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Why Your Clubs Are (Most Likely) Completely Wrong for You

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Full disclosure, I’ve never written about golf equipment, instruction, or any technical aspect of this glorious (read: torturous) game. My wheelhouse is a little more, should we say, old school. I write about fashion. I write about style. I write about how two buttons is all you need in a suit jacket, and how even one button more is a travesty. I write about the art of being a gentleman, about cocktails, and about being a gentleman while drinking cocktails. He Who Shall Not Be Named (but was caught driving a golf cart on a green recently because he was too lazy to get his POTUS-ness out of his cart and walk 10 feet), would hate what I write about. Let’s just say that if I worked in a certain Casa De Blanca, I’d have been fired and been the focus of numerous Federal Inquiries by now for ripping on his wardrobe choices.

That being said, I do know a thing or three about golf, the golf swing, equipment, and club fitting. I’m a full-time golf coach and club-fitter that could write all day about how much I miss the click-clack of metal spikes on concrete, but I’m not here to talk to you about that. I’m here to tell you that the clubs in your bag, those gorgeous little forged things that you dreamt of and saved up for and skipped taking your wife out for your anniversary for… are most likely completely, totally, and unequivocally wrong for you.

I’m not judging. I used to be like you. I’d read every magazine that got stuffed in the mailbox. I’d drool over so-and-so’s sexy new shiny blades and the hot new x-stiff, tour-issue shafts that “Hot Young Golfer on Tour” was playing. And I thought to myself, “I’m a good stick. I swing fast. I need those clubs!” I was a decent stick. Good enough to take money out of the pockets of the older guys at Men’s League when I was 15. I’m even more decent now. Buttercuts, high draws, stingers, sandbag flops, and low skippers, I have them all. And I’m getting even better now because recently I made a very important life discovery. When you get older, you realize how very wrong you were about many, many things (silk button-downs in high school anyone?). I discovered the pure joy of hitting a 205-yard 6-iron with a 3-yard baby fade with my eyes closed (literally). I don’t play a fade, mind you. I make my whiskey money on a power draw that would make Kenny Perry blush, and I have since high school. But two weeks ago, I roped this fade with my eyes closed. Then did it again, and again and again. With my scratch handicap, 95 mile per hour clubhead speed, decent lag and pretty strong load in the transition, I did this, and I’m still doing it with… wait for it… a Ping Rapture “Super Game Improvement Iron” with an 80-gram regular-flex shaft. And I can work it both ways, on demand, depending on what the shot dictates. That’s right, a pretty decent player is loving his new (old) set of irons that everyone swears is only for 18 handicaps. It took me 30 years of playing golf to set aside my biases, get over myself, and actually take the time to find what clubs will allow me to play my best, regardless of what I see when I look down at the ball. And that’s exactly what you should do.

My golf coach and club-fitter (even coaches need coaches) is a bit of a mad scientist. He spent some time on the Nike Tour, and now coaches and builds clubs for not only a number of Tour guys, but also for guys with Q-School goals like me. He’s one of those guys who prefers to stay behind the curtain, so he asked me not to use his name, but his time for the spotlight will come. He uses physics and biomechanics along with a holistic approach to playing the game instead of relying on Trackman data. I have nothing but love for Trackman by the way, just to be clear, but we don’t use it much for my training. When we started working together, I was playing forged head irons with heavy, stiff-flex shafts. They were beautiful clubs and looked impressive in my bag, but I was hitting massive draws with them that would get loose sometimes and cause major damage to my rounds. He watched me on the range and just shook his head. After watching 10 straight pull hooks, he stopped me, mainly because he couldn’t stand to watch it anymore. He told me that my swing was great; we didn’t need to work on mechanics. What we needed, he said, was to start with a club fitting and find clubs that would allow me to “Swing My Swing” (Thanks Arnie!) so I didn’t have to change what I was as a golfer. The next morning he met me on the range along with a bag filled with 30 different 6 irons in different head styles, shaft weights and flex profiles, and we started hitting.

Each club had tape on it with different numbers. These numbers represented the weight and MOI of both the clubhead and the total club, along with the ratio between the two. There was also another strip of tape on the shaft with numbers like 1.56, 1.19, etc. These numbers represented the distance from the centerline of the hosel out to the “sweet spot,” or the center of gravity on the clubface. Don’t ask me the formula used to determine this point, because he learned it from his dad who was a physicist and that kind of math is punching way above my weight class. He handed me a club and I took a swing. Same old huge draw that I’m used to. Then I was told to close my eyes and hit it again. That alone might be one of the scariest things I’ve ever done as a golfer. I hit it pretty well, actually (You’d be surprised by your own ability to do this. Give it a shot.), but it was still left, just a bit less draw. I looked at the number on that club, and it was 1.22. The problem wasn’t with my swing. The problem was that the sweet spot was too close to the heel of the club for me, and the only way for me to catch it solid was to pull across my body and shut the clubface. Thus, a pull-draw. We started hitting the higher numbered clubs where the sweet spot was more out toward the middle of the face where I need it to be. That draw got smaller and smaller, and the pull became less and less, until I found that club labeled 1.62 on it. I started hitting laser-shot baby fades that went forever and exactly where I wanted them to go… with my eyes closed.

It turns out that I had been playing clubs since I was 10 that forced me to swing in a way that isn’t natural for the way my body moves through the universe. I’m not Nick Price. Never have been, never will be. Think more like Pat Perez or Payne Stewart, where the swing looks like pouring syrup over pancakes… in the winter. It’s not that I’m not “good enough” to play forged blades. I’ve got game. It’s simply a fact of me needing the sweet spot to be closer to the middle of the clubface. More and more players on the tours are switching to “game-improvement” irons, especially for the long irons. Do you want to try to tell them that they aren’t “good enough” to play a 4-iron that’s a blade? I didn’t think so. I’m not saying that this is true for everyone. Far from it. My brother (a damn good player in his own right) has a swing that happens to fit perfectly with those sexy Miura Tournament Blades. He has a very strong, purposeful and speedy swing. He needs the center of gravity as close to the hosel as possible. When a player like him swings my clubs, the ball goes right of right and he can’t control it. It’s about finding what works for you. Should we be saying that he “isn’t good enough” to play my “game-improvement” irons? Of course not. That’d be ridiculous, right? So why do we accept the opposite statement as pure truth?

