Sunday, December 13, 2009

Clubfitting Questions, Answered --- Part I

I've recently gotten some e-mails in regards to clubfitting questions. I'll try to answer most of them here.

Here are the basic elements of club fitting that need to be determined:
  • Shaft Flex
  • Shaft Length
  • Shaft 'Kick Point'
  • Shaft Length
  • Swingweight
  • Grip Size
  • Lie Angle
  • Loft
The good news is that today's OEM's and Club Component Manufacturers (i.e. Scratch Golf, KZG, etc) have pretty extensive custom fitting options available. I know Mizuno, Adams Golf and Scratch Golf will make the swingweights to order, regardless of the shaft being used. And I'm sure there are plenty of manufacturers who are willing to do the same. Plus, you can pretty much get any type of shaft you want with the club these days as well as whatever grip, etc. Scratch Golf allows for just about everything to be customized, not only the shafts, lie angles, swingweights, etc...but things like the type of grind you want on your iron to what type of 'stamping' and ferruls you want to use. It was noted that part-owner Ryan Moore has his own stamping on his irons where he doesn't have the irons numbered, but instead just has their lofts on the club.

I don't expect OEM's to offer this much customization with their irons, but either way...the custom fitting that OEM's offer these days is greatly improved from just 5 years ago.

I actually used Mizuno's 'Club Shaft Optimizer' a couple of months ago.

I was interested in getting some KBS Shafts in the spring and it fitted me for a Stiff KBS Shaft that was softstepped once. I put a KBS shaft in my 6-iron to try it out and I found the Shaft Optimizer to be very accurate. If anything, I would suggest giving the Shaft Optimizer a try to give you a ballpark of where you want to go.

There's some key principles to shaft fitting:

- Faster clubhead speed usually means stiffer shafts.
- Faster clubhead speed usually means heavier shafts.
- Faster clubhead speed usually means higher kickpoint of shafts.

The Mizuno Shaft Optimizer can help pick the shaft for you without having to worry about swingweight and kickpoint. But I believe it's very important to look at *how* you generate clubhead speed as well.

In other words, I think what type of release you use that can play a big factor in what type of shafts you use.

Let's take a look at Johnny Miller and Lee Trevino's swings for a second:

As you can see, Miller had more of a 'full sweep release' (starts releasing the primary lever assembly near the start of the downswing) and Trevino uses more of a 'snap release' (releases the assembly at the very end, right before impact).

Let's say that Trevino and Miller had the same clubhead speed with a 5-iron of say 90 mph. Per Homer Kelley's 'Endless Belt Effect (2-K), it's likely that Trevino's handspeed is actually *slower* than Miller's hand speed. This is because Trevino's late, delayed release can easier generate more clubhead speed with less 'energy' from the hands. Plus, most golfers who have that snap release tend to generate more spin than golfers with the same clubhead speed using a full sweep or random sweep release. One way to check this is to check whether or not you use 'pitch elbow' (out and in front) or 'punch elbow' (out to the side of the right hip). Pitch elbow golfers are more likely to snap the release than punch elbow golfers.

Because of this, Trevino should likely use a stiffer, heavier shaft with a higher kickpoint and Miller should use a more flexible, lighter shaft with a lower kickpoint. Two classic 'snap release' golfers are Hogan and Sergio. Hogan had notoriously heavy shafts that were extremely stiff. Last I checked Sergio played True Temper's Dynamic Gold shafts that I believe are at X400.

Shaft length deals a bit with lie angle, but the longer the shaft, the more the club will weigh. I've seen golfers increase their swingweight greatly because they lengthened their clubshaft. A big reason why I was interested in the KBS Shafts is that I need shafts about +3/4" over standard. My current shafts (Flighted Rifle) are only +1/4" over standard. So if I want to keep my current Mizuno clubheads and get longer shafts, but not increase their weight too much...then I need to look for a lighter shaft which is what KBS provides.

I think shaft length should usually be determined the golfer's posture at address.

So, I would make it mandatory to use the Mizuno Clubshaft Optimizer and then look at your swing characteristics and combine the two to find the correct shaft for you.


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