Cool Clubs – The Basics of Club Fitting

by: Michael Bartlett 

The "Words of Art" of Club Measurement
When you start hitting balls in one of Cool Clubs testing bays, its machines record 18 distinct parts of your swing and club performance. These are organized into three areas of interest:
1)     Club Path: The path your club takes away from and back to the ball as well as face angle.
2)     Launch: How the club impacts the ball and how the ball comes off the club.
3)     Landing: The important factors here are “carry” and “landing angle.”
Your fitter will talk a lot about the following aspects of your swing and occasionally use the pros as the standard of excellence. You shouldn’t expect to match them; the fitter will let you know where you should expect to be with your swing.
1)     Clubhead Speed: Measured in miles-per-hour, it shows how fast your clubhead is moving at impact.
2)     Attack Angle: This measures how the clubhead is actually delivered into the ball; a positive reading would reveal the club is ascending at impact while “0” would show it is level.
3)     Club Path: The fitter will be able to show you whether you are opening or closing the clubface at impact. This may vary because of the shaft you have or your swing path.
4)     Ball Speed: Just what it says—how fast your ball goes in mph. There is a correlation between clubhead speed and ball speed.
5)     Smash Factor: This measures “transference of energy” between clubhead and ball. The highest number on this scale is 1.50 (Often discussed as COR, which is governed by the USGA).     
6)     Spin Rate: Measured in RPM’s (revolutions per minute), this is important because your ability to spin the ball can affect both trajectory as well as direction.    
7)     Carry: Distance from the tee to landing; more carry increases distance.
8)     Landing Angle: Has big influence on control of the shot after it lands; approaches to the green require a higher landing angle to hold.
9)     Side: This shows how far left or right you are from your target line.
10) Dispersion: The fitter will show you how your balls land relative to your target area; a tightly grouped cluster of balls is your goal.
11) Torque: The shaft’s designed resistance to twisting during the downswing.
 12) Kickpoint: Often referred to as “flex point” or “bend point,” and is the point along a shaft’s length where it has the greatest amount of bend during the swing. A High kickpoint may help lower the trajectory of most golfers’ shots and a low kickpoint may result in a slightly higher trajectory.
The Fundamentals of Fitting .
1)     Frequency Testing:
· Each of your clubs (you can bring as many as you ordinarily use) is put into the frequency machine and the results recorded on a personal data file (visible on one of three 40-inch widescreens right in front of you) that will get larger as the fitting progresses. This frequency analysis focuses on your club shafts, their flex properties (how stiff or soft) and how your clubs flow as a set. You may find out many clubs are way out of synch.
· Goal: To have your clubs flow as a set from wedges up to the woods. In our case, the major area of concern was wedges whose shafts were much too heavy for “skill clubs that should play softer.”
· Different Shafts: The fitter will explain the difference between steel and graphite shafts and discuss three key characteristics: Weight, torque and kickpoint (see “Language” above).
· Loft and Lie: These measurements are taken for each club. Loft is the angle of the club relative to the ball and lie refers to the angle of the sole relative to the ground. Both condition the quality of club impact and the shape of a shot. Loft is most important and the goal is to “step” your loft angles in a balanced progression from driver to wedge. This will be measured in more detail later in the fitting.
       2) Grips
· Holding the Club: While this may come later, ask up front what the fitter thinks of your grips. In most cases, they are probably okay but he will ask you to grip a club just to check. A proper size grip has the “middle fingers of the top hand slightly touching the pad.” Wrong size grip: fingers don’t touch at all, or they dig into the pad.      
· Size: A smaller grip gives you more hand rotation which can send the ball either too far left or right. On the opposite, a bigger grip limits hand rotation.
· Texture: This area is definitely a matter of feel and aesthetics. The fitter commented, “People sometimes get picky about color, texture and the like, things that really don’t make a difference.” But, if you want a rare color or grip that gives you increased confidence over the ball, they’ll get it.
   3) Balls: While technically not part of clubfitting, make sure you ask the fitter what type of ball he recommends; brand is less important than spin characteristics that will complement your swing.
4)     General Tips:
· Full Session versus One-Club-at-a-Time: Time and money may dictate that you prioritize among the six individual sessions offered, and this is fine. Make sure you take notes as you go through separate sessions in order to build a coherent picture of your club specs and swing characteristics.
· Bring the Whole Bag: Definitely bring all the clubs you use and/or own to the fitting sessions. You may find one that one is very right for you and will want to incorporate it into your new set.
· Rethink the Meaning of “Set”: Today, the underlying dynamics of club construction (and your swing) are more important than an artificial set of numbers or matching types of clubs. The fitter may recommend combinations that bust your comfort zone. Try to listen with an open mind.
· This is Work–Physical: If possible, warm up before your session. You want to start at what is your full swing speed, etc. Be ready to hit a lot of balls and don’t lose concentration. Each swing counts.
· This is Work—Mental: As you work your way from the six to your other irons, the fitter will begin to measure all 18 parts of your swing at one time. Numbers will be flashing up on the widescreen and he will start commenting on a whole range of swing and club points, which likely will confuse you if you aren’t familiar with the lingo. Don’t panic. And definitely stop him at every turn to ask questions. You will find him willing to explain anything that is unclear, more than once if necessary. Soon, you will become more comfortable with the process. The goal: To isolate those factors most typical of your swing. You will find that you score well in some areas and are weak in others. Your fitter is interested in your weak points because that is what he wants to correct with a better set of clubs. After a number of swings, the Cool Clubs software lets him “see your swing on paper,” and you will too.