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Bobby Clampett: “The 2 big problems with club fitting”

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Four million golfers are still quitting golf in the United States each year. My concern about this trend has led me to write several recent articles for GolfWRX. I’ve shared my thoughts because I believe much can be done to help golfers better understand the game, and most importantly, improve their games in ways that are not being done today.

The high frustration level of golfers is a leading cause of their giving up the game. I’ve talked about how I’ve learned this playing in over 200 pro-ams in my five years on the Champions Tour. I’ve discussed the sources of this confusion: style-based golf instruction with an over-abundance of swing tips, as well as confusing and conflicting swing theories offered on television and internet sources, etc. Another cause for concern that no one seems to talk about involves the way club fitting is typically done in our industry. While there are many examples of how improper club fitting causes issues and frustration, there are two main areas that desperately need to be addressed by fitters and even club manufacturers.

Problem 1: Clubs Designed to Correct a Slice

The first culprit is clubs that are designed to correct a slice. I’ve had several first-time students take lessons with me this season who had been recently fit for clubs from a wide range of club fitters. Some of these students had significant out-to-in swing paths through impact and all were chronic faders/slicers of the golf ball. The clubs recommended to them were “anti-slice” clubs. All the grips were small (standard size), and the woods (especially the drivers) were upright with the sliding weights put in the heel. The irons were “jacked-upright” as much as 8 degrees. All of these adjustments were made for the purpose of building in the ability to hit hooks.

Many of the woods with today’s improvement in technology can be easily altered with sliding or interchangeable weights. Adding weights into the heel slows the heel down through impact and allows the toe to close faster. Thinner grips also encourage the golfer to have more active hands and forearms causing the toe to close faster. While some of today’s adjustable woods do allow for a small bit of upright lie adjustment, it would be good if manufacturers went back to longer hosels that can be more lie-adjusted.

If the lie of the club is upright, more “hook” is built into the club through the principle that “loft is hook.” Additionally, the more the available “loft” of the club, the more the upright angle increases hook. So a set of clubs built 8 degrees upright has a very different directional profile with the 4-iron than with the wedge. This is a fact a well trained and experienced club fitter will take into consideration and properly apply.

Without correction, a wedge that is 8 degrees upright will really go left, while the 4-iron won’t have as much correction. Additionally, the uprightness of the club significantly reduces the sweet-spot, making the club less forgiving by increasing the chance that the ball will be struck lower in the face (which has a worse effect on long irons than short irons). Gear effect has now been proven to exist even in irons, and low-in-the-clubface hits will cause a gear effect fade, magnified with lower lofted clubs, even if the face and path are square. So, the uprightness of the club creates a bigger pull/hook in the wedge and the effect doesn’t really work in the longer irons. If fitters are going to use this approach, then short irons should be bent less upright and long irons more upright, but even so, this will reduce the sweet-spot in the longer irons and most golfers will really struggle to get the ball into the air since most of their hits will be low on the clubface.

I’ve had playing lessons with some of these students and have clearly seen how much farther to the left shots go when teeing the ball up, such as on a par-3. With the contact higher in the face, the contact has “zero” gear effect. The upright lie angle, combined with the loft of the club, sends the ball with a pull-hook way off target. This alone is enough of a source of confusion and frustration to send some golfers home, back to the tennis courts, to the card room, or whatever else might take the place of golf.

Additionally, golf clubs that are set to “lie angles” that are not square will not cut through the grass (when taking divots) as they are intended to do. For example, using the example above, if the lie angle of the club is set too upright and the shot is hit a little fat, the heel of the iron will dig or hit into the grass first, usually causing the heel to slow down while the toe of the club speeds up, thus closing the face and causing a big pull/hook. Different grass types, different firmness of grasses and different density of grasses can have differing effects, leading to increased inconsistencies of golfers and greater frustration levels.

Some club manufacturers have built game-improvement irons with bigger sweet-spots (with lower CG’s and higher MOI’s). When club fitters make the lie angle “off-square,” this improvement immediately is canceled and, in most cases, completely nullifying any benefit the game-improvement design can provide. The poor golfer who just spent thousands of dollars getting new equipment comes to the realization that the clubs didn’t work that well after all, and his/her 16 handicap is not dropping.

The real answer to game improvement lies in improving the golfer’s impact first, then getting clubs to match his or ideal impact or the impact they are striving to attain. Then, and only then, will the golfer get the full and just reward for improving one’s impact. Simply trying to buy a new game by getting a new set of clubs just doesn’t work. One must work with an instructor who truly knows what proper impact is and is diligently directing the instruction to improve their impact first. Then they can have a knowledgeable club fitter fit clubs to that proper impact. Unfortunately, in our industry, instructors and club fitters rarely work together. Golfers are continually being fitted to their improper impact and thus effectively playing with clubs with smaller sweet spots that are ill-designed for what they were originally intended to do.

Problem 2: Fitting Irons for Distance

The second problem that seems to be growing in the industry is the focus on increased distance with the irons. I don’t mean to be too blunt here, but who cares how far you hit an 8-iron! Today’s pitching wedge is yesterday’s 9-iron. My pitching wedge is set at 49 degrees, and my 9-iron is 44 degrees (about the standard loft for today’s pitching wedge). The only two clubs in the bag that should be designed for distance are your driver and your 3-wood. All the other clubs should be set for proper gapping and designed to improve consistency and proximity to the hole. That’s why my pitching wedge is at 49 degrees and I only hit it 120 yards (exactly 16 yards farther than my 54-degree sand wedge). Most of my students hit a pitching wedge 20 yards farther than I do, but I drive the ball 30-40 yards farther than they do. When they get into the 7-irons through 4-irons, their gaps narrow. They have a 175-yard shot, and they don’t know what club selection to make since the 7, 6, 5, and 4 irons all go somewhat similar distances.

When I dig a little deeper, I start to find significant differences in spin rates. Like most pros on the PGA Tour, my 7 iron spins about 7000 rpm, I launch it around 17.5 degrees and carry the ball about 158 yards with 88 mph of clubhead speed. OK, I’m retired from playing competitive golf and I’m 58 years old, so I don’t have that youthful club head speed anymore. When I try some of the new products that are the top sellers today, I start launching the ball slightly higher but my spin rate drops below 6,000 rpm. Suddenly, I’m hitting my 7-iron 170 yards like my 6 iron. But is this better?

Yes, my peak height gets slightly higher (I do like that), and the ball won’t roll out much differently, even with the lower spin rates. So, what’s the problem you ask? When I start to look at distance control numbers and proximity to the hole, I clearly see higher distance dispersions and thus proximity to the hole gets worse. Learning to hit the ball flag high is one of the key separators between top PGA Tour Players and those a notch or two below. It’s also a key element in lowering scores. So, greater distance with my irons actually makes my game worse and it does the same with my students, too, because accuracy and ability to get the ball consistently closer to the hole is negatively impacted.

