THE GOLF CLUB HOSPITAL COMPANY                                                 

 

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 THE DOCTOR IS IN   by Stan Steuter                       

 COMMON SENSE GOLF CLUB FITTING: WHAT REALLY MATTERS               

January 2008

  Are you confused about the significance of the many terms and measurements thrown 

at you by the golf club manufacturers and salespeople? Join the club! We finally begin to

grasp a rudimentary understanding of "shaft spining" and suddenly "COR" becomes critical.

No sooner does that term become part of our lexicon when "MOI" makes an appearance.  

Each of these effects can be measured by sophisticated scientific equipment, but I contend 

a well-struck ball is more of an art than a science.

            

   Today, many people believe a computer analysis spit out by a launch monitor will give them the 

 best possible fit. As a golf club repairman and custom fitter, I have had to make a conscious

 business decision between using high tech equipment (launch monitors) or relying on basic fitting

 aids, customer feedback and extensive experience. The computer approach appeals to today's

 reliance on technology as a cure for all our ills. Being fitted on a launch monitor is fun, interesting and

 often convinces us that we now have the perfect club. It also adds a lot of expense and results in a

 large percentage of of disenchanted buyers who hit the ball no better or even worse than with their

 previous clubs. All these numbers offered up by the computer are open to many interpretations

 and are subject to the salesman's personal agenda.  

    Don't get me wrong! Fitting of golf clubs is very important. After 34 years of full time experience

 in this business, I am positively certain the following measurements are critical to a good fit.

 In descending order of importance:

 1. SHAFT FLEX as determined by club head speed and tempo

 2. SHAFT LENGTH

 3. WEIGHT of overall club and the shaft in particular

 4. LOFT of driving club

 5. LIE of irons

 6. GRIP SIZE

 7. TORQUE of graphite shafts

 8. OFFSET features

 9. VOLUME of heads

10. APPEARANCE of club at address  

   Other variables such as MOI (moment of inertia), COR (coefficient of restitution), and "spining"

 (the most stable orientation of a shaft) are all factors though while measurable, are not significant to

 our everyday results. Anyone with a background in the sciences or engineering will tell you that not

 everything we can measure is "significant." For example, do you honestly believe that 1/8" in shaft

 length, 1/4 of a swingweight or 1/4 in iron lie, each of which can be measured, are significant? 

 Of course not!  The reason is our human inconsistencies intervene long before those small

 differences impact the result. On one occasion the first measurement might work slightly better and

 the next time the second measurement would serve one better.

   The following chart is a common sense attempt to quantify these measurements:

 CHARACTERISTIC BEING MEASURED       LEVEL OF SIGNIFICANCE (plus or minus)

                   Shaft frequency                                                        4 cpm

                   Shaft length                                                               1/4"

                   Torque of graphite shaft                                           .5

                   Loft of driver                                                              .5

                   Grip size                                                                    1/64"

                   Lie of irons                                                                 .5

                   Swingweight                                                              1 point

 These plus/minus ranges pertain to the very good players and could probably be doubled

 for bogey+ golfers.

          

   In summary, golf fitting today, as it was fifty years ago, is more of an art than a science.  What else

 would explain all the frustrated clients coming into our shop after being fit by "Tour Van" technicians,

 Launch Monitor operators, or nationally acclaimed fitting experts in white lab coats? Success for the

 golf professional as well as the weekend warrior will always be the result of a good golf swing

 and the appropriate equipment. Next time you are measured for clubs have an experienced fitter 

 address the significant categories detailed here. Then take lessons and practice, practice, practice.

 DO YOU WANT TO HIT LONG, OR STRAIGHT?

May 2005

   In a never ending search for a better golf game, customers show up in droves this time of year

 seeking a better shaft. This Holy Grail quest, while not limited to driver shafts, is most often focused

Sandy.JPG (64047 bytes)there. The principles we will explore this month apply to all

the clubs, but we'll examine specifically how they pertain to

the big stick: the driver.

The golfer looking to upgrade their driver shaft should

 first  determine what their priorities are. My first question to them invariably is: "Are you looking to hit

 it farther or straighter?" Their response is predictable: "both." Unfortunately, the cruel reality is these

 two goals are often mutually exclusive (unless the golfer was very poorly fit with the existing shaft).

