Your ul­ti­mate guide to find­ing a bet­ter game

Golf Digest (South Africa) - - Play Your Best - By mike stachura

If you haven’t no­ticed, cus­tom club­fit­ting has be­come more ubiq­ui­tous than craft brew­eries.As more equip­ment com­pa­nies of­fer driv­ers with dozens of set­tings and bou­quets of cus­tom shafts, the golf con­sumer is at once tempted and swept away by a cor­nu­copia of con­fus­ing choices.You may re­gret buy­ing a driver or set of irons with­out first test­ing what is suit­able for your per­sonal swing and build.As an Amer­i­can club­fit­ter ex­plained, “I don’t think golf equip­ment is a self-shop­pable prod­uct.” For­tu­nately, many golf out­lets to­day, from the mega­s­tores to some­times your own golf club, are in­creas­ingly equipped with ex­pert fit­ters di­vin­ing the right heads, lofts and lengths with a wis­dom that en­com­passes club tech­nol­ogy, in­struc­tion ideas and even good, old-fash­ioned peo­ple skills.The best fa­cil­i­ties ex­pertly bridge this mar­riage of art and sci­ence, and we of­fer some of their wis­dom to pre­pare you to em­brace the ben­e­fits of club­fit­ting.

How to pre­pare for a club­fit­ting.

Ap­proach this with an open mind. If you have a swing coach, get a tune-up be­fore go­ing for a fit­ting. Come to the fit­ting with notes on what you’re work­ing on and where you want to get to. You also should come to the fit­ting with your cur­rent clubs. This gives you and your fit­ter a base­line for com­par­ing other clubs. Ev­ery good fit­ting re­quires pa­tience. There’s no need for anx­i­ety and ner­vous ten­sion.

Why get­ting fit once is not enough.

One myth about club­fit­ting is that it’s like buy­ing a tai­lored suit: Get fit once, and use those specs for life. But that think­ing is off base. Avid golfers should be fit ev­ery two years, as a lot of things can change in that time. Golfers might ex­pe­ri­ence changes in strength, flex­i­bil­ity, re­flexes or have an in­jury. Their swings might be­come steeper or shal­lower. Peo­ple also need to re­alise dif­fer­ent man­u­fac­tur­ers might have a dif­fer­ent spec­i­fi­ca­tion for length or lie an­gle. So the fit­ting you get for one brand might not ap­ply to another one.

Find­ing the right driver isn’t only about swing speed.

Swing speed can be a start­ing point, but the best fit­ters want to see how you’re hit­ting the ball. If im­pacts are scat­tered across the face, for ex­am­ple, you can bet a large, highly sta­ble driver is best for you, even if you swing it faster than Bubba Wat­son in a bad mood. The right driver is also about how the weight is bal­anced within the head. Know­ing how driv­ers dif­fer or how that weight can be tweaked can im­prove how far you hit the ball and how well you square the club­face. Find­ing a driver with the cor­rect cen­tre of grav­ity for the player, whether it’s for­ward, back or to­wards the heel, can change the per­son’s game. For ex­am­ple, a rel­a­tively straight hit­ter who is spin­ning the ball too much, even if he doesn’t swing fast, can gain tremen­dous dis­tance with a driver that will spin the ball less.

The put­ter is the eas­i­est club to get fit for.

Your putting stroke is gen­er­ally your most re­peat­able, so that makes it the eas­i­est to an­a­lyse, and some­times the rec­om­mended changes (length, lie an­gle, grip) don’t re­quire a put­ter change. Even if you want some­thing new, re­sist the urge to test a bunch of put­ters off the rack. You might make a few good putts with this put­ter, but that doesn’t mean you’re lined up with it or that it has the right weight­ing for you. We rec­om­mend that you fo­cus not only on the head shape, but the hosel po­si­tion, weight dis­tri­bu­tion and align­ment lines, the stuff that can re­ally make a dif­fer­ence.

Wedges are the most over­looked club in fit­ting.

It makes no sense that many golfers still buy wedges off the rack, even though they may have non-stan­dard length and lie an­gles in their irons. Aside from length and lie an­gle, nine out of 10 golfers don’t use enough bounce. (That’s the an­gle formed by the sole, the lead­ing edge and the ground.) Heav­ier shafts can also bring ex­tra con­trol, be­cause you want to re­duce the role of the hands on wedge shots. It’s like a coun­ter­bal­anced put­ter: The more weight, the less chance a golfer can err. Then, there’s dis­tance gap­ping – mak­ing sure each wedge cov­ers a cer­tain dis­tance with­out over-

laps. Some club­fit­ters be­lieve 5 de­grees be­tween clubs works bet­ter than 4, cit­ing a need for more loft around the green.

Don’t for­get about grips.

The grip might be the last thing on your list when you go through a club­fit­ting, but it can yield big ben­e­fits. A grip’s size and tex­ture af­fect the way your hands re­lease the club at im­pact and the shape and tra­jec­tory of your shots. Tour play­ers ag­o­nise over grips be­cause they un­der­stand that is what con­nects the golfer to the club. Find­ing that proper size will help pro­mote the proper re­lease at im­pact, lead­ing to crisper, cleaner shots.

Should I get my swing fixed be­fore I get fit for clubs?

Top club­fit­ters be­lieve in­struc­tion is a vi­tal com­po­nent of the fit­ting process. They typ­i­cally work back­wards from im­pact to ad­dress to un­der­stand how the head and shaft need to per­form for play­ers to get the most out of their swing and equip­ment. The point is that find­ing more dis­tance or im­prov­ing ac­cu­racy can’t be lim­ited to new clubs. But the clubs should take prece­dence. Get­ting the proper fit in the player’s hands gives a bet­ter op­por­tu­nity to de­velop the im­pact fun­da­men­tals from the be­gin­ning.

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