It’s Your Swing
Invest in the Right Set of clubs, Then Take care of Them!
These days, a set of golf clubs is no cheap purchase. That’s why it’s important to purchase the correct clubs for your swing and then protect your investment once they’re yours.
Unlike purchasing a pair of shoes, where you only have to worry about them fitting your feet, a set of golf clubs has a few variables to consider. If you’re going to invest several hundred to a couple thousand dollars into your “perfect” set of clubs, make sure they fit you. Invest in a club fitting session. This will ensure that the type of shaft, the shaft flex, the length of the club and the lie of the club matches your swing speed, height, and posture. I can easily fit two people who are both 5’ 10” and weigh 200 lbs with totally different clubs, based on their needs.
Swing speed is the first item you need to consider. How hard you swing directly influences what shaft flex you need. The flex of the shaft needs to fit the speed of your swing. A hard swinger needs a stiffer shaft than a soft swinger. If the shaft in your club is too stiff for your swing speed, it won’t flex enough to help give your swing a “kick” at impact to aid in hitting the ball higher and farther. If your shaft is too flexible for your swing, it will be too hard to control, making it next to impossible to hit the ball straight. I recently had a customer who got a “great deal” on a used set of clubs at a garage sale and spent $150 on a full set of irons. Sounds like a great deal until I told him that the shaft was extra stiff, similar to the degree of stiffness that pro players like Tiger Woods or Bryson DeChambeau use. These clubs hurt his game.
Club length and lie angle are the next things to look at. Though your height is the main determining factor, two people the exact same height may need clubs of different lengths and lie angles; the length of your arms determines how long a club you need. With longer arms, your hands are closer to the ground, making a shorter shaft the right choice. For shorter arms the opposite is true.
Correct lie angle is a little known component that can make or break your game. The lie angle is the one between your shaft and the bottom of your club. A taller or shorter-armed person needs an “upright” angle, where a shorter- or longer-armed person needs a flatter angle. What happens if you’re playing with a club with an incorrect lie angle? If the club is too upright, the tow will stick up in the air and you will pull balls to the left of your target regularly, since that is where the clubface is now aimed. If the club is too flat, your toe will dig into the ground and you will miss the shot to the right because that’s where the clubface is aimed. Either scenario will make it impossible to hit the ball at your target.
Finally, let’s look at grip size. The size of your hand will determine if you need a smaller or larger than average grip. If your grip is too fat for your hands, it will prevent you from making the proper motion through impact and thus cut down on the distance you hit the ball. If your grip is too thin, you’ll get very “flippy,” and once again it will be difficult to control the ball.
Once you have all the information from a club fitting session, you will have a blueprint for the set of clubs you need. Your professional will let you know in the form of a “recipe” what is right for you. It may look something like this:
- Shaft Length: +½”
- Shaft Material: Graphite
- Shaft Flex: Stiff
- Lie Angle: +2 degrees
- Grip size: +1/32”D
Remember that in general, clubs that are fit to your specifications don’t cost any more in comparison to stock clubs off the rack. So get what fits you.
Once you have your clubs, take good care of them. You don’t buy a new car and never wash it do you? Make sure to keep the club heads free of dirt, sand, and debris that could mar the face and be detrimental to the hitting surface.
Keep your grips clean and tacky. Your hands are naturally oily so frequent use will transfer these oils to the grip and they will become slippery. A soft brush and some mild abrasive will take care of it. Eventually, you will need to change grips, as they will become worn or hard. Any professional can do this for you. Keep an eye out for any rust spots on your shaft if they are steel. This means you have a kink and it could be a weak spot. If you have graphite, look for any splintering that will weaken the shaft and possibly cause it to break.
Your game will change over time; your swing speed will increase or decrease, or a young player grows taller, etc. Your shafts can be modified to accommodate these and other changes. For example, a new grip can be installed very easily to accommodate older golfers if their hands become arthritic. In this case, a larger softer grip can make it easier to grip the club.
So go out and treat yourself to a new set of clubs or put it on your upcoming Christmas list–you deserve it. Just make sure to get them properly fitted, and don’t neglect the upkeep after the purchase. Happy golfing!
About The Author:
Don is the PGA GM of Gilroy Municipal Golf Course and Gavilan Golf Course. He is the 2014 Gilroy Chamber of Commerce Man of the Year and a PGA of America’s Bill Stausbaugh award recipient for excellence in education. Contact Don and book your tee time: 408.848.0490 or at gilroygolf.com