What avid golfers are really wanting is game improvement. They want to see their handicaps go down, shoot their lowest scores, create personal bests. Sure, there is a bit of “wow factor” they like to have with the new, shiny equipment, but the people I give lessons to and have played with in all these pro-ams want a better game! How are they going to get that when the golf industry separates teachers and club fitters? Where can golfers go to get the whole experience of tying in their swing improvement that creates better impact with their equipment properly set up?

If you want to see your scores get better, the best way to do so is to work with a qualified golf instructor who knows how to improve your impact while keeping your style of swing. You want to work with a club fitter who understands that the lie angles of the irons should be set to square, and that proximity to the hole is more important in the irons than distance. Only then can you get the biggest game improvement and take full advantage of hitting better shots with a better impact.

Improve your impact, improve your game; it really is that simple!

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For students wanting to experience how improving their impact will improve their games, Bobby suggests coming to his next Signature Golf School, creating your own private school for your own group, and/or signing up for a private lesson. Simply go to: www.impactzonegolf.com or call 239-236-5536. For those instructors who want to learn "Impact-Based®" instruction, Bobby Clampett now has a fully developed Advanced Level One online training fully supported by the PGA and LPGA with continuing education credits. For those who complete, Bobby and Impact Zone Golf are developing a Certification Program and ultimately a masters Program. Impact Zone Golf is ready to build an army of good golf instructors and rid the epidemic of frustrated golfers victimized by "style-based" instruction methods. Bobby Clampett is a well-known PGA Tour Winner and Longtime CBS Golf Broadcaster, but perhaps he will be best known for his discovery of Impact-Based® Instruction. His two golf academies are in Naples, Florida: Indoor Performance Studio (1040 Collier Center Way, Unit 14, Naples, FL 34110) and at the Tiburon Golf Club at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort. Bobby is the first golf instructor in history to be a PGA Tour winner and earn PGA Master Professional in Teaching and Coaching. He and his team of Impact-Based® Academy Trained instructors offer year-round Golf Schools, Private Lessons, Women’s Programs, Annual and Seasonal Coaching Programs, Competitive Junior Training and much more. He now offers Instructor Training and Certification approved by the PGA and LPGA. Visit: https://impactzonegolf.com or call: 239-236-5536.

102 Comments

102 Comments

  1. Kevin

    Aug 21, 2018 at 1:16 pm

    Problem here is Bobby doesn’t understand that 80% of golfers will not put in the time and effort to improve their swing. They want to get the best performance out of what they have and enjoy the game. One of the first conversations I have with ever client is if they are working with a coach and what the goal of their lessons are. I have turned away plenty of people because I did not feel like their swing was in a good spot for a fitting to properly help them. I have also had that conversation with plenty of golfers where they say they are not going to work on improving their swing and they would like to continue with the fitting. I see more people get messed up by poor instruction that I do by equipment. Reading every article on here by desktop coaches who have no idea what they are talking about or by reading every article in Golf Digest. I don’t see Bobby harping about that because he financially benefits for it. End of the day, I am going to put the equipment in your hand that will work the best for you, but you are still the one swinging the club and I make sure everyone understand that.

  2. Ben Armato

    Aug 7, 2018 at 7:23 pm

    Whatever happened to walking in and buying your favorite looking club, going to range and learning how to hit them? I just bought another set of Mizuno MP-4 with S300’s. I’ve only been playing Mizuno for 25 years and the DGS300 since the late 80’s. I have no interest in what some guy with an analyzer on a shaft will tell me what to play if I smother it or make a lousy swing in the store. I took them to the range and we left best friends. Time for the rest of you to do the same.

  3. CW

    Aug 1, 2018 at 2:07 pm

    Golf requires all pieces to be in order to play really well.

    Think of music – you need a good instrument that fits, but if you don’t have lessons or practice a ton you will never play well.

    If you only practice at home and never for people (range rats), don’t expect to be good at live performances (on course). If you practice and play all the time but have a poorly fit instrument (badly fit clubs) you won’t reach potential either.

    Lessons can and do help A LOT of people get better faster by setting forth a real actionable plan for getting better, imparting knowledge and skills so you can fix your own faults, and axing out any things that will really limit you.

    But BAD lessons can be TERRIBLE and hurt a lot of people of course.

    TLDR: No single thing makes a great player.

  4. ogo

    Jul 29, 2018 at 1:22 am

    Forget club fitting if your body is not fit for golf. Fitness first; then club fitting.

    • Robert Nadjiwan

      Jul 30, 2018 at 6:11 pm

      To become a good ball striker its necessary to develop consistency as the main skill element. Take an entire golf season and practice 60 % of the time and play rounds 40% of the time. Get good with the PW then the 9 iron then the 8 iron etc. Take some lessons to work out any tough spots. Develop a good grip. Irons that have a flatter lie will prove to be more consistent then a club that has a more upright lie.

  5. S

    Jul 28, 2018 at 1:00 pm

    Here’s my experience with fitting.

    1. Around my 5th year, went in to get my irons fitted. Hit toes on the tape. So the fitter kept bending it until 4 degs upright. Still hit the toes. He sent me back saying “Take more lessons”.

    2. About 15 years later, went in to get new fancy “adjustable” drivers fitted. The adjustments turned my fades into draws!… for the first 3 shots. The fades came back thereafter.

    The problem with fitting? In my case, my body adjusted to the clubs. I break 80 occasionally after 27 years of torture. Maybe I just SUCK at golf.

    • ogo

      Jul 29, 2018 at 1:25 am

      Congratulation with your homemade golf swing… and if you play in the 80s you are in the top 2.1% of all golfers worldwide (according to PGA statistics).

  6. Harv

    Jul 26, 2018 at 7:35 pm

    2 big problems with club fitting…. you can’t fit clubs for somebody who invents a new swing each time they try… and, golfers with big bellies can’t swing in to out because they must swing out and in and around their belly.

  7. Tim

    Jul 25, 2018 at 9:23 am

    This sounds like an article that is trying to lead to more golf lessons…

    Spin club fitting into unnecessary, buy more of my lessons.

    • ogo

      Jul 26, 2018 at 3:57 pm

      A good swing instructor will milk thousand$$$$ from fat rich gullible goffers in futile lessons. 😮

      • Bob Pegram

        Jul 30, 2018 at 2:36 am

        That’s NOT the description of a good swing instructor. It is the description of a dishonest one.

        • ogo

          Aug 10, 2018 at 12:00 pm

          No!!! A good instructor will accommodate the desires of a fat rich gullible golfer who is willing to spend spend spend on golf lessons…. in the hope his physical impediment can be overcome with lessons. “A fool and his money are soon parted.”!

