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Wishon: How to choose the right club head

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Most golfers have to like the way their clubs look at address, so the psychological side of club head selection is very important. If golfers don’t like the way their new clubs look, the success of the overall fitting can be in jeopardy — regardless of how much improvement there is.

That’s why it’s important to fit golfers into club heads that have the potential to improve their performance (misdirection tendency, overall launch conditions/trajectory, etc.), but also keep the shape and style of the club heads a priority.

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Clubhead shape/style elements to identify and match to the golfer’s preference typically involve height and blade length of the head, sole width, topline width, topline slope, leading edge radii, offset/face progression, sole radius/bounce/design, back design, and so on.

But while most of these aspects of the “look” of the head may be judged on an esoteric or qualitative manner, there are most definitely performance-based elements of the head design that have to be a very important part of the fitting of the clubhead. As such, there always has to be a balance in the clubfitter’s recommendation and the golfer’s acceptance of the head model.

That’s why when we teach clubhead model fitting, we begin the process by stressing the following guideline to clubfitters:

  • Within all of the clubhead models that satisfy the golfer’s personal preferences for shape features, style, finish and cosmetics, recommend the ones that have the highest MOI and the best off-center hit performance.
  • If the golfer also needs the utmost in distance and forgiveness for his ability and game-improvement goals, expand your recommendation to include the ones with the best face design for highest COR and best variable thickness construction.

When it comes to the pure performance side of clubhead fitting, the more experienced clubfitters will also keep these points in mind:

  • For golfers with a definite need to reduce a slice or hook, recommend driver, wood and hybrid models that are available in different face angle options or those can be adjusted or bent to achieve the correct face angle to reduce the misdirection tendency.

Center of Gravity (CG) changes  — either higher/lower or closer/further back from the face to achieve trajectory, shot shape, spin and shot height fitting goals — certainly can be attempted in the head recommendation. The effect of such CG changes may not bring about as much shot shape improvement as hoped, however, because they are so much affected by individual golfer characteristics of clubhead speed, consistency of the delivery of the head to impact and swing error tendencies.

In other words, don’t expect too much change in shot shape from a CG difference in a clubhead unless you are a more accomplished player with a higher-than-average clubhead speed and a proper impact position.

This does not mean that the clubfitter should ignore the benefits of a lower or more rearward-located CG for golfers with slower swings speed or those who need help keeping the ball in the air. Just don’t expect a big change in doing so.

While the final decision for the clubhead is always in the hands of the golfer, clubfitters should do their best to diplomatically explain the tangible benefits for using a clubhead model with a higher level of game improvement features than the golfer may think they need. Golf is a tough game to begin with and using a clubhead that cannot reduce the negative effects of swing errors is not the wisest decision if the goal is to play to the best of your ability.

What matters, what doesn’t

It usually takes BIG differences in head design technology to bring about small-to-medium differences in shot performance.

  • A COR difference of 0.030 or more is significant for distance increase. A difference of 0.010 is not.
  • An MOI difference of more than 1000 g-cm2 is significant for improvement on off-center hits. A difference of 600 g-cm2 or less is not.
  • A vertical CG difference of more than 5 millimeters is significant for shot height and spin differences. One less than that is not for the vast majority of golfers.
  • A face-to-back difference in CG of more than 8 millimeters can be significant for shot height and spin differences, but only for golfers with later-to-very-late releases. A face-to-back difference in CG of 5 millimeters or less is insignificant even for later release players.
  • The more radius on the iron sole from face to back, the better the sole design is for EVERY golfer to very slightly help reduce the degree of “fatness” of a slightly fat shot. More face-to-back sole radius is also good for more consistent sole-to-turf interaction with Bermuda-type turf as well as for shots hit from the rough.

Related

Tom Wishon

  1. What length should your clubs be?
  2. What lofts should your clubs be?
  3. Face angle is crucial for a proper fitting
  4. The best way to fit lie angle
  5. How to choose the right club head design
  6. Tom Wishon’s keys to set makeup
  7. Getting the right size grip, time after time
  8. What shaft weight should you play?
  9. What swing weight should your clubs be?
  10. What shaft flex should I use?