    HIT IT LONG: Distance=Mass x Velocity Squared is a time-tested scientific principle which also

 applies to golf. To increase distance of your shots, you must either increase the mass (weight) of

 the  club or increase the velocity (club head speed) of your swing. Many golfers mistakenly believe

 they're addressing the increased mass issue when they get a larger volume titanium head. In truth,

 today's larger titanium heads weigh virtually the same as the old wooden ones, approximately 198

 grams. Furthermore, increasing the static weight of the club has proven to be counterproductive

 because it decreases club head speed. The only effective way to increase the distance of your shots

 is to increase that speed with a longer and lighter shaft. The downside of this combination is an

 almost inevitable loss of control.

    HIT IT STRAIGHT: Physics dictate that the further from the hands the ball is, the more likely a

 strike OB-1.JPG (146040 bytes)will miss the center of the clubface. A shot struck just 1/2" off the sweet spot will negatively

impact not only the direction but also the distance achieved. 

If your goal is to stay in the fairway as much as possible, then

reduce the shaft length and increase the shaft weight of your

driver. It is ironic that the pros, who are the best ball strikers in

the game, tend to use drivers a full inch shorter than the

 average golfer. 

  Just for fun, pull out that old persimmon or laminated maple 43" steel-shafted driver you've put

away and see if your ball doesn't stay in the fairway more often.

    POINT OF DIMINISHING RETURNS: Golfers need to experiment with shaft length and weight in 

 order to determine what what is best for their tempo and ability. That 46 inch, 52 gram graphite shaft

 may yield excellent distance and adequate control for a well-tempoed disciplined player. However,

 most will need to find a shorter length shaft to keep them on those tight fairways, even if it means

 sacrificing those extra 15 yards from the occasional perfect strike. Decide what your game will

 tolerate: 40% of fairways hit and 15 extra yards, or 80% of fairways hit and 15 less yards.

    THE SOLUTION: Golf retailers will love the answer to this dilemma: serious players as well as

  weekend warriors should have two drivers. A shorter (i.e., 43 1/2"), possibly steel shafted club to be

  used on narrow fairways, when money is on the line, or when you are not at the peak of your game.

  Plus a longer 45" or 46" graphite shafted driver to pull out for those courses with wide open

  fairways, when you're in scramble tournaments, or when you are playing extremely well.

    Remember,  just because you have terrific success with that new driver today does not

  guarantee that it will be successful for long. Give yourself an option for those slumps that everyone

  goes through.

 DO YOU NEED (OR JUST WANT) A LARGER GRIP?

 April 2005

    While regripping is a common repair at any time of year, it always peaks in the spring. Many

 golfers will show up over the next few months requesting new grips and, often times, will believe they

 need a larger size. Some have tried their buddy's clubs with the bigger grips and enjoyed the

 comfortable GripSize1a.JPG (43273 bytes)feel. Other times they want to 'demonstrate' to me their need for a larger grip. They

hold the club head up with the shaft perpendicular to the ground while squeezing

their fingers into the palm, as shown at left. The problem with this method is that a

golfer rarely has to hit a shot from a lie 3 feet over their head! 

 I have a relatively small hand and yet can easily dig my fingers into my palm when

 held in this manner,

 even using this oversized GripSize1b.JPG (47440 bytes)grip. In the actual playing position, seen at left, our hands at address are

naturally elongated down the (proper size) grip, and we are hopefully holding it 

only lightly.

Too-large a grip poses many problems for a good golf swing. It makes it difficult

 for the hands to release, thereby encouraging a block or push. To compensate,

 the  golfer has to alter their stance, or hand positioning, or tries to muscle the shot to keep it

 straight.

   I have always been struck by this observation: better golfers usually use standard or even 

  undersize grips while the higher handicappers tend to think they want oversize grips.

GripsStan.JPG (102167 bytes)The disclaimer: There certainly are golfers who genuinely need larger

grips. If one truly has large hands or has a physical issue (i. e., arthritis, bad

fingers), then a larger grip is in order. Be aware that most regrippers are

installing .580 core grips on .600 butt diameter shafts, which results in a size

already 1/64" over standard.