Basically, unless someone designs a blade or muscleback iron with the CG closer to the middle of the face, I’ll be showing up at Q-School next year with some big, chunky, clunky, cavity backs. And I’m okay with that. I’m proud, but I’m not shallow. I’m more concerned now with how good my clubs allow me to play, not how good they make me look. “Not good enough to play blades”? You hear it all the time. GI, SGI, Players Irons… those terms are misleading and just plain incorrect. The terminology needs to change. I don’t care if my irons look like a Barcolounger that was found on the side of the highway with a sign on it that reads “free.” They fit my swing perfectly.

Guys will judge me silently when they look in my bag and assume I don’t belong there. Be my guest, fellas. I’ll be the one on the patio chilling with a Woodford on the rocks after signing for a 65 while the guys with the flashy blades crowd around the scoreboard and stress out, hoping that their 73s get them into a playoff for the last spot. Now onto much more important things, like those pleated trousers…

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Bryan is a former college golfer and aspiring Tour pro, and a very, very amateur writer who has a flair for over-indulgent, drippy commentary. He once came "this close" to getting in a fight with Nick Swisher outside a Cleveland strip club. At least once in his life he's wanted to be a tailor, chef, fireman, Indians 3rd baseman, astronaut, actor, lounge singer, hand model, DJ (Named DJ BPM) motorcycle racer... and Ryan Gosling. He's addicted to watches and shoes, and has three life rules; Do what makes you happy, find the love of a great woman, and wear anything Tom Ford makes. He's really just hoping in ten years when he joins the Champions Tour to be sponsored by a bourbon company and smoke cigars with Miguel Angel Jimenez. His best friends describe him as "Slightly nicer than a grilled cheese sandwich on white bread"...

95 Comments

95 Comments

  1. James

    Nov 6, 2017 at 1:23 pm

    Who knew a pull hook could be fixed by equipment and not the club face pointing left with an out-to-in swing path?

  2. li0scc0

    Jul 28, 2017 at 11:49 am

    Great article. I shot my best round – and first round at even par (Par 72) last night with…. Cleveland VAS 792 2-PW irons in my bag. Laugh if you want, but an Eagle on a 500 yard Par 5 with a 2 Iron, then 5 iron, then 12 foot putt certainly silenced my playing partners. Ugly irons? You bet. But…do they perform? You better believe it!

  3. Branson Reynolds

    Jul 25, 2017 at 10:54 am

    My only complaint is that while he says you need to get fitted, he’s a fitter and didn’t have himself fit correctly. How do i know if anyone at GG or golftec can fit like his coach does and isn’t just some by-the-book drone?

  4. @@!!!

    Jul 25, 2017 at 12:51 am

    Can’t lie I thought this was a new hilarious article by Ron Swanson, until I scrolled up to the top and realized it was not. I was honestly shocked this was a real person especially after reading the bio.

    “Anything that can be gambled on and judging people by the clothes they wear”. Obviously there’s no depth to your shallowness…SMH. Honestly speechless that this is part of your amusement, no offense but your totally “that guy”. It seems like you about to hit 60, but with a 7th grader mentality.

    Best of luck to you, and your outragous, superficial view on the world. I hope it’s satisfying, because it seems by reading this a lonely place.

  5. Thomas Murphy

    Jul 24, 2017 at 6:39 pm

    Interesting thing happened…I went to fitting at Club Champion, worked with a great fitter, we started with shaft, that zeroed in fast, pulled a hole bunch of heads initially thinking split bag like 6-pw Srixon 765 4,5 Srixon 565, etc. you get the idea, player mid/short irons, game improvement long irons. The Srixon stayed in the hunt a long time but what we learned is I can’t hit a game improvement club for my life. I can but I hit player clubs WAY better, better smash factor, more consistent, etc. In the end it came down to 716CB vs. Apex — Apex better smash factor but Titleist tighter circle left/right — lasers. It wasn’t what I expected at all and it is far from stock pricing — kind of a pxg/epic etc. type experience but I picked up 20 yards over my current Mizunos. I was fully ready in the beginning to head straight into GI clubs Ping G, etc. but nay nay.

  6. Nomad Golfer

    Jul 24, 2017 at 2:10 am

    Instead of going back to the future, my club selection has gone forward to the past ie 8-10+ yr old clubs. With some experimentation I have found what works best for me and that’s all that matters. The clubs don’t shine but they’ve done the time.

  7. DrRob1963

    Jul 23, 2017 at 8:14 am

    Blades win – its easy – just look at all the career grand slam winners:
    Sarazen = blades
    Hogan = blades
    Player = blades
    Nicklaus = blades – 1st, 2nd & 3rd Slams
    Tiger = blades – 1st, 2nd & 3rd Slams
    Every GI & SGI club player in history = ZERO career slams

    • ibo

      Jul 24, 2017 at 12:00 pm

      Spieth has 3 Majors with AP2’s, which are not even CB’s?

    • 2putttom

      Jul 24, 2017 at 2:37 pm

      it’s not the arrow, … it’s the ____________

    • joro

      Jul 26, 2017 at 11:02 am

      Wake up “DR” Bob, they also are real Golfers with hips in the plus side that if you don’t know what that is, is it says they give strokes to par, not take strokes. They are very good, but so are the blades of today, not like the ones we played in the old days. And for you, I was once a +2. but today as an old geezer I have CB, spring face, strong lofts, Graphite, and everything else I can find. It is not the tools, it is the guy handling the tool, and these players handle them very well.

  8. Woody

    Jul 23, 2017 at 7:55 am

    Not sure why you had to rip on the president..crap gets old after a while. Please keep that crap out of your next article.