This story is part of a 10-part series from Tom Wishon on professional club fitting.

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Tom Wishon is a 40-year veteran of the golf equipment industry specializing in club head design, shaft performance analysis and club fitting research and development. He has been responsible for more than 50 different club head design firsts in his design career, including the first adjustable hosel device, as well as the first 0.830 COR fairway woods, hybrids and irons. GolfWRX Writer of the Month: February 2014 Tom served as a member of the Golf Digest Technical Advisory Panel, and has written several books on golf equipment including "The Search for the Perfect Golf Club" and "The Search for the Perfect Driver," which were selected as back-to-back winners of the 2006 and 2007 Golf Book of the Year by the International Network of Golf (ING), the largest organization of golf industry media professionals in the USA. He continues to teach and share his wealth of knowledge in custom club fitting through his latest book, "Common Sense Clubfitting: The Wishon Method," written for golf professionals and club makers to learn the latest techniques in accurate custom club fitting. Tom currently heads his own company, Tom Wishon Golf Technology, which specializes in the design of original, high-end custom golf equipment designs and club fitting research for independent custom club makers worldwide Click here to visit his site, wishongolf.com

20 Comments

20 Comments

  1. dime bag

    Feb 4, 2015 at 8:43 pm

    When my 4 year gets crabby we put him in a special chair called the “pouty place”. Does Keith need to sit in the “pouty place” for a while until he can act like a big guy?

    • Keith

      Feb 4, 2015 at 9:11 pm

      Yes, I think I do…but I just had a Snickers bar so I think I am better now.

  2. JOEL GOODMAN

    Feb 4, 2015 at 8:32 pm

    why the negativity from these guys? If you don’t like it , go away. Tom Wishon has forgotten more about golf clubs than 99% of people will ever learn. He is pure genius and is worth listening to and reading his views. WRX is a superb vehicle for information not available through the “how to cure your slice”media. I love it and think Tom Wishon is terrific. Disclosure-I have purchased and built clubs using Wishon components and am using one of his drivers. I also play Mizuno MP68 irons, and wedges. I live in south Florida, age 79 index 7.7 and play 5 days every week, 52 weeks a year–JEALOUS?????

    • chris

      Feb 4, 2015 at 8:56 pm

      I could agree more, being new to this site I have found Tom’s articles to be the most informative that I have read here. Keep up the good work Tom.

    • Keith

      Feb 4, 2015 at 9:13 pm

      Yes, I am jealous…and…Yes, I agree Mr. Wishon is a genius and makes a great product.

  3. Benny

    Feb 4, 2015 at 7:12 pm

    Awesome stuff Tom, makes complete sense. I have a couple friends of mine who bought Wishon that were properly fitted and while very high handicappers their games have really improved and feel it’s from proper fitting. Most amateur golfers are very steep in their swings. They stand very up right and close to the ball so the angle is steep and adding the radius helps them. Add this to your adjustable hozels on your woods/drivers and you really have the best fitted clubs money can buy. Never mind priced way below most manufactures. You just cannot beat it and I am extremely excited to be getting my woods from one of your builders this spring.
    Please keep this info coming because even the negative talk on here is helping get your points across. Thanks Tom, thanks WRX!

  4. Bob

    Feb 4, 2015 at 12:22 pm

    Is he saying the wider the sole the better it is for all players.

    • Shallowface

      Feb 4, 2015 at 3:50 pm

      You can certainly have face to back radius or camber in a narrow sole, so I don’t think Tom was saying that the sole has to be wide.

    • Tom Wishon

      Feb 4, 2015 at 5:41 pm

      shallowface

      Not sole width – I was talking about the sole radius in the direction from front to back across the sole being good for all players. Add a rounding of the leading edge from sole around to face and that is better for everyone too. Such sole designs stand up better for those with more downward angle of attack into the ball, and they can help slightly for shots from the rough because the greater front to back sole radius offers less surface contact to the grass for a little less chance of the sole hanging up in the rough.

