The “Feel Factor” in Club Fitting

While we pride ourselves on having The best technology for custom fitting golfers, at the end of the day if a club does not feel good you will not have the confidence to make a good repeatable swing.  That being said, not all golfers have a heightened sense of feel.  In our club fitting interview, less than 20% of our golfers think that they are “feel” players.  So what are the major factors in the “feel” of a golf club?

Static Weight (Overall Weight of the Club)

The lightest club in your bag is your driver and the heaviest club is your sand or lob wedge. Driver heads weigh about 200 grams, shafts are usually 60 grams and a standard grip is 50 grams.  This makes the total weight of a men’s driver around 310 grams.  The only way to change this is by using a lighter/heavier shaft and a lighter/ heavier grip.  Ladies golf clubs are usually lighter because they have lighter shafts and, in some cases, lighter heads.  As club builders we have to be very careful when changing any of these factors as it can completely change the performance of the golf club.  For example, changing to a heavier grip, such as an oversize or jumbo grip from a men’s standard can make the club feel heavier but the balance point or swing weight will get lighter because more of the weight is in your hands.  In general, golfers with smooth tempos, slow transition from backswing to forward swing will like lighter shafts.  Golfers with a fast tempo and quick transition will like the feel of heavier clubs.  Golf equipment manufacturers have really jumped on the light weight band wagon in search of more distance for their customers.  The problem is that a club that is TOO light for your natural swing can cause erratic shots and poor contact.  Our fitting system is sophisticated enough to make initial club weight recommendations based upon the golfers swing attributes and physical makeup.  But, at the end of the day, the golfer will tell us if a club feels too heavy or too light.

Swing Weight (Balance From Head to Grip)

If you have played tennis or baseball, you will know the difference between a head-heavy feeling racquet and a head-light racquet.  A club that feels too heavy in the head can cause a golfer to cast or throw the club too early in their swing trying to get the club around.  A club that has too light of swing weight will give the golfer the sensation that they do not know where the club head is during the swing.  The biggest dynamic in changing the balance point or swing weight of a golf club is the length of the club. If you think your club is too long and you cut it down 1″, you will lose 6 swing weight points, which could be enough to make you lose control.  Same with adding length.  You move the head farther from your hands and it will automatically feel heavier.  Most golfers can tell the difference in clubs with 3 swing weights difference, but only the very sensitive golfers can feel one swing weight difference.

Shaft Flex and Tip Stiffness

Accuracy, distance and consistency in golf shots is accomplished by accurately matching the shaft butt stiffness (flex), tip stiffness, weight, swing weight and length to each golfers individual swing.  We know after testing over 10,000 golfers that shot dispersion (accuracy) is much worse if a golfer is playing shafts that are as little as a third of a flex off from their optimum.  That is why we precisely fit and build our custom clubs to exact specs which are to a tenth of a flex and exact swing weight.  We do, however, take into consideration how a club feels to the golfer and make slight adjustments to help improve the feel of the club.  A shaft that is too stiff in the butt section will feel “boardy” or harsh.  A shaft that is too soft in the butt section will feel “loose” or whippy.  A shaft that is too stiff in the tip section can also feel harsh or like there is no “give” or response at impact.  A shaft that is too soft in the tip section will feel “mushy” at impact.  We try to accommodate each golfers feel issues as long as it does not adversely impact distance, accuracy and consistency of ball striking.

So What Does This All Mean?

Without making major compensations to distance, accuracy and consistency, we make modifications to our equipment recommendations to make the feel of the golf clubs very comfortable.  Even the grip selection is important since the grip is your contact point with the golf club.  Golf is such a game of confidence that we want our golfers to feel comfortable AND confident with every club in their bag.  The result?  Better scores and more fun!