavily in club fitting and customization. Each company offers a fitting cart where golfers can decide on the clubhead, shaft and specifications that work best for them – in a very short amount of time. They have stressed the importance of having equipment that fits along with building fitting carts that make it easy to find the right match. The real question is - “How serious are the club companies about getting you into equipment, and more specifically a shaft, that fits your game?”
At Atlantic Golf Club we do a tremendous amount of club fitting. So much so, that we have our own DigiFlex machine, which allows us to test each shaft to find it’s frequency. For years we have known that you simply cannot trust what the shaft label indicates - if it says its an S (stiff) flex, it could be anything other than an X (extra stiff) flex. In fact in all our testing over the years we have only found one shaft that was actually stronger than it showed – a TaylorMade fairway wood. All the other non-matches have been weaker. Each year we test the new demo clubs and shafts and label them accordingly. This year I have decided to share our findings with you.
It is important to keep in mind that each company has their ‘stock’ shaft offerings and various ‘upgraded’ or non-stock options – our results include both. Our results also include tests done on ‘whole’ clubs and the individual shafts that can be interchanged with certain heads.
The Club Manufacturers we tested:
- 34 Titleist golf clubs and shafts: 10 (29.4%) matched the stated flex and 5 out of the 10 matches were non-Titleist shafts
- 6 Cleveland golf clubs: 0 (0%) matched the stated flex
- 7 Ping golf clubs: 1 (14.3%) matched the stated flex
- 6 Cobra golf clubs: 2 (33.3%) matched the stated flex
- 56 TaylorMade golf clubs and shafts: 10 (17.9%) matched the stated flex and 5 out of the 10 matches were non-TaylorMade shafts
- 32 Callaway golf clubs and shafts: 11 (34.4%) matched the stated flex and 5 out of the 10 matches were non-Callaway shafts
- 5 Adams golf clubs: 0 (0%) matched the stated flex
Steel vs Graphite:
- Steel shafts won this showdown easily, albeit only with a 40% match rate, while graphite shafts only matched a woeful 20% of the time. It seemed that when a steel shaft did not match it was off by only a few cycles per minute (CPM), whereas the graphite shafts seemed to range from a stiff flex that was truly a regular, all the way to a stiff flex that matched a ladies flex. A shaft that performed remarkably well was the Memphis 10 steel shaft from Callaway and made by True Temper – it had 6 out of 7 matches. If you want to be certain of what you’re getting (or at least in the ball park) go with steel.
Stock vs. Upgraded
- In both the steel and graphite categories the overwhelming winner here was the “upgraded” category. An upgraded shaft almost always costs more and their match rate was above 50% – in fact most often when they did not match they were almost always a few CPM’s from being where they had indicated on the shaft label. When it comes to graphite try to stay away from shafts that include both the club manufacturer and shaft maker’s company name – this is invariably a lower quality shaft and is thus substantially cheaper for the manufacturer to install. Get the real deal and always upgrade.
The overall findings showed that only around 25% of the time are you actually getting what you think you’re getting when it comes to the flex of your shaft. Chances are that if you’re looking for a regular flex, then you are more than likely going to receive a senior flex and so on. So what can you do? The first option is to visit a world-class fitting operation like Hot Stix or Cool Clubs and have them fit and build you a set – not necessarily
the easiest or most cost effective way to get the job done. The second option involves talking to the better golfers in your area and asking who they would go and see locally regarding club-fitting. They will most often send you to a trustworthy fitter in your area. The third option (and while I’m not a fan of this you’ll certainly improve your odds) involves purchasing clubs that indicate they are stiffer than what you really need – hey, they have a decent chance of matching your required flex.
So, while the club companies appear to be concerned with ensuring a proper fit, the results of our little study indicates they might not be as concerned as we would like them to be. My advice is that when you are ready to purchase new clubs, find the best fitter you can, go with steel shafts for your irons (and they do make viable lighter weight options these days) and always upgrade on the graphite options for the bigger clubs. This way you can be fairly comfortable that you are getting what you paid for.
I would like to thank Patrick Bindel, Joe Downey, Matt Foster, Patrick Carter and Robby Fenton for their help with this article. Great stuff guys!