  8. Eric G

    Jul 23, 2018 at 1:38 pm

    What are the fitters qualifications???? Equipment being designed to correct swing flaws in lieu of practice are only a part of the problem. I’m 49, starting golfing at 46..went from 120’s to mid-80’s in 3 years….and am slowly flirting with breaking 80. The driver was the LAST thing I worked on. Started from the green out, and work on my wedge game daily. There is a great deal of misinformation, and misunderstanding with today’s fitters. Too much time is wasted looking at “numbers” and regurgitating info they’re fed by manufactures, standardized training, and sharing “what works for them”. How could you possibly teach the same swing to a 6’4” lean guy, that you do to a 5’ 11” barrel chest guy, and expect the same result? To compare with the world of auto repair, it’s the difference between an actual mechanic, and a parts replacer they call a mechanic. Selling wedges hitting off a mat, and full swings with 60 and 58 lofts..LMAO. And not ONE of the “fitters” said no…..

    I’ve done more from my game swinging clubs in the backyard at NO ball, and watching my divots, than I could ever glean from the range.

    If I had a nickel every time I’m paired with someone that ask“ I hit my 9 iron X, what about you?”, or the guy that hits the occasional 280 drive, but every 3rd shot is in the woods. THESE are the people who ultimately get frustrated and quit golf when adding up the score at the end. My son is 6’4”, a college pitcher, and very athletic. He hits a legit 280-290 carry drive….BUTT, he hits his 9 iron 100, 140, and 135…..yes, that’s the problem. He also invest NO time in his short game….it’s all about how far he can hit each club….sound familiar at the fittings?

    After much back and forth, he starting to understand on one particular hole. It was a 359yd hole he was 57 from the drive, I was 127. After about 10 min….I was par after lipping the birdie, he was putting triple bogie. He turned to me and said “I guess it really doesn’t matter how far I hit a ball”. I replied “to a certain extent, no”. It’s about repeating swings, and repeatable distance for each club. When I’m X distance, I know what club I’m going to grab. (for the most part).

    These are the things that aren’t practiced or taught by the “fitter”. It’s all about the “best numbers” for a particular club they’re pushing. Therein lies ONE of the problems with the golf industry…..they’re chopping down trees to make paper, but they aren’t planting new trees.

  9. Davis

    Jul 22, 2018 at 1:48 am

    This is really outstanding and something I have been harping on for years. You will have zero chance of becoming an accomplished player if you rely on game improvement clubs and tailor your swing to match them. They are all draw/hook biased. Every last one of them. What he is really saying is learn how to hit a blade and appreciate the feedback you get when you swing correctly. While I agree with that I think there should be a happy medium and more offerings should be available in the middle, i.e., a game improvement club with very little to no offset.

    • ogo

      Jul 22, 2018 at 1:34 pm

      Yes… “learn to hit a blade to appreciate the feedback you get when you swing correctly.”
      Furthermore, learn to hit 1 or 2-irons before you attempt to swing a Driver… because if you can’t hit a long iron you most certainly can’t hit with a Driver. Buy a Driving Iron and practice with it at the golf range.

  10. J

    Jul 21, 2018 at 4:56 am

    This still misses the point. The only part I’ll give props to is fitting for distance in irons. This is probably a huge issue, as accuracy is far better to fit for than distance.

    The first point can be corrected by teaching players how to swing in to out. All out to in paths will slice or fade unless the face is more closed to the path. You can’t fit a club that fixes and out to in swing path.

    • ogo

      Jul 22, 2018 at 1:30 pm

      Since 95% of all golfers worldwide slice… because of out to in clubhead path into impact… there is only ONE BIG PROBLEM… YOU!!!!

  11. ogo

    Jul 21, 2018 at 1:26 am

    Club fitting for recreational players with homemade golfswings is a best guess trial and error and error and error exercise in futility… because no two rec’n golfswings are the same… it’s a comedy of errors… 😛

  12. ogo

    Jul 20, 2018 at 5:52 pm

    99.9% of all ‘golfers’ worldwide have atrocious “home-made” golf swings… and all of them believe a couple of quick “golf tips” will solve all their swing woes.
    “Golfers are gullible.” – H. Pennick, Little Red Book, pg. 74…. believe it.

  13. Paul

    Jul 18, 2018 at 4:10 pm

    I quit… Sort of. I learned to swing to hard and I wasn’t fit enough to do it. Now I hurt all over. So I take my kid once in a while and fight the urge to try and kill the ball.

    • ogo

      Jul 20, 2018 at 5:46 pm

      The most important piece of golf equipment is ….. YOUR BODY…!!!!!

  14. Bert Gwaltney

    Jul 17, 2018 at 6:34 pm

    Good article and good thoughts, but anyone I’ve met that wanted to grow the game, or improve club fitting or improve my game really only wanted to grow their wallet.

    • Bob Pegram

      Jul 30, 2018 at 2:47 am

      You have apparently never met a skilled clubfitter. A good clubfitter knows how to teach and fit clubs to a golfer so and improved swing won’t be penalized by game improvement clubs that correct for a bad swing.
      For example, the lie angle of clubs is extremely important but is, unfortunately, not explained to the student by most clubfitters. If a club strikes the ball when it is flat on the ground rather than toe up or heel up, the area on the face available to hit the ball reasonably well is maximized increasing the likelihood of a good shot. Hitting the ball on the heel or toe when it is off the ground is not a recipe for a good shot.

  15. Jason

    Jul 16, 2018 at 9:49 am

    I think his real complaint could be summed up as “there are too many counter jockeys parading as club fitters and doing a disservice to the golfing public.” Honestly, a could fitter would never go so far as to bend a club 8 degrees upright to correct a fade/slice. That is something you see with folks getting fit at big box stores. Get fit by a qualified professional and you will be just fine.

    • aknow11

      Jul 19, 2018 at 12:22 pm

      Qualified professional? Oxymoron? How do you know who is really qualified? Most “professionals” I meet in medicine are not professional nor qualified. When I stalk “professionals” on the range, giving lessons, the only ones who make any sense are teaching 8-10 year old children.

  16. Paul

    Jul 15, 2018 at 1:54 pm

    Clampett’s article would have a lot more credibility if he actually understood what movable weight do to change ball flight (hint: it’s not making the heel, or toe, move slower).

  17. Donn Rutkoff

    Jul 14, 2018 at 12:08 am

    Thank you Bobby. Xlnt. Golf is hard to do right and many try it and dont put in the practice or study. So be it. Recall the saying “Give a man a fish u feed him once. Teach him how to fish and he will spend all weekend in a boat drinking beer.”

  18. Jim McPherson

    Jul 13, 2018 at 5:53 pm

    Another problem is the wrong people are going in for a fitting because it’s the new cool thing to do in Golf.