    • ACTUAL FACTS

      Jul 23, 2017 at 5:26 pm

      Agreed! Politics should be left off of WRX; however, the video of our golfing POTUS driving a cart on the greens was hard to watch!

  9. Harry

    Jul 22, 2017 at 11:55 pm

    Funny how some guys admit to not reading the article but then presume to know what it says, and they seem to read all the comments too.
    For my part, what prevents someone from paying for a fitting, getting a good set, and then just sticking with that set until the grooves are worn enough that the set needs to be replaced? I don’t think getting fit implies any need for getting a mother fitting/set every year or two. My starter set lasted me 15 yrs (too long I know), but I’d rather play the right stuff too long than keep on switching to things that don’t fit right.

  10. Jose Pinatas

    Jul 22, 2017 at 7:50 pm

    Great read. I’m drinking the kool aid.. Dude can play in my group anytime… We’ll play a 5some in 3 hours 45 mins hold nobody up(follow all cart rules and or restrictions), all the old traditionalist moofs will be shaking there heads saying they can’t play 5 at my course…. We be yelling back move aside bro new breed coming thru as were poppin GI 6irons 220, knocking wedgies inside 5ft, and billy mayfairing putts right in the jar, on our way to 67’s…… BOOM!!!! Hey what works for the goose doesn’t always work for the gander….

  11. ACTUAL FACTS

    Jul 22, 2017 at 11:25 am

    This was a pleasant read and an interesting take on club fitting that should be added as a how to section in the book How to Archer!

  12. Jim

    Jul 22, 2017 at 10:40 am

    I gave your article a shank. Reason, you made it way too much about you, and not us, the average golfer. You should have titled it “why I was playing the wrong clubs”. It did nothing to help me with my club choice.

  13. Rwj

    Jul 22, 2017 at 9:23 am

    Grown man using the word “fashion,”. Pass.

    • Double Mocha Man

      Jul 22, 2017 at 1:07 pm

      We’re not all beer guzzling, tough guy, anti-art guys out here in the “golf world”. That comment said a lot about you and your neanderthal ways…

      • J Witness

        Jul 23, 2017 at 3:49 pm

        And yours says a lot about you male feminist

        • Double Mocha Man

          Jul 24, 2017 at 4:36 pm

          Hey Witness… I’ll play you even up for 18 holes. Loser has to tour the nearest art museum, take in a classical concert and sip a flute of prosecco.

  14. Dave

    Jul 22, 2017 at 7:43 am

    Great article. Any golfer can improve their game by seeing a ‘Good’ clubfitter. But I do have to say to Mr. Metzler, you can’t judge a book by the cover.

    Additionally, what’s a perfectly prepared steak? and it all went to h*** with the Tenacious D.

  15. jgpl001

    Jul 22, 2017 at 5:45 am

    Boo, down with sort of thing

    How dare he get near the truth

    This site is for serious playaha’s, who play blades, PX 7.0 tipped 1 inch and 105g driver shafts in x flex

    Note to editor: please stop stupid articles like this, they are unpleasant and disturbing

  16. Chris

    Jul 22, 2017 at 4:36 am

    Odd article, there are many players clubs, including blades, that have the sweet spot in the middle of the face these days.

  17. james

    Jul 21, 2017 at 10:45 pm

    So woody, am i to understand that you do not like political comments, but you feel that those that do not like this article are haters, even though it contains political comments. Not trying to argue, just trying to understand your stance here.

  18. gwillis7

    Jul 21, 2017 at 10:40 pm

    Great article, I actually enjoyed it

  19. Woody

    Jul 21, 2017 at 10:07 pm

    One, I’d prefer you leave political comments out of it. And two, I think that most of the haters do not understand that most of this article is satire.

  20. james

    Jul 21, 2017 at 9:52 pm

    Seems strange that GolfWRX gives members warning about political comments and then publishes articles with asinine political comments on their front page.

  21. Jon

    Jul 21, 2017 at 9:19 pm

    I really liked the article until I saw “GolfTec Swing Instructor”.

  22. Bryan Metzler

    Jul 21, 2017 at 8:49 pm

    Thank you to everyone for the feedback. I appreciate everyone who took time to read it and comment (even the negative ones!). One of the reasons that I didn’t give out my fitters info is because I didn’t want him to be bombarded by negative trolling by people who missed the point of my article. For those of you that are interested in an incredible Tour-level fitting experience (That isn’t as expensive as you’d think), contact me and I’ll get you in touch with him. You might just learn some really awesome stuff about your game at the same time. And who knows, maybe the new Titleist MB 716’s are perfect for you! That’s the great thing about this game, is that there are so many ways to approach it, and you get to find your own way in reaching your potential. Just like practicing Zen, Yoga, or cooking, there are people out there that have been studying everything about it for years and know things that can accelerate your learning curve. Find them, ask them questions, ask them for teaching or help. There’s nothing wrong with learning everything you can and deciding what works for you. Enjoy The Open and raise a pint or eight this weekend!

    • hot babe

      Jul 21, 2017 at 11:53 pm

      I found your profile http://www.pof.com/member89809665.htm. your hot, call me I was to see your huge GI irons

    • RG

      Jul 22, 2017 at 1:18 am

      Ping i3 blades R flex 85mph iron swing and ill shot your eyes out with them.

      • Mick

        Nov 5, 2017 at 7:50 pm

        Never,,,NEVER play a guy still rocking PING I3 Blades,,,their is no hope against a guy who knows how to hit those !

    • Kevin

      Jul 22, 2017 at 2:30 pm

      For those of us that are stuck with our current irons until we can afford new ones, can you manually effect where the sweet spot is located via lead tape? If so, would tape on the toe side effectively move the sweet spot closer to the toe and visa versa? Thanks for an interesting article.

    • Scott

      Nov 5, 2017 at 6:47 pm

      Love to know your fitter and location… BTW, great read… swing your swing

  23. Ude

    Jul 21, 2017 at 8:45 pm

    I’m with ya Bubba, and it’s only the neurotic gearheads who will suffer immensely as the OEMs begin to fail and fall by the wayside, choking on their unsold inventories.