  5. myron miller

    Feb 4, 2015 at 12:08 pm

    Tom, I notice you don’t talk about CT time for any of the clubs, especially the driver as being important. Is it because you don’t feel its a factor or what?

    I’m asking because at least one driver manufacturer tries to emphasis its higher CT time as being critical to improving distance. Personally I don’t see how CT time on the face makes that much difference especially considering all the differences in golf ball hardness.

    • Tom Wishon

      Feb 4, 2015 at 6:01 pm

      Myron
      In the article I did say this. . .
      Within all of the clubhead models that satisfy the golfer’s personal preferences for shape features, style, finish and cosmetics, recommend the ones that have the highest MOI and the best off-center hit performance.
      If the golfer also needs the utmost in distance and forgiveness for his ability and game-improvement goals, expand your recommendation to include the ones with the best face design for highest COR and best variable thickness construction.

      Thus the comment about highest COR as a part of a clubhead recommendation for a golfer who needs/wants the utmost in distance. CT/COR is a non issue with drivers and has been for a long time because virtually every titanium driver made since the late 90s has been maximized for COR to be as close to the limit as the company’s production of the head will allow under normal +/- tolerances. Of course if the golfer wants to eek out the absolute most in driver COR, he can hit several models and look for the one that records a smash factor of 1.49-1.50 which is the max possible for an 0.830 COR/257 CT face measurement.

      CT is just a different form of test to enable the USGA to assess the ability of the face to flex inward at impact more quickly than it takes to run an actual air cannon COR test. With driver heads, CT is correlatable to an actual COR test measurement. It is not in irons. So the reason CT is pertinent to distance is because the more you get the face to flex at impact without deforming, the less energy is lost in the collision between the face and the ball. That right there is the basic science behind COR. From this comes the higher ball speed in relation to the clubhead speed – aka smash factor. So if you have a driver with a CT of say, 260 and one at 240, without question the ball speed in relation to clubhead speed for the 260CT will be higher than the one at 240, and from this will come more distance if the loft and everything else is fit correctly to the golfer.

      Let me explain how this works with respect to different ball compression types and ball construction. With a low COR head, in the collision between the face and the ball, 80% of the energy loss from the impact comes from the compression of the ball against the face. Squash the ball more, you lose more energy. 20% comes from the face flexing inward only a tiny bit as a low COR head. If you allow the face to flex inward more, what you do is you greatly reduce the amount that the ball squashes against the face. So the ball’s energy loss is much less than the increase in energy loss from the face flexing inward a little more.

      To grasp this, realize that the face of an 0.830 COR driver flexes inward just short of 1/16″ at impact. The face of a low COR (0.780) driver flexes inward a little less than 1/32″. So just for an additional 1/32″ of face flexing, the energy transfer is much greater due to a lot less squashing of the ball so the ball speed can increase quite a bit in relation to the clubhead speed.

      With a soft ball like a Noodle, with a low COR head, that ball at 100mph clubhead speed will squash around 30% of its diameter. Change to a high COR head and that same ball now squashes around 20% of its diameter, thus reducing the energy loss and increasing the energy transfer to the shot to get more ball speed. With a hard solid ball, with a low COR head, that ball at 100mph clubhead speed will squash around 20% of its diameter. Change to a high COR head and that same ball now squashes around 12% of its diameter, thus reducing the energy loss and increasing the energy transfer to the shot to get more ball speed.

      So the high COR face design works to increase ball speed and distance no matter what the ball construction.

      • chris

        Feb 4, 2015 at 8:33 pm

        That was a very informative reply for those of us who don’t have a strong grasp of what happens to the and the club face at impact.

  6. Keith

    Feb 4, 2015 at 11:38 am

    I am slightly confused by these articles…are these just long advertorials as a point of differentiation from other manufacturers? It seems like a conflict of interest to have a manufacturer of golf clubs writing articles for your site without slugging this as an advertisement…especially if you drive to his site at the bottom of the page.

    You may not be explicitly selling his product, by you are advertising his process and have alluded to others not being as thorough in previous articles. Being part of the Conde Nast family you would think your editors would know this is not okay….but alas you will probably delete this comment and continue as usual.