    These people suck and play a couple times a month and refuse to practice. They don’t have a consistent swing and they’re all over the place with every club. Thus, they go in and get fitted for clubs that try to put a band-aid on horrible swing flaws.

    Fitters need to just charge $20 and turn these people away after a handful of swings. Don’t waste the fitters or customers time. Give them sound advice to take some lessons and get a repeatable swing before getting fitted for new clubs.

    • Jim

      Jul 13, 2018 at 11:37 pm

      Mostly true! Really ‘fitting’
      -like we’re talking about here- a bad swing someone could change with some lessons & practice won’t be precise, or ‘fitting’ the chopper who’s honest & says they won’t be doin the lesson thing & just want good clubs for when they do get to play, the fitter CAN make sure the clubs physically FIT the client. Appropriate shaft weight, flex, length & grip size should be picked to BETTER fit that person, thus giving them a much better chance of improving – if they’re trying to, or just hit a few better shots & enjoy their dozen rounds a year more..

      Get all the physical stuff right & the lie angle ‘close’ and the fitter has done this ‘golfer’ a huge service.

  19. Dave

    Jul 13, 2018 at 5:35 pm

    I agree. Bradley Hughes (GolfAus on YouTube) says similar things. Flatter lie angle with heavier clubs and learn to swing better.

  20. Steve “Pops” Adams

    Jul 13, 2018 at 1:15 pm

    Sometimes playing too much can hurt a person‘s game especially as you get older. A friend of mine once told me as we were playing two days in a row …. We could play the same pin placements,same climate, same Equipment , every day of the week but never play the same course.
    One day it’s my back, next the leg, hands, etc.
    Play twice a week. Play nine. Be smart.
    A lot of times it’s not the clubs. Maybe just the inconsistencies.

    • Caroline

      Jul 13, 2018 at 1:52 pm

      Add to what you say the fact one day it is the lead arm pulling through, next day it is the trail arm pushing the club through…add to that one day the arms are putting and chipping next day your turning the body in the chip and rocking the shoulders to putt……Golf is a never ending mix of fun……..and you can shoot the same scores with these multi swings day after day…….

      • O

        Jul 13, 2018 at 3:22 pm

        I’ll make it even easier for you:
        Don’t play!
        How about that?
        If you struggle that much about not knowing how a golf swing works, then don’t play. You’re only hurting yourself further.

  21. dtrain

    Jul 13, 2018 at 1:10 pm

    To biggest problems? hardly. The 8 degree example is BS, I mean was that really a fitters fault or did someone get a set of clubs from their buddy? Or just buys some Ping Silver dots off ebay with no idea what that meant?

    Bobbys ideas seem to be based of a few examples he as experienced based on the swing philosophy he employs. The golfing machine and he variation of it.

    In Bobby’s mind everyone should be playing blades, drivers with a open face angle, and traditional lofts, whatever that really means. BTW Bobby your 49 degree PW would be considered strong in the 1950’s, so why don’t you go ahead and bend it to 54 so you are really traditional.

    • Jim

      Jul 13, 2018 at 11:48 pm

      Newest student: 6’1″ 270, xxl glove.

      Red dot’s with std grips sold to him off the wall.

      Malpractice!!????????????????

      • ogo

        Jul 22, 2018 at 1:14 am

        “Golfers are gullible.” — H. Pennick, Little Red Book, pg. 74.

    • Bob Pegram

      Jul 30, 2018 at 2:55 am

      He didn’t say everybody should be playing blades. He said people should be fit with clubs that encourage a good swing – that don’t reward bad swings. Or make it harder to make good contact when the swing is good. Golfers should not be penalized by ill-fitting clubs when they improve their swings.

  22. Leftshot

    Jul 13, 2018 at 12:09 pm

    All this is true, but these are just symptoms of a bigger problem: No standards for what makes a proper club fitting.
    – One guy has you make three swings on a strike plate…and calls it a fitting
    – Another moves the weights around…and calls it a fitting
    – Another has three shafts to try on a head, one with a ‘S’, one with an ‘R’, and one marked Senior. Has you try them out and calls it a fitting
    – Another has over 10,000 shaft/head combinations, optimizes lie, loft, swing weight, grip…and calls it a fitting

    They all aren’t the same, and we haven’t even begun to talk about differences in fitting philosophy, skill set, or fitting equipment.

    • Caroline

      Jul 13, 2018 at 1:58 pm

      One guy charges $nothing, another $125,,,,you pay $1200 for a new set of irons, $125 for a supper hour and half fitting…take your clubs out to play and on the forth hole the guy you got parred up with gets a 175 yard hole in one with his 7 iron and says..”it was easy, let me show you the little swing fix I found that really works…your fitting is out the window….

      • Scott

        Jul 21, 2018 at 10:53 pm

        I’m sorry, that is not true. If you video taped your self hitting good shots and bad shots, there is not much of a difference. not enough to throw off a fitting. You would have to go through a major overhaul to throw off a fitting. You body is only going to do what it is going to do. Age and physical shape has more impact that some little tip.

        • Bob Pegram

          Jul 30, 2018 at 2:59 am

          Body proportions don’t change except maybe a little over many years due to aging. The combination of body proportions and swing style/speed/timing are the main factors in fitting clubs.

  23. Troy

    Jul 13, 2018 at 9:26 am

    Agree about the lofts. But 8-degrees up!? I don’t know of a manufacturer that will go that far upright. What do you think the standard lie angle should be on a pitching wedge? 56-degrees?

    • mitch

      Jul 13, 2018 at 10:31 am

      its not 8 degrees up, but when a player is suppose to be 4 deg flat, and the club is 4 up then you get the 8 degrees

      • Troy

        Jul 13, 2018 at 3:22 pm

        4 flat?! Not fit by anyone that knows what they’re doing.

        • Caddy

          Jul 13, 2018 at 8:59 pm

          Never seen 4* flat? You haven’t fit many clubs for Joe six pack have you? Its uncommon but when you aren’t dealing with tour players and you are dealing with people who play 9 holes in the Wednesday night league, that 4* flat hits the ground level and keeps the ball from going 30 yards left… you are a hero and that is a correct fitting that properly effects impact and ball flight. Is that player a candidate for lessons? Probably so. Will he spend the time to take them and practice? Probably not.

          • Troy

            Jul 14, 2018 at 6:05 am

            I’ve fit for thirteen years, from tour players to beginners for a manufacturer at the two best facilities on the planet. No, 4 flat is not something I would do.

            • Caddy

              Jul 16, 2018 at 3:14 pm

              In all seriousness, why would you arbitrarily say 4* flat is not something you would do? With all the different body types and flexibility or lack thereof, everyday players cannot be expected to swing into the ball at the virtually the same angle. Some people bend more from the waist, others stand taller and use more arm swing. Mike Adams effectively describes 3 basic types of swingers based on body dimensions and flexibility. They cannot physically do the same things so how can they arrive at impact in virtually the same place? BTW, I have always heard how flat Hogan was and I had an opportunity to handle his irons years ago at the Hogan Factory in Forth Worth, they seemed very flat at the time. Do you know how many degrees flat his clubs were?

