In Golf Club Fitting with PGA Professional Gary Balliet, we have studied four of the eight club fitting variables: length, lie angle, shaft flex, and head design. Just four club fitting variables remain: loft, grip size, weight, and face angle. Today, we learned how loft, weight, and face angle impact the fitting process.
Club Fitting Variable No. 5: Loft
Loft is defined as the angle created as measured from the center of the club face in relation to the hosel bore or the angle between the club face as related to the golf shaft. Loft influences distance, and there is usually a 3-4 degree difference in loft between clubs.
A static fit gives you the true loft of a club, but when doing a dynamic fit, loft is measured by the launch angle at impact. Effective loft is defined as the relationship between the club’s face angle and its true loft at impact. The mathematical formula for calculating effective loft looks like this:
effective loft = true loft + face angle
If the face angle is closed, loft is added. If the face angle is open, loft is subtracted.
10 degrees + 2 degrees closed (face angle) = 12 degrees effective loft
10 degrees – 2 degrees open (face angle) = 8 degrees effective loft
So what is the effective loft of a driver that has a true loft of 9.5 degrees and a face angle that is 3 degrees closed? The answer is 12.5 degrees.
There is an argument that swing speed should determine the driver loft a player needs. The average swing speed for men is 86 miles per hour. That swing speed requires a true loft of 13 degrees. The average swing speed is 68 miles per hour for women. That swing speed requires a true loft of 19 degrees. A swing speed of 110 miles per hour would require a true loft of 10.5 degrees, while a swing speed of 100 miles per hour would require a true loft of 12 degrees. A swing speed of 60-80 miles per hour would require a true loft of 19 degrees, while a swing speed of 80-100 miles per hour would require a true loft of 13 degrees.
The swing compensations for loft are many. For instance, too little loft results in swing compensations such as hanging back, moving the ball position forward, teeing the ball higher, and a preference for hitting a 3-wood over a driver. Too much loft results in swing compensations such as a forward weight position, moving the ball back in the stance, and even a forward press.
Club Fitting Variable No. 7: Weight
A club’s total weight is measured in grams, but a club’s swing weight is measured in points. Balance point, length, head design, grip, and lie angle all alter weight. Adding or subtracting 1/2″ to/from the length of a club adds or subtracts three points and increases or decreases the total weight two grams. Plus or minus two grams in the head design equals one point in swing weight. Adding five grams to the grip subtracts one point from the swing weight. Subtracting five grams adds one point to the swing weight.
Lie angle affects weight too. For every three degrees upright in lie angle, one point is subtracted from the swing weight because the club is effectively shortened. For every three degrees flat in lie angle, one point is added to the swing weight because the club is effectively lengthened.
Swing weight is defined as the overall weight of each component part, added together and forming a fulcrum point 14″ from the end of the grip. Any decrease in head weight will make the shaft feel stiffer. As a club gets longer, the head weight should become lighter.
Swing compensations for weight include difficulty finishing in a balanced position if the club is too heavy, inconsistent contact, and fatigue after practice or play. Clubs that feel too light result in a loss of feel.
Club Fitting Variable No. 8: Face Angle
Face angle is defined as the angle of a metal head’s club face to the ground line with the shaft bore perpendicular to the intended line of flight: open, closed, or square. Face angle influences direction. Swing path plays a role in fitting for face angle. The shaft’s torque also influences the club face at impact. High torque will result in high twisting (slow swing speeds) and low torque will result in low twisting (high swing speeds). As the design of metal club heads gets bigger and the center of gravity is moved away from the hosel and toward the toe of the club, there has been a need to design club face’s 4-6 degrees closed. Irons do not have a built-in face angle.
Face angle and path are also related. A face open to the path will result in a fade or slice. A face closed to the path will result in a draw or hook. It gets a little more confusing when you take target into account:
Face closed to path, face closed to target = pull hook
Face closed to path, face open to target = push draw
Face closed to path, face square to target = straight pull
Face open to path, face closed to target = pull slice
Face open to path, face open to target = push slice
Face open to path, face square to target = straight push
Face square to path, face closed to target = straight pull
Face square to path, face open to target = straight push
Face square to path, face square to target = straight
Still to Come…
Club Fitting Variable No. 6 is grip size.