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MOI-MATCHED CUSTOM FIT WITH THE RIGHT SHAFT FOR YOUR SWING.

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GOLF CONDITIONING
Tuesday
Jun232015

Best Shaft for Drivers

Most golfers buy a new driver to get increased distance that will keep the ball in the fairway somewhere near where they want it to go. That's what we like too. But there is a fundamental problem with buying new drivers off-the-rack. It's the quality of the shaft. A key consideration in buying a new driver is to think of the club head and shaft independently.

Most of the stock shafts in retail drivers should be considered as place holders that need to be exchanged for an upgrade shaft either at time of purchase or aftermarket with the help of a professional clubfitter. Stock shafts are typically low cost copies of good technology produced with a main focus on keeping costs low with less attention to how they play. Aftermarket upgrade shafts will give the performance you seek.

The big OEMs know that most golfers will choose low price over better performance. And the bargain hunter in all of us wants to believe that tour quality performance can be had for discount-house prices. The reality is usually something quite different.

In our experience you can get great clubhead performance without breaking the bank account if you work with a professional club fitter or shop at a golf store where clubs are the main business. It's the shaft that requires special attention, and expertise matters when fitting a shaft to your swing.

Modern manufacturing techniques allow for a wide range of specialized materials and methods in producing shafts, and shaft engineers approach design by thinking about the whole shaft and developing stiffness profiles that can bring out the best in different swing styles. Exotic materials also can have major benefits. They combine to yield truly outstanding performance that we have seen in several new shafts to transform your playing experience.

Modern graphite shafts are vastly improved over what was available just a decade ago. Greater stability at lighter weights make it easier to swing a driver and generate increased clubhead speed. A custom fit shaft that compliments your swing style will yield performance benefits that result in lower scores and more enjoyment of the game. 

Golf should be fun. The frustration of trying to swing a driver with a poorly performing shaft is not worth a bargain price. Clubs are relatively inexpensive compared to everything else in golf, and we believe strongly that getting the best shaft for your swing in a new driver will make a very worthwhile difference in your game.

Saturday
Jun062015

Know The Gap Distance

One of the best things you can do before considering new clubs is to know the measurements and performance properties of the clubs you play currently. We often see golfers who want new clubs to improve their game, but they have not looked carefully enough at their current set to determine what is rate limiting.

A good way to start is to examine how far you hit each club in the bag using an accurate 3D launch monitor like an up-to-date FlightScope model. It's generally termed a gap analysis -- measuring the distance gap between each club in your set. It's best done with a premium golf ball like the one you play -- hitting into a net works fine and the balls you play can be used for best results.

If there is too much of a distance gap between two clubs and not enough between two other clubs then a strategy to improve the set reveals itself. If distances don't match your clubhead speed then you have more ideas. And if you're hitting to shorter distances than expected, or have a consistent miss to one direction, or have a wide shot dispersion then you can determine where you need to focus your attention first.

A good addition to the gap distance analysis is an examination of your swing mechanics. Slow motion video done correctly can be invaluable in revealing major swing traits that otherwise go unsuspected. There are key parts of the swing that deserve special scrutiny to understand your ball trajectory.

Additional analysis by 3D motion capture with K-Vest technology carries the process forward by revealing details of your movement pattern that are difficult to detect by other methods. Capturing the changes in bend angles of your hips, thoracic spine, and hands throughout the swing shows relationships to performance not otherwise detectable. You see the efficiency of your swing and how you can improve it.

Taken together -- launch monitor gap distance analysis, slow motion video analysis, and 3D motion capture analysis -- these technologies provide a foundation, a reference, for making decisions about your set of clubs. You learn the most effective way to improve your set -- whether you need new clubs or a re-shaft or small adjustments. You learn what clubs can do for your swing and the basics are where to focus your swing instruction goals.

Highly recommended for everyone who plays golf and wants more enjoyment from the game.

Saturday
May302015

Fitting Fairway Woods

Fairway woods deserve more attention than they usually get from most golfers. You hit them off the tee on a long par 3 hole, and sometimes on the longer holes when your driver won't cooperate. Long par 4 holes and most par 5 holes are where most amateurs pull out a fairway wood to reach or get close to the green on a good line of approach from the fairway.

Considering all the shots during a round where a fairway wood is the best club for the distance ahead, most golfers treat fairway wood fitting as an afterthought. And that strategy usually leads to bad choices based on questionable information. Fairway wood fitting is important to your game.

Most fairway woods off-the-rack are too long. A half inch difference in shaft length has almost no effect on distance achieved but it can have a major effect on efficient contact with the ball. Start by getting club length correct.

Which fairway woods should you have in your bag? Woods that you can hit easily to get the ball in the air with a higher launch angle than you get from the driver. You want the ball to land softly on a target for distance control. For most amateurs that means forget the 3-wood. If you have one, leave it at home unless it serves as your driver. Professional clubfitting will help you make the right choice of loft, shape, clubhead design, etc.