  24. Dave

    Jul 13, 2018 at 8:36 am

    This is why the word Custom Fitting in the golf industry is too commonly used. Getting custom fit at your club or a big box retailer is not the same as going to a place like Club Champion or Cool Clubs. Big box retailers are generally, at best highschool kids on a summer job with limited training. Do yourself a favour and get properly custom fit by on of the big fitting companies and you will see the difference.

    I don’t have an issue with clubs that are biased to help correct ball flight, the game is hard enough as it is and not a lot of people get to play and practice as much as the pros. If a Draw driver help a weekend golfer enjoy the game more then why would someone want to take that away from them. If they had to go back to hitting slices off the planet you can probably bet that that person isn’t going to enjoy it as much and in turn we will start loosing golfers and the industry will continue to no grow.

    Last point – If your fitter is fitting you to 8* upright go find a new fitter because they have no idea what they are doing unless you are T Rex

    • O

      Jul 13, 2018 at 12:04 pm

      Yeah, go get custom fit at a “specialist fitter with training” and overpay for the same clubs, and then sell those clubs a couple months later to your local golf shop because they just don’t work, and buy a much easier set off the rack that work perfectly fine, because you just don’t play enough nor are serious enough, nor will you ever play in any sanctioned event ever

  25. Tony Wright

    Jul 12, 2018 at 8:06 pm

    The Loft Jacking for Distance part of this article is on target. But NO TRUE custom club fitter would ever bend golf club lie angles 8 degrees to reduce slicing. If irons could in fact be bent by 8 degrees. That part of the article should have never been published.

    • O

      Jul 13, 2018 at 12:04 pm

      It’s NOT on target. You’re still allowed only 14 clubs in the bag.

  26. SV

    Jul 12, 2018 at 3:37 pm

    I agree with Bobby Clampett’s Comments. Add to the loft issue the length of today’s clubs. Someone mentioned driver lengths, but irons have followed suit. Irons are on average 1″ longer than the same iron used to be.
    Although not related to this issue directly, most average golfers would be better using a 10 club setup which would eliminate having 2 or even 3 clubs that go the same distance. Example: Driver 11*-13* loft and no longer than 44″, fairway wood (17*/18*), hybrid (23*/24*),6, 7, 8, 9, PW, SW (lofts 30*-55* with 5* gaps) and a putter. This would would also cut down on the expense of a set of clubs.

    • Joe

      Jul 12, 2018 at 11:04 pm

      Mizuno’s are .25” less than old standard… 37.75” 5 iron… standard Iron lengths in most sets I look at that have traditional loft are within a 1/4 inch of this old standard. What I think is actually happening is that the number on the bottom of the club has changed…

    • O

      Jul 13, 2018 at 12:07 pm

      er, no, SV, you are allowed 14 clubs, so if your clubs don’t have proper gapping between them all, then you have the wrong clubs and need get other clubs that will give you better gapping, rather swinging comfortably with a couple of clubs that just sorta do the job but are very close to each other.

    • RB7

      Jul 15, 2018 at 8:38 am

      Agreed, SV. A 10-club setup also fosters more shotmaking ability (and less weight if you walk lol). I’m a 3-handicap and play with ten clubs that were purchased one at a time. All irons bent (flat), and gaps at 5 degree increments.

  27. top dog

    Jul 12, 2018 at 12:19 pm

    I do agree with Bobby on the lofts, on irons you run clubs in bottom end. That why you see clubs on ebay 5-lob(4 wedges). I play a set of Miura’s with leak lofts. What isn’t discussed in article is driver lengths. The pros don’t even hit 45.75 length drivers. Standard on tour is probably 45″, if they can’t hit that length solid what makes OEM’s think amateur’s can.

    • Mmmmooooo

      Jul 13, 2018 at 1:31 am

      Er, yeah, DJ uses exactly 45.75″ so what the heck you talking aboot, Willis?

      • John Krug

        Jul 13, 2018 at 11:48 am

        How tall is DJ?

        • O

          Jul 13, 2018 at 12:07 pm

          6’4″

        • Regis

          Jul 13, 2018 at 1:29 pm

          It’s not so much how tall a player is as how far his hands are from the ground at set up. A player who is 6’4 with 37″ sleeves may play the same length as a player who is 6′ with 35″ sleeves. Also depends on how upright they are and how much knee flex they employ in their normal stance

      • Bob Pegram

        Jul 30, 2018 at 3:45 am

        Body proportions make a big difference. I have a high waist (long legs), relatively short arms, and stand up pretty straight because it is more comfortable and doesn’t stress my back (at 68). My woods and hybrids are 2 inches overlength and my irons are 1-1/2 inches over. I am just over 6 feet tall. I hit these clubs straighter and more consistently than any clubs I have ever had. I also hit it as far as I ever did. Granted this probably wouldn’t work for most people.

  28. darkhors

    Jul 12, 2018 at 11:03 am

    I get what Bobby is saying, but also I think too many people are hung up on the number on the club or the loft numbers. I have a set of F8 One lengths and my gaps are about 15 yards per club from 3 hybrid down to the Gap wedge. I don’t have any issues holding greens with any of my clubs. Part of the fitting should be based on spin and decent angle too, so you know that aside from your gaps being correct, you’re getting the spin and land angles correct to keep the ball on the green. You can irons with “jacked up” lofts and still have distance control. You need both, instruction and proper fitting.

  29. Tourgrinder

    Jul 12, 2018 at 11:00 am

    After reading a recent GOLFWRX article surrounding a survey of many clubfitters about what they thought was wrong with most clubs and clubfitting of most golfers today, I brought up several of these points in the Reply section of that article. Now I see some of the same thoughts and ideas I brought up also coming from Bobby Clampett in a full article. My reply was initially held up for “moderation” by Golfwrx editors and then deleted without seeing the light of day. No policy violations, no insults or snarky commentary like I usually read in other replies. So I wonder what will happen to this Reply? Hmmm.

  30. John

    Jul 12, 2018 at 9:54 am

    Beginner golfers should never be fit for clubs. Get lessons to build a repeatable swing. If your swinging the club differently every time you play the fitting process will be voided.

    • geohogan

      Jul 12, 2018 at 10:47 am

      IMO beginners should be fitted with clubs with lie angle that will encourage the proper impact.
      if lie angle is not right for golfers size, that golfer will swing to adjust to the lie angle of the club, leading to grooving bad moves into impact. If lie angles of the clubs in a beginners bag are all over the place, which isnt uncommon, that golfer wont stand a chance to groove a correct swing.