  24. Ude

    Jul 21, 2017 at 8:43 pm

    The OEMs who advertise copiously on GolfWRX are on their last legs. Why? Because golfers are not buying the newest and most expensive golf clubs and discarding their old clubs.
    They are desperate to jack up the marketplace otherwise they will collapse in their own mendacity. Within 5 years many of the traditional OEMs will vanish leaving a few and some boutique club companies. It’s happening with the collapse of big box store retailers and the OEMs are on their last gasps.
    Club fitting will force the retailers to more heavily invest in qualified fitters and the OEMs will become component companies selling club heads and shafts to the stores that fit. This is a problematic marketing model.

  25. Mike Hollingsworth

    Jul 21, 2017 at 7:41 pm

    Holy smokes. I don’t think I’ve ever read prose that screams “I’m grinning at my own genius while writing” quite like this. Sometimes less is more.

  26. Someone

    Jul 21, 2017 at 6:57 pm

    Center shot on a blade is the same as center GI club or SGi because. Those “clunky and chunky,” clubs are only better in the sense that off center hits are still just as far. That is literally the only real difference. All you are saying is that you’re not willing to practice enough to groove your swing to hit closer to the center sweet spot and would rather play equipment that makes up for your inconsistency. There is nothing wrong with that at all, but don’t try and fool people into thinking that they need SGI or GI clubs over blades. The game was originally played with blades and that shows true ability and consistency and willingness to grind until your swing is grooved to hit the center or nearest the center as possible. Consistency is the key when it comes to irons…stop trying to dissuade players from playing the clubs they like. Not everyone can drive a corvette to its potential, but that doesn’t mean everyone should buy a corolla…you’re deluded because you have finally settled and found what works for you…which isn’t the same as what works for everyone. For some people, having good looking equipment gives them the confidence needed to help them perform well. For some it’s more mental than technical. For you it was a technical issue, not a mental. For others it will be a mental issue over technical. Don’t try and steer people away from playing what they want. Instead steer them to help them get better using the equipment they have. You’re only perpetuating the useless spending of money to try and buy new equipment every year instead of telling the truth that they should get their swing checked out or take lessons and then get a fitting to help adjust their equipment and then MAYBE they might consider gear if it potentially increases their gains by whatever percentage they determine. For me, a 10% gain is worth it, but for a pro, something as small as a 1% gain could mean the different between hitting a 4i or a 6i into the green. Who let you write it self fluff piece anyway, they must not have read this before it was published. Get off your high horse and maybe try helping people by teaching them or showing them instead of talking yourself up and thinking you’re so wonderful because you found your winning combination that worked for you, clubs that make up for your inability to groove a swing consistent enough to play a more precise club. Anyone can kill with a bazooka but it takes a pro to snipe.

    • ooffa

      Jul 22, 2017 at 9:03 am

      you are filled with negativity and discouragement for the average golfer.

  27. izzlist of izzles

    Jul 21, 2017 at 6:41 pm

    allmyshank.jpg

  28. QR

    Jul 21, 2017 at 6:40 pm

    This is a safe space website for boys and men who homogeneously love their clubs and the game of golf. How dare anybody insult golf and those who are besotted with golf. Delete this horrid article.

  29. Jim

    Jul 21, 2017 at 6:39 pm

    Remember – it’s all about getting you to go spend money on “new & improved” gear that you don’t need. THE best way to improve your game is with lessons and range balls.

  30. Styles

    Jul 21, 2017 at 5:55 pm

    I can see how someone could be so self-absorbed they could write this article and not realize how inappropriate and awful it is. I cannot see how any gWRX editor could sign off on releasing it to the homepage.

  31. CCGolfTx

    Jul 21, 2017 at 5:53 pm

    Worst article ever written on this website. The author is totally out of touch. People will not be judging him due to the clubs in his bag but rather his total lack of character and originality. He is 40 years old but seems to have the credibility of a sophomore frat boy who loves torturing pledges more than life itself. I do hope he realizes that the players on the champions tour can actually play excellent golf. Also, leave The President of the USA out of it.

  32. Lloyd

    Jul 21, 2017 at 4:15 pm

    Circle jerking forum gearheads squealing like stuck pigs cause they didn’t get their sexy clubs fitted for their weenie swing.
    Can’t love unfitted clubs cause that makes them imperfect and inferior.

  33. Grizz01

    Jul 21, 2017 at 3:46 pm

    30 years of Club Componet Companies like Golfworks, Golfsmith (gone now) and the old Dynacraft company. Along with every OME company… if golfers don’t know they need to be fitted… they’ve had their head in the sand. Let them be…

  34. Pured

    Jul 21, 2017 at 3:45 pm

    Brilliant!! FINALLY a refreshing read in the forum of golf that I would happily tip my cocktail glass to any damn day. Cheers!

  35. 2putttom

    Jul 21, 2017 at 3:28 pm

    Guys will judge me silently when they look in my bag and assume I don’t belong there. Be my guest, fellas. I’ll be the one on the patio chilling with a Woodford on the rocks after signing for a 65 while the guys with the flashy blades crowd around the scoreboard and stress out, hoping that their 73s get them into a playoff for the last spot. Now onto much more important things, like those pleated trousers…

    And I’ll add skinny jeans to the pleated trouser list

  36. Jay Bengston

    Jul 21, 2017 at 3:06 pm

    I have trouble believing the equipment change would make as big of a difference as described for someone with a good game. But all the whining about the author describing how well he plays is funny. He obviously had to emphasize that point or else be dismissed a hack by blade playing 80 shooters.

  37. cg

    Jul 21, 2017 at 3:05 pm

    how does he measure where the CG is?

