|The most important factor in choosing the right golf clubs is what's right for YOU, not what's popular on tour. (Brandon Tucker/WorldGolf.com)|
This time of year I receive lots of questions from people wanting to invest in a new set of golf clubs. A major factor in being able to perform to the best of your ability at the game of golf is to have the right equipment. By this I don't mean having the most popular brand on tour, or the equipment that is advertised the most. I mean having equipment that is fit for you and no one else.
I see so many of my students struggle due to having poor equipment, but how would they know? People trust others who sell sporting equipment - whether it be skis or golf clubs.
Keep in mind that a woman 5-4 would not wear the same size clothes as a woman who is 5-9. Therefore, these women should not be fit with the same length and weight of golf clubs either! Yet sadly, I see this all the time.
I'm going to discuss the major fitting variables of selecting a club that's right for you, so you know what to look and listen for when making a purchase this season.
There are several options you should investigate before making a purchase. First, sometimes a "stock" club (off the shelf) can fit without having to make major alterations.
Second, a golf professional can order custom clubs from a manufacturer for you after fitting you properly.
Third, some professionals can assemble component parts to make a set for you. Fourth, there are many people around who make custom clubs from scratch. Any of these options may serve you, but make sure you are fitted properly!
There are many variables that I take into account when fitting someone for clubs. I would like to share them with you.
Lie angle is the angle created between the shaft and the sole of the clubhead. This has a major effect on the direction of the shot and where the ball will strike on the clubface. If the angle is too flat (toe down), the ball will fly to the right. If the angle is too upright(toe up), the ball will fly to the left. Compensations for this are made by creating the correct lie angle for the students swing so that the ball strikes in the middle of the clubface.
Shaft flex is the measurement of a shaft's ability to bend. The purpose is to bring the clubhead so it faces the target squarely at impact. If the shaft is too flexible, the ball will fly high and left or right of the target. If the shaft is too stiff, the ball will fly low and right of the target. If the shaft is correct for you, the ball will have an average trajectory and will fly straight. The shaft flex must match the student's swing.
Loft is the amount of angle designed into a clubhead to produce the most effective ball trajectory. Too much loft and the ball flies too high, or too little loft and the ball flies too low. Both of which can result in the loss of distance. Corrections are made to find the club with enough loft to provide a mid-trajectory flight without making swing compensations.
Shaft length is the measurement form the edge of the grip cap to the heel of the club. This influences set-up position and swing plane angle. A shaft which is too long for the student creates an upright posture, making the swing plane flat. A shaft length which is too short for the student creates a curved posture-making the swing plane upright. Both of these create trajectory and distance problems. It is imperative to have proper shaft length!
Grip size is the measurement of the diameter of the grip. Too large or too small a grip will create swing problems. A good fit should have your fingers barely touching the palm of your hand when set on the grip.
Any set of golf clubs you purchase should have a consistent progression of clubs and should be based on your ability, swing speed and usage patterns. I advise beginners to start with a "starter" set comprised ideally of a 4,6,8,PW for irons and a 3 and 5 wood. This enables you to be introduced to the game without feeling overwhelmed by a full set.
Most professionals who are trained in clubfitting will follow the above variables to fit their students properly.
Beware of discount store sales and people who don't know how to fit clubs, just how to sell them. Keeping these items in mind, I hope you are successful in selecting the proper equipment that enhances your game. New equipment should not be a struggle, it should feel right the first time you play.
Golf Tip Of The Month:
Often ball position is to blame for errors in ball flight-here's what to look for: If you are hitting fat shots consistently, the ball may be too forward in your stance forcing you to hit the ground before the ball. Similarly, if you are hitting the ball consistently thin this also could be caused by the ball too forward in your stance. The club has already reached its low point and is traveling up into the ball. The bottom of the club contacts the middle portion of the golf ball. Solution is to make sure your set-up is correct for the length of club you are using!
LPGA Professional Kelly Kleckner teaches at Cherokee Ridge Golf Course in Colorado Springs, Colo. She played collegiate golf for Colorado State University, and is the founder and director of the LPGA Girls Golf Club for the area. She coaches and teaches private and semi-private lessons all year. For more information call 719-576-9176.