    To summarize, always remember that the large comfortable grip is often not the correct choice.

  Good luck and let's all get a 'good grip' on the new season.

 Which hybrid is right for me?

    One of the few innovations in golf equipment in recent years that has real merit is the

 "hybrid" golf club. Hybrids KZG Hybrids.jpg (17882 bytes)combine features of both woods (cambered sole, larger head, roll and

bulge) and irons (heavier weight and shorter shaft). A hybrid tends to be easier to

hit than the testy long iron, usually the nemesis for all but the strongest, most

precise player.

    Hybrids generally are separated into two basic styles. A wood hybrid has a slightly lighter gram

  weight, more pronounced sole camber, face roll and bulge, and is fit with a .335 or .350 tip shaft. 

 They are usually played at a slightly longer length than their iron counterpart. The iron hybrid tends to

  have a heavier gram weight, little or no roll and bulge, and a .370 shaft played 1/2" to 1" shorter

  than its wood counterpart. Either design can be very effective, and the style may influence which

  one you prefer.

   The most important criteria in choosing a hybrid is to find one that fits a specific gap in your set.

  If KZG Hybrid3.jpg (12146 bytes)you are replacing a #3 iron, then get one that will give you the same yardage.

This is where you may need the help of a knowledgeable golf professional 

(Golf Club Hospital) or take advantage of the opportunity to field test your

 options. The shaft type, flex, length and grip must be appropriate to your abilities.

   The number stamped on the club can be very misleading. A #3 hybrid club will

 almost always hit the ball further than a #3 iron because it has a longer shaft and probably a 

 stronger loft.  The loft of the club and the length of the shaft will determine its distance. Also, graphite

 shafts may give you several more yards of distance but at the expense of accuracy.

    So go ahead and jump on the bandwagon. Get rid of those pesky long irons and stop by the

 shop for a custom fitting. 

 What is your opinion of spining or PUREing a golf shaft?

   This falls under the category of: "If you think it helps you, it will." The principle is sound,

 but whether it is practical for most golfers is a different story. Spining is another entry in the long line

 of "new" innovations in the golf industry that aren't really new at all, such as bore-thru heads, shaft

 butt-weighting, freezing, shock absorbing, and magical pendants. The TrueTemper Company

  espoused spining in the 1970's with very limited success, and there is a good reason why.

   No two golf shafts are identical nor perfectly round, and there is usually an almost imperceptible 

 seam or spine resulting after manufacture. A metal shaft is welded along its axis, but the resulting

 torque is so low on a metal shaft that any resulting spine effect is practically inconsequential. A

 graphite shaft is produced by the wrapping of several layers, or plies, all beginning and ending at

 different points to form the body of the shaft, leaving several seams present. Shaft manufacturers

 have made great strides towards perfecting consistency and have nearly eliminated any weak or

 strong sides of the graphite shaft, effectively negating the need for spining.

   The basis of spining or PUREing is finding the neutral plane of the golf shaft so any unnecessary

QuarterInch1.JPG (79275 bytes)deflection is minimized. Spining is the generic catchall term for this

process: from simply clamping a shaft in a vise to see where it

wobbles, to PUREing, which employs specific trademarked

proprietary software and equipment.

   Always keep in mind companies that tout spining or PUREing have an expensive apparatus

 to pay for, and they'll insist you must have it done to achieve maximum performance of

  your equipment. The reality is different companies will proffer different test results, all

 proclaiming theirs to be correct. If you examine their findings you'll see they can't even agree where

 the shaft should be aligned in the club head. 12:00? 3:00? 9:00? In fact, using the most popular

 shafts available, we doubt any of these companies would be confident to challenge a player to a

 $100 payoff if they could positively tell whether their shaft has been spined or not.

   A shaft that has been spined or PUREd won't fix a slice or a hook. Ever wonder why

  tour players,  who have all the latest "can't miss" procedures applied to their equipment, still miss

  fairways? Even with a perfect shaft, as incredibly expensive as it would be, the weakest factor will

always be the golfers themselves. Club fitting on humans can never be as precise

as machines can dictate. Only parameters are possible because your swing

speed and tempo today will be different tomorrow, next week, and next month.  