    • Les McBride

      Jul 12, 2018 at 4:37 pm

      You are correct. They only need to be fitted for one iron and maybee one fw, not a full set.

  31. Charles

    Jul 12, 2018 at 8:46 am

    I don’t see this issue of stronger lofts and distance as a one-sided argument. I understand the gapping argument, but there are other factors that are causing us shorter players to want more distance. For example, I drive the ball around 240 yds and hit a 7 iron about 145 yds to 150 yds. My handicap is approximately 8. I use players irons, so my 7 iron loft is 34 degrees. When I play the up tees, I can shoot in the mid to high 70s. However, the guys I play with are all long hitters, and we play from the back tees. Therefore, instead of hitting mid and short irons on par 3s and approach shots, I am forced to hit hybrids and long irons on par 3s and approach shots. I struggle to shoot in the mid 80s when playing a course this long. It’s a severe disadvantage when I’m hitting 5 irons into greens, and my playing partners are hitting 7 and 8 irons. I’m not trying to get my 8 iron to go 170 yds, but I am trying to get a little help to shorten the club I need on these longer shots.

    This is an example of why you can’t just say gapping is everything and stop strengthening irons. I’d rather have longer hitting mid irons and short irons, while perfecting wedge distances by learning how to hit 1/2 and full shots with all my wedges.

    This is just my take, and the struggle I experience. Maybe if we can stop lengthening golf courses and get back to traditional length courses, we wouldn’t have this problem. Then, I wouldn’t be having to play 450 yd par 4s.

    • Thomas A

      Jul 12, 2018 at 10:02 am

      You’re basing your game on other player’s ability. That is a sure recipe for disaster, as you’ve learned. You shouldn’t be playing the back tees just because your buddies do. I see a need for an ego fitting, not a club fitting.

    • Bob Jones

      Jul 12, 2018 at 10:10 am

      This comment sounds like a letter I would read in the advice column of my morning paper. There’s an easy solution to your problem. Tell your buddies they can play from the blues if they want to, but you’re playing from the whites. You spend your time and money to have fun playing golf, and there is no reason why you should let other people detract from that experience. Your game belongs to you, not anyone else.

    • ders

      Jul 12, 2018 at 10:41 pm

      “I’d rather have longer hitting mid irons and short irons, while perfecting wedge distances by learning how to hit 1/2 and full shots with all my wedges.” but you aren’t hitting longer mid irons and short irons with modern jacked loft clubs, you are hitting long irons with a mid iron number stamped on it and mid irons with a short iron number and wedges with short iron lofts. If you can’t hit a green from 200 yds out with your 24 degree hybrid, you won’t be able to hit it with a 24 degree game improvement iron regardless of what mid iron the manufacturer labelled it.

    • Mike

      Jul 13, 2018 at 8:15 am

      How far are those “back tees”? If you’re looking at 7,000+ yards, move up a tee. You’ll have much more fun!

  32. james

    Jul 12, 2018 at 7:02 am

    This is my experience……….There is good and bad in just about every situation or experience we live through. Good/bad teachers, police, builders, etc…..To say that what Bobby is saying is simply not true throughout the golf industry. I am sure that some of these players went to a bad fitter or to a person trying to make a quick sale, but please, don’t make it sound like going to get fit for irons is going to have a poor outcome. There are good fitters out there. Go find one. If the fitter is not answering your questions or in your opinion not giving you sound?honest advice, move on!

  33. Steven

    Jul 12, 2018 at 5:08 am

    If the 7 travels as far as an ‘old’ 6, we would expect it to be as “disperse” as and ‘old’ 6 iron, rather than an ‘old’ 7 iron. SO — as Bobby so rightly notes, we should not care what is on the bottom; rather we should care about control — does the ‘new’ 7 iron (with loft of an ‘old’ 6) offer the player less dispersion than their ‘old’ 6? If the answer is yes, then they should switch.

    In my view, that is what is lost in this ‘power’ iron discussion. I certainly do not have an answer, as I do not have access to all of these clubs just to test it out and make a video. But, I have not seem anyone dive into that question… So, Crossfield, Shiels, whomever, compare the ‘new’ 7 to the ‘old’ 6 – give us the numbers both on and off the course.

  34. Man

    Jul 12, 2018 at 2:22 am

    Golf is not dying, and we are not losing players. We are just leveling off to a place we should normally be, before it got all blown out of proportion like every other major TV sport (NFL, NBA, NHL, MLB – golf doesn’t need to keep adding courses like these that keep adding teams – but imagine if those leagues had 6 or 8 teams less like they did back in the 90s?) – this is the same effect of everything expanding because people saw space in it to make money from it – but golf can easily go back to the levels before the 90’s and still carry on as if nothing happened – because, even before the 90s, and you can go back another 50 years – we were still playing golf.
    So what’s the problem? Hackers quitting because they shouldn’t have been playing in the first place? Not a big deal.
    Nothing to see here. Move along…..

  35. joey

    Jul 12, 2018 at 1:16 am

    IOW…. it’s a game of futility because rec golfers are gullible and just want the clubs the pros play or endorse. As for the 4 million quitters, they are mostly senior golfers with disintegrating bodies. Youngsters can’t afford golf and prefer delusional video games and twittering with friends long distance. Golf is dying… r.i.p. … rot in perdition.

  36. Richard Douglas

    Jul 12, 2018 at 1:14 am

    I’ve railed against the emphasis on distance in irons for years. I’ve always held that it’s little more than a re-numbering contest. But the problem with that argument was shaft length. Longer irons mean taking shorter clubs for the same distance. If you accept as an axiom that shorter clubs are easier to hit, then having shorter clubs for distances is a good thing. But….

    Bobby also brings out the spin issue. Lower lofts mean lower spin rates. These mean approach shots are harder to stop. So yes, we get greater distances, but with shots that are harder to control. Not good.

    But it’s all an ego thing. Drivers maxed out years ago because of the limits on COR. Irons, because they don’t approach max COR, have been the recent fertile hunting ground for more distance. Sure, some technical improvements have helped (I’m looking at you, TM, with your speed slots). But most of it comes from jacked up lofts so players can feel like they’re popping the ball.

    I decided to ditch it all and go to single-length irons. Now, gapping and distance control are my only concerns. It turns out that I hit the single-length irons even farther than my Pings, but that wasn’t the idea. I wanted consistency and predictability. I got both.