  38. Timbleking

    Jul 21, 2017 at 3:02 pm

    I personnally think that, after 16 years playing and si many iron sets played (not far from 100 now), club fitting simply sucks. No figure will tell you how good you feel behind the ball and how confident you are, which is actually key to good golf playin’.
    I dropped a set of Titleist 714 CB from the Tour Van to play my best rounds in years with…my girlfriend’s Wilson DC half-set. And each time I do that, I poay in the low 70. Conclusion is simple…

  39. cody

    Jul 21, 2017 at 2:42 pm

    works at golftec is all you need to know about this guy… moving on

    • Jim

      Jul 21, 2017 at 3:48 pm

      Hahahahaha!!!

      HooYah that!!!!

      The absolute worst

  40. sam

    Jul 21, 2017 at 2:30 pm

    shank of the week……

  41. theD0n

    Jul 21, 2017 at 2:15 pm

    Having read the last few issues of Golf Magazine (the subscription I got for free by buying stuff from Global Golf), I noticed a huge push to players to get fitted for their clubs. Yes, it’s another revenue stream for the golf equipment business. Yes, I realize that if I wanted to play my best, getting fitted is one of the best things I could do for my game. However, this article confirms my suspicion, that custom fitting reeks of affluence. How much did all this cost? I’ve read articles that a fitting at Club Champion, combined with the purchase of whatever they recommend, can set you back $6k-$8k or even more.

    If this is the way golf is headed, then I’ll let the rich have their country clubs, their crappy Woodford Reserve, and their custom fittings. I’ll continue to buy my clubs off eBay, fill up my flask with Four Roses Single Barrel, and head out to the mini down the street. Ha!

    • Someone

      Jul 21, 2017 at 6:41 pm

      So being someone that has gone to club champion, I will tell you that the price reflects what you tell your fitter. If you ask for exotic tour equipment with ultra rare shafts, etc, that is exactly what you will get. If you ask for moderately priced, it reflects, and so forth. You only get what you ask for. When you tell the fitter “I have no limited find me the best gear for my game,” you open yourself up to premium prices. That’s not to say that you can’t play your best with less expensive gear now! I didn’t ask for the most expensive, but at the same time I didn’t ask for the cheapest. I asked my fitter to show me options, and when something was too expensive for me I asked for its less expensive yet comparable brethren and they complied. Hit the setup in Trackman and either proved to be slightly under or pretty much the same as the more expensive option.

      My advice to you, don’t go by what others say 100%. People will be turned off when they find out that there’s better gear out there for them, but they’ve wasted years buying used or off the rack only to find out they’ve spent just as much as they could have on a fit set from club champ. To make things even better, you can purchase part by part. You don’t need the entire bag immediately. My entirely new set would’ve cost me 3k. I ended up changing my iron shafts and my putter and my game improved from that alone. The gains from my iron heads to the new ones was good but I decided to play my head longer since they were still in great shape. They happily oblige. They had no problem tweaking the setup to meet the specs that we measured, tested them out to confirm and then the deal was done. I did what I could afford at the time. Getting fit by them was the best decision I’ve made in golf so far. If you’re hesitant about the price, wait until the holidays when they do their entire bag fitting for 50% off. In addition single portion fittings (woods, irons, wedges, etc.) are only 33% off. Those deals happen pretty frequently. And to make things better, they honor their lifetime warranty. It’s not for the lifetime of the clubs, it’s for the lifetime that you are working with them using the equipment they make for you. In addition the tolerances hey have are more restrictive than oems, so clubs are setup with +\- 1gram whereas OEM’s accept +\- 5grams or sometimes more. They will work with you, your fitter will stay in contact with you and help you with your transition and follow your game with you. Unhappy with the equipment they built for you, they’ll do what’s necessary to make it right, even if it means sending it back and changing it out. Again this is only for the equipment they provide. So for my case, it’s only the putter and he iron shafts. But the guarantee still applies. I am not really feeling my putter lately and it’s been off. I’ve been wanting a slightly heavier head and putter so I may take it back and let them know to see what other options I have for putters. They’ll put what I’ve paid already towards the cost of the new equipment. If it’s less, then they swap it out, obviously if the new stuff is more I gotta pay thee difference. The key idea is that you get fit by them, but you also keep a lasting relationship with them to help keep your game on par. Yes it is a business model but at the same time the long term relationship with the customer satisfaction and support is far greater than any temporary sale on a club that you’re gonna sell in 6months looking for the next greatest thing. How frequently does a pro change teachers? How frequently do they change gear? Not that frequent at all…so it only makes sense that your gear supplier be consistent as well.

  42. SeanSpicer'sResignationLetter

    Jul 21, 2017 at 2:13 pm

    Great article and something to think about. I play blades myself, but often feel that my tendency to hit the ball closer to the toe would lend itself better to a different club. Or I could use lead tape.
    Keep it up!

    • Someone

      Jul 21, 2017 at 6:44 pm

      Hitting the toe is not the sign of equipment change, it’s a sign of setup adjustment. I.e. Move a little closer or don’t pull your hands in so much in the swing etc. the clubs will always do what the user requests of them. The club wasn’t doing edginess to hit the toe more frequently than others.

      Spend more money on club adjustments or just get your swing looked at to determine if it’s as Si mole as stepping a half inch closer or swinging a little more outside

      • SeanSpicer'sResignationLetter

        Jul 21, 2017 at 8:07 pm

        conversely, if, for a given loft lie and length, i’m hitting the ball more towards the toe than the heel, one might infer that with all things the same, having a CoG more toward the toe would help me. Put another way – holding my swing as constant (which I’m the first to admit is a mistake itself), I would be better served with a club that fit my swing, having a toe-bias to the CoG.

  43. Sean

    Jul 21, 2017 at 1:41 pm

    The game of golf is about scoring, not what clubs are in your bag, and the scorecard couldn’t care less what clubs those are. There is a lot of ego involved in golf, from the kind of equipment one has, to what tees are played. If some people are concerned about “appearances” then they have bigger problems then their x-stiff shafts.

    Totally unnecessary comment on POTUS. By the way, he chased down a Marine’s cover, twice. Another sign of laziness?

  44. carl spackler

    Jul 21, 2017 at 1:25 pm

    what a tool. i hope some guy with pleated pants, a visor and a set of mp-4s schools you.