Shaft flex and shaft weight is where most golfers get poor advice. Your best approach is to think about what you want the fairway wood to do -- get the ball high in the air with an easy swing that doesn't feel like work. That means optimizing flex and weight for your swing style and the weight of the clubhead. The shaft will be softer and lighter than you would otherwise consider.

It's not uncommon to decide on a different brand or model than the driver shaft, as well as a softer flex and lighter weight than most retail recommendations. The fairway wood swing is not the same as the driver swing, consequently there is no reason to apply the same shaft fitting strategy to both clubs.

Premium upgrade or aftermarket shafts are usually your best choice for fairway woods to get the ball trajectory and control to bring these clubs to life. You will appreciate a properly fit club when you are standing on the tee of a long par 3 hole and need to hit the ball over a nasty hazard and onto a green protected by deep bunkers and deep rough.

Saturday
May302015

Trimming Driver Length

We see a majority of golfers swinging drivers that are too long for them to control. Off-the-rack drivers are often an inch longer than is needed to hit a long ball. When a player comes to the realization that a shorter driver might help with lower scores, the first thought is to trim an inch from the grip end.

There are a couple of important considerations to keep in mind when thinking about trimming the length of a driver. First is swingweight. Each inch of length is equivalent to 6 swingweights -- swingweight is an arbitrary measure of balance. Everyone can feel a 2-swingweight change in length. A 6-swingweight change will have a major effect on feel.

Reducing swingweight too much usually reduces the sense of where the club head is in space during a swing. It can affect control. Reducing (or increasing) swingweight will require some adjustment period in your swing tempo to achieve the performance you seek. 

To restore feel in a shortened club, you can add lead tape to the back of the clubhead. Two grams equals one swingweight. Or you can add rat glue -- it's really sticky -- to the inside of the driver head but be careful because if you make a mistake it's difficult to correct. We don't recommend standard hot melt.

The alternative is to replace the stock shaft with a good aftermarket product that matches your swing. While some stock driver shafts might be playable, most of them are used mainly to hold down purchase costs. We've found too many bad ones that are better used for holding up tomato plants than for holding a clubhead

Can you control a long driver -- by long we mean 45.5 - 46 inches in length? Yes, depending on your skill level. Do you hit the ball longer with a long driver? Yes, marginally longer if the impact point is in the center of the club face, if ball spin remains low, if the ball lands in your target area on the fairway, and if you can apply greater force to swing a higher MOI club (greater length requires greater swing energy to achieve the same club head speed).

Bottom line, if your driver is longer than 45 inches, it's performance will likely improve significantly by reducing the length to 44.5 inches and optimizing the swingweight to match your swing style. Better yet, replace the shaft with a new design with the latest technology and materials -- clubs are the least costly part of the game and lower scores that come from using better equipment are worth every dollar you spend.

Thursday
May212015

Heavy Clubs and Juniors

Junior golfers who learn and play golf swinging heavy clubs are at increased risk for injury. Common injuries in juniors who train excessively with heavy clubs occur in the lower back, wrist, and elbows. Swinging heavy clubs puts increased torsional stress on growth plates located in the joints.

Tendons are stronger than developing bones. Excess shear forces applied to young bones can result in distortion or fractures. Young golfers anxious to please their parents or their peers may not admit to the joint pains or muscle pains that indicate injury until real and sometimes irreversible damage occurs. 

Over-training with heavy clubs in early adolescence when growth spurts occur is to be avoided. The lower lumbar spine is especially vulnerable. The L1 disk can be pulled forward resulting in posture defects and pressure on spinal nerves. We've also seen injuries to the thoracic spine. Clinical treatment is needed as soon as signs of injury are detected. 

The brain is also developing and remodeling as growth continues through adolescence. Awareness of the body and body parts in space -- proprioception and 3D integration -- can be affected. It's normal. Trying to overcome a temporary issue with feel and coordination by placing a heavy club in the hands of a young golfer can lead to the wrong outcome.

What's a heavy club? Just about any club with a heavy steel shaft. The shaft is the main determinant of club weight. Graphite shaft weights can vary over a 100 gram range. Steel shaft weights can vary over a 70 gram range. Except for equipment intended for young juniors, club head weights -- grips also -- vary over a much narrower range.

Any standard adult club with a 120 - 135 g steel shaft and a standard grip is a heavy club. Does anyone need it to win top tournaments at the highest level in golf? No. The most presigous events have been won by golfers playing 90 - 100 g shafts, sometimes at relatively soft flexes. Extra stiff heavy steel that feels like rebar is not required to win.

Why do some junior golfers play heavy steel shafts? It can start with parents or relatives giving an old discarded adult set to their junior golfers. Cut them down to a more favorable length, add a grip that's too large, then it's off to the range or the first lesson. Other times it's a misinformed view that heavy steel and an extra stiff flex is needed to feel the club during the swing.  

Bottom line, if your young golfer is practicing and playing golf with heavy clubs built with heavy stiff steel, find a professional club fitter who understands the needs of junior golf. It's entirely possible to play golf and win tournaments at the highest level with light weight clubs. And get a scholarship or two along the way.

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