    Back to spin rates. I’ve avoided high-spinning tour balls because I’ve always had a problem with too many RPMs off the driver. But I might want to stay with my low-RPM driver but add a higher-spinning ball. (In my case, going from Snell’s MTB Black to the MTB Red.) It might cut the driver distance down, but it will give me more control (and workability) on approach shots. Hmmmm……

  37. Ben

    Jul 11, 2018 at 11:24 pm

    Just bought a fitted set of COBRA king F8s, and it’s rediculous how they’ve had to start selling 49 degree GAP wedges so they claim I can hit my 7i 20 yds further. My old 7i was 34° the Cobra f8 7i is 29.5°. just rediculous. Not to mention the moron at the shop sold me an unhittable 19.5° 4i instead of upselling me a new fitted hybrid. Old Cleveland 2i was 18°, never even put it in the bag. Same with a wasted Cobra 4i. Clubfitters don’t take the extra five minutes to help build a bag for a golfer, they just want to spend 10 minutes on a sim and finish with a quick sale. No wonder the game is losing golfers, all this technology behind the golfer and no one’s getting better.

    • Larry

      Jul 12, 2018 at 9:31 am

      Why did you buy the 4 iron when you knew how low the loft was? When I ordered my new irons, I just purchased 5-pw and filled in the lower end with hybrids. Guess I don’t understand why you bought those irons if you think the lofts are too strong? Lots of other choices with more reasonable specs.

    • Thomas A

      Jul 12, 2018 at 10:05 am

      My Wilson Staff FG Tour F5 have a nice cavity and are true lofts. I’d highly recommend trading your Cobras for a set.

    • ders

      Jul 13, 2018 at 2:05 am

      My dad has a set of irons from the 50’s that my grandpa used to play. The 1iron is about 20 degrees and the 9 iron is more than 50 degrees – the entire set was playable (as playable as 60 year old blades with no bounce could be) with consistent gapping and you’d only need to buy a putter, a couple of woods and sand wedge to fill out your bag- no need for a pitching wedge or gap wedge. Now you buy a set and in addition to the woods and putter, you need to replace the long irons with hybrids and need to buy 3 or more wedges and then you still have huge yardage gaps in your scoring range. It saddens me that people fall for the marketing these days and its just pathetic when guys like Rick Shiels reviews irons and doesn’t point out how stupid it is to have a PW that goes 130, a 7iron that goes 200 and 4 iron that goes 220.

    • paul b

      Jul 13, 2018 at 3:50 pm

      Go back to using older clubs. Ping ISI or S59s… standard PW loft of 47 degrees. Or Eye2s with PW of 50 degrees. All these jacked up lofts are a joke. PW of 44 degrees???? stupid!

  38. Bt

    Jul 11, 2018 at 10:37 pm

    He lost me when he started talking about irons and wedges routinely being 8 degrees upright. What is he talking about? No one sells irons or wedges 8 degrees upright. You can’t even bend the softest forged club that upright.

  39. Brian

    Jul 11, 2018 at 9:47 pm

    I wish 10 million would quit so I could get a better t-time on the weekends.

  40. JustAGuyWhoHitsAPullFade

    Jul 11, 2018 at 8:04 pm

    One of the biggest issues in golf is finding affordable/quality instruction and then having the time to implement changes.

    I’m sure Bobby Clampett charges hundreds or thousands for instruction, which is great and the market supports it, etc, but that’s not a reality for most golfers. Is anyone in the Golf Digest top-50 under hundreds of dollars an hour? And, not that there aren’t affordable good teachers, but it’s just a reinforcement of the idea that the best instruction is way beyond the average person’s price range. If a good teacher charges $500 a lesson, what am I going to learn from some guy who can only get $40?

    I’ve played my whole life and know that I could use some help with my swing, but I now play 12-15 times a year and have no time to practice. What is the point of taking a lesson if I can’t work on implementing the change.

    I’ve also fit many people for clubs, and will not claim to be a great fitter, but the importance of the distance is confidence. This is not something a great player or a former tour pro or someone pushing instruction maybe understands. Distance doesn’t matter if you are comfortable hitting your 5-iron or if you want to forget numbers, a 38/39 inch club. The vast majority of players are probably not comfortable with that, or at least much more comfortable at 36/37 inches. So, if a fitting or new clubs gives you more distance and more short clubs that will lead to more confidence. That’s what drives me crazy about the whole, “they just changed the numbers on the club,” argument. NO. Average players achieve the same length and same trajectory with a shorter club in their hands. This can be huge. Are you going to hit it straighter? Not necessarily, but almost everyone is better with their wedge than their 8 iron.

    As far as the other aspects of fitting I think there are too many schools of thought that can all have success to get into a debate, but it’s crazy to me to think if someone is playing 845s or honestly even something more than 5-6 years old in irons/hybrids that they wouldn’t be better off spending $1000 on the new tech (fitted as best as possible) vs. taking lessons with something that is out of date and hoping they can find a good teacher/have the time to implement etc.

    • Don

      Jul 14, 2018 at 6:42 am

      I think we players are more responsible for the fitting debacle (educate yourselves and own the process, folks) and the industry is more responsible for the instruction debacle. I’ve taken lessons for a lot of years and it’s been all over the spectrum. One wants you to rebuild your swing, another wants you to tweak what you’ve got and forget the rebuild, another teaches a method v what may be better for you, and others have had no real instruction in how to teach and are truly terrible for golfers. I called Golf-Tec and told them I’d gladly pay their $1500 for a top package provided they did just one thing – commit to an outcome. I’d commit to their lessons, I’d practice in their facility as many times as they recommended, and I’d play twice a week. In other words, I’d put in the work and pay the money for their program but they needed to commit to an outcome or they had to give me my money back. Funny, they declined.

  41. Justa clubfitter

    Jul 11, 2018 at 7:46 pm

    Pretty sure you cant make a club 8 degrees upright so pretty sure Bobby you have no idea how to fit or what your talking about as a pro….I’ve learned pros are swing correctors not fitters and you pretty much solidify that either this bs article.

    • Jode Powell

      Jul 11, 2018 at 8:38 pm

      Yes you can.. For ever 1/2 longer the degree of upright goes up 1.. My clubs are 2 inches longer we which us 4 degree upright and bent 4 degree upright. Thats 8 degree upright. My neighbor had his clubs tested and they were 6 degree upright.. They can do it..

    • Harry

      Jul 12, 2018 at 8:34 pm

      Henry Griffitts can bend them that much

  42. Mat

    Jul 11, 2018 at 6:11 pm

    Golf is a target game. Glad he’s pointing out this stuff.

  43. Pingbrad

    Jul 11, 2018 at 5:07 pm

    Bobby’s comments are spot on. Proper gapping between irons is correct regardless of what number is on the irons. And get the swing straightened out first before getting fitted. Otherwise, you’ll get fir for a swing that you will eventually get fixed.

  44. Nick W

    Jul 11, 2018 at 4:53 pm

    What vendors or companies fit lie angles to 8 degrees upright besides Henry Griffiths?

    • 3puttPar

      Jul 11, 2018 at 6:47 pm

      Club Champion and GolfTec. Ive seen plenty of students start there, get fitted, and their swing has never been addressed.

