The One Thing You Must Get Right
If you only had control over one component in your entire golf bag, what would you pick? Which is the most important single piece to get right? In this lesson, I reveal the answer to that question, and explain why it’s critical that you get this one piece of equipment fit to your swing.
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This Lesson Is For You If:
You want to get maximum ROI on your next club purchase or fitting
Third Place: Putter Head
Putting is a big part of your score, and it all relies on one club. And while the putter shaft has gotten more attention in the last couple years, it pales in comparison to the importance of the putter head. The putter head (which includes the neck and hosel) determines the toe hang, drives swing weight, and, of course, has a look which can help or hurt your putting.
The reason that the putter head doesn’t rank higher is that there’s a practical limit to how badly you can putt. Even with a putter that had the wrong weight, wrong toe hang, and a look you despised, you could get the ball in the hole eventually. You’d never putt it off the green or incur penalty strokes because you have the wrong putter.
Additionally, putting’s impact on your score is dependent on the other parts of your game. If you miss a lot of greens and chip well, there aren’t going to be a lot of opportunities to save strokes with putting. Similarly, if you hit a bunch of approach shots to thirty feet, you’re going to two-putt almost all of them no matter how good a putter you are.
Finally, switching to the best putter can help your putting…for a while. But ultimately your putting will regress toward the mean because there’s a practical limit on how well you can putt, too. So while it’s extremely important, the putter head is not the most important component.
Second Place: Driver Head
The driver is more important than the putter. If you don’t understand this yet, please go read Every Shot Counts or Lowest Score Wins and come back when you’re done. There is a much greater gap between the best and worst driving than the best and worst putting. The advantage you can gain (or hole you can dig) off the tee is unsurpassed by any other shot. So the driver is the king club, but the head is only second most important.
What makes the driver head so important? First, it can unlock huge distance gains. Getting into the right launch and spin ranges is a big part of optimizing your distance. Especially for high speed players, the right combination of launch and spin can add 20 yards or more.
Additionally, modern drivers can do a lot to improve dispersion. For a slicer, getting into a draw biased driver can keep them out of the trees and lakes. Players that use the entire face can find help in drivers with huge MOI.
Now, why isn’t the head number one? First, every modern driver head is really good, objectively speaking. Yes, some are better, but we’re talking about the difference between Olympic sprinters. One is the fastest, but they’re all really fast. Similarly, while there are differences in forgiveness, any modern head is world’s better than what golfers used a decade ago.
The second reason why the head isn’t number one is that it’s consistent. If I gave a draw-biased head to a player who hooks it, they would be unhappy, but they could figure it out. They’d learn to make a cut swing and maybe hit it off the heel. But at least the problem would be the same every time.
Finally, almost every modern driver head is adjustable. I haven’t reviewed a driver this year that doesn’t have an adjustable hosel. At least half offer some kind of weight adjustments. These can be used to make an imperfect fit much better for any given player.
The Winner: Driver Shaft
While I stop well short of joining the, “The shaft is the only thing that matters” clan, I do believe it’s the most important component in your golf bag. The driver is the most important club, and the shaft is the engine. Without one that you can rely on, you’re going nowhere.
One reason why the shaft trumps the head is that there’s more variety in driver shafts. Starting with weight, you can play a shaft that’s under 40 grams or over 80 grams. Next there are flexes – everything from senior or ladies to Tour X. Finally, you get into the worlds of torque and bend profile. Because of these factors, two shafts with the same weight and flex can feel nothing alike.
Next, many people will point to the impact of the shaft on launch and spin. This is undeniable. If you want to get your numbers into the optimal ranges, you need the right shaft.
While dialing in numbers is important, it’s nothing compared to the shaft’s ability to improve your quality of contact. If you’re regularly hitting the sweet spot, you’re going to be both longer and straighter off the tee. You’ll have fewer of those tops, dropkicks, or snap hooks that lead to automatic bogey or worse.
Finally, the single biggest reason why the shaft is #1 on this list is consistency. With a well-fit shaft, you’ll know what you’re going to get off the tee. You’ll be able to feel the club head during the swing. With a bad fit, neither of those things is true. The only consistency is that you’ll be consistently uncomfortable. Whether it’s too light, heavy, stiff, or soft, the wrong shaft will make you miserable on the tee.
For all these reasons, it’s critically important for you to get fit for the right driver shaft if you want to play to your potential. And for those that aren’t score-obsessed, know that your tee shots are the biggest determinant of your enjoyment. I’ve never seen a golfer who’s happy to be searching in the trees for their golf ball.