Getting the right 14 clubs in your bag

Golfers pay for the “right” to get fitted for their clubs, whether they take advantage of that right or not. Getting the right 14 clubs in your bag is actually worth the time and, in some cases, expense so you only have to make one swing. And it can start with one element at a time.

An excellent analysis of equipment optimization was presented in the February 28, 2011 issue of Golf World. Five key areas were identified that a golfer can focus on for accomplishing this goal:

1. The Launch Monitor: Adjustable clubs (swappable heads and shafts) have given golf-fitters like Klees Golf Shop many of the same capabilities as what the tour vans offer the pros. The launch monitor can help you see what happens with a variety of shafts, lofts and ball types. What is “optimum” is the combination of these elements that gives you the best results for the swing you use most of the time.

2. Ball Fitting: Ball fitting is underused and under-appreciated. The ball is the least expensive item to change in your bag and one of the easiest to see do what you want—or don’t want—off the tee or on the green. A launch monitor is a good starting point for measuring ball spin off the tee, but it’s the approach shots where ball spin makes a difference. One or two short game practices where you compare balls on the same shots can be a real eye opener.

3. Set Makeup: The manufacturers have made it easier for the average golfer to consider a hybrid or high lofted fairway wood to replace the 2-, 3 and 4 irons. Now that iron sets come with gap or sand wedges instead of 3 or 4 irons golfers are getting hip to the benefits of wedge selection, too. There is no point in having clubs in your bag you don’t use, don’t know how far you hit or go the same distance as another club.

4. Putter fitting: It’s possible that barely 25% of golfers are playing with the right putter. Length, loft, moment of inertia, swingweight and putter stroke are all factors that can be measured and brought together for identifying the best putter for you. We’ve covered these factors in our Golf Talk article “Picking a Putter”. Ping Golf has done extensive research on putter-fitting and found that the open-to-close stroke performs more consistently with the heel-toe weighted blade type putter and the face-balanced mallet or center-shafted blade models work better for players with a straight back and through stroke. We’ve found that high moment of inertia designs, be they mallet or blade, benefit all golfers.

5. Shafts: All clubs have shafts and having the right shafts in your clubs improves feel, swing speed and confidence. It costs nothing extra to have regular flex steel in your longer irons and stiff flex in the short irons. Ditto with woods. Torque and weight also come into play with shafts, and the launch monitor or Mizuno’s Shaft Optimizer can help determine how these factors affect your swing.