  45. Travis

    Jul 21, 2017 at 1:18 pm

    Is your profile name BrianL99???

  46. Matt

    Jul 21, 2017 at 1:01 pm

    “I’ll be the one on the patio chilling with a Woodford on the rocks after signing for a 65”

    https://media.giphy.com/media/Fml0fgAxVx1eM/giphy.gif

  47. Tom

    Jul 21, 2017 at 12:55 pm

    A couple of things:
    1) Leave politics out of it. I don’t care if you like or dislike the President, your commentary had nothing whatsoever to do with the rest of the article. I think we are berated enough on a daily basis not to have it randomly shoehorned into a golf article.
    2) I actually have had the complete opposite experience when it comes to clubs. I am a lower handicap (5) who plays a slight pull draw with a slower tempo and, attempted, smoother swing. I had played the same muscleback irons for years and had worked down to a 2 handicap. Four years ago I started listening to the wisdom of magazines, commentators and the Internet that I needed more “game improvement” or whatever you want to call them, irons with lighter shafts, bigger sweet spots, and, different centers of gravity, because the pros are moving in that direction and so should you! I did my research, got fitted, and chose my clubs. Long story short, I went from shooting in and around par to not being able to break 80. It took 4 years of trying to fix my technique to ditch the GI irons and go back to irons with less offset, heavier shafts, and thin topline. My scores came down so fast it was almost miraculous. Get fitted, seek the opinion of experts, but ultimately, use what you’re comfortable with and enjoy yourself.

    • Grizz01

      Jul 21, 2017 at 3:52 pm

      Good reply! I’m still playing with my 1994 Lynx Parallax irons. I’ve had to move on with some wedges because they wear down quicker. I know these Lynx are anywhere from 1.5 -2 club lengths shorter than what is marketed today. (because all they are doing is changing an old 5 iron to a 7 iron length and loft). It doesn’t bruise my ego one bit when someone takes out less club than I do. (Actually makes me look pretty good that I can still hit a 2 iron when the lowest iron in their bag in a 4 or 5.)

    • Hmmm

      Jul 21, 2017 at 4:57 pm

      “We”? As in the people who berated the previous president constantly based on smears and lies about his religion (irrelevant in a country founded upon Separation of Church and State) and birthplace (just plain fake news)? Tom you should open your mind and free yourself from the mindlessness of partisan politics (this goes both ways!).

      • Grizz01

        Jul 22, 2017 at 3:28 am

        Just shut up…. enough with the politicing… Hmmm, you talk politics and get it wrong. The United States was not founded upon Separation of Church and State. Quit listening to garbage. Start reading and studying for yourself.

    • BIG STU

      Jul 22, 2017 at 7:58 pm

      Tom dead on it on all fronts even about the POTUS. Yep I played with muscleback blades all my life but recently switched to some forged CB Callys. Now I still maintain a 5 handicap playing only a couple days a week if that. Now if I go to practicing and playing everyday like I did when playing comp then I will more than likely go back to the blades. Since I do not practice or play as much as I used to I needed a little forgiveness in my irons. I am one who could give 2 hoots about what one chooses to play. I have caught a little heck on a couple of the WRX forums because I do not play the musclebacks much anymore. But then again I have been told the Callys I hit might as well be blades. Hey I play what I want to. Your last sentence on your comment says it all for me very well stated

  48. Buford T Justice

    Jul 21, 2017 at 12:42 pm

    I don’t care about what other people thing, so, I’m going to write an entire piece illustrating how little I care about what they think.

    I’m going to give specific examples about how I’m perceived.

    I’m going to write a few fictional paragraphs about how the folks who are supposedly eye’ing my bag shot X, and I shot < X.

    Then, I'm going to remind you again about how little I care about what people think.

    Trying to convince us, or, trying to convince yourself?

  49. AV

    Jul 21, 2017 at 12:31 pm

    Er…Rickie Fowler’s clubs are exactly what you need. Blades with tungsten plugs in the toe to move the “sweet spot” out towards the toe.

  50. Ron

    Jul 21, 2017 at 12:31 pm

    Spend your money on lessons, not equipment changes. The biggest improvement you will see in your game will be from a series of lessons from a good pro. Not from switching from blades to GI’s.

  51. Sam

    Jul 21, 2017 at 12:11 pm

    I disagree, for a tour player this is important, but for the rest of us you get on a trackman and play trackman to get clubs and shafts that are marginally better on trackman. Then you go out on the course and they don’t make a real difference at all. It’s a waste of time and money.

    I just buy off the rack now, Dynamic Gold S300 is good enough for me and a Diamana blue board in stiff is fine. Where the money is in the wedges and putter, that is where rounds are made.

    • Mbu

      Jul 21, 2017 at 1:20 pm

      I agree with you.. , except for the putter bit. Good putters can putt with anything.

  52. Chuck

    Jul 21, 2017 at 12:05 pm

    I was hoping that the payoff here would be one or all of these things:

    1. A detailed description of what the author has in his bag. Heads, shafts, lies, lofts, swingweights, tipping, etc.
    2. A sensible, readable, practical description of how to fit oneself for cubs, OR…
    3. The name and address of one or more clubfitters who will make a big difference in our golf games.

    Most of this article was about the shape and weighting of iron heads. And actually, the OEM’s are ahead of us in this game, making more and more traditional looking clubs with more tungsten weighting out to the toe. (A good idea, I always thought.) But still, if the point of all of this is to do a lecture on the shape and weighting of iron heads, that’s fine. But it isn’t a lot of “clubfitting.”

  53. Travis

    Jul 21, 2017 at 11:57 am

    The only thing I came away with from this article is that the writer doesn’t like Trump and really likes himself.

    • Darrin

      Jul 21, 2017 at 12:32 pm

      My thoughts exactly. We really need to use an article about golf equipment as a venue to make opinionated and unsubstantiated political commentary. Shows a total lack of class (wow how ironic) and character.

  54. Brian

    Jul 21, 2017 at 11:12 am

    Ever hear of Maltby?