      Its ridiculous.

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Courses

Hidden Gem of the Day: “Sweetens Cove Golf Club” in South Pittsburg, Tennessee

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These aren’t the traditional “top-100” golf courses in America, or the ultra-private golf clubs you can’t get onto. These are the hidden gems; they’re accessible to the public, they cost less than $50, but they’re unique, beautiful and fun to play in their own right. We recently asked our GolfWRX Members to help us find these “hidden gems.” We’re treating this as a bucket list of golf courses to play across the country, and the world. If you have a personal favorite hidden gem, submit it here! 

Today’s Hidden Gem is our first ever double submission! That’s right, two GolfWRX members have now submitted Sweetens Cove Golf Club in South Pittsburg, Tennessee as their favorite Hidden Gem golf course. Here’s what they both had to say below.

bogey pro

“It’s a 9 hole course that is all about the golf.  It doesn’t have a fancy club house.  It’s minimalist and pure golf.  It’s always in excellent shape and very fun.  It is a real treat to play and people come from all over to play it.  I’ve never heard a bad word about it.  Its very similar to a links style course with rolling fairways, waste bunkers, large fast undulating greens.  From the website, it is ranked 50th in Modern Course and ranked #1 course in Tennessee for the last 3 years.”

FairwayFred

“While starting to get too much publicity to be considered a hidden gem it’s hard to argue that Sweetens Cove isn’t one of the best golf values in the country.  For $40 peak season you can play 18 at the #1 ranked course you can play in TN and Golf Weeks 50th ranked modern course.  What Sweetens lack in holes (its a 9 hole course) it more than makes up for with amazing variety, incredible green complexes, firm and fast turf and in my opinion the best set of artistic bunkers I’ve ever seen anywhere.  Rob Collins the principal architect (and now the head of the management team) built the course by hand with his partner Tad King.  Rob has OVER 700 days on site working on the build.  That is almost unheard of in golf course architecture and construction and is the main reason why all the little details at Sweetens are so good.  The main thing at Sweetens is playing golf there is about FUN which is not always the case.  Definitely one to seek out regardless of budget.”

According to the Sweetens Cove website, course rates range from $25 to $65 depending on the day of the week, time of the year and time of day. Also, they have a $100 play-all-day rate (with a cart) and a $60 walk all day rate. Sweetens Cove is located approximately 25 minutes from downtown Chattanooga.

Know a local course that you can play for under $50 that deserves recognition? Submit your hidden gem here

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Podcasts

The Cart Barn (Ep. 2): “How many hours does a club pro really work per week?”

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Do club pros really work as much as they say? Assistant pro Steve Westphal and GolfWRX Editor Andrew Tursky discuss how many hours go into working in the industry. They also discuss course architecture, course architects and their favorite golf courses.

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

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Opinion & Analysis

Want to be an elite junior golfer? Play a shorter and easier home course

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Let’s start with a thought experiment: You’re building a long-term plan with your parents to become a world-class golfer. You create a list. How important is being a member of a nice golf course? Is it worth the money to join somewhere swanky, or will the local muni do?

If you are like most junior golfers I have spoken to, facilities matter, and you want to be a member of that 7400-yard course with perfect greens. Based on this preference, I wanted to look at the data; what type of courses produce PGA Tour players? What can we learn from them? With the help of many of my friends in golf, I started to compile a list of PGA Tour players and their home golf courses when they were between 12-16 years old.

Here is what I came up with

  • Justin Thomas – Harmony Landing: 6,645 (130 course rating)
  • Justin Rose – North Hants: 6,250
  • Brooks Koepka – Bear Lakes: 7,439 (141)
  • Jordan Spieth – Brookhaven: 6,820 (133)
  • Rory McIlroy – Hollywood Golf Club: 6,056
  • Bubba Watson – Tanglewood Golf Club: 6,302 (124)
  • Phil Mickelson – Stardust: 6,550 (126)
  • Zach Johnson – Elmhurst: 6,500 (128)
  • Webb Simpson – Raleigh Golf: 6,869 (135)
  • Bryson DeChambeau – Dragon Fly: 7,273 (135)
  • Ryan Moore – The Classic: 6,903 (134)
  • Tiger Woods – Navy Golf Course: 6,780 (129)
  • Ollie Sciednerjans – Bentwater: 6,741 (142)
  • Xander Schauffele – Bernardo Heights: 6,679 (131)
  • Chez Reavie – Dobson Ranch: 6,630 (121)
  • Patrick Cantlay – Virginia Country Club: 6,633 (130)
  • Jason Dufner – Weston Hills: 7,060 (129)
  • Adam Hadwin – Morgan Creek: 6,948 (136)
  • Emiliano Grillio -Chaco Golf Club: 6,749 (130)
  • Charles Howell III – Augusta Country Club: 7,125 (136)
  • Julian Suri – South Hampton: 7,028 (138)
  • Aaron Wise – Eagle Glen: 6,869 (139)
  • Peter Uihlein – IMG Academy: 6,842 (136)
  • Brandon Stone – Centurion: 6,830 (131)

Starting to notice something? Based on the data of these 24 PGA Tour players, their average home course has a yardage of 6,772 and slope of 132. Wowzers! Can’t believe it? It makes perfect sense: To be competitive in golf, you must shoot under par. Shooting under par, like riding a bike, or walking, or writing, is a skill. It is developed through a combination of repetition and feedback.

Easier golf courses allow players the opportunity to shoot lower scores and build confidence. Over time, these skills become habit. When players enter tournaments, it is more likely they shoot under par. Breaking par at your home golf course is only the first step towards becoming an elite junior golfer. The data suggests that players (both boys and girls) need to average approximately 69 per round to win on the AJGA — on 6,800-yard courses for boys and just under 6,000 yards for girls.

No major championship venue has ever had a junior member go on to win, or even play, the PGA Tour. That’s right: the PGA Tour is not filled with junior members from Augusta National. Why? Because while playing Shinnecock Hills is an absolute treat, the course is extremely difficult, and 74 is a great score. Junior members at such courses create habits of shooting 74, and when they enter tournaments, like the AJGA, in general, they get beat.

So where should you be a member if you are a junior golfer with aspirations of college golf or beyond? Great question. In an ideal world the course would have the following:

  1. Unlimited access to a facility that is approximately 6,700 yards long with a slope of about 130. The goal on this golf course is to break par often and work towards a handicap of +3 by your 18th birthday.
  2. Somewhere with other talented players. Although, it would be great if they are other juniors, more importantly you want players of about the same skill who will offer you a competitive match a couple times a week.

As always, if you have any feedback on this article or a story idea, please feel free to reach out to me! Always love hearing from people and helping them connect with schools that meet their academic, athletic, social and financial needs!

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