The Process of Fitting
the Golf Club
What we do not do.
Most club fitters will start off with a questionnaire and particularly the question "What is your objective more distance or more accuracy?" We will not ask you this question or past history questions because they are irrelevant to a proper club fitting. The question on distance and accuracy is your first clue. When the Shaft is properly fitted, to be back to straight and square at ball impact, your best distance and accuracy will occur at the same time. What that question, when asked, really is telling you is that fitter does not know how to fit a golf club so the shaft will be back to straight and square at ball impact and provide its peak performance of distance and accuracy at the same time.
What is Our club fitting process?
There are (6) basic steps to our custom club fitting:
1. FitChip Computerized Swing Analysis - pin points the necessary shaft flex/frequency depending on the golfer`s swing timing (club/shaft release to ball impact time)
2. Demo Equipment - trial to substantiate the ideal shaft specifications selected by FitChip for the player’s swing and make any minor adjustments.
3. Shaft length is determined to accommodate the player. (his preference or to promote the proper swing posture)
4. Grip size and style and size is selected to provide comfort and performance.
5. Advanced Ball Launch Analysis - to track all aspects of a player’s swing and ball flight to select Driver face loft angle plus hook or fade bias or offset head.
6. Post-fit Checkup - To track a player’s progress and make any additional adjustments
Other major fitting variables include set make-up (type of Irons, where do Hybrids fit in if any and number and type of fairway woods), lie angle (not to be performed until proper shaft is selected), club head design (mostly player preference), hozzel offset, face loft (using the launch monitor), shaft make (if it can be trimmed to the proper frequency), shaft torque (as low as possible to promote less dispersion with off center hits), shaft bend point (high kick points are recommended for greater distance when the proper shaft selection provides the accuracy), shaft weight, swing weight, and total weight. These specifications all contribute to improvements concerning ACCURACY, DISTANCE, FEEL, TRAJECTORY, and CONSISTENCY.
Before we discuss these specifications in detail and the reason we use the FitChip fitting system you must understand the other fitting systems available and their approach to club fitting.
Fitting With Launch Angle
Fitting with the Launch Monitor and its Launch Angle optimizes the carry of the ball for the shaft you are hitting and your club head speed. You must remember however that optimum carry does not mean optimum distance. Again, if you are not using the shaft that best fits your swing you are not going to get the best possible results. You must select the shaft prior to using a Launch Monitor for determining optimum launch angle. What the launch monitor is best used for then, is selecting the proper face loft of the club head.
Fitting With Club Head Speed
Club Head Speed has been used by the industry as a simple approach to selecting a shaft flex range. However, there is no scientific relationship between club head speed and shaft reaction, it is only some ones opinion to satisfy the better player's ego, in the way the industry uses it. It has been experienced many times, that different players with the same club head speed, who fit themselves by trial and error, do not pick the same stiffness shaft or stiffness change from club to club, as the industry builds sets, to achieve their best performance.
Fitting With Tempo
Tempo is measured as the time between club take away and return to ball impact. This technique has a better scientific relationship to the clubs shaft reaction than fitting with club head speed but still lacks the refinement to accurately recommend a shaft stiffness. Within tempo there can be to many variations. The length of the swing and the time spent in each segment of the swing can vary greatly. For further explanation see our fitting technology page.
Fitting with the Determinator
The Determinator is a simulated club that has a slide weight located in the head that is supposed to record the peak acceleration or load during the swing. The faults are that it does not have an associated time with it, and it only measures full accelerations in the direction from heel to toe of the club head. If the peak acceleration occurs when the face is closing, the full value of that acceleration is not recorded. The only time a peak acceleration can be recorded is when the club head is parallel with the plain of the swing. Plus only recording peak load during the swing the critical timing factor is missing.
Fitting with the Shaft Lab
The Shaft Lab was a follow on to the Determinator, using a dedicated club instrumented with strain gages to record shaft loading VS time. Even though this is a good approach the Shaft Lab only uses the magnitude of the load as a fitting parameter and no timing parameters are used to relate the club reaction to the swing. This system is really a modification of club head speed in that the more area under the load curve the higher the club head speed. If two player have the same area under their curves, but different peak loads, the one with the higher peak load will get a stiffer club than the other. This is correct in many cases but with out the timing parameter being taken into account the accuracy and reliability is questionable. This is because the higher peak load could release the club earlier in the swing then the player with the same area under the curve or same swing speed that would release the club later. Any player that generates a lot of area under the curve without a high peak will be a late re-leaser where a player generating club head speed with a high peak load can have a release that occurs early, late or any time in between.
Fitting With FitChip -- Shaft Loading and Timing
I would like to redefined “shaft loading” as stated by Jeff Jackson. Even though it can occur at the transition point between back swing and down swing, for most players the peak load occurs at some place during the downswing. The timing of this loading and most importantly the start of unloading is the key factor in club fitting. The key parameter that FitChip uses in selecting a shaft is the time between the start of unloading or shaft release and ball impact.
