Are Sound & Feel the Same Thing?
A favorite adage among some fitters is, “Sound is feel.” This seems to have a hint of truth to it, so many golfers accept it. But rather than accept it, we decided to test it. Read on to find out the surprising ways in which sound influences feel.
Myth #1 – Removing sound will eliminate feel
Myth #2 – Removing sound will make a putter feel softer
Myth #3 – Sound & feel are the same
How We Tested
For this test, we gathered a group of six golfers and five Anser-style putters. The golfers were all experienced players, well versed in equipment. The putters covered a wide range of head materials, milling patterns, and inserts.
Every player started by hitting five putts with each of the five putters while wearing soundproof headphones. After hitting each putter, they reported how the putter felt, rating it from 1 (very hard) to 10 (very soft). This process was repeated with the headphones removed. The order of the putters was varied each time.
All testing was done at and with the help of Club Champion.
If “sound is feel” were true, that would mean that removing the sound removes feel. We found that was not the case. Every one of our testers, despite being unable to hear impact, was able to judge the differences between the five putters that they tested.
Additionally, our testers each used as wide a range of numbers with the headphones on as without. This tells us that there is feel without sound, and golfers are just as sensitive to feel without sound.
Once we found that golfers were able to distinguish between putters even without sound, we were interested to see if sound had a universal effect on feel – softer or harder. Our results showed that adding sound did not consistently make the putters feel softer or harder. In a small handful of instances, the putter was rated the same with and without sound. The rest of the cases were split nearly in half – sometimes putters were deemed softer with sound, sometimes they were judged as being harder.
The answer to this myth follows logically from the one above, but we found it so interesting that it was worth stating on its own. Our testers found that feel and sound were independent of each other. In other words, some putters felt soft and sounded hard. Other putters felt hard and sounded soft. And, of course, some putters had sound and feel that “matched.”
It’s also worth noting that the sound tended to be the dominant element. If a putter sounded hard, it was usually rated hard even if the tester recognized that the feel was soft.
While this edition of Golf Myths Unplugged doesn’t have a massive, handicap-shattering takeaway, it has changed how I test equipment. Until now, I’ve always looked at sound and feel as two sides of the same coin. This has made me aware of how the two can operate independently and how each influences my perception of equipment. I hope it’s given you a couple thoughts to chew on and, perhaps, a new lens through which you can examine your gear.
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“ It’s also worth noting that the sound tended to be the dominant element. If a putter sounded hard, it was usually rated hard even if the tester recognized that the feel was soft.”
This is what I think most fitters are referring to when they say “sound is feel”.
What is your evaluation of the Pyramid Putter?
I have not reviewed the Pyramid Putter.
Thanks for helping to make some sense in the confusing and unscientific world of golf. I never understood why golfers care about the sound of impact. The ball certainly does not care, so why should the golfer. The importance of sound is something the golf club manufacturers have brought up in order to sell more clubs. I cannot think of any other sport on earth where the participants care about the sound of impact.
Always enjoy your golf myths series. #SecretGiveaway2021
I have been looking for a new putter, so I would love to win the secret giveaway: #SecretGiveaway2021
Thanks Matt for all the work that you and staff do for the good of the game. The unbiased equipment reviews are really important, but I especially enjoy the gold myths and instruction. Happy New Year to pluggedingolf.
Thanks for the great reviews and articles. I have always played by feel. Even when I was a beginner golfer. This helped me when trying to get that repetitive swing feeling. For me, I don’t care how a club sounds. The most important thing is feel and where the ball goes.
I find that “sound” is far more important with woods and irons than my putter. Actually, when thinking about it, I don’t even pay attention to the sound when putting? And I’m a fairly good putter, especially longer putts. Feel and stroke are it. Thanks #SecretGiveaway2021
I have always thought the sound tells me how well I hit the ball but the feel tells me what direction
Very interesting. Can we presume this is the same for irons and woods? Another test perhaps? I recall that a while ago (1+ years) Mark Crossfield tested some irons/ woods with sound proof headphones. I think the conclusion was that the the absence of sound muted (no pun intended) the feel. You would expect driver to make the biggest sound so maybe it could be the club with the biggest impact.