Reality Check (up)

reality-check-11

Introduction

Having just gone through a major equipment change, I faced some reality checks that I want to share with you.  Embrace them and good results will follow.  Continue to ignore or deny them and your game will be stuck in the muck.

Club Champion Irons Wall

Background

I recently had the opportunity to visit Club Champion in Orlando for an iron fitting.  My goal going in was to upgrade my eight year old irons.  I was getting tired of people saying, “What year are those?”  The shafts were changed from stock four years ago by a highly reputable fitter, so I was confident they were still right for me.  To save money my plan was to just buy new heads.

Reality 1:  You can’t just buy club heads.  OEMs only sell complete clubs.  Even on Ebay, individual heads are far and few between.  

Fitting Part A

After discussing my wants and listening to my self evaluation, Master Fitter Rob Stumpf had me hit my gamer 6 iron and monitored the results on TrackMan.  This served as the baseline as we entered reality.

Reality 2:  You don’t hit your 6 iron as far as you think, or at least not consistently.  As several instructional articles on Plugged In Golf [PIG] state:  know your yardages.

TrackMan_PGA_Tour_Averages

Fitting Part B

Next, Rob put the current model head on a shaft equivalent to mine.  Quickly this proved me right – my irons were old.

Reality 3:  Technology advances are real.  Not just for distance, but in spin and forgiveness also.

If you are a frequent reader of reviews here on PIG, you’ve observed that we strive to compare a company’s latest offering with the previous model.  Often there isn’t a huge difference, which is reassuring if you are not the golfer who needs the latest greatest every year.  But I was three models out of date and the technology had clearly improved.  Even with the newest head, Rob still felt my numbers weren’t as good as they could be.  There are lots of numbers one could obsess over on the computer screen, but Rob had me focus on smash factor.  What a great name.  Smash factor is ball speed divided by club speed, or the amount of energy transferred from the golf club to the golf ball.  The new irons had improved my ball speed, but my club speed was lacking.

50

But wait, I recall having a good smash factor four year ago.  This TrackMan needs calibration, I thought to myself.   Then reality hit me – I wasn’t 50 four years ago.

Reality 4:  Age affects your swing.  Other life factors such as fitness and injury can have similar consequences.

Club Champion Iron Shafts

Fitting Part C

To increase my swing speed, Rob started swapping out shafts.  This is where a good fitter blends art and science.  There’s no need to try every shaft and scientifically prove which one is best.  Trust the professional, he or she has ample experience and product knowledge to zero in on the right shaft type rather quickly.  Within a few trials, my smash factor had moved back up to a respectable 1.38, satisfying Rob and myself.

Club Champion Iron Heads

Fitting Part D

By now I was relaxed and having fun and Rob acted like a therapist.  He started swapping similar style heads and asking, “How does that feel?” all the while watching TrackMan to see which was producing the best results.  We then compared a few similar shafts.  I was amazed that I could actually feel the differences.  I assumed that as a 12 handicap, fine tuning was out of my league.

Reality 5:  The differences in heads and shafts are real.  With every golfer’s swing being different, finding what is best for you is imperative.

Club Champion Orlando Santa

Conclusion

Waiting for your new clubs is excruciating.  I felt like a five year old on Christmas morning when they arrived.  Rob told me expect to take a few rounds to get used them, and he was spot on.  Now they feel awesome and the results are fantastic.  My distance is back and the consistency is better than ever.  I had my best score of the year this week.  If your game isn’t quite clicking, equipment is old, or you’ve crossed some life milestones, embrace reality and get to a fitter for a check-up.

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Matt Meeker

Matt lives in sunny Orlando with his wife who allows his golf obsession to stretch the limits of normalcy. He's also a proud coach with The First Tee of Central Florida who loves teaching kids about golf and life skills.

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8 Comments

  1. I am experiencing the very same thing. Now just waiting to set new personal record.

  2. Great Article Matt! Did you end up changing Club Manufacturers? Shaft Flex?

    • Matt Meeker

      Mark,

      I did change club maker in the end, but the newer model of my old brand was one of three that all performed well for me. Shaft flex did not change in theory, just the weight. Flex designations between manufacturers is always a bit subjective. A wise club fitter once told me to ignore what might be printed on a shaft.

      Glad you enjoyed the read.

      Matt M

  3. Good article Mat, I am now in my early seventies and have just been fitted with graphite shafts in my new Ping Gs and the difference in accuracy is great but the distance is still disappointing because in my head I am still a young 6 handicapper rather than a 16 handicap hacker. We all have to learn to live with what we have.

  4. Doug Jamieson

    Good advice. I am 73, and am still hitting the ball about the same distance as I did 30 years ago, often driving the ball past some of my much younger buddies. I believe there are 3 main reasons — 1. I update my clubs on a 3-4 year cycle, and had my new Pings fitted at the Ping fitting center to ensure that the lie and loft angles and shaft flex were optimized. 2. I do stretching exercises daily to maintain flexibility. I believe loss of flexibility greatly affects distance. 3. I take a lesson every once in a while with a teaching pro, and work on technique at the range or practice green at least once/week. These three things have made me a better golfer with a lower handicap than when I was 40.

    • Matt Meeker

      That is awesome Doug. Those are three things all golfers should follow.

      Thanks for sharing.

      Matt M

  5. Great article. The problem i have with this advice is you need to have a great clubfitter near your area. In canada, at least, in montreal, there is golftown and they primarly want to sell equipment. Do you have any recommendation for club fitter?

    • Matt Meeker

      Any kind of fitting session is better than buying straight off the rack. True, golf retail stores are in business to sell equipment, but most should have someone who can assist. I looked up Golf Town and they are like most big box stores and offer custom fitting. Just take your time and find the best associate who is knowledgeable and and with a personality you get along with.

      The other option is to find a reputable club fitter where you vacation or plan a trip around the fitting location.

      Thanks for the comments.

      Matt M

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