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Club Fitting Numbers Made Simple

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DANVILLE, CA - SEPTEMBER 25: Suzann Pettersen of Sweden waves to the crowd on the 18th hole during the second round of the CVS/pharmacy LPGA Challenge at Blackhawk Country Club on September 25, 2009 in Danville, California. (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)  - 


While many golfers are under the impression club fitting is only for tour pros, it’s actually just as suited to higher handicappers. Generally, the average player doesn't realize it's just as important to have their equipment fit to their game as it is for the pros, because having the correct fit is the easiest and best way to improve.

When visiting a certified clubfitter, expect to answer a number of questions, such as:

•What are the best and worst parts of your game?

•Are you taking lessons?

•What changes are you looking to make?

•What is your most common miss?

•What are your favorite/least favorite clubs?

Hot Stix GolfThe next step will involve some measurements on your current clubs, including length, loft, lie, shaft frequency and swing weight. This is done so that when the fitting is complete, you can compare what you have to what you need. It also helps the fitter understand what you’ve been playing, and how that may affect your swing.

A club fitter will use a launch monitor to analyze how the golf club is impacting ball flight. The fitter will interpret multiple data points that include clubhead speed, ball speed, spin rates and angle of attack.

Among the most important measurements is the golf ball’s angle of descent. This is determined by measuring launch angle (angle of ascent of the golf ball immediately after impact) and spin rates (speed at which the ball spins, measured in revolutions per minute). The perfect combination of launch angle and spin will lead to an ideal angle of descent and greater total distance.

To visualize this, imagine you’re using a hose to shoot water as far as possible. Aim too high and you’ll lose distance because the water will fall steeply. Adjust too low and it will fall short because of a shallow arc.

An optimum angle of descent for the driver will be between 35 to 40 degrees for players with a driver swing speed between 85 and 110 mph. This signifies the maximum carry distance and roll potential. The optimum angle will be less for players with slower swing speeds and higher for those with greater speeds.

Another important piece of swing data is 'smash factor' or PTI (power transfer index), which is the ratio between ball speed and club head speed. With a driver, players are trying to reach a maximum smash factor of 1.5. This means that if a player’s swing speed is 100 mph, ball speed will be 150 mph. Players not approaching the 1.5 ratio aren’t making proper contact. The reason for this could be equipment related.

Club fitters should have a large selection of equipment on hand from a range of manufacturers. During the fitting, expect to experiment with various club head, shaft and grip combinations until an ideal match is found.

Ultimately, club fitting is fun, easy, will help you play better and save you money in the long run.