I have received several emails from new AGCP members about how to set up their fitting system. I took some pictures with my phone today to help illustrate what I do. Some of the pictures didn’t turn out but I think I have enough to help you get the idea for what I do.
Note please that this is my fitting system and this is how I do it. This is by no means the only way to do this. If you want to know how others do it and get more ideas post questions on the AGCP list.
First picture shows most of my driver heads on Conex Connectors along with a portion of my iron fitting shafts. My iron fitting shafts are all cut to standard 5 iron trim at 38 inches playing length for testing. These shafts are for finding the best shaft for my golfer. I can test for flex and weight at 38 inches. Once I find the best shaft I can use that shaft to test different heads for improved performance.
Next is my set of length fitting shafts, seen on the right in the picture below. These are steel shafts from 36 inches to 40 inches in 1/2 inch increments. These are not needed for the vast majority of golfers I fit but come in very handy when I do need them.
Below is a view of my iron heads. All are 5 iron heads and have been cut to 1.75 inch BBG and weighted at 250 grams. 3 or 4 grams less than standard 5 iron weight. They are light because 3 or 4 grams is about the maximum I can drill a head if I need a lighter head even when ordering and asking for the lightest heads available from my supplier. About 4 inches of standard lead tape around the hosel brings them up to standard weight (about 2 swing weights) so it is easy enough to get them heavier. Lead tape around the hosel because that is where your tip weight, or your hosel weight or power and cork will be when you build the set. This allow testing for correct swing weight or MOI very simple and you can build the clubs to match very easily.
Below is a bank of driver testing shafts. All are the same length and depending on the head the finished test club will be about 44.25 to 44.5 inches long or about the length of the average tour driver. They are also shorter to compensate for the weight of the Conex connector. Even with melting the rat glue and emptying the heads they are still a bit heavy for testing with heavier steel shafts but it works fine for graphite shafts.
It took me years to put all of this together but I have almost all the head designs in all the lofts for drivers and 5 irons from the companies I want to sell. That is Alpha, Wishon, Powerbilt, and Infiniti right now. I once carried 4 other brands of head and 5 or 6 other brands of shafts but since I closed my retail shop and I only do about half the fittings I once did I dropped all of the heads that over the years have never tested best.
My procedure is simple.
I ask my golfer to warm up and while he does I watch his swing and eyeball fit him during his warm up. I can tell what his swing is like when he thinks I’m not watching closely and have an idea if he needs lighter or heavier, longer or shorter, or if he just plain needs lessons. This is my silent observation to determine in what direction I need to go with his fitting. I look at his address position and posture. I watch his tempo, swing path and look at balance and smoothness. I can tell by his swing what his shot would be if we were on a range. What it starts, if it will hook or slice and the trajectory. This is helpful because he is hitting into a net in front of him.
If he is too inside I have a good idea that his overall club weight might be too heavy, if outside it might be too light. If he is a slicer I can figure his clubface might be open at impact and this indicates the head weight might be too heavy. If he is hooking the head weight might be too light. I can make corrections for this in his test club. See the link to the PDF at the end of this article.
Once he is warmed up I have the golfer hit is 5 iron first to determine if my observations during his warm up prove to be accurate, then later we will repeat this procedure with hit his driver to establish a baseline for his performance to measure against and build on with new clubs. I have him hit 5 balls with his clubs to establish a baseline to improve on with his new clubs and record them on the Flightscope.
Next I use my observations of his warm up and the data from the fist 5 shots and from my Macro recommendation on what he needs to hit better shots. I mentally select a few 5 iron heads and what shaft flex he needs first. Selections are made based on his swing data from his warm up and hitting his 5 iron and driver.
I assemble the most likely combination for his first test club based on the data and make the corrections needed for weight and flex during his warm up and hitting his club. Then I have him hit 5 shots with that test club. I have him sit with me between shots and we compare the results of his club versus the first test club. The test club usually shows a dramatic improvement but will not be perfect. I will point out how the test club changed his swing showing the results of each swing and why those changes improved his results. I explain why weight changes resulted in improved results and continue to tweak those changes as needed. Lead tape around the hosel will move the balance of the club for or against improvement.
At this point I mentally evaluate the profile of the shaft he used and try to determine if another profile might work better. I get the new test shaft and he hits 5 more balls. Again we evaluate the difference between the test club and the previous results. Through trial and error with me evaluating shafts we test until I am satisfied we have the best shaft for this golfer.
Now that I’ve found the best shaft we move on to testing other heads that I believe fit his ability to see if we can get better results With each head we hit 5 shots and evaluate. If we find a better performing head we then go back to the next best 2 or 3 shafts to see if one of those shafts will out perform the original “best shaft” for him.
While testing I will use the information on my weight and length fitting chart to add weight or subtract weight by adding to the head or using heavier or lighter shafts. My goal is to find the right total weight to get his swing path as close as possible to straight down the line. Once I have the total weight I try to alter the head weight to get the face angle perpendicular to the swing path so he hits the ball as straight as possible. Often I can get even the worst golfer to close to 3° and better golfers to 2° or less. At 3 there is a slight bend to most shots and at 2 or less it is almost a straight ball.
I do not attempt to change the golfers alignment or swing unless absolutely necessary. I see my job as a fitter first, not a teacher. If I get him to a point where he is hitting virtually straight balls but they are 10° or 15° right or left of his target I give him credit that eventually he will realize if he lines up to compensate he will hit the ball at the target.
Some may disagree with the above and insist his swing be fixed. My theory is that if he has been playing 20 or 30 years with that swing he has it pretty grooved. If I can get him hitting straight shots and hitting them 10, 20, sometimes even 30 or 40 yards farther and far more consistently than before by simply fitting his clubs, why would I even attempt to have him invest the time and money to take lessons to learn a new swing? My golfers often report a dramatic improvement in their handicap after a short time with their new clubs. That is my objective, not to have them look like Ben Hogan. If they want to take lessons and go the extra mile I will encourage them. But my first job is to fit what the bring me, not change what the bring me. Changing what the bring me is another project.
I follow the same process with drivers. But with drivers it can be a bit more complicated because there is are the added elements of spin, launch and PTR that has to considered also. They are there with the 5 iron but not as dramatic and often you are limited how much you can effect them with a 5 iron.
This is a readers digest version of how I do my fitting. As I said earlier there are other ways and others do it differently. This is my way.
Good luck, I hope this helps you find your way. The PDF guide below may be of help in testing to find the right shaft and head weight.