MAX­ING YOUR GAME

A club­fit­ting with Srixon proves an ed­u­ca­tion, and is an im­por­tant step to im­prov­ing your game.

Golf Digest (South Africa) - - The Golf Life - By Stu­art McLean

If you haven’t yet gone for a club­fit­ting, you’re miss­ing out on golf’s most game-chang­ing tech­nol­ogy. Not only will you find a set of clubs that could make this game eas­ier to play, but you’ll learn in­ter­est­ing sta­tis­tics about your po­ten­tial.

Club­fit­ting is a grow­ing in­dus­try in South Africa, with an in­creas­ing num­ber of out­lets around the coun­try, and there are dif­fer­ent ways of ap­proach­ing it.

In Gaut­eng I went to a fit­ting with Srixon Sports, which be­gan with hit­ting pitch shots us­ing a wedge anal­yser, and con­tin­ued on the range at the World of Golf with a pur­pose-built swing anal­yser driver that fig­ures out the cor­rect set of clubs for you.

And I vis­ited an out­stand­ing fa­cil­ity at The Els Club Cop­per­leaf es­tate where lead­ing teacher John Dick­son works closely with club­fit­ter Rudy Mertz on the range, a two-in-one so­lu­tion for im­prov­ing your game. (See story start­ing on Page 48.)

Srixon Sports used to have Cleve­land equip­ment, but that range has been re­placed by Srixon, the mighty Ja­panese brand, more fa­mous lo­cally for its golf balls, which is gain­ing trac­tion world­wide.The only Cleve­land prod­ucts they now im­port are wedges and put­ters.

While I was at the World of Golf, the No 1 women’s ama­teur lo­cally, Ivanna Samu, was be­ing fit­ted for her Srixon clubs to re­place the Cleve­land set she has been us­ing. Last year, at age 15, she be­came the sec­ond youngest win­ner of the SA Women’s Ama­teur. Samu strikes the ball im­pres­sively, and I asked club­fit­ter Ri­aan Span­gen­berg, of RS Golf, to pro­vide me with her Track­Man stats.

Track­Man is a highly ef­fi­cient (and ex­pen­sive) launch mon­i­tor, us­ing radar tech­nol­ogy. It works through mi­crowaves re­flect­ing from a mov­ing golf club and golf ball, and gives you a wide va­ri­ety of in­ter­est­ing data when the soft­ware starts down­load­ing the re­sult of ev­ery shot you hit on the range. Span­gen­berg says he con­cen­trates on just eight sets of data when do­ing a fit­ting for Srixon. “We look at the im­por­tant data which im­pact on a golfer’s game,” he said. “Things like hang time just don’t have any rel­e­vance for the av­er­age golfer.”

There’s club­head speed and ball speed, which we’ve heard about, but if you di­vide ball speed by club­head speed you get your Smash Fac­tor. If you’re hit­ting balls with a driver on the range, mon­i­tored by Track­Man, this is one of the key stats that gets your at­ten­tion. It shows the amount of en­ergy trans­ferred from the club­head to the golf ball. My first smash fac­tor was 1.44, and the fig­ure to reach is 1.50.

An­other ab­sorb­ing stat for me which came out of all the avail­able data was at­tack an­gle. This shows how steep you are com­ing into the ball on your down­swing. It de­ter­mines the club path and qual­ity of the strike. Ini­tially I was reg­is­ter­ing a fig­ure of mi­nus 1.8 de­grees with the driver, which is a no-no. To max­imise dis­tance off the tee, you need to hit up on the ball and cre­ate an at­tack an­gle that is closer to mi­nus one. Feed­back from Track­Man on ev­ery drive taught me to stay shal­low and do that.

In­ter­est­ingly, women golfers on the LPGA Tour have an av­er­age at­tack an­gle of +3 de­grees with their driver, while men on the PGA Tour have an an­gle of mi­nus 1 de­grees.

Spin rate, launch an­gle and carry are other im­por­tant stats for the club­fit­ter when analysing a client.

I started the fit­ting by hit­ting balls with the Srixon swing anal­yser driver. The anal­yser is at­tached to the shaft and pro­vides in­stant feed­back for the club­fit­ter in terms of a num­ber out of 10. This tells the club­fit­ter the sug­gested set make-up of a client.The bet­ter a player you are, the closer the num­ber will be to 10. This swing anal­yser is cur­rently avail­able for fit­tings at The

Pro Shop or Golfers Club stores.

In my case it sug­gested that I put hy­brids and fair­ways in my bag, and leave out long irons. That’s good sense for many golfers to­day. And the beauty of Srixon’s club­fit­ting process is that they will make up what­ever set of clubs you de­sire. It’s not a case of hav­ing to buy long irons that you don’t need.

“If a golfer wants more hy­brids in the bag, or a wider se­lec­tion of wedges, we can do that for him or her,” said Srixon sales man­ager Mark O’Brien. “You’re not lim­ited like you were to a stan­dard set of clubs off the rack. And, here’s some­thing spe­cial we also do in terms of irons. Your 5-iron head can be dif­fer­ent to that of your 8-iron. You can have a cav­ity-back head for for­give­ness in the 5-iron, while the 8-iron could have a forged head. It’s all part of our will­ing­ness to fit golfers bet­ter.”

Srixon mar­ket­ing man­ager Chris Sch­weg­mann summed it up best. “The idea is to fit the golfer, not fit the prod­uct,” he told me. “The club­fit­ting process is about adding value and knowl­edge.”

In a Srixon club­fit­ting you also try dif­fer­ent shafts to suit your swing, and the one that per­forms the best is fit­ted to the set.

To check out which type of wedge suited me, a SwingByte anal­yser was at­tached to the shaft of a Cleve­land Ro­tex 2.0 wedge. If you want to im­press your mates with the kind of spin on pitch and chip shots you see from the tour pros, this club is in­cred­i­ble. The ball backs up quickly, thanks to mi­cro-milling be­tween the grooves, and a patented Ro­tex mill on the face. The anal­yser shows your ap­proach into the ball (shal­low or steep), and that de­ter­mines the amount of loft and bounce you need when buy­ing a wedge. Cleve­land has the 3-dot sys­tem of bounce op­tions. Thicker top lines and larger heads make them eas­ier to cleanly hit tight shots around the greens.

O’Brien, who has for many years played provin­cial golf for Ekurhu­leni, con­fessed that he’s not that clever with his short game now that he’s play­ing the Se­nior ama­teur cir­cuit. He prefers Cleve­land’s game im­prove­ment Smart Sole wedges. They are un­usual look­ing clubs, but highly ef­fec­tive. The idea be­hind the Smart Sole is that there are only two kinds of short-game shots: a high, lofted pitch and a low, run­ning chip. So Cleve­land have of­fered two wedges de­signed to make th­ese spe­cific shots eas­ier.The Smart Sole C is a 42-de­gree chip­per with an up­right lie an­gle to sim­plify the stroke, while the Smart Sole S, with its wide sole, makes bunker play that much sim­pler as the club tends to power through the sand. It’s also good out of rough.

Once my fit­ting was done, and it usu­ally lasts be­tween 30 and 45 min­utes, I felt more em­pow­ered about my game. Don’t ex­pect a les­son while you’re hit­ting shots with Track­Man in place, but the data you get is some­thing valu­able you can take back to your teach­ing pro.

“TRACK­MAN DATA LIKE SMASH FAC­TOR AND AT­TACK AN­GLE WILL GIVE YOU A BET­TER UN­DER­STAND­ING OF YOUR GAME.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.