    Our rule-of-thumb at the shop is: a high quality, low torque shaft needs no orientation during the

 shafting process. Just remember to keep your spine straight, and then confidently strike the ball. 

  What does it mean to "soft step" or "hard step" a set of irons?

   Stepping shafts is a method of reshafting that focuses on a flex between the specific

 designations, say, between a regular and a stiff flex. "Hard stepping" would make a shaft stiffer, 

"soft stepping," more flexible. The effective change in flex between immediate lofts from stepping is

 1/3, or 5 cycles per  minute, a practically negligible change in performance for most golfers.

   Because each shaft length is different throughout a set, head weights and flex patterns must

 vary AdamsShafts.JPG (90870 bytes)to achieve constant overall club weight and uniform performance. Imagine a 1

iron length shaft with a 9 iron head, it would be way too heavy and flexible.

Conversely, a 9 iron length shaft with a 1 iron head would be too light and stiff.

Assuming original shaft flexes are equal, a 5 iron shaft installed in a 6 iron

head would be soft stepped, made more flexible by a 1/3. A 6 iron shaft

 installed in a 5 iron head would be hard stepped, made stiffer by a 1/3.

   If stepping from already-installed shafts, the resulting reshafts must then be shortened

 or extended proper length, and keep in mind there will be one 'odd man out' head in need of a

 new shaft. When step reshafting using raw shafts, simply cut each shaft to proper length, as per

 the usual finishing procedure. Stepping can be done with parallel, taper-tipped or stepless shafts.

 How can I find out if an old set of clubs has any value?

   We see a lot of dusty relics from the 1930's and 40's, and there are more of them out there

 than you would think. A common belief is because the clubs are old, then they must have value. Like

 all collectibles, a golf club is only worth what one is willing to pay, and more often than not the cost of

 refinishing will exceed its value.  

    "Old" is a relative term, of course. Using wooden shafted clubs as antique criteria, the rarest and

Spalding1.JPG (69742 bytes)most sought-after clubs are from the 18th and 19th centuries, made

in England or Scotland. Early 20th century clubs made in America

signaled our golf boom. However, any mass-produced club in good

condition, while not rare, will look nice mounted on the wall of

 somebody's den or office. 

 Most golfers like to play the new stuff and admire the vintage equipment.

   Here's a general guideline to use for both steel and hickory shafted clubs:

 Look for original condition clubs that are clean and well-cared for. Specialty clubs like putters and

 wedges are always desirable. Full sets, including woods, irons and the canvas bag are very unique.

 Look for classic drivers and fairway woods that were made without face inserts, using elaborate

 cross-hatching instead.

    Unfortunately, many older clubs were stored in the garage or basement, where moisture and

 temperature fluctuations distressed them. Metal heads and shafts should be free of rusting and

 pitting.  Wooden shafts straight, with no warping. Wooden heads shouldn't have cracks and loose or

 missing inserts or soleplates. Are leather grips still tightly bound, with the whipping string

 intact? Shaft bands were so easily scuffed that finding them intact is unusual.

   Be realistic. If you think you have something truly valuable, try a Web search. The professional

 collectors are always excited to see what you have.

 As a dealer, can you explain the benefits of the KZG line?

   KZ Golf has found a niche with the custom pro line, a hallmark of component golf club heads.

  KZG Forging.jpg (24395 bytes)From the casual golfer to the accomplished player, there is a KZG model made to suit your game.

All of the KZG forged iron manufacturing processes: forging, grinding, plating and

polishing are done solely in Japan, where the highest quality and attention to

detail are the industry standard. 

Essentially, all the finished forged and cast heads come directly to us, where

 we'll fit you with the appropriate shaft and install it professionally. Your savings are

 substantial because you've avoided the middleman (think: retailer). You'll be the owner of beautiful

  custom made clubs that  rival any in the golf business, and a great deal to boot.

 Is it the arrow or the Indian?

    Most likely the arrow.Tom King 2.JPG (125121 bytes) If it was the Indian, Tiger could compete using a motley assortment of

rental clubs, right? Practically speaking, if your handicap is 20 or better, then using

properly fitted equipment is vital to your performance. Above a 20, then the rental

clubs are "same difference."

 

 

             

                                                                          StanSteuter2008 All Rights Reserved