    • Zak Kozuchowski

      Feb 4, 2015 at 11:46 am

      Keith,

      First off, GolfWRX is independently owned and operated — not part of the Conde Nast family or affiliated with Conde Nast in any way.

      Secondly, this is not an advertisement. Tom Wishon is a GolfWRX Contributor and part of our Featured Writers program. We’re working with him on this series because we think he can help our readers better understand club fitting and their club fitting needs. He does not pay us to publish this stories.

      Last, we only delete comments that are wildly off topic, use inappropriate language or personally attack or authors. If you’ve had a comment deleted, that’s why.

      – Zak Kozuchowski
      GolfWRX Managing Editor

      • Shallowface

        Feb 4, 2015 at 12:05 pm

        I consider myself to be highly sensitive to the things Keith mentions, and I consider Tom’s articles to be just fine. Anything that helps us be more educated consumers is most welcome, and from a lot of what I read here is sorely needed.

        Looking forward to the rest of the series!

      • Keith

        Feb 4, 2015 at 3:18 pm

        I appreciate the response, but respectfully disagree with what you have said here. This is absolutely an advertisement and your readers should know that. You are driving to his company site in which his whole sales pitch is custom fitting. I find it hard to believe that site traffic and conversion (lead) is not being tracked on wishongolf.com from GolfWrx.com.

        I don’t have an issue with the article and agree it may be helpful…but it is without a doubt advertising.

        Also, does your partnership with Golf Digest for content production and distribution not count as being affiliated with Conde Nast? Perhaps we are forgetting about this comment

        “Joining forces with an established and authoritative brand such as the Golf Digest Properties will resonate with the passionate community we’ve cultivated with GolfWrx,” said Richard Audi, president of GolfWrx. “We welcome the contributions of its editors and look forward to creating innovative new offerings for advertisers in the conversational web.”

        • Zak Kozuchowski

          Feb 4, 2015 at 3:38 pm

          Keith,

          GolfWRX is no longer associated with Golf Digest, and has and always has been independently owned and operated.

          We have and will continue to have contributors write for us about things we consider to be valuable to our readers.

          Let’s not muck up this comments section with unrelated comments any further.

          • Keith

            Feb 4, 2015 at 3:43 pm

            Zak…come on..really…no longer affiliated? I will let it go because I am a fan of the site, that is fine.

    • Steven

      Feb 4, 2015 at 2:41 pm

      Where the f@#$ did you get the idea WRX was part of Conde Nast?

      And who the f@#$ still uses the term ‘but alas’?

      Since you don’t know, WRX was started and still run by a few guys in Detroit, with a handful of very involved contributors across the country.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lBIt-p5ruBM

      • Keith

        Feb 4, 2015 at 3:46 pm

        Hahahaha thank you for sharing that link, one of my favorite episodes and I 100% agree. You seem like a real stand up guy Steven!

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Opinion & Analysis

Clark: A teacher’s take on Brandel Chamblee’s comments

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Because I’m writing to a knowledgeable audience who follows the game closely, I’m sure the current Brandel Chamblee interview and ensuing controversy needs no introduction, so let’s get right to it.

Brandel Chamblee, a former PGA Tour player, now plays a role as a TV personality. He has built a “brand” around that role. The Golf Channel seems to relish the idea of Brandel as the “loose cannon” of the crew (not unlike Johnny Miller on NBC) saying exactly what he thinks with seeming impunity from his superiors.

I do not know the gentleman personally, but on-air, he seems like an intelligent, articulate golf professional, very much on top of his subject matter, which is mostly the PGA Tour. He was also a very capable player (anyone who played and won on the PGA Tour is/was a great player). But remember, nowadays he is not being judged by what scores he shoots, but by how many viewers/readers his show and his book have (ratings). Bold statements sell, humdrum ones do not.

For example, saying that a teacher’s idiocy was exposed is a bold controversial statement that will sell, but is at best only partly true and entirely craven. If the accuser is not willing to name the accused, he is being unfair and self-serving. However, I think it’s dangerous to throw the baby out with the bathwater here; Brandel is a student of the game and I like a lot of what he says and thinks.

