We are fortunate to call ourselves golfers in this incredible era of technology and innovation. There are so many amazing golf clubs on the market today hoping to earn your business in exchange for lower scores and more fun on the links. Sadly, to their unique golf swings. While few of us may ever have the time, energy, or dedication to train like an NFL player, there is no reason we cannot utilize the competitive advantage that the very best in our sport live and breathe by: club fitting.
Have you been noticing your buddies start to sneak drives past you, or maybe your old faithful irons are no longer finding greens the way they used to? A lot of golfers will head to the range, digging frustration out of the dirt, walking away with sore hands and no answers. Instead; why not invest those hours of range time into finding the perfect set of golf clubs for your golf game? There are technologies available to you, whether it is a shaft built for a swing just like yours or a clubhead that tames that slice, that can help you shoot lower scores. If you decide to do something to remedy what ails your golf game, here is a quick guide to why a club fitting can help you.
Do you know what the smash factor is on your driver? Six iron? Smash factor is a calculation of a golf club’s efficiency. It is calculated by dividing the ball speed by the clubhead speed. To give you an example; if you swing your driver at 100 MPH and the ball leaves the face at 148 MPH, your smash factor is 1.48, which is equivalent to the PGA Tour driver average. Remember that smash factor is a ratio specific to your clubhead speed. You can hit the ball as efficiently as Jason Day or Dustin Johnson, despite not having the same clubhead speed. The best club for you is one that allows you the ability to swing within yourself with greater efficiency. Less work, more fun.
Now that we know about smash factor, how about the launch angle? Proper launch angle depends on the club as well as the ball speed. A fast ball going straight up does you no good, so obtaining ideal launch conditions is crucial. The slower a ball is traveling, the higher the launch angle required to achieve maximum carry. Consider how a ball flies off a driver, versus a sand wedge. A ball launching like a sand wedge off a driver would not be very effective!
Eric Hambleton is the General Manager of Club Champion in Bellevue, WA. Recognized by his peers as an expert in club fitting, Eric is a three time Mizuno Top 100 club fitter and inaugural member of the National Equipment Committee for GolfTEC.
Once you have a faster ball that is launching correctly, the last piece of the ballistic puzzle is spin rate. Optimal spin rate is determined by the ball’s speed and launch angle. Not enough spin, and a ball will tumble to the ground too quickly. Too much spin, and a ball will “balloon” and lose distance. Ever hit a drive that looks gorgeous off the face, only to find it plugged in the fairway much shorter than anticipated? Excessive spin is the likely culprit. Hit a beautiful 5 iron that was tracking the flag, only to bounce off the green and into trouble? That ball wasn’t spinning enough. By optimizing your spin rate, you can not only hit the golf ball farther but, in the case of irons, create better scoring opportunities.
Armed with this knowledge, the final key to playing better golf through better fitted equipment is lie angle. The correct lie angle transmits the most available energy into the ball. A lie angle that is too flat will dig in the toe, sending the ball right. Too upright, the heel will dig and send the ball left. If you are frustrated with a club in your arsenal, Golf Digest has a full list of the Top 100 Fitters broken down by state. Give one of these experts a call and see how a better fit can improve your scores.