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How To's of Club Fitting

As a certified Callaway Master Fitter, to get a proper fit, I set up the TrackMan using the Trackman Callaway Master Fitter.

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The first three key metrics for good club fitting are: 

  • Club speed
  • Ball speed
  • Smash factor (the ratio of ball speed to club speed) 
These metrics are the best way to gauge the efficiency of the strike or whether the contact was solid. 

When looking at club head speed, different club head make and models can read differently so ball speed is the dominate factor that I look at. The next series is what the ball did with regards to distance: carry and total. 

  • Spin rate is next, or total spin, if we are using a Foresight launch monitor. Spin is critical in keeping the golf ball in the air. There is a range specific to each club and each player based on their goals, speed, and skill level. This coupled with launch angle is what we look for most in drivers and balancing them to get the most efficient ball flight possible. The higher you can launch it, with the correct amount of spin, the further you can hit it. Ping does a great job of combining those two metrics, ball speed and angle of attack.

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 TrackMan also has a great application on how to optimize distance as well (for total distance).

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When fitting outside we normalize the numbers so we can take out any inconsistencies due to wind or weather. Normalizing sets the temperature, elevation, relative humidity, and wind to be a constant, or zero. There are horror stories of fitters moving the elevation setting up to several thousand feet to make it seem like the player has gained distance.

What should be the longest iron in my bag?
Several manufacturers agree, clubs of the same style should have a 5 mph ball speed gap. What this means is that your 5i (iron) should go 5 mph faster than your 6i, and your 4i should go 5 mph faster than your 5i.

Another component of an effective golf club is how spin, launch, and speed combine to create the landing angle. With a 7i we want it to be about as steep (downward) as possible while maintaining the desired ball flight and control. A golf shot that lands with as much downward direction as outward would have a land angle of 45 degrees. Between clubs, we would like to see a land angle difference of less than 1° and seeing a difference of more than 2° would make us want to rethink that club choice. 

Landing angle is frequently impacted by club speed. At a certain point players will not have enough speed to move the golf ball fast enough to get the 5 mph ball speed differential and maintain a landing angle gap of less than 2 degrees. Once this is the case, hybrids/utility irons/high lofted fairway metals/blended sets can help create the desired distances and maintain trajectory. When the player cannot maintain a 5 mph ball speed gap and landing angle, and/or wants to start introducing more forgiveness, they can change the head size/type to the next larger one, which is more forgiving. However, when you increase head size, the difference in the club's center of gravity necessitates the ball speed differential to be greater than 5 mph.

A small change in chassis (head) size requires a small jump in ball speed. Similarly, a large change in head size requires a large ball speed jump. Going from a standard iron to a larger iron would necessitate a smaller jump than say from an iron to a fairway wood. Below is an example of using some extrapolating math on a blended set. We knew the ball speeds from the driver, 3 wood (fairway), and 7i and had to figure out how to balance the rest of the set. 

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How all of this translates to your bag is a reflection of how fast you can move the golf ball and how many wedges you would like/need to play. 

The fitters at the Titleist Performance Institute have a mantra that every club needs to earn the right to be in your bag. It is important to note that these are not rules, but guidelines to improve your fitting and make sure that each club has earned their place. Managing your set is also a fluid process, not in the sense that you need to change clubs every year but checking in to make sure that are playing your best possible equipment.

Mason Tomlinson
Assistant Professional Conway Farms
425-344-1688