His overriding message in that interview is that golf over the last “30-40 years” has been poorly taught. He says the teachers have been too concerned with aesthetics, not paying enough attention to function. There is some truth in that, but Brandel is painting with a very broad brush here. Many, myself included, eschewed method teaching years ago for just that reason. Method teachers are bound to help some and not others. Maybe the “X swing” one player finds very useful, another cannot use it all.

Brandel was asked specifically about Matthew Wolff’s unique swing: Lifting the left heel, crossing the line at the top, etc. He answered, “of course he can play because that’s how he plays.” The problem would be if someone tried to change that because it “looked odd.” Any teacher worth his weight in salt would not change a swing simply because it looked odd if it was repeating good impact. I learned from the great John Jacobs that it matters not what the swing looks like if it is producing great impact.

Now, if he is objecting exclusively to those method teachers who felt a certain pattern of motions was the one true way to get to solid impact, I agree with him 100 percent. Buy many teach on an individual, ball flight and impact basis and did not generalize a method. So to say “golf instruction over the last 30-40 years” has been this or that is far too broad a description and unfair.

He goes on to say that the “Top Teacher” lists are “ridiculous.” I agree, mostly. While I have been honored by the PGA and a few golf publications as a “top teacher,” I have never understood how or why. NOT ONE person who awarded me those honors ever saw me give one lesson! Nor have they have ever tracked one player I coached.  I once had a 19 handicap come to me and two seasons later he won the club championship-championship flight! By that I mean with that student I had great success. But no one knew of that progress who gave me an award.

On the award form, I was asked about the best, or most well-known students I had taught. In the golf journals, a “this-is-the-teacher-who-can-help-you” message is the epitome of misdirection. Writing articles, appearing on TV, giving YouTube video tips, etc. is not the measure of a teacher. On the list of recognized names, I’m sure there are great teachers, but wouldn’t you like to see them teach as opposed to hearing them speak? I’m assuming the “ridiculous” ones Brandel refers to are those teaching a philosophy or theory of movement and trying to get everyone to do just that.

When it comes to his criticism of TrackMan, I disagree. TrackMan does much more than help “dial in yardage.” Video cannot measure impact, true path, face-to-path relationship, centeredness of contact, club speed, ball speed, plane etc. Comparing video with radar is unfair because the two systems serve different functions. And if real help is better ball flight, which of course only results from better impact, then we need both a video of the overall motion and a measure of impact.

Now the specific example he cites of Jordan Spieth’s struggles being something that can be corrected in “two seconds” is hyperbolic at least! Nothing can be corrected that quickly simply because the player has likely fallen into that swing flaw over time, and it will take time to correct it. My take on Jordan’s struggles is a bit different, but he is a GREAT player who will find his way back.

Brandel accuses Cameron McCormick (his teacher) of telling him to change his swing.  Do we know that to be true, or did Jordan just fall into a habit and Cameron is not seeing the change? I agree there is a problem; his stats prove that, but before we pick a culprit, let’s get the whole story. Again back to the sensationalism which sells! (Briefly, I believe Jordan’s grip is and has always been a problem but his putter and confidence overcame it. An active body and “quiet” hands is the motion one might expect of a player with a strong grip-for obvious reason…but again just my two teacher cents)

Anyway, “bitch-slapped” got him in hot water for other reasons obviously, and he did apologize over his choice of words, and to be clear he did not condemn the PGA as a whole. But because I have disagreements with his reasoning here does not mean Brandel is not a bright articulate golf professional, I just hope he looks before he leaps the next time, and realizes none of us are always right.

Some of my regular readers will recall I “laid down my pen” a few years ago, but it occurred to me, I would be doing many teachers a disservice if I did not offer these thoughts on this particular topic!

 

 

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Opinion & Analysis

A trip down Magnolia Memory Lane: Patron fashion at the 1991 Masters

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Like a lot of golfers out there, I’ve been getting my fix thanks to the final round Masters broadcasts on YouTube via the Masters channel. Considering these broadcasts go back as far as 1968, there is a lot we could discuss—we could break down shots, equipment, how the course has changed, but instead I thought we could have a little fun taking a different direction—fashion.