    • Maltby the Physicist

      Jul 21, 2017 at 1:19 pm

      Yeah, exactly. This measurement created by some “unknown physicist” is the C-dimension in MPF and has been published for most irons for years and years. There’s no secret special sauce in this data.

  55. S-maleBootieSlam

    Jul 21, 2017 at 11:09 am

    What a tool.

  56. Jason

    Jul 21, 2017 at 11:05 am

    I think my IQ is lower after reading this.

  57. Pixlputterman

    Jul 21, 2017 at 11:03 am

    Leave the politics out, PLEASE. I didnt read past the first paragraph.

  58. Donald Trump

    Jul 21, 2017 at 10:58 am

    Your clubs would fit if they were single length. But you keep telling yourself they are a fad as you hit your snap hook OB.

  59. Ray Koobatian

    Jul 21, 2017 at 10:54 am

    All golfers should always get fitted for their clubs, shafts, equipment. That being said whether you would like to play blades muscle backs or cavity backs should be a personal choice for each golfer. Playing something because you think it looks good should never be a determining factor in your selection of clubs. Also for those who have never played the professional tours, even a scratch index at your club level or public course level is not a determining factor for Q school or entry into the professional tours. Just ask Jerry Rice how that goes. He got his hat handed to him when he thought he could play the Nationwide tour a few years back.

    • Jacob

      Jul 21, 2017 at 12:02 pm

      What’s wrong with playing a club because you think it looks good? Everyone has their own priorities.

  60. Greg V

    Jul 21, 2017 at 10:54 am

    Fun article. I forgot how much fun it is to practice with the eyes closes. As Percy Boomer used to say, when your eyes are closed, your senses are wide open. As a matter of fact, one summer I had a terrible time with my driver, and started hitting my tee shots with my eyes closes. Driver yips solved. Great game, right?

  61. Desmond

    Jul 21, 2017 at 10:51 am

    Tough to find a fitter who will do what yours did for you.

    But over the years, I’ve gone to ligher graphite shafts in irons, and my irons are more precise; I’ve gone to lighter shafts in driver and fwy metals, and while there is a balance, I find shafts that allow me to swing in balance. Still working on the eyes closed thing…

  62. Patdugolf

    Jul 21, 2017 at 10:30 am

    What is this pile of words? Please cut this guy loose

  63. Gordy

    Jul 21, 2017 at 10:28 am

    I play blades, but great article. I have recently thought about switching to a more game improvement iron just to see if the same thing as this article pointed out would happen to me. Only problem for me. I hit the ball really high and I think that more game improvement irons may make it go higher unless I flight the shafts down. But fun article.

    • Bob Pegram

      Jul 23, 2017 at 2:09 am

      If you put high flex point, tip stiff shafts in the game improvement irons they may even hit the ball lower than your current clubs. Shafts – especially graphite – can be made to affect launch angle and spin rate a great deal as well as affecting other shot characteristics.

  64. Philip

    Jul 21, 2017 at 10:25 am

    A club is a club – play whatever you want – you don’t need to justify it to the world to be okay with what you want to play. I don’t play a blade (hard to get them anymore, anyways) so I play MBs. I do not play any worse with them over my SGi clubs, but I can get the ball closer to the hole with more precision – thus more birdies. Birdies are fun – I like fun, so I play the clubs that allow me to have more fun.

  65. PXG PRO

    Jul 21, 2017 at 10:25 am

    WTF is this drivel?

  66. Double Mocha Man

    Jul 21, 2017 at 10:10 am

    Bryan… thanks for the article with the color commentary. I have your old affliction… the pull hook. So the next time we sit down on that deck by the water for cocktails I will be hitting you up for funding for my new set of irons, with the sweet spot closer to the toe. But not to worry, I’ll pick up the drink tab.

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Podcasts

The 19th Hole: Mark Rolfing and architect David Kidd on Carnoustie’s challenges

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It’s Open Championship week at Carnoustie! This week, Michael Williams hosts NBC and Golf Channel analyst Mark Rolfing and award-winning architect David Kidd (Bandon Dunes) to talk about how the pros will try to tame “Car-nasty.” It also features Jaime Darling of Golf Scotland on the many attractions around Carnoustie outside the golf course.

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

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Opinion & Analysis

How often should you actually get “Up-and-Down” based on your handicap?

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‘Up and Downs’ have long been the accepted measure of skill in the short game. The chart below shows average performance in this area for the PGA Tour and an array of handicap levels. How do you fit in?

A few points of definition: The above refers to short game shots around the green, other than from the sand. [Stay tuned: sand shots will be my next article.] I consider the short game to be all shots from within 50 yards of the hole. This distance was a topic of debate 30 years ago when I was developing my golf analysis program. I was fortunate to be working with Golf Digest Golf Schools and some of the top instructors were good enough to embrace the better form of game analysis that I was creating. In particular, I owe a great deal to Chuck Cook, Jack Lumpkin and Hank Johnson. Their help and encouragement in my early stages gave me a much needed boost of momentum. Little did we know that what I then called “Strokes Lost and Saved” would ultimately become the accepted standard of analysis on the PGA Tour — now know as “Strokes Gained.” Anyway, we agreed that 50 yards was the right distance range for the short game for two reasons:

  1. It represented the short game for virtually every handicap level, men and women.
  2. It was a short enough distance that it didn’t need to be sliced even further.

That said, I do NOT believe that “Up and Downs” are an appropriate or accurate measure of short game skill for two reasons:

  1. It represents the combination of two skills: Short Game and Putting.
  2. It ignores the ERRORS or shots that actually miss the green.

In my 30+ years of studying performance at all skill levels, I have found that it is the FREQUENCY and SEVERITY of bad shots (errors) that do more to influence a player’s scoring level than do all the good shots. Accordingly, I built the ability to capture data on the common errors in the game into ShotByShot.com.