The golf shaft is a spring. Depending on the stiffness of that spring it takes a certain amount of time for the spring to recover from the deflected position to the neutral position (for the golf shaft, straight). It is at this neutral position that the golf shaft reaches its greatest effectiveness (maximum speed and club face square). As some may have suggested, if ball impact occurs at peak loading, the shaft will still be flexed and be much less than effective in aiding the golfer. Based on spring mechanics the stiffer the spring the shorter the time of recovery. The natural frequency of the golf club describes this recovery time and the mechanism that drives the shaft back to straight upon release. Therefore the earlier the release is in the swing the softer the shaft and the later the release the stiffer the shaft. You will quickly find out using this system that shaft selection has nothing to do with club head speed as the industry has used it in the past. In fact I can show you, that if two players have the same time between release and ball impact, the one with the higher speed needs a softer shaft. This occurs because there are two mechanisms acting on the shaft to return it to straight and square. The first one, which we all understand is the spring action of the shaft that is described by natural frequency. The second one is the centrifugal force pulling down on the weight of the head to straighten the shaft and is a direct function of club head speed. Since this Club head speed induced force is helping the spring action the spring action needs to be reduced to get the correct timing to be back to straight and square at the time of impact. Then since the high club head speed player gets more help from club head speed he would need the shaft with a lower frequency (softer shaft). Both of these timing mechanisms are accounted for in the FitChip Shaft Fitting System.
The FitChip analyzes this timing and club release problem and selects the clubs natural frequency that will return it to straight and square at ball impact. No other system available today for club fitting can identify the point of club release during the swing. This timing is what best creates the feel and timing between the player and his clubs. The data collected by the FitChip (up to 84 full swings) can be downloaded to any computer to view the pertinent individual swing data. You will find that many players have double loads and releases that make the process even more difficult.
Who Can Best Fit Golf Clubs
How good are the major club companies at fitting the golf club to the player. They claim to be the best by using club head speed and their bag of test shafts and heads in order to find the club you hit best and adjust your lie angles. They have no concern about where the club head is in respect to the shaft flex. You would think they would do their best for the professionals on their staff since their winning is important to their sales. The two photos below speak volumes about the success of their approach to club fitting.
Both of these players are prominent professionals playing for a major club manufacturer. The photographs show distinctively how poorly fitted these clubs are fitted to the players. No wonder these players are having control problems with their drivers. Both players have been fitted with clubs that are too stiff for them. If the shaft were straight both players would be just approaching ball impact but because the shaft is to stiff and has already kicked past the shaft straight position the head has already reached ball impact. Many people in the golf industry will say the shaft should be forward of the shaft at ball impact. This is true to the extent the centrifugal force at high club head speeds will tend to align the butt of the shaft with the center of gravity the head. However in both of these cases the position of the center of gravity is well ahead of the shaft straight position indicating the shaft has kicked though too quickly and is too stiff.
When the shaft has kicked though, past the shaft, it’s losing the extra club head speed contributed by the kick of the shaft. This Kick speed can be as much as 10 to 12% of the total club head speed. Not only has the player lost club head speed but they have also lost power transfer efficiency. This loss of efficiency is caused by the fact that the shaft has built up a load in the shaft that wants to kick the shaft away from impact back to straight. Therefore, any impact on the head will encourage the head to retreat form the ball during impact reducing the efficiency (ball compression) of the energy transfer to the ball. For some one hitting the ball 300 yards it could mean a loss of distance of 30 yards not accounting for the probable inefficiency of the impact. The player is also required to manipulate the club or swing to correct ball flight since the head of the club is most likely starting to close as it comes though the shaft straight and square position. This manipulation results in inconsistent results.
Fitting by trial and error and more easily with the FitChip you can insure that the proper shaft is selected to provide the best combination of accuracy and distance. These two attributes occur at the same time when the player has the proper shaft.
Typical of FitChip Successes
Recently when working in Florida with one of the top 10 golf instructors that was interested in the FitChip as a fitting system for his school I had a chance to fit several of his students. The one student was a PGA professional and instructor from Canada taking lessons. He was hitting stiff shafted clubs but was not totally happy with them and was interested in trying the FitChip system. As a result of the testing I put him in a driver that was two flex ranges softer then a senior shaft. He just shook his head until he hit the test club against his, on the Launch Monitor and got more distance and less dispersion. I ended up building him a full set of new clubs. He called after he got home and played with the clubs saying “ My friends were laughing at me because the shafts were so soft, until we got on the course and I was out driving them by 50 yard and was always in the fairway”. He then proceeded to win the Canadian Club Professional Golf Tournament with his new clubs.