However, I’m not talking players fashion, that’s fairly straight forward. Instead, I wanted to follow the action behind the action and see what we could find along the way – here are the 1991 Highlights.

I love the “Die Hard” series as much as anyone else but one fan took it to a new level of fandom by wearing a Die Hard 2 – Die Harder T-shirt to Sunday at the Masters. This patron was spotted during Ian Woosnam fourth shot into 13. Honorable mention goes to Woosie’s gold chain.

There is a lot going on here as Ben Crenshaw lines up his put on 17. First, we have the yellow-shirted man just left of center with perfectly paired Masters green pants to go along with his hat (he also bears a striking resemblance to Ping founder Karsten Solheim). Secondly, we have what I would imagine is his friend in the solid red pants—both these outfits are 10 out of 10. Last but not least, we have the man seen just to the right of Ben with sunglasses so big and tinted, I would expect to be receiving a ticket from him on the I20 on my way out of town.

If you don’t know the name Jack Hamm, consider yourself lucky you missed a lot of early 2000s late-night golf infomercials. OK so maybe it’s not the guy known for selling “The Hammer” driver but if you look under the peak of the cabin behind Woosie as he tees off on ten you can be forgiven for taking a double-take… This guy might show up later too. Honorable mention to the pastel-pink-shorted man with the binoculars and Hogan cap in the right of the frame.

Big proportions were still very much in style as the 80s transitioned into the early 90s. We get a peek into some serious style aficionados wardrobes behind the 15th green with a wide striped, stiff collared lilac polo, along with a full-length bright blue sweater and a head of hair that has no intention of being covered by a Masters hat.

Considering the modern tales of patrons (and Rickie Folwer) being requested to turn backward hats forward while on the grounds of Augusta National, it was a pretty big shock to see Gerry Pate’s caddy with his hat being worn in such an ungentlemanly manner during the final round.

Before going any further, I would like us all to take a moment to reflect on how far graphics during the Masters coverage has come in the last 30 years. In 2019 we had the ability to see every shot from every player on every hole…in 1991 we had this!

At first glance, early in the broadcast, these yellow hardhats threw me for a loop. I honestly thought that a spectator had chosen to wear one to take in the action. When Ian Woosnam smashed his driver left on 18 over the bunkers it became very apparent that anyone wearing a hard hat was not there for fun, they were part of the staff. If you look closely you can see hole numbers on the side of the helmets to easily identify what holes they were assigned to. Although they have less to do with fashion, I must admit I’m curious where these helmets are now, and what one might be worth as a piece of memorabilia.

Speaking of the 18th hole, full credit to the man in the yellow hat (golf clap to anyone that got the Curious George reference) who perfectly matched the Pantone of his hat to his shirt and also looked directly into the TV camera.

It could be said the following photo exemplifies early ’90s fashion. We have pleated Bermuda shorts, horizontal stripes all over the place and some pretty amazing hairstyles. Honorable mention to the young guys in the right of the frame that look like every ’80s movie antagonist “rich preppy boy.”

What else can I say except, khaki and oversized long sleeve polos certainly had their day in 1991? We have a bit of everything here as Tom Watson lines up his persimmon 3-wood on the 18th. The guy next to Ian Woosnam’s sleeves hit his mid-forearm, there are too many pleats to count, and somehow our Jack Hamm look-alike managed to find another tee box front row seat.

You can check out the full final-round broadcast of the 1991 Masters below.

 

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Podcasts

The 19th Hole Episode 119: Gary Player joins the 19th Hole!

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Hall of Famer Gary Player gives an exclusive one-on-one interview with Host Michael Williams about his life in golf, his thoughts on the current game and his tips for thriving even in difficult times.

Check out the full podcast on SoundCloud below, or click here to listen on iTunes or here to listen on Spotify.

Want more GolfWRX Radio? Check out our other shows (and the full archives for this show) below. 

 

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