The true measure of a player’s short game skill is their Strokes Gained in that facet. BUT, that is simply a number — a positive number is good and a negative number, not so much. But how then to best display the skill that is associated with the Strokes Gained number? I believe the combination of three stats to be the correct way to display short game skill:

  • Average putting distance, when the green is successfully hit.
  • Percent shots hit to within 5 feet of the hole
  • Percent errors, or shots that miss the putting surface.

Where does your game fall in these two important categories?

Note, that the two lines cross at about a 16 handicap. That is actually a better than average golfer yet for every Chip/Pitch shot that they successfully get to within 5 feet of the hole, they are also chunking or sculling one and missing the green altogether. Work to dramatically reduce the errors and that 16 will drop to 12 or 13?

You might ask: How can the PGA Tour make more errors than the scratch golfer? Good question! I have two explanations:

  1. They really are that good! Regardless of the relative difficulty of the shot, Tour players will go for it. They have the confidence that when they miss they will get the next up and down. At the same time, the amateur that has reached the lofty level of Scratch has generally done so thru rigorous consistency and the avoidance of errors. At the low handicap levels, a bogey can be acceptable but a mistake that results in a double is NOT.
  2. The tour Shotlink data considers the fringe of the green to be a miss whereas I recommend that players count the fringe as a green hit and a putting opportunity. Your long game has been efficient enough to get there and should be rewarded with the GIR. At the same time, to count the shot from the fringe as a short game shot will unfairly reward your short game skill for what was actually a putt.

That reminds me again of my very early days when Chuck Cook said to me: “Pete, Tour players don’t make errors in the short game!”  See Chuck, I was right, they do! For a Complete Strokes Gained Analysis of your game, log on to: ShotByShot.com.

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Opinion & Analysis

Think Carnoustie’s hard? Try winning a title on it playing golf with one arm

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When things get challenging during the 147th Open this week on the Championship Course at Carnoustie Golf Links in Scotland, the players would do well to think of Mike Benning–specifically the fortitude he channeled into success at the venerable venue.

Benning grew up with golf at Congressional while his father, Bob, was head professional at the iconic country club in Bethesda, Md. Due to a rare form of cancer, Benning, who was already a top junior in the Washington, D.C. area, lost his left arm below the elbow to amputation at age 14.

Rather than let that stop him from playing, he learned to adapt. So much so that he won back-to-back Society of One-Armed Golfers world championships in 1993-94. The first win came at Seaford Golf Course in Sussex, England, in 1993. Benning defended his title at Carnoustie in 1994, the 56th and 57th renditions of the annual event, which began in the 1930s.

Benning was low medalist in stroke play at Seaford, shooting 80-81-161. With the top 16 finishers advancing to match play, Benning won four matches in two days to become champion. He went to Carnoustie the next year full of confidence but couldn’t find the form initially that carried him at Seaford, qualifying 10th in medal play.

“My game wasn’t on, and the course was brawny and fast,” Benning said this week from his home in Scituate, Mass. “The course was so dry it was grey, and it was windy. That makes Carnoustie very difficult, even more challenging than normal. I had a difficult draw in match play, but I found my game when it mattered most, and only one of my matches went to the 18th hole.”

In the championship match, Benning defeated Scotsman Brian Crombie of Dundee, a 25-minute drive from Carnoustie.

“He had about 50 friends and family members rooting him on, the crowd was definitely behind him,” Benning recalled. “But I had a couple Americans following me. One was Mike Gibson, who now works for Titleist. He came out wearing a pair of red plus fours and an American flag shirt. He and Mark Frace really propped me up. I remember having a big decision on the 10th hole – whether to try and get a 3-wood over the burn – so I turned and looked at those guys behind me, and they encouraged me to go for it. I cleared the burn and ended up 12 feet from the hole.”

Benning was an independent sales rep in the golf business before joining Hanger, Inc., the leading U.S. provider of prosthetics and orthotics, where he is currently Marketing Manager. He has played other Open Championship courses but calls Carnoustie’s Championship layout “probably the greatest risk-reward course” in the rota. “Seeing it on television doesn’t do justice to the demanding test of golf it presents players,” he said.

To underscore his assertion, Benning cited the 6th hole – “Hogan’s Alley” – named after 1953 Open Champion Ben Hogan. Here is the description for it from the Carnoustie Golf Links website. “Normally played into prevailing wind, this can be a severe par 5. Bunkers and out of bounds await the miss-cued drive and although the best line is up Hogan’s Alley between the bunkers and the out of bounds fence, it requires a brave player to drive to that narrow piece of fairway. The second shot is no less perilous with a ditch angling across the fairway and the out of bounds continuing to be a threat. The approach is reasonably straightforward to an undulating green, particular care must be taken if the pin is located on the back-right portion of the green. A player should always be content with a five on this hole as it can be the ruin of many a scorecard.”

Benning said the pair of fairway bunkers side by side on the 14th hole – known as “The Spectacles – have to be experienced to be understood how hard they play for those unfortunate enough to find them.

“I hit into one of them during a match and it was the only time I had to hit backwards out of a bunker during the championship,” Benning remembered. “The face of the bunker was unthinkably high.”

The closing holes at Carnoustie’s Championship Course – Nos. 16-18 – may be the most difficult finish in all major golf, particularly No. 18, named “Home”.

“Just ask Jean Van de Velde,” said Benning, referring to the Frenchman who led by three strokes going to final hole of the 1999 Open Championship. Van de Velde took triple bogey to fall back into a tie and playoff, which he lost to Paul Lawrie. No golf follower who watched the debacle can forget the image of Van de Velde standing in Barry’s Burn with his trouser bottoms rolled up, hands on hips, stunned disbelief etched on his face. Conversely, Lawrie’s final round 67 astounded Benning, who pointed out that the final round average score was significantly higher. The 18th also cost Johnny Miller the 1975 Open title, after Miller took two shots to get out of a fairway bunker on the hole.

Suffice it to say, Carnoustie will provide many of the world’s greatest players the chance for immortal golf glory this week, or demoralizing defeat. Maybe both. Whomever emerges as champion, Mike Benning will relate to the elation felt after prevailing on one of the game’s greatest courses